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Title: At Home with the Patagonians - A Year's Wanderings over Untrodden Ground from the Straits - of Magellan to the Rio Negro
Author: Musters, George Chaworth
Language: English
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  [Transcriber's Note: In this text the two occurrences of the letter n
  with a macron above it are represented by ṅ. The one occurrence of the
  letter ā with an acute accent above it is represented by ´ā. Some
  illustrations have been relocated to fall between paragraphs rather
  than within.]



THE PATAGONIANS


LONDON: PRINTED BY
SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
AND PARLIAMENT STREET


[Illustration: WÁKI KILLING A PUMA.]



                          AT HOME

                           WITH

                      THE PATAGONIANS


          A YEAR'S WANDERINGS OVER UNTRODDEN GROUND
                FROM THE STRAITS OF MAGELLAN
                      TO THE RIO NEGRO


                 By GEORGE CHAWORTH MUSTERS

                    RETIRED COMMANDER R.N.


                 _WITH MAP AND ILLUSTRATIONS_



                           LONDON
                JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET
                            1871


            _The right of translation is reserved_



                        TO MY FRIEND

                        F. W. EGERTON,

                         ROYAL NAVY,

                THIS NARRATIVE IS DEDICATED.



PREFACE.


In submitting the following pages to the public, I am conscious that
some readers who desire exact and scientific descriptions of the
geography and geology of Patagonia will be disappointed; but it must be
urged as an apology that instruments could not be carried nor safely
used under the circumstances. The course travelled was as carefully laid
down, by the help of a compass, as was possible; and the map of the
country is so far accurate, and, if incomplete, at least is not
imaginative. To others who may perhaps eagerly expect tales of stirring
adventure and hair-breadth escapes, such as are usually recounted as the
every-day occurrences of uncivilised life, I can only express the hope
that this faithful record of life with the Indians all the year round,
if not very sensational, will serve at least to make them really at home
with the Tehuelches. It is a pleasanter task to record my thanks to
those by whose assistance the results of my journey have been utilised;
foremost of whom is the venerable ex-President of the Royal Geographical
Society, Sir RODERICK MURCHISON, whose kindly reception and introduction
of the returned traveller to the Society are gratefully acknowledged.
My obligations are scarcely less to CLEMENTS MARKHAM, C.B., whose
unrivalled knowledge of the early history as well as the geography of
South America has been freely placed at my disposal; and to Dr. HOOKER,
Director of the Royal Gardens, Kew, for his courteous assistance in
identifying some of the plants observed: while to Mr. RUDLER, of the
Museum of Mines, I am indebted for a careful classification of the
various specimens of rocks and minerals collected in the country.
Lastly, the reader will share in my gratitude to Mr. ZWECKER, whose able
pencil has created, out of rough outlines sketched in a pocket-book, the
vivid and faithful illustrations which bring before his eyes the scenery
and incidents of life in Patagonia.

                                                            G. C. M.
  _September 1, 1871._



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

FROM THE STRAITS TO SANTA CRUZ.
                                                                    PAGE
  Journey Planned. -- Preparations. -- Passage from Stanley. -- The
    Straits. -- First Footsteps in Patagonia. -- The Narrows. --
    Punta Arenas. -- Commandante Viel. -- The Colony. -- The Town.
    -- Chilotes and Convicts. -- Resources. -- Visit to the Coal
    Bed. -- Lieut. Gallegos. -- The Start. -- Rio Chaunco. -- The
    Patagonian Pampas. -- Our Party. -- Cabecera del Mar. -- Oazy
    Harbour. -- A useless Chase. -- A Fireless Night. -- Volcanic
    Hills. -- Pampa Yarns. -- Rio Gallegos. -- First Indians. --
    Sam Slick. -- Rio Cuheyli. -- Meeting with Tehuelches. --
    Caravan of Women. -- 'Anglish' Politeness. -- Desert. -- Santa
    Cruz at last                                                       1


CHAPTER II.

SANTA CRUZ.

  Introduction to Chiefs. -- Orkeke. -- Chilian Deserters. -- The
    Settlement. -- Island of Pabon. -- Natural Advantages. -- The
    Mission Station. -- Mr. Clarke. -- Our Circle at Pabon. --
    Expedition to Lake Viedma. -- Winter Occupations. -- Work and
    Play. -- Casimiro's Adventures. -- His Character. -- A Winter
    Hunting Excursion. -- A Pampa Snow-storm. -- The Santa Cruz
    Valley. -- Up the River. -- The Northern Hills. -- Pumas. --
    Devil's Eyes. -- Hunting on Foot. -- Intense Cold. -- Return of
    the Deserters. -- Visit to the Indian Camp. -- First Night in a
    Toldo. -- Towing a Horse. -- Adieu to Santa Cruz                  33


CHAPTER III.

THE RIO CHICO.

  Breaking up of the Camp. -- An Idle Day. -- A Rash Start. -- A
    Dilemma. -- Alone on the Pampa. -- Reunion. -- The Kau or
    Toldo. -- The Domestic Interior. -- The Indian Tribes. -- Three
    Races. -- Order of the March. -- The Hunt. -- Indian Game Law.
    -- Tehuelche Cookery. -- Basaltic Hills. -- An Indian Festival.
    -- My First Tehuelche Ball. -- Mrs. Orkeke's Spill. -- Fording
    Rio Chico. -- A Battle. -- Death of Cuastro. -- Dangerous
    Times. -- Chilian Conspiracy. -- Obsidian Plain and Pass. --
    First Ostrich Eggs. -- Amakaken. -- Lifting the Boulder. -- The
    Devil's Country. -- God's Hill. -- Condors and Dinner. --
    Sunrise on the Cordillera. -- The Plague Herald. -- Gelgel Aik.
    -- Escape from Matrimony. -- Téle. -- Eyes of the Desert. --
    Preparations for War. -- Another Fight. -- Water Tigers. --
    Indian Bravoes. -- Iron Ores. -- Ship Rock. -- Perch Fishing.
    -- Appley-kaik. -- Casimiro's Escape. -- Arrival at Henno         62


CHAPTER IV.

HENNOKAIK TO TECKEL.

  Ceremonial of Welcome. -- Hinchel's Indians. -- Tehuelches
    and Araucanos. -- Jackechan and the Chupat Tribe. -- My
    Examination. -- Encampment at Henno. -- Peaceful Occupations.
    -- The Oldest Inhabitant. -- Chiriq. -- The Hidden Cities. --
    Modern Legends. -- Mysteries of the Cordillera. -- Los Cesares.
    -- La Ciudad Encantada. -- Its Whereabouts. -- The Indian
    Cesares. -- The Guanaco. -- The Patagonian Ostrich. --
    Neighbourhood of Chiriq. -- Horseracing. -- Indian Horses. --
    Indian Dogs. -- Dog and Lover. -- Plaiting Sinews. -- Windy
    Hill. -- Surrounded by Fire. -- Young Guanaco. -- Arrival of
    Grog. -- News from Santa Cruz. -- Gisk. -- Romantic Scenery. --
    A Pleasant Neighbourhood. -- Fairy Glen. -- Breaking a Horse.
    -- Female Curiosity. -- The Wild Cattle Country. -- The Forests
    of the Cordillera. -- The Watershed. -- Among the Mountains. --
    Wild Flowers. -- A Bull Fight. -- The Bull Victorious. -- No
    Christmas Beef. -- Teckel. -- Change of Quarters                 108


CHAPTER V.

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE TEHUELCHES.

  Patagonian Giants. -- A Long Walk. -- Strength and Good Humour.
    -- Heads of Hair. -- Tehuelche Coquettes. -- Dress of Men and
    Women. -- Ornaments and Cosmetics. -- Toilette and Bath. --
    Arms and Implements. -- Ancient Bolas and Arrows. -- Saddles
    and Bridles. -- Silversmiths. -- Manufacture of Mantles. --
    Women's Work. -- Diet and Cookery. -- Smoking. -- Card Playing.
    -- Game of Ball. -- Ceremonies at Birth. -- Childhood. --
    Marriage. -- Funeral Rites. -- Religion. -- Demons and Doctors.
    -- Witchcraft and Omens. -- Medical Skill. -- Population and
    Politics. -- Etiquette. -- Tehuelche Character. -- Natural
    Affection. -- Advice to Travellers                               157


CHAPTER VI.

TECKEL TO GEYLUM.

  Casimiro's Household. -- Carge-kaik. -- Quintuhual's Son. --
    Woolkein. -- Partridges. -- Meeting with the Araucanians. --
    The Cacique Quintuhual. -- Esgel-kaik. -- Araucanian Belles. --
    Communication with Chupat Colony. -- Diplaik. -- Calficura's
    Declaration of War. -- Tehuelches learn Fishing. -- My Indian
    Relatives. -- Woodland Rambles. -- An Indian Paradise. -- The
    Upper Chupat. -- Cushamon. -- Losing Horses. -- Official
    Functions. -- Message from Las Manzanas. -- Blessing the
    Liquor. -- Casimiro Intoxicated. -- Foyel's Encampment. --
    Great Parlemento. -- Foyel's Ideas. -- Gatchen-kaik. -- Arrival
    at Geylum                                                        189


CHAPTER VII.

LAS MANZANAS.

  Catching a Thief. -- Miss Foyel. -- Start for Las Manzanas. --
    First View of the Apple Groves. -- Omens of War. -- Inacayal's
    Tolderia. -- Crossing the Rio Limay. -- Mr. Cox's Shipwreck. --
    Lenketrou's Raid. -- A Night of Alarm. -- Bravery of my
    Cousins. -- The Great Cheoeque. -- A Mounted Parlemento. --
    Apples and Piñones. -- Graviel's Madness. -- Las Manzanas. --
    Cheoeque's Palace. -- The Revels. -- Feuds between the Chiefs.
    -- The Picunches and the Passes to Valdivia. -- Trading and
    Politics. -- Resolutions of Peace. -- A Grand Banquet. -- Power
    of Cheoeque. -- Araucanian Customs. -- Farewell Presents. --
    Invitation to Return. -- Orkeke's Generosity. -- Return to
    Geylum. -- Outbreak of an Epidemic. -- My Pretty Page. --
    Departure from Geylum                                            218


CHAPTER VIII.

GEYLUM TO PATAGONES.

  A Sick Camp. -- Oerroè Volcanic Hill. -- Crimè's Deathbed. --
    Graviel's Promotion. -- The Burning Ground. -- Hot Springs. --
    Fighting the Gualichu. -- A Real Fight. -- A Soda Lake. --
    Encampment at Telck. -- The Doctor comes to Grief. -- An
    Obliging Ostrich. -- Appointed Chasqui. -- Miseries of Pampa
    Life. -- A Bad Time. -- The Plains of Margensho. -- Casimiro's
    Distrust. -- Doctor and Sick Child. -- Duties of a Messenger.
    -- Departure of the Chasquis. -- Travelling Express. -- The
    Paved Pampas. -- An Ideal Bandit. -- Letter from the Chupat
    Colony. -- Trinita. -- Teneforo's Pampas. -- Champayo's
    Generosity. -- A Morning Drink. -- Departure from Trinita. --
    Valchita. -- The Pig's-Road. -- Wild Horses. -- The Travesia.
    -- Limit of the Patagonian Fauna and Flora. -- First View of
    the Rio Negro. -- Sauce Blanco. -- The Guardia. -- San Xaviel.
    -- Approach to Patagones. -- Señor Murga. -- Welsh Hospitality.
    -- Among Friends at Last                                         247


CHAPTER IX.

THE RIO NEGRO SETTLEMENTS.

  Patagones, or Carmen Old Town. -- The Fort and Buildings. -- The
    Southern Town. -- The English Mission. -- Elements of the
    Population. -- The Negroes. -- The Convicts. -- Lawless State
    of Society. -- The Cemetery. -- Early History of the Colony. --
    A Successful Stratagem. -- Villarino's Ascent of the River. --
    Expedition of Rosas. -- The Island of Choelechel. -- La Guardia
    Chica. -- Estancia of Messrs. Kincaid. -- Ancient Indian
    Graves. -- Flint Weapons. -- The Shepherd and Pumas. --
    Estancia San André. -- The Indians and the Colonists. --
    Calficura's Raid. -- Indian Method of Attack. -- The Tame
    Indians. -- View of the Valley. -- Trade of Patagones. --
    Fertility of the Soil. -- Rio Negro Wine. -- The Sportsman. --
    Advice to Emigrants. -- Interview with Col. Murga. -- The
    Government Grants to Chiefs. -- Casimiro again. -- The
    Tehuelches in Town. -- Farewell. -- The Welsh Utopia. -- Social
    Life at Patagones. -- The Steamer at Last. -- Aground. -- The
    Pilot. -- Pat Sweeny. -- Adieu to Patagonia                      288


APPENDIX.

  A.--A partial Vocabulary of the Tsoneca Language as spoken by the
    Northern Tehuelches                                              319

  B.--Testimony of successive Voyagers to the Stature of the
    Patagonians                                                      323



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


  WÁKI KILLING A PUMA                                     _Frontispiece_

  MAP OF PATAGONIA                                          _at the end_

  STATION ON PABON ISLAND, RIO SANTA CRUZ                _to face p._ 37

  HUNTING GUANACO AND OSTRICH, VALLEY OF RIO CHICO               _p._ 64

  START FROM THE CAMP AT MÔWAISH, OR WINDOW HILL                      75

  CEREMONY OF WELCOME (TEHUELCHES AND ARAUCANIANS)                   110

  A WILD BULL IN THE CORDILLERA                                      151

  SKETCH MAP FROM RIO SENGEL TO TECKEL                               156

  TEHUELCHE ARMS AND IMPLEMENTS                                      164

  THE PRETTY HOUSE AND DANCE                                         175

  CROSSING THE RIO LIMAY                                             223



INTRODUCTION.


