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Title: Blanco y Colorado - Old Days among the Gauchos of Uruguay
Author: Tetley, William C.
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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The following pages contain the writer's personal experiences in the
"Republic of Uruguay" during a revolution in what are now known as the
"Old Days."

If they enable the reader to understand what life in that country really
meant at that time, the object of this book will then be attained.

  W. C. T.

  The Close, Wavendon,
  Woburn Sands,

  July, 1919.









The clock of the "Cathedral de la Matrix" was striking ten on a lovely
morning in October, when our signal gun was fired, and the anchor of the
S.S. "Copernicus" let go to find bottom in the muddy waters of
La Plata.

On the right the town of Monte Video, with its whitewashed "azotea," or
flat-roofed houses, glistened in the bright sunshine; to the left the
broad estuary stretched away towards the open sea; while in front of us
the famous Cerro, a gently sloping hill, looked green and fresh and
pleasant after our long sea voyage. The tug which brought off the
Medical Officer of Health did not delay long before coming alongside,
when permission was given to the passengers to land, and I soon found
myself standing with my baggage on the Custom House wharf, and having
duly passed it, made my way to the "Hotel Oriental."

Here I enquired when a diligence would leave for the interior, which
would take me within reasonable distance of my friend's estancia, whom I
had come out to visit, which I believed to be situate about thirty-three
leagues, or one hundred miles, up country. I was informed that it was to
leave the next morning, but that, as it started from a "fonda," or inn,
outside the town at 5 a.m., it would be necessary to sleep there,
otherwise I should certainly miss it. At this time the diligence was
the only public conveyance traversing the country, a railway being as
yet unthought of. So I ordered some dinner at the "Hotel Oriental," and
occupied the interval by having a look round the city. I was much
pleased with the straight, wide streets, running at right angles, by the
size and importance of the public buildings, and by many of the private
houses, often opening on to a "plaza," or square, prettily planted with
trees and flowering shrubs. But I was most impressed by the variety and
beauty of the excellent shops, which I could hardly have expected to
find in a South American town at that time, so remote from Europe. I
also saw more than one of the famous "quintas," or villas, with large
grounds, where semi-tropical flowers can be seen in all their beauty,
and palms and magnolias everywhere flourish.

I arrived at the inn whence the diligence started at 9 p.m. The
proprietor received me with courtesy, and shewed me my bedroom, which
was small and not very clean; but it had a window opening on the street,
so I could get plenty of air. Some natives were making a noise in the
bar below, where they had doubtless been drinking, and seemed inclined
to quarrel. I gave instructions to be called, and the last thing I heard
as I dropped off to sleep was the cry of the "sereno," or
night-watchman, whose business it was, during the night, to call the
time and state of the weather every half hour. A loud rapping at my door
awoke me in time to look up my baggage and drink some hot coffee, before
a start was made. Dawn was fast breaking in the East as five horses and
three mules were being harnessed up, four abreast, to the old wooden
diligence, which carried the mails and baggage piled on its top, the
passengers sitting facing each other on hard wooden seats inside. In
front, beneath a wooden shelter, sat the driver, with room for one
passenger beside him. The diligence was heavily built, with large broad
wooden wheels, and there were no springs. In front rode a native on
horseback, with his lasso made fast to the leading horses, so that he
was able to guide the course of the diligence. His was an office of
importance, and he was called the "quartia dor." The team was evidently
well accustomed to the streets, so we rumbled heavily along, passed
suburb and quinta, until houses became less frequent, and by the end of
the first stage had ceased to appear; and we then saw before us the
rolling plains of Uruguay. A word as to my fellow-passengers. Four were
apparently business men, probably buyers of produce, one of whom spoke
French, and kindly gave me information as we went along. The fifth was
an officer, in a lieutenant's uniform. Reaching the end of our first
stage, we found another team shut up in a yard, waiting. This time they
were all horses, diverse in colour, wilder, and more spirited than the
others. But they were soon harnessed up, and we quickly got under weigh,
the driver now increasing our speed. As we descended a decline we went
mostly at full gallop, to get across the mud in the stream at the
bottom, and so have a good impetus for the rise on the other side, the
old diligence, which had seen much service, swaying and rolling like a
ship in a sea-way. By eleven o'clock we reached Santa Lucia, then only a
village, with one so-called hotel, and a straggling street of native
huts. Here we waited for an hour for breakfast: meat, boiled and roast,
with vegetables; bread, cheese, and coffee, which we much appreciated.
Then, with four new passengers and a fresh team of horses, we made a
start for the town of San José, where we were to stop for the night. As
we proceeded, the country opened out before us on every side, the
rolling plain, with here and there a clump of trees to mark some native
estancia, where a flock of sheep, and also cattle, could be seen feeding
in absolute freedom, for there were no fences or divisions of any kind,
neither was there anything in the way of cultivation. Occasionally a
native came into view, galloping after a troop of horses, his poncho
fluttering in the wind, and then, as he passed over a roll of the plain,
like some phantom, would seem to disappear. The afternoon was drawing to
a close when we saw far in front of us the golden rays of the now
fast-declining sun reflected on the cupola of the large church, flanking
the principal square of the country town of San José. Gradually the
houses rise up on the horizon, and half an hour later we drive up with
the usual flourish in front of the "Hotel Oriental." It was apparently
an old house, situate in the main street. We dined in a long low room,
with the addition of soup and a sweet, much as we had breakfasted.
Within its walls more than one murder had been planned, and many a
political "cabale" concocted; indeed, I was told that at the very table
where I sat an officer was dining with some boon companions. When
sipping their coffee he turned to them and said, "Tengo rabia voy à
matar un Gringo," "I feel in a rage, I am going to kill a foreigner." He
went straight out, and turning up the street, met an Italian stonemason
returning home from work. He pierced him through with his sword, and,
walking off to where he had left his horse, mounted, and rode away. The
poor man died, but the matter was hushed up, and nothing more was heard
about it. I soon went to bed, feeling tired, and my limbs ached from the
bumping and confinement of the diligence for so many hours.

In the morning we started early. The sun was just rising above the
horizon as we left the outskirts of San José, and made for the open
plain, unbroken, save by the dull grey line which alone seemed to mark
the "camino real," or Government road. At eleven o'clock we stopped at a
pulperia, or store, for some breakfast, and for fresh horses, which were
ready waiting for us. They were a wilder lot this time, and a chestnut
and a piebald especially gave trouble, at first refusing to be
harnessed. Once started, however, they had nothing for it but to settle
down, aided by a free application of the driver's whip. Just before two
o'clock we reached Guaycoru, where my journey by diligence ended; this
being the nearest point to my friend's estancia. Gathering together my
saddle, bridle and light baggage, I entered the pulperia, or store, to
enquire in what direction my friend's estancia lay, and how far off it
was. The pulpero, or storekeeper, fortunately could speak a little
French, which was a great help. He was very polite, pointed out the
direction, saying it was only between five and six miles distant, and
was situate at the far end of some rocky country which stretched out
before us. He offered to supply me with a couple of horses, one for
myself and another for my baggage, and to send a rather
ruffianly-looking mulatto, half Spanish and half negro, his face badly
pitted with small pox, to act as guide, and also to bring back the
horses. He soon appeared with a bay, a grey, and a piebald, and I at
once occupied myself fitting my saddle and bridle on the former, and not
apparently to his satisfaction. The headstall of the bridle was too
long, the girths of the saddle too short; but at last I got them to
meet, and, slinging my belongings over the back of the piebald and
mounting his grey, my attendant made a start, and I followed a few paces
behind. Our departure being watched with great interest by the pulpero
and his family. We had not gone far when we got in among the rocks, or
"sierras," as they were called, lying in long large masses, not very
high except in places; although, often rising well above one's head as
you rode along through the breaks between. Owing to the shelter thus
afforded, this district was noted as being the resort of robbers. The
lay of the land favoured these gentlemen, as they could easily hide both
their horses and themselves among the rocks during the day, and then go
out with the moon at night to kill a young cow, or steal a horse, as
their fancy took them. They were not a pleasant lot to have to do with,
and I could see that my not understanding Spanish alone prevented my
dark-skinned guide from duly expatiating upon the dangers of the road.
Meanwhile, the sun was declining, and there was no wind. You could
hardly hear a sound, and a weird creepy kind of feeling came over me as
we entered a passage between two large rocks, higher and steeper than
hitherto, which seemed to twist and turn so that I could not help
wondering when and where we were going to come out. Every now and then
we came across a few cattle, which made off hurriedly as we approached,
and when we happened to see a horse or two they instantly got out of
sight round some turn of the rocks, evidently well-known to them, but
which seemed to me an all but impossible path. And so we kept jogging
along, until the rocks got smaller and fewer, and at length we came out
into a piece of open country, where a large flock of sheep were quietly
grazing, their faces apparently set, as their custom is at eventide,
towards home. About half a mile in front of us was the estancia whither
we were bound, quiet and peaceful as I first saw it in the rays of the
now setting sun. An azotea, or flat-roofed house, whitewashed outside;
near it two large "ombus," a tree much valued for its shade; to the left
three or four "ranchos," or huts, the walls of mud, the roofs of a reed
called "paja"; on one side a yard for sheep, and on the other a large
corral, in which to shut in horses and cattle; it did not look
imposing, but I saw it all with interest as being for me a resting
place, and with pleasure, for I had now reached the end of my long
journey. My friend, Robert Royd, saw me riding up, and came out to
welcome me. He had a fall from his horse, and sprained his knee, so was
prevented coming in to Monte Video to meet me, as he had hoped to do. I
was glad to see him again. I had known him in England when life held out
a different prospect for him, and we had neither of us heard of Uruguay.
How he came to be located at Las Sierras de Mal Abrigo he could hardly
have told you himself. He went out for a voyage to Monte Video, took a
fancy to the country and its climate, and to the open-air life, made up
his mind to set up as an estanciero in a small way, and here he was. I
had now to make the acquaintance of another person, Mr. Henry Marsh,
called by the natives Henriquez. He had exchanged life in a merchant's
office in London for a similar position in Mexico, where he had met with
misfortune. He had drifted down the coast, first to Pernambuco, and
afterwards to Monte Video, where he at length found himself without
money or friends. Royd happened to come across him, and taking a fancy
to him, brought him up country to look after a flock of sheep. He was a
pleasant little man, a regular cockney through and through. He became
somewhat plaintive whenever he talked of the past, and was apt to be
nervous and over-anxious; but he was willing and obliging, and always
glad to help in any way he could. He professed to understand and rather
to like Spaniards, but he was really in mortal fear of a native, and he
never went out far without a large revolver, and also a big knife stuck
in his belt behind, neither of which formidable weapons would he have
been at all willing to use. When I arrived, a Frenchman, whom we called
Pedro, was acting as cook. He was not at all fond of soap and water, nor
did he take much pride in the culinary art, for he apparently gave us an
endless succession of mutton chops. But however early you wanted to make
a start in the morning, he was always ready with hot coffee, and would
get you some food at almost any hour of the day. So as our movements
were often erratic, there were compensations. A native "peon," or
servant, and a boy to get up horses, completed the establishment. As
regards the stock, there were the flock of sheep before mentioned, about
nine hundred in number, and another larger one of about fifteen hundred,
towards the other end of the estancia, at a "puesto," as it was called
in the direction, but to the West of the pulperia of Guaycoru, where I
had first arrived in the diligence. The country was open there, being
outside the "sierras," and a young Englishman called Charles Bent had
arranged to take charge of this flock not long before I came upon the
scene. He was a nice young fellow, with fair hair and blue eyes. He had
a quick temper, but a kind heart. Having learnt farming in England in
the usual kind of way, he came out to Uruguay. He had some capital,
which he invested in sheep, and renting land up towards the Rio Negro,
started on his own account. But he was without South American
experience, and he had also bad luck: many of his sheep were stolen,
others died of disease, and after about three years his money had
vanished, and he was compelled, like others, to earn his living; so he
took to the usual occupation of looking after a flock of sheep. He was
always tidy and neat in appearance, and had a nice sheep dog, called
"Bob," which he had brought with him from England, then little more than
a puppy, of which he was very fond. There were seven hundred head of
cattle on the place, which fed in a semi-wild state among the rocks, on
a stretch of country some three and a half miles long, and half to
three-quarters of a mile broad, known as the estancia; as also did a
troop of mares and colts, mostly pretty wild. These latter were often
difficult to come across, and to run them up into the stone enclosure,
or "manga," near the house was no easy matter. We had seventeen riding
horses of varied quality, mostly brought up into the wooden corral near
the house every morning, so that we might each catch up a horse for the
needs of the day. The cattle were very apt to stray outside the boundary
of the estancia, and so get mixed up with those belonging to neighbours,
often causing annoyance. This was much more the case on the Eastern than
on the Western boundary, which was fortunate, as the natives living on
that side were not only more friendly, but had better places themselves,
and were therefore able to give us more help in keeping the cattle
apart. On the Western side the rocks became ever a greater feature of
the landscape, with but little open land between, thus forming a
suitable resort for "matreros," _i.e._, people in hiding, of doubtful
reputation, with no character whatever to lose. Here was where we had
reason to apprehend trouble, should a revolution break out. We each took
a turn to "repuntar," or drive in the cattle, which fed together in
groups, and the same thing took place with the mares and colts. They
also had to be continually turned inwards, and gathered up every now and
again into the "manga," or stone enclosure to be looked over. When you
had been some time at this work, it was wonderful how keen your eyesight
became, and how it adapted itself to your needs. For instance, you could
make out cattle and horses at a distance, when the ordinary observer
would hardly know they were animals at all. Moreover, your eye became
accustomed to tell you whether they were your own or your neighbour's,
by their manner of feeding when grouped, their apparent number, and
their behaviour when disturbed. Early morning and late afternoon was the
time for this work, especially in warm weather, as both horses and
cattle were glad to take advantage of the shelter of the high rocks
during the heat of the day. We had three dogs, which helped us greatly,
as they yelped and barked and chased the cattle to their heart's
content. I rather took to this work; there was a kind of excitement
about it, as you never quite knew whom you were likely to come across,
or what was likely to happen before you got home. At evening, too, if
you chanced to be late, there was a certain weirdness about it all: the
huge masses of rock casting their grey shadows as the sun fell towards
the horizon, and then when it had fully set, a great silence seemed to
fall upon everything. Scarcely a sound could be heard in any direction.
The "pteru-pteru," or wild plover, ceased his shrill cry, and both bird
and beast, active during daylight, quietly sought their rest. Not so,
however, those of the night, for when the short twilight was over, and
darkness had fairly set in you could hear strange sounds and noises, as
if something or other was at work, never seen nor heard during the day,
and the short bark of the wild fox would sound out sharp and clear as he
sallied forth in search of his prey. Then, indeed, you feel truly glad
when the welcome light of the estancia house tells you that you are
nearly home. Your horse, too, knows that he is near, that his work for
that day at any rate, is done, and he looks joyfully forward to joining
his companions, and to a peaceful time till morning. It was usual, once
a week, to gather up all the cattle together upon a spot selected for
that purpose, where a high post is fixed in the ground, around which
when collected the cattle revolve. Upon such an occasion, those who had
furthest to go were on horseback soon after dawn, each taking an
appointed route, and as he returned driving the cattle in front of him.
On this estancia there were special difficulties to contend with, as the
high masses of rock enabled here and there a point of cattle to break
back unseen, or if you did see them, probably it was at a place where it
was difficult to follow them. But the horses were truly wonderful, as
they carried you at a gallop over the rocky and uneven ground. They
seldom made a mistake; bred among the sierras, they were quite at home
there, and you soon learnt to give them their head, and to trust that
all would be well. With us this weekly gathering together of the cattle
never seemed entirely satisfactory. They never came up together all at
one time. One portion or another seemed always to be missing. The long,
narrow position of the estancia, and its rough and rocky character
probably accounted for this. Moreover, we were always short-handed, and
we could not keep any consecutive line as is done in more open country.
This was therefore a day of disappointment, and we could not help
fearing some of the cattle had been stolen; certainly we did not know
where to find them. Royd took this a good deal to heart, for when he
bought the herd this trouble had not been anticipated. The fact was the
cattle had got rather out of hand, and we also feared animals were being
killed on the camp, by "matreros," or fugitive soldiers, of whose
existence in the district we were at the time unaware, but who
afterwards proved themselves dangerous neighbours. Our sheep never
seemed to suffer; on the contrary, they did well; nor was Charles Bent
troubled in any way. For this we were thankful, and kept up our spirits
accordingly. As to the troop of mares and colts, they had things pretty
much their own way. They could gallop like the wind, and go faster over
the rough ground than we could, and we were obliged to try and run them
up to the manga, or stone enclosure, just as we happened most easily to
come across them. The summer, with its long hot afternoons, was now
passing, and the early autumn, perhaps the most pleasant time of the
southern year, was close upon us. As the weather got cooler, I was
continually out among the sierras looking after cattle, and I almost
always went alone. I had happened to fasten over a black bowler hat a
white "pugaree," with its ends hanging down behind to protect the back
of my neck from the sun, and late one afternoon when following a path
among the rocks with which I was well acquainted, my horse took a wrong
turn. In a few moments, passing from beneath the shadow of a large grey
rock to my right, I suddenly found myself in a small open space, about
one hundred yards long by thirty wide, where the grass grew green and
long, and a tiny stream trickled; quite an oasis in a small way. Here,
seated on the ground, their horses saddled and feeding near them, were
five men, apparently soldiers, for each had a broad red band round his
black felt hat, and a lance stuck in the ground, from which hung the red
banner. A fire was already lighted, over which was a large roast, part
of a young cow they had lately killed. A kettle was almost on the boil,
and they were evidently about to enjoy a meal. Their "arms" and
"ponchos" were piled in a heap, but each held either a knife or a short
dagger in his hand, and I noticed that two at least carried revolvers in
their belts. They were a rough-looking lot, as much surprised to see me
as I was to see them. For the moment I hardly knew what best to do. I
was quite unarmed, but did not wish to appear nervous or frightened; nor
could I make a satisfactory retreat. So I sat on my horse, perfectly
still, and then they all got up and surrounded me, gesticulating
violently, and pointing to the white covering of my hat, which seemed to
be the cause of the annoyance. My feigned composure somewhat calmed
their excitement. They told me to hand over my hat and, placing it on a
point of rock about fifteen paces distant, succeeded in putting a bullet
through it with a revolver, to their great amusement and satisfaction.
Meanwhile those who were not shooting tried to frighten me; making signs
with their knives that it was all over with me, but seeing I was an
Englishman they fortunately had no real motive to hurt me; had they
wished to do so, I was completely at their mercy. Being "colorados,"
soldiers belonging to the Red Party, they chose to assume that the white
covering on my hat was a Blanco device; but of course, they knew this
was not so. Finally, they allowed me to depart unharmed, returning to me
my hat, minus its white covering which they tore in pieces, but still
with the bullet hole in it as a proof of what happened. The matter was
not much in itself, but it shewed that mischief was brewing, and that it
was becoming unsafe to ride about in the rocks alone, more especially if
unarmed. From that day forth I also started a revolver, to the proper
loading of which I saw carefully before going any distance away. When I
got home and related what happened, it did not tend to reassure poor
Royd, who was rather in low spirits about things in general. He had
moreover heard that afternoon from a passing traveller there was a
rumour a revolution had actually broken out. However, a week passed, and
we heard no more of it, so we followed our usual occupations, leaving
matters to declare themselves. A few days later, when running up a point
of mares, we managed to include three colts which hitherto had always
eluded us. They were all chestnuts, very wild, very fast, with long
flowing manes and tails. Two of them had a broad white blaze, each with
two white hind feet. The third was larger than the others, with long,
sloping quarters; rather a light chestnut, with a white star on his
forehead and nothing more. He had good shoulders and a smooth easy way
of slipping along which greatly took my fancy. So I bought him for a
nominal sum and handed him over to a decent little native named Severo
to break in for me. When he returned the horse to me I found he quite
justified my expectations, and although still a bit raw he was easy and
pleasant to ride; and I called him _Carnival_. I also took rather an
interest in Severo, who was a beautiful rider, with a good seat and
light hands. He could speak a few words of English; where he had learned
them I did not know, but he seemed anxious to be communicative, and to
teach me a few words of Spanish when I went to see how my horse was
getting on. He had lately married, and lived in a rancho, or native hut,
only a short distance from our Southern boundary. When I arrived I was
invited to sit down on their only chair, placed in the centre of the
room, Severo himself sitting on a little wooden stool, while the bride
served Matè, a liquid made by pouring boiling water on a couple of
spoonfuls of "yerba," a kind of tea grown in Brazil; a favourite
beverage among the Spaniards. The Matè is really the gourd in which the
tea is served. You suck it into your mouth through a bombilla, or silver
tube, which latter, if you are not careful, is apt to get so hot as
often to burn your lips. This beverage and the offer of a cigarette is
the orthodox form of native hospitality.

One morning a party of soldiers showing Red colours galloped up
unexpectedly and took Severo prisoner, with a view to making him serve
in the Government forces. Remonstrance was in vain! He had to saddle up
his best horse and to start at once. His poor young wife was in despair,
and she rode up in tears to tell Royd of her trouble. It was useless to
attempt to get him back, so we comforted her as best we could, with the
hope that her husband would manage to make his escape at the first
convenient opportunity. If he belonged to any political party it was to
the "Blancos," with whom his wife's people had always been mixed up.
This made the enforced separation a greater trial to both of them. It
was fortunate for me that "Carnival" had already been returned to me, or
he also would probably have fallen into their hands. That same afternoon
a party of "Colorados" called at the estancia to take our "peon," or
native servant, for a soldier, but he saw them coming in time, and got
away among the rocks and hid himself before they arrived, so they were
obliged to go away without him. It was evident the Reds were taking up
men not only for the ordinary strengthening of the Government forces,
but for some special purpose. This, and the persistent rumour we were
constantly hearing of a revolution having broken out in the direction of
the "Rio Negro," put us upon our guard, and we took such measures as we
could to look sharply after our stock, more especially our horses, and
to avoid being taken unawares. We also looked up our arms and
ammunition, and considered what we could do for the best in case of any
serious and sudden trouble. The position of Uruguay was at this time
probably unique in the usual stormy history of a South American
republic. Torn by faction and internal strife, peace alone seemed
wanting to ensure its progress and prosperity. The many natural
advantages, such as a good climate, abundant water, grassy plains, and
the beautiful woods which bordered the rivers, rendered it especially
suitable for pastoral purposes. Agriculture was as yet almost unknown,
except in the immediate neighbourhood of the towns, and was then of the
most primitive description. But the land itself was fertile in many
districts, consisting of a rich black loam, where crops of wheat and
maize would give excellent results, and an abundant yield could be
anticipated in suitable situations from a virgin and not easily
exhausted soil. The Flores war, which had lasted for three years, had
ended in the temporary subjugation of the Blanco, or White Party, and
the placing in power of a "Colorado," or Red government. This was not in
sympathy with the majority of the people, more especially those engaged
in pastoral pursuits, such as the raising of sheep and cattle, headed by
the large native land owners, mostly "Blancos," and therefore bitterly
opposed to the "Colorados," or "Reds." These latter often had a majority
in and near the provincial towns, and especially in Monte Video, the
capital. They were led by what may be termed professional politicians,
their soldiers being partly made up of paid foreigners, forming fairly
efficient infantry, together with a large number of natives, whom they
pressed in their service when in power. Some of these, too, received
payment, so long as their party possessed sufficient funds, while a
great number got very little except their food and arms. Their bands of
irregular horse comprised anyone and everyone who had nothing to do,
together with what might be termed the scum of the townsmen, who had
nothing whatever to lose; least of all their reputation. Moreover, there
were certain families, Reds by tradition, whose heads occupied the
government posts when the "Colorados" were in power, and whose minor
members and hangers-on swarmed in the Public Offices. There were also
certain "estancieros" throughout the country, especially up towards the
Brazilian frontier, many of them influential and wealthy, whose politics
had always been Red, and who were supporters of the "Colorado Party."
But they were not nearly so united either in heart or sympathy as were
the Blancos, nor did they cultivate the same enthusiasm. The Blancos
included the descendants of most of the old Castilian families, who had
been the original Spanish Colonists, and they possessed, therefore, a
certain aristocratic element, if you could justly so term it, as being
part of the inner life of the republic. Their importance and influence,
and comparative wealth, accrued mainly from landed property and the
countless herds of sheep and cattle which spread themselves far and
wide, finding good and abundant pasturage on the rolling and
grass-covered plains. While therefore the "Reds" were enabled to
maintain themselves in power by means of an ample supply of money, so
long as they could control the resources of the republic, popular
sympathy in general was with the White Party; indeed, so great was the
disaffection and discontent at this particular time, it needed but a
spark, as it were, applied to gunpowder to set the whole country in a
flame. It only required a real leader, who commanded the full confidence
of the native population, to come upon the scene, and to raise high the
standard of revolt, for the people to flock to his banner far and wide
throughout the country. Thus, as it were in a moment, in a South
American republic, is a revolution born and made. Nor can this be
wondered at when you consider that intrigue and revolution is but a
natural attribute of all populations of purely Spanish descent, and when
you come to mingle an Indian and Italian and foreign element, and then
try to purify the whole by an admixture of the unruly blood of Spain,
the result means a state of general unrest, and a condition of affairs
in which the seeds of revolution are for ever present. Another incentive
is that during a revolution, horses are looked upon as munitions of war,
and may be taken from their owners as required, to be returned and paid
for as Providence may permit. Sheep and cattle, too, required for food,
may be commandeered by armed troops as necessity requires, a nominal
receipt for their value being usually given by the officer in charge,
which in all probability will never be paid. All this naturally gives an
opportunity to the less honest and self-respecting classes of the
community to live a free, roving, careless kind of life at other
people's expense. Although natives will tell you they hate the law of
conscription which obliges them to serve for a time in the army, this is
by no means always really true. Moreover, many of those who are poor are
apt to look upon time of war as a means of relief from the necessity for
honest toil, always distasteful to the Spaniard of South America. They,
moreover, manage to console themselves fairly well for a temporary
absence from their home, with a dim and ill-defined hope that if only
they have good luck they may possibly come out of it all considerably
better off than they went in. One afternoon, a "tropero," or buyer of
cattle, rode up to the house to enquire if we had any fat bullocks to
sell. He told us he was making up a large troop round about the
neighbourhood to take in to Monte Video. Of course, he was full of news
about the revolution, and he should not be surprised if war were to
break out at any time. As he offered Royd fifteen dollars each for any
bullocks which were fat, the latter thought it best to turn anything he
could into cash. So it was arranged we should have a gathering together
of the cattle on the following day, so as to allow the purchaser to part
out what he wished, and he also arranged to stay the night with us. He
was a pleasant man, well-dressed, and the silver fittings of his native
saddle and bridle were quite magnificent. A little before dawn next
morning found us all on the move. The cook had already got hot coffee.
Our horses had been tied up the night before, and we saddled up just as
day was breaking, and one after another slipped quietly away, each of
us taking his appointed line in the general drive up of the herd. The
tropero himself did not go, but his two young men lent a hand, we, of
course, finding them horses. This morning things went better with us
than usual, and twice when the wildest of the bullocks made a rush and
tried to break back they were effectively stopped and disappointed.
Altogether we had a very good "para rodeo," but few of our cattle
apparently remaining behind. Next followed the parting out of the fat
animals. A short distance away from the general herd, which kept
revolving round a large post placed in the centre of the "rodeo," about
a dozen tame animals were stationed, guarded by a couple of young
natives. Each fat bullock, as it was selected by the "tropero," was then
run out of the herd into this little group, the tropero and his head man
commencing operations by running them out himself. It was all very
neatly done. They rode quietly in among the cattle, which we kept
rounded up on every side. Fixing their attention upon a fat bullock,
they placed their horses close up to it, one on either side, and so ran
it out with a sudden rush in the direction of the tame animals.
Sometimes it refused to be so dealt with, and persistently broke back at
all costs. Then the lasso was brought into play, and after it had been
lassoed and bullied about it generally thought better of it and did what
was required. For this particular work the rider must possess not only
skill, but he must be well mounted. His horse must be fast and active on
his legs; he must be intelligent, so as to enter thoroughly into the
spirit of the work, and he must also have plenty of courage. At the same
time he must exercise caution, and thoroughly know his business,
otherwise either he or his rider, probably both, may get caught on the
horns of the bullock and so come to serious grief. But it is wonderful
to see how a good horse will himself enjoy it, and with what marvellous
perfection and accuracy he will perform his part. The rider, too, must
have good nerves, and above all a firm seat, and an accurate eye for
judging distance. As a rule, however, if he is really well mounted, the
more he trusts to his horse and the less he worries him the better.
Meanwhile, to Royd's gratification, the tropero parted out fifty fat
bullocks; quite a good parting for our comparatively small herd, but, as
a matter of fact, our cattle did wonderfully well among the rocks if
only they were left quiet. They had plenty of clear water, and the
grasses which grew there were sweet and nourishing, while in summer time
they greatly enjoyed both the shade and shelter. On the following day,
Friday, I rode over to the pulperia, or store, at Guaycoru and, as
several things were wanted, I took the boy with me, mounted on an old
grey horse, across the saddle of which a pair of large saddle bags were
slung, in which to carry them. We had not long arrived at the pulperia
when a native rode up, mounted on a fine "oscuro," or _dark_ brown
horse, with a long flowing mane and tail, his reins, breastplate, and
stirrups all mounted in solid silver. He was a good-looking man,
something over thirty years of age; a slight but firmly knit figure as
he sat on his horse, with the easy, graceful seat of one born almost in
the saddle. His wide black "bombachos," or loose trousers, tucked inside
high boots, ornamented with silver spurs. The broad-brimmed felt hat,
the long "facon," a two-edged dagger, stuck in his belt, and a white
silk handkerchief tied loosely round his neck, all betokened the
"Spanish caballero," the free, independent life of the horseman on the
open plain. Quickly dismounting, he carelessly strolled into the
"pulperia," with the usual "Buenos tardes Señores," "Good afternoon,
gentlemen." But as he passed me I noticed that he was fully armed, and
had also an alert watchful look about him, and the thought passed
through my mind that here at any rate was no ordinary man. He talked a
few moments to the pulpero, somewhat earnestly, and then came forward,
raising his hat, and offered me a cigarette, remarking something about
the heat of the afternoon. Soon after, I and the boy, having collected
our purchases, mounted our horses to return. Just as we rode round the
edge of the outbuildings a dark-skinned individual in somewhat tattered
garments rose from a low seat where he had been sitting smoking, and
came hurriedly forward. "Did you speak to the Señor with the 'oscuro,'"
he asked. "Yes!" I replied, "what about him?" The mulatto smiled and
showed his white teeth, and then said, almost in a whisper, "You do not
know him! Mamerto Godez! Cuidado! (Beware)."

One afternoon just about three o'clock, I was sitting in the dining room
writing a letter. It was quite warm, and both door and windows stood
wide open. Royd and Henriquez had gone off to a pulperia owned by a man
called Saballa, on the other side of the River Rosario, to buy some
necessaries. I heard the dogs barking, but paid no attention, when
suddenly half a dozen soldiers with the white device round their hats,
and carrying the white banner on their lances, rode up from behind the
house and halted at the front door. I went out and stood right in front
of them. One who seemed superior to the others accosted me in Spanish,
and I understood him to say that war had broken out, and that their
business was to take up men and horses. Pedro the cook, so soon as he
saw them, had gone to hide among the rocks, fearing, I suppose, lest he
should be taken off for a soldier, Frenchman though he was! However, I
explained as well as my scanty knowledge of Spanish would permit exactly
who were employed, and I also told him about our horses. The result of
it all was that they rode off more or less satisfied, saying that as
"Don Roberto" was away they would call about them another time. About
five o'clock Royd and Henriquez returned, having obtained all they
wanted, and also bringing news. A revolution had broken out far and wide
throughout the country, and a Colonel Aparicio, who had distinguished
himself in a previous war, when General Flores and the Colorados were
victorious, had apparently taken temporary command of the Blanco forces,
which were increasing enormously day by day. That evening we held a
consultation as to how we could act for the best. Royd was naturally
rather despondent, for the rocky nature of the estancia obviously
increased our difficulty in protecting and guarding the stock, besides
affording a safe refuge for thieves and bad characters of every kind.
This was always a drawback in time of peace, and, of course, the danger
would be infinitely greater in time of war. However, there seemed
nothing for it but to await events, and meanwhile do our best to keep
our cattle and horses together as well as we could. The flock of sheep
near the house fed where the land was open, and Henriquez looked after
them. Should he be away, then either I or the boy did so for him. The
other flock up towards Guaycoru fed also in open country, and Charles
Bent was careful and reliable, and could be trusted to look well after
them. He seldom went away from his "puesto," or hut, where he lived
alone, his sole companion being his sheep-dog, "Bob," which he had
brought out with him, when little more than a puppy, from England. He
had one or two neighbours on his further side, who were friendly, and he
also was no great distance from the pulperia where I had first arrived
in the diligence; so up to now he had not found it quite so lonely as
might have been expected. The stone manga, where we could shut in
horses, and also a fair number of cattle, was in a broken and bad
condition, and Royd decided that he would get an Italian stonemason and
his son, who lived not very far away, towards the Rosario, to come over
and build up all the gaps and so put it in good order. Meanwhile, we had
to get the stone from where it lay among the big rocks; no easy job! It
then had to be put upon a wooden truck to which a pair of bullocks were
yoked, who slowly conveyed it to the corral. Fortunately, for a few days
the weather was fine and cool. We all took our share of this work, which
was tedious and tiring. We got a good supply by the time the stonemason
and his son arrived. The father was a thin, rather careworn-looking man,
beyond middle age, with hair fast turning grey; the son, a wiry-looking
youth of about sixteen, with black hair and a sallow complexion. With
them came a sandy-yellow coloured dog, eleven months old, very thin and
lanky-looking, but with muscular limbs, a long, straight back, a broad
forehead, small ears, and a pair of very intelligent eyes. For some
reason or other he took a fancy to me, and I saw he was well fed, for
which he seemed very grateful. He had the look of a lurcher, and was, of
course, a mongrel. He was the son's dog, from whom I bought him for a
couple of dollars. He was called "Napoleon," and I never altered his
name. We saw no more of the soldiers, so we contented ourselves with
keeping a constant eye on the horses, leaving the cattle for the time
being to look after themselves, nor did we attempt to gather them up to
the "rodeo," while the stonemason and his son were with us. Having
finished their work they bid us adieu, received payment, and with many
thanks, took their departure. "Napoleon" did not evince the least desire
to go back with them, for when they mounted their horses he came and lay
down by me, showing no sorrow at his change of owners. Following on all
this, I resumed my work of riding out among the rocks to look up the
cattle again, and the dog seemed very glad to go with me. I had not been
at this more than a couple of days when I thought I missed a point of
animals I had always been accustomed to find feeding more or less in the
same locality. I reported this to Royd, who had not been very well. I
think he had overdone himself, when we were all so busy collecting the
stone. He decided we should have a "para rodeo," or gathering together
of the herd, so as to form a better idea whether any of our cattle had
been stolen. So on Saturday morning we all sallied forth just after
daybreak, our horses having been tied up the night before. The gathering
up, however, was not a successful one, for although we did not let any
we saw break back, when we got them upon the rodeo they certainly seemed
fewer than usual. From the way they came up we hardly thought any had
stayed behind among the rocks. The next day Royd and I took a turn round
to visit our neighbours, to enquire if any of our cattle had been seen
by them. They welcomed us in a friendly manner, and were all apparently
anxious to talk about the war, and to relate all they had heard
regarding it. But we could hear nothing about our missing cattle. All,
therefore, we could do was to arrange for another gathering up within a
week, and two of our neighbours kindly offered to help us. They arranged
to meet us at the far end of the estancia, just after sunrise, and a
couple of native boys came with them. However, when we got the herd
collected on the "rodeo," they again seemed to be fewer than usual, so
we shut part of them up in the stone manga, for it would not hold them
all, and first counted those outside and then those inside, and we were
sadly compelled to conclude that quite fifty animals were missing. Where
to find them we did not know, and we could only hope they would turn up
again at the next para-rodeo.

A few days later, Henriquez started off early in the afternoon to
Saballa's pulperia, with the large saddle-bags slung over his saddle to
bring back his purchases. He returned just before sunset, and we at once
saw by his manner that something unusual had happened. He told us the
people at the pulperia were much upset because on the previous day a
little over a mile away, down near the wood which bordered the river
Rosario, a poor Italian musician had been found lying with his throat
cut from ear to ear. Whoever had done the deed appeared to have tied a
poor little monkey to the ankle of the dead man, and so to have left
them by the side of his small barrel-organ, which was also much broken.
The body was lying at the pulperia when Henriquez arrived, waiting
permission for burial; and he also saw the monkey, which was being taken
care of. It certainly shewed there were some very wicked people about,
as from the footprints round the place where the body was found, it
would seem that whoever did it was not alone. The Italian had been
playing two nights before at the house of a native, where there had been
a small dance, when several girls and young men were present, all of
whom, however, were well-known. In the morning he had some coffee given
to him, and left the house quite well, en route for the pulperia, and
late that afternoon his body was found by a casual passer-by, who at
once gave notice of what had happened. Poor Henriquez was greatly
affected during the evening, and kept repeating over and over again,
"Pobre Italiano" (poor Italian). "There he lay with his throat cut from
ear to ear. Oh! it's 'orrid, 'orrid, 'orrid!" For in his distress the
cockney accent became more pronounced than ever.