Three hundred and fifty years ago the great navigator Magellan anchored
in a port on the eastern coast of an unknown shore, part of the seaboard
of the vast continent of South America, to which he gave the name of St.
Julian. Starting from this point, the pilot Serrano explored the coast
to the southward, and discovered a river, which he named Santa Cruz. His
ship was wrecked near the mouth, and left her timbers on the rocks, the
first of the long list of vessels lost on that ironbound coast which,
from the mouth of the Rio Negro to the Straits, offers but one or two
safe harbours, while submerged reefs, fierce gales, strong tides,
currents, and overfalls combine to render it nearly the most perilous
known to navigators.

Magellan remained at Port St. Julian and Santa Cruz from April till
October of 1520, when he sailed southward, and discovered the Straits
which bear his name. Two months after his arrival at Port St. Julian a
man of gigantic stature appeared on the beach, 'larger and taller than
the stoutest man of Castile.' Eighteen natives afterwards arrived,
dressed in cloaks of skins and shoes of guanaco hide, which made huge
footmarks, whence they were called Patagonés, or 'large feet,' by the
Spaniards; and thus originated in a nickname the name of the country,
Patagonia. These men used bows and arrows, and had with them four young
guanacos, with which they decoyed the wild ones within shot. Two young
men were treacherously seized and carried off, howling and calling on
their god Setebos. The natives naturally resented this return for their
ready friendliness, and, attacking a party sent after them, killed one
Spaniard with their arrows. Enough, however, was seen of them to furnish
Pigafetta with some details. 'Their tents were light movable frames,
covered with skins; their faces were painted; they were very swift of
foot, had tools of sharp-edged flints, and ate their meat nearly raw.'

That the first knowledge of Patagonia was diffused in England by
Pigafetta's narrative is suggested by Caliban's lines in the 'Tempest:'
'he could command my dam's god Setebos;' but it was not till 1578 that
the newly-discovered country was visited by Englishmen.

Sir Francis Drake in that year anchored in Seal Bay--probably a little
to the south of Port Desire--and saw several Indians. His chaplain
narrates their method of stalking the ostriches: 'They have a plume of
ostrich feathers on a long staff, large enough to hide a man behind, and
with this they stalk the ostriches.' He further says: 'They would have
none of our company until such time as they were warranted by their God
"Settaboth." They never cut their hair, which they make a store-house
for all the things they carry about--a quiver for arrows, a sheath for
knives, a case for toothpicks, a box for fire sticks, and what not; they
are fond of dancing with rattles round their waists; they have clean,
comely, and strong bodies, are swift of foot, very active, a goodly and
lively people. Magellan was not altogether wrong in naming them giants,
yet they are not taller than some Englishmen.' Drake next visited Port
St. Julian; and, curiously enough, as Magellan had in this place put to
death two and marooned a third of his captains who mutinied, so this
harbour was the scene of the execution of Mr. Doughty, who chose rather
to be beheaded than to be put on shore. The ensuing year Sarmiento was
despatched from Callao to examine the Straits in search of the daring
Englishman. He saw natives who chased their game on horseback, and
brought it down with bolas. But fifty years had elapsed since horses had
been imported by the Spaniards of the Rio de la Plata, and already the
Indians in the far south had become horsemen, and would seem to have
exchanged their bows and arrows for the bolas.

In 1581 Sarmiento was sent from Spain with 2,500 men in twenty-three
ships, to found new colonies in the Straits, and established a
settlement, leaving 400 men and thirty women, furnished with eight
months' provisions. On his way home his ship was captured by the
English, and the unhappy colonists were altogether forgotten and
neglected by their Government.

Five years after, Thomas Cavendish anchored in a bay to the south of St.
Julian, called by him Port Desire, which perpetuates the name of his
little craft of 120 tons. Here the natives attacked his men with bows
and arrows. Visiting the Straits, he arrived at the settlement, and
found only twelve men and three women surviving, the rest having
perished of slow starvation and disease; and the name of the place,
Port Famine, conferred by him, still recalls the miserable fate of
these ill-fated colonists.

On his next voyage, in 1591, Cavendish died; but John Davis twice
visited Port Desire, and explored the river for twenty miles. During his
stay some 1,000 natives visited the strangers, and Knyvet describes them
as being fifteen or sixteen span high.

Passing over the visits of Van Noort and Schouten, in the reign of
Charles the Second Sir John Narborough took possession of the country
near Port Desire in the name of the King. But few natives were seen, and
the mate, Mr. Wood, boastingly declared that he himself was taller than
any of them.

In the eighteenth century Byron and Wallis successively visited the
shores of Patagonia, and made friends with the natives, whose height
was found to be from 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet, while some were nearly
7 feet high.

In 1774 the Jesuit Father Falkner published his work on Patagonia,
containing all the information procured by himself and the other Jesuit
missionaries who had attempted to obtain a footing on the western and
northern boundaries. His account of the Tehuelches, or Tsoneca Indians,
was evidently derived from personal communication with them, although
his knowledge of the topography of their country seems to have been
procured from the reports of others. By this work, which produced a
great sensation, the jealous fears of the Spanish Government were
aroused, and they hastened to despatch an expedition to form settlements
on the coast of Patagonia.

Of the brothers Viedma, who were sent in command, Francisco founded
Carmen at the mouth of the Rio Negro, and Antonio, after first fixing
on Port Desire, determined finally on Port St. Julian as the site
of another colony. He thence undertook the first exploration of the
interior in search of timber for building, in the course of which he
reached the great lake at the foot of the Cordillera, from which flowed
the Rio Santa Cruz. Both on the coast and in the interior he received
much friendly aid from the Indians, of whom he formed a most favourable
opinion.

Under his brother's auspices the Rio Negro was ascended as far as the
mountains by Villarino, to whose expedition reference will be made in
the proper place.

No further knowledge was gained of the interior of Patagonia until the
survey of the Beagle, so ably performed and so admirably described by
Fitzroy and Darwin; during which the ascent of the Santa Cruz river for
200 miles enabled the latter to observe the remarkable formations which
he has so aptly described in his work on the Geology of South America.

This brief but perhaps tedious account has been given to show that
although the coasts of Patagonia had been explored and surveyed, yet
the interior of the country, though pierced by the expeditions of Viedma
and Fitzroy, remained up to a late date still almost unknown. Its
inhabitants, the Tehuelches, had been often communicated with, their
stature noted, and their friendly disposition commended; but their
real manners of life as they wandered through the country, and their
relations with, or difference from, the Araucanian and Pampa Indians,
had remained almost as much a mystery as they were in the last century.

During the last thirty years the Governments of Chili and of Buenos
Ayres have shown themselves inclined to claim the possession of the
coast, the former trying to advance from the Straits, and the latter
from Patagones; and the natives have acknowledged the influence of
either Government as they happened to be in the northern or southern
parts respectively. Our missionaries also have not left the Patagonians
without some efforts to instruct and evangelise them; and although these
efforts have been necessarily limited to the coast, yet the fruits of
Mr. Schmid's sojourn with the Tehuelches remain both in their friendly
feelings and in the lasting record of the vocabulary of the Tsoneca
language published by him. And the intercourse of these Indians with
Argentines and Chilians, and more especially with English officers,
sealers, and missionaries successively, all of whom have testified
favourably to their character, has tended to make them more open to
access, and to give them a knowledge of foreigners; so that in this
respect I can feel that to all those who have been mentioned as having
thus preceded me, this brief record is due from a traveller who has
experienced the friendly feelings of the natives towards strangers, and
especially Englishmen.

While engaged in preparing the ensuing pages for the press, I have had
an opportunity of perusing the work of M. Guinnard, first published
in French, and recently given to the English public in a spirited
translation, entitled 'Three Years' Slavery among the Patagonians.' The
name necessarily attracted me, but to my great surprise careful perusal
led to the distinct conviction that the author's personal experiences
were altogether confined to the Pampas Indians north of the Rio Negro.
From his own statements and omissions it is quite evident that he was
not carried by any of his successive masters across this river, which he
clearly and accurately defines to be (p. 40) the northern boundary of
Patagonia. The name of Patagonians is, therefore, a complete misnomer;
and the curious account (pp. 72-3) of the 'Tchéouelches,' or Foot
Nomads, clothed in seal skins and accustomed to live on fish, and
literally destitute of horses, is applicable to no tribe whatever east
of the Cordillera, the Fuegians being the only race presenting any of
the characteristic habits attributed to this so-called Patagonian tribe.

I hope I may not be supposed to be desirous of impeaching the accuracy
of M. Guinnard's account of the hardships endured in his captivity, or
of the customs of the Indians into whose hands he fell, much of which I
can corroborate; but it is to be regretted that he was induced, probably
by others, to describe under the name of Patagonians, the Pampas
Indians, who, by country, race, language, and character, are marked as
being altogether distinct from the Tehuelches of Patagonia.



AT HOME

WITH

THE PATAGONIANS.



CHAPTER I.

FROM THE STRAITS TO SANTA CRUZ.

  Journey Planned. -- Preparations. -- Passage from Stanley. -- The
    Straits. -- First Footsteps in Patagonia. -- The Narrows. --
    Punta Arenas. -- Commandante Viel. -- The Colony. -- The Town.
    -- Chilotes and Convicts. -- Resources. -- Visit to the Coal
    Bed. -- Lieut. Gallegos. -- The Start. -- Rio Chaunco. -- The
    Patagonian Pampas. -- Our Party. -- Cabecera del Mar. -- Oazy
    Harbour. -- A useless Chase. -- A Fireless Night. -- Volcanic
    Hills. -- Pampa Yarns. -- Rio Gallegos. -- First Indians. --
    Sam Slick. -- Rio Cuheyli. -- Meeting with Tehuelches. --
    Caravan of Women. -- 'Anglish' Politeness. -- Desert. -- Santa
    Cruz at last.


In April 1869 chance took me to our remote colony of the Falkland
Islands, with the purpose of taking thence a passage to Buenos Ayres to
arrange some business matters. During my stay in the settlement, the
coast of Patagonia, in the survey of which H.M.S. Nassau was then
engaged, formed a frequent topic of conversation. I had formerly, when
stationed on the south-east coast of America, read with delight Mr.
Darwin's work on South America, as well as Fitzroy's admirable Narrative
of the Voyage of the Beagle, and had ever since entertained a strong
desire to penetrate if possible the little-known interior of the
country. Now, at length, a favourable opportunity seemed to have arrived
for carrying out the cherished scheme of traversing the country from
Punta Arena to the Rio Negro, Valdivia, or even to Buenos Ayres. The
accounts given me of the Tehuelche character and of the glorious
excitement of the chase after the guanaco, graphically described by a
seaman, Sam Bonner, who had been much on the coast and had resided at
the Santa Cruz station, made me more than ever anxious to prosecute this
plan; and, having a tolerable acquaintance with Spanish, which language
many of the Indians know well, it seemed to me possible to safely
traverse the country in company with some one or other of their
wandering parties. Accordingly I bestirred myself to obtain information
as to the best way of getting such an introduction to the Indians
as would probably secure their consent; to which end most material
assistance was afforded by Mr. Dean, of Stanley, who kindly provided
me with letters of introduction to Captain Luiz Piedra Buena, an
intelligent Argentine well known in Stanley, the owner of a schooner, in
which he worked the seal fisheries on the coast, and also of a trading
station at the Middle Island, on the Santa Cruz river. Mr. Dean was of
opinion that I should be almost certain to meet with Don Luiz in the
Straits of Magellan, and that he would willingly exert his influence
with the Indians to enable me to carry out my plan of travel. I was
furthermore provided with letters of credit to the firm of Messrs.
Aguirre & Murga, at Patagones, or, as it is most commonly called at
Stanley, the Rio Negro.

Thus armed with credentials, and equipped with a guanaco skin mantle,
lazo and bolas, I availed myself of the offer of a passage to the
Straits made by an old friend who was bound to the westward coast.

In the first week of April we sailed from Stanley, and, after a
boisterous passage of eleven days, anchored in Possession Bay, just
within the entrance of the Straits, to wait for the turn of the tide, as
the extreme velocity with which the tides ebb and flow through these
channels renders it impossible for any vessel not possessed of great
steam power to proceed except the tide is favourable. Our first view of
the Straits did not impress me favourably. On either hand the shores
looked bleak and barren, though far away to the south and west the
mountains of Tierra del Fuego could be distinctly seen. As we anchored
early in the afternoon, a descent on the coast of Patagonia was
proposed, and a party speedily volunteered--well provided with guns
and other arms, for the purposes of sport and self-defence in case of
necessity--and were soon in the boat. As the tide was out, the shoal
water did not permit us to reach the shore, so we had to wade some two
or three hundred yards over beds of sharp-edged mussels, and, after a
climb up the steep cliff, found ourselves on the verge of a barren plain
which seemed perfectly destitute of life.

After a tramp of some distance we came to the edge of a gully running
down to the coast, where finding the torn carcase of a guanaco, we
stopped to examine what was to most of us an unknown animal; and
our speculations as to the curious hybrid form of the odd-looking
'camel-sheep' were put an end to by the discovery close by of the fresh
footprints of a puma. These were eagerly tracked, in the hopes of a
little entertainment; but after some tedious searching we abandoned
the pursuit, and again resuming our excursion, tramped along through
high, coarse grass, and sparsely scattered thorny bushes; some of the
sportsmen varying the monotony by an occasional shot at a snipe. The
day was very genial, the warmth of the bright sunshine was tempered by
a wind just cool enough to make a walk pleasant, and the Patagonian
climate was pronounced by all hands to be agreeable. Whilst we were
beating a rough bit of ground, to our utter amazement and delight our
friend the puma jumped out of a bush; but the first surprise was so
great, that the opportunity of giving him a long shot was lost. Away
we all started in chase, hoping to be able to keep him in sight from
a small adjacent eminence; and after a good breather two of the party
succeeded in viewing him to somewhere near the edge of the cliffs,
mainly guided by a retriever dog, which seemed as anxious as anybody to
see what the catamount hide was made of. On arriving at the cliff, a
seaman observed his tracks on the soft clay of the shelving brow, and
soon proclaimed his discovery of the puma in a hole or small cave just
below, by the exclamation of 'There he is!' at the same time thrusting
the stick he had been beating with nearly into the mouth of the 'lion,'
which had set our dog, and appeared about to spring on him. Two shots
were fired in quick succession, but apparently without effect, as
he made good his retreat, affording us a fine view as he went off,
springing in great bounds, along the beach. Pursuit was of course
organised, but night being near failed to afford us an opportunity of
a closer study of this specimen of the feline race; and we accordingly
started again for the ship, after firing a shot or two into the numerous
flocks of oyster-catchers and shags which were domiciled on the rocks
and about the cliffs. The number of these and other sea-birds was
incalculable; the numerous beds of mussels furnishing them with constant
food.

Next morning we were under weigh with the flood-tide, and rapidly ran
through the narrows at a speed of eighteen miles an hour. The scenery on
the northern side of the Straits offered little variety until we sighted
the Barrancas of San Gregorio, a range of somewhat picturesque hills,
rising near the north shore of the bay of the same name, and running
along for some miles in an easterly direction. On the southern or
Fuegian side of the Straits the land was low for some distance from the
coast, and resembled the northern shore, but high mountains were visible
in the background. After passing the second narrows, an hour or two's
run with the flood-tide and a good head of steam brought us opposite to
the 'Island of San Isabel,' or Elizabeth Island; after passing which the
snow-clad peaks of Mount Sarmiento, in the southern part of Tierra del
Fuego, came into sight, appearing to rise out of the water, ninety miles
distant, if not more. Steaming along the coast through numerous beds
of the characteristic kelp seaweed, which in the most forcible way
attracted our attention, by fouling the screw, and holding the ship
as if anchored for about an hour, we passed Cape Negro, and opened
completely different scenery. Instead of undulating plains, hills
thickly wooded were seen; at the foot of one of which, on a low piece
of flat ground, numerous horsemen, dressed in gay-coloured ponchos, were
visible, careering about.

It was the afternoon of Sunday, which in all Spanish South American
countries is a gala day, more or less appropriated to horse-racing.
However, the sight of a steamer appeared to cause a diversion, and, in
fact, a general race to the settlement ensued, all being apparently
anxious for anything new or strange. The anchor was soon dropped, near
an American schooner lying off the Sandy Point, from which the Chilian
settlement of Punta Arenas derives its name.

There was no sign of the Nassau, then engaged in the survey of the
Straits, which we had hoped to find in this anchorage; but from the
Chilian officer, who speedily boarded us, we learned that she had sailed
to the westward a day or two before our arrival, and was expected to
return immediately. The results of the careful observations made by Mr.
Cunningham, of the scenery and natural history of the Straits, have
appeared while these pages were in preparation for the press; and it
affords me pleasure to refer such as desire more scientific accounts of
the botany and zoology, at least of Southern Patagonia, than it was in
my power to obtain, to his work.

My own object in visiting Punta Arenas was to proceed thence to Santa
Cruz with the Indians, or in whatever way might prove feasible;
but, in truth, it was by no means clear to my mind how it was to be
accomplished; it was, therefore, with great relief that I learned
from the Chilian lieutenant that a small expedition was about to be
despatched by the governor to Santa Cruz in pursuit of some runaways
from among the deserters who were serving their term of punishment in
the colony. He suggested that the Commandante would, doubtless, give
permission to accompany this party; and, without delay, I accompanied
him on shore, and was introduced to Commandante Señor Viel.

Nothing could exceed the kindness and courtesy with which the
Commandante entered into my plans; he at once not only gave me
permission to accompany the party, but, unasked, offered me the use
of a horse, and told me not to trouble myself about the commissariat
for the road. It was possible, however, that the deserters might be
overtaken in the Pampas, in which case the party would return without
proceeding as far as Santa Cruz; he therefore advised me to secure
the services of some one acquainted with the route, who could act as
guide in the event of our having to proceed without the rest of our
companions.

I was afterwards introduced to Señora Viel, a fair Limena possessing all
the proverbial charms of the ladies of Lima, and who bemoaned bitterly
the isolation and ennui of life at Punta Arenas; she had literally no
equals of her own sex, and scarcely any of the other, to speak to. Señor
Viel had formerly commanded a Chilian ironclad, instead of which he had
accepted the government of this distant colony; his zeal and energy
in discharging the duties of his office were unceasing, and his naval
habits asserted themselves in the strictness of discipline maintained,
which was absolutely necessary to keep in order the motley population.
But as a residence, viewed from a social point of view, Punta Arenas
must have been unimaginably dull. The Commandante kindly pressed me to
make his house my home, promising quarters for the night--which his own
limited accommodation could not supply--in an adjacent house. So after
two days, agreeably spent in the interchange of courtesies and visits, I
bade adieu to my shipmates, who were to sail at daylight for the Western
Straits, and removed myself and traps to a wooden house close to the
Cuartel, the quarters of Don Centeno, the engineer in charge of the
Government works. The next morning, accompanied by Captain Cushing, of
the schooner Rippling Wave, I set out to procure some few necessary
supplies, and make inquiries for a guide. We bent our steps to the
store of a man named Guillermo, and after purchasing tobacco and other
necessaries, the talk turned on gold, of which Don Guillermo showed us
some specimens, obtained from the banks of a neighbouring stream. One of
the crew of the Rippling Wave grew greatly excited and exclaimed, 'Ah,
that's the stuff we used to grub up in a creek in Californy; I guess if
the old boat lays her bones on these here shores, I'll stop and turn to
digging again.' Hanging up in the store were some Indian bolas and a
belt made of beads, studded with silver bosses, which the owner informed
me was a woman's girdle, and, with the bolas, had been left in pawn by
the Indians. They had not, however, visited the colony, at least for
trading purposes, for several months, as they had taken umbrage about a
dispute between a Chilian and an Indian, in which they considered their
comrade to have been treated with injustice. The party described by Mr.
Cunningham evidently arrived with doubtful intentions, and the tact
displayed by Señor Viel removed their resentment. This information
explained what had previously mystified me, viz., that nothing was to be
seen or heard of the Indians with whom I had hoped to make acquaintance.
My good fortune in arriving on the eve of the departure of the
expedition, and the Commandante's courtesy, were now even more keenly
appreciated by me, as otherwise I should have been simply stranded in
Punta Arenas. The guide difficulty was not long of solution, although,
from the natural dislike of most of the unofficial population to take
part in the recapture of runaways, it had seemed rather perplexing.
After we had quitted the store, we were accosted by a man named J'aria,
who came to offer his services. A short examination of his knowledge
and recommendations proving satisfactory, he was engaged on terms which
certainly were far from exorbitant, and he deserves to have it recorded
that he fully earned his pay. My equipments and preparations for the
journey were now made complete by the thoughtful good nature of Captain
Cushing, with whom I proceeded on board his vessel, where he provided
from his stores, and forced on my acceptance, several most useful
articles; and it is pleasant to be able to publish my sense of the
kindness received from one of our American cousins, who are always ready
to sympathise with and befriend a Britisher, at least according to my
experience.

A stroll of inspection round the settlement was extended to the
saw-mill, not far distant, worked by water-power; where, under the
direction of Mr. Wells, an American, the trees when cut down are
converted into boards to build the houses that take the place of the
forest. Proceeding thence to the half-cleared outskirts, we found the
Commandante supervising numerous labourers, principally of the convict
class, who were busily engaged in felling trees, clearing stumps,
and otherwise preparing the way for the future development of the
settlement.

To anyone unaccustomed to frontier towns, the _coup-d'œil_ of the
town presented an irregular and random growth of wooden houses; but the
plan which was indicated in outline was laid out after the usual Spanish
American fashion, as originally prescribed by the Council of the Indies.
A main street ran near and parallel to the beach, crossing a large
vacant square--the Plaza, out of which, and at regular intervals from
the main street, ran other embryo streets intersecting at right angles,
so that the houses, whenever they should be built, would form blocks
or 'cuadros.' In the Plaza were the church and a large unfinished
school-house. Chilian ideas as to the public duty of education are
advanced, and the schoolmaster is a state functionary, combining at this
time at Punta Arenas the duties of secretary to the Governor with those
proper to his office. The excellent sketch of Staff-Commander Bedwell
(Cunningham, 'Straits of Magellan,' p. 70) shows the Governor's house
nearly at the end of the main street, and beyond it was the Cuartel, a
palisadoed inclosure, containing the barracks, the gaol or lock-up, and
the guard-house, irreverently termed by the officers of the Nassau 'The
Punch and Judy House,' and shown in the same sketch.

From this a constant look-out is maintained, and a light displayed
at night. The transverse streets, running up almost to the uncleared
forest, were only indicated by scattered houses, and in the line of the
main street two or three detached dwellings a mile distant were only
separated from the trees by patches of potato ground.

The first penal colony planted in the Straits by the Chilian Government
was established in 1843, at Port Famine, the ominous name of which
recalls the miserable fate of the colonists left there by Sarmiento in
1581. The superior anchorage was the inducement to select the same place
for the modern colony, but the same evil destiny seemed to cling to it.
After struggling on for some years, during which the inhabitants were
frequently reduced to great distress by the failure of supplies of food
from Chili, it was sacked and destroyed by the convicts, who mutinied
and killed the Governor and Padre. They afterwards seized a vessel in
which they attempted to escape, but were pursued by a man-of-war, and
met with deserved punishment.

The colony was subsequently removed to its present position, and in
addition to the involuntary immigrants, chiefly deserters from the army,
settlers were tempted by liberal grants of land, and a large number of
Chilotes or natives of Chiloe were introduced. These men, who are of
mixed Spanish and Indian blood, are a hardy, sturdy race, accustomed
to the use of the axe in their own thickly-wooded country, whence they
export quantities of timber. They are very Paddies in their diet, living
almost altogether on potatoes, which grow freely in Chiloe, but in Punta
Arenas do not attain large size. Besides land, the Chilotes receive
wages from the Government for their labour, and are the most industrious
portion of the population: the men are hard working, but also hard
drinking, and the women are said to be very lax in their notions of
fidelity. Of the convicts, some were allowed, for good behaviour, to
live in their own houses, subject to certain restrictions; but many of
them were utterly reckless, and needed to be kept under the strictest
surveillance, and locked up in the Cuartel every night. Notwithstanding
all precautions, escapes are continually contrived, and the runaways
face the difficulties of the Pampas, sometimes succeeding in joining the
Patagonians, but as often losing their way, and perishing of starvation,
or becoming a prey to the pumas. Thus, ten or a dozen had succeeded
in escaping just before my visit, necessitating the despatch of the
expedition in chase of them. The garrison consisted of some fifty or
sixty regular soldiers, besides irregular employés, who hunt wild
cattle or deserters, as occasion requires. The number of troops is quite
insufficient to defend the place against an attack of the Indians, but
the southern Tehuelches are not naturally inclined to raids, and if well
and fairly treated are more willing to avail themselves of the trading
facilities afforded by the half-dozen stores, the existence of which
could only, in my mind, be accounted for by the hopes of Indian barter,
for they were far in excess of the wants of the colony. Still the
permanent population was certainly a thirsty one, and seemed to do its
best to encourage trade, at least in grog: drunkenness in the streets
is, however, an offence punishable by imprisonment, and at the time of
my visit the blacksmith was in durance vile, whence the Irish Doctor had
only just been released for this venial offence.

There appeared to be little cultivation, with the exception of potatoes.
The climate does not permit wheat or barley to ripen, though, perhaps,
oats or rye might succeed. The tame cattle seemed to me stunted and
miserable, but in the forests there are others of a wild breed, which
are said to be large and of excellent quality; these, as well as the
red deer, afford, during some portion of the year, occupation to a few
hunters, who obtain high prices for their meat, but the supply is too
scanty and irregular to prevent fresh meat from being a rare luxury. The
resources and prospects of the colony naturally formed the subject of
conversation at Señor Viel's, and Don Centeno, who was in charge of the
survey of the newly-discovered coal bed in the vicinity, invited me to
join him the next day in a visit of inspection.

Next morning we accordingly set out, and crossing a small stream,
shortly arrived at the commencement of the forest, through which a
straight road was in course of formation. Numerous groups of Chilotes
were employed on all sides, some levelling the way already cleared,
others at work felling trees, others applying fire instead of the axe.
The timber consists chiefly of Chilian beech (Fagus antarctica) and
Winter's bark, described by Mr. Cunningham, the former of which splits
readily and is available for most purposes.