When, however, he had somewhat recovered his composure, he told us the
Whites were assembling in large force up towards Paysandu, and that many
Blancos from our neighbourhood had already gone outside to join them.
Meanwhile, the Reds were assembling in the province of San José, as also
in the Department of Colonia, and he seemed to think at present we had
more to fear from the Government forces so far as our horses and cattle
were concerned than we had from the revolutionists. As "Carnival" was
rather a good-looking horse, I caught him up most days, although I only
rode him occasionally. I let him out to feed late in the afternoon, when
so far as we knew all seemed to be quiet. Royd had an "ovaro," or
piebald, he thought a lot of, and also a grey he often rode, and
Henriquez took all the care he could of a nice little chestnut he was
very proud of, and always rode on special occasions. Things now went on
much as usual, and we had no visit from the Red soldiers, for which we
were thankful. I was out pretty regularly looking up the cattle, and I
kept on fancying from time to time that some were missing; nor, when we
had the para rodeo did I ever think as many came up as used to do. We
had some of the small fallow deer of the pampas about among the rocks,
and they could often be seen coming out towards late afternoon into the
open glades to feed. I managed to shoot four of them with my rifle, and
took off their skins which, when dried in the sun, soften easily. I also
shot a couple of "carpinchos," a kind of water-pig, which could often be
seen about sunset on the bank of the stream running along the western
side of the camp. They are hard to get near, and easily frightened.
Their skins are much thought of by the natives, who get them tanned, and
put them across the top of their "recados," or saddles. A few days later
we were all sitting at breakfast when Charles Bent arrived. He had
someone staying with him at the puesto for a few days, so was able to
get away. He told us he had not been troubled by soldiers, and that the
sheep were all right. But he said it was rumoured cattle had been stolen
from a small native estancia, beyond where he lived, which belonged to a
"Blanco," and it was supposed they had been taken by some "Colorado"
soldiers, who wished to escape service, and whose chief hiding place was
said to be among the large sierras on our camp. Royd did not like the
look of this at all, as if true it would prove a great danger to our
cattle, and might easily account for the number we thought missing. Bent
stayed the night, and did not go back until next afternoon. He told me
privately he believed there were some bad characters hiding among the
rocks, but that he did not wish to say more than he could help to Royd,
as he was apt to take things so much to heart, and it might cause him
needless worry. But he begged me to be careful, and take every
precaution when riding about among the sierras alone, looking up the
cattle, and he advised me to have "Napoleon" with me, and to see that I
was well armed. He also said he did not feel very happy himself, living
alone at the "puesto," but as it was well outside the rocks, surrounded
by open country, he intended to keep a sharp look-out and if possible to
avoid being taken unawares.

Fortunately, he had a placid, easy-going temperament, and was not at all
nervous, nor was he inclined to meet trouble half-way. The following
Friday, a little before eleven, a Blanco officer arrived, and with him
about fifty soldiers. They were passing from the town of Colla, towards
Guaycoru, and going on to join the White army. They had several extra
horses with them, so they did not trouble much about ours, except a
saino, or brown, which was feeding not far from the house, and this they
asked to take along with them. I had "Carnival" tied up and saddled, as
also was Royd's piebald, and Henriquez happened to be riding his
chestnut down with the sheep. The other horses were among the rocks, so
they did not see them. We invited the officer in to breakfast, which,
after the Spanish fashion, we were accustomed to have at eleven o'clock,
and dinner at sundown. He was quite young, having served but a short
time in the army. He asked if his men might have something to eat, which
meant they would like to kill a couple of sheep, and roast the meat over
two fires made in the open. They also had some "farenha," a kind of
meal, which they eat raw, with roast meat, and cooked into a sort of
pudding with boiled. We also gave them "yerba" and sugar to make their
matè, or native tea, and they were quite happy. They were all more or
less armed with either lances or guns, and many carried both. Many had a
revolver, and often a facon, or double-edged knife, stuck in their belts
behind; but taking them all round, they were quite orderly, and the
young officer seemed to have them under good control. He told us that
the revolution was extremely popular. Men were flocking far and wide to
the White banner, and up towards Paysandu had already joined in very
large numbers. He asked us if any of the "Colorados" had come to the
estancia, and if we knew of any being about in our neighbourhood. As
they departed they looked quite picturesque, with the Blanco device
round their hats, and the white banner flying from their lances, many
leading their spare horses. They all rode off at a trotte-cito, or
jog-trot, the young officer following alone in solitary grandeur behind.
But their visit, although it passed off quite well, seemed unduly to
depress poor Royd, whom we found it difficult to persuade into taking
anything like a cheerful view of the situation.

Towards the end of the next week, Henriquez said he should like to ride
over and visit a friend who lived at a small native place on the other
side of Guaycoru. So it was arranged he should go on Saturday morning,
returning home on the Monday, and that I should keep an eye on the flock
of sheep. They did not feed far distant from the house, and when once
turned early in the afternoon, usually fed quietly on their way home. So
on Saturday morning after coffee, Henriquez caught and saddled up his
chestnut, putting on his best gear, and wearing a clean white shirt, a
black jacket and waistcoat, and a pair of black "merino bombachos," or
wide trousers, tucked inside a pair of carefully polished long boots. On
these he buckled a pair of silver spurs, of which he was very proud, as
also of the handsome silver buttons fastening the wide belt of carpincho
skin he wore round his waist. Finally he put on his summer poncho, a
very nice one, and a soft broad-brimmed felt hat completed his
appearance, which seemed to give him every satisfaction. Just before
mounting his horse he examined his revolver, which he carefully fixed in
its proper place inside his belt. I rode with him for about half a mile,
and the last I saw of him was as he turned round the corner of a large
grey mass of rock which bordered the track, and so disappeared from
view. He did not return on the Monday as expected, and on the Tuesday
morning when the boy drove up the riding horses to the corral, much to
our surprise his chestnut was among them, with a bit of broken hide
hanging loosely down from where it was fastened round the horse's neck.
We supposed, however, it had been collared to a mare where Henriquez was
staying, as was a usual custom, and had broken away during the early
part of the previous night, and so found its way home. However, both
Tuesday and Wednesday passed and he did not return, as we felt quite
sure he would do, on a horse borrowed from his friends. So on Thursday
morning I started to ride over to the place where Henriquez had gone,
and during my absence the boy was to watch the sheep. Arriving there, as
I did, about nine o'clock, my surprise may be imagined when I was told
that Henriquez had left them about two o'clock on the Monday afternoon,
quite well, mounted on his own horse, and that he seemed anxious to
reach home with as little delay as possible. I stayed about half an hour
discussing the situation, and then started to ride to the pulperia at
Guaycoru, to make further enquiries. When I got there the owner knew
nothing, nor had he heard anything regarding Henriquez from anyone who
had come to his pulperia. He was a kind little man, and much concerned
at my news, and he promised to enquire from anyone who called at his
house if perchance they might have seen Henriquez, or heard any news of
him. I stayed a little while and got some coffee and two or three
biscuits, and then remounted a big brown horse I was riding, somewhat
loosely put together, but sure-footed all the same, and well-accustomed
to stony country. He had a head quite half of it white, and two wall
eyes, known to the natives as a "pampa," by which name he usually went.
Horses of this type and colour were said to have belonged to the
original Indians of the "Pampas," at the time of the Spanish
colonisation. After again talking things over with the pulpero, we
agreed my best plan would be to ride round by Bent's puesto, in case he
should have heard anything, and if not, I could let him know what had
happened, so that he too might make enquiries. I arrived a little before
one o'clock, and saw Bent walking close to his house as I rode up. "Bob"
ran out barking, but immediately knew me and gave me a friendly
greeting. Bent, of course, had known Henriquez well, and was much
perturbed by what I had to tell him. He had neither seen nor heard
anything. All he could tell me was that it was rumoured there were a
party of thieves supposed to be fugitives from the Reds, who were said
to have taken up their quarters in the rocks, and were stealing small
points of cattle and sheep as opportunity offered. These they were
supposed to drive off at night if there was any moon, or else
immediately after daybreak, to a place some considerable distance away,
where they were said to collect them, and where doubtless they had
friends ready to receive them. All this, however, was not very
comforting, but I asked Bent to be sure and let us know at once if he
heard any news of Henriquez, and also to make his disappearance known to
anyone he might happen to come across, for he lived not very far from
the "camino real," or Government road. I then mounted my horse,
determined to lose no time in getting back to the estancia as soon as
might be. I knocked the "pampa" along at about his best pace,
considering the broken ground over which I had to pass. I always had a
queer feeling passing through the rocks. You could see so little in
front of you, and were so easily apt to miss your way. However, it was
barely half past two when I rode up. Royd was at home, and at once came
out of the house. He was much shocked and greatly upset by what I had to
tell him, saying again and again he felt quite sure the worst had
happened, and that we should none of us ever see or hear of poor
Henriquez again. On Friday Royd and I spent the day searching the tracks
which ran through the rocky part of the estancia; first those over which
a horseman returning direct to the house was most likely to pass, and
then the ones which ran out on either side, which it was not usual for a
traveller to follow. We came across various signs that men with horses
had recently been passing in and out of the sierras, for twice we came
across places where apparently a young cow had been killed and a fire
made near, where part of it at any rate had evidently been roasted, and
that quite recently. On Saturday we carefully searched over another
portion of the estancia, but all without result. Not a sign could we see
of the missing man. Henriquez "had simply vanished!" On Monday morning
we sent the boy over to the pulperia at Guaycoru with a letter to the
pulpero, asking if he could give us any news. But all in vain; no one
had seen or heard anything of him since he started from his friends'
house on his chestnut horse to return home on that Monday afternoon, now
exactly a week ago. Tuesday passed and nothing came to relieve our
suspense. But on Wednesday morning Bent turned up about eleven o'clock,
and I saw at once by his face that something had happened. Having his
friend with him, he started on his horse to come down to the estancia,
and not wishing to be away longer than he could help, he chose a track
which ran through the centre of the rocks in a diagonal direction, not
usually followed, which came out not more than three-quarters of a mile
from the estancia house itself. Contrary to his custom, "Bob" followed
his master, instead of staying at the puesto, where the sheep were,
until his return. Bent was riding carefully along this track when "Bob"
suddenly began to whine and bark, and turning off on one side
disappeared round a big rock.

Bent whistled and called, but the dog did not return. So he got off his
horse and tied him up to a low bush which happened to be near. He then
took out his revolver and followed on foot in the direction the dog had
gone. He only went about fifty yards just round the edge of the large
rock already mentioned when he found himself in a small open glade, some
thirty yards long, and perhaps fifteen wide, at the far end of which
stood "Bob," close by an object which lay stretched on the ground. Here
was all that remained of poor Henriquez. He was lying slightly on one
side, face downwards; his hat and poncho, and his long boots and silver
spurs, his jacket and waistcoat, belt and revolver all gone! How he ever
came there goodness only knew. Nothing was left but his white shirt, his
black bombachos, and his stockings. It seemed as if the body must have
been either carried or dragged to the place where it lay. His face
looked peaceful, and the only thing to be noticed were signs of a wound
where a bullet had entered just between the shoulders, apparently fired
from behind. There were no signs of bruised or broken grass or horses'
footprints, if indeed a horse could have got round the very narrow space
beside the big rock. Bent covered the face with his pocket handkerchief,
leaving the body lying exactly as it was when he found it, and then
returning to where he had left his horse came on straight to the
estancia. Royd was greatly affected by the sad news which Bent brought
us, as well he might be. However, he said that he and I had better go
back with Bent to the place, taking the native peon and a spade and pick
with us, so that we might dig a grave, and so give the body a decent
burial. Fortunately, we found a spot close by, where the stones and rock
underneath the surface soil were more or less loose and detached. When
we had finished digging the grave, Bent read a portion of the burial
service, as we lowered all that remained of poor Henriquez into his last
resting-place. We then filled in the earth again, placing the loose
pieces of rock we had got out so that they covered and protected the
top, our intention being later on to fix a wooden cross, suitably
inscribed at the head of the grave, permanently to mark the place where
our poor friend lay. It was late afternoon as Royd and I slowly and
sorrowfully wended our way home, closely followed by the native peon,
for Bent had returned to his puesto so soon as the interment was finally
completed. Nothing much happened during the next few days. We had a
gathering together of the cattle, but we were short-handed, and when we
got them up to the rodeo we were compelled to conclude that a good many
of them were missing. One morning, about nine o'clock, a dozen
Government soldiers rode up, each with a red band round his hat and the
red banner flying from their lances. They were not too civil, and merely
said they were taking up horses and men. Our native peon was away among
the rocks, looking for two of our riding horses, which were missing.
Pedro, the cook, had retired to a dark corner of the kitchen. Our other
horses were feeding at some distance from the house, but they asked for
them to be brought up into the corral, so that they might take what they
required. So we sent off the native boy to bring them in. Fortunately,
"Carnival" and Royd's two horses happened to be feeding alone much
further away, so they did not come up with the others, and the soldiers
never saw them. They ended by taking five, including the pampa,
previously mentioned, and they left us two in very poor condition. It
was rather a trial to see them go off, but the soldiers gave us no
choice in the matter, so we could not do otherwise than let them go.
They also asked for some meat, and taking with them the greater part of
a sheep which was hanging in the galpon, they rode off in the direction
of Guaycoru, and we were pleased to see them depart without causing us
further trouble.

On the Monday following, Royd rode over to stay until the end of the
week with some friends who had an estancia a few miles on our side of
the town of San José. Nothing happened during his absence until Friday,
when Bent rode up about eight o'clock in the morning, looking much
perturbed. Fortunately, his friend had been staying with him at the
puesto as he so often did, for he told me that during the night not only
had about two-thirds of his flock been driven off and could not be found
anywhere in the morning, but that the puesto itself had been attacked
just after midnight by four men, all apparently fully armed. They had
doubtless expected Bent to be alone, but his dog "Bob" was sleeping at
the foot of his bed, and woke him up from sleep by his growling, and so
gave the alarm.

The puesto was a long, narrow building, built mostly of wood, thickly
plastered inside and out with mud, the inside being well whitewashed
throughout. The roof was thatched with a reed called "paja," much used
for the purpose, for it kept the house both warm in winter, and cool in
summer, and was an excellent protection against heavy rain. The front
door stood close up towards one end of the building, facing West. Inside
were two rooms, each with a window facing East, divided by a wall, so as
to make a living-room, into which you entered, with a sleeping-room
beyond. This latter had also an extra piece built on to it at right
angles, so as to give more sleeping accommodation, one of the walls of
which overlooked the front door. In the middle of this wall, about four
feet from the ground was a small wooden frame about eighteen inches
square which had been put in the wall for the purpose of ventilation,
and inside this was a moveable shutter which slid easily sideways,
secured by a small iron hook to keep it in its place. Both frame and
shutter were somewhat discoloured, so they were not easily noticed,
appearing more or less the same as the mud wall outside. The moon was
almost full, every now and again shaded over by light cloud, which came
slowly sailing up from the south, although there was really but little

The flock had gone quietly to rest on the large bare open space, where
they usually passed the night, perhaps one hundred and fifty yards
distant from the front door of the building. Bent had taken a look at
them between nine and ten o'clock, before retiring to rest, when they
appeared quite still, and everything quiet. It would be about two
o'clock in the morning, when "Bob" began to growl in low but savage
tones, which awoke Bent and his friend, who soon got into their clothes
and had hold of their revolvers, which were always kept loaded.
Meanwhile, Bent thought he could hear low voices outside the front door,
so with great presence of mind he pushed the table which stood in the
middle of the sitting-room up against it, and the chairs also, thus
forming a sort of barricade. Leaving his friend to press the table
inside against the front door as hard as he could, and also "Bob," who
was then barking violently. Bent hurried round to the wooden shutter in
his friend's bedroom wall, already mentioned, and drew it quietly back
without making any noise. Looking through it he saw four men fully armed
trying to force open the front door. He could also see their horses
standing saddled near the outside kitchen only a few yards away. He
promptly fired full at the nearest man, who forthwith uttered a loud
cry, apparently wounded. He then fired two more shots in quick
succession, but after the first shot the men made for their horses in
great confusion, mounted them, and hurriedly rode away.

The two horses which were missing a week ago had not yet turned up, so I
sent out the boy to have a good look round among the rocks, and if
possible to find them, for I feared lest they had been stolen, which
ultimately proved to be the case, for we never saw them again. Leaving
the native peon at the house to look after the sheep, I started with
Bent to go to the puesto, so that we might try if we could hear
anything of all the sheep he told me were missing. His friend appeared
glad to see us, for he had received rather a shock, and did not much
like, after all that had happened, being there by himself. When we came
to count up the sheep we found the number remaining to be barely six
hundred some nine hundred having disappeared, which was indeed a heavy
loss. Poor Bent seemed very sad about it, and well he might be! We could
only conclude that the four men who attacked the puesto must have had
accomplices, who drove off the sheep earlier in the night without
causing much disturbance, by first turning them off the bare place where
the flock was resting across the ground where they were accustomed to
feed, before finally driving them off, as they appeared to have done. In
so doing the strongest and best sheep would naturally go in front, while
those which were weaker and less valuable would be the ones to stay
behind. Seeing that four armed men had attacked the puesto, it seemed
probable that at least an equal number had carried off the sheep. The
fact that there was so much rocky and broken country in the
neighbourhood of the estancia, and not very far away, made it all the
more difficult to obtain any clue as to the route the thieves might have
taken. The ground was hard, and we could find no trace of where the
stolen sheep had passed.

Having done all we could in this direction, Bent and I separated, each
of us riding round to two or three of the neighbours whom we knew, to
make them aware of what had happened. Late in the afternoon I called at
the pulperia at Guaycoru, hoping I might perhaps hear something
there--but all the owner could tell me was he had heard a rumour that
Mamerto Gomez, the man I had once spoken to at his house, had been seen
three days previously with half a dozen other men entering the rocks,
fully armed, from the opposite side, but for what purpose or whether
they were in any way connected with the carrying off of the sheep, it
was impossible to say! It was easy to surmise they were up to no good,
but this was of course merely conjecture, and I completely failed to
learn anything which might lead to the recovery of the large number of
sheep which were missing. Royd was to come home the next afternoon, and
I knew what a blow this would be to him, when he came to hear of his
loss. I had "Carnival" tied up that night, and sunrise saw me in the
saddle on my way to the puesto, to consult with Bent as to what we could
do further, with a view to obtaining some reliable information if
possible by the time Royd would return. When I got there Bent had heard
nothing, although he had communicated with more than one traveller
riding towards the road along which the diligence passed. We arranged
the direction in which Bent should search during the day, and I took the
opposite one, and made a long round, calling up anywhere I thought it
possible I might hear anything. By mid-day, I found myself not very far
from the pulperia at Guaycoru, so stopped there, and arranged with the
owner to send over a messenger at once to the estancia should he hear
anything which would help us. I then rode back to the puesto to consult
once more with Bent, who by this time--it was now two o'clock--had
returned from his search, without having obtained any information,
although he had questioned at least a dozen people since I left him in
the morning. It was all very trying and disappointing. There seemed
nothing for it but to return to the estancia to meet Royd when he got
home, and tell him what had happened.

It was nearly four o'clock when I arrived, and about half an hour later
Royd turned up, having much enjoyed his little outing. He brought a
young English boy, about fifteen, with him, tall for his age, with broad
shoulders, and an upright figure. His name was Frank Tryon, but he was
generally known as "Francisco." He was an excellent rider, and fond of
horses and dogs, especially of the pretty "alazan," or chestnut pony he
was riding when he arrived, with its flowing mane and tail, of which it
was easy to see he was really very proud.

I helped them to unsaddle, and told the cook to get some coffee ready,
as they told me they had breakfast as they came along. Royd then sat
down in an easy chair and began to smoke. "Well, Royd," I said, "I am
very glad to see you back. I have just come down from Bent's puesto. It
was attacked by thieves on Thursday night, and two-thirds of the sheep
were stolen. Bent and I have searched in every direction both yesterday
and to-day, and we can learn nothing whatever about them." "Goodness
gracious! that is indeed bad luck," replied Royd, "but I am glad poor
Bent got off all right; it must have given him a great shock. I hope his
friend was with him so that he would not be alone." I then told him all
that had happened, and also what I had heard about Mamerto Gomez and his
men having been seen entering the sierras. "It is not unlikely he may be
the real cause of it all," said Royd. "I fully expect that fellow had a
hand in it, for I believe him to be a regular scoundrel, in spite of his
suave manner and grand appearance." Certainly Royd bore his misfortune
with more fortitude than I expected, for the loss was indeed a heavy
one. The late afternoon was now drawing on, and I sent the native boy to
bring up the "tropilla," which happened to be feeding not far away, up
into the corral, so that we might collar Francisco's pony to the
tropilla mare, and we then let them all out again to feed for the night.
After dinner we talked the whole affair over before going to bed,
without, however, coming to any conclusion as to what prospect there was
of our ever again hearing of the missing sheep. Early on Monday morning,
leaving Francisco at the house, who said he would keep an eye on the
sheep, Royd and I rode over to the puesto, where Bent had nothing
whatever to report. He had managed to interview during Sunday some half
dozen horsemen who were riding along within reach of him, but could
obtain nothing in the way of information. Royd and I both took a long
turn round in opposite directions, each returning to the puesto about
three o'clock; but it was all in vain: we could learn nothing which
would help us from anybody. We again held a consultation, and Royd
determined that for the present Bent should stay on at the puesto and
have his friend with him, maintaining as strict a watch as possible over
the sheep which remained. Later, if we failed to hear anything of the
ones that had been stolen, the only thing to do would be for Bent to
come down with his sheep to the estancia, and join them on to those
which were there. As by leaving the puesto he would not only be safer
and more secure himself, but he could then look after all the sheep
remaining on the estancia by keeping them together in one flock.

The autumn of the Southern year was now well advanced, and there was
still plenty of grass within reasonable reach of the estancia house--but
meanwhile we only thought of this plan as being one suitable for the
near future. Royd and I then rode home, having had a fairly long day.
Everything seemed quiet as we followed along the narrow track which
wound itself like a snake among the big masses of grey rock. Suddenly
Napoleon, who was with us, started off as if in pursuit of something,
and I took out my revolver and followed him up. Reaching an open space
quite hidden from the track, I came upon the remains of a young cow, the
best joints of the meat having evidently been cut up and taken away with
the hide on them, while the animal was still warm; indeed, it was plain
the cow had only been recently killed. I called to Royd who was only a
little way behind me to come and look. It certainly looked as if thieves
were not very far off, and in view of recent events it did not tend to
make either of us feel very comfortable. Probably one of the grey foxes
often to be seen as evening approached had been visiting the remains,
and Napoleon had caught scent of it, which attracted his attention. When
we got home we found Francisco quite happy, and he and I took a turn
round and brought up the riding horses, shutting them up for the night
in the stone "manga," instead of leaving them out to feed as usual. We
also saw to our guns and ammunition. All this gave us food for
reflection, and we sat up talking and smoking until quite late.

Towards the end of the week we made up our minds to have another
gathering together of the cattle. Francisco looked forward to this with
much pleasure, as he was anxious to see how his chestnut would acquit
himself among the rocks, which were quite new to him. We tied up horses
over night, and were on the move just after dawn. It was a beautiful
morning, the sun rose in a clear sky, the herald of a fine day. I and
the native peon went together to quite the far end of the camp. Royd and
Francisco taking a position a little nearer home The cattle appeared to
be coming up well, nor did any so far as we knew succeed in breaking
back. When, however, we got them up to the rodeo and made a count, at
least two hundred and fifty animals seemed missing. The native peon and
boy with the aid of Francisco, kept them there, not allowing them to go
back to their feeding ground until twelve o'clock. Meanwhile, Royd and I
went back over the ground again to try and discover if any, and if so
how many, might have escaped us. However, we failed to find them in any
direction. That being so the only conclusion we could come to was that a
large number of the herd, certainly more than two hundred had
disappeared, and in all probability been stolen. This was by no means a
pleasant conclusion. Poor Royd was very depressed, and as we sat by the
fire that evening, turned to me and said, "If this sort of thing goes on
it will be about time for me to clear out." I tried to comfort him as
well as I could, although I did not feel at all happy in my own mind;
far from it. "Suppose we have another gathering up in a week's time, we
can see what happens then," I said. Meanwhile I will be about on
horseback as much as I can among the rocks, and I will see if I can find
a clue to the mystery. "Thank you!" replied Royd, "we will wait and see
if more of them come up to the rodeo in a week's time." But before the
day came I could see the matter was constantly weighing on his mind, nor
did I at all wonder, and I really felt very sorry for him. Next morning
we were up betimes, and all went to the corral to catch up horses for
the day. There was a very pretty "dorodilla," or bay filly in the
tropilla, with a black mane and tail, about two years old. This Royd
proposed to give as a present to Francisco, as he said it would make a
nice companion for his chestnut. This pleased him greatly, and he soon
began to talk of catching it up and leading it about with a halter and
rein if only it was sufficiently tame to allow this to be done. The
following days I spent among the sierras, and I could not disguise from
myself that the various groups of cattle when I saw them feeding, and I
recollected what they used to look like seemed certainly smaller;
indeed, several animals I knew and therefore quite expected to see I
never managed to see at all. All seemed quiet, however, nor did they
show any evidence of having been recently disturbed. I was riding home
on Friday evening later than usual for it was close upon sunset, when I
thought I heard voices. I immediately stopped and listened carefully. A
light breeze rustling from where the sound came seemed to bring it
nearer, and I judged it could not be more than one hundred and fifty
yards distant. There happened to be an open space close to where I was,
some twenty paces long by ten wide. It had a narrow entrance, and was
quite surrounded and shut in by the high rocks. I knew well where it
was, having been there before. So I dismounted and led my horse through
this narrow entrance into the open space, where he was completely hidden
from view, and hobbled him and tied him up. I then came out, and
carefully concealing myself, stole along on foot in the direction from
which I had heard the voices. I easily obtained sufficient cover, and
had not advanced at all far when I saw four men, all armed, about sixty
paces from me. One of them was Mamerto Gomez, the man I had seen at the
pulperia; I recognised him at once, and he seemed to be directing the
others, as if they were arranging some plan or other. I listened
attentively, hoping I might perhaps hear some mention of the stolen
sheep, but what with the subdued tone in which they conversed and the
fact that I did not know much Spanish, I failed to make out what they
were saying. Their horses stood saddled near them, and I noticed they
wore the red device round their black felt hats. I remained perfectly
still for quite ten minutes, well sheltered from their view by a large
piece of rock, where I could see but could not be seen. At the end of
that time they suddenly mounted their horses and rode away in the
opposite direction to where I was hid, and I must allow I did not feel
very sorry to see them depart. I then went back to my horse, and at once
rode home. Royd also had just returned, and was unsaddling near the
front door. He had been round to ask three or four of our neighbours to
help us to gather up our cattle on the Monday morning following. He
thought, perhaps, if we had more horsemen we might make a more
successful "para rodeo" than we had done before.

I told him my little adventure, and what I had seen, and he shook his
head. "That fellow Mamerto is at the bottom of all this trouble, I do
believe," he said, "and I do wish you had been able to hear distinctly
what those thieves were planning and talking about."

Only the first sign of dawn was appearing on Monday morning when we
saddled up our horses and rode silently in among the grey rocks.
Francisco did not go with us, but he joined us later at the rodeo. I had
the furthest to go, quite to the end of the estancia, near Guaycoru.
Bent came from his side, and four of our neighbours each fell into line
at the place appointed. So this time we mustered a fairly strong force,
and none of the cattle had any chance of breaking back. But by the time
we had got them outside the sierras, and even before I could see them
gathered together at close quarters, I felt sure in my own mind that
quite a third of the herd was missing. Thanks to our neighbours'
assistance we were able to make a correct count, and this we did twice
over, so as to be sure we were correct. There were only four hundred and
sixty-five animals, not counting a dozen very small calves, whereas
there ought to have been over seven hundred at least. Anyway, making
every possible allowance, there were certainly more than two hundred
missing; not far different from what we had made them out to be ten days
ago. There was no accounting in any way where the missing animals could
be, so we had to accept the inevitable and conclude they must have been
driven off, probably during the night, and stolen. They seemed just to
have vanished in the same way as did the sheep. One misfortune so
quickly following the other caused Royd to feel his loss very acutely,
and it naturally made him despondent and down-hearted. I tried my best
to cheer him up, but with little success. One day we succeeded in
running the troop of mares and colts up into the stone enclosure. They
were swift of foot, knew every turn and twist of the rocks, and so long
as they kept inside the sierras it was difficult for anyone to get hold
of them. When once in the corral it was a different matter. A chestnut
colt, with a white star on his forehead, smaller and younger than
"Carnival" was easily lassoed, and afterwards tied up to a post, from
which to no purpose he made strenuous efforts to get loose. He had to
remain where he was during the night, and next morning we collared him
to a tame mare, so that he could easily be got hold of when wanted. A
couple of mornings later, when the riding horses were brought up to the
corral, Francisco's bay filly was missing, and, after a long search, was
found, minus its skin, which was but of small value. Why it had been
killed was a mystery, until some time afterwards it became known that a
near neighbour was making a set of horse-gear of raw cowhide and mares
hide; and as this set was a very particular one it required all the hide
to be of the same colour. So the maker, having run out of mare's hide,
searched round in the neighbourhood until he found an animal to suit
him, which happened to be Francisco's filly. The latter was greatly
distressed by his potrilla coming to so premature an end, but there it
lay dead, so there was nothing more to be done. This shews the small
amount of respect there was for property in those days in the country
districts of the Republic. Immediately following this little event,
Colonel Pinto Mallada who held an important position in the Department,
arrived with two hundred and fifty soldiers and encamped near the
estancia for a couple of days. He sent his adjutant up to say he would
require a supply of meat for his men to eat, but that orders had been
given them not to take any horses. Consequently, those we wanted to save
were brought up to feed within easy distance of the house, as Mallada's
orders were generally obeyed.

Francisco happened to be left alone at the estancia with Pedro the cook,
and when he went out to see if the horses were all right, he noticed
that his chestnut pony was missing. So he went down on an old brown
horse he was riding to the Colonel's tent, situate under a tree, but he
was not allowed to see him, as he was taking his "siesta." However, his
sergeant, whom he interviewed, said he was to come later. The Colonel,
who was a stern half Indian, was much feared; he spoke little, and had
but little mercy for his enemies. So Francisco returned to the house and
went down again to see him later on. He found him sitting sucking
"matè," while the sergeant stood beside him combing carefully for him
his long hair, which hung down almost to his shoulders. Francisco told
the Colonel his pony had gone, whereupon the latter directed his
sergeant to take him round the encampment, as the soldiers were
scattered in different places in lots of eight or ten together. No pony
could be found, so Francisco and the sergeant returned to see the
Colonel, who then said if the pony was not in the encampment some men he
had sent away must have taken it, but that Francisco need not fear, as
he should have his pony back again.

Thereupon Francisco once again returned to the house very sorry not to
have found his pony--but still hoping for the best. Sure enough in three
days a soldier rode up with the chestnut pony, apparently none the worse
for his enforced absence.

This shews the Colonel had a certain kind of feeling about him, although
at the same time he had little regard for the lives of those who
happened to oppose his wishes. I believe in the end, a long time
afterwards, he was shot in Rosario, during some political trouble. Early
in the next week I rode over to what was known as the "Swiss Colony,"
some fourteen miles distant from us in more or less a Southerly
direction. There was a pulperia there where the diligence which came out
from Monte Video stopped, and often brought us letters--which usually
came to hand sooner or later, as opportunity offered. However, just now
Royd was expecting some, and as a few small purchases were also required
I saddled up poor Henriquez's chestnut, and taking a pair of saddle-bags
with me, made a start. He was a good little horse, the morning was
bright and fine, and I enjoyed my ride as I galloped along over the
rolling country in front of me. I just pulled up at Saballa's pulperia
as I passed to hear if there was any news. But everything was quiet, and
no soldiers seemed to be about. Just about a mile distant from the pass
over the river Rosario, leading to the Swiss Colony, I overtook Mr.
Frederick Dampier, owner of the Estancia del Pichinango. He also was on
his way to Quincke's pulperia, so we rode on together. He asked me a
good deal about Royd, and how he was getting on, etc, and he looked very
serious when I related to him all that had happened. "I doubt if you
will ever see either those sheep or cattle again," he said. "I expect
there is a regular gang of thieves located inside the sierras, with
Mamerto Gomez as their leader."

"I hope they won't take it into their heads to come our way; it would
not be the first time such a thing has happened; although, fortunately,
there is no secure hiding place for them in the day-time here, like
there is inside the sierras."

When we got to the pulperia I found three letters, two for Royd and one
for me. I soon completed my small purchases, and half an hour later was
ready to start on my return journey. Mr. Dampier was also returning by
the same way we had come, so we rode on together. When we had got
through the pass, he turned to me and said, "I wonder if you would care
to go and take charge up at the Cerro. It is where my partner lived
before he returned to England, a little more than a year ago. You might
find yourself fairly comfortable there; anyway, you would have plenty of
room, and you could assist me in the management of the estancia." This
proposal certainly took me somewhat by surprise, for I had only been
about nine months in the country, but I thanked him, and said I would
see what Royd thought about it when I got back, and let him know without
unnecessary delay. We then parted company, just about in the same place
where we had met in the morning. The chestnut was going well, the sun,
now past the meridian, was shining brightly, the air was fresh and cool,
and my ride was a pleasant one. I thought a good deal as I rode along
about what Mr. Dampier had said to me, and the more I thought of it the
better I liked the idea of what he had proposed. The only difficulty was
that if Royd was going to have continued trouble at the rocks, I did not
wish to leave him, as it were, in the lurch.

Now that the war had definitely broken out, it seemed to me that if I
went to the "Cerro," it would certainly be an experience, and there
would probably prove to be a fair amount of excitement as well. It was
just after two o'clock when I reached the estancia. Royd had ridden out,
and did not return until towards sunset. I unsaddled the chestnut and
let him go. He at once trotted off to find his friends and enjoy a quiet
feed. He knew they would not be very far away. Meanwhile Pedro got me
some food and coffee, and I sat down and read my letter, which had come
from England, over again, and smoked a quiet pipe. When Royd returned I
handed him his letters and showed him my purchases, which he found
satisfactory. He had been out among the sierras, and had taken a turn
round to see a native neighbour, where doubtless he had discussed the
situation, and why so many cattle were missing when we got them up to
the rodeo. Perhaps his native friend had given him comfort, for he
seemed in better spirits than usual. I said nothing to him until we had
finished dinner and were sitting smoking by the fire in the dining room;
for winter was coming on, and the evenings began to be chilly. Then I
told him how I had met Mr. Dampier, and what he had said to me. He
looked up rather amused. "I think if I were you I should go," he said.
"Mr. Dampier is an exceedingly nice man, and I feel sure you will get on
very well with him; and you will be sure to gain a lot of experience at
a large estancia like the Pichinango." "But what about the trouble in
the rocks," I replied. "I should not like to leave you without seeing
you through; that is if I can be of any help to you." "Well," said Royd,
"I have been thinking things over this afternoon. I can bring Bent and
the remaining sheep down, and join them on to the flock we already have
here. He can then look after them all together. Curiously enough, one of
the letters you brought me is from my friends, with whom I stayed the
other day, who have their estancia on this side of San Josè. They
propose, if things get worse over here, I should take what cattle and
sheep I may have to their camp, and join up with them. They have more
land, you know, than they really want, and it could carry comfortably
more stock than I am likely to have remaining here. At any rate, the
idea seems worth considering, for if this war continues, it might
perhaps turn out to be the best thing to do." "Well," I said, "we will
sleep over it all, and then if you are still in the same mind I will see
about accepting Mr. Dampier's offer." Next morning, we had just finished
our coffee and were walking down to the corral to catch our horses as
usual. "Well, Royd, what do you think about it this morning?" I said.
"Are you still of the same opinion about my going to the 'Cerro'?" "Yes,
I am," he said. "I think it would be a great pity for you to refuse the
offer. I have got some letters to write, and as the diligence will be
passing Quincke's in a couple of days on its way back to San Josè, I
will send the native peon over with them early to-morrow morning. I will
finish the letters first, and then you and I can ride over to the puesto
and see Bent."

"That being so," I replied, "I think I cannot do better than write a
letter to Mr. Dampier, accepting his proposal, and tell him I will go
over to the 'Cerro' on Wednesday in next week. The peon could leave my
letter at Mr. Dampier's house as he passes by."

"So be it," said Royd, "and I sincerely wish you all luck and prosperity
in the new departure." So I wrote my letter while I was waiting for
Royd, thanking Mr. Dampier for what he had said to me, accepting his
offer, and saying I would go over to the "Cerro" on Wednesday morning in
the following week. All appeared quiet as Royd and I rode among the
rocks to the puesto. Here and there we passed a few cattle, a silver fox
we disturbed ran in front of us for a hundred yards or so, and then
dodged round the corner of a rock, where he probably had his lair. We
noticed the smell of a skunk a little further along. He, too, had been
out and about for his morning exercise. Silence reigned everywhere,
broken only by the shrill cry of the "pteru-pteru," or plover, a cry we
were so accustomed to hear that we hardly noticed it. When we arrived we
found Bent all right, having just come to his house to see about some
breakfast. The sheep were quietly feeding a little distance away. There
was no news. He had heard nothing; nor had he seen anyone just lately.
His friend had gone away for a few hours to see a native he knew up
towards Guaycoru.