After Don Centeno had completed some minor details of surveying, we
struck into the dense forest, and followed a winding path until we
arrived at the bed of the stream, which debouches at the colony. This
we followed up for some time, and eventually arrived at a ravine, the
sides of which were as regular as if navvies had been employed to form a
cutting, in which, at a point sixty yards above our heads, the seam of
coal was visible. Here we dismounted and scrambled up a slippery path to
a spot where a shaft, or rather burrow, had been driven into the bed,
to the depth of perhaps fifty or sixty feet, made apparently for the
purpose of examining the quality, regularity, &c., of the seam. The coal
did not appear to me of a very good quality; but I have since heard that
it gave exceedingly favourable results. My companion also pointed out
to me a place in the opposite bank where some men had been washing for
gold, the specimens of which I had seen in the town; and their labours
were said to have been attended with good returns. As the day was
advancing and rather chilly, a fire was kindled; and after a warm
thereat, mounting our horses, we returned homewards down the ravine. On
emerging from the forest, we observed a large steamer just on the point
of anchoring; so we hurried on to obtain news and despatch our letters
if it should prove the Magalhaens--one of the line of packets from
Liverpool to Valparaiso. On the beach we found the Commandante and Mrs.
Viel, the latter having visited the vessel and obtained some English
newspapers. After dinner, accepting the Governor's offer of his boat, I
proceeded on board, and found her to be a magnificent steamer of great
power and good accommodation. The establishment of this line of steamers
will doubtless have a most beneficial effect on the prosperity of Punta
Arenas; as, though agriculture and Indian trade are not likely to reward
industrious or speculative immigrants, the discovery of the coal-bed is
of the most obvious importance as affecting the future of this colony.
It will now be possible to maintain powerful steam-tugs to tow
sailing-vessels through the Straits, and thus avoid the passage round
Cape Horn; whereas up to the present time the navigation of the Straits
has been almost closed to sailing-ships; while, owing to the great
steam-power required, even steamers, whether war or merchant ships, are
frequently obliged to buy wood at Sandy Point; and then, owing to the
vast quantity used to keep steam, not unfrequently are obliged to stop
again before entering the Pacific to renew their supply wherever they
could cut it. Now this will all be changed, and a steam-launch will
probably be kept to tow the lighters to and fro, and thus materially
facilitate coaling. As population and colonisation increase, encouraged
by the accommodation afforded by the Pacific steamers--which at this
present date run every month, bringing the Straits of Magellan almost
within hail--the interior of the country may become opened up, in which
case, probably, other sources of mineral wealth will be discovered and
made productive.

Our departure having been definitely fixed for the morrow, I proceeded
to review and arrange my equipments for the journey, a list of which may
gratify intending explorers of Patagonia. Two saddle-bags contained my
kit and necessaries, consisting of a couple of shirts and a jersey
or two, a few silk handkerchiefs, and soap, lucifer matches, writing
materials, fishing lines and hooks, quinine and caustic, and a small
bottle of strychnine. The armoury comprised a rifle in case complete,
and two double-barrelled breech-loading pistols, hunting-knives, a small
ammunition-case of unfilled cartridges, and a supply of powder. The only
instrument ventured on was a small compass. My personal equipment was a
shooting suit of tweed and a Scotch cap, and a most excellent pair of
boots made by Thomas, to which for comfort were superadded a guanaco
skin mantle, two ponchos, and a waterproof sheet. In the evening Señor
Viel introduced me to my future travelling companion, Lieutenant
Gallegos, who was to command our party. He was a short, thick-set man,
with a dark, almost Indian complexion, and looked all over what the
Commandante declared him to be, 'a man for hard work.' In his native
province of Arauco he had been for many years employed in the frontier
wars with the Indians, and could handle the lazo or the lance with
wonderful dexterity. He spoke with great cordiality of the officers of
the Nassau, and seemed well inclined to the company of one of the same
service; indeed, I am strongly inclined to believe that he is introduced
into the foreground of Commander Bedwell's sketch--at all events, if any
reader wishes to know his appearance, the occupant of the fallen
tree presents a strong resemblance to the leader of our party. Our
arrangements and prospects were fully discussed; and after bidding
farewell to Captain Cushing, who was to sail the next day, and to my
most kind and courteous host and hostess, we parted, agreeing to meet at
daylight ready for the road.

At an early hour of the morning of the 19th of April I was awoke by
J'aria, and with him and my small belongings proceeded to the Corral,
where the horses were being caught and loaded. Here we were joined by
Gallegos, and when everything was nearly ready for the start adjourned
to his house close by for a cup of coffee. The Señora seemed to regard
me with great commiseration, and recounted various dismal tales of the
dreadful cold winds, hardships, Indians, and other disagreeables to be
encountered; her consolations were cut short by the entrance of J'aria
with the news that all was ready. After a parting glass of something
stronger than water, we got into our saddles, and the cavalcade,
consisting of Gallegos, myself, one regular soldier, three irregulars or
employés of the Government, and J'aria, with twenty-one horses, left the
town. As we passed the cuartel, the guard turned out in the balcony and
presented arms, and the bugler executed a musical salute. It was a fine
frosty morning, and we rode on in high spirits, accompanied by two or
three horsemen, who were going to spend their Sunday festa in duck
shooting, and had made an early start to escort us a little way.
Scarcely had we crossed the stream when one of the baggage horses kicked
his load off; this was soon replaced; but when the bustle was over and
the cavalcade reformed, J'aria and one of the employés, to whom I had
confidingly entrusted a bottle of rum, were missing, and they did not
turn up again for some time, and the bottle never again. We rode along
the coast until we reached the outpost called Tres Puentes, where a
narrow pass, between the forest on one hand and the sea on the other,
is barred by a gate house tenanted by two men, posted there to prevent
desertion; they turned out, and we lingered for a farewell chat, during
which one of the sportsmen stalked and shot some ducks; at the report of
his gun the regular soldier's horse, not being used to stand fire, shied
and threw him, capsizing his saddle-bags, and strewing the beach with
tortillas (cakes) and coffee, with which his no doubt provident and
thoughtful 'she' had stored them. Gallegos sat in his saddle and laughed
at the scene; but as the others could not catch the horse, he gave us a
proof of his dexterity with the lazo. After this little diversion we
pursued our course along the beach as far as Cape Negro, where the
forests terminated, and our accompanying friends bade us adieu after
taking a parting glass all round; J'aria and the other absentee
overtaking us in time for this part of the performance.

Our horses' heads were then turned from the coast in a north north-west
direction, and after half-an-hour's ride a halt was called for breakfast
under the lee of a sheltering hill. To the southward we viewed the
counter slope of the wooded hills, below which on the other side lay
Punta Arenas. A thick growth of shrubs covered the ground, but beautiful
glades of luxuriant pasture were visible; one of which opened just to
the south of our camping place, and others appeared east and west like
oases of green. Their appearance caused me to remark that as a settler I
should choose this location for my hut. Gallegos, however, replied that
the pastures could not be used for the cattle of the settlement during
the summer, as neither the Indians nor their own men could be trusted;
the latter would desert, and the former would steal the beasts. After
a pipe we remounted, and having crossed the hill we descended to the
valley of a small but deep stream, called the Rio Chaunco, having forded
which we ascended the opposite border slope, and entered on the Pampa,
which name is universally used in Patagonia to designate the high
undulating plains or plateaux, frequently intersected by valleys and
ravines, or rising into successive or isolated hills, which generally
occupy the crest of the country. The Indians, indeed, who know a little
Castilian, apply the word Pampa indiscriminately to any tract of country
hunted over by them. After a successful day's sport, and the contentment
consequent on a hearty meal, they will ask with great satisfaction, 'Muy
buena Pampa? No?' really meaning 'Is not the wild life the best?' But
English readers, who have derived their idea of a Pampa from Head's
delightful work, or from other experiences of the unlimited grassy
or thistle covered plains which roll away for miles in the Argentine
States, and offer no obstruction to the stretching gallop of the
untiring gaucho, must not transfer that pleasing picture to Patagonia.
The Pampas, properly so called, of Patagonia, occasionally indeed
present a tolerably even and uniform succession of rolling plains
covered with coarse grass, but more frequently the surface, even when
unbroken by hills and suddenly yawning ravines, is sterile, with a
sparse vegetation, consisting of stunted bushes and round thistle
clumps; and even these are often wanting, and nothing clothes the bare
patches of clay or gravel; elsewhere it is strewn with huge round
boulders, and again rugged with confused heaps or ridges of bare
sharp-edged rocks, many of them of volcanic origin: this more
particularly applying to the northern part of the country. The only
uniformity of appearance is afforded in the winter, when the white sheet
of snow covers rocks, grass, and shingle; but one accompaniment is the
same, whatever be the nature of the soil or surface; and the word Pampa
invariably recalls to one's shuddering memory the cutting blasts which
sweep almost without intermission from various points, but chiefly from
the west, over the high country, till, reaching the heated atmosphere of
Buenos Ayres, the cold Patagonian wind becomes the Pampero, the sudden
and terrific blasts of which cause so many disasters among the shipping.
The descent from these Pampas to the valleys, or more sheltered and
fertile level ground bordering the banks of the streams and rivers, is
commonly termed 'Barranca,' or bank, from the scarped slopes, varying in
depth from fifty to two or three feet, and in angle from an easy to an
almost perpendicular descent, but often fissured by ravines or gullies,
affording roads, down all of which, however, the native riders gallop
with equal recklessness.

The Pampa we were now traversing presented an expanse of undulating
or rolling plains covered with a uniform growth of coarse grass
interspersed with barberry bushes, and occasional lagoons in the
hollows. No living creatures except ourselves appeared on the waste.
To the westward the snow-clad peaks of the mountains bordering the
Sarmiento Straits greeted us with an icy blast which made my thoughts
longingly revert to the cosy cabin and my late shipmates, who were, no
doubt, threading the intricacies of its channels. But the good guanaco
mantle kept out the wind, and our motley party pushed briskly on in
good order. Lieutenant Gallegos has been already introduced: as to
the others, J'aria was a small man, of rough exterior, of doubtful
extraction, and more than doubtful antecedents, who looked fit for
any business except good; but he served me most assiduously, and with
unlooked-for care. The soldier was a fine-looking fellow, new to the
Pampas, whose carbine, which he duly carried, proved a source of great
embarrassment to him; and his horse being by no means too manageable, he
was considerably bothered, much to the delight of the rest. Two others
were hybrids, between gauchos and sailors, having, like our marines,
been equally accustomed to service _per mare, per terram_; but, like the
jollies, they were unmistakeably useful and good men. The last of the
party was of the J'aria type. All were well mounted, and provided with a
spare horse. We carried for provisions biscuit, charqui or dried meat,
roasted wheat meal, and coffee and sugar, and were furnished with an
unusual but welcome luxury, a small tent, underneath which we cared
little for the bitter frost outside.

After riding over the Pampas for three or four hours we encamped for the
night in a hollow by the side of a lagoon, having selected a suitable
spot for pitching the tent on the sheltered slope, well out of the sweep
of the wind. The lagoon was covered with black-necked swans and other
wild fowl; so, as soon as the horses had been unloaded and looked after,
a fire lit, and all arrangements made for camping, two or three of us
went out to try and shoot some wild fowl; but our sporting endeavours
were not crowned with much success, and a little before dark we
returned to a supper of charqui, and after a talk over the fire, turned
in, and slept sound and warm, though outside the frost was severe. My
mind was much disquieted, first by the discovery that the box of rifle
ammunition which J'aria carried had been dropped by that worthy at the
scene of the baggage horse escapade, and secondly, by the mysterious
absence from my shot-belt of all my coin, consisting of an onza and a
few sovereigns. I said nothing, however, until next morning, when I
proceeded quietly to search, remembering that I had taken off my
accoutrements before the tent was pitched, and dropped in the grass I
found the missing coins. The story afforded J'aria a great theme for
jokes, and he often adverted to the chance of inheriting my ounce, in
a way that might have made a timid traveller expect foul play, though
nothing was farther from my guide's thoughts. At seven o'clock, after
coffee and a biscuit, we were again _en route_, and about ten arrived
close to the head of Peckett's Harbour. Here one of the party discovered
a horse, which was chased into our troop, but as it appeared lame was
not pressed into our service; it had probably belonged to the Indians.
As in a long voyage, so in a journey of this description, the slightest
novelty serves to relieve what it is needless to say becomes the
slightly monotonous task of trotting along behind the troop of horses
over barren wastes, so we were always on the _qui vive_ for something
to chase. One of the men had a dog with him, and shortly after the
excitement about the horse we started some ostriches, which, however,
proved too swift for the cur, and escaped over some muddy plots close to
the 'Cabecera del Mar.' This is a large inlet or arm of the sea, running
up some miles from Peckett's Harbour, with which it communicates by a
very narrow channel, which can only be crossed at low water; it was our
good fortune to arrive at this period, thus escaping a long _détour_
round the inlet. But our crossing was not effected without trouble; the
flood-tide rushing up like a mill-race, and proving almost too much for
the steadiness of one of the baggage-horses. After clearing the channel,
in our farther progress we passed several small streams with swampy
ground, all of which probably discharge themselves into Oazy Harbour,
and arrived towards evening at an old Indian encampment situated under
a range of hills, running more or less north and south, forming one
barrier of a broad and well-watered valley, bounded on the eastern side
by the well-known 'Barrancas' of San Gregorio.