Royd told Bent he thought he had better come down with the sheep to the
estancia, leaving the puesto for the time being unoccupied. This seemed
to please him rather than otherwise, and it was settled he should come
down with his belongings on the following Monday, and Royd promised to
send up the native peon to help him to drive the sheep. Anything he had
to leave behind could remain in the house, which he could lock up,
bringing the key away with him, and whatever there was could be sent for
later. I also told Bent about Mr. Dampier's offer to me, at which he
seemed somewhat amused, although his good manners prevented him saying
all that was perhaps passing through his mind. Royd and I then rode
round by the pulperia at Guaycoru to see if by chance we could hear
anything which might afford us a clue as to what had become of our
missing cattle; or indeed, of the stolen sheep. Early next morning the
native peon rode off with Royd's letters for the Swiss Colony, and I
gave him mine to deliver at Mr. Dampier's house as he passed. On the
Monday following he and Francisco made an early start to go and help to
bring down the sheep from the puesto. The latter rode his chestnut pony
and hoped to enjoy the ride.

The sheep travelled down well. Bent brought his two horses with him,
riding one and leading the other as a pack-horse with his things. "Bob,"
of course, followed, greatly interested, behind the sheep; indeed, he
seemed to enjoy the excitement of making the move. "Napoleon" gave him
an affectionate welcome, for they had always been friends. On the
Tuesday I put together my things. Royd kindly said he would send the
native peon with me, who could lead the extra horse which was to carry
them, and then bring him back afterwards. Anything I could not take was
put into a big box, which was to be sent to Saballa's pulperia by the
first cart which might pass, whence I could easily get it brought on to
the "Cerro." I took my Colts revolver and all my cartridges with me,
also my "Service" rifle, which I had given to me just as I was leaving
England, and I found I could pack all I was likely to need for the
present quite easily in two large bundles, which could be fixed on
either side of the "recado," on the led horse. The peon took a large
pair of saddle-bags for me on the horse he rode, and I had a smaller
pair on mine. Wednesday morning, June 15th, proved fine, the sun shining
in a clear sky. So I bid adieu to Royd and Bent and Francisco, and with
many good wishes from them all, mounted "Carnival," accompanied by
Napoleon, and duly followed the native peon who, with the pack-horse
behind him, had already made a start. And so I bid adieu not without
regret to "Las Sierras de Mal Abrigo," for I had been very happy there,
and as I passed along my way it seemed to me, at any rate for the time
being, a step into the great unknown. When we arrived at the "Cerro del
Pichinango" I was received by an Englishman called Robinson, who acted
as cook and general caretaker inside the house. He soon got me some food
and coffee ready, and he also found something to eat for the man who had
come with me. There were three peones, or out-door servants about; an
uncle, and two of his nephews. They were natives of Uruguay, but by
parentage were Indians of the Pampas, which also showed very clearly in
their countenances. I wrote a message to Royd on a piece of paper, which
I gave to the peon for him, just to say I had arrived all right.
Meantime I had unsaddled "Carnival," and tied him up in a grass-covered
court or enclosure, surrounded by a high stone wall, where there were
also several trees and two large iron gates at the bottom, which were
usually kept locked. The house itself certainly looked imposing. It was
built the whole width of the upper end of the court, and was divided
into two parts by a high stone archway, the front of which stood level
with the court, while the back led direct into the large "galpon," or
wool-shed, which was joined to the house its full length behind, with
two large openings on its outer side, closed by wide wooden doors, both
ends being quite shut in. The house had nine rooms, large and small;
four on one side of the open archway, which was shut off from the galpon
by a door in the centre, and five on the other. Each had a large window
overlooking the court, protected outside by thick iron bars. First came
the kitchen, with a door leading direct into the open, and a bedroom
above, for the cook; then, the dining room, with two large windows
opening on the court; next, a small room, with a little iron stove
called the gun-room, and next again a bedroom; each having a window
looking on the court. This bedroom had also a door opening into the
stone archway. On the other side of this were five rooms, all leading
one into another; but the fourth had a door opening on the court; while
the fifth room was called the visitors' room, and had a large high
window in the middle of the end of the house, which gave abundance of
light, although it, too, was heavily barred. This room was comfortably
furnished, while from the others on this side of the archway the
furniture had been mostly removed, one of them being at this time used
as a storeroom.

The whole house was an "azotea," having one long flat roof throughout,
all round which was a low battlemented parapet with open spaces, between
where you could place firearms for self-defence in the event of a siege
or an attack from outside. Out of the dining room was an inside passage
and ladder leading to the roof, which was removable, having a small
shelter or covering built over it at the top. The roof itself was
carefully tiled and cemented, collecting all the rain-water which fell
upon it, and carrying it through pipes into the large Alhibi, or
reservoir, carefully tiled, which stood in the middle of the court. Here
the water remained quite cool in summer, an ample supply being collected
during the rainy weather, sufficient to last the whole year.

There were no wells or springs, for the house stood high on an eminence
overlooking the surrounding country, the ground all round being of a
rocky nature, the surface soil in places having scarcely any depth at
all; indeed, nowhere near the house was it at all suitable for either
crops or cultivation.

During the afternoon I had one of the tropillas of horses brought up
into the corral, and we collared "Carnival" to a nice little grey mare,
so that he could go out to feed with the other horses. But he could not
escape back again to the rocks, as he certainly would have done had he
been left loose. The mare, however, seemed very considerate and good to
him, and he afterwards became quite fond of her. Napoleon, too, seemed
to settle down easily into his new surroundings, and it was not long
before he obtained control over the three or four mongrels who barked at
him on his arrival. I took a little walk round the establishment during
the afternoon, and had a look over a small flock of "southdowns" which
fed near the house, and were shut up into their sheep yard at night,
surrounded by a stone wall. They were now feeding with their faces
towards home, and were generally looked after by one of the Indian boys.

As I walked along through the long grass, a brace of partridges got up
close to me, and flew away straight in front of me. Had I taken a gun
with me they would have been an easy shot. Behind the "Cerro" the
country seemed to roll away into distance, like the waves of the sea, so
characteristic of the Pampas of South America.

As I returned I climbed up to the top of the group of rocks just behind
the house itself, enclosed by a stone wall not by any means in good
condition. From there the country on one side appeared rocky and broken,
with a valley running down at right angles, where apparently stone had
been got out of a kind of quarry, near which I could see two or three
stone erections, which might be either huts or temporary shelters. Far
in the distance were woods which seemed to border a river. This I found
to be the river Pichinango, which was the boundary of the estate on that

I had some dinner at sundown, and then enjoyed a quiet pipe, and thought
over the events of the day. Later, I fixed up my things in the bedroom
joining the archway, in the corner of which latter I placed an old
wool-bag I found lying about, for Napoleon to sleep on, and I too went
to bed, asking the cook to be sure and call me in good time in the
morning. I slept soundly, and the air felt fresh and keen when I went
out into the courtyard not long after sunrise, where I was
affectionately greeted by Napoleon, who seemed very pleased to see me
again. The Indians were already sitting round their fire in the galpon,
sucking Matè, and Robinson was busy in his kitchen, preparing the early
coffee. The first thing I did was to have the horses belonging to the
"Cerro" brought up into the corral, so that I might look them over. They
were a mixed lot, some seventy in all, and varied greatly in colour and
appearance. But this was only to be expected, and there were some useful
horses among them.

A little before eleven, Don Frederico Dampier rode up from his house,
"La Concordia," situate at the other end of the estancia. I saw him
coming so went out a little way to meet him. His well-knit but spare
figure looked remarkably well on horseback. We first took a turn
outside, and Don Frederico pointed out certain things which needed
attention. We then went inside, and he gave me the keys of two large
cupboards which contained linen and household necessaries. He also gave
me a book called the "log-book," in which I was to write down anything
which happened, and also the work which was done each day, as it passed.
By this time, Robinson had got ready some breakfast for us, after which
we mounted our horses and rode round a troop of cattle called the
"tamberos," or tame animals; supposed to come up to their "rodeo" every
day before sundown. However, as a matter of fact, they were quite as
wild as the larger herd, and it was some little time before I got them
well under control. We then went on to two of the puestos, each in
charge of a puestero, or shepherd, who looked after his flock of
something under three thousand sheep. The first puesto we came to was in
charge of a "basco" named Laborde, who had emigrated, while yet young,
to Uruguay, from the Spanish shores of the Bay of Biscay. He was a
fresh-coloured, good-tempered looking man, still in middle life, and he
seemed cheerful and comfortable with his wife and three children round
him. He gave us many particulars about his flock; how they were getting
on, etc. He had been with them most of the morning; had just ridden home
to get something to eat, and was going out to give them a turn towards
home a little later on. He said he had not been troubled by soldiers,
although he had noticed small detachments passing towards the Sierras,
but they had not come near either the flock or his puesto. We then rode
on to the second, kept also by a basco, called Martin, the number of
sheep being more or less the same as the one previously visited. Martin
was a fine, robust, good-looking man, in the prime of life; very alert
and intelligent, and apparently well-versed in the ways of estancia
life. We passed alongside his flock as they were quietly feeding; and we
looked over three large points of cattle, and also some mares and colts
as I accompanied Don Frederico a little further on his way home.

I then bid him farewell and rode back direct to the Cerro, and with one
of the Indians got the tamberos, before-mentioned, up to their rodeo in
the afternoon, keeping them there about three-quarters of an hour as a
matter of discipline, and then as the sun fell towards the horizon on
the late autumn afternoon the little flock of Southdown sheep drew
towards home, to be shut in their sheepyard for the night. So I took the
opportunity of looking them carefully over, and making a correct count
of them; they were just over three hundred, so that I might the more
easily become aware, if by ill-luck any should be missing.

The old cook, Robinson, had gone through some exciting experiences in
his earlier life. When little more than a boy he sailed for the
Southern seas in one of "Green's" whaling ships, fitted out for a three
years' cruise beyond Cape Horn, in pursuit of the sperm whale. This was
then a very profitable occupation. From captain to cabin-boy, everyone
had a share in the results of the voyage, and when the good ship
returned, fully loaded with her valuable cargo of sperm oil, she had a
great welcome from her owner, who often went down to greet her arrival
in Plymouth Sound. Eventually he rose to be a first-class hand aboard;
indeed, it was his office to throw the harpoon, as he stood upright in
the bow of the boat, into the whale, an act requiring not only courage,
but also great judgment and skill. It was only upon rare occasions that
the old man could be induced to talk of his sea-faring days. A kind of
gloom always seemed to lie behind them all, and it was but by a mere
chance that I happened later to find out what it meant. Like so many of
the sea-faring class with him drink was the trouble, and after a bout of
it he would sometimes fall into a kind of delirium, talking incessantly
to himself, yet hardly aware of what he was saying. It seems he had been
wrecked on the northern coast of New Zealand in the days of long ago,
and there he had lived with a Maori tribe, and had wedded a Maori
spouse. Then came a war with a neighbouring tribe, who proved
victorious, and he saw his wife tomahawked before his eyes, while he
himself was unable to render her any assistance.

Following this, he fled into the bush, where he subsisted on fern-root,
and anything else he could obtain, until by great good fortune he
managed to signal and attract the attention of a passing vessel, who
lowered a boat and took him off.

He then worked his way back to England, and afterwards went out to the
Falkland Islands Company, at Port Stanley.

Finally, he came over to Uruguay, drifted to the "Cerro del Pichinango"
during the war of "Oribé," where he had remained ever since. So long as
all went well, he was attentive to duty inside the house; clean and tidy
in preparing the meals; indeed, never happier than when fully employed
with his scrubbing brush and an ample supply of soap and water. One of
his great pleasures was to hoist the Union Jack on the small standard on
the top of the azotea on feast-days and holidays, when he would again
lower it at sunset, the same as he would have done on board ship. His
failing compelled me to keep all Caña, or white rum, under lock and key,
although I was instructed to deal him out his daily allowance twice
during the day; when the sun got over the fore-yard, as he was wont to
express it, and at sundown. Outside he chiefly employed himself in
chopping and splitting up wood for the stove in the kitchen, with his
two axes, of which he took great care, and of which he was apparently
very proud.

We happened to have a spell of fine weather during the first few days
after I arrived at the "Cerro," so I was enabled to see things generally
better than I could otherwise have done.



The Cerro del Pichinango comprised something over sixteen thousand
acres, on which fed twenty thousand sheep, two thousand head of cattle,
and three hundred and fifty horses. The sheep were divided into seven
flocks, not counting a small flock of Southdowns at the Cerro. Each
flock had its own area of camp, over which to feed, and was located at
its own "puesto," where its "puestero," or shepherd, lived and looked
after it. The cattle grazed at will all over the estate, which was quite
open, without fences of any kind, here and there, in large groups, and
often in small points of twenty or thirty animals. There was good
pasturage, and abundant water. The river Rosario, which bordered the
estate on the West, did not run in a straight line, but curved in its
course, while at the South-West corner it took a much larger curve,
forming almost a semi-circle, and here the woods were wider than
hitherto. All this gave the scenery quite a park-like aspect, which was
very attractive. On the Southern side the river Pichinango did the same,
the woods which bordered its banks being even more beautiful, hung with
creepers and flowering plants, the river winding peacefully in between.
Here, too, fish could be caught, and the carpincho, or water-pig, was
able to enjoy himself undisturbed to his heart's content. Moreover, a
considerable stream called the Cañada Grande, passed right through the
centre of the estate, running for the most part clean and pure over a
stony and rocky bed. La Concordia, where Mr. Dampier lived with his
family, was situate at the opposite end of the estancia to the Cerro.
The house stood on elevated ground overlooking the river Rosario, and
its woods on the west, while towards the south it commanded a distant
view of the Swiss Colony, with its red-roofed houses and patches of
arable land between. On the right were the wide and beautiful woods
which bordered the banks of the river Pichinango, where it joined the
Rosario, at which juncture of the two rivers a broad rincon, or corner,
was in itself quite a feature of the landscape. To the left the
grass-covered plain, with here and there a large bed of tall thistles,
rolled away for some four miles to the northern boundary of the
estancia. The house was modern and comfortable: built on three sides of
an open "patio," or court, which you entered through iron gates, and the
drawing room spacious and airy, with its three large windows coming down
to the ground, occupied the whole length of the house at the back. On
the left and in front was the flower garden, divided by a carriage
drive, which led out past a lodge to the open camp. The "peones'," or
servants' quarters lay to the right, forming a square, in the centre of
which was a large "euremada," or shed, with four open sides, used for
tying up horses under and for the "peones" to seek shelter from the sun
during the "siesta."

Further away was the "corral," or yard, in which to shut up horses, and
beyond again were the sheepyards. There was also a considerable area of
cultivated land, where maize, and potatoes, and "alfalfa," a species of
clover, flourished, as did a large quantity of fruit trees, planted all
round an open space, used for the production of vegetables. Winter had
now come, and the weather had become stormy, with cold nights and cold
winds from the South.

I was out in the camp pretty continually, nevertheless, visiting the
various puestos, and turning inwards the cattle, especially on our
northern boundary. When fine enough I had the Indians at work mending up
the walls of the sheepyards, which were made of loose stones piled one
upon another. These had been greatly neglected at the "Cerro" and needed
building up and repairing, as many gaps were to be seen. Three of the
gates, too, required attention. After a week, however, the weather
improved, so a "para rodeo" of the cattle was arranged for the next day
but one, which was a Saturday. We had our horses tied up the night
before, and were all ready for a start just before sunrise, Don
Frederico and his party coming up from La Concordia just about the same
time. The rodeo, or meeting-place for the cattle, was situate in a
direct line between the Cerro and La Concordia, about half a mile
distant from the former. It had the usual big post planted in the
centre, round which the cattle revolved, and the ground all round was
quite bare of herbage, evidently well trodden by numerous animals. We
had help from three of the puesteros, especially from one named
Marmasola, who not only came himself, but brought three boys with him,
all well mounted. Laborde and Martin arrived from their own side,
accompanied by two or three dogs. I was riding "Carnival," who had now
settled down at the "Cerro," having attached himself to the little grey
mare with one eye, to which he had been collared on his first arrival.
"Napoleon" was in great spirits, paying no attention whatever to the
couple of mongrel terriers who followed behind him. He was quite aware
that serious business was on foot. I got over with the Indians to the
north-western corner of the estancia, and we spread ourselves out,
driving the cattle before us. Some of them seemed inclined to break
back. This was easily prevented, and I found it much easier to do this
here, where it was all open camp, than it had been at the Sierras de Mal
Abrigo, when hindered and surrounded by large masses of rock. Don
Frederico came up from his side with a good deal of help; so altogether
we made a very satisfactory "para rodeo." I had no experience of dealing
with cattle in such large numbers, nor was I surprised to find that care
was needed to keep them all together on the "rodeo," when we got them
there. I felt pretty sure, however, that by bringing them up constantly,
and always keeping them up some time when collected, we should soon get
the herd under complete control. Don Frederico brought with him a Mr.
John Jennings, who was living with him at La Concordia. He was a good
Spanish scholar, and an excellent accountant, fond of gardening, and was
much occupied at the time with the cultivated land there, to which I
have before alluded. His figure was decidedly burly; he had a
good-natured face and thin legs. He did not look well on horseback, as
he appeared too heavy above the saddle, nor was he really much of a
rider. Upon this occasion he bestrode a very dark grey, somewhat low in
condition, and not apparently up to his weight. They both came up to the
Cerro for breakfast: some mutton stewed with rice, hot coffee and camp
biscuits; all very acceptable after the morning's gallop. I let go
"Carnival," and had a little bay horse, with a white blaze and two white
stockings caught up, and when they returned I rode with them as far as
La Concordia. Here I stopped for awhile, and then rode over into the
Swiss Colony to arrange some business which had to be attended to; nor
did I get back to the "Cerro" until about an hour before sunset.

Curiously enough, since my first arrival, but little seemed to have
happened in regard to the war. Every now and again a party of Blanco
soldiers would ride up, have some food, and go on their way. They did
not take our horses, for these were as yet plentiful, and probably they
had better ones of their own. The Colorados had not come our way at all,
being mostly concentrated near Monte Video, the capital, while a fairly
large force were also encamped in the province of San Josè. Meanwhile
the Blanco army was said to be in great strength out beyond Paysandû,
waiting for finer weather, and until the horses should pick up after the
somewhat early winter. Spring, when it came, advanced rapidly. The days
soon seemed longer and the weather warmer. We had a good deal of
sheep-working on hand, as the flocks came up from the "puestos" to the
Cerro, to be passed through the sheepyards, when it was our custom to
get through one flock in a day. Don Frederico generally rode up to see
how the work progressed, bringing two or three "peones" from La
Concordia, as this winter there was a certain amount of foot-rot among
the sheep, which needed attention. Fortunately, however, this was never
really bad at the Pichinango, as a great part of the camp lay high, and
therefore dry, covered with a hard kind of grass, which grew profusely
between the longer tussock-grass. The flocks near La Concordia, however,
fed on lower ground, but they were passed through the sheepyards there,
when I went down from the Cerro, taking two of the Indians with me to
assist. And so the days passed on one much like another, until the sun
began to shine longer, and the weather to get warmer when at length we
began to realise that summer was not far off. Some four weeks passed
without anything particular happening, and then came the branding of the
calves, always an event of supreme importance on a large South American
estancia. First there was a general "para rodeo" of the cattle, and then
they had to be shut up in the large stone enclosure, or "manga." Our
native neighbours had to be advised beforehand of the appointed day, so
that they might be present to see if any of their animals were by chance
mixed up with our herd. I also obtained the services of three or four
natives in the neighbourhood, known to be good camp men, _i.e._, skilled
in the management of cattle, and especially so at this particular work.
When the appointed day came round, it proved fine and fortunately there
was but little wind. We all made an early start from both ends of the
estancia, and were well on our way when the sun rose in a blue sky.
Having plenty of horsemen, the cattle came up particularly well to the
rodeo, where we kept them revolving round for quite half an hour, and
then by driving a point of tame cattle in front of them, we managed to
get the entire herd inside the "manga" without much difficulty. They did
not quite like the operation; odd animals would try to break away, but
they were quickly brought back, and they looked to me a very large
number, when once inside the stone enclosure; far larger than I had ever
seen shut up together before. Meanwhile two big fires had been lighted
to heat the brands, and all being ready, two natives entered the "manga"
on horseback with their lassoes, and one by one caught and easily
brought out the calves. And so the work progressed, until quite a large
number of calves had already been marked. Then came the time for
breakfast. A young cow was lassoed and killed, its hide quickly taken
off, and the meat cut up into large joints, and placed before the fires
to roast. Biscuits were handed out, also farinha, a kind of
coarsely-ground flour, grown from a plant in Brazil. The neighbours
appeared, each mounted on his best horse, with such silver on their
reins and headstalls, bits, stirrups, or "recados," as they happened to
possess. They mostly wore a gay-coloured summer "poncho," a
broad-brimmed felt hat, black bombachos, or very loose trousers, tucked
into long boots, often ornamented with heavy silver spurs, so that the
whole scene looked quite picturesque. After breakfast there was a short
pause, and then the work went on, and it was between three and four
o'clock in the afternoon before all the calves were branded. The herd
was now let go, and quickly dispersed, doubtless, very glad to be once
more free--now that their knocking about was at length over. And then as
evening drew on young women made their appearance, riding up on
horseback, dressed in their best clothes, and a couple of musicians
turned up anxious to have a meal and to earn a few coppers. Music was
heard on every side, and it was not long before a dance on quite a large
scale was in progress, and apparently greatly enjoyed. Meanwhile the
moon rose and shed its silver light upon the scene. The evening was fine
and warm, and it was after eight o'clock before the company dispersed. I
watched the scene from the flat roof of the Cerro with much interest and
amusement, for it was all quite new to me. However, before half-past
nine o'clock all was quiet, the Indians in the galpon had already gone
to sleep. I heard old Robinson snoring loudly in his room above the
kitchen, so I locked up the doors and retired to my bedroom with the
feeling that all had gone off well; indeed, to me it seemed to have been
nothing less than quite an exciting and altogether satisfactory day.

Early in November shearing began, which, on an estancia, is the big
business of the year. It took place at the Cerro in the large "galpon,"
and suddenly, as it were, the old place began to assume an air of
importance and activity. Old Robinson, who managed the wooden wool-press
during shearing, and for the time being abandoned the culinary art,
started to get all ready, another cook taking his place. Mr. John
Jennings, usually known as Don Juan, came up to take charge inside the
woolshed, being a man of knowledge and experience, while I superintended
the work outside, such as getting up the sheep so that there were always
sufficient ready waiting to keep the shearers going. The afternoon
before shearing was to begin a gang of fifteen shearers arrived on
horseback. They were rather a rough-looking lot, indifferently mounted.
I had half a dozen of their horses collared, and the others, which were
poor, and in bad condition, were turned out to feed with them. These
shearers were supplemented by other natives in our neighbourhood, and by
those of our own people who knew how to shear, so that quite a good
number were ready to commence the important work. A number of sheep were
brought into the yards, and passed up into the small pens, which ran
along outside the galpon, facing the two wide wooden doors. Two men were
ready, waiting to catch the sheep: tie their legs and lay them on the
floor, ready for the shearers. To each shearer, as he finished his sheep
a little tin token called a "lata" was given, these being counted, and
entered up in a book in his name at the end of the day and week. Most of
the payment in money being made at the end of the time. As the wool was
shorn it was gathered up and carried to two large wooden tables, where
it was roughly classified according to quality. It was then put into
long bags, made of a thin open canvas material, which were pressed in
the wooden wool-press before being packed into the carts, which carried
them away. The shearers had all to be fed with their proper allowance of
rations, a matter requiring care and attention, and sheep had to be
slaughtered each morning, and every now and again a fat cow, as they
managed to consume quite a large amount of meat. Don Juan was very
good-natured and pleasant to do with. He thoroughly understood how the
work should be carried on, and how best to control shearers, and as I
was glad to assist him in my spare time, I was able to gain a good deal
of useful experience which might not otherwise have come my way.
Shearing could only go on during fine weather; after rain the sheep had
to get quite dry again before they could be shorn. When this happened,
as also in the evenings, Don Juan would instruct me in book-keeping, and
in writing Spanish, both of which I was well aware would be of value to
me as time went on. Day succeeded day, and fortunately during the second
half of November we had an exceptionally fine spell of weather, without
it being unduly hot. So the shearing of the sheep made good progress.
Don Frederico Dampier, who rode up from La Concordia nearly every day,
seemed very pleased to see how things were going; indeed, the second
week of December found us finishing up the last of the sheep. One
afternoon Charles Bent came over from the Sierras for a short visit,
which was a great pleasure, as I was able to hear how Royd was getting
on, and how things were going over there, and if many soldiers were
about. He appeared mounted on his best horse, a good-looking light
brown, with a white star on his forehead, and a white stocking on the
off hind leg, also a few white hairs at the root of his tail, apparently
in the pink of condition. He told us that Royd had now removed all his
remaining stock to his friend's estancia near San José, where he seemed
to have settled down, and to be quite happy. Nothing now was left at the
Sierras, and the place was to be handed back to its owner very shortly.
Bent said he himself intended to go back to his relatives, up towards
the Rio Negro, so we persuaded him to prolong his visit to the Cerro
before doing so. He lent a hand inside the galpon, gave out latas to
the shearers, and saw to various little matters needing attention, so
both Jennings and I were very glad to have him with us during the last
days of the shearing. When it ended it was a not unusual custom for the
day following to be kept as a general holiday before the company finally
dispersed, and the shearers took their departure. Don Juan, who was
quite _au fait_ at this kind of thing, thereupon arranged that on this
day there should be a grand race, in which Bent proposed to ride his own
horse, and a native, who had a "rosillo," or roan, he fancied very much,
whom the natives generally thought a lot of, offered to ride his horse
against him. The course arranged, was to be from the Cañada Grande,
opposite Laborde's puesto, up to the Cerro, which was about a mile and a
quarter, more or less. Both riders accordingly paid much attention to
their steeds, giving them a daily ration of maize, and morning and
evening exercise. Of course, there was a good deal of betting amongst
the people in the galpon, for the South American Spaniard is a real
gambler at heart, and the race was a much more exciting affair than the
games of cards and dice throwing, etc., which habitually went on among
the shearers during the evening when work was over. Don Juan, too, had
always been fond of a bit of racing, and did not hesitate to back Bent's
horse, which he pronounced the best of the two, supposing always he was
able to stay the course. It was somewhat a stiff one, and longer than
usual, the ground rising considerably during the last part of it. Bent
considered this to be to his advantage, as his horse, accustomed to the
Sierras, went exceedingly well over uneven ground, and he felt quite
confident he should win the race. On the appointed day the weather was
fine, and, as it happened there was no wind. The start was to be at
eleven o'clock, and I was one of those chosen to see it made, and to
send the horses and their riders on their way. Both apparently looked
all right as they jogged quietly down to the starting point. Quite a
crowd had collected to see the finish. Everyone wore their best clothes,
and the old Cerro for the moment looked quite gay. It had seen many
events and happenings in its time. A first-rate start was made, and the
horses got away quite even. Then Bent's horse took a slight lead, but at
the end of half a mile, to our great astonishment, suddenly collapsed,
shivering all over, and breaking out all at once into a thick lather of
white sweat; indeed, for four or five minutes he could scarcely stand,
swaying all the time to and fro on his legs, like a drunken man. I did
not know the least what had happened, but Jennings, who was well up in
these matters, at once stated his opinion that the horse had been got at
early that morning by one of the natives, who must have given him some
poison, probably the leaves of a shrub which grew on the banks of the
river Pichinango, for he said all the symptoms were just those which the
leaves of that plant would produce, and he had known it done more than
once before. These began to pass off during the afternoon, and the horse
to recover; indeed, by next morning he looked as if nothing had been the
matter with him. Of course, however, nothing could be proved: the stakes
had to be paid over, and the bets, which were mostly in favour of the
rosillo, had to be paid also. I myself had bet nothing on either horse,
so I was no loser, for, unlike Jennings, as a matter of fact, I really
had no taste for racing. There was, of course, a good deal of
excitement, and some quarrelling, in the galpon during the evening--more
especially as that day, being a general holiday, there had been a
certain amount of Caña on the go; but Don Juan managed to quiet things
down. Then the night came, and as it always does, overshadowed all
things. The next morning all the shearers, having received payment for
their work, mounted their horses and departed, and the old Cerro once
again resumed its usual aspect of quiet and dignified seclusion. The old
year passed peacefully away, and the new one came in with all its
possibilities and all its hopes and fears. Meanwhile, Mrs. Dampier and
the children had returned to La Concordia, from their visit to Monte
Video, which really had been prolonged longer than they expected.

This was chiefly owing to the war, which made the long journey less safe
than in time of peace, and there was always the danger of having the
horses taken as you travelled through the open country. Don Frederico
had gone into town to return with them, taking two peones with him, and
quite a large tropilla of horses. People generally in disturbed times
travelled by the diligence, which plied to and fro pretty regularly on
the "Camino Real," or Government road--but it was a most uncomfortable
mode of conveyance for a lady with children, so in spite of the risk it
was preferable to travel in one's own carriage, with a good supply of
horses and a reasonable escort. Fortunately, all went well, and they
reached home safely without any trouble or contretemps of any kind.

During the middle of January the weather became very hot, and work had
to be suspended from twelve until two o'clock as a matter of course, and
very often longer, for in those good old days, as they were called, the
custom of keeping the siesta during the summer months held sway over the
length and breadth of the republic. The old Indian, Feliciano, who lived
in a little house built of stone down below the big manga, was a
wonderful old man. He looked after the flock of rams, and was now quite
old; a true Indian of the Pampas, both in appearance and character, and
his son, Juan, who was up with me at the Cerro, must have been himself
well over fifty years of age. Old Feliciano himself was extremely silent
and reserved. I don't think I ever heard him speak more than three or
four consecutive words at any one time. But he was most scrupulous in
the performance of duty in regard to looking after his flock, which was
never neglected under any circumstances whatever. He had been years at
the Cerro, where for a long time it was impossible to get him to live in
any kind of house. He preferred to live in a "tolda," a shelter made of
mare's hides, stretched over a light wooden frame, as did the original
Indians of the Pampa, from whom he sprang, and among whom he was reputed
to have been a leader or chief. As the sun set below the western horizon
he would walk to some little rise of the ground, where he could better
see it, and facing it, fall down on his knees and say a short prayer. He
did not like being observed, but I have myself watched him do this when
he was not aware that I was within sight. He had descendants living
round him to the second and third generation. He was said to have been a
famous horseman in his time, as indeed were all his race, for they
practically passed their whole lives on horseback.

I had been riding a brown horse, with a wall-eye, and some white hairs
in his tail; he was not much to look at, but I found him to be
sure-footed and comfortable, and a good horse among cattle. There was a
little chestnut, too, which was very pleasant to ride. The Indians had
horses of various sorts and colours, which they had been accustomed to
ride themselves. Among these was a little rosillo, or roan, which I
noticed Justiano liked to saddle up frequently, particularly when work
amongst cattle was going on. He was not much to look at, being small,
with rather a hollow back, and he seemed to me poor in condition, and to
be overworked. Moreover, I saw that he had a nasty sore underneath the
recado, one day when he was being unsaddled, so I took pity on him, and
told the Indian not to ride him in future, as I would try to dress the
wound, and if possible get it well. So I washed it myself, night and
morning, applying a solution of tincture of arnica, and it soon began to
mend. The horse, too, improved in condition by a little rest and freedom
from pain. When the wound seemed nearly all right again, I saddled him
up with my English saddle, and took him out for about an hour. I enjoyed
riding him; he was so full of go; but at the same time docile and quiet.
When I saw Don Frederico, he told me his history. One afternoon at the
end of the Flores War, a soldier rode up to La Concordia, and asked for
a fresh horse. "I cannot think what has come to this one," he said. "He
is a real good one, but no sooner did we cross the river Rosario, coming
from the Swiss colony, than he seemed to collapse all at once. He has
come nearly ten leagues (30 miles), without shewing any sign of being
tired." Don Frederico himself came out at the moment, and looked at the
horse. "I can tell you," he said. "The rosillo has our mark, and so soon
as he crossed the river he knew he was on his own camp, where he was
born. He must have been caught as a 'potro,' or colt, and have been
tamed by the soldiers. Except that he carries the mark of this estancia,
we none of us know anything about him. However, go to the kitchen and
get some refreshment, and we will give you another horse, and doubtless
the rosillo will be glad enough to find himself at home again." No
sooner, however, was he let loose, than he gave two or three neighs of
joy and then he trotted off, straight up to the Cerro, and joined the
horses there, so we could only conclude he must have originally been
caught and taken from the Cerro end of the estancia. Such was his
history, and I now saw after him myself, and took him for my own riding.
He was a real good little horse, and I liked him more and more as time
went on. Napoleon liked him, too, and used to lie down beside him when I
had him tied up under the "ombu" tree, which gave so good a protection
from the sun in the courtyard, and then as evening came I let him loose,
so that he might join the other horses, and feed and enjoy himself to
his heart's content.

As it happened, since the New Year, no soldiers had passed the Cerro,
nor had we heard any news of the war, but I was quite prepared to look
upon this as merely an interlude, and we kept a good look out,
especially in the early morning and late evening. So soon as the hot
spell passed, and the weather became cooler, our first business was a
gathering together of the horses. This meant a general sweep up of
everything in the shape of a horse on the estancia: the riding horses at
La Concordia and the Cerro alone excepted, for these were brought up
into the corral each morning, in accordance with the daily routine.
There were two large "manadas," or troops of mares with foals at the
Pichinango, one called the "saino," or brown, and the other the "moro,"
or dark blue roan; these being the colours of the respective stallions
which presided over them. These "manadas" usually fed quite apart, on
different portions of the camp. They each made up a large number, as
they included not only yearling foals, but both colts and fillies of two
and three years old, although the former of these usually cut themselves
off from the main body, forming small points feeding by themselves. To
gather together so many horses and keep them in control a good many
horsemen were needed, so nearly everyone who could ride joined in.
Marmasola, who had a small lot of mares of his own which fed on the
estate, was in great force with his sons and two other native friends.
Laborde and Martin were always ready to help, and the Indians were
delighted at the prospect of a really first-class gallop. I got a man
called Pedro Lima, living in the Swiss Colony, but really himself a
native, and a first-rate camp man, to come and take charge of the
operation of getting all the horses shut up in the big manga; not an
easy matter unless they were skilfully handled; and I asked him to bring
two or three of his native friends well-mounted with him. In accordance
with camp etiquette, I sent round to our native neighbours, inviting
them to come and join us, as we intended branding some foals, so giving
them the opportunity to come and see if any of their animals were by
chance mixed up with our horses. The appointed day proved fine, and we
were all in the saddle before sunrise, old Robinson alone excepted. We
had arranged to join up with Marmasola and the party from La Concordia
and so form a continuous line, driving everything in the shape of a
horse straight in front of us in the direction of the Cerro. It must be
remembered that this was a much more critical job than gathering up the
cattle, as the horses could travel as fast or faster than we could.
Moreover, when dealing with them in large numbers, care and good
management were a real necessity if they were to be shut up inside the
manga at all. I rode "Carnival"; the Indians were mounted as they liked
themselves; "Napoleon," although he was no use, would not be left
behind. Don Frederico and Mr. Jennings and their people joined us at the
place appointed, as did Pedro Lima and his friends, as well as the
puesteros, when plans were laid down and instructions given all round as
to how the work was to be carried out. Don Frederico, who was a
beautiful rider, was mounted on his gay rosillo. He always rode on a
recado, with silver mounting in front and behind; he had silver fittings
to his bridle, and chain reins for a little way, just where they joined
the bit, then made of well-worked and softened hide, with silver rings.
He wore long boots, silver spurs, and carried a light summer poncho
across his saddle in front of him. Altogether, a picturesque figure!--a
true estanciero of the old régime--nor do I think he was ever happier
than when he felt his best horse under him, and work of this particular
kind was the order of the day.