Our station was just within the opening of the valley, which, being
sheltered from the wind, is the favourite winter quarters of the
Southern Tehuelches, whose encampment is usually pitched near Oazy
Harbour, called by them 'Ozay Saba.'

Westward the low flats which bordered the shores of the Cabecera del
Mar terminated in irregular hills, beyond which higher peaks rose, and
they in their turn were overlooked by distant snow-clad summits on the
horizon. Among the blue hills of the middle distance floated wreaths of
light haze so much resembling smoke that Gallegos, ever on the alert
for signs of the deserters, proposed to deviate from our route to
investigate, and only my strongly pronounced opinion in favour of haze
_versus_ smoke induced him to give up the idea. The Argentine Government
formerly planned a settlement in this valley, which was not carried out,
and the missionaries also proposed to fix a station hereabouts, with
Oazy Harbour as a depôt, but the Chilians of Punta Arena set up their
claims and compelled the missionaries to desist.

After camp was arranged, the weather, which since our start had been
bright with cold winds and moderate frosts at night, changed to rain,
and Gallegos proposed to me that, in the event of its continuing bad,
we should remain under the shelter of the tent. However, though the
night was rough and rainy, morning broke fair and the sun rose bright
and warm, so we started, following a path along the base of the
before-mentioned range of hills until about ten o'clock, when, just
after passing a beautiful little stream where I noticed fish darting
about in the pools, a herd of guanaco, hitherto concealed by a small
eminence, came into view. Chase was immediately given, but most of our
horses were soon blown, and Gallegos, the soldier, and myself having
ascended the hills over which the herd had taken flight, as it appeared
useless to continue the chase, stopped on the crest and watched the
animals as they streamed up an opposite hill. One of the party was
missing, and suddenly an exclamation from the Lieutenant 'What is it?'
caused us to turn our eyes in the direction to which he pointed, where
some fancied they descried a man. The idea of deserters immediately
occurred to their minds, so they started off, asking me to tell J'aria
(who had remained with the horses) to travel on to a given spot at the
head of the valley. Having descended the hill, which was tunnelled with
burrows of the Ctenomys Magellanicus,[1] the crowns of which, yielding
to the horses' tread, proved a series of dangerous traps, I rejoined
J'aria and we pursued our way for a few miles until we reached a small
lagoon at the head of the valley, covered with thousands of widgeon and
duck. The sight suggested the thought that no man need starve in this
country, so abundant seemed the supplies of animal life. Here we waited,
and in the course of half-an-hour the remainder came up with their
horses blown, one of the party having a piece of guanaco meat hanging
to his saddle. This was José Marinero, one of the hybrids, who had
succeeded in lazoing a guanaco, at which he appeared intensely
delighted. The 'man,' as I had previously supposed, proved imaginary. I
regretted not being up at the death, as it turned out that José had
been close to us, but hidden from sight by a rise. After a pleasant and
refreshing rest and a draught of café Quillota (parched corn meal and
water), we resumed our route north. After leaving the lagoon, a scarcely
perceptible slope ascended from the valley, and a more undulating course
was traversed until we reached a small cañon, which, after a gradual
descent, dipped down between walls a hundred feet high, sloping up at
either hand, and finishing in a rounded summit leading to the high
plain. 'Here,' said J'aria, 'there is no firing, and those _stupid_
Indian women actually carry loads of it from the next stage.' But the
event proved that the Indians were wiser than ourselves. Following this
we arrived at another cañon running at right angles, east and west, on
one of the grass-covered sides of which we observed a couple of horses
feeding in a hollow which looked more verdant than the rest of the
ground, but the animals being caught and examined proved unsound and
useless. In the bottom of the cañon there flowed a small but deep stream
spreading into lagoons in places. We crossed this and encamped on the
northern side, and found J'aria's words, as to no fuel to be found about
this valley, verified, much to our discomfort. Towards evening we went
out and shot some ducks, but having no fire to cook with, were content
to turn in on meal and water. During the night the tent pole, having
been first soaked with rain and then frozen, snapped in two, and down
came the spread of wet canvas; and altogether we did not spend a very
pleasant time.

  [1] Cunningham, p. 133.

Misfortunes never come single; at daylight no horses were to be seen,
and we had to wait until near ten o'clock before they turned up. During
this interval we burnt the tent pegs and some chips from the tent pole,
and raised sufficient fire to make coffee. J'aria informed me that this
cañon extends from the Cordillera to the sea, but runs in a tortuous
manner, and we afterwards again struck either the main line or some
cañon leading from it. Having scaled the precipitous banks, we headed
towards a range of peaked hills, curiously resembling one another, and
after passing down one or two more cañons, where we refreshed ourselves
with the berries of a barberry (Berberis axifolia), called by the
Chilians califate, and also saw plenty of the red and white tea-berries,
so common in the Falklands, we entered a wide plain or valley, at the
farther end of which rose a peculiar pointed hill, one of a range that
stretched away east and west, pierced by a pass. In the midst of it a
huge square flat rock shone white in the sunlight, forming a striking
object: it looked like a megalith, deposited by giants to cover the
grave of some deceased hero. Others of less dimensions lay strewn here
and there, giving somewhat of a graveyard aspect to the scene. As we
advanced the ground was encumbered with rocks and scoriæ, lying in heaps
in all directions, making it very difficult travelling for the horses,
and on arriving at the hills themselves their appearance was decidedly
volcanic. The whole immediate vicinity of this range of hills presented
a peculiarly wild, blasted, and weird appearance; nevertheless ostriches
and guanaco were observable in great quantities. My first thought on
passing one hill, where, among the other fantastic forms into which
the rocks had been tossed, was a natural corral, or circle of huge
fragments, built with apparent regularity, but of superhuman dimensions,
was, 'What a hell this must have been when the volcanoes were in an
active state, belching out the streams of lava and showers of rock, and
that perhaps at no distant period!' While at Santa Cruz, Casimiro told
me of an active volcano situated at a distance and in a direction which
would fix it as belonging to this range. Formerly its neighbourhood had
been frequented by the Indians, as the guanaco resorted thither in great
numbers during the winter; but the Indians' horses had most of them been
poisoned by drinking the water of a stream close to the range, and soon
after all the toldos were shaken down by an earthquake or the vibration
of an explosion, and since then they had not ventured to go near the
place. Casimiro and Gonzalez had, however, subsequently ascended the
volcano, and had killed numbers of guanaco in the neighbourhood. It was
also mentioned that when they were encamped on the Cuheyli, or Coy Inlet
River, tremendous volumes of thick black smoke, rolling from the west,
enveloped the Indians and terrified them exceedingly. No signs were
afterwards found of burned pasture, and it was conjectured that the
Canoe Indians of the Chonos Archipelago had fired the western forests,
but it was much more likely to have been due to volcanic eruption. While
trotting along the defile through these hills formed by a chasm, with
perpendicular walls of rock rising on each hand, as evenly scarped as
the sides of a railway cutting, I observed several caves, which J'aria
had a tradition the Indians formerly used as dwelling places. This pass
led into another valley still more rugged and strewn with sharp angular
fragments of rock, amongst which stunted shrubs began to appear; and
lagoons, some of which were encrusted round the edges with saltpetre,
and contained brackish water, might be seen at intervals. Towards
evening we encamped by the side of a small lagoon of circular form,
with wall-like cliffs rising some 200 feet from its banks, and nearly
surrounding it. I took a stroll, rifle in hand, whilst the men were
getting firewood; and plenty of guanaco were visible, but I only
succeeded in wounding one, which escaped on three legs. Traces of a
puma, in the shape of carrion, were also there, but Leon himself was
hidden. So I returned empty-handed to the fire, where I found a cheerful
supper of wild duck and guanaco meat just ready. The moon was beautiful,
and the air just frosty enough to be bracing and exhilarating, so some
of us staid smoking and spinning yarns until the small hours. The
stories were chiefly of adventures on the Pampas. José narrated how,
when in pursuit of a party of runaways in the depth of winter, when the
snow lay thick on the ground, he and his comrade rode into a valley
where countless guanaco had taken refuge from the storm in the upper
heights, and stood huddled together, too benumbed by the cold to attempt
to escape, and were slaughtered like oxen in the shambles. In another
hunt the party overtook the deserters, housed in the toldo of an Indian,
and a fight ensued, ending in the death of one of the pursuers; the
deserter who shot him was pistolled, and J'aria and José carried the
dead body of their comrade on horseback to the settlement, sixty
miles distant, proceeding without a halt all through the night, and
accomplishing their ghastly journey by the next morning. J'aria related
how he had been drifted in a launch among the ice in the Straits, and
carried over to Tierra del Fuego, where they found rocks so magnetic
that iron nails adhered to them. He further amused us by a short
dissertation on his domestic arrangements; how, when his last wife
died, he married a Chilote to be mother for his children and wife for
him, and he always called her in conversation the 'Madre Muger'--wife
mother.

Next morning we started early, and varying our march with one or two
races after foxes, which generally met their death in a very short time,
and an engagement with a female puma, which one of the men despatched by
a splendid revolver shot through the head, traversed some uneven Pampas,
with occasional hills, and arrived at the descent of the valley of the
Rio Gallegos, where the very remarkable bench formation, afterwards
observed on a smaller or larger scale in other Patagonian rivers, first
arrested my attention. To the west, some miles away, a high hill,
apparently of basalt, the square summit of which with seemingly regular
walls and towers mimicked the distant view of an extensive fortress,
served as a landmark for the break in the barranca, which formed a
natural road, by which we reached the first or upper bench, a mile and a
half in width; from this a drop or scarped slope of 50 feet and upwards
descended to another terrace or plain of equal extent, and terminating
in another fall, at the bottom of which lay the bed of the river; it is
fordable in the summer months, I believe, in many places, but when we
crossed the water about reached where one's saddle flaps would be if
riding on an English saddle. After crossing the ford a halt took place
to smoke a pipe, whilst doing which we watched the gyrations of a huge
vulture of the condor species; he hovered for some time, and at length
boldly settled on a point of rock about a hundred yards distant; so the
soldier, whose carbine was always ready, took a shot, but missed, much
to the grief of Gallegos, who asserted that the heart of the vulture is
a good remedy for certain diseases. We then mounted, and riding about a
mile halted for the night by a spring gushing out of a ravine in the
slope between the upper and lower benches, where the pasture was good,
as J'aria declared that water was scarce for some leagues farther on.
The bivouac arranged, José and myself proceeded to try and shoot a
guanaco, but the plain was too open, so, after lighting up a bed of dry
grass to attract any neighbouring Indians, we very foolishly indulged in
a bathe in the river. The water was intensely cold, and the ill effects
of this ill-timed indulgence were felt for a long time after. The
soldier meanwhile was away on horseback chasing a large herd, but he
returned about dusk empty handed. Next morning we started about 9
o'clock, having been, as usual, delayed by the horses having strayed
some distance. Ascending the slope we crossed the higher bench, a
barren, dreary waste, for about a league, until we came to a lagoon
covered with upland geese, and lying just below what may be termed the
barranca of the Upper Pampa. Halting here for a smoke and warm to dispel
the effects of the intensely cold wind, we were about resuming our route
to ascend the steep slope of the upper plains, when large columns of
smoke, in answer to the signal fire we had left behind us, rose up to
the sky in a N.E. direction. We moved on, and arriving at the summit of
the ascent, looked eagerly round for signs of the fire, but nothing
was visible. The plains lay before us apparently destitute of life,
excepting a stray guanaco here and there. J'aria then set light to a
neighbouring bush, which gave out dense clouds of black smoke, and in a
few minutes this was answered in the same direction as that previously
observed. A horseman was at length espied galloping towards us, who
proved to be an Indian named Sam, son of the chief Casimiro, who has
been mentioned in the missionary reports. After conversing for a short
time with J'aria and Gallegos, he turned to me and said, in English,
'How do you do? I speak little Anglishe,' which he had learned during
a visit to the Falklands, where also he had acquired his sobriquet of
Sam Slick. He then galloped away at full speed, and brought up his
companions, who had been concealed from view in a neighbouring hollow;
the party consisted of two men and a boy, and two women, all mounted,
and apparently having just finished hunting, as they had plenty of fresh
guanaco meat with them. We halted by a bush, and in a few minutes had a
fire kindled, and the pipe being handed round, I had an opportunity of
observing them closely. The men were fine muscular specimens. One, whom
they called Henrique, was a Fuegian, formerly, I believe, a captive, but
now doctor, or wizard. He travelled with this party separate from the
remainder of the tribe on account of some suspicion of his having caused
the death of a chief. One of the men, taller than the others, was a
Tehuelche. The boy was bright looking and intelligent, and it afterwards
appeared that Don Luiz Buena had kept him for some time, vainly
endeavouring to teach him Spanish. They were very cordial, and
especially forced on me more meat than I could carry; but there was
a certain constraint visible in their manners, probably owing to their
being conscious of some dealings with the deserters, whom J'aria
counselled them to despatch whenever they might meet with them. The
women carried bottles of water, which they readily gave us, to our
great refreshment and relief, for we were all parched with thirst.

Gallegos asked Sam whether he was willing to guide us to Santa Cruz,
J'aria not being over certain of the route. The tracks made by the
guanacos are easily mistaken by almost anyone but an Indian for the
trail of 'chinas,' or caravans of women and laden horses; and this,
combined with the want of landmarks on the Pampas and the confusing
succession of hills closely resembling each other, renders it only
too easy to lose the right direction. As examples of this, out of ten
deserters of whom the party was in search, six were never more heard of.
Our guide J'aria himself, when travelling from Santa Cruz to the colony,
lost his way, and would inevitably have starved had he not fortunately
been fallen in with by a party of Indians. Sam having agreed to come
with our party, we bid adieu to the Indians, who, in return for their
presents of meat, were gratified with a little tobacco, and rode off.
Suddenly a fox started up from a neighbouring bush. The soldier giving
chase, Sam shouted, 'Stop, I'll show you:' at the same time putting
spurs to his horse, and cutting Reynard off, he put his hand to his
waist-belt, drew out his bolas, gave them two turns round his head,
and in another minute the fox was lying dead, with his ribs crushed
completely in where the metal hall had struck him. Under the directions
of our new guide, who rode ahead with me, we traversed a succession of
high barren plains, sinking into frequent irregular hollows, without
streams, but usually containing lagoons of salt or brackish water,
until, about 4 P.M., we descended into the valley of Rio Cuheyli, or
the river, which debouches at Coy Inlet. The bench formation, though
noticeable, is not here so decidedly marked. For some time we pursued
the trail in an orderly march; but an ostrich springing nearly under our
horses' feet, and escaping over some marshy swamp, where horses could
not follow, roused Sam's hunting propensities, and he proposed to
myself, the soldier, and José to leave the path--which he said, with
emphatic disdain, was good for women, not for men--and ride up the
barranca to see him ball an ostrich; so having regained the Pampa, we
formed into line, about two hundred yards apart, to drive a certain area
of ground down to a point where there was a gentle slope to the valley,
so as to meet the advancing cavalcade of the rest of our party. We saw
nothing except one ostrich vanishing at great speed towards the valley
at another point, and a pair of doves, which I remarked with interest;
so we returned to the track, and as night was closing in, pushed on,
wishing to cross the ford of the river and encamp on the other side. At
seven o'clock, having reached a nice spring flowing from the barranca,
where there was firewood in profusion, Gallegos ordered a halt, although
Sam wished to proceed, observing that the moon was so bright it was 'all
the same as day.' We accordingly encamped for the night, after making
a good supper off guanaco meat, which was a pleasant change after our
previous charqui. The valley of the Cuheyli slightly indicates the bench
formation, though it does not present so distinctly marked terraces as
those which border the Gallegos River; but the lowest or river plain,
which is nearly two leagues wide in the neighbourhood of the ford, is of
a more fertile character, the pasture being luxuriant and good. One or
two of the springs--notably the one the water of which, contrary to our
guide's advice and example, we drank--had a strong taste of iron, which
caused all the party to suffer from internal derangement; and Sam stated
that near our encampment there was a deposit of the black earth with
which the Indians paint their bodies. Starting early, after a night of
severe frost, we soon struck the ford. Our guide had vanished; but while
rearranging the packs, we saw a volume of black smoke rising to the
east, caused by Sam, who, having thus signalled his countrymen, rejoined
us on the march across the slightly ascending plain. We then observed
numerous Indians galloping in our direction, and crossing the stream at
various parts, as J'aria remarked, quite regardless of fords. We halted,
and were soon surrounded by about forty or more, most of them riding
useful-looking horses barebacked. As they appeared very friendly,
Gallegos gave them some biscuit and charqui; their chiefs--the head
cacique being a nephew of Casimiro--forming them into a semi-circle, in
tolerably good order, to receive the present. There were undoubtedly
some very tall men amongst them, but what struck me particularly was
their splendid development of chest and arms. Although the wind was very
sharp, many of them had their mantles thrown back in a careless way,
leaving their naked chests exposed to the air, and appeared not the
least incommoded. They readily recognised me for an Englishman, coming
and examining me closely, and asking for tobacco with a broad grin on
their faces, exposing a wonderfully clean and regular set of teeth. My
gratifying their importunate requests for tobacco made Sam very jealous,
and for some time he bothered me with remarks such as 'Me very cold,
no got poncho,' 'Me no got knife, me no got "pellon"' (saddle-cloth),
until, finding it useless to beg, he relapsed into sullen silence. A
smoke of the pipe, however, brought him back to his usual cheerful
temper, and as we galloped along he chanted an Indian song, which
consisted of the words 'Ah ge lay loo, Ah ge lay loo,' expressed in
various keys.

After a ride of some leagues in a rather more open but still undulating
country, a break in the Pampas was reached. Hills of irregular and
picturesque outlines, with labyrinthine valleys or ravines, not running
in parallel order, but communicating with each other, occupied an
extensive district, and though travelling was considerably more
difficult, yet the change in the aspect of nature was grateful after
the barren monotony of the plains.

We halted in an Indian encampment, situated in a valley underneath a
peaked hill called 'Otiti,' where there were pools of fresh and salt
water in close proximity. Amongst the incense and thorn bushes, which
grow at intervals in these regions, we passed to-day another description
of shrub with a thick rough bark, which is readily detached and leaves
a long rattail-like sort of twig. From the Rio Gallegos the soil had
become generally of a yellower colour than on the south side of that
river, although in the valleys and hollows dark peaty earth was
generally to be found, and the surface of the Pampas had assumed a more
desolate appearance, being strewn with small pebbles, and studded with
bushes--generally of a thorny species. Round clumps of prickly thistles,
which burn like tinder on applying a lighted match--and a few stray
tufts of withered grass, only made more desolate the hungry barrenness
of the deserts, over which the wind blew with cutting violence, yet they
are the home of large herds of guanaco, ostriches, puma, and armadillo,
though the latter were at this period comfortably hybernating.

Next morning no horses were visible, and as time went on till ten
o'clock without any appearance we all began to suspect Indian treachery.
Sam volunteered the remark that if they (the Indians) had played us
such a trick, he would go and clear all their animals out the following
evening. This threat there was fortunately no occasion for him to put
into execution, as the troop proved only to have strayed into another
valley. As we were now nearing Santa Cruz, which the last of the Indians
were just leaving, having completed their trade and finished all the
grog, we saw numerous columns of smoke, caused by their hunting parties.
After passing the broken ground and reaching the high Pampa, Sam and
myself rode on ahead, amusing ourselves by fruitlessly chasing guanaco
or ostrich, but Sam's dexterity with the bolas was frustrated by his
being mounted on a horse belonging to the expedition and unused to this
work. Towards evening, after again passing numerous salt lagoons, we
came to a descent of 300 or 400 feet leading to a valley containing a
large salina, and halting, made our fire by the side of a spring,
near which, Sam informed me, were the graves of two Indians, which he
mentioned with the deepest respect and in an awe-stricken undertone.

Our signal smoke, which was as much to attract Indians as to give the
direction of our route to Gallegos and J'aria, was soon responded to
from the opposite hills on the northern side of the valley, and shortly
a line of mounted women and children descended the slope in front,
making for our fire, which Sam informed me was their intended camping
place. We advanced to meet them, and Sam conversed in their tongue,
interpreting to me that they had left Santa Cruz two days previously,
and that Don Luiz P. B. had quitted his settlement on the island to sail
in his schooner to Buenos Ayres; while the Northern Indians, encamped to
the north of Santa Cruz, with whom I hoped to proceed to the Rio Negro,
had no intention of marching until the ensuing spring. On leaving those
ladies, amongst whom was a young and rather pretty girl, I lifted my cap
in salute, which called forth a burst of laughter from the whole group
and cries of 'Anglish, Anglish!' amidst which we rode off to join the
remainder of our party, who were crossing the valley to the eastward,
having intentionally deviated from the straight route; and although Sam
used every effort to induce Gallegos to stop at the Indian encampment,
the latter wisely determined to proceed about a league farther, knowing
that a halt here would cause a considerable inroad to be made in the
stock of provisions, which, in view of the return journey, with perhaps
an increased party, it was desirable to avoid. We accordingly left the
sheltered valley and encamped on the plateau in an exposed situation
near a lagoon, the ice of which had to be broken to secure a supply
of water. The frost was keen, and the tent afforded but a partial
protection from the biting wind; so that the economical foresight of
our leader resulted in all the party spending the coldest night hitherto
experienced by us.

During the evening we were visited by several Indians, bringing presents
of ostrich and guanaco meat. I was presented by the soldier with a piece
of the gizzard (the tid bit), which he had cooked on the end of his
ramrod; but I must confess I did not appreciate it at the time, though
later on in my journey I learnt to relish this and other strange
delicacies. Amongst the Indians who gave us the benefit of their company
this evening was 'Pedro el Platero,' mentioned in Mr. Gardener's mission
book; also an old squaw rejoicing in the name of 'La Reina Victoria'
(Queen Victoria), who was the occasion of much chaff, my Chilian friends
declaring I ought to salute the sovereign of the Pampas in due form; but
having obtained a charge and a light for her pipe, all she required, she
was soon lost sight of in the dark. We gladly left the camp early the
ensuing morning, the cold continuing unabated; the wind blew strong
in our faces, and though from the northward, was so keen that Sam and
myself kept galloping on and kindling fires at intervals.

Thus we rode on over a tract of country surpassing in desolation all the
districts hitherto traversed. As far as the eye could reach stretched a
level waste unrelieved by even an eminence or hollow; the aspect of the
low withered shrubs, coarse parched grass, and occasional patches of
pebble-strewn ground which for thirty miles wearied the eye with dreary
sameness, produced an extraordinary feeling of depression, which was
afterwards recalled when journeying through the Travisia, bordering the
Rio Negro, which this district resembles, though on a smaller scale.
Occasional frozen lagoons, doubtless supplied by rainfall, only added to
the desert aspect of this trackless wilderness. The situation was not
improved by Sam pulling up and remarking that he was by no means sure
that he had not lost himself. The only variety was afforded by an
unlucky fox which we chased till he escaped, as he thought, on to the
ice of a lagoon, but the treacherous surface gave way, and poor Reynard,
after a vigorous struggle, sank out of reach of a lazo. At last, about
two o'clock, the desert terminated in a cliff rising from the valley at
our feet, and we looked down upon the winding river of the Santa Cruz.

Having waited till the rest came up, we descended by a gorge to the
valley, when, after refreshing ourselves by a drink of water, we struck
into a trail which followed the river downwards. We were all in high
spirits at the prospect of a speedy and felicitous conclusion to our
journey; and J'aria was continually questioned as to the distance of
the settlement. His answer was invariably 'a league;' and we rode along
vainly expecting every moment to see the place, rounding innumerable
promontories or points where the barranca advanced into the valley.
Each of these projecting cliffs, which stood like outposts of the
Pampas, J'aria declared in succession to be the last, Sam all the while
maintaining a dignified silence, until at length, at 7.30, when we had
almost despaired of ever arriving, we came to the ford opposite the
island of the settlement, and a barking of dogs saluted our ears. After
Sam had hailed, an answer came back, that if we were going across that
night we must look sharp, as the tide was flowing. We accordingly
proceeded to cross at once, narrowly escaping having to swim our horses,
which on a cold frosty night would have been anything but a pleasant
business.

My ideas as to the size and extent of the settlement--and it must be
confessed my visions of a 'cheerer,' and even of wine, to put some
warmth into my chilled frame--were sadly dispelled by the reality; the
thriving, though small, town of my imagination being represented by one
house, and all wine and liquor proving to have been exhausted. But this
was fully made up for by discovering in Mr. Clarke--or, as the Indians
called him, 'Clakalaka'--an old acquaintance, whom I had known some
years previously in the Falklands. His utter surprise at the sudden
appearance of one whom he thought far away may be imagined. But, to my
great delight, he thoroughly approved of the proposed excursion. His
cordial welcome and hot coffee soon cheered up our spirits, and when
warmed and rested we discussed my plans. It appeared that the Indians
had not reported wrong as to Don Luiz Buena's movements and the
intentions of the Northern party; but Mr. Clarke believed that the
schooner was still detained in the river mouth waiting for a fair wind,
and undertook to send off a messenger to communicate with him: my object
being to obtain permission to reside in the settlement until the return
of the schooner, so as to equip myself with stores as presents for the
Tehuelches. After an agreeable 'confab,' I turned in on a shakedown on
the floor, well satisfied with having accomplished the first stage,
and deriving a good omen for the remainder of the journey from this
successful trip to Santa Cruz.



CHAPTER II.

SANTA CRUZ.

  Introduction to Chiefs. -- Orkeke. -- Chilian Deserters. -- The
    Settlement. -- Island of Pabon. -- Natural Advantages. -- The
    Mission Station. -- Mr. Clarke. -- Our Circle at Pabon. --
    Expedition to Lake Viedma. -- Winter Occupations. -- Work and
    Play. -- Casimiro's Adventures. -- His Character. -- A Winter
    Hunting Excursion. -- A Pampa Snow-storm. -- The Santa Cruz
    Valley. -- Up the River. -- The Northern Hills. -- Pumas. --
    Devil's Eyes. -- Hunting on Foot. -- Intense Cold. -- Return of
    the Deserters. -- Visit to the Indian Camp. -- First Night in a
    Toldo. -- Towing a Horse. -- Adieu to Santa Cruz.