Jennings, on his dark grey, cut a different figure; he did not look the
genuine camp man at all, neither was he in the slightest degree; and it
was easy to see that work of this kind was not congenial to him.
Marmasola and his boys were in great spirits. What he did not know about
horses was not worth knowing, although he himself was not a great rider;
advancing years were beginning to tell their tale. But he had been
through the war of Oribé, generally known as the Big War. He remembered
the traditions of "the past," and as he had now been on the estate for a
great number of years, certain privileges were accorded to him; but at
the same time he would spare no trouble and was always willing to do
anything he could to benefit the estancia and its owner. We all formed
into line on the western boundary, facing towards the Cerro, stretching
out both to right and left, and riding some three hundred yards apart.
We allowed the cattle to go back between us, but drove all horses of
every kind in front of us. Some of the colts tried hard to break back,
and for the moment succeeded, but were eventually rounded up and brought
back within the line. "Carnival" carried me splendidly: he was really
very fast, and at the same time perfectly sure-footed. He made one feel
quite safe even at full speed, and it was a pleasure to be so well
mounted. Meanwhile, the line kept drawing in, and as the horses in front
of us began to get up towards the manga, Pedro Lima and a couple of
natives, by making a swift detour, got round in front of them so as to
round them up as much as possible, more or less where the rodeo of the
cattle was situate, and so to keep them in some measure under control
until we all came up from behind and were able to form a regular ring
round them. Meanwhile the old Indian, Feliciano, had some half a dozen
tame horses not very far from the open gateway of the manga, and as
these gave a convenient lead to all the others, we got the whole lot
safely inside without much difficulty. This was fortunate, because if
horses in a round-up of this description once succeed in breaking away
in any number together, they are very difficult to get back again, owing
to the speed at which they can travel. Once inside the manga, however,
we were able to look them over at our leisure. There were a good many
foals to be branded, so a fire was got ready. Moreover, breakfast had to
be thought of, and it was not very long before a couple of roasts were
preparing in front of it. We found there were nearly a dozen colts over
four years old which in the ordinary way ought to have been caught up to
be tamed, but owing to the war, it was decided to put this off for a
year, for the reason that a good-looking colt which shewed any signs of
having been handled, was more likely to be taken by soldiers than one
which had been left entirely alone. They were very clever at seeing into
this, even when the animals were feeding in the open camp. We found some
riding horses shut up with the troop which did not belong to the
estancia, but had probably been left behind by soldiers as they passed.
These we caught up and took down to La Concordia, so that they might
meanwhile do such work as they were able. If they could do nothing else
they would be good enough for the puesteros to look after their sheep
on, or for the ordinary routine work of the estancia. It was very
interesting to watch all the horses when gathered together in the manga.
I had never, of course, seen so many collected before, and it was a
pretty sight to watch them and to note their different colours and
characteristics. During the interval for breakfast the two stallions
occupied themselves in having a fight, attacking each other fiercely;
standing on their hind legs and striking at each other with their fore
feet; then they would go round in a circle, each looking out for an
opportunity to strike more effectively. Many of the mares too were busy
picking up their belongings,--as they would often have a foal and a
yearling, and even a two-year-old descendant regularly following after

It was very interesting to watch them all, and to observes their ways
and manners. There was plenty of opportunity to do this, as after the
foals were branded we did not let them go until between three and four
o'clock. When at last they were turned loose, they did not let the grass
grow under their feet, but soon divided themselves off more or less into
their own lots, and with their own companions. Indeed, had they been
looked up early on the following morning they would have probably been
found feeding more or less together in the same groups, and on the same
particular part of the estancia where we had originally found them. The
weather had now become quite hot again, and we had continual sunshine
for nearly a fortnight. There was a stone puesto about half way between
the Cerro and the "Pass of the Pichinango," where an old negro called
Tio Benigno lived, looking after a flock of sheep. He was now dead, and
the flock had been removed, but his so-called widow, black like himself,
was still living on there, with a numerous progeny of various sorts and
sizes, almost destitute of clothes who ran in and out of the abode like
rabbits, when anyone happened to ride up. They seemed to be living on
the rations which had been allowed to the departed parent, which were
still being allowed to them. Don Frederico would have been glad if I
could have got them to leave the puesto altogether, but the question was
where were they to go? I was riding down to La Concordia during the
siesta when I saw a peculiar sight. As I was about to cross the Cañada
Grande, a short way further up the stream, the black lady was sitting
astride an old dun horse, short both of mane and tail in the middle of a
large pool, with a fishing rod in her hand, apparently intent on
fishing. Of clothes she had none. Such garments as she possessed lay in
a heap on the bank by the water. Her black skin fairly shone and
glistened in the sunshine. On her head was an old black silk top hat,
which also reflected the rays of light. It had doubtless been a gift to
her departed husband from one of the young Englishmen who might have
been staying at the Cerro, presumably with no idea, however, that it
would be put to its present use. The lady saw me pass, but did not
appear in the least to mind. She simply gave a broad grin, and leaving
her to pursue her peaceful occupation, I passed on my way. Not very long
afterwards someone who had known her husband asked her to go and keep an
eye on quite a small lot of sheep, and also to act as "lavandera," or
washer-woman, as well. So I persuaded her not to lose the opportunity of
changing her abode, and gladly sent a cart to move such belongings as
she had. Indeed, I was glad to have the puesto empty, for it was in the
direct route along which soldiers would pass coming from the town of
Colla, and going north, and it seemed better that they should have the
road clear in front of them. Rumour in time of revolution was always
busy, and it was said that the Colorados intended for some reason best
known to themselves to fall back before very long from the province of
Colonia, and join up with their main force in the province of San Josè.
Should this prove correct, it seemed probable that a portion of the
Blanco army, which, during all this time had been steadily concentrating
up beyond Paysandû, would seize the opportunity to occupy that province
themselves. That being so, it seemed obvious that open hostilities,
which had now for some time seemed far away from us, would come much
nearer. The fact was it was impossible to foresee what lay before us in
the future, and all we could do was to carry on as well as we could for
the present, and hope for the best.

Up to now we had certainly been very fortunate, for our horses had not
been taken; all had gone on very much as usual; nor had there been any
interference either with our sheep or cattle. There happened to be two
colts among the horses at the Cerro nearly five years old: a bay and a
brown, and I determined to have these tamed. One was the foal of the bay
"madrina" mare, and the other had joined the troop on its own account.
They were both accustomed to come up each day into the corral, and to
see people about, nor had either of them led the wild life of the open
camp. So there was every reason to suppose they would prove docile, and
I did not trouble to look out for a regular "domador," or horse-tamer,
as I thought that Juan, the Indian, would manage, with the help of his
nephews, both of whom were good riders. The rough and ready system of
taming in the old days consisted of lassoing a colt in the yard, tying
him up to a post for the night, and next morning saddling him up with a
"recado," with the "cincha," or broad hide girth, as tight as possible.
A narrow piece of hide nicely softened was then tied twice round the
lower jaw, to which the reins were attached, a couple of pieces of soft
sheepskin were fastened over the framework of the recado, while the four
legs of the animal were tied together by a "maneador," or long thong of
hide, in such a manner that by giving one pull it would all come loose
and fall to the ground. The colt was then untied from the post to which
he had been made fast, and up got the rider, who was going to give him
his first gallop. Two men were ready on horseback, one on either side,
while a third man on foot gave the thong round the horse's legs a sharp
pull, when it fell loose. Usually the colt would make a wild rush
forward, the two horsemen keeping each as close to him as they could on
either side, so as to steer him in a straight line. Old Juan was now
over fifty, nor was he a regular tamer; but he could still sit tight on
a horse which did not buck-jump too hard or too long, and there was
always the chance that he would not buck-jump at all, but just bolt off
across the open camp. With the bay colt even this did not happen, for he
merely lunged forward at a sort of uneven trot, wondering very much at
finding anyone on his back. Then he stopped, unwilling to proceed, which
Justiniano quickly made him do by a free application of his whip.
Eventually he made his first gallop all right and came back apparently
having had quite enough of it. That evening the brown colt was tied up
as had been the bay, and the same procedure was followed in the early
morning. Unfortunately, however, he buck-jumped rather badly, so soon as
he was mounted and let loose, and he gave Old Juan a bit of a shaking,
but he did not do it for long, and the Indian was able to sit tight and
give the colt his first gallop, bringing him back quite sufficiently
subdued for one day at any rate.

The gallops went on each morning, with both the colts for about ten
days, by the end of which time not only was there no more buck-jumping,
but they were beginning to get handy even to the extent of answering the
pressure of the rein on the side of the neck, and of turning in some
measure as required.

Juan was quite proud of his performance, and began to imagine he was a
young man again and a regular horse tamer. Moreover, an extra allowance
of Caña, or white rum, of which he was always fond, and at once took
effect upon him, made him talk most amusingly of all the colts he had
tamed in his early life, and the wonderful things he had done. At the
end of three weeks, both the colts were bitted and could be ridden
either by Margarito or Justiniano, and it was not long before they were
able to take their place among the tame horses.

Attached, as they were, to the tropillas, they were as likely to be
taken by soldiers as colts as they would be when tamed, for they would
know well enough that young horses among their surroundings were not at
all likely to be difficult to break in. I had been lately riding a
"manchado," or piebald horse, which had been bred and born town of
Colla. He had not much to commend him, but he was easy and quiet to
ride. A sad story was connected with him. Between two and three years
previously a young Englishman of good position who had come out to have
a look at the country, was staying as a guest at the Cerro. One day he
rode the "manchado" over to the little country town of Colla. He had not
much to recommend him. Returning late at night, he unsaddled the horse
in the small yard, just outside the stable. He then took off the bridle,
and then, not thinking what he was doing, gave the horse a hit with the
reins on his quarters, to drive him out of the yard. The horse kicked
out sharply with both hind feet, one hoof catching him just under the
throat, and the other at the pit of the stomach. He fell senseless to
the ground, and must have remained unconscious for some time. When he
came round, he managed to crawl into the galpon and awake the Indians,
who, as usual, were fast asleep. They gave the alarm, and a messenger
was sent in all haste for a doctor, who was then living on a small place
he had beyond and to the eastward of the Cerro. He kindly came over at
once, and applied such remedies as he could, but to no purpose, for the
poor young man during the morning again became unconscious, and late in
the afternoon passed quietly to his rest. It was indeed a sad business,
and what made it worse was the thought of how easily it might have been
avoided. The "manchado" used to rear a bit at times, but not really
badly, and I never knew him show the least sign of kicking during the
time I had anything to do with him. Later on, I handed him over to
Justiniano, who always gave his heels an uncommonly wide berth, and
eventually he was taken by a party of soldiers, and we saw no more of
him. About a week later I had occasion to ride over one afternoon to the
pulperia on the other side of the pass across the river Rosario,
opposite to Marmasola's puesto. I called in as I passed to enquire if
there was any news, and I saw his wife, who told me her husband was out
with the flock. Reaching the pulperia, I found the owner, a tall
good-natured looking man, at home, and we soon arranged the business
about which I had come. He then told me that towards the end of the
previous week Mamerto Gomez, a captain in the Red army, was coming out
of the town of Colla with a troop of Colorado soldiers, on his way
towards the province of San Josè. A short distance beyond the furthest
houses a poor cripple sat by the side of the road begging. Mamerto
halted as he passed, and turning to one of his soldiers, said, "Mata me
aquel Bicho amigo," "Friend, kill that reptile for me," whereupon the
man got off his horse and cut the poor cripple's throat from ear to ear.
Leaving the dead body by the roadside, Mamerto Gomez and his troop
passed on their way as if nothing had happened. I asked the pulpero if
he had ever seen Mamerto, and what he was like? "Yes, Señor, I have seen
him two or three times," he said, "and not long ago"; and he at once
gave me particulars as to his appearance. Of course, I had no difficulty
in recognizing him as the same Mamerto Gomez I had first seen at the
Pulperia de Guaycoru, when the old negro said to me, "Cuidado, beware!"
and as the man who had been seen entering the Sierras de Mai Abrigo,
whom Royd had always believed to be the real cause of all his trouble
and ill-luck, viz., the sad death of poor Henriquez, and the stealing of
Bent's flock, and the attempt to break in to his puesto at night. I
called at Marmasola's as I rode back, and found him in, and, as usual,
we discussed the war. He, too, had heard that the Reds were leaving
Colonia, and thought it would not be long before the Blancos turned up
there in considerable force, when he thought it likely we might have
parties of soldiers coming our way, as we should then be in the direct
line of route between them and the concentration of their main army out
towards Paysandû; so there was pretty sure to be a certain amount of
coming and going. He also told me a story of two young Englishmen who
came out to Monte Video during the Flores War, with the intention of
making their way up country. They started to ride out from there alone,
without any guide, and very foolishly, before leaving the city, they
drew a considerable sum of money from the bank, which they carried out
with them. They reached San Josè all right, and the following day
proceeded on their way in the direction of the Cerro del Pichinango,
where they intended to pass the night. They stopped at a pulperia, or
store, for some refreshment about eleven o'clock, where there happened
to be about a dozen natives, among whom were four or five of very bad
character. Such was the account given to the police, who afterwards made
enquiries. Whether they let these men know they had money with them
nobody ever knew. They were known to be dressed each in a light tweed
suit, with a large check pattern on it. The two young Englishmen were
never heard of again, but a long time afterwards pieces of the cloth
they were said to have been wearing were found in the wood on the
further side of the river Rosario, not far from the pass which led over
to the Estancia Pichinango. The conclusion come to was that three or
four of the natives got on in front of them and attacked them, probably
just as they were about to enter the pass, which was rather a wide one,
and having shot them, either dragged or carried the bodies into the
wood; of course, taking the money and everything they possessed from
them. Whether or where they buried the bodies, of course, was not known.
So much time having elapsed, it was impossible to make further
enquiries. They had simply vanished--and being war-time, it was supposed
that anything might have happened to them, for at that time in the camp
murders even in broad daylight were by no means uncommon.

Marmasola always assumed a very serious aspect when telling this story,
which usually ended by his sitting down on a "banco," or low wooden
stool, and drawing the size of the check pattern on the garments of the
deceased on the mud floor with the point of his knife, at the same time
saying in a solemn tone, "Los dos pobres finados caramba!" "Alas, for
the two poor dead men!"

I allowed him to finish without interruption, and then I mounted my
horse and rode home to the Cerro, pondering on the many vicissitudes
which it seemed possible might happen to the unwary during life in
war-time in a South American republic. Nothing had happened during my
absence. We got the "tamberos" up to their rodeo, and kept them there
awhile, and when I got back the little flock of southdowns were about
ready to be shut up in their sheepyard for the night. I looked them over
to see that they were all right, and then I went up on to the flat roof
of the house to have a good look round with the glass, and so see if all
was quiet. The sun meanwhile was about to set, and it was not long
before the light began to fade, and one more day had passed and was
gone. When next I saw Don Frederico he discussed the situation, and said
he thought it would be wise to sell a certain number of the "capones,"
or wether sheep, which were now in good condition, and also to get a
tropero, or buyer of cattle of good position to come and purchase as
many "novillos," or bullocks, as we could get him to take, as by so
doing we should not only lessen the stock we had to look after on the
estancia, but it would do away with the risk of losing them. The
"capones" chiefly fed together in one flock near La Concordia, with a
certain number in two of the other flocks, so there need be no delay in
having them parted out so soon as we could arrange with a purchaser. So
he decided to attend to this within the next day or two. Meanwhile, if I
heard of anyone likely to purchase up in my direction, I was to let him
know. He also said he would write to one or two of the troperos, who had
been accustomed to buy novillos from us, informing them that we had a
good number for sale, and asking them whether they would be able to make
up a troop. It was not long before two buyers of sheep applied at La
Concordia. A day was fixed for parting them out, and I went down early
with two of the Indians to help to pass the flock through the
sheepyards. The purchasers happened to be friends, so agreed to part
both together on the same day, and divide the sheep between them
afterwards. Altogether they took between six and seven hundred, and
after they had finished we helped them over the Pass of the Rosario,
facing the Swiss Colony, where they intended to shut them up for the
night, before continuing their journey to the town of Colla, where one
of them resided. During the following week we passed the other two
flocks through the sheepyards at the Cerro, drafting out all the capones
and sending them down to the flock at La Concordia to replace the sheep
there which had been already sold.

Early in the following week, a little before eleven o'clock, a tropero
arrived at the Cerro, and enquired if he could see Don Frederico, as he
wanted to buy some "novillos." I had been out early on horseback, and
had not long returned, and was just about to have some breakfast. I told
him that he was at La Concordia, at the other end of the estancia, and
invited him to come inside and join me, which he seemed pleased to do.
He had a peon with him with a led horse in addition to the ones they
rode, whom I directed to get something to eat in the galpon. The tropero
was grandly dressed in full native costume, a beautiful summer poncho,
bombachos of very fine black merino, tucked inside long boots, the
latter adorned with large silver spurs, and I noticed he was fully
armed. He was an agreeable man, evidently well educated, and he told me
he had two other men and a tropilla of horses in the neighbourhood who
had gone to look at some bullocks at a small native estancia. Breakfast
over, I left him to finish his coffee and smoke, while I went out to
tell Justiniano to catch me up another horse. I then offered to
accompany him as far as La Concordia, so that if Don Frederico happened
to be out, I could have him sent for with as little delay as possible. I
gathered the tropero wished to make up quite a large troop, en route for
Monte Video, and as we had a good many animals to sell, I did my best to
make conversation. Fortunately, when we reached La Concordia, we found
Don Frederico at home. The tropero's credentials were quite satisfactory
to him, as was the price offered. It was therefore agreed that he should
part out and purchase all the novillos on the estancia which he thought
old enough and in sufficiently good condition to take. We on our part
undertook to have all the cattle gathered on the rodeo on Thursday
morning, so that he could part out his bullocks, and to help him to the
best of our power--payment, as usual, to be made on delivery. The
business concluded, the tropero had a glass or two of wine and departed.
He said he had plenty of horses with him for his men. I then rode back
at once to the Cerro, and sent off one of the Indians to advise our
native neighbours and the other round to Laborde, Martin and Marmasola,
to inform them at their puestos of what we had arranged, so that they
might give help as usual. We tied up horses on Wednesday evening, and
made all ready for an early start. I rode "Carnival," the Indians, too,
were fairly well mounted. We met the party from La Concordia, Don
Frederico riding his rosillo, with two big dogs following him, and
Jennings mounted on his dark grey; he seldom rode anything else. The
tropero and his men did not take part in gathering the cattle, but
joined us at the rodeo, near the Cerro, mounted on their best horses,
while the others they had with them were meanwhile feeding not far off,
with a boy in attendance, to look after them. The cattle came up well,
and just as we got to the rodeo, Pedro Lima arrived with a couple of
natives, and also three or four of our neighbours beyond the Cerro
turned up, so we had plenty of help to keep the cattle well under
control. Don Frederico and the tropero came up to the house for some
coffee and a biscuit, but we were soon back again, when the work of
parting out the bullocks at once began. A point of tame cattle had
meanwhile been brought up to a suitable position a short distance from
the herd. These were guarded by Juan, the Indian, with his two nephews
to help him. The tropero was mounted on an "oscuro," or black brown
horse, and his two men rode one a grey and the other a bay.

He began by riding in among the cattle with one of his men, singling out
a suitable bullock, and then the two together, one on either side, ran
it out into the point of tame cattle, where it had to remain whether it
liked to or not. Then a second bullock was run out, and so on, one after
another, until quite a good number were parted. One of the tropero's men
now went to help the Indians to guard them, as every now and again one
would try to escape, intent on rejoining the main herd, and occasionally
a bullock would break loose and make for the open camp, determined to
fight hard for liberty. But it was not to be! for the men were
well-mounted and knew their business, and the horses knew theirs. They
were, of course, faster than the bullocks, and when an animal was
desperate, and really refractory the lasso came into play, and he was
brought back his energy spent, and having been well bullied about he
generally thought it better to keep quiet for the time being. A really
good horse for work of this kind must be safe and quick on his legs, and
have plenty of courage. Indeed, the best thing the rider can do, if well
mounted, is to sit tight and leave as much as he can to his horse, who
seemed to know all that was expected of him, and was seldom found to

It was now eleven o'clock, seventy-five bullocks had been parted; each
one being counted as it went by two people. So a fire was lighted, and a
large "asado," or roast of mutton, put on, a little coffee and sugar,
some biscuits, farinha and yerba, for the men's Matè were brought down
from the Cerro, and it was not long before breakfast was ready. When up
at the house I let "Carnival" go, and saddled up the rosillo, who was
now in first-rate condition. Work was resumed with as little delay as
possible, and when the tropero announced it was time to stop one hundred
and sixty bullocks had been parted. The tropero seemed well satisfied,
and so were we. Our next business was to give him every assistance to
get the animals outside the boundary of the estancia, where they would
be easier to manage than they were on their own camp. Meanwhile we kept
the tame animals with the novillos which had been parted, to give them a
lead and so render them easier to drive, and we made a start towards the
pass of the Rosario, beyond Marmasola's puesto. There being many of us,
we had no difficulty in getting them across the pass, and when they had
gone a short distance on strange ground we parted out the tame cattle,
and I returned with them to the Cerro. Don Frederico and Jennings, also
the tropero, rode to La Concordia, to receive payment and give the usual
certificate, shewing the mark and number of the animals sold, this
document being required for the police. The sun was now declining fast
towards the horizon, and we had made a fairly long day. Supper, when it
came, was welcome, and the pipe which followed it; and having duly
recorded particulars in the log-book, I was not sorry to lock up and get
early to bed. Autumn was now past, and it would not be long before
winter, with its rain and storm, cold nights and early mornings, would
be really upon us. I had three cart-loads of wood brought up from the
"monte," where we had some men working. Some of the flocks had to be
passed through the sheepyards, and what with attending to one thing and
another, I always found the day pretty fully occupied. Ten days later a
party of Blanco soldiers rode up and asked if they could have some food,
and also fresh horses. They were on their way to the town of Colla,
having passed not far from Guaycoru, as they travelled from outside.
With them was Colonel Mallada, who had sent back Francisco's pony at Las
Sierras de Mal Abrigo. He had a great reputation among the natives as a
fighter. When I went out I found him sitting on his horse, surrounded by
some twenty soldiers. I invited him to get off and come in and have some
breakfast while the soldiers lit a fire at a little distance, and made
themselves a roast outside, for, as it happened, we had a whole sheep
hanging in the galpon, ready skinned and dressed. I was amused to see
the attitude of the Indians when the Colonel passed through into the
courtyard. They stood up together on one side, as it were, at attention,
with a very solemn expression of countenance, and they evidently looked
upon him as a man to be feared rather than loved. He was quite civil
during our meal, and told me that a large division of the Blancos were
coming down to occupy the province of Colonia, while the main army was
now largely concentrated outside, waiting for a favourable opportunity
to march in to the province of San Josè, and so on towards the capital
itself. He seemed to enjoy a cigarette with his coffee after our meal,
and a glass of Caña also met with approval. Meanwhile, I had told
Justiniano to get all the horses up into the corral. I had "Carnival"
tied up under the ombu tree in the courtyard. The Colonel himself was
well-mounted on a good-looking grey, apparently quite fresh. The
soldiers caught five of our horses, and left us three tired ones, so we
did not get off so badly after all, and I was very glad to think that
the rosillo, whose back I had cured, was not among them. They all rode
off, apparently satisfied, towards the Pass of the Pichinango, and we
were all glad to see them depart. But it made me think, and realise what
now might at any time happen, and I determined to have the rosillo
caught up and tied in the courtyard oftener than I had done, and to keep
a sharp look-out over "Carnival." At two of the puestos the shepherds
were each somewhat of a character in their way. They were both of them
"bascos," _i.e._, either natives of or having originated from one of the
Bay of Biscay provinces in Spain. One of them, whose name was Gaitan,
looked after what was known as the "Fine Flock," because it contained
the highest strain of Negretti blood. From it were selected the male
lambs, which were to be the future rams for the other flocks. He was now
no longer in middle age, bent in figure, and slow in his movements. He
lived quite alone, doing his own cooking and washing, and he wore
remarkably old clothes. He had been for many years on the estancia,
getting the usual pay of a puestero, viz., fifteen dollars and
thirty-six cents per month (just over £3), together with his allowance
of meat and rations, viz., farinha, yerba and salt, which he received
monthly. His only luxury was a little tobacco, and he was said to be
somewhat of a miser, and to be quite rich. He was usually seen
bestriding an old and rather poor horse, but he was a very good
shepherd, and except when cooking or eating his meals, or towards
evening, when his sheep were drawing home, I never knew him to be long
absent from his flock. He was extremely reserved and silent, and I
always found it difficult to carry on a conversation with him. His
puesto was situate to the north of La Concordia, rather towards the
centre of the estancia, and really not very far distant from the
former. The other shepherd was called Anjel; he was a much younger man,
although he looked older than he really was. He, too, was reserved and
silent, and I often wondered if it was the solitary life he led which
tended towards this, and whether he would have appeared a somewhat
different man if he had been cast among other surroundings. He had
neither wife nor child, and like Gaitan, was but a poor rider, and I
never saw him on a decent-looking horse. But he had usually a dog with
him, and I often saw a cat or two when I visited his puesto, situate
close to the river Pichinango, some little distance below the pass. Here
the grass was good and plentiful, and his flock, which was rather a
large one, did very well. He was a most careful and conscientious
shepherd, and a skilled worker in wasca, or raw hide, of which he
manufactured reins and headstalls, and whips and hobbles; indeed,
everything of the kind a well-equipped horseman would require. Just
about this time I did not happen to be very busy, so was able to shoot a
few partridge, more correctly described as "quail," which were now in
good condition, and made a pleasant variation in diet. There was a
little single barrel gun available, which I found very nice to shoot
with. I also managed to shoot some of the common deer of the Pampas
(Cervus Gampestris) with my rifle, the flesh of which is not very
appetising, but the skins were easy to dry and soften, and were not only
useful as a covering for my "recado," or native saddle, but also served
well as rugs for the floor of the sitting-room. The natives mostly chase
the deer on horseback with dogs. There is a very curious peculiarity
attaching to the young of this species of deer when not more than three
or four days old, when the perfection of its instincts at that tender
age seems very wonderful in a ruminant. When the doe with fawn is
approached by a horseman, even when accompanied by dogs, she stands
perfectly motionless, gazing fixedly at the enemy, with her fawn at her
side. Then suddenly, as if at a preconcerted signal, the fawn rushes
away from her at its utmost speed and, going to a distance of perhaps
six hundred yards, conceals itself in a hollow on the ground, or among
the long grass; lying down very close, with head stretched out
horizontally, and will thus remain until sought by the dam. When very
young it will allow itself to be taken, making no further effort to
escape. After the fawn has run away the doe still maintains her
statuesque attitude, as if to await the onset. Then, but only when the
dogs are close upon her, she too rushes away; but invariably in a
direction as nearly opposite to the fawn as possible. At first she runs
slowly, with a limping gait, and frequently pausing as if to entice her
enemy on, just like a partridge, duck, or plover when driven from its
young. But as the dogs begin to press her more closely her speed
increases, becoming greater the further she succeeds in leading them
from the starting point. Truly a marvellous combination of both instinct
and sagacity, and also of maternal love.

Winter was now come, and we had a spell of cold and stormy weather, with
a fair amount of rain. I was out in the camp and round the puestos
pretty constantly, to see that the flocks were all right, and that there
had been no trouble from soldiers. One afternoon I called at La
Concordia to see Don Frederico, as I thought it advisable to have three
of the flocks passed through the sheepyards, to part out sheep which did
not belong to them, and have their feet attended to. This was necessary
from time to time, as during bad and stormy weather a certain amount of
mixing was apt to occur, however careful the puestero might be. It was
obviously more difficult to prevent where the land over which one of
the flocks was accustomed to feed lay in the same direction on the
estancia, and not very far distant from the land occupied by another.
Don Frederico told me he was making arrangements to send Mrs. Dampier
and the children on a visit to England, and that he was already in
communication with the shipping company about taking their passage. His
idea was that they should go into Monte Video about a week before the
steamer left, and that he would drive them himself in his own carriage
with horses and a couple of servants, while their luggage could be sent
in a cart to San Josè, and on from there by diligence to Monte Video.
The visit to England had been thought of some little time, but, as,
owing to the war, things seemed to be getting more and more unsettled,
he thought it better not to delay longer than was necessary. He spoke to
me about two or three matters needing attention, and said that Jennings
would remain at La Concordia during his absence, and would help me in
any way should anything of consequence happen, or an unforeseen
difficulty arise. When I got back, I found old Robinson in a very
unsatisfactory state; he had evidently got hold of some Caña, but how I
could not imagine, as I always kept it securely locked up. He talked a
lot of nonsense about being tired of life at the Cerro, and of his
determination, although he knew he was an old man, to go off somewhere
or other, he did not care where, with a view to bettering himself. I
concluded this phase would be a passing one, and by next morning he
would be himself again. However, when it came, he was both dull and
disagreeable, and although he had always been subject to occasional fits
of the kind, I felt that his present state of mental irritation and
unrest really proceeded from something more than his having drunk a
little more than was good for him. I enquired of the Indians if anyone
had been to see him. Margarito had seen no one, but Justiniano said he
had been looking up the "tamberos," and as he was riding back he saw
someone in the distance come out of the door of the kitchen, mount a
horse, and ride off towards the Pichinango; and he thought by the way he
rode he looked like a "gringo," the native term for a foreigner.
However, next day Robinson seemed better, and the little household
disturbance for the moment at any rate passed over. At the end of the
week seven Blanco soldiers rode up and asked for food and horses. They
had evidently come a good distance, and were en route for Colonia. They
had four tired horses, which they left with us, taking the two horses
previously left by soldiers, and two of ours as well. However, they were
quite civil, and one of them told me we might expect to have a good many
more coming our way before long. "Carnival" and the rosillo happened
both to be tied up in the courtyard, nor did they trouble the least
about them. Old Juan, the Indian, mostly kept himself out of sight when
soldiers arrived. I suppose he had a sort of idea they might take him
off, as they probably would have done had he been younger. I noticed he
was always very talkative, and apparently in extra good spirits when
they had gone. After about a week the bad weather cleared up, and it set
in fine and dry. I went down to La Concordia the afternoon before Don
Frederico and the family were to leave for Monte Video. Everything was
now ready; the luggage had been sent on two days previously, and they
were to make an early start the following morning, which happened to be
a Wednesday. It turned out a lovely day for the time of the year,
continual sunshine, with a cool breeze, perfect for travelling. On
Saturday I had our usual para rodeo of the cattle, and they came up
well. Early on Monday morning I started on "Carnival" to ride down to
the far end of the Swiss Colony, whence the land stretched away to the
Estuary de la Plata, which divided the republic of Uruguay from that of
Argentina. I called at La Concordia on my way, and had a talk with
Jennings about the business I had on hand. My object was to see a man,
Emile Gunther by name, who was a buyer of hides and sheepskins. We had a
large number of these at the Cerro, and I was anxious to be rid of them,
as they were apt to get damp and out of condition during the winter. I
crossed the Pass of the Rosario below La Concordia, into the Colony,
following the track which led out of it, gradually rising to higher
ground. Every here and there "chacras," or farms, each surrounded by
more or less cultivated land. Many of the houses were built of bricks,
plastered and whitewashed outside, one storey only, with bright red
tiles on the roof, and they usually had a wide open verandah, very
convenient to sit in, and also to eat one's meals during warm weather.
Each house seemed to have its garden, where vegetables did well, for the
soil was good and easy to work, and it was rare to find one without a
few flowers, while clumps of "eucalypti," the blue gum of Australia,
planted either round or near the homesteads, were almost universal. The
stables and outbuildings were mostly mud-huts, with roofs of "paja," a
reed which was quite common, and very suitable for the purpose. All this
was that part of the Colony which could be seen in the distance from La
Concordia, where the original Colonists had first settled themselves
down and made their homes. As I rode on, I came to a much wider track,
with wire fencing stretched on wooden posts on either side, running at
right angles to the one I had hitherto followed. Turning to the left, I
rode along this in a south-westerly direction, and as I proceeded the
farms got fewer, and further apart, while the land intervening was
thickly covered by a shrub, with a small leaf, the knobby roots of
which, when dried, made excellent firewood. Here cattle and horses could
be seen feeding, for the soil was rich and fertile, and where the shrub,
or "chirca," as it was called, was not too thick, good grasses grew in
between. I had no difficulty in finding Señor Gunther's farm, which was
quite an important one, for, in addition to land under cultivation,
where wheat and maize were grown, there were two large "portreros," or
paddocks, fenced in with wire, affording ample pasturage to a
considerable number of stock. Trees of various kinds had been planted,
including fruit trees, and were growing well. There was a little
"monte," or wood of "eucalypti," and some were also planted on either
side of the drive leading up to the house, forming quite a respectable
avenue. The house was an "azotea," one storey high, with a flat roof,
the rooms spacious and comfortable, overlooking on their further side a
garden, with fruit trees and flowers. As I rode up, I was welcomed by
the owner's wife and daughter, who told me he had only gone down the
farm for half an hour, and would soon return. Meanwhile, they invited me
to come in and sit down, shewing me where to tie up my horse. Señor
Gunther, when he came, was a fine-looking man, above middle height, well
set up, apparently about fifty. He looked shrewd and intelligent, with a
pair of keen blue eyes and light hair, already beginning to turn a
little grey. "Buen dia Señor" (Good morning, Sir) he exclaimed genially,
as he came up to shake hands. "I have heard of you." "I, too, am equally
pleased," I replied in Spanish. "What a nice situation you have, and how
well the trees must have grown!" "Yes, indeed they have," he said,
"considering the time we have been here." He said he had a number of
milk cows, and had already made a fair amount of Swiss cheese, which
sold well, and he had reason to think it would prove profitable, and
hoped to increase it. He told me to unsaddle and turn out my horse into
a small paddock close by, and invited me to stay and have some
breakfast, which would be ready in half an hour. "After this," he said,
"if you have sufficient time to spare, I would like to show you round
the farm." Our meal was enjoyable, and he pressed me to drink some
excellent muscatel wine of a rich golden colour, which he had himself
purchased, and brought out from Monte Video. Coffee and cigarettes
followed, and he had evidently become able to surround himself with an
amount of comfort by no means easily attainable on some of the estancias
outside. Of course, we discussed the war, and I then spoke to him as to
the business about which I had come. Finally, it was arranged that he
should purchase all the hides and sheepskins at the Cerro at the price I
asked for them, and he was to send a cart and fetch them away in about a
week. He told me they were fortunately situate in regard to soldiers,
being out of their track, and that scarcely any seemed to come their
way, nor did he think they were likely to unless anything unforeseen
occurred. After a turn round the garden, he went and had a look at
"Carnival," whom he seemed to admire. I told him I had brought him from
the Sierras de Mal Abrigo, where he was bred and born, and that I was
greatly afraid lest the soldiers should take him at the Cerro, as we
heard so many were coming our way it seemed hardly possible he could
escape. He then said if I cared to leave "Carnival" with him I was
welcome to do so, and he would do his best to look after him, at any
rate until the worst of the trouble we were looking forward to should
pass over. I gladly accepted this offer, with very grateful thanks. My
host suggested I should saddle him up now, when taking our turn round to
farm, and then just have a look at the Piedmontese Colony, which was
not far distant. He further proposed that on our return I could leave
"Carnival," now he was here with him, and he would lend me a horse to
ride home on, which could be brought back when he sent a cart for the
hides, etc. I gladly agreed to this arrangement, and we made a start
forthwith. A peon was ploughing on the arable land, using a somewhat
heavy plough, drawn by a yoke of oxen. It was a slow business, but had
the advantage of turning up the soil fairly deep. The milk cows and a
small flock of sheep were feeding together in one large paddock, while
some nice-looking young stock and the horses were feeding in the other;
besides these was a small flock of fifteen goats, the milk of which I
concluded was used in the manufacture of cheese. Near the house was the
usual corral to shut up animals, and attached to the outbuildings which
were roomy and convenient was a well-arranged dairy.

We were not long in reaching the Piedmontese Colony, which at that time
consisted only of one pulperia, or general store, and half a dozen
houses, more or less near it. From there the land which stretched away
towards the river Plate was mostly covered with "chirca," and evidently
at that time but sparsely occupied. You could just see the smoke rising
from the chimneys of perhaps a dozen mud ranchos, a considerable
distance apart, evidently in possession of people only recently settled
there, who as yet had not had time to do much in the way of agriculture.
However, I was glad to have a chance of seeing the country, and I
wondered as we rode back what kind of future might possibly lie before
it. Returning to the house we had some coffee and little cakes served
with it. Meanwhile, a chestnut was ready tied up, on which I was to ride
home; not very attractive-looking, but good enough for the purpose.
Indeed, in time of war I had learned that a good-looking horse was a
certain care and an uncertain pleasure. So I bid good-bye to Señor Emile
and his family, with many thanks for their kindness and hospitality, and
the request that should he at any time find himself in the neighbourhood
of the Cerro, he would not fail to call and see me. The chestnut
travelled along quite comfortably, if not very fast, and the sun was
nearly down when I reached home. The first thing Justiniano told me was
that Robinson had departed. Two men from the stonemason's, who lived on
the other side of the Pichinango, had come for him with a led horse,
about the middle of the morning, and old Robinson had put together a few
clothes and belongings and had accompanied them. The craving for drink
had probably been his motive, for the stonemason himself was given that
way, and at his house Caña was generally more or less on the go. Old
Robinson had always kept up a sort of friendship with these people, much
against my wish, for I prophesied they would one day be the ruin of him.
However, the fact I had to face was that I was now without a cook, but
Juan got me some coffee, and supper ready on the fire in the galpon,
which I myself carried into the dining room, and then I smoked a pipe
and thought over my pleasant day. Later I locked all up and went early
to bed. Next morning, when I went out, "Napoleon" greeted me joyfully. I
had left him at home the day before. The Indians got me some hot coffee
at their fire, and after seeing to some things that were necessary, I
saddled up the "mala-kara," or bay, with white blaze and stockings, and
started off to La Concordia to consult with Jennings as to what I had
better do in regard to Robinson's departure. I found him already busy in
the garden pruning the fruit trees, and told him what I had arranged
with Señor Gunther, and how I was now left without a cook. He said he
thought the best thing was to leave Robinson where he was; it was no
good attempting to fetch him back, as he would by this time probably be
drunk and incapable, or, to say the least of it, very difficult to
manage. He proposed to send me a nice-looking young Swiss, called
Vicente, who was looking after the "capones," up to the Cerro, to take
Robinson's place, and also keep an eye on the southdowns, and I could
send Margarito down to La Concordia in his stead. Vicente was handy, and
obliging, getting on for nineteen, nor would he at all object to doing a
little cooking and housework if required. Jennings asked me to stay and
have breakfast, which I did, and said he had received a letter from Don
Frederico, written from Santa Lucia, saying all had gone well, and that
so far they had travelled comfortably. We saw Vicente before I left; he
had just come in from his flock. He said he would be pleased to go up to
the Cerro, and would do his best to make things comfortable, and
promised to be there a little before sundown. I then bid adieu to
Jennings, and rode round by Anjel's puesto. He was out with his flock,
and I came across him without having to go so far as his house. He was
silent and serious as usual, but gave it as his opinion that Robinson
"would come to no good with those people over there," and promised,
should he hear of anything further happening, he would manage to let me
know. When I got home, we got the "tamberos" up on to their rodeo. No
one had arrived during my absence, and I sent Margarito down to La
Concordia as arranged.