Our first business next day was to despatch a messenger to board the
schooner, if she should prove to be still in the mouth of the river. My
Chilian friends had found some of the deserters, who had been taken into
employment, and subsequently detained as close prisoners by the Mayor
Domo, at the instance of a serjeant sent round from Punta Arena in the
schooner, to solicit Don Luiz's assistance in their capture. About noon
Casimiro, soi-disant chief of the Tehuelches, and father of Sam Slick,
rode in from a hunting excursion, mounted on a tall, shapely horse, and
carrying a guanaco on his saddle. I was formally introduced, and my
plans and purpose fully explained to him; and soon after Orkeke, the
cacique of the party of Northern Tehuelches, encamped on the Rio Chico,
arrived. His consent was necessary to enable me to accompany them in
their journey, and by means of Casimiro as an interpreter, as the chief
spoke but little Spanish, my request was preferred. He confirmed the
statement of Mr. Clarke, that his people intended to winter in their
present encampment, and then proceed northwards; but did not seem at all
disposed to welcome the addition of an Englishman to his party, urging
the difficult nature of the road, length of time, chances of fights,
&c., &c. However, I hoped that during the enforced delay opportunities
would arise of improving our acquaintance, and obtaining his consent. I
was much struck with the grave and dignified bearing of the old chief.
Standing fully six feet, and with a well-proportioned muscular frame,
no one would have guessed him to have passed his 60th year; and whether
vaulting on a bare-backed steed, or leading the chase, he displayed an
agility and endurance equal to that of any of the younger men: his thick
black hair was slightly streaked with grey; and the bright intelligent
eyes, aquiline nose, and thin firm lips were very unlike the popular
idea of Patagonian features; a retreating forehead rather marred the
expression of his face, which was, however, grave and thoughtful, and
at times strikingly intellectual. Months passed in his company gave me
afterwards ample opportunity of studying his powers of reflection, which
were great, and often found expression in pithy and amusing sayings.
Although particularly neat in his dress, and cleanly in his habits, he
was troubled, like all the Indians, with vermin; and one night he roused
me up to have a smoke, and after sitting for some time, apparently lost
in deep thought, he remarked, 'Musters, lice never sleep!' He would
sometimes, but rarely, indulge in intoxication, but never quarrelled,
and it was an understood thing that either he or his brother Tankelow
should on occasions of a general drinking bout remain sober to protect
their families. He was himself childless, and had adopted a little
terrier named Ako, which enjoyed the place and honours of an only child;
but he displayed great affection towards his nephews and nieces, some
one or other of whom might often be seen in his arms on a march, or
after the return from the chase. During our first acquaintance I was
most pleased when, as often happened, he joined our little circle, and
in the company of his old friend, Mr. Clarke, unbent from his gravity
and laughed and talked in a way that seemed quite foreign to the usually
serious chief. It must be confessed that he was jealous and suspicious,
and a little stingy, preferring to increase rather than lessen his
large stock of horses, gear, and arms; but from the time I became his
guest his conduct to myself was irreproachable.

In the evening the messenger returned; he had of course completely
mistaken his instructions, and informed Don Luiz that the Englishman
desired to proceed in the schooner to Buenos Ayres, and accordingly a
boat arrived with the morning flood-tide to take me off. Mr. Clarke good
naturedly undertook to go himself and explain matters; and returned with
a kind message, offering me quarters and every hospitality if I chose
to remain in the settlement for the next two months, at the end of
which period the schooner might be expected to return. Lieut. Gallegos
strongly urged me to accompany him back to Punta Arena, painting in
strong colours the tedium and discomfort of a winter at Santa Cruz. But
it was plain that the opportunity of cultivating the acquaintance and
securing the confidence of Orkeke would thus be thrown away, and with it
the prospect of traversing the country. Gallegos believed that this plan
was fraught with danger, and indeed almost certain destruction; but as
I was immovable, we took an affectionate farewell of each other. He
and all his party had treated me, an utter stranger, with the greatest
kindness, and I bade adieu to them as true comrades. They departed on
their return journey, taking with them the four prisoners, who, however,
are destined to appear again in these pages. These men had undergone
much hardship to obtain the liberty of which they seemed again deprived;
three of them had managed to secure a horse, and walking and riding in
turns had found their way to the Indians. Two of them, Olate and Rosa,
the latter, though a mere boy, with a thoroughly evil and murderous
countenance, were incurably bad; but Meña, a youth of nineteen,
attracted one's sympathy by his handsome frank face and cleanly smart
appearance; the fourth, Arica, had made his way on foot from Punta Arena
to Santa Cruz, without any knowledge of the country, and only guided by
a vague notion of the existence of the settlement to the north. He had
for twenty-seven days followed the line of the sea-coast, subsisting on
shell fish and sea-birds' eggs; the toil and hardships thus undergone
must have been indescribable, and his eventual safe arrival was a
miracle of patient endurance. He brought in news of the loss of a tender
to the schooner, a decked launch, in which Captain Warren and three men
had sailed from Staten Land and been no more heard of; of their fate
there was now little doubt, as he had found her dingy cast up on the
beach, and a piece of the mainsail out of which he had supplied himself
with clothes.

The promising _élève_ of the mission, Sam Slick, also accompanied
the party. Before his departure he offered to give a specimen of his
education by singing a hymn, with a broad hint that grog was a fitting
accompaniment; but as none was forthcoming, we lost the chance of being
edified by his performance.

We watched the cavalcade till it disappeared in the distance on the
upper plains, and then returned to the station, where I settled
myself to pass the ensuing three months of the Patagonian winter. The
settlement or trading station of Santa Cruz consists of only three
houses, built on an island called 'Pabon,' marked as Middle Island, in
Islet Reach, in Fitzroy's chart. It is owned by Don Luiz P. Buena, who
holds by virtue of a grant from the Argentine Government, which has also
conferred on him the commission of captain in the navy, with power
to prevent all foreign sealers from trespassing on the valuable seal
fisheries on the coast. The island is about a mile and a half long, and
has an average breadth of some 350 yards. Access is obtained from the
south shore by a ford, about fifty yards across, only passable at low
water. The northern channel is wider and deeper, and the swiftness of
the current renders it impassable save by a boat, which is moored ready
to ferry over Indians desirous of trading, and is also useful for
bringing wood for fuel, which is not obtainable on the island. About a
hundred yards from the ford stands the principal house, substantially
built of bricks, with tiled roof, containing three rooms, and a sort of
porch to shelter a nine-pounder, commanding the entrance. It is further
defended by a stockade, over which floats the Argentine flag, and
beyond it a fosse, which is filled with water by the spring tides. The
object of these fortifications is to afford protection in case of the
Indians proving troublesome when under the influence of rum. Though
Mr. Clarke narrated some queer scenes he had witnessed, his excellent
management had hitherto obviated any danger, and the fairness of his
dealings with them had secured their friendship, a regular tariff with
equitable prices having been fixed, and scrupulously adhered to, by
which their barter of ostrich feathers and peltries was regulated; and
although they are keen bargainers, often spending two or three hours in
debating the price to be given, they appreciated the fairness with which
they were treated. A second house was situated about fifty yards off,
and being generally used as a store, bore the name of the Almacen: at
this time being empty, one room served as a sleeping-place for some
of the men, and the other had been given up for the accommodation of
Casimiro and his family. A third house, which stood at the eastern end
of the island, was unoccupied. Near it a small plot had been tilled, and
potatoes, turnips, and other vegetables had been successfully raised.
At the time of my visit no corn had been tried, but a subsequent
experimental sowing of one and a half fanegas[2] gave a field, though
little pains were bestowed on the crop, of twenty fanegas. As the lower
part of the island is liable to be overflowed at high springs, a ditch
had been cut across to drain off the water, and there was consequently
no lack of irrigation. The ground was covered with stunted bushes, and
the small spike-thorn round thistle, and coarse grass. The few sheep
appeared to thrive well, but decreased very sensibly in number during
the winter, as on days when game was scarce one fell a victim to the
ravenous appetite engendered by the keen air of Patagonia. A numerous
troop of horses grazed on the mainland, in a tract below the Southern
Barranca, called the 'Potrero,' where the grass, though coarse, grew in
rank luxuriance. When wanted for hunting, the entire stud was brought
across the river in the morning and driven into the corral; but
ordinarily one alone was kept on the island ready for emergencies.

  [2] A fanega contains 100 lbs.

[Illustration: STATION ON PABON ISLAND, RIO SANTA CRUZ.]

It should be mentioned that a small stock of cattle, and also some pigs,
had been imported; these, however, being necessarily left to graze on
the mainland, had wandered, and become wild; the cattle probably falling
victims to the Indian hunters; but the pigs will no doubt multiply,
and become the founders of a race of hogs, destined hereafter to
add pig-sticking to the amusements of the future settlers or of the
wandering Tehuelches.

Above the island of Pabon there are several smaller islets, but as they
are liable to be overflowed by the highest tides, they cannot, without
artificial drainage, be made available for tillage. From one which had
been occupied and tilled with root-crops, we obtained a quantity of
well-grown turnips. It was a singular mistake of the Spaniards to form a
settlement at Port St. Julian and overlook the far superior advantages
presented by Santa Cruz. The plains and islands of the latter present
good grazing grounds and tillage lands, as well as a site for a town
secure from sudden Indian surprises; and as regards fitness for a
shipping station, there is no comparison between the two localities,
as ships can be beached at Santa Cruz in a sheltered place with the
flood-tide; while the timber, in search of which Viedma made his
expedition, was to be had in abundance by ascending the river. At the
present time the knowledge of the navigation of the Straits would make
it much easier and cheaper to import timber from Punta Arena than to
send lumberers into the Cordillera and raft the timber down to Santa
Cruz.

Near the potrero, on the southern shore, there is a natural salt lake or
salina, which must have been overlooked by the Beagle expedition, as Mr.
Darwin fixes the southern limits of salinas at Port St. Julian. In the
summer, and until the winter rains and snow set in, an inexhaustible
supply of excellent salt can be obtained. It is at present worked only
to furnish, besides the salt for home use, what is required for the
annual sealing fishery; but if labour were more abundant, the salt
would be found to be a valuable article of export to the Falkland
Islands; the salina being situated less than half a mile from the beach,
where there is good anchorage.

The river also yields abundant supplies of fish--a species of bass and
others--which when cured keep well: some which had been cured over
a year proved excellent. These might be profitably exported to Rio
Janeiro, &c., where cured fish are always in demand.

Notwithstanding these natural advantages, Santa Cruz could hardly at
this period be considered a settlement. Subsequently to my visit, two
Frenchmen from Buenos Ayres proposed to try sheep farming in the valley,
but with what result I have not heard. As already mentioned, the station
existed as a depôt for sealing, and as a trading post, to which the
Tehuelches resorted to exchange their ostrich feathers, and puma,
guanaco, and ostrich skins, for tobacco, sugar, ammunition, and above
all, rum. There was little or no trade going on during the absence of
the schooner, as all the stores had been exhausted; but after the summer
campaign some of the Tehuelches invariably resort thither, and the
vicinity has always been a favourite winter quarters. The missionaries,
Messrs. Schmid and Hart, endeavoured to avail themselves of this
opportunity for essaying the conversion and civilisation of the Indians.
They resided for some time in 1863 at a spot near Weddell Bluff,
about ten miles from the mouth of the river. To quote Mr. Sterling's
description, the station was at the mouth of a valley which 'retreats
towards the south-west for a considerable distance inland; a stream of
pure water flows perennially through it, and a broad belt of grass,
offering fine pasture for cattle, gives a cheerful, fertile aspect to
the low land; the hills on either side are intersected with ravines, or
lift up their bronzed faces out of some intervening dale, and refresh
the air with the aroma of shrubs and plants growing everywhere about
them.'

This was written after a visit in the summer month of January, and
the picture drawn presents the landscape in its fairest colours; very
different from its bleak aspect as viewed by myself in the winter. This
valley still bears the name of Los Misionarios, but this is the only
existing trace of their settlement. Mr. Schmid, however, during his
sojourn and journeys with a party of the Indians, compiled a vocabulary
of the Tsoneca language, as spoken by the southern Tehuelches. Their
plan for establishing trade at Santa Cruz, in order to secure the
regular visits of the Indians, was not approved of by the managers
of the mission, and they were obliged to abandon the scene of their
praiseworthy but unsuccessful efforts--to instruct at least 'the little
bright-faced Patagonian children,' of whom they speak in their journals
with warm affection.

The counter attractions of rum supplied by a trader who visited the
river were felt by Mr. Schmid to be very destructive of his influence,
but it cannot be doubted that their store, if established, would have
had no chance against any rival that supplied rum to his customers; for
though there are many exceptions, the Indians too eagerly expend the
spoils of their hunting and industry in liquor. Their wives, however,
when they accompany them, take care to manage their business with
discretion, and reserve sufficient stock to barter for more useful and
innocent luxuries as well as necessaries. There is no doubt that in
the event of the future development of this settlement, it might serve
as a _point d'appui_ to raise the Tehuelches to the level of a more
cultivated and settled mode of existence; but speculations on this point
are not within my province, and it is time to introduce the members
of the party with whom my winter was agreeably spent on the island of
Pabon. With Don Luiz P. Buena and his amiable and accomplished señora
I subsequently made acquaintance, which ripened into friendship; but
though his guest, I was at present personally unknown to him. In his
absence, his representative, Mr. Clarke, who, as already mentioned, was
an old acquaintance, did all he could to make me feel at home. He was a
handsome young fellow of twenty-five, and an excellent specimen of
the versatile and cosmopolitan New Englander, 'raised' in Salem,
Massachusetts, where he had been brought up as a builder, though he
afterwards 'shipped himself on board of a ship.' In his nautical life he
had been mate of the Snow Squall, in a homeward voyage from Shanghai,
when she was chased off the Cape of Good Hope by the Alabama, and but
for the pluck of the captain and crew, and the wonderful sailing powers
of the craft, another item would have been added to Mr. Adams's 'little
bill.' As it was, the beautiful vessel fairly outsailed the swift
steamer. The steadiness of the crew, and their well-deserved attachment
to the captain, were most strongly proved on this occasion. As there was
no alternative between putting in for water at St. Helena--where it was
too probable the Alabama would pounce upon the prize--and running home
upon half a pint per diem each man, the captain left it to the crew to
decide, and they chose the latter course.