Early in the following week, one morning just after ten o'clock, Colonel
Medina rode up to the Cerro, accompanied by seventy Blanco soldiers. I
had met him before, and Don Frederico knew him well, for he lived not so
very far from the Pichinango, and we had always looked upon him more or
less as a neighbour. I at once invited him to dismount and come inside
and have breakfast, assuring him it would not be long before it was
ready. As for the soldiers, I said they had better make a fire down
below the house, towards the big "manga," and if one was not enough,
they could make two. Meanwhile, I would have a couple of sheep killed,
so that they could make themselves a roast, as they wanted, and I would
send them down a supply of farinha, salt and yerba, in order that they
might do what a native always dearly loves, viz., have a rest and suck

The colonel was a man of middle height, his hair beginning to turn a
little grey. I daresay he would be getting on towards fifty. He was
well-educated, and had to a certain extent travelled, having held a
minor office in the Blanco Government previous to the Flores war, when
the Reds came into power. Probably, too, he looked forward before very
long to taking office again, when the present revolution should be over,
and the success of his own party assured. He told me he was on his way
to Colonia, where a division of the Blanco army would probably be
concentrated, to hold the province before very long, but that the main
advance contemplated, whenever the proper time should come, was to lay
siege to the city of Monte Video itself, and he believed it would be
quite powerful enough to accomplish this when a really suitable
opportunity should arise. This was certainly good news so far as it
went, but at the same time he warned me that the war was as yet far from
being over, for the Colorados were still fairly strong on the inside
camps, especially in the direction of the capital, where they were able
to command the assistance of both infantry and artillery and also, if
necessary, that of mercenary troops as well. I was greatly interested;
indeed, I felt quite sorry when breakfast was over, and the colonel said
it was time to make a move. Neither he nor his soldiers asked for
horses, having a troop of spare ones in first-rate condition, which they
were driving along with them. We parted with mutual compliments, and
with the usual "Hasta la vista amigo!" (Friend, until we meet again!),
and he further told me that if he could do anything for me during the
changes and chances of war-time, I was to be sure to let him know,
which, to say the least of it, was very civil of him. The soldiers
quickly marshalled up near the door leading out of the courtyard,
through which he passed, and I accompanied him. He then mounted a grey
horse, which was being held ready for him, and gave the word of command
to go forward, and we all watched them jogging along towards the Pass of
the Pichinango, when that little excitement was over. It came on to rain
early in the afternoon, and we got the sheepskins turned over, and put
together again, ready for the purchaser when he should think well to
send for them.

Early next morning the sun shone bright, and warm, but it did not last
long, for a "pampero," or southerly wind, from the Pampas, blew up soon
after mid-day, and towards evening it became very cold and
stormy-looking. I was able to "repuntar," or turn inwards, the cattle on
the northern boundary of the estancia, and also to visit three of the
puestos, where I found everything all right. The following day a bad
spell of weather set in, with cold winds and constant showers of rain.
However, I kept on the move as well as I could, for it was in stormy
weather that a little supervision was most needed. Vicente was an
obliging young man, and did his best in his new occupation, and he made
me a nice little fire in the gun-room stove, where it was comfortable to
sit after supper, especially after having had a bit of a wetting
outside. Jennings had given me two little bull terrier puppies. They
were an amusing little pair about five months old, small in size, with
all the characteristics of a bulldog, except that they were very quick
and active on their legs. One I called "Bully"; he was the colour of
yellow sand, and the other was a brindle, like its mother, and to him I
gave the name of "Brag." As they grew up they hunted the "legatos," a
very large lizard, who lived among the rocks, behind the house. They
also went with me when I took a gun and went after a brace or two of
partridge, and they joined joyfully in the general uproar and barking
when any stranger rode up, or indeed near the house. This was so much to
the good, as it lessened the chance of our being taken unawares as to
what might be coming, always a distinct advantage in time of war. The
rosillo had now quite recovered and greatly improved in condition, and I
often had him tied up in the courtyard, where I gave him a little maize,
which he had learned to eat with satisfaction. I was now able to ride
him with my recado, as well as my English saddle, and I made up my mind
to take all the care I could of him, for the more I rode him the better
I liked him. After about a week the weather became fine, and I decided
to ride in to the little country town of Colla, which lay some nine
miles south of the river Pichinango, as I wanted to go to the "policia,"
or police station about some business connected with the estancia. I had
intended to put off going until Don Frederico's return, as I rather
wished to see him before doing so. However, as I understood from
Jennings it was more than likely he would not be able to come home so
soon as he expected, I decided to delay no longer, but to start early
the next morning. I did not want to take a good-looking horse, for I
knew the town would be full of soldiers, so I told Justiniano to have
the horses in the corral in good time, and to catch me up rather an
oldish bay, left by soldiers, nothing whatever to look at, but really a
good deal better horse than he appeared, and also to tie up the rosillo
in the courtyard, about eleven o'clock, so that he might be safer if
anyone came. The little town of Colla lay pleasantly situate on the bank
of a small river. It consisted of one main street, with houses unevenly
built, and somewhat scattered on either side. About half way down this
widened a little, forming a small plaza, or square, where a band played
on summer evenings, and people walked round and round, or sat about and
listened to the music, and enjoyed also the pleasure of looking at their
neighbours. There was a Roman Catholic Church, and some rather
sordid-looking barracks, and quarters for soldiers. Half a dozen
pulperias, and general stores, and two or three "fondes," or second-rate
hotels, with here and there a private residence, often enclosed inside a
garden, completed the buildings of any importance, while stretching away
behind these, on either side were the smaller houses and ranchos,
occupied by natives, more or less of the working class. Some of these
had spaces of cultivated ground attached, and at others two or three
cows and a horse or two, and some poultry would be kept, just as
happened to be most convenient. There were plenty of soldiers about in
the streets, as well as in the cafés and fondas. I rode straight up to
the police station, and it was not very long before I was able to
conclude my business. Having done this, I did not go to an hotel, as I
should otherwise have done, to put up my horse and have some breakfast,
on account of the soldiers, but I made my way to the house of a man
called Pedro Dominguez. It was next to a large general store, which he
owned as well, where he carried on an extensive and profitable business,
as a buyer of produce and a seller of merchandise, and had long had
dealings with the Estancia Pichinango. He received me with courtesy. A
man below the middle height, getting on in years, and somewhat bent in
figure, he looked to me as much like a Portuguese as anything else.
"Buen dia, Señor," he said, as I rode up and explained who I was.
"Please come inside, and I can put up your horse in my stable."
Moreover, he invited me to have some breakfast, which was very good of
him, for I began to feel hungry after my ride. His house was
comfortable, and he had a good sized garden attached, very well kept,
and he told me he was a great lover of flowers. While we were enjoying
our meal one of the black, hairless dogs, greatly esteemed by natives,
trotted into the room. It was about the size of a small terrier, with a
perfectly smooth black skin, entirely devoid of hair. It had a pointed
nose and a pair of very bright eyes, and they are said to be very
affectionate. Señor Dominguez told me he had a widowed daughter and a
grandchild who lived with him, but just then they were away on a visit
to friends in Colonia. Of course, we talked about the war. He said he
had never taken any part in politics, but his sympathies were with the
Blancos, and he was very glad to think that for the present Colla at any
rate, had seen the last of the Colorados, who he believed as a
Government were self-seeking and corrupt, and he felt sure if they were
allowed to continue in power, would bring certain ruin on the country.
We had some coffee and a cigar, and it was after two o'clock when I
saddled up the bay, and with many thanks for his kind hospitality,
started on my return journey. The old horse travelled back faster than
he had come, and I reached the Cerro somewhat earlier than I expected.
As the sun declined, it got quite cold, and I was glad to find a fire
lit in the gun-room stove to welcome me. Justiniano had got up the
"tamberos" on to their rodeo, and the southdowns were already shut up in
their yard, as I rode up to the house. "Napoleon" was delighted to see
me, and even "Brag" and "Bully" gave me a sort of welcome in their way.
I let go my horse, and wrote up the log-book, and so ended what had been
quite an agreeable day. I had the usual "para rodeo" on Saturday, which
was quite satisfactory, and I saw reason to think we were now getting
the cattle well in hand. This was important during time of revolution,
when we were likely to have fewer people to look after them. On the next
Tuesday morning, I had just got in from a turn round the puestos, when
the cart arrived to take away the hides and sheepskins. The Indians gave
the cartman some breakfast in the galpon, and we then counted and handed
over the hides and skins, for which the cartman gave me a receipt, while
I handed to him a certificate that we had sold them. He started for home
about one o'clock, taking with him the chestnut horse, which Señor
Gunther had lent me to ride home on. The cartman told me that "Carnival"
was all right, and seemed quite happy in his new quarters. The middle of
the following week Don Frederico returned to La Concordia. I rode down
to see him, and he said he could hardly believe he had been away nearly
a month. The fact was his family did not leave for England in the
steamer he intended, but waited for the next one, and he naturally
wished to see them safe, and as comfortable as might be on board. I told
him about old Robinson, and he said the arrangement we had made would do
quite well for the present, though later on he should want Vicente back
at La Concordia. Meanwhile, however, I could look about and see if I
could find a cook. The winter was now passing, and every now and again
we had two or three days when the sun would be quite warm, with every
sign of approaching spring. We saw but few soldiers, and they were only
passers-by, anxious to reach the end of their journey as soon as might
be, but we had every reason to believe a considerable movement of troops
would take place before very long. Early in August we had begun to see
symptoms of what is known as epidemia, or sickness among the cattle. At
first a single animal would be found in the camp dead, looking in good
condition, and from no apparent cause. Later two or three might be seen,
and in different parts of the estancia. Then you would find here and
there an animal looking young and even fat, standing by itself, away
from the others, not moving or eating, and with obviously something the
matter with it. If taken in time and got to move quickly, and the
horseman could give it a sharp run, it would probably recover. Should
it, however, have gone too far, all one could do was to kill it, and
take off its hide, rather than let it lie down on the ground and die
slowly by inches. The epidemic went on for some little time, and we lost
a good many cattle, and curiously enough it was much more towards the
Cerro end of the estancia than it was at La Concordia. During this time,
I was constantly out in the camp, looking up sick animals, and I took
Juan and Justiniano with me, to take off the hides when necessary.
Towards the end of the month I was out with the latter having a look
round, and we came across a cow evidently very bad, for it could hardly
stand on its legs and, when I tried to move it, it seemed only to totter
from side to side. I jumped off my horse, handing the reins to the
Indian, and caught hold of its tail with both hands to pull it over. I
pulled my hardest, when the hair came suddenly out of the tail, and
before I could recover myself I fell sideway into a bunch of big
thistles which stood near. Unfortunately, I fell right among them, and
felt one of the stiff sharp thorns pierce the flesh on the inside of my
left arm, just below the elbow. I turned up my sleeve and tried to get
it out with my knife but was unable to do so. We killed the poor cow,
and I left Justiniano to commence taking off the hide while I rode back
to the Cerro and sent his uncle Juan to help him. I then had another try
to get out the thorn, but could not manage it. I bathed it with hot
water, and as it was getting a bit painful, applied a hot poultice and
hoped for the best. September came in fine, and towards noon the sun
began to feel quite warm. At the beginning of its second week,
twenty-two soldiers rode up, and said they wanted horses. I saw they
meant business, so I told Justiniano to get all our horses into the
corral. I had the rosillo saddled in the courtyard, so he was all right,
as it was unusual for soldiers to take a horse one had saddled, except
for some special reason, or because they really wished to be as
disagreeable as they could. They were travelling out north, and were
evidently pressed for time. They took six of our horses, including the
"manchado," which had caused the death of the poor young Englishman, and
left us one, an old bay, and he looked a very poor one. However, there
was no alternative, so we had to put up with it, but it gave me a
reminder of what we had to expect. The two colts we had tamed, now
well-behaved horses, they paid no attention to whatever, and for this I
was glad. My arm had become swollen and inflamed, and continued to give
me a good deal of pain, and I was obliged to have it in a sling. It was
rather a nuisance, for it was my bridle hand, but I consoled myself by
thinking had it been my right arm it would have been worse, and as it
was I could get about as usual. One fine morning, about eleven o'clock,
an old negro woman rode up to the Cerro mounted on a rather thin
"gatiado," or drab-coloured horse, with a dark stripe down its back,
from which is derived its name. She had a maiden with her, black, like
herself, mounted on an old grey. Each had a rug thrown over her horse,
made fast with a surcingle, on which she sat, and appeared quite
comfortable. The old lady asked me if they could stay for a while, and
have a rest before proceeding on their journey. "By all means," I
replied, and told Juan, who happened to be about, to give them a couple
of bancos, or stools by the fire in the galpon, and I also asked them if
they would like anything to eat. "Pero con mucho gusto, Señor," "But
with great pleasure, Sir," they replied, "and if you could kindly give
us a little yerba and sugar we should greatly enjoy drinking Matè, for
we both feel very thirsty." Juan soon made up a good fire, and put on
the kettle for hot water, and gave them a piece of meat to roast, and
some "farinha," and the ladies seemed quite happy. Later on, as I was
passing out through the galpon, the old one came up to thank me for the
hospitality we had shewn them. "But pardon, Señor," she said, "may I ask
what is the matter with your arm, for I see you have it bound up. I
myself am a 'curandera,' or healer, and I am on my way to see a man who
is very ill. Please let me have a look at it." This I gladly did, and
she told me it was the thorn still in it which was causing the trouble,
but she hoped it might work its way out. She said I must take care of
it, as my arm looked to her rather as if it had been poisoned. She
further said I was to send one of the Indians down to the wood which
bordered the bank of the river Pichinango, and he was to get the leaves
of a certain shrub which grew there. I was to make these leaves into a
poultice and put it on my arm as hot as I could bear it every night for
about a fortnight. Further, I was to put the water in which the leaves
were boiled into a jug and drink it cold each morning as soon as I
awoke. She interviewed both Juan and Justiniano and made them clearly
understand what was the shrub the leaves of which were to be brought:
what it was like, and how and where it grew. She then explained to
Vicente exactly how to make the poultice, and how much of the leaves to
use at a time. Then came the curious part of the would-be cure. The old
lady insisted that I should begin it on the first evening of the new
moon, and at no other time but then. We were all somewhat impressed, the
Indians very much so, for they looked up the "curandera" with a certain
amount of superstitious awe. However, I determined to try the "remedio,"
and as there happened to be a new moon that evening I sent Justiniano at
once off to the Pichinango to find the leaves. He returned with a good
supply of them. It was a small leaf, a little larger than the ordinary
tea leaf, and it reminded me very much of the leaf of a small tree known
as the "manouka" tree, of New Zealand. So the poultice was duly made;
the water in which the leaves were boiled was put ready to drink the
first thing next morning, and forthwith the prescribed treatment began.
A few days passed, when one morning, between seven and eight o'clock
fifteen soldiers rode up and demanded horses. The tropillas had not long
been turned out of the corral, so our horses were quite close for the
soldiers to see. There was nothing for it but to shut them in and let
them take what they wanted. I did the best I could, but they took four
and left one, an old gatiado, with a stripe down its back, the same
colour as the one the curandera had ridden. The soldiers only stayed
long enough to get horses, and then resumed their journey, travelling
north. The weather was now getting warm, when one afternoon about four
o'clock, an elderly negro rode up to the Cerro, mounted on a very
poor-looking old "bayo," or cream-coloured horse. The Indians, who had
been out in the camp, were sitting by the galpon fire, sucking Matè. I
was in the courtyard unsaddling the rosillo, whom I had been riding,
but not far away. I heard a great barking of dogs, "Napoleon's" voice
being loud among them; "Brag" and "Bully" were also doing their best to
increase the noise. I passed out through the small door, and there was
an old man, surrounded by the barking dogs, sitting quietly on his
horse, calling out "Ave Maria," the customary form of salutation, and
waiting for someone to ask him to dismount. This I did, and he enquired
if here was the Cerro del Pichinango, and if I would allow him to put up
in the galpon for the night. As for his horse, he said it was worth very
little, and if let go he did not think it would move far away. He looked
tired, and weary, as did his steed, and said what most he needed was a
real good sleep. He had a bundle with him, tied up in a roll at the back
of his old "recado," a battered black felt hat and a much-dilapidated
summer poncho, while some old "bombachos" and a pair of alpargatas, or
canvas shoes, completed his attire. I told him to make himself
comfortable, and left him to rest as I was just thinking of saddling up
the bay colt we had tamed, and riding down to Marmasola's puesto. I
found his flock quite near it, ready to be shut in for the night. He
himself was at home, and he told me that a soldier who had passed by not
long before had told him there had been an engagement some distance out
beyond Guaycoru, and that the Blancos had been victorious, and had
driven the Reds off in full flight to the north of the Sierras de Mal
Abrigo, and so on towards the province of San Josè. How far this was
really true, and whether it was an affair of much importance he did not
know. He thought, however we should all do well to be on the alert, and
promised to send me up word should he hear any further news. Everything
seemed quiet as I rode back: the epidemia among the cattle was now dying
out, and there was only an isolated case now and then, and I was
thankful to think we had been able to get through the trouble so easily.

My arm by this time had become less inflamed, and much less painful, so
I thought it better to go on with the treatment for a few days longer
than the "curandera" had suggested. When I saw the negro again next
morning he told me he had slept well, and felt all the better for it. He
told me he had passed through a rough time with General Lopez Jordan up
in Paraguay during the war between that country and Brazil. Having
drifted down into Uruguay, he found himself with hardly any money, and
no friends. Had it not been time of revolution, he did not doubt but
that he could easily have got work. He said his nerves had been
completely shattered, and what he wanted was a feeling of security and a
little rest. He asked me if I would allow him to stay on a bit at the
Cerro, as he liked the look of the place, for you had a good view all
round, and could see anyone who might be coming. He said if I would
permit him to stay he would be glad to do anything he could to make
himself useful. I thereupon asked him if he would act as cook. "Pero con
mucho gusto," "But with great pleasure," he replied. When I next saw Don
Frederico he said I had better arrange with the negro, whose name was
Correo, to do the cooking, and such housework as had to be done. Vicente
could then come back to him, as he needed him rather badly. He also told
me I had better take a little boy about twelve years old, a grandson of
the old Indian, Feliciano, to help to look after the southdowns, and to
look up horses, as otherwise I should find myself short-handed. He was a
funny little person, with a pair of sharp-looking black eyes. His father
was said to have been killed in a quarrel during the war, and although,
of course, a relative of Justiniano, he had every appearance of mixed
blood. Correo seemed very pleased at the prospect of staying on at the
Cerro, and settled down quite comfortably. He kept the rooms clean and
tidy, and could cook anything that was required. For the next ten days
or so we had sheep-working on hand, and I was kept pretty busy; and we
had the regular para rodeo of the cattle on Saturday as usual, which was
now quite easy to manage.

A few days later, I started to ride over to an estancia belonging to a
Mr. Trafford, which lay beyond the town of Colla, well on towards
Colonia. My object was to see some rams we needed for the Fine Flock,
and which Don Frederico had heard were for sale there. I rode a dark
chestnut horse, which had been left tired and almost done up by
soldiers, but had now recovered. I preferred taking him to a horse of
our own mark, as I thought it quite possible I might have to pass
through the Blanco lines. Should this be so and they took the chestnut
they would probably give me another in exchange which would do to bring
me home. I was up early and in the saddle just after sunrise. It was a
nice morning, and the chestnut was in good spirits, and went along
smoothly and easily. When I reached Colla I found the place full of
troops, so did not delay, but rode straight on and beyond, being asked
as I passed the Police Station who I was, and where I was going. No one
interfered with me. I stayed that night and over the next day with Mr.
Trafford, who was very kind and hospitable. He had no one with him when
I arrived, for his daughter, not yet grown up, was away at school in
Buenos Aires. His house was comfortable, well-built, and well-arranged,
with a very wide verandah on one side of it. He saw me ride up, and came
forward to welcome me, a thin, tall man, with a somewhat serious
expression, which made him look older than he really was. He kept up the
English custom of having tea in the afternoon about four o'clock, with
bread and butter, cakes, jam, etc., which to me were quite a luxury.
After partaking of this, I had a look over the rams, which were then in
a large paddock not far from the house. They were a nice lot, well cared
for, and in good condition, and on hearing the price I came to the
conclusion they would be just about what Don Frederico required. So I
arranged provisionally to buy twenty of them, and to pick out the ones
we would have in the morning; this arrangement being subject to Don
Frederico's approval. I further proposed he should write to Mr. Trafford
immediately after my return, and so complete the purchase, and then we
could send over to fetch them, as might seem convenient. The following
day I much enjoyed as we rode over the estancia, and inspected both the
sheep and cattle, for, as a matter of fact, Mr. Trafford had, for that
time, some exceptionally good stock. He took great interest in his
garden, which appeared well-stocked with both flowers and vegetables,
and his numerous fruit trees were evidently a source of great pleasure
to him. Next morning, after coffee, I saddled up the chestnut and
started for home. On my way back I passed close to a place where a
Spaniard, who was really a "basco," was driving a good sized flock of
sheep up towards his house. A nice-looking sheep-dog, which looked well
bred, was helping him very efficiently. I pulled up for a while to give
my horse a rest, and I took a great fancy to the dog, for I liked the
way he went about his work. We were getting a bit short-handed, and I
thought a dog like this one would be useful, so I made his owner a bid
for him, just in case he might care to part with him. Rather to my
surprise, the man said he would not mind selling him, but only because
he contemplated leaving where he was to go and live in a town, where the
dog would be no use to him. The only condition he made was that I would
be kind to him and treat him well. He was black and light tan in colour,
and the true sheep-dog breed, with a nice head and intelligent eyes. The
only fault I could see in him was he had rather too heavy a coat for
work in hot weather. His name was Ramonou. He did not at all like being
taken away from his home by a stranger, and I was obliged to lead him
with a thin thong of hide, fastened to his collar, which I held in my
hand. Fortunately the chestnut was very quiet and tractable, but having
the dog with me naturally delayed my progress, so that it was late when
I reached home. However, there was a moon which shone brightly, so it
did not much matter. "Napoleon," as usual, was glad to see me back.
Nothing had happened during my absence, and Correo soon got me some
supper, and seemed quite contented and happy. Next morning "Ramonou"
seemed none the worse for his journey. I had tied him up for the night
and given him some food, and I now let him loose in the courtyard, just
to stretch his legs. "Napoleon" was not at all quarrelsome, and the two
dogs happily took to each other, and soon became great friends. I had
the bay horse caught up, and started down to La Concordia, as I wished
to lose no time in letting Don Frederico know what I had arranged about
the rams. He was perfectly satisfied, and said he would at once write to
Mr. Trafford. He told me he had heard that old Robinson was lying very
ill over at the stonemason's, from the effect of too much Caña, and he
went so far as to say he was doubtful if he would recover. "You know we
should not like him to die over there," he said; "after being so many
years at the Cerro, we had come to look upon him as almost part of the
place!" "Supposing I send Steff, the Swiss peon, with a light cart to
be at Anjel's puesto, say at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning. You might
then send Juan and Justiniano to meet him there at that time, and they
could all three go on together to the other side of the Pichinango. If
there is plenty of 'paja' in the cart and he is well wrapped up, I do
not see why he should not travel all right." So it was arranged; and I
promised to see that the Indians were at the place appointed at the hour
named. As a matter of fact, they both rather liked old Robinson, and
would be sorry for him being so ill, and I felt sure they would do their
best to bring him back with as little suffering as possible. I then rode
back to the Cerro, round by Anjel's puesto.

When the cart arrived at the Cerro with the poor old man lying full
length in it, I saw at once that he was very ill. We got him out of the
cart and into the kitchen, where we laid him down in front of the fire
and started rubbing his hands and feet, for he really seemed in all but
a comatose condition. After a while he somewhat recovered, and I got him
to swallow two or three spoonfuls of mutton broth made strong and quite
plain. Towards evening he seemed better, and said he wished us to get
him up into his bedroom above the kitchen. He could not speak above a
whisper, but I understood him to say he felt cold, and would rather be
in his own room above the kitchen stove than in one of the larger rooms
on the ground floor. For two or three days he seemed to mend, and then
one afternoon he sank into an unconscious state, and I knew it would not
be long before all was over. He could take nothing whatever, but he
lasted through the night, and passed peacefully away about eleven
o'clock next morning. I sent down at once to tell Don Frederico, and he
sent me word he would have a shell coffin sent up as soon as possible.
During the afternoon we got the remains down from the bedroom and laid
them on a "quatre," or wooden camp bedstead, in the last room but one at
the far end of the house, which had a door in it, opening into the
courtyard, covering the body over with a white sheet. Late in the
evening the wooden shell arrived, and we reverently laid him in it. I
put a couple of screws in half way down, just to hold on the lid for the
time being. The Indians said they would light a candle and watch by the
coffin, and Correo said he would like to take a turn also. It was a fine
clear night, calm and still, with the moon now in its second quarter,
and about nine o'clock I went to bed. I was awakened some three hours
later by a loud knocking at my door. I jumped up, hastily putting on
some clothes, and took up my revolver, which was lying by my bedside.
When I opened my door, leading into the covered archway, there was
Correo, his face an ashy grey colour, gesticulating violently outside,
and begging me to come at once to the room where we had placed the
coffin. He said the Indians who had been on guard were terribly
frightened, because while they were on watch the ghost of the "finado,"
or dead man, had appeared, and was then to be seen passing like a shadow
up and down the room. As I went out into the courtyard "Napoleon" came
and put his cold nose in my hand, and the rosillo who was shut in there
for the night, gave a little neigh. I went to the door, opened it, and
entered the room, followed by the negro, who was almost in tears. Of
course, there was nothing, and I showed him the two screws half way down
in the lid, exactly as we had left them. Meanwhile the Indians had fled
and hid themselves in the galpon; the candle they had left lighted was
flickering down in its socket, and the room was in semi-darkness. I with
difficulty persuaded Correo to go to his bed and have a sleep, for he
was much upset, and trembling all over, but at last I succeeded. I
thereupon locked the door of the room, taking the key with me, and
returned to my bed for the rest of the night, which passed without
further disturbance of any kind. The next morning, but one, Steff drove
up in his cart with the coffin, into which we silently placed the
remains, and he started at once to convey it to the cemetery in the
Swiss Colony. At the same time I rode down to La Concordia to advise Don
Frederico that it was on its way to its last resting place. When I got
there I unsaddled my horse and tied him up under the euremada before
going inside the house. A little later I was sitting in the dining room
talking to Jennings, when Don Frederico came hurriedly in. "Good
gracious!" he said, "there is Steff crossing the rincon towards the Pass
of the Rosario standing up in the cart and trotting ever so fast. Do go
down and stop him, and tell him only to go at a foot pace." A "moro
rosillo" (blue roan horse) was standing ready saddled outside. I jumped
up on him and went down the high bank behind the house somewhat faster
than he liked. He started bucking as he got nearly to the bottom, and
what with being taken unprepared and only having my right hand on the
reins, I narrowly escaped what might have been a nasty fall; but I was
able to stop the cart before it crossed the pass. I returned to the
house, and shortly afterwards Don Frederico started to go to the
cemetery in the Swiss Colony, in order to attend the funeral, while I
rode up to the Cerro, as some sheep-working was going on there I wanted
to see after. Ramonou came and helped, and soon proved himself useful in
getting the sheep through the yards. We were now in the first week of
October, and as work of this kind would be pretty constant throughout
the month it seemed as if he had arrived on the scene just about the
right time. One morning I was busy superintending this work; the weather
was becoming hot, and progress somewhat slow. Before going to breakfast,
I went to my room to wash my hands; my arm had now got much better, the
inflammation and swelling having gone. I had turned up my shirt sleeve,
and was rubbing the soap gently between my hands, when a thistle thorn
half an inch long suddenly popped out of my arm, somewhat in the same
way as a cork flies out of a bottle, and fell into the soapy water. By
its appearance it should have been a larger thorn, so that part must
have broken off when it entered the arm. Anyway, I was only too glad to
be rid of it, for it might easily have caused me more trouble than it
had done, and I felt thankful to the "curandera" for the advice she had
given me. The thorns of the big thistle are very sharp and strong, so
much so that when riding through them I have known a thorn pierce right
through a long leather riding boot.

The spring had so far been a dry one, and we were looking forward to
soon beginning the shearing, partly because the season was an early one,
and also on account of the difficulty of getting shearers. Soldiers were
everywhere more or less on the move, and on an estancia this is always a
hindrance to work of every kind. Saturday came round again with its
"para rodeo" of the cattle, and on Monday morning, between ten and
eleven o'clock, thirty soldiers arrived asking for food and horses. They
were travelling north to join the main army. I had a sheep killed for
them, as they said they were hungry, and gave them some farinha and
yerba, and I ordered our horses to be got up into the corral; it was, in
fact, the only thing to do. They ended by taking thirteen horses, six of
our own mark, including the brown colt we had tamed, and seven which had
been left with us by soldiers, among them the chestnut I had ridden
over to Mr. Trafford's estancia. They left us five, apparently tired
out, and weary, and all in poor condition.

I had the rosillo saddled; indeed, I now had him up very constantly,
letting him out to feed at night. Our own horses were gradually
disappearing, and I saw it would not be long before we ran short of
them. We were now busy getting ready for shearing, and I had to go round
to all the native neighbours and find out how many and when they would
be likely to come. This year, owing to the scarcity of outside people,
it seemed probable that more of our own people would have to shear than
usual. Meanwhile, Don Frederico was doing all he could in the Swiss
Colony, although as a rule the colonists were not great shearers, for at
that particular time their own farms often needed attention. I had the
stone walls of the sheepyards attended to, and saw to the gates, and
also that the doors and belongings of the galpon were all in proper
order. I also had an ample supply of wood brought up from the Monte, the
necessary provisions had to be got ready as well as numerous other
articles, all of which were sure to be wanted at such a busy time. On
November 1st a small gang of nine shearers arrived. They had been
previously engaged, and commenced work on the following day. Meantime,
Jennings duly turned up at the Cerro to take charge inside the galpon,
while I looked after matters outside, and also helped him in my spare
time. It was not long before we found out how useful Ramonou could make
himself. He helped to get the sheep through the yards, and also to hurry
a flock from one of the puestos, which otherwise would have come too
slowly, and so kept the shearers waiting for sheep. The weather favoured
us--for the month proved warm and exceptionally dry, so work got on
faster than it could otherwise have done. Soldiers called up half a
dozen at a time, but no large number came to trouble us, for which we
were very thankful. Pedrito now kept an eye on the southdowns, and also
got up the horses, for both old Juan and Justiniano took a turn at
shearing, although neither of them were very efficient.

Work progressed as the days passed, and time went on, so that by the end
of the first week in December, we made a finish, and the gang of
shearers having received their money, at length took their departure. No
sooner was shearing over than we had to see about marking the calves.
This should have been done earlier, but perhaps owing to the same causes
which had produced the epidemia the cattle this spring had been in
rather poor condition, and the calves generally both younger and weaker
than usual. The third week in December began on a Wednesday, and Don
Frederico fixed that day for the marking. I went round to let our native
neighbours know, and asked them all to come and help. Fortunately, the
morning was fine, and we were all on the move at the Cerro even earlier
than usual. I rode a black horse with a white star and two white hind
feet. Pedrito was quite proud of himself, mounted on a small bay which
had been left tired by soldiers, but had now recovered. He was a good
rider, inherited no doubt from his Indian ancestry, and he never pulled
his horse's mouth about more than was necessary. As it happened,
although we were fewer horsemen than usual, the cattle came up well, and
we left them to go round and round on the rodeo while Don Frederico and
Jennings came up to the Cerro to have some coffee which Correo had ready
for us. I let go the black horse and saddled up the rosillo, and on
returning to the rodeo was pleased to find that several of our native
neighbours had arrived. With the aid of a point of tame cattle to lead
them, we got the herd shut up in the manga, and I felt relieved to
think that my responsibility was now over. Two large fires were lit, and
the brands heated, and then two of our native neighbours rode in among
the cattle to lasso and bring out the calves. And so the work
progressed, until about eleven o'clock a halt was made for breakfast.
Seeing we depended so much upon the help of our native neighbours, Don
Frederico said we had better regale them with what was known as "Carne
con cuiro," or beef roasted in the hide. So a young cow had been killed
and cut up in a much shorter time than the uninitiated would deem
possible, and two big roasts with the hide on them were already cooking
before the fires. This above everything is a delicacy the South American
native dearly loves, and Pedrito's face was a picture when he learnt
what was going to happen. Caña, farinha, salt, and yerba were served
out, and the company were all enjoying their repast when a horseman
appeared approaching, perhaps two hundred and fifty yards away. As he
got nearer I saw he was riding a colt, known as a "redamon," _i.e._,
only about half tamed, with a piece of hide tied round its lower jaw,
instead of a bit, and as he rode on towards us the animal, a beautiful
"rosillo," answering the slightest touch of the rider's hand on the
rein, he was indeed a sight to see. His long black hair well oiled and
curling beneath a worn and battered old felt hat, fell almost down to
his shoulders. Over a shirt anything but clean was a dilapidated old
summer "poncho," with a rag of a white handkerchief tied loosely round
his neck. An old worn coloured "cheripa," over a pair of cotton drawers,
covered his waist and the upper part of his legs, and below were a pair
of potro boots, made of the skin of a wild mare, from which the hair had
been removed; mounted with a pair of large iron spurs, completed his
footgear. As he rode among the crowd, he raised his hat above his head
with a "Buen dia Señores" (Good-day, gentlemen) as he sat on his horse
like a statue waiting to be invited to dismount. Then came a cry from
the assembled company, "Cypriano caramba! Cypriano!" but the tribute was
certainly not to his wealth, nor indeed, to his character, for he was a
well-known horse stealer, as well as a famous "domador," or horse-tamer,
but rather a spontaneous and unpremeditated recognition of his wonderful
horsemanship. This touched the hearts of the "Gauchos" as nothing else
could have done. In spite of his rags and his dirt and his poverty, he
was to them a true aristocrat, rising for the moment head and shoulders
above his fellows; for such, indeed, at that time, was the way and
custom and manner of the "Pampas."

Breakfast being finished, work was resumed. By three o'clock the marking
was over, and the herd of cattle let go, when, owing to the times
through which we were living, the company at once dispersed. The weather
continued hot and dry right into the New Year, when I found the water in
the alhibi, or reservoir in the courtyard was becoming exhausted. As I
have previously stated, all our water came from collecting the rainfall
on the roof, whence it passed through pipes into the "alhibi." Usually
the supply was sufficient, but probably the water had been used in
excess and wasted during the shearing, and as no rain had fallen now for
some weeks, it was easy to account for the shortage I wished to preserve
what there was for the house, and indoor use; so we caught up an old
petiso called Waddle, and Justiniano mounted him and made fast his lasso
to the forked branch of a tree with a barrel fixed on its top, and
started for the Cañada Grande to fetch water. He did not go very fast,
for Waddle had seen much of life, and had an enlarged knee; but he had
done the job before, and he did not mind. I daresay, too, he knew by
experience it was not likely to last very long. So with the daily barrel
brought up each morning, we managed to get along quite comfortably. As
to the stock, they always had plenty of water, with the river Rosario on
one side and the river Pichinango on the other, not to speak of the
Cañada Grande, which was hardly ever dry; nor, indeed, had they to go
any distance to drink. Of course the "seca" had its effect on the
pasture, and the grass everywhere got very dry. Where, however, the camp
was not overstocked, and there was good water, the animals could pass
through time of drought without coming to any harm. One morning Pedrito,
who had been out on an old horse looking after the southdowns, came back
and said he had seen an ostrich nest with several eggs in it, which he
thought were still quite good; so I sent Juan with him to fetch them.
There were seven, and they turned out to be but recently laid. The
female bird will lay her eggs out in the open, choosing a place where
the grass is long and dry, and well exposed to the sun. The yolk is
somewhat rich, both in taste and colour; but when fried in a frying pan
or made into an omelette is excellent eating. One of his other pastimes
was going after partridges also on horseback, holding a long stick in
his hand, at the end of which was fastened a thin running noose. When he
saw a bird lying in the grass, which they were fond of doing during hot
and dry weather, he would ride round and round in a circle, gradually
getting nearer and nearer, until he could drop the noose over the head
of the bird as it lay still, as it often would do for some time. Correo
could cook both the ostrich eggs and partridge very well, and I found
them a pleasant change after a prolonged course of mutton roast and
boiled. During hot weather he often wore a beautiful suit of white
cotton; he had two of these with him, and when he brought in my meal to
the dining room he would occasionally stand behind my chair, in a solemn
manner while I was eating, which certainly looked imposing, for his
black skin shone like ebony, but was at the same time quite unnecessary.
He did not much like talking about his experiences during the war in
Paraguay, which I always realised had given him a pretty severe shock,
for he told me he had passed through villages where not a single man had
been left alive, and where a stranger entering them would find himself
surrounded by only women and children, all of whom were in a state of
semi-starvation, and of abject terror and misery. All the crops and
animals had been destroyed by the troops as they passed, and there was
nothing suitable in the way of food anywhere within reach. I liked the
old man, whom I always found very willing and obliging, and I was glad
to see his health improve, as it certainly did, doubtless owing to the
rest, and quiet, and to freedom for the time being from any care or
anxiety as to where or how he could get a living.

The New Year came in exceptionally hot; day after day brought continual
sunshine from a blue sky, in which scarcely a cloud could be seen.
Towards mid-day the rays of heat poured down so fiercely, they seemed as
if they would scorch the very tussock grass itself. The rocks behind the
house fairly glistened and shimmered in the noon-tide glare, and the
large lizards were very happy, constantly running in and out of their
holes, and indeed had a glorious time. Out in the camp, the ground
itself got warm, and everything dried up. The cattle could be seen here
and there in groups; by this formation they seemed to think they might
escape the burning rays of the sun, and it was in the night and early
morning, as well as late afternoon, that they were able to feed in
comfort. They went gladly enough to the rivers to drink, but they could
not stay long by the woods on account of the number of flies which were
ever ready to pester and torment them, until they hardly knew how to
bear. The sheep, also, could be seen clumping themselves together, each
trying, as it were, to get shade by standing in each other's shadow.

If the pasturage on the estancia was hard and dry, there was yet plenty
of it, and as there was abundant water I had no fear of anything like
starvation for the stock. During the great heat the "siesta" in the
middle of the day had to be longer than usual, and practically all work
was suspended, except during the early morning and late afternoon. The
rooms, however, were very comfortable during hot weather, for being so
high, and opening one into another, there was always plenty of air, even
when the heavily-barred windows were, according to the Spanish custom,
kept shut during the middle of the day in order to keep out the heat. We
had no garden to suffer, and were thankful for the grateful shade of the
"ombu," and also of the figtrees in the courtyard, so that, except for
the want of water, we had little to complain of during the period of the
"seca." Curiously enough, during the great heat we had no thunderstorm,
the atmosphere remaining perfectly clear and dry. This, however, was
quite unusual.

One morning, not long after sunrise, two Blanco officers, and about
eighty soldiers rode up to the Cerro. They said they were en route for
Colonia, and had been travelling the greater part of the night, taking
advantage of a nearly full moon. I invited the two officers into the
house to have some coffee, but before accepting, they said what they
wanted were horses, for many of those they had with them were tired, and
it was important they should get on with as little delay as possible. I
asked if the soldiers wanted food, but all they were allowed to do was
to make a couple of fires and suck some Matè, before proceeding on their
journey. As to the horses, there was nothing for it but to get all our
horses up into the corral--they had not long been let go--and let the
soldiers take what they wanted. There were now but few of our own mark
to choose from; the others being horses previously left with us.
However, they took seventeen and left us twelve tired ones, poor in
condition, and not one of them looking as if he was much account. As it
happened, the bay colt we had tamed was with his mother and the
wall-eyed horse I often rode, and old Waddle some distance further away.
So these did not come up with the others, thus the bay colt once more
escaped attention. I had the rosillo tied up and saddled, and Pedrito
was riding the little "mala kara," so he got off, but a very light bay
horse, called an "andador," or pacer, which Justiniano was fond of
riding, was one of the first chosen by the soldiers. The officers told
me they were going to join a large division of the Blanco army, now in
the province of Colonia, which was thought likely to be moving in our
direction, and it was supposed General Aparicio himself was coming down
shortly just to see how things were going. The officers were quite
civil, but when they were gone, and I had time to think matters over, I
realised that this hardly compensated for the fact that we had now
hardly any horses of our own mark left to us. Such, indeed, was so often
the fortune of those whose business it was in "the old days" to try and
carry on an estancia during time of revolution.

On January the twentieth, we had three or four very short and slight
showers, and on the day following, heavy rain fell and continued without
intermission for twenty-four hours. The "seca" had now broken up, the
"alhibi" was more than half full, and we had no further trouble in
regard to water. Soon after two o'clock on the last afternoon in the
month, a party of soldiers rode up, and one of them, who appeared to be
their leader, told me I was to go with them to where a division of the
Blanco army was encamped, some two and a half leagues to the south-east
of the Cerro. As they seemed to attach importance to the request, I did
not care to quite refuse or indeed argue the point as to whether I
should go or not. Moreover, I thought it would be an experience, and
possibly somewhat of an adventure. As it happened, I had caught up the
rosillo a short time before, intending to take a turn round the camp. I
told them I would be ready in a quarter of an hour, saddled him up,
strapped the belt of my revolver round my waist, slipped a light summer
poncho over my head, and we made a start forthwith. Meanwhile, the
Indians had hid themselves in the galpon, and I bid adieu to Correo, who
looked greatly perturbed when he saw me depart. We travelled rapidly
along, for something over an hour, and then, as I looked ahead, I saw an
interesting scene spread out before me. In a large "rincon," at the back
of which was a stream, lightly bordered by trees, were quite a large
number of soldiers. Horses were either feeding loose or tethered
everywhere. The men were scattered about in every sort of attitude and
position, mostly resting and smoking, and some enjoying a game of cards,
while others were chatting and talking together, and apparently enjoying
themselves. Meanwhile, fires had been lighted in front of which large
joints of meat were already roasting. A little to the right, half a
dozen "Gauchos" were busy giving some colts they had got hold of a
gallop, which, from their appearance, had only been recently caught up.
Behind all these, on slightly rising ground, a group of officers were
gathered. One of these was seated on some rugs and saddle gear, which
had been piled up for the purpose, and he was at the time occupied in
sucking Matè through a silver "bombilla," or tube. He was a remarkable
looking man, somewhat above middle height, with rather broad shoulders,
over which his long hair hung down in a slight curl at the back, swarthy
in complexion, with a very keen-looking pair of black eyes. I realised
at once that I was in the presence of no less a personage than General
Aparicio himself. Meanwhile, he invited me to dismount, and asked me who
I was, and where I had come from, and what had brought me there. When I
told him, he said, "This ought not to have happened! There must have
been some mistake!" Then he continued, "Siente sé Señor," "Sit down,
Sir." "Vamos à tomar un matecito," "Let us drink a little Matè." In the
meantime, a soldier was holding my horse, and behind where we were
sitting, two lances were stuck in the ground, from which the white
banner was flying. The General's sharp eyes caught my horse. "That
little rosillo seems made of some good stuff," he said. "You had better
take good care of him." I told him he had the mark of the Estancia
Pichinango, and was about the only one we had left. "Pero que quiere mi
amigo? Es tiempo de guerra." ("But what could you wish, my friend? It is
time of war,") he replied, with a laugh. The General then told me that a
good many matreros (deserters from the army) and bad characters, were
said to be hiding in the woods our way, and that he would send a couple
of soldiers with me when I went back, who could also stay at the Cerro
for a time, in case I should find myself in any trouble. Thereupon I
thanked him, and about half an hour later made my adieux. As I left the
camp the two soldiers rode in front of me, each carrying his lance,
with the white banner flying, while I followed immediately behind. Upon
reaching the Cerro, which we did just after sundown, I got quite a
reception from Correo and the Indians, in which "Napoleon" and
"Ramonou," also "Brag" and "Bully," took part, in fact, they all
appeared quite relieved, and very pleased to see me back again. On the
next morning, I rode down to La Concordia to see Don Frederico. He was
greatly amused when I told him of my little expedition, and at once
asked me if I thought the Blancos were likely to be coming our way. I
told him I thought not, as from what I had gathered their intention was
to make straight for Colonia across country, as it were, without
touching the town of Colla, in which case they would not be likely to
come near the Pichinango. He further said the two soldiers who had come
back with me would be a help rather than a hindrance, for he had been
wondering how we could manage to get the horses all gathered up into the
"manga" this year, and the foals marked, seeing there was hardly any
outside person available. He said that now I had the two soldiers, who
doubtless understood camp work, at disposal, he would arrange a day to
gather up the horses, with as little delay as possible, and let me know.
I could then inform our native neighbours, and possibly succeed in
getting a certain amount of help. I rode back by Marmasola's puesto, and
told him if he knew of anyone likely to be of any use, to be sure and
let me know. That same evening, a little before sundown, a young
Englishman, Mr. Frank Turnor, arrived, with three horses and a peon. He
was "Major Domo" on a large English estancia up the country, and he
asked if we could put him up for the night. This I was delighted to do,
and we had the horses collared and sent out to feed. He was a
fine-looking young man, with broad shoulders, and a tall, upright
figure. We were sitting smoking after dinner, when the conversation
turned upon "matreros," men wanted by the police, hiding in the woods,
whereupon he told me the following story. He said where he was living
they had large woods bordering the river, in which "matreros" would come
and stay for a time, living on the estancia cattle, and then move off
again to other secure places, where the police could not catch them.
They were a desperate lot, and murdered one of the shepherds of the
place because he mended up the fence after they had cut the wires, so as
to pass backwards and forwards, which was a cause of annoyance to them.
He said it was his business, together with two men, to search the woods
every Saturday to see if they were there, as they always left some trace
or other, such as the remains of food or tracks of horses. Both he and
his men always carried rifles, but he was never very keen about finding
the thieves, as they were known to be very dangerous characters. A new
Chief of Police had come, whose ambition was to catch these men. Knowing
the outlaws were in the woods, he thereupon notified him, and the police
officer appeared early one Sunday morning with ten men, all fully armed,
when he at once went with him to show more or less where the matreros
were to be found. On the way they met a half Indian man called the Negro
Largo, who in peace time was allowed three sheep a week to keep him from
stealing, and in time of revolution forty dollars a month to save the
horses; as the Indian then had some thirty men under his command. He
went on to say that as he and the Negro Largo knew the woods, they were
asked to go quietly ahead, so as to try and find the encampment, the
police following.

At last some horses were seen tied out near some little "talditos," or
coverings made of branches, but all was quiet; it was very hot, and the
thieves were sleeping. He and the Negro Largo then returned to the
police, without disturbing the sleepers. Turnor wanted the "comisario"
to charge right up on horseback, but being an infantry officer, he
preferred to do so on foot. So after approaching a little nearer he
ordered his men to dismount and form line, and himself heading them with
drawn sword, charged up to the place where the horses were tied. Owing,
however, to the noise caused by dismounting, etc., the outlaws, hearing
what was going on, made a bolt into the thick wood, so that only the
horses, saddles, etc., were captured. He further mentioned that he and
the Negro Largo were not in the charge, but behind a tree watching.

The police officer was intensely proud of his achievement, and at once
ordered one of the best looking horses to be saddled up for him. When he
mounted, however, the horse reared, and coming over backwards, gave him
a bad fall, much to the general amusement.

Turnor said that this was his only encounter with the "matreros," but
that some time after two of the men with rifles who were revising the
woods as usual came right upon the outlaws over a bank, with their
horses saddled. Instead of trying to escape they at once mounted and
attacked them, firing their pistols, when they on their part being taken
by surprise, made a bolt of it, and being better mounted succeeded in
getting safely away. Eventually all the outlaws were captured and put in

It was getting late when we turned in, but as Turnor wished to make an
early start on the morrow, I had already told Correo to get some coffee
the first thing. Fortunately, he was always an early riser. The morning
was fine, and the sun had but lately risen, when my visitor and his man
mounted their horses and started on their way, the latter leading the
spare horse, so that either could change to it as they went along.

During the afternoon Margarito arrived with a note to say that we were
to have a "para rodeo" of the cattle on Saturday as usual, and a general
gathering up of the horses on the Wednesday following. I therefore lost
no time in advising our native neighbours, and getting them to come and
help us. To make this doubly sure I rode next morning to pay a visit to
two or three of the principal ones in person. Both the soldiers
accompanied me with their lances, and the Blanco device on their hats
and the white banner flying. When I arrived at the first native house I
saw at once that I was about to make an impression. I thought the dogs
barked if anything louder than usual as we sat on our horses calling out
"Ave Maria," the usual form of salutation. For the moment no one
appeared, but I saw signs of first one and then another woman or child
peeping out through a window and so on. Then the front door was opened,
and the master of the house appeared bare-headed, and with a bow
desiring me to dismount. Whereupon I did so, and went into the house,
the two soldiers meanwhile holding my horse outside. I delivered my
message, and we discussed the war, and I was invited to have some
refreshment, which I declined. When I thought sufficient time had
elapsed I got up to leave, being accompanied outside by apparently the
whole family. I then walked solemnly to my horse, mounted and signed to
the two soldiers to move on, and altogether I flattered myself that I
made a very dignified departure. The same mode of procedure took place
at two other houses, each with the same satisfactory result. The fact
was, we were getting very short of horses in our neighbourhood, and as
hardly any of these people, friendly as they might appear on the
surface, would have at all objected to coming inside our camp and
picking up and carrying off any stray horse which, having been left
there, would otherwise have proved useful to us, I thought it a good
opportunity to let them know that, up at the Cerro I was in a position
of some authority, and therefore not to be trifled with. On the Saturday
the two soldiers went with us to the "para rodeo" of the cattle;
"Napoleon" enjoyed himself greatly, and all went well.

Wednesday morning was fine, and we were all early on the move. I rode
the rosillo, who was in excellent form, while the two soldiers and the
Indians were mounted on horses which had been left by passing soldiers.
As we got the troop up towards the "rodeo" a portion of them tried their
utmost to break back, but the rosillo was quite equal to the occasion;
he was indeed a good little horse, and his speed and energy soon
succeeded in rounding them up and forcing them to rejoin the others, so
that we managed to get them all shut up in the stone "manga" with less
difficulty than I had expected. Our native neighbours duly turned up,
fires were lighted, and we were able to mark quite a fair number of
foals. We also picked out about a dozen stray riding horses from among
the troop, which had probably been left by soldiers as they passed
along. These we divided between the Cerro and La Concordia, attaching
them to the tropillas, in order that so long as they remained to us they
might be made useful, and earn their living for the time being. Don
Frederico was mounted on his rosillo allazan (chestnut roan), otherwise
known as his war-horse; but Jennings no longer rode his usual dark grey,
for it had been taken by soldiers about a month previously, so he was
compelled to bestride a rather ancient-looking bay horse, which was also
in but poor condition, instead.

At the beginning of March the two soldiers were recalled to Colla. When
they bid us adieu they both thanked me for the pleasant time at the
Cerro, and when they departed took with them our good wishes. Towards
the end of the month, Charles Bent turned up quite unexpectedly. His
relatives outside had been unfortunate, and had lost a lot of stock,
both sheep and cattle, during the war, and his idea was to make his way
to Monte Video later on, for he seemed to have a hope that the war would
soon be over. He had lost his race-horse not very long after the
disastrous affair at the Cerro, now getting on for a year and a half
ago, and he rode up on an old "Bayo Negro," or dark cream, with a black
mane and tail, which had been left by soldiers, and seemed to be of very
little account. I was glad to see him again, for I always liked him.
Moreover, he did not look very well; he was never really strong, so I
asked him to stay on a bit at the Cerro, as we had ample room, and I
knew he would be glad to help in any work which had to be done. With the
exception of the rosillo, we were entirely dependent upon what I might
call outside horses, for we had now scarcely one of our own mark left.
The bay colt old Juan had tamed, was still with us, but he had managed
to sprain his shoulder rather badly, so was for the time being of no

We had a room at the Cerro with a strong brick floor, which had at one
time been used for stores, and I had this arranged for the rosillo, so
that in case of necessity he could be shut up there at night. Generally,
when the weather was fine, I could have him tied up in the courtyard,
but when the nights got cold and he was unable to feed there, I knew it
would be difficult to keep him in good condition. As it turned out, I
found that the shelter from wind and rain, together with a small but
regular allowance of maize, greatly contributed to his welfare. When I
next saw Don Frederico I spoke to him about Charles Bent, and he said
he should be very glad for him to stay on at the Cerro for he knew he
would always willingly lend a hand at any work which might be going. He
said he thought he would be much better there than if he were to go into
Monte Video at present, as it was generally believed by those who knew,
that before very long the Blancos intended to try and besiege the city,
and if they should do so would probably succeed. During the next three
weeks we had a good deal of sheep-working on hand, as the flocks from
the puestos were being passed through the sheepyards, both at the Cerro
and at La Concordia. Ramonou was really a great help; he was obedient
and good at his work, and gave satisfaction all round. Bent had left his
sheep dog, "Bob," with his relations. He told me it was some time since
he had heard of Royd, but he believed he had sustained many losses with
his stock at his friend's place near San Josè, and that he either had
sailed or was about to sail for England. At this I was not surprised,
for he never seemed to me well suited to camp life. He was naturally
somewhat despondent, and there was no denying he had been very hard hit
at the Sierras de Mal Abrigo.

Correo seemed now to have recovered his health and spirits, and to enjoy
preparing our simple menu. He was always willing and attentive; indeed,
since his arrival at the Cerro, everything inside the house had gone on
quite comfortably.

Some three weeks passed and nothing happened except the ordinary routine
of estancia work. During this time either Bent or I had been accustomed
to go up on to the flat (azotea) roof once or twice daily with the
glass, so as to have a good look round. The Cerro stood high, so that
from its roof we could overlook the greater part of the estancia. This
was a distinct advantage in times like the present, for it not only let
us know anything that might be going on among the stock, but also
allowed us time to prepare beforehand for any soldiers who might ride up
to the house with the intention of causing us trouble. One afternoon
Bent and I were up on the "azotea" together, having a look round with
the glass. It was just about two-thirty when suddenly we saw some twenty
soldiers coming our way from the East, at an angle which would make them
pass to the front of the Cerro, about half a mile distant. We could,
moreover, see they were Colorados, for the red banner was clearly flying
from their lances. At the same time a troop of Blancos appeared, coming
up from the Pass of the Pichinango, so that the two parties came into
collision just about the place where Tio Benigno's deserted puesto still
stood. We could see it all perfectly. They galloped furiously one toward
the other two or three times, but seemed always to manage to avoid close
contact. They fired their guns and revolvers, some of the shots at any
rate being hurriedly let off into the air. Then the Reds made a bolt,
and thereupon the Blancos, seeing this, galloped furiously after them,
with their lances. One of the Reds was wounded by a shot, for we saw his
arm hang useless by his side as he rode away. Another got a lance wound
in his back, which was apparently more serious, as he fell from his
horse after the Reds got a little further away, and had to be picked up
by his comrades. So the Blancos remained masters of the situation, and
after the Colorados had disappeared, they passed the Cerro at a gallop,
about a quarter of a mile distant, following a northerly direction, as
if they were making for Guaycoru, and we were all very glad to see both
lots clear out. Some ten days later we were both up on the "azotea,"
about an hour before sundown. After taking a look round, I said to Bent,
"Do you see that point of cattle feeding almost at the same place where
the Blancos and Colorados met? And can you see a dark lump on the
ground, a little way removed, just on the far side of them? If I am not
mistaken that is a matrero, out 'bombiando.' You know what that means,
'looking for and marking down a young heifer, so that he and his
companions can come and kill it at night,' and there will be a moon
to-night up to twelve o'clock, you know!" "I believe you are right,"
replied Bent. "Have a look through the glass. I fancy you will find that
animal standing alone a little further away to be a horse saddled, and
he is probably hobbled as well." Taking the telescope, I soon saw this
to be the case. "I will give that fellow a bit of a fright," I said, at
once going down into the courtyard, where I had the rosillo ready
saddled. It took but a moment to lead him out through the small door,
jump on his back, and gallop off. I had not got more than half way, when
the matrero, who must have seen me coming, ran to his horse, mounted,
and made off towards the woods of the Pichinango as quickly as he could.
The rosillo was going strong, and I should certainly have overtaken him,
when an unfortunate thing happened. The ground was very rough and
uneven, with numerous pieces of pointed rock rising up above it in every
direction. The horse unluckily caught his off fore foot on one of these,
and as he was going fast, it tripped him up, and he came down a regular
cropper, rolling right over. I, of course, came down with him, having my
revolver tightly held in my right hand, fully loaded, the trigger at
half cock. When I fell it somehow got jammed between me and the hard
ground, with the end of the barrel against my chest, slightly bruising
the flesh. Fortunately, it did not explode! It was a Colt's muzzle
loader, and I felt grateful to them for its reliability and their
excellent workmanship. I remounted, and continued the chase, but the
delay gave the man too much of a lead, and I only arrived in time to see
him enter the woods and disappear. Bent seemed quite glad to see me
return without any further mishap, and when I explained to him how I
came to have the tumble, which he had been able to see with the
telescope from the house, he remarked, "That revolver of yours is indeed
worth more than anything it may have cost, old man!" This pleased me,
for as a matter of fact, I had bought it second-hand, when I was at the
Sierras de Mal Abrigo, upon its eminent firm of maker's reputation,
knowing otherwise but little about it. Bent and I then got up the
"tamberos" to their rodeo. They were now well in hand, and went up
easily. As we returned, Justiniano was bringing up the southdowns, to
shut them in for the night; I looked them over, and saw them safely
inside their yard. Correo was always pretty punctual with supper when we
were at home, for he was glad when work was over and he could retire to
rest. Afterwards we had a quiet talk and a smoke, and both went early to

A week later we were both on the "azotea" about four o'clock in the
afternoon. A Mr. Fenton, who had formerly stayed a good deal at the
Cerro, had left his "moro," or blue-grey horse behind him when he went
away, attached to one of the tropillas. The horse was not there when I
came, having detached himself, and joined up with the "saino manada," or
troop of mares and foals. We had not been looking round long when I
noticed a horse coming at pretty nearly full speed in the direction of
the Cerro, with two soldiers in full pursuit. "I believe it is Fenton's
'moro,'" I said to Bent, "and what is more those two fellows are going
to have him." Just then the "moro" passed, some three hundred yards
distant, in front of the house. One soldier flung his "boleadores," but
as it happened they fell short. The second thereupon immediately
increased his speed, and flung his with such accuracy that they twisted
themselves round the "moro's" hind legs, and soon brought him to a
standstill. The soldiers then slipped a halter over his head, loosed the
"boleadores" from his hind legs, and led him off with them, riding in
the direction of the Pichinango Pass.

The "boleadores," or "bolas," as they are often called, are a very
effective weapon in the hands of a skilled horseman who is well mounted.
They are chiefly used to capture horses and wild mares in the open camp,
and are a very important part of a "Gaucho's" equipment. They are made
of twisted strands of raw horse-hide. There are three thongs united
together at a common centre, each about a yard in length. At the other
end of each thong is a leaden ball, covered with hide. The horseman
holds one ball in his right hand while he swings the two others quickly
round his head. He then lets go the ball he had in his hand, so that the
three go whirling swiftly forward in a circle, and their weight and
impetus causes the thongs to twist themselves round the hind legs of any
horse at which they may be aimed, which, chiefly owing to the speed at
which it is moving, soon finds itself with its hind legs tied up
together, and so falls helpless to the ground.

Much smaller balls fastened together in the same manner, with quite thin
thongs, are used by the natives to capture the wild ostrich.

Indeed, I have always been given to understand that the "boleadores"
were in use among the Indians of the Pampas from quite remote times. A
few days passed, and nothing happened, and then one morning just after
ten o'clock a Blanco officer and between seventy and eighty soldiers
arrived, who asked for food and horses. Accordingly I had two sheep
killed, and gave them what else they required, and told them to make a
couple of fires outside, over which to roast their meat and boil their
kettles. As to horses, I told them we had none left, only a few more or
less useless ones, which had been left by soldiers. As, however, they
said they had four tired ones which could go no further, I sent Pedrito
to bring up what we had into the corral, so that they could suit
themselves, for under the circumstances it was the only thing to do.
Finally, they took five and left their broken-down ones in their place.
So we were not much worse off after all. The rosillo I had saddled, and
regarding him they gave me no trouble whatever, so I really had cause to
be thankful, for I particularly did not wish to lose him. We invited the
officer to come in and have breakfast. He was a good-looking man, not
more than thirty years of age. He told us they had come from the north,
and were going to join their division near Colonia. He said the main
White army was now very strong indeed, and it was their intention before
long to push right through the province of San Josè, where they expected
to easily drive the Colorados before them, and then to besiege Monte
Video, thus stopping all supplies coming in from the interior. Should
they succeed in carrying out their intention, which he fully believed
they would do, we might have reason to hope the war would soon be over.
In due course, the soldiers having refreshed themselves, took their
departure, proceeding at a "trotte-cito," or jog-trot, towards the Pass
of the Pichinango, the officer riding in solitary grandeur behind. One
afternoon in the middle of the week following, Bent and I were up on the
azotea taking a look round. We had not been there long when we saw
something which looked like a man on horseback going slowly, leaning
forward in the saddle, with his arms resting upon the horse's neck. He
seemed to sit more or less helpless, and the horse, which was
three-quarters of a mile distant, appeared to be making his own way,
having come from the East, behind the Cerro, towards the road which led
from it to La Concordia. I sent Justiniano, who had a horse saddled, to
see if anything was amiss, and if so, told him to bring the horse and
rider back with him. This he did, and the latter turned out to be a
Swiss, weak and faint from loss of blood. We got him off his horse, and
carried him into the galpon, where we laid him on a "quatre," or light
wooden bedstead, and I then managed to pour a little Caña and water down
his throat, for, as we lifted him from his horse, he had suddenly
fainted. After a few moments he came round, and told us he was coming in
from outside with a considerable sum of money on him. Suddenly three men
appeared, whom he took to be "matreros," or deserters, for they had no
device on their hats, although all were armed. They compelled him to
hand over all the money, his poncho, spurs, and silver-handled whip,
even to a large gold ring which he wore on the fourth finger of his
right hand. They threatened to cut his throat if he made any resistance,
and as it was he had a deep wound from a stab with a knife, just about
the middle of the forearm, inside and below the elbow of the bridle
hand. This had evidently bled profusely, and was even then bleeding, and
it was clear the poor man had lost a good deal of blood. He thought the
wound must have been made when one of them was taking the ring from his
finger. However, Bent and I managed to improvise a small tourniquet, and
so get pressure to bear, which easily controlled the bleeding. We then
bound up the arm with a cold water bandage, and made the man as
comfortable as we could. Correo made him some "bouillon," and when he
had taken this he soon sank off into a doze. About an hour and a half
later he woke up, feeling better, whereupon we readjusted the bandage
and enquired his name and address, and where his home was situate in the
Swiss Colony. I told him to make himself as comfortable as he could
during the night, and early in the morning I would send a messenger to
advise his friends what had happened, so that they could bring a light
cart to fetch him, for he was too weak to ride. I told Justiniano to tie
up a horse and start as soon after daylight as he could, taking at the
same time a note I wrote to Don Frederico, telling him what had
happened. This Justiniano could leave at La Concordia as he passed,
without really going out of his way. Meanwhile, old Juan said he would
keep an eye on the man during the early part of the night, and advise me
if anything went wrong. Bent and I then turned in, feeling pretty sure
that if the Swiss could get some sleep he would probably be better in
the morning. Fortunately, this turned out to be the case, although the
patient was still very weak. About ten o'clock a friend and a relation
arrived in a light covered cart, with a straw mattress and suitable
coverings. We carried the Swiss, and placed him carefully in the cart,
it was evident he had received altogether a great shock. I gave his
relative a written statement of what we saw; how we had found him; and
what we had done, so that if necessary it could be shewn to the police,
and I said I was prepared and willing to answer any further enquiries.
They soon made a start, and this little excitement was over. May was now
well advanced, and sheep-working among the flocks, which had been pretty
constant, was drawing to its close. One morning, towards the end of the
month, Bent and I rode down early to La Concordia, where the fine flock
was to be passed through the yards. The work made good progress, so that
we were both back again at the Cerro a little before twelve o'clock.
When I saw Correo he told me a Swiss baker had called during our
absence, on his way outside with bread, and that he had bought three
loaves from him. We were glad of this, as being a pleasant change from
the "galleta," or hard camp biscuit. According to our usual custom, we
were both again up on the "azotea" about four o'clock in the afternoon.

Everything seemed quiet, but we had not been there long before our
attention was arrested by what looked like a covered cart slowly
crossing the camp, about a mile and a half away, in the direction of the
Cañada Grande, opposite to Laborde's puesto. Every now and again it
seemed to stop, and the two horses, which we could see were drawing it,
appeared to be grazing. Altogether, it gave us the impression that
either there was no driver in the cart, or that if one was there, he was
either drunk or incapable. I then decided to send Justiniano to see what
was the matter. He had the bay colt his uncle had tamed saddled, whose
shoulder was even yet not quite sound. I told him if he found anything
wrong to make his lasso fast to the horses, and so bring them cart and
all, up to the Cerro. By this time, from Correo's description, we had
identified the cart as belonging to the Swiss baker, who had passed in
the morning. Of course, it was possible that he had somehow got
separated from his cart, which was now moving towards home without him.
Meanwhile, we watched Justiniano reach the cart, get off his horse, and
go round to the back to look in behind. He then came round and made fast
his lasso to the horses' heads, remounted, and made start with the cart
in tow in the direction of the Cerro. All this we could see quite
clearly through the telescope. When he arrived, I went down to meet him,
and Correo and Pedrito and uncle Juan were all in attendance. I saw at
once from Justiniano's countenance, that something serious had happened.
Our consternation may be imagined when he told us that the body of the
baker was lying inside the cart, and that he was quite dead, with his
throat cut from ear to ear. How he had come to his death we were unable
to form any idea. We could only suppose that two or three "matreros" had
come across him in the open camp, far from any dwelling, and that they
had done the dastardly deed from sheer devilry. The poor man apparently
had no revolver or weapon with him in the cart; if he had one it had
been taken away, neither was there any sign of shots having been fired
at him; nor was either of the horses in any way maimed or injured. In
fact the whole thing was a complete mystery. Correo and the Indians
seemed greatly impressed. Naturally, the former could identify the body
and the cart as being that of the man from whom he had bought the three
loaves of bread in the morning, but beyond that there was nothing
whatever to point as to how the tragedy had come about. Inside the cart
was indeed a sickening sight. The loaves that remained, and the floor of
the cart, were covered with blood. I took a note of all the gruesome
details, and then we got the body out of the cart, and laid it on a heap
of sheepskins inside the galpon, and covered it over with a white sheet.
When I first saw it the body was quite cold, and probably the poor man
had already been dead for more than two or three hours, for already the
arms and legs had begun to get slightly stiff. By the time all this was
done, it was getting dusk. The sun had already set, so I postponed
sending down to the Swiss Colony to convey the sad news until early the
following morning.

Soon after sunrise Justiniano started, and I told him to call at La
Concordia on his way back, and tell Don Frederico what had happened.
About ten o'clock two men arrived, who took away the cart and the
remains. I made out a written statement of the whole affair, so far as
we knew about it, and were concerned in it. This I signed and dated, and
got Bent to witness. I then gave it to one of the two men, who turned
out to be a relation of the "finado," or deceased. In the afternoon I
rode down to Marmasola's puesto. He had just returned from Solarez's
pulperia on the other side of the pass. He told me he had heard that a
large division of the Colorado army, with infantry and artillery, was
coming up to turn the Blancos out of the province of Colonia, and that
there was pretty sure to be a battle very shortly. Hearing this, I rode
on to La Concordia to acquaint Don Frederico, who said it was just about
what he expected, and we had better be on the alert, and keep a sharp
look-out. I then went back to the Cerro, and we got the "tamberos" up on
to their "rodeo," and I saw the southdowns safely shut in, and by the
time I had unsaddled and put the "rosillo" into the stable, it was
already sundown. Next morning we were all early on the move. We
carefully shut all the doors and entrances to the galpon, and so far as
we could made all fast. We looked to our firearms, and had our long
ladder which reached to the roof of the house, carefully concealed in
the galpon, so that no one could get up there from outside; in fact, we
prepared everything to make as good a defence as we could in the event
of our being attacked.

Next morning, after all our preparations, everything appeared quiet, but
about three o'clock in the afternoon we heard the constant firing of big
guns out towards Colla, although, by their sound, we were able to tell
they must have been a good long distance away. The firing continued
intermittently until sundown. We spent the afternoon on the roof, which
we could reach with the small ladder inside the house. Nothing happened
during the night, but half an hour after sunrise the first signs of the
battle which had taken place began to show themselves. First a small
party of Blanco soldiers were seen crossing the estancia at a gallop
from the Pass of the Pichinango, shaping their course straight for the
Sierras de Mal Abrigo. These were followed by others and by single
soldiers, galloping for all they were worth. Then, later on, came the
main body of the Blancos in full flight. Stretching in a long uneven,
but continuous line, they passed about two hundred yards in front of the
Cerro, the wounded in carts without springs, drawn by horses, and what
looked in some cases like half-tamed mares, were continually passing, to
which any amount of whip was forthcoming to make them move. Early in the
day none of the soldiers came up to the Cerro, but about three o'clock a
light cart, with a canvas covering, drove up to the house, with three
horses attached to it. A negro, who sat in front with a whip, which he
evidently had made good use of, was driving. In attendance were two
soldiers, with their lances, and fully armed. They told us that a
wounded colonel lay inside, who was in great pain, so much so that he
could with difficulty bear the jolting of the vehicle, which had no
springs. They asked if we could do anything to help him in his plight. I
proposed that we should get him out of the cart and lay him on a
"quatre" in the covered way which led from the galpon into the court,
where he would get plenty of air, and we could then see if anything
could be done for him. This we did, and then Bent and I attended to him.
He had a severe lance wound in the right side, just above the hip bone.
It was only very roughly bound up with some dirty calico, and he had
evidently lost a good deal of blood. We first gave him a little Caña and
water, and I told Correo to bring him a cup of bouillon, made of mutton,
with rice in it, which he happened to have cooking on the kitchen stove.
We undid the bandage, sponging the wound with warm water, so as to get
it clean so far as we could. I then put on three pads made of linen
soaked in cold water, fresh from the "alhibi," covered them with a piece
of oil-silk I happened to have, and over these a broad linen bandage, to
do which I remember I tore up the last remaining dress shirt I
possessed. Above all this, we firmly fastened a broad strip of blanket,
so that it would not easily move. Meanwhile, Correo and the Indians
roughly fixed up three small bags filled with the dead leaf of the maize
plant, and some old wool we had in the galpon; one for him to lie upon,
with the other two on either side, in order, so far as possible, to
deaden the jolting of the cart. By this time he seemed to have somewhat
recovered, and although we could not persuade him to eat anything solid
he took some more "bouillon," with a little biscuit broken into it. He
seemed a very nice man, about forty years of age, and he told us his
name was Antonio Martinez, and gave me an address which would always
find him. He was very grateful for the little we had been able to do for
him, and told me if at any time he could be of any service to us I was
to be sure to let him know. We then carried him carefully to the cart,
where we made him as comfortable as might be. The soldiers and the negro
had meanwhile got something to eat, and sucked some Matè in the galpon,
so they were quite refreshed, and we watched them make a start, with the
sincere hope that the wounded colonel might safely reach his journey's
end. The passing of the soldiers went on during the day; it did not
finish until about half an hour before sunset. Bent and I watched it to
the end from the "azotea," and it was indeed a wonderful sight. The
excitement and the desire to get on was intense, and it was quite clear
the Blancos had been defeated, and were now making a pretty good run of
it, and that the whole division, of which we had from time to time seen
portions, and heard so much, was hastening to join their main army, lest
the victorious Colorados should again come up with them. We also
remained watchful and alert, and continued to have everything made fast
for the next two or three days, so that should they happen to come our
way they would not catch us unprepared. The dogs, however, did not at
all approve of it, because they could not run in and out of the galpon
at will, but "Napoleon" and "Ramonou" managed to take exercise in the
courtyard, and "Brag" and "Bully" did very much the same. However, a
week went by and we heard nothing of the Colorados after the battle; all
we knew was that none of them seemed to come our way, and for this we
were thankful. One afternoon, a few days later, about half an hour
before sunset, a captain in the Blanco army rode up to the Cerro,
attended by a soldier, carrying his lance and wearing the white device
on his hat. They had a led horse with them in addition to the two they
rode, and all three were in first-rate condition. The captain asked me
if we could put them up for the night. So soon as they had unsaddled, I
had one of the tropillas brought up, and we collared their horses for
them. Correo soon made up a bed, and it was not long before Bent and I
and the captain sat down to supper, the soldier, meanwhile, making
himself quite happy with the Indians in the galpon. After it was over we
sat and smoked and talked in the gun-room, where Correo had lit a small
fire in the stove, so that we were warm and comfortable. Our guest told
us his name was Eduardo Suares; he was very polite, and appeared to be
well educated; and he looked certainly not more than thirty years of
age. He told us the battle of Colonia would have no influence whatever
upon the movements of the main Blanco army, which he expected would now
very shortly be moving forward, and that it would not be long before
Monte Video would be besieged. He did not think for a moment that the
Colorados would be able to make any firm stand outside the capital. All
this being so, he considered that early in July the revolution might
probably be at an end, and the Colorados would be compelled to resign
office. Captain Suarez also said he had passed a great part of his life
in the province of Entre Rios, where his relations had an estancia, but
that he himself was a native of the republic of Uruguay. He gave us the
following interesting account of the great Urguiza, Governour and despot
of the province of Entre Rios, who was one of the strongest, ablest and
most savage lieutenants of the famous Dictator Rosas. He ruled his
province with the dagger and the bullet; himself shut up in a strong
castle in the midst of the "Pampa." Eventually he succeeded to supreme
power after the fall of Rosas, and his first important administrative
act was to assemble all the provincial governours and to ratify the
Fundamental Agreement of January, 1831, as the basis of the Constitution
of the Argentine Confederation. He further told us that he himself was
present at the death of Urguiza, when he was assassinated in 1870. He
said that when Urguiza's body lay dead an Indian chief who was present
exclaimed "Impossibile! El General Urguiza nunca muere!" "Impossible!
The General Urguiza never dies!" It was during Urguiza's governorship of
Entre Rios that it was said you could hang up a pair of silver stirrups
upon a tree in the Monte, on the bank of the river, where there was much
traffic, and go and find them there in a month's time. But this state of
things was certainly not the case in the Republic of Uruguay during La
Guerra de Aparicio, from the year 1870 to the year 1872. We both enjoyed
listening to our guest's descriptive and animated conversation, and
having bid each other "Buena noche" (good-night), retired to rest, as
the captain wished to start early next morning. The horses were up in
the corral by sunrise, when the soldier caught up and saddled his own
and the captain's horse, and after partaking of coffee the latter bid us
"Adios" with many thanks for the very slight hospitality I had been able
to afford them. Exactly three weeks from the day when the wounded
colonel Antonio Martinez drove up to the Cerro, a negro rode up about
twelve o'clock. I happened to be just returning from a ride round the
camp in the opposite direction. He appeared to be well mounted on a
good-looking "bayo," or cream horse, with a black mane and tail, and he
was leading a "saino," or brown, with a white star on his forehead. He
saluted me, and asked if I was in charge of the Cerro. I said "Yes,"
whereupon he handed me a letter from Colonel Martinez, saying that after
leaving us he had suffered very much less on his journey, that he had
reached a hospital, and was now almost convalescent, for his wound had
gone on well. It was a nice letter, couched in very friendly terms,
thanking me for what we had done, which was really very little, and
begging that I would accept the "saino" horse as a slight memento of
what had happened. I told the negro to unsaddle and tie up the two
horses and go into the galpon to get some breakfast, which he seemed
very pleased to do. I then just had a look over the "saino." He was at
first sight rather a long low-looking horse, with good shoulders and
long sweeping quarters, and it was this length of body which made him
appear, until you got close up to him, a smaller horse in height than he
really was. He gave me the impression of being between six and seven
years old. Bent had ridden down to the Swiss Colony, hoping to find some
letters he was expecting, so I had to await his return before giving me
his opinion regarding him. I wrote a letter to Colonel Martinez,
thanking him for the horse, and for his kind thought about us, and gave
it to the negro, who promised to deliver it, and after he was
sufficiently refreshed he mounted his "bayo," to whom we had given a
feed of maize, and departed. I then had the "tropilla" brought in, and
collared the "saino" to the bay mare. Her colt, which old Juan had
tamed, still suffered at times from his shoulder; hard ground seemed to
affect him the most, for after rain he could then be ridden. A little
before sundown Bent returned quite cheerful, having received his
letters. There were several people at Quincke's pulperia, and the place
seemed full of conversation and news. It was said that the advance on
Monte Video by the Blanco army had already begun, and that the Colorados
were now retiring before them. Those who had taken part in the battle of
Colonia had already returned to the province of San Josè by a route
which led them nearer to the estuary of La Plata, and I could not help
fearing lest in their passing they might have gone to Monsieur Emile
Gunther's, and so have taken "Carnival." However, I comforted myself by
the certainty that if I had kept him on at the Cerro I must have lost
him. When the horses came up in the morning, I saddled the "saino" and
rode him down to La Concordia. Bent was not much impressed by his
appearance, but when I saw Don Frederico, he said he thought him a good
honest horse, likely to prove a good servant, and that I had better do
all I could to look after him. We had now reached the second week in
June, and winter had already come. However, we had plenty of grass, and
both sheep and cattle had done very well since the New Year began. About
eleven o'clock Marmasola sent me up a message by one of his boys to say
that a battle on a somewhat large scale had taken place inside the
province of San Josè; that the Blancos had been victorious, and that the
Colorados were now completely disorganised, and fleeing before them.
Further, it was supposed the main Blanco army would now move forward and
besiege Monte Video. This was indeed great news, and we now felt we
should soon see the end of the revolution, and peace would be declared
at last. Two days later, about four o'clock, a Blanco officer rode up to
the Cerro, carrying dispatches. He said his horse was tired, for he had
travelled fast and far, and he begged me to lend him a really good
horse, which would carry him along for five leagues (15 miles), without
loss of time, at the end of which he felt certain of obtaining fresh
horses and all he wanted. What was I to do? He said the dispatches were
urgent, and he had been directed to make all possible haste. I thought
it over a couple of minutes, and then told him I would lend him my
rosillo, provided he would faithfully promise to let him go at the end
of the five leagues, and this he promised to do. The moon was nearly at
the full, and would be shining during the greater part of the night,
which looked as if it would be fine and clear. The rosillo was in
excellent form; he had not been ridden for nearly a week, and I knew he
would carry him swiftly and well, and that if all went right, when let
loose he would do his best to make his own way back to the Cerro with
the moon. While he was being got ready, the officer, who looked as if
his word could be relied on, told me that the news Marmasola had sent to
me was correct, and that it was more than probable that the siege of the
capital had already commenced. It was with a sore heart that I said,
"Hasta la vista," "until we see each other again," to the rosillo, and
saw the officer mount him and ride away. For it was the first and only
time that a soldier had put a leg across him during the revolution. So
I wished the officer "un buen viaje" (a good journey); the rosillo
tossed up his head and set off at a gallop; he had the heart of a lion,
and very soon both were out of sight.

The first news I heard next morning was from Pedrito. He said he was
bringing up the tropillas not long after sunrise, when he heard a neigh
behind him, and looking back there was the rosillo, coming at a trot to
join his troop, just as if nothing had happened. He looked none the
worse for his journey, and a drink of water from the "alhibi" and a feed
of maize pleased him greatly. "Napoleon," too, showed pleasure at his
safe return, for they were great friends, and had passed many a night
together when the rosillo was tied up in the court, and even when in his
stable the dog would lie as close to it as he could. June passed away
and nothing happened, except that the news of Monte Video being closely
besieged by the Blancos was fully confirmed; and then early in July
peace was declared. The revolution was over, and what had been known as
"La Guerra de Aparicio" was at length a thing of the past. Thereupon the
Blancos took over the government, and assumed power, and the whole
country quickly settled down, as was the custom of a South American
republic under similar circumstances.

Charles Bent at once began to prepare to go into Monte Video, and left
by the diligence from Quincke's pulperia the middle of the following
week. His life in Uruguay had not been a very successful one, nor was he
really fond of camp life; indeed, he was already looking forward with
pleasure to the many conveniences and comparative comfort of life in a
town. During the latter half of the month I too was turning over in my
mind whether I would not take a journey out towards the Rio Negro,
where I knew a man who had a large estancia. I had rather a fancy to go
up country, for not only should I be able to see all that was to be
seen, but also obtain a little more experience of estancia life,
probably under somewhat different conditions and surroundings. However,
while I was thinking it all over, I received a letter from Mr. James
Jardine, who was living at his estancia La Esperanza, situate some six
leagues from the town of San Josè in the direction of the river Plate,
inviting me to come and stay with him there for a time. He said he had
heard from a mutual friend in Monte Video that it was not unlikely I
might be leaving the Cerro now the war was over, so he wrote at once
lest I should be making any different plans. I rode down to La Concordia
and showed the letter to Don Frederico, who advised me to take advantage
of the opportunity offered. He said, however, that he was arranging to
go away himself very shortly for about three weeks, and he hoped I
should be able to stay on at the Cerro during his absence, and so look
after things until his return. Accordingly, I dispatched a letter to Mr.
Jardine, thanking him for what he so kindly said in his letter, and
informing him how matters stood, and saying that I hoped to arrive at La
Esperanza during the last week in August. I found myself fully occupied
during Don Frederico's absence, and I kept the weekly "para rodeo" of
the cattle going on regularly. On one of these occasions, I was riding
the "saino," we were rather short-handed, and a big point of cattle made
an attempt to break back. I had to put the "saino," therefore, into a
full gallop, and was rather surprised to find that he seemed to me to
have, when stretching himself out, quite a superior turn of speed. With
a little care and rest he had considerably improved, both in looks and
condition. One beautiful day, with a frosty air and a blue sky, I rode
him down to Monsieur Emile Gunther's, to ask after "Carnival." I found
him at home, and he kindly invited me to join them at breakfast.
Although it was the end of winter, the Swiss Colony looked attractive as
I rode through it, and this was doubtless due to the fact that the
numerous and large clumps of "eucalypti" never lost their summer
foliage. Monsieur Emile told me "Carnival" had kept well and safe from
soldiers. Moreover, when from time to time he had been good enough to
use him, as I had especially asked him to do, he had always found him a
very pleasant horse to ride. I sincerely thanked him for his kindness,
and, when I left, saddled up "Carnival," leading the "saino," who led
very well, and I arrived home with my two horses feeling that I had
greatly enjoyed my ride, and I am sure that "Napoleon" was glad to see
his friend again. One afternoon during Don Frederico's absence I had
been round the puestos, returning but a few minutes before sundown. The
southdowns were shut up inside their sheepyard, and in it was a man in
the act of catching hold of one of them. He was brandishing a large
knife, and loudly gesticulating, and he looked to me as if he had been
drinking too much Caña. It seems he had ridden up shortly before and
asked the Indians to give him some mutton to eat, as he said he had been
riding in the woods of the Pichinango, and that he was hungry, and
wanted food. This they offered to do, but when he saw the southdowns in
their yard he said he would have one of them, and when they remonstrated
and told him I should be very angry, merely remarked "that he did not
care for any Englishmen, whether he liked it or not. It did not matter
the least to him." As it happened, I just rode up at the critical
moment, when I at once jumped off my horse, went into the yard, and told
the man to come out of it, and leave the sheep alone. He made a step or
two forward, towards me, knife in hand, but I whipped out my Colts
revolver, and covered him with the barrel, warning him that if he came a
step forward I should fire. This calmed him down, and he put back his
knife into its sheath and began to walk out of the yard. I told him to
mount his horse at once, and clear out, and that if I found him again
interfering with any of the stock upon the estancia, it would be the
worse for him. So he rode away, looking very much subdued. I could only
suppose him to be one of the matreros who were still said to be hovering
about the woods in our neighbourhood.

It had been Correo's intention to go into Monte Video so soon as peace
was declared, but he told me he felt altogether so much better for his
stay at the Cerro, he should like to remain on until I left. On August
25th, Don Frederico returned, and I went down to see him the following
morning. He very kindly said he wished me to keep the rosillo, seeing I
had taken such care of him in memory of my stay at the Cerro. I proposed
that "Ramonou" should go down to La Concordia, where I knew he would be
useful, as there were plenty of sheep dogs where I was going. "Bully"
and "Brag" were to go there with him. Jennings had been away for some
time, but I thought perhaps he might like to have them back. Don
Frederico also said I had better take Justiniano with me, as he could
lead the "saino" with my light baggage. My box and portmanteau meanwhile
could be sent over to Quincke's pulperia to await the next diligence
passing on to San Josè, where it could be left at the Hotel Oriental,
until I could send for them. I arranged to start three days later, and
when I got back began putting my things together, and getting everything
ready for a move. The morning proved fine, and Justiniano and I were all
ready saddled up soon after sunrise.

I rode "Carnival" and led the rosillo, while Justiniano bestrode a
grey, not by any means a bad horse, which had been left by soldiers. He
led the "saino," also saddled, and carrying my light baggage.

Uncle Juan, and Correo, and Pedrito were all present to see us off, and
thus I bid adieu to the Cerro del Pichinango, not without regret, as I
thought of the day I had first arrived there, now more than two years
ago, and of all that had happened since.



We rode quietly along, for we had about twelve and a half leagues in
front of us, until we reached our journey's end. "Napoleon" appeared
quite happy; not the least upset by the prospect of a change in his
surroundings. I had brought some cold meat and biscuit, and a little
coffee and sugar, so that we might enjoy a light meal between eleven and
twelve o'clock, and also let the horses rest and graze for a while. We
made a little fire by the side of the track, and then sat down until our
coffee got warm. After that, we made good progress, so that we arrived
at La Esperanza about three o'clock in the afternoon, where I received a
very kind welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Jardine, who were at home at the
time. When I had unsaddled, the former told me to turn my three horses
into a large paddock, enclosed with wire fencing, where he said they
would be all right. Justiniano, however, kept his grey, and tethered him
out for the night, so that he could then get it early next morning, when
he was to return to the Cerro. Mr. Jardine's house was both roomy and
comfortable. It stood facing a picturesque river, less than half a mile
distant, with woods on either bank. In front was a wide verandah, which
also went further back in the middle, thus dividing the house, as it
were, into two wings, united at the back by bedrooms, which lay behind.
As you entered Mr. and Mrs. Jardine's apartments were on the right, and
a large dining-room, with a kitchen and sundry outbuildings attached,
lay to the left. Quite at the far end of the house to the right stood a
high tower, with a comfortable sitting-room below, and a bedroom above.
Beyond this again was a flower garden, with numerous fruit trees, and
this joined on to another garden at the back, where both flowers and
vegetables abundantly flourished. In front of the verandah, looking
towards the river, was a wide open space. A brick house, with its roof
of red tiles, a storehouse, and an office stood fairly removed on the
right, while further away in front was a "galpon," or woolshed, with
ranchos for employees adjoining, but these latter were at the same time
so situate as not in any way to incommode the house itself, neither did
they shut off the view of the woods and river beyond. Mr. James Jardine,
or Don Diego, as he was mostly called, was a thin spare man, of middle
height, and something over forty years of age. He was a great sportsman,
and devoted to shooting; indeed, during the winter months he occupied
himself in scarcely any other way. He really took but little interest in
the work of the estancia, as he left this to his managing partner, Mr.
Alexander Maclean, otherwise known as Don Alejandro, who, at the time of
my arrival, was away in Monte Video, but was expected to return in about
a fortnight. Mrs. Jardine was not very strong; she usually had her
sister, Miss Denman, living with her, who, at the time I came, was away
on a visit. There were two little boys, one five years old, called
Peter, and the other two and a half, whose name was John. They were
altogether a very happy family, greatly preferring the freedom of the
camp to the conventions of town life.

The Estancia Esperanza comprised somewhere about eleven thousand acres,
but within this area were included three or four "banyados," or small
lakes, and a certain amount of land, which was often covered with water
during wet weather, but affording at the same time very useful
pasturage. There were twelve hundred head of cattle, and a "manada" of
mares and colts, beside something over thirteen thousand sheep. These
were distributed at five puestos, more or less two thousand and five
hundred at each, while perhaps five hundred fed at the estancia itself.
Both cattle and sheep were each under the charge of a "capataz," or
foreman, who carried on all work connected with them, the sheep being
under the superintendence of a Scotchman, named John Gordon, and the
cattle and horses of a native, who would then be more than fifty years
of age. His name was Ramon Duran, a first-rate camp man, who knew his
business thoroughly. Owing to the war, which had so recently ended, the
estancia was short of riding horses. Mr. Jardine was much surprised when
I told him I had succeeded in saving mine, for he had nearly had to part
with the only horse he ever really cared to ride, a good-looking
"rosillo alazan," or chestnut roan; indeed, he said it was more good
luck than any care and management on his part which had enabled him to
keep him. Meanwhile, all was well, he said, which ended well. Spring was
now coming on, and September came in fine and warm. I went for a ride
round the estancia, and came back along the bank of the river. It was
pleasant riding here, and I could well imagine that later on in the
summer the flowering creepers would be very beautiful. As I passed, it
was drawing on to sunset; I noted the cry of a "carpincho," or
water-pig, whom I had suddenly disturbed, while the shrill call of the
"pteru-pteru," or plover, made itself heard on the plain beyond; and a
flight of water-fowl, among whom I noticed a white egret crane, came
quickly swooping down at the side of some marshy land, mostly covered
with reeds, where doubtless they had their home. When I again reached
the house I was glad to find my box and portmanteau had arrived, a
cartman who was returning to La Esperanza having come across them at the
Hotel Oriental in San José, and brought them along in his cart.
"Napoleon" had already found a corner in the verandah, underneath the
tower, in which to sleep. He was a very good-tempered dog, and I had no
fear that he would be at all likely in any way to alarm the children.
Next morning I walked down to the corral, to see the riding horses
brought up, a good many of which had evidently been left by soldiers
during the war. During the next couple of weeks the flocks from the
puestos were being passed through the sheepyards at the estancia; the
lambs had to be marked, and various matters attended to. I also went to
my first "para rodeo" of the cattle. We had horses tied up the night
before, and made an early start. I rode my rosillo, and went with Ramon
Duran to the far end of the estancia, looking towards the river Plate.
It was a beautiful morning, and the air was delightful as we galloped
along. I soon perceived the cattle were well in hand. They came up very
well to the "rodeo," and were easy to keep there. The first fortnight in
October proved very fine and warm. Meanwhile, Miss Denman had returned,
as also had Mr. Alexander Maclean, from Monte Video. I found him to be a
big, burly, and apparently good-natured looking Scotchman. He proposed
that I should take charge of the accounts, and also lend a hand in the
ordinary routine work of the estancia. He took me into the office and
shewed me the books, explaining how they had been kept. I had hitherto
been occupying one of the bedrooms opening on the garden, which lay
behind the house, but I now moved up into the bedroom above the tower.
This was very agreeable, for there was a splendid look-out from either
of the two windows, and I could imagine what it would appear on some
clear night in summer, when a full moon was shining, the heat of the
day over, and you could gaze far and wide in every direction, beyond
lake and wood, and river, away to the distant horizon, which alone would
appear to end the undulating plains of Uruguay. There was a very nice
American wagonette at the estancia. It had four wheels, and was fitted
with a pole, and drawn by a pair of small bay horses, with flowing manes
and tails. Their brown harness was both light and strong, with brass
mountings, so that altogether it was really a very pretty turn-out. A
young Scotchman, who acted as coachman, sat in front, while those inside
sat facing each other behind. When the weather permitted, Mrs. Jardine
much enjoyed a drive down to Beatty's puesto, which was at the far end
of the estancia, and she liked to take her sister and the children with
her. Accordingly, one afternoon, they all made a start, inviting me to
go with them. So I mounted "Carnival," whom I happened to have caught
up, and "Napoleon" went with us. There were one or two wide tracks
leading from La Esperanza, on either side of it, which had developed
into quite respectable roads for driving on. Partly from having been
beaten down by carts, and partly from the nature of the soil, they
seemed to have caked down quite hard and firm, so that ruts and bad
places were few, and the carriage was able to pass smoothly and easily
along. Mrs. Beatty was a nice woman, with an engaging manner. She had
two children, Susan, a little girl of nine, and David, a fine little
fellow of five. She had unfortunately lost her eldest boy, who would now
have been about fourteen, a little more than a year ago, owing to an
accident with a horse, which had kicked him and seriously hurt him
internally. This was a great grief to his mother; his name was Robert,
and he had come out with his parents from Scotland. Mrs. Beatty welcomed
us warmly when we arrived. It made quite a small picnic for the
children, for she always insisted on their staying to have tea and some
of the nice little Scotch cakes she made. So we took the horses out of
the carriage, and tied them up under the "euremada," for the sun was now
getting to be quite hot after mid-day. Beatty himself was a quiet,
rather solemn-looking man, with a red complexion, and sandy-coloured
hair. It was pleasant as we returned in the late afternoon, and as we
passed along, we saw one of the blue silver foxes some distance ahead of
us, already come out of his lair, preparing for an evening stroll. We
made too much noise for him, however, and he soon made off, followed in
full chase by "Napoleon," but naturally to no purpose. The sun was fast
declining when we reached the estancia; however, I was pleased to hear
both the ladies and children tell Mr. Jardine, who was in the verandah,
they had enjoyed their drive, and had all of them spent a very pleasant
afternoon. The next morning we had a heavy thunderstorm, with sharp and
continuous flashes of lightning, which lasted upwards of an hour, and
was then followed by torrential rain. This went on the greater part of
the day.

Shearing began on the tenth of November. There was only a small gang of
six professional shearers employed. The remainder were made up of
natives living in the neighbourhood, of which there were a good many,
who not only could shear well, but had been accustomed to come year
after year. The "galpon" was not nearly so large as that at the Cerro,
in fact the room available was if anything too restricted for the number
of sheep which had to be shorn. More time, therefore, was needed to
complete the business. On November 20th a spell of bad weather set in
which caused delay, as the sheep naturally were wet and could not easily
be got dry again. However, a week later it cleared up, and after that
work progressed satisfactorily. The shearers were very quiet, and
orderly, and although they did not shear very fast, they did their work
well. The month of December, however, was half through before the
shearing was completed, and the shearers, having received the money due
to them, finally took their departure. No festivities took place, as was
so often customary at the end of shearing, but it was generally
understood that a race or something of the kind would be held later on,
probably on one of the days between Christmas and the New Year. John
Gordon, the "capataz" of the sheep, had a nice bay horse, about five
years old, belonging to himself, which had been born and grown up, and
also been tamed on the estancia. His owner considered him to be
something of a racer; indeed, had so high an opinion of him, I really
believed him to think he would easily run away from anything likely to
be put against him. When some talk was taking place about having a race
one evening at dinner, I said I should not mind matching my old "saino"
against Gordon's bay, provided the distance was anything over a mile.
Don Alejandro told Gordon what I had said, and he was quite willing to
ride his horse against mine, and as it happened we were both just about
an equal weight. I had seen the bay several times, a good-looking horse,
with a white star on his forehead, and two white hind fetlocks, and I
reflected I had probably made a mistake in putting my "saino" against
him. However, as the race was only to be for prizes given by Mr. Jardine
and Don Alejandro, and there was to be no betting between Gordon and
myself, nor indeed did I intend to bet with anyone else, I did not see
any harm would be done, and if it gave any pleasure to the people on the
estancia to see a bit of a gallop, all I had to say was I hoped they
would enjoy the amusement of it, and that the best horse would win. The
time being so short, it was obvious nothing could be done in regard to
training either horse, beyond giving him half a dozen gallops or so,
just to clear his wind; and it was agreed that both horses should run
the race as they were, without giving them any maize or special
preparation. The "saino" had improved a good bit in condition since he
came to La Esperanza. A rest had done him good, especially as to his
forelegs, which I felt sure had been a bit shaken. He had also got his
summer coat, and this added to his appearance. We now knew the distance
was to be a mile and a quarter, on the track leading from the estancia
towards Beatty's puesto, and the finish was to end as close to the
_former_ as possible. I caught the "saino" up for three hours every day,
and gave him a brush over, and saw to his feet, taking him out for a
gentle canter, and every other day I gave him a gallop on the course,
but not at full speed; in fact, I only put him to this twice until the
day of the race arrived, and then for not more than a quarter of a mile
at a time. Gordon did much the same with his bay, only while I rode my
horse late in the afternoon, he rode his early in the morning, when
no-one was much about to see how he performed. New Year's Day was
appointed for the race to be run, at three o'clock in the afternoon, the
day being, of course, a holiday. There was a pretty general feeling at
the estancia that the bay horse would win, and the odds were greatly in
his favour. I knew, of course, that bets would be made on the race. I
never knew a race in South America when they were not, but beyond the
prizes that were given, I myself, as I have before mentioned, did not
stand to win anything. These were to be an excellent English saddle and
bridle complete, and a breech-loading revolver, of a good make, with a
box containing a hundred cartridges to fit. New Year's Day proved fine
and still; the sun shone from a blue sky, interspersed here and there
with light "cirrus" cloud, but the air was fresh and cool, so it was not
too hot; just the day, indeed, for everyone to enjoy a holiday. News of
the race, of course, got about, and I was told that some natives who
were interested in racing were coming to look on, probably inspired by
curiosity to see how the Englishmen managed it. As Gordon and I rode
quietly down, soon after half-past two o'clock, to the starting point,
there seemed quite a little crowd gathering where the finish was to take
place. Two friends of Gordon came with us to see us off. The start was
quickly made, neither horse giving the slightest trouble. The bay took
the lead from the first, and made the running throughout, the "saino"
being in close attendance. When, however, we were about three hundred
yards from the finish, and I fancied the bay seemed flagging a little,
for I saw that Gordon was using his whip, I also made a call upon the
"saino" which he immediately answered, and stretching himself out, shot
forward like an arrow from a bow, winning easily by a couple of lengths.
The natives at once came to inspect the winner, and one, who seemed
somewhat of a principal man among them, asked me if I would like to part
with him, offering me forty dollars for him. I asked him if he was
buying him to keep or to sell again, and also if he would be sure and
treat him all right. He promised to keep him, and to do this, so we rode
back to the estancia. I unsaddled the "saino," the man paid me over the
forty dollars, and he then took the horse straight away with him. I knew
if I refused the offer, that it would not probably be very long before
the old "saino" would be missing, for I had noticed one or two natives
present, men who did not look too particular, shewing a somewhat
peculiar interest in the horse, now they had seen how he could gallop.
As a matter of fact, I had no real fancy for racing, and I thought it
better to pass on the "saino" to an owner who did like it, and to a man
who evidently appreciated the horse's good qualities, and would
therefore be likely to take good care of him. I happened to hear of him
again some time later from a man I met casually. He told me the horse
had done a good bit of racing in a quiet way, and had been quite
successful, and had done well for his new owner, so that he also would
probably continue to do well by him. I received many congratulations
upon the result of the race, and it seemed to be the general opinion
that the native, when he bought the "saino" from me, got very good value
for his money. In the middle of January the weather became very hot, and
this lasted a little over a fortnight, and then came a succession of
thunderstorms, with severe lightning, which rapidly cooled the air. I
watched one of these with much interest about 9 p.m. through the windows
of my room above the tower. Just an ordinary display of nature's
fireworks, but how grand they were! as the vivid flashes shot like
rockets in every direction through the overheated atmosphere of a summer
in the Southern Hemisphere.

Meantime, Mr. Jardine had received a letter from a Mr. Treherne, a
friend of his residing in Buenos Aires, saying he purposed coming up to
Monte Video for a little rest and change, and that if it were possible
he should very much like to see him. Thereupon, he at once wrote
inviting him to come and spend a few days at La Esperanza, and he asked
him to fix his own day to travel to San José in the diligence, and to
let us know, so that we might send in to meet him. Accordingly word came
to expect him on February 4th, so I went in with a boy, mounted on a
chestnut, and a nice little grey horse belonging to the estancia, and
"Carnival" to welcome him. I also had a little business to arrange at
the Policia, and I wanted if possible to have a short interview with the
chief of police. So we started just before three o'clock, arriving at
the Hotel Oriental not long before the diligence was expected. When it
came it brought Mr. Treherne with it. He was rather a delicate-looking
man, getting on towards fifty, his hair fast turning grey, and with the
manner of the student rather than the man of affairs. He had only
brought light luggage in a pair of canvas saddle bags, which the boy
could easily sling across his "recado." I got him a comfortable bedroom
at the hotel, and a smaller one for myself. We then had dinner. At eight
o'clock next morning, I went to the police station, transacted my
business, and before leaving was fortunate in obtaining ten minutes'
conversation with the chief of police, a tall, grizzled-looking man, who
was, however, very courteous, and polite. I had two or three small
commissions to attend to for Mrs. Jardine, and some medicine to get at
the chemist's for John, and then, having partaken of coffee and bread
and butter, we were all ready for a start at half-past nine. I asked Mr.
Treherne which horse he would prefer to ride, "Carnival" or the grey. He
preferred the former, and we were soon jogging along through the
outskirts of the town. My companion was not much of a horseman, but
"Carnival" knew his business, and carried him smoothly and easily along;
he was fortunately very safe on his legs, and knew well how to pick his
way over rough ground; indeed, all the rider need do was to sit quiet
and hold the reins, for "Carnival" himself would do all the rest.

Mr. Treherne expressed great pleasure at seeing Mr. and Mrs. Jardine
again, telling them he had a capital journey, and that the beautiful air
of the open country, as he rode along, had given him quite an appetite
for luncheon. He was very fond of plants and flowers, and, indeed,
something of a botanist as well. During his stay he expressed a wish to
see the coastline and shores of La Plata, and said how greatly he would
enjoy an expedition there some fine day, when it was not too hot. Mr.
Jardine could not accompany him, but he asked me to do so, and we
arranged for an early start, as the shore of the estuary lay a good long
way beyond the furthest point of the estancia in that direction, so that
going there and back made a certain distance to ride. I again offered
him "Carnival," as he seemed to like him so much, and I rode a bay horse
belonging to the estancia.

When we got beyond our own camp we passed through a kind of open wood
with thinly-scattered "tala" trees. These were not large, much in shape
of a prickly shrub, although on or near the banks of a river these trees
grew much larger, and their wood was greatly used both for fencing and
firewood. As we progressed the soil got poorer, until at last we came to
what were really sand-dunes.

These were undulating, and of large extent, and as we passed along my
companion noticed every here and there rather a deep dell, with shrubs
growing in it. Here the sand was deep, so we dismounted and led our
horses, and leaving his with me, and going down into one of these, he
was surprised to find it quite bright with flowers, "Petunias," and
"Lantana," whose improved relations, he said, were great favourites in
English gardens. We then were able to remount our horses, and so
proceeded slowly on to the shore of the Estuary de la Plata. Here the
outlook was most attractive. Nothing, not even a sail, visible on the
wide waters, shining like silver in the sunshine on that early summer
afternoon. A wide expanse of sand like the sea-shore stretched east and
west, golden in colour, and hard and firm to ride on. Bordering this,
along the edge of the dunes, were a row of large cacti, the kind you
see in flower-pots in England, but here ten to fifteen feet high, with
beautiful crimson blossoms in full bloom, hanging in profusion on the
edge of their pendant branches. Here we unsaddled and tied up the horses
beneath their shade. I soon had a fire lighted to keep off the flies,
and also to warm some coffee I had brought with us. Our luncheon, too,
was welcome, and we enjoyed it greatly. After a rest and a smoke we
again saddled up, and had a good gallop on the sands, which the horses
seemed to enjoy every bit as much as we did. We returned by a somewhat
different route, turning towards the river bank, and following it during
the latter portion of our ride. When crossing the camp, I pointed out
the patches of verbena, some scarlet and some white, which in places
quite covered the short grass, looking very bright and pretty. We now
kept close to the woods, but the undergrowth was too thick and tangled
to allow anyone easily to get inside. Mr. Treherne was much interested
to see quite large trees apparently covered with flowers, but on nearer
approach he found they did not belong to the tree itself, but were the
blossoms of a creeper, which completely enveloped it. Some of them were
quite brilliant in colour, in marked contrast to the festoons of grey
lichen moss, which hung from other trees in close proximity. He
dismounted and succeeded in getting some semi-tropical orchids, which it
gave him pleasure to take back with him. We were also fortunate in
seeing a family of the "carpincho," or water-pig; a mother and her
little ones. They were a pretty brown colour, with thick, somewhat
bristly coats, in form like a large guinea-pig, with short legs, and
webbed feet. On hearing us they all sprang into the river, and swam
hurriedly away, their heads only showing above the water. When taken
young they make rather amusing pets, and become very affectionate and
domesticated, though at the same time they will occasionally go down and
join their wild companions for a swim in the river, provided it be near
enough, returning back to the house afterwards.

The summer's day was drawing to its close as we rode up to the estancia,
unsaddled the horses, and let them go. When Mr. Treherne took his
departure I lent him "Carnival," and accompanied him to San Josè. We
arrived during the afternoon and, as I had some business to attend to, I
left him at the hotel to rest after his ride. I also took the
opportunity of calling upon Colonel Gonzales, who was then in residence
at a house he owned in the town. A tall, aristocratic-looking man,
descended from one of the old Spanish families, who had originally
colonised Uruguay, he was now a widower with two daughters, the
Señoritas Augusta and Isabella. The former resembled her father, having
a somewhat pensive expression, a clear, pale complexion, and dark hair.
She had a quiet, gentle manner, and her sister was wont to describe her
as "muy religiosa" (very religious). She herself, on the contrary, was
vivacious, and amusing, with brown hair and a bright complexion. I was
accorded a kind and friendly reception by the colonel, who said he hoped
when again in the town I should not fail to come and see them. Soon
after I got back to the hotel we saw the arrival of the diligence from
Paysandû; this was always an event in the day, and it was timed to start
before six o'clock next morning for Monte Video. The horses were quickly
taken out, and the passengers emerged, weary and hungry, and entered the
hotel. Then dinner was served, when we were fortunate in securing a
small table beside one of the large windows opening on the street to
ourselves. We then had some coffee and a cigarette, and afterwards
walked out to listen to the band which played in the "plaza" when the
evening was warm enough. The musicians occupied a small stand in the
centre, around which the audience walked on a wide path, or sat about on
seats or chairs, as seemed most convenient. Just opposite to the "plaza"
stood the Cathedral. The moon was shining brightly, and here and there
an officer in uniform, or some other "caballero" in close attendance
upon a Señorita wearing the very becoming "mantilla," added to the
picturesqueness of the scene. Returning to the hotel, we went to bed,
for we had to be up early in the morning, when I duly saw Mr. Treherne,
together with his belongings, take his seat in the diligence, and with
many thanks for the little I had been able to do for him, he bid me
farewell, saying he hoped at some future time he might have the pleasure
of seeing me again at his home in Buenos Aires. Among the usual loud
exclamations and cracking of whips, the diligence then started, and was
soon out of sight in a cloud of dust, as it rolled and swung forward on
its long journey. I then mounted "Carnival" and led a bay horse I had
been riding, and although travelling somewhat slowly, reached the
estancia a little before ten o'clock. During the next week I received a
letter from the wounded Colonel Antonio Martinez, saying he had taken
office in the new Blanco Government, and was now living in Monte Video.
He gave me his new address, and told me that if he could do anything for
me, and I would write and let him know, it would give him great
pleasure. I accordingly wrote and thanked him for his letter and his
kind thought, and told him I was no longer living at the Cerro del
Pichinango, but was now at La Estancia Esperanza, some six leagues
distant from the town of San Josè. Thereupon, shortly afterwards, I
received another letter from him, saying he had a great friend, Don
Carlos Mendoza, the recently appointed "Gefè Politico" (or Governour of
the Department), and that he had written to give me an introduction to
him, and to say that he had asked me to call upon him at his residence
in San Josè the next time I happened to find myself in the town. I wrote
and thanked him, expressing my gratitude, and saying it would give me
great pleasure to avail myself of an opportunity which he had been so
very good as to propose. We were now getting well on towards the end of
March, and the weather was much cooler, but fine and pleasant, as is so
often the case during the early autumn. About ten days later, two young
brothers, Elliott by name, turned up at La Esperanza, about an hour
before sundown. They were riding out from Monte Video to a small
estancia belonging to a friend in the province of Colonia. They had a
peon with them, who was leading an extra horse, and who was also engaged
to act as guide, and they had ridden on that day from an estancia about
twelve leagues distant, inside where they had been put up for the night,
such being in these old-fashioned times a very common custom when
travelling through the country. Seeing that they hailed from across the
border, and that Don Alejandro and Mr. Jardine both happened to know
something of their people at home, they were not only made welcome for
the night, but were invited to stay until the beginning of the week
following, so that they could rest their horses, see something of the
estancia, and then proceed on their journey. They were in appearance one
very like the other, with fair hair, blue eyes, and youthful, rosy,
complexions. They had only lately landed in Monte Video, and after
learning farming for a couple of years in the south of Scotland, had
come out to Uruguay, having between them a moderate capital, with the
intention of renting land, purchasing sheep and cattle, and so setting
up as estancieros in a small way. There was only apparently about two
years difference in their age; indeed, it would be difficult to surmise
which was the elder. They had come out full of ideas and of hope for the
future, being but little aware that the experience they might have had
on the land at home would be of but little use to them in Uruguay,
seeing what kind of a country it then was. But they were evidently a
pair of cheery happy-go-lucky young fellows, and as I looked at them at
dinner, and listened to their pleasant and interesting conversation, I
could not help wondering what was destined to be their future. That
evening, it was a Thursday, we were all smoking in the dining-room, when
the talk turned upon the native method of taming young horses. Not
thinking of its being taken seriously, I happened to say that I should
not mind mounting a "potro," but I dare not say how long I should stay
on his back. "Bravo! Don Guillermo," said Don Alejandro, with a laugh,
"you shall mount one. We will have one tied up to-morrow afternoon, and
you shall give him his first gallop on Saturday morning." I felt
somewhat disconcerted, but did not like to draw back, and so it was
arranged, and not long afterwards we all retired to rest. Accordingly, a
portion of the "manada" was driven up into the corral, and with them was
a colt, which must have been nearly six years old, of a muddly roan
colour, with a flowing mane and tail, which had seldom come up before,
having never been touched since he was marked late as a foal. A lasso
was quickly thrown round his neck, and another round his hind legs, and
falling helpless to the ground, a halter was put over his head and made
fast with a stout thong of hide to a firm post. This would be about an
hour before sundown, and here he had to remain during the night. This
rough and ready treatment in handling a colt was quite a novelty to the
two young men, who had never even imagined anything of the sort, and I
feel sure they were looking forward with both interest and amusement to
his having his first gallop on the next morning. I looked him over as he
was being tied up, and came to the conclusion he was probably a bit of a
tartar, although, as is well-known, appearances are often deceptive. Of
course, the news of what was to happen became known, and about ten
o'clock on Saturday morning, nearly everyone seemed on the look-out to
see me start off. When we came to fix my "recado" he gave but little
trouble, although I noticed he seemed sulky, with a nasty sullen look
out of the corner of his eyes. He was now led away outside the
buildings, where all four legs were tied together by a long hide thong,
in such a manner that by giving one pull it all became instantly undone
and fell to the ground. I now mounted, Ramon Duran coming on his horse
alongside as "padrino," to accompany me, and help to guide the horse. A
native pulled loose the leg-ropes, and I was at last ready for a start.
The colt stood still a moment, wondering what had happened, and then
made a violent plunge forward and started buck-jumping with all his
might. He seemed to bend himself almost double, with his head and legs
nearly touching underneath. I sat on for a time, while the bucking
process continued, and then he threw me clean over his head, but I fell
clear of him, and at once got up from the ground, none the worse for the
fall. After getting my breath, I got on him again, with Ramon Duran
close alongside me, but he again started buck-jumping, even more
violently than before. I kept my seat until I felt my legs quite numb
with the continued strain, and then I suddenly let loose the slight hold
I had and came off a yard or two away on my feet. So I felt comforted;
for this, even among the Indians, did not count as a fall. Ramon said he
was "un diablo ungobernable" (an ungovernable devil), and urged me not
to mount him again, but so soon as my legs had regained their feeling I
persisted in doing so. This time he tried it on, but not so severely,
and I managed to hold tight, punishing him at the same time with my
"rebenque," or hide whip. I thus got him into a gallop straight ahead,
Ramon following as close as he could behind, and with the open camp in
front of me, I kept him at it until he completely succumbed, and in fact
would now go any way I wished. For the moment he had enough, and I rode
him back to the estancia, past the buildings and the people, who had
gathered to see the fun, right up in front of the house. I received
quite a small ovation, it was anyway very much more than the occasion
deserved. I then dismounted, and the colt was collared to a mare, so
that he could feed, and be got hold of easily again when wanted. The two
Mr. Elliotts, who I am sure were very good-natured, both told me how
pleased they were I had come to no harm, thanking me, and saying that
what they had seen was quite a revelation to them. The end of it was
that they all drank my health that evening at dinner, and next morning
Mr. Jardine instructed the carpenter to cut out a round medal from a
piece of lead with my initials on it, which was duly presented to me.
Indeed, I believe I possess it somewhere or other to this day.

On Monday morning the Elliotts resumed their journey towards Colonia,
having, I am sure, enjoyed their little visit, and we all felt pleased
to have been able to entertain them. The autumn had now come, and Mr.
Jardine was beginning to think about his shooting, and looking over the
guns and ammunition. The season had been a favourable one, partridges,
or rather quail, were already getting into good condition, and it would
not be long before the duck-shooting commenced. In shooting "quail," the
custom was for two or three sportsmen to walk in a line, about fifty
yards apart, and so catch the birds as they rose in front of them from
the long grass, where they lay concealed. They were fairly plentiful,
and, if the birds rose well, as they often did, afforded good sport,
although to make a good bag often involved a fair amount of walking. Don
Alejandro was fond of shooting, besides being well above an average
shot. I sometimes made up a third and, although the same could certainly
not be said of me, yet sometimes I was more successful than I had any
reason to expect. Mr. Jardine liked to shoot two or three days a week
during the winter, so that opportunity to improve was not lacking. The
quail, although inferior both in size and flavour to an English
partridge, were a pleasant change of diet, and made an excellent curry,
both for breakfast or dinner, a dish which was always much appreciated.
A few days later, poor little Peter contracted a somewhat severe chill,
and as on the next day he seemed worse rather than better, and his
mother was anxious about him, I offered to ride in to San José to get
him a supply of medicine, and also to execute some other little
commissions which were needed, so I saddled up "Carnival" soon after
mid-day and reached the town a little before four o'clock. I finished
the shopping I had to do, and then took the opportunity of making my
call upon Don Carlos Mendoza, the new Gefè Politico at his town
residence, facing the "plaza," or square. On reaching the house, I sent
in my name, and was at once admitted. Don Carlos received me in his own
room, and as I entered rose to greet me, and expressed his pleasure at
making my acquaintance. He was a short man, apparently about forty years
of age with an alert manner, and a very pleasant expression. "Colonel
Antonio Martinez wrote to me about you," he said with a smile. "He is
'muy amigo mio,' 'a great friend of mine,' and is now holding a rather
important appointment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs." After a few
minutes' conversation, he took me into the "sala," where he presented me
to his Señora, a stately-looking lady, who, I afterwards learned, was a
member of one of the oldest Spanish families in Monte Video. Five
minutes later a pretty-looking girl, who might be about fourteen,
entered the room. The Señora said, "This is my daughter, Carmen, and I
have a son Alfonso, who is younger, and is now away at school." Don
Carlos appeared to be well-acquainted with Europe, having been educated
in Paris and Madrid, and both he and his wife had paid more than one
visit to the French Riviera. The Señora asked me how I liked South
America, and I told her very much, but added, "You see this is the only
year of peace I have known since I came out from England, three years
and a half ago." Meanwhile, coffee and cakes were brought in, and some
delicious liqueur, and half an hour later I made my adieux. Don Carlos
said I must certainly call and see them again, and asking me if I was a
smoker remarked, "Here is a cigar from Habana for you," and accompanying
me to the door, shook hands, saying, "Hasta la vista, Señor" (until we
meet again).

On reaching the hotel, I had some dinner, and much enjoyed the Habana
cigar, which I knew to be too good a one to light and smoke in the open
street. I went early to bed, with the request that they would call me at
sunrise next morning. This they did, having also prepared me some
coffee. So I saddled up "Carnival," and reached the estancia just before
nine o'clock. I was pleased to hear from Mr. Jardine that Peter was
better, having fortunately passed a good night. One afternoon I and
Ramon Duran had ridden down to look up some cattle not far from Beatty's
puesto. As we were returning he told me there was a big dun-coloured
bull, not bearing the estancia mark, which for some time had taken up
his abode among the "tarlas," at the far end of the camp, within easy
reach of the river bank. He made a constant disturbance among our
cattle, his object no doubt being to cut some of them off, and so get
control over them, and then form a small point of his own. Ramon
suggested that we should lasso him and kill him, and so get rid of the
nuisance once and for all. He asked if I would like to go down and
assist, and I said I should very much. However, we came to the
conclusion it would be better to have three horsemen for the job, so the
matter remained for the moment in abeyance. The next day he told me he
had seen Robert Mackie, a young Scotchman, who had come out to Uruguay
as a boy, and was already something of a camp man, accustomed to
lassoing on the "rodeo," and working amongst cattle, who wished to join
us in our little adventure. He, moreover, described him as "un joven muy
guapo," "a very capable youth," so it was agreed we should all three go
in search of the bull on Saturday afternoon. Ramon was to ride his
favourite "picaso" (a black horse, with a white blaze and two white hind
fetlocks), while Mackie would saddle up a "moro" (or blue roan), which
he often rode, as it was well-trained, and a first-rate horse at that
kind of work. I was to ride my "rosillo," so we were all to be
well-mounted. Our first idea had been that if we came across the bull we
should all three try and get round to the far side of him, with the
object of driving him in among a point of our own cattle, but on
consideration we determined to approach him from the direction we were
ourselves riding, and then by acting quickly and suddenly, try and get a
lasso round him before he had time to reach his favourite woods. We were
riding quietly along, when we made out the bull standing feeding by
himself, quite a long distance inside the camp, and away from the
woods, whereupon we widened out our line into a kind of semi-circle,
Ramon being on the left, with Mackie in the centre, while I took the
right, so that we might approach as near to him as possible without
causing any alarm. This method seemed to answer for, as it happened, we
managed to get closer up to him than we had any reason to expect.
Suddenly, however, up went his head, and he saw us coming, when he
immediately made off as fast as he could. We then followed at full
gallop, and Mackie, who was in the centre, pushed ahead of Ramon and
myself, for the "moro" was a fast horse, and his rider both young and
eager. Running his horse close up behind the bull, he threw his lasso,
the loop of which, instead of going round the horns of the animal, as it
should have done, passed over his head and round his neck, thus giving
the bull a much greater power of purchase than he would otherwise have
had. Then a most unfortunate thing happened. Mackie had his foot out of
the stirrup on the lasso side, which was not by any means unusual, but
he also had his leg rather far forward, and as the coils of the lasso
went out swiftly, owing to the speed at which the bull was now running,
one of them caught his right leg, entangling it just below the knee. It
was now a question of speed between the horse and the bull, with a man's
life hanging in the balance. Ramon and I could do nothing, for if either
of us pressed forward we should only help to increase the speed of the
bull. So we both slowed down, edging off one to the left and the other
to the right, which was the only thing to do. Fortunately, the "moro"
rose to the occasion. He never made a mistake, in spite of the ground
being rough and uneven, but shooting forward at an increased speed, he
enabled Mackie to get his leg free from the coil of the lasso, and so
saved the situation. Ramon had called to Mackie to take out his knife
from its sheath and cut the lasso, but when he put his hand behind him
both knife and sheath had fallen from his belt during the gallop. Now
Mackie was able to bring purchase, with his lasso, to bear upon the
bull, who was also by this time getting a bit pumped, and compelled to
slacken his speed, so that in a couple of hundred yards more he was able
to bring him to a standstill. Ramon now came up and threw his lasso
round the bull's hind legs, when both the lassos straining at the same
time, and in opposite directions, the bull, now completely mastered, was
compelled to fall helpless to the ground. Ramon then dismounted his
"picaso," still carefully keeping up the strain of the lasso, as a good
horse is trained to do, and taking out his knife from his belt gave the
bull his "coup de grâce." Mackie and Ramon were not long in taking off
the hide, which they slung across the back of the "moro," behind
Mackie's recado, when we returned quietly to the estancia, reaching it
just after five o'clock.

Winter had now come, bringing with it continued bad weather, accompanied
by cold winds and constant showers of heavy rain. This went on more or
less until the third week in June, when it cleared up; but the beginning
of July ushered in rain heavier than before, the river overflowed its
banks, and low-lying land was mostly covered with water. Fortunately, at
La Esperanza, there was plenty of higher ground for stock to feed on,
for the constant rain day after day, so filled the "banyados," usually
quite small pieces of water, that they developed into something much
more like an inland sea, flooding all the surrounding land for a foot
deep, and in some places even more. The cattle were well able to look
after themselves, but as the floods increased considerable care was
necessary to keep the sheep from being surrounded by water, for when
danger threatens they are stupid animals, easily frightened, and apt to
get drowned. The bad weather continued until the middle of July,
moderating during the third week, although still very unsettled.
However, on the morning of the twenty-fifth, I started to ride to Colla,
to receive a considerable sum of money which was owing to the estancia.
Mr. Jardine wished me to take his "rosillo alazan" (or chestnut roan), a
good horse, above the ordinary height, which he said would help to keep
me out of the mud. The morning was fine, and I made an early start, for
I wished to reach my destination without delay. Instead of using my
"recado," I put the saddle which had been given as a prize at the
Christmas race on the "rosillo," this being the kind to which he was
accustomed. The river alongside the estancia had mostly run down, but
when I reached the "Cufré," I found it more or less in flood. As,
however, the water only reached up to the flaps of the saddle, I got
across quite dry, always a comfort when travelling on horseback. The
horse carried me well, and I reached Colla about three o'clock in the
afternoon, the track being less soft and slippery than I expected. I put
up at the Hotel de la Paz (Hotel of Peace), and then went out to receive
the sum of money for which I had come. It was all in paper notes, some
of them very dilapidated, and I was obliged to look them over carefully
to assure myself they were all good currency. This reminded me of a
little incident which had once happened to me when paying an account.
The man receiving it was a native in good circumstances, but he could
neither read or write. As I handed over a bundle of notes to him he
said, "El buey es bueno pero la oveja no vale por nada," "The bullock is
good, but the sheep is worth nothing," referring to the pictures of the
animals printed on the notes I was about to pay him. To him nothing
else mattered. Having given a receipt for the money, I rolled up the
notes and put them into the large pockets of my carpincho skin belt, and
when I got into the street, I took out my revolver, just to see that it
was all right. I then returned to the hotel to see my horse was
comfortable, had some supper, and went early to bed. It was then fine,
with a young moon shining brightly, but I had not long got off to sleep
when I was awakened by a loud banging and knocking at my door. Thinking
it might be someone come after the money, I first got hold of my
revolver, before going to see, but it was nothing more than a visitor
who had been drinking too much wine and failed to find his proper
bedroom. It somehow seemed to me that the name of the hotel did not
clearly describe its character. I awoke to find the sky dull and cloudy,
and a very cold wind blowing from the south. I succeeded in getting some
hot coffee, with bread and butter. I then saddled up, paid my bill, and
made a start. When I got away from the town, I found the track very
muddy and slippery. The "rosillo" was a good horse, who could pick his
way carefully, and I was obliged to travel slowly. As I passed along,
the country on either side looked dreary and desolate. Such cattle as I
saw stood grouped with their backs to the cold wind, while the sheep
were mostly huddled together, their fleeces wet and sodden with the
rain. When I reached the river Cufré, I found the water high and
swollen, having evidently come down a good deal during the night. I
entered it as far up the bank as the pass would permit, so as to leave
me as much room as possible to land on the other side, in case the water
should be deeper in the middle than I expected. This turned out to be
the case, for my horse lost his feet for a moment, gave a violent
plunge, and I got wet through right up to my waist. However, he was not
really nervous, and recovering himself, succeeding in making a landing a
little lower down, so that we both reached the opposite side with
nothing worse than a bit of a ducking. My first thought was about the
money. My "carpincho" skin belt, which contained it was, of course,
having been under water, soaked through and through; it was all in paper
notes, many of them much worn and dilapidated, and I knew if I left them
where they were they would soon turn into pulp, and become quite
worthless. Moreover, to make things worse, it all of a sudden commenced
to rain. Looking round, about half a mile distant on some higher ground
to the right, I saw what appeared to be a small place belonging to a
native. There were only two or three mud ranchos, with half a dozen
poplar trees standing near them, but from one of the low chimneys I saw
smoke rising. I thereupon determined to make straight for it, and see if
I could get permission to dry the notes by the fire. It was not a very
pleasant idea, as I was, of course, quite ignorant as to who might be
inside, and my revolver, in case I were attacked for the sake of the
somewhat large sum of money I carried, was now probably useless, owing
to having been so saturated with water. However, I made up my mind to
take the risk, and rode up. A dog barked loudly as usual, and a dark,
middle-aged woman came to the door. I told her what had happened, and
asked permission to dry the notes, saying I should be glad to pay for
the use of the fire. To this she kindly agreed; indeed, from her manner
I thought she seemed sorry for the plight in which I found myself. "You
seem very wet, Señor," she said, "would you not like to dry some of your
clothes as well?" I thanked her, but declined, saying they did not
matter, as I wished to continue my journey without unnecessary delay,
but I asked if I might lay my revolver down by the side of the fire as
I feared it might be a bit damp, in case I should happen to need it
before reaching home, for I had a good long way to go, and it might get
dark. She smiled at this, and said I was fortunate to have come up to
the house when I did, for only half an hour before three native Gauchos
had ridden away, all fully armed, and two of them, she remarked, would
murder anyone with any money as soon as look at them, for they were
notorious bad characters, and had been in the hands of the police more
than once already, supposed to have been connected with something of the
kind. While she was talking, I succeeded in getting the notes fairly
dry, and rolled them up in my pocket handkerchief, and placed them
carefully in the large inside breast pocket of my jacket which, however,
was scarcely big enough to hold them, but I was able to manage it by
packing them tightly together, and now they were once more dry this did
not matter. I realised it would have been more prudent to have done this
before I entered the river. One is always apt to think of things only
when it is too late! I thanked the woman for what she had done for me,
and gave her a small present. "Muchas gracias Señor y adios" (many
thanks, Sir, and good-bye). "Keep a sharp look-out on anyone you may
happen to meet," she said, as I remounted and rode away. Fortunately,
the rain had now ceased, and even a gleam of cold and fitful sunshine
seemed every now and then to struggle to make itself felt at the edge of
a heavy cloud. The track was extremely muddy, and slippery, but the
"rosillo" took it all in good part, for he well knew he was going home.
When we came to our own river, next to the estancia, I found it
considerably higher than on the previous day, but we managed to get
across all right, and I rode up to the house as the cold afternoon was
passing, and the winter light was just beginning to fade.

One morning at breakfast, early in August, Mr. Jardine told us he had
heard from Mr. Herbert Fraser, and his brother Frederick, two young
Englishmen, now staying in Monte Video, where they had broken their
journey for a time, their intention being to go on by sea to Valparaiso,
through the Straits of Magellan. They had brought letters of
introduction to him from England, and he proposed to invite them out to
La Esperanza for a short visit, so that they might have a little
shooting. They arrived during the week following by diligence at San
José, and the carriage was sent in there to bring them on to the
estancia. They brought their own guns and cartridges with them, and
seemed keen about sport. They were the type of young men with ample
means to be found travelling for pleasure, not quite knowing at any
particular time what they would do next. The morning after they arrived
we drove in the wagonette to the end of some large swamps, on one side
of the estate, with a boy in attendance to look after the horses, and on
reaching the first lagoon we sent the Frasers to the further end, Mr.
Dampier and I wading among the reeds along either side, with two men in
the centre acting as beaters. The water generally did not come above our
knees, but the thick weeds caused slow progress. There are three sorts
of duck, the native names for which are the "picaso," the "baroso," and
the "ovaro" duck. The first is the largest, with handsome black and
white plumage, the "baroso" is a description of pintail, male and female
being of a uniform brown colour, with yellow bills. The "ovaro" duck,
known for its beautiful variegated plumage, is not nearly so common as
the other two. It is also very wary, but when bagged is the best for the
table. First rose half a dozen "picaso" ducks, and Mr. Dampier and I
each getting a shot, one fell to each barrel. Next came a brace of
teal, both easy shots, which I missed badly, but my companion brought
down his bird. A flight of "barosos" came flying cross ways, but
wheeling round, passed over the heads of the Frasers at the farther end,
who brought down three of them in first-rate style. A little further on
a pair of swans rose hurriedly, out of range for us, but although a long
shot, one fell to our friend's gun, tumbling into the water with a
tremendous splash. We then shot over some grass land for partridge,
walking in line and beating them up, and in less than two hours we
bagged nine brace. We afterwards went on to two of the other lagoons,
where we met with success, so we drove home well-contented with our
day's sport. Among the larger birds the ostrich merits the first place.
It is not a true ostrich, but a "rhea," and its feathers and plumes are
comparatively but of small value. Of large waders, several species of
herons are found. Storks and the little egret are common, while the rosy
spoon-bill and flamingo, although very shy, are seen occasionally. There
are two kinds of eagle, and many different species of hawk. Snipe are
plentiful during the winter months, being found in swampy lagoons and
small streams; they are usually fat, and excellent eating. There are two
kinds of teal, a blue and a brown, both of which are abundant. Golden
plover and sandpipers abound, and as you ride along the spur-winged
plover, or "pteru-pteru" rises with its shrill cry, and wheels round and
round over one's head. Quite a number of small birds inhabit the
country, and the plumage of some of them is very beautiful. There is the
scissor-bird, with its curious tail; the oven-bird, which will make a
round nest of mud, often as large as a man's head, on the top of a
gatepost, quite close to a house where people are constantly passing;
and others, with all the varying shades of yellow and black. Large
flocks of the small green grey-breasted parakeet take up their abode in
the woods, and make the whole place resound with their chatterings. A
species of wood-dove is also very common, and affords good sport.
Amongst the numerous spiders is the "tarantula," which is alarming, and
its bite venomous, also another equally large grey spider, which is very
pugnacious, and will jump up at you when disturbed. There is also a
minute insect of the nature of a harvest-bug, called the "bicho
colorado" (or red insect), which abounds during hot weather in summer,
but disappears during the winter, and when the temperature is cold. It
is a great nuisance, burying itself in one's skin, and causing great
itching and irritation, and often producing sores on the human body by
no means easy to heal. Mosquitos and flies of course are numerous,
particularly near woods, and especially near water. There are several
kinds of snakes, amongst them the coral snake, which is venomous, and a
pretty little green snake, which hangs by its tail from the branches of
a tree, so exactly like the green pod of a flowering creeper that it is
difficult to tell one from the other. The Frasers stayed a fortnight at
La Esperanza, getting several days' good shooting. They then returned to
Monte Video, apparently well pleased with their visit.

September had now come, the sunny spring-time of the Southern
Hemisphere. It was more than a year since I left the Pichinango, and I
made up my mind to return to England. When I bade good-bye to Mr.
Treherne at San José, he told me to be sure and write and let him know
whenever I should think of doing so, as he thought it would be a great
pity were I to leave South America without seeing Buenos Aires. So I
wrote him a letter to say I should be leaving La Esperanza towards the
end of the month, with the intention of taking my passage in some
steamer, leaving shortly for Europe. About ten days later, I received a
reply suggesting that I should pay him a few days' visit at his quinta,
(or villa, with a garden), situate in the then outskirts of Buenos
Aires, and fix the day of my arrival just as I might find to be most
convenient. I wrote at once to say what pleasure it gave me to take
advantage of his kind proposal, promising to write again when I could
tell him exactly when I hoped to arrive. He also mentioned that the
S.S. "Dido" would be leaving Buenos Aires on or about October
11th, in case I should think her a likely ship to suit me. On the Monday
following I rode "Carnival" in to San Josè, and I took the opportunity
to call again upon Don Carlos Mendoza, whom I was fortunate enough to
find at home. We had some interesting conversation as to the prospects
of the new Blanco Government, and the future of the country, and when we
parted he expressed the hope that some day or somewhere he might have
the pleasure of seeing me again. He was a nice man, and gave me the
impression of being intellectual and cultivated, and I felt very glad to
have had the pleasure of making his acquaintance. Colonel Gonzales and
his two daughters were away paying a visit to their estancia. I got back
in good time next morning, for "Carnival" carried me well. He was a
good, reliable horse, and I felt sorry to think my rides on him were so
soon to come to an end. I now fixed up my plans for departure, and wrote
again to Mr. Treherne that I expected to leave La Esperanza on Tuesday,
September 28th, for San Josè, go on from there by diligence to Monte
Video, and travel by what was known as the river steamer, on the last
evening of the month, arriving at Buenos Aires early the following
morning. The first thing I did was to send my "rosillo," whom I had with
me during the war, back again to the Pichinango, where for some years he
led a pleasant, easy life, and ultimately died at a good old age Mr.
Jardine said he should like to have "Carnival," and that he would take
good care of him. For this I was glad, for I felt sure the horse would
suit him in every way. I gave my dog "Napoleon" to Ramon Duran, who
promised to treat him well. He was first-rate with cattle, and I wished
him to go where he would be appreciated. Meanwhile, I sent my luggage to
the Hotel Oriental in a cart which was going out to San Josè, keeping
only what I could easily carry on horseback. When the day came to say
good-bye, I thanked them all for their kindness and for having done so
much to make my stay at La Esperanza such a pleasant one. Early in the
afternoon I saddled up the grey, taking a boy on another horse with me
to bring him back. And so ended a year which will always be to me a very
enjoyable recollection. It was a fine afternoon, and as we rode quietly
along the sun felt quite warm, so that we did not reach the hotel until
just about five o'clock. I found my belongings there waiting for me, and
not long afterwards the diligence arrived from Paysandu. It had come in
somewhat earlier than usual, for the roads were now good, and probably
the team of horses which were being quickly taken out, were better than
usual. Immediately afterwards dinner was served. I chose a quiet seat,
and sat on for a while just to smoke a contemplative pipe with my
coffee, and to ponder over the events of the day. I had been very happy
at La Esperanza, and one cannot help feeling regret when an agreeable
time has come to an end. I then went to bed, instructing them to call me
the first thing in the morning. I was up betimes, and able to see the
boy start back to the estancia with the horses, and also to see to my
things before the horses were harnessed up to the diligence, and all
ready for a start. There were only half a dozen passengers, so there was
plenty of room, and we rolled and rumbled along much as we had done now
nearly four years previously, when I went out to Guaycoru to stay with
my friend, Robert Royd, at Las Sierras de Mal Abrigo, little knowing all
that lay before me. When we reached Monte Video, I made my way to the
Hotel Oriental, feeling somewhat weary and tired, but a good sleep was
all that was needed to make me feel completely restored. I had a little
business to attend to during the day, and the late afternoon found me on
board the river steamer, soon about to get under weigh, with her bows
heading in the direction of Buenos Aires. It was more or less a twelve
hours' run, and I came on deck next morning to find we were just about
to let go our anchor; although still some distance from the shore. There
were various methods of landing at the port of Buenos Aires in the good
old days. The big ocean steamers lay at anchor in the estuary, from
eight to ten miles distant from the land. Passengers were passed first
into a tug, then into an open boat, whence they sometimes had to be
shifted into a cart; indeed, it was not uncommon to carry them ashore on
men's backs. However, a small steam launch came alongside and took the
passengers aboard, afterwards transferring us to an open boat, so we
reached the landing-place quite comfortably. I then got a carriage,
which carried me and my belongings on to "Bella Vista," that being the
name of Mr. Treherne's quinta. He came to meet me as I drove up, with a
very kindly welcome and many enquiries after Mr. and Mrs. Jardine and
all at La Esperanza. It was a roomy, comfortable house, with two wide
verandahs, facing north and west. The garden was just entering upon its
spring beauty, and would soon be a blaze of colour. The mimosa trees
were just coming into flower, as also the paradise trees, with their
purple blossom. That of the wistaria was already out, hanging in
profusion all along the verandah, while a little further away was a
long low hedge, thickly covered with "plumbago," and here and there a
pomegranate. There were several kinds of palms and flowering cacti, and
on the house itself was a magnificent magnolia, already covered with
buds. The rose trees were an especial care, and some were even now
beginning to flower. Moreover, there was provision for ample watering
during hot weather. Breakfast was served at 11.30 in the wide verandah.
Early in the afternoon my host took me into the town. I went first to
the shipping office, and was afterwards to meet him at the "Strangers'
Club," where he kindly said he would introduce me. I found the
S.S. "Dido" to be a steamer of moderate size, bound for
Antwerp, calling at Rio de Janeiro and Lisbon, and also at Southampton,
to land her English passengers. She did not carry many, but hearing she
was well-found, and reputed to be a good sea-boat, and finding a
comfortable cabin was at disposal, I at once decided to take my passage
in her. So the whole matter was easily settled. I found the "Club" very
comfortable and well-arranged. Those who knew Buenos Aires at the time
of which I write would indeed wonder at the beautiful city they would
find to-day. The streets were then rough and ill-paved. The drainage was
scanty and bad, and when it rained heavily the water poured like a
torrent down the principal streets. But even then there were beautiful
shops, and well-appointed carriages, with silver-mounted harness, so
beloved of Spaniards, were quite a distinctive feature, and a great
contrast to the rough and, uneven roads over which they were compelled
to travel. The great net-work of railways which now traverses the
republic was then a thing undreamed of, for the Buenos Aires Great
Southern Railway, first among its fellows, then extended but a short
way into the open country. Beyond it the wide "Pampas," the home of the
roving Indian, with troops of wild mares, together with deer and
ostrich, rolled into distance like waves of the sea, stretching one upon
another far away into the great unknown. My visit proved agreeable, and
I felt sorry when it came to an end. However, on Saturday, I was
informed that the S.S. "Dido" had to pick up a late consignment
of cargo at Monte Video, and would not leave Buenos Aires until late on
Monday afternoon. Further, that the tug which was to take passengers on
board, would leave the landing stage punctually at three o'clock, on
October 11th. Mr. Treherne went with me to the place of embarkation, and
we were both ready waiting there nearly half an hour before the
appointed time. The tide was favourable, and there happened to be plenty
of water. All was now ready to shove off, so I said good-bye to my host,
with many thanks for his kindness, stepped on board the tug, and we at
once got under weigh. The afternoon was beautifully fine as we hauled up
alongside the steamer, which, her blue Peter flying at the fore, was due
to reach Monte Video at daylight on the following morning. Dinner was
served in the saloon at five o'clock. We were then steaming along in
smooth water, so everything was steady. There were five passengers for
Southampton besides myself. One of them, Mr. Philip Payne, took his seat
beside me at table. He was a young man, perhaps a little older than I
was, of middle height, with an active figure, with light brown hair, and
grey eyes. I found out he was the son of a country clergyman and, after
learning a little farming in England, had come out to South America with
the well-known Henley Colony. When this undertaking, owing to Indian
raids, and other circumstances, turned out to be a complete failure, he
went round to Chile, through the Straits of Magellan, and at the end of
the previous summer had come back again to Argentina, across the Andes,
on mules, with a troop of Indians, then considered to be something of an
adventure. When I came on deck next morning, a lighter, with cargo was
already alongside, and the city of Monte Video lay glistening in the
bright sunshine, much as I first saw it four years ago. I did not go
ashore, for we were due to leave soon after mid-day, and the early
afternoon found us again under easy steam, with a light breeze and a
calm sea, and the ship's head pointing northwards. I now made the
acquaintance of the other four passengers, a Mr. and Mrs. West, with
their son Herbert, aged fourteen, and daughter Rose, a girl of ten. He
told me he was an engineer by profession, and had come out to Argentina
in delicate health, hoping the climate might benefit him, and that he
might obtain suitable employment. Neither of these had been fulfilled,
and I felt sorry to see him returning to England after a time which must
have been to them one of disappointment. Mrs. West, too, looked anything
but strong. Their son Herbert, was lame, having had a somewhat serious
accident to his hip, but his parents hoped that if he went under proper
treatment in England the difficulty would be overcome. Four days later,
early in the morning, land was sighted, and by eight o'clock we were
passing beneath the famous "Sugar Loaf," a high, conical-shaped hill,
which guards the entrance to Rio de Janeiro. As we steamed slowly up to
our anchorage the city lay to the left, its houses rising tier after
tier up the hillsides, the whole overshadowed by the great "Corcovado,"
a mountain which lay behind. To the right the magnificent harbour, with
many a beautiful island and many a beautiful bay, stretched some ten
miles southward towards "Petropolis." We were not due to sail until
evening, so Payne and I had ample time to go on shore. We first amused
ourselves walking through the town and making some purchases at the
famous feather flower shop in the Rua d'Ouvidor. We then took the
tramway and drove out to see the wonderful Avenue of Palms, supposed to
be perhaps one of the finest in the world. Gay plumaged birds were
flying to and fro, and bright coloured butterflies were hovering hither
and thither, as we slowly walked between the long line of beautiful
trees, the lovely plumes of which, as they hung down in clusters, fairly
shimmered in the hot sunshine of that early afternoon. We got back on
board soon after four o'clock, both of us ready for a wash and brush up,
and for dinner when the bell rang. The sun had already set as the
S.S. "Dido" was fast getting clear of the land, and I stood on
deck and watched the shadows of the distant mountains in the fading
light, and I realised I was now taking my last look at South America.
Four Brazilian passengers had embarked at Rio de Janeiro for Lisbon, for
which port we had also taken in a certain amount of cargo. We had fine
weather and a good voyage, sighting land on November 8th, and passing up
the Tagus soon after nine o'clock. We let go our anchor lower down the
river than we might have done, and at some distance from the town.
Lighters at once came alongside to take off the cargo, and the four
Brazilian passengers were landed in the agents' boat. All this took
place with very little delay. Indeed, our captain wished to get to sea
again as soon as possible. So neither Payne nor I thought it worth while
to go ashore. We got under weigh soon after three o'clock, and it was
not long before a thick fog came on, which compelled us to slow down.
Later in the evening the fog grew thicker, so that the ship had to be
stopped for a time, and all through the night we made very slow
progress. The following day the fog came on again, even thicker than
before, but cleared towards evening, so that we could proceed on our
course something under half speed. The morning of Wednesday was again
foggy, clearing towards the afternoon, but the sky remained heavy and
overhung with thick cloud, so that no observation could be obtained, and
the ship had be navigated only by dead reckoning. The West family seemed
very depressed, but my friend and I were accustomed to difficulties, and
we made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit. The two
following days the sun was again obscured by cloud, but we were able to
go ahead full speed. On Saturday evening the captain considered we might
be somewhere abreast of Ushant, but here we fell into what are known in
the Channel as thick belts of fog. These are always very confusing and
misleading, as the thick mist comes down like a curtain, enveloping
everything, and rising and falling very rapidly. The ship had constantly
to stop, and never could steam more than four knots an hour, and very
often less. These conditions prevailed during Sunday, and we crept along
gradually, as it were, feeling our way. Every precaution was taken, a
sharp look-out was kept forward, a sailor being also stationed in the
fore-top, while two men were continually in the chains, taking the depth
of the water, and the foghorn was kept constantly going as well. About
five o'clock, the dinner bell had just rung, Payne and I were standing
by the port rail, looking over the side, near the after hatchway. A
curtain of fog which had come thickly down was just lifting, when a cry
rang out from the look-out forward, "Breakers ahead." Then came the
order from the captain on the bridge, "_Hard a port!_" A second later
the fog lifted further, and there alongside rose the precipitous rocky
face of the "Bill of Portland." It looked almost as if you could throw a
biscuit ashore. There was no wind, and the sea was gently lapping up
against the base of the high cliff. Payne put his hand on my shoulder,
"Look there," he said, "that is the place to swim for, where you see the
grass growing down almost to the water's edge." In a moment it was all
over, land and sea being once more completely enveloped in fog.
Fortunately the ship had sufficient weigh on her to enable her to answer
her helm, and she at once came round to starboard, when all danger was
past. Mr. and Mrs. West were down in the saloon, and knew nothing of
what had happened, nor did we either of us mention one word about it. We
made slow progress during the night, but when daylight appeared, the sky
was clear, and when I came on deck about nine o'clock, we were just
about to pass inside the "Needles." We then steamed leisurely up the
Solent, the tide was favourable, so that we got alongside the landing
stage, and were able to go ashore soon after eleven. I then bid good-bye
to my friend Payne, and having collected my belongings, got them
conveyed to the railway station, where I took the first train to London,
and so ended my experiences of "Old days among the Gauchos of Uruguay."


    |             Transcriber's Note:               |
    |                                               |
    | Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the  |
    | original document have been preserved.        |
    |                                               |
    | Title Page: The tilde over the u in Gauchos   |
    | is represented like so: Ga[~u]chos            |
    |                                               |
    | Typographical errors corrected in the text:   |
    |                                               |
    | Page  22  soliders changed to soldiers        |
    | Page  22  spoonsful changed to spoonfuls      |
    | Page  29  knowledged changed to knowledge     |
    | Page  59  Dr. changed to Mr.                  |
    | Page  67  lover changed to lower              |
    | Page  68  fenecs changed to fences            |
    | Page  70  attentiton changed to attention     |
    | Page  71  somewhate changed to somewhat       |
    | Page  76  Dcember changed to December         |
    | Page  94  Nothting changed to Nothing         |
    | Page  94  togethed changed to together        |
    | Page  98  he changed to the                   |
    | Page 101  Gaiten changed to Gaitan            |
    | Page 115  terrior changed to terrier          |
    | Page 116  cartmen changed to cartman          |
    | Page 116  believed changed to believe         |
    | Page 120  th changed to the                   |
    | Page 135  is changed to in                    |
    | Page 136  in added between standing and each  |
    | Page 146  workisg changed to working          |
    | Page 150  wih changed to with                 |
    | Page 156  it in changed to in it              |
    | Page 167  interefering changed to interfering |
    | Page 180  in added between growing and it     |
    | Page 187  One changed to On                   |
    | Page 189  me changed to we                    |
    | Page 197  waggonette changed to wagonette     |
    | Page 198  specie changed to species           |
    | Page 203  allong changed to along             |
    | Page 204  myslf changed to myself             |

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