Mr. Clarke had spent three months travelling and hunting in company
with the Tehuelches, which had made him a most expert hand with lazo
or bolas, and well acquainted with the Indian character; and it was
pleasant to hear that he entertained a very high opinion of their
intelligence and generous dispositions. He treated them with fairness
and considerate kindness, and they repaid him by confidence and
friendship.

Five other _employés_ made up the rest of our party. No social
distinctions, however, prevailed, and the inhabitants of Pabon lived
in pleasant equality. The charge of the dogs and horses, and the duty
of supplying meat, devolved on two: Gonzalez, a gaucho, a native
of Patagones, who was as much at home in the schooner on a sealing
excursion, as in the saddle balling an ostrich; and Juan Isidoro, a
swarthy little man whose sparkling black eyes told of his Indian blood,
a native of Santiago del Estero; he had been sent as a soldier to
Rio Negro, whence he had managed to desert, and make his way with
Orkeke's Indians to the settlement. Next comes Juan Chileno, a bright,
fresh-complexioned youth of nineteen years, to look at whom was
refreshing, after the swarthy and weather-beaten physiognomies of the
others. Then Antonio, a Portuguese, by turns gaucho, whaler, or sealer,
always ready with a song or a merry jest, and on occasion equally quick
with his knife. Holstein furnished the last, but by no means least
important; a strong-built, good-natured, rather stupid fellow, generally
selected as the butt of the rest, who always styled him 'El Cookè,' a
sobriquet earned by his many voyages in that capacity on board various
ships. Curiously enough he proved to possess information on a topic to
me of great interest, as he had been one of a party which, about a year
previous to my visit, had ascended the river Santa Cruz to its source.
The expedition was organised by an American well acquainted with the
Californian mining, who proposed to explore the mineral resources of the
valley. Unfortunately, during the ascent of the river, a quarrel broke
out, and the American left the others, and found his way alone to the
Indians, thence returning to Santa Cruz. The loss of the only man
capable of scientific observation rendered their journey almost useless;
still the party proceeded, and about midsummer reached the lake, near
which they remained some days, but were unable to penetrate the thick
forests beyond its shores. In the valley they found meat tins and other
traces of Fitzroy's expedition. El Cookè described the river as running
from the lake in many small streams, and flowing over a rocky bed.
The lake, which was covered with wild fowl, had floating ice upon it,
and large glaciers were visible in the neighbouring mountains, while
the weather experienced was cold, with continuous drizzling rain.
His account confirmed my own conjectures as to the cause of the great
difference between the periods of the highest floods in the Rio
Gallegos, which is at its height in December and January, and the Santa
Cruz, which is then at its lowest. This is owing to the lateness of the
period at which the ice breaks up in the lake Viedma, situated, as it
probably is, on a high plateau. About the lake the explorers found
traces of herds of large deer, and always in close proximity those of a
large fox or wolf, but they did not succeed in killing any. A specimen
of the only mineral brought back appeared to be iron pyrites embedded in
quartz. The journey from the lake to the settlement would require eleven
days for baggage horses, but could be performed by horsemen within four.
Of course the information was not too clear or reliable, but El Cookè,
though not brilliant, seemed to possess the Northern quality of telling
the truth, by the absence of which the Southern and Indian natures are,
to say the least of it, often characterised. El Cookè was fond of hard
work, and his greatest enjoyment was to set out in search of fuel, and
lay on with his axe in a way that would have done honour to a Canadian
lumberer, but was sadly thrown away on the incense bushes of Santa Cruz.

All these men, who had drifted together from various quarters, and, if
truth be told, had all 'run,' for obvious reasons, from their own homes,
worked by turns at hunting, trading, sealing, and raising salt from
the Salina. They received a fixed salary, which, however, generally
proved to be balanced by an account with the store for clothes, &c. In
sealing expeditions all went shares, like our own mackerel and herring
fishermen; while for working at the Salina, extra pay was given and well
earned, especially at this time, since it involved sleeping out in the
open for several successive nights, and that in a Patagonian May. Such
were the companions of my residence at Pabon, besides whom more than
a score of dogs of all sorts slept anyhow and anywhere, and followed
anybody, giving their masters the preference.

A short time after our arrival, Mr. Clarke took stock of the stores
of provision, which could not be replenished until the return of the
schooner. The result was that the amount of biscuits and sugar was
found to be about equal to a month's consumption. These articles were
accordingly divided into equal portions, and each man received his
share, to husband or improvidently use, according to his bent. There was
abundance of coffee, black beans, tobacco, and maize, which accordingly
were used at discretion. The next thing was to accumulate a good stock
of fuel before the snow should render it difficult, if not impossible,
to transport it.

Every Sunday all hands except one--the cook of the week--left on guard,
went hunting, and, as occasion required, during the week, the gauchos
would proceed to supply the larder with guanaco or ostrich, the
latter being, however, rare. Idleness was unknown; when not hunting,
wood-cutting, or salt-raising, manufactures were the order of the day.
We picked stones and worked them round for bolas, and covered them
with the hide stripped from the hock of the guanaco, the soga or thong
connecting the balls being made from the skin of the neck, the method
of obtaining it being as follows:--The head having been cut off, and an
incision made just above the shoulder, the skin is dragged off in one
piece; and after the wool has been picked off, is softened by hand and
carefully cut into strips, which are closely plaited. Of this leather we
also made serviceable bridles, lazos, stirrup-leathers, and, in fact,
horse-gear generally. Sometimes we would have a fit of making pipes,
and all hands would be busy sawing out wood or hard at work boring the
bowls; at others, spurs were the rage, made by the simple Indian method
of sticking sharpened nails into two pieces of wood, secured together
by thongs fastened under the foot and round the leg; or again, we would
work silver, and come out with our knife-sheaths glittering with studs.
On non-hunting days, I invariably practised the use of the bolas, and
caught almost every shrub on the island.

The evenings were passed in playing the American game of brag. Cash
being unknown, and no one being disposed to risk the loss of his gear,
the stakes were simply so many black beans to a box of matches; and
as much excitement prevailed as if each bean or perota had been a
five-dollar piece.

Both in our hunting parties and in the house which he had been
allowed to occupy, though he occasionally visited the camp on the
Chico, I sedulously cultivated the acquaintance of Casimiro. Both the
missionaries and Her Majesty's surveyors have made frequent, and often
by no means honourable, mention of this Indian, who has always evinced a
wish to conciliate the friendship of the English visitors to Patagonia.
His history, as I learned it from himself, was a very curious one, and
aptly illustrates the conflicting claims of Chilians and Argentines, and
the confused politics of the Indians themselves, his father having been
killed in an engagement with the Araucanian or Manzaneros Indians. His
mother was a Tehuelche: being an inveterate drunkard, whilst visiting
the settlements of Rio Negro she bartered the child for a cask of rum to
the governor of the fort, a Frenchman named Viba, who was connected
with the slave-trade, for at that period Indians seem to have been made
slaves of as well as blacks. Viba had Casimiro christened--whence his
name Casimiro Viba--and brought up at the Estancia, or sheep-farm, where
he learnt to speak Spanish fluently. When thirteen years old he ran away
and rejoined the Tehuelches Indians, with whom he remained in obscurity
for some years, until being in the Southern district, near the Chilian
colony of Port Famine, he gained the friendship of one Santorin, a
native of Patagones, who had been taken captive by the Indians, but
having adopted their manners and customs, and marrying one of the tribe,
had risen to the position of a chief. Together these two performed
a voyage to Chili, to negotiate with the Government in some matters
regarding the protection of Port Famine from Indian raids. Santorin died
during the voyage, but Casimiro was well received at Santiago by the
then President, Señor Bulnés,[3] loaded with honours, and given the
rank, pay, and rations of captain in the army. He then returned to Port
Famine, where he resided, off and on, for some time. By his own account,
he was absent on a hunting excursion when the _émeute_ took place which
resulted in the destruction of the colony. The old wandering habits
appeared to have taken possession of him, for he subsequently returned
to the Rio Negro, and having entered the service of the Buenos Ayrean
Government, again proceeded to the South. During this time he resided
occasionally with the missionaries, during their journey in the South,
and at their station at Santa Cruz, and entrusted to them his two sons
for the purpose of education. The missionaries soon discovered that his
objects were purely selfish, and that he had no idea of allowing others
to participate in the advantages they could offer; and I am afraid that
the labour and cost bestowed on the boys were thrown away, as neither
of them appeared to have profited much by their chances. Sam, indeed,
could still sing a hymn if there were grog to the fore, and had a lively
recollection of material advantages, often saying, 'He was good man,
give me gun,' &c. But the youngest, 'Graviel,' who also understood
a little English, was one of the laziest of the lazy, and had very
undefined notions as to _meum_ and _tuum_, as personal experience
taught me.

  [3] Casimiro gave the name as 'Bourne.'

In 1865 Casimiro made a voyage to Buenos Ayres, where the Government
on this occasion recognised him as head chief of the Tehuelches, and
assigned him the rank and pay of Lieut.-Colonel in the Argentine Army.
He was then despatched, in company with an Argentine named Mendoza, to
form a settlement at Gregorio Bay. They travelled by land as far as
Santa Cruz, at which place Mendoza disappeared, being supposed to have
lost himself, but in reality having been killed by an Indian, jealousy
being, I believe, the cause of the murder. With his right-hand man gone,
Casimiro abandoned himself to drinking, a habit which, as Mr. Cunningham
mentions, he had before acquired--perhaps by hereditary development--and
ultimately became reduced to the state of poverty in which I found him,
owning but two horses for himself, his wife, daughter, and son, with
hardly any gear. Indeed, he would have been reduced to great straits but
for the kindness of Don Luiz and Mr. Clarke, who, for old acquaintance
sake, helped him as much as possible; though his habitual drunkenness
made it useless to give him anything valuable whilst there was liquor to
be had, as he would exchange anything for drink. As it was my object to
have a friend in camp, I made friends with him, and tried to induce him
to go north to the Rio Negro, which he at length agreed to do, although
he was in great fear of getting into trouble about the loss or death of
Mendoza. This man when sober was quick and intelligent, and a shrewd
politician. His extensive connections by marriage with all the chiefs,
including Rouke and Calficura, gave him considerable influence. He was
also an expert worker in various Indian arts, such as making saddles,
pipes, spurs, lazos, and other gear. He was a powerfully built man,
standing fully six feet in his potro boots, with a not unpleasing
expression of face, although he had a scar or two which did not add
to his beauty. Of his personal bravery ample proof will afterwards be
given; but, like all drunkards, he was uncertain and not to be depended
on. This veritable old Blue Beard informed me that he had been married
six times; certainly, if all his wives were of the appearance and
disposition of his last venture, it is not to be wondered at if he
disposed of the former ones; for an uglier, dirtier, more contumacious
old hag never burdened the earth with her weight, owing probably to
which latter quality, or quantity, she never, if she could possibly help
it, quitted her room. Early in June an Indian, known in Santa Cruz as El
Sourdo, or the left-handed man, came across the river and pitched his
toldo on the island. He was the husband of two wives, who lived together
in perfect felicity and took care of one another's children. This Indian
was, as most of them are, very ingenious in working wood and silver, and
was a good addition to our hunting parties; he also quickly learned to
play at brag. Casimiro would never descend from his lofty pinnacle of
self-importance so far as to enter the kitchen when the general revels
were held, but occasionally joined Mr. Clarke and myself at supper and
sat telling stories for an hour or two.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sketch of our life at Pabon would be very incomplete without asking
the reader to accompany us on a hunting excursion; so I will describe
one which took place after El Sourdo had arrived on the island. Game had
become very scarce in our immediate vicinity, and our only farinaceous
food was black beans varied by maize, which was too troublesome in the
preparation to be much used. The meat went wonderfully quickly, so we
determined to extend the sphere of the hunting a little more a-field.
Accordingly, one fine frosty morning at daylight, the horses were
brought up, caught, and saddled; mantles and spurs donned, and eight of
us, including the two Indians, Casimiro and El Sourdo, set off to make a
circle, i.e. enclose and drive an area of land on the southern shore of
the river, finishing at the Missionaries' Valley. Casimiro and Gonzalez
accordingly started, and the remainder followed in turn. During our
drive down, one guanaco was captured by El Sourdo and Isidoro, and on
our arrival near the valley of Los Misionarios I chased a guanaco, but,
being without dogs and a tyro with the bolas, failed to capture him.
However, on rejoining my companions, who had now finished the circle,
I found that they had only killed one ostrich, which, through the
carelessness of some of the party, the dogs had mauled to such an extent
as to render the greater part of the meat unserviceable. The day had
been unusually warm, without any wind. Though a bank of white clouds on
the horizon seemed to threaten snow, it was agreed to camp out and try
our chance of getting a good supply of meat on the following day; so we
proceeded to a sheltered place in the valley, and bivouacked under the
lee of a big incense bush, while the horses were turned loose, and a
fire was made, on which the remains of the ostrich were soon cooking
under the master hand of Casimiro. After supper, which was rather
stinted in quantity, we smoked a pipe and lay down to sleep. About three
I woke up, feeling, as I thought, a heavy weight pressing on my mantle,
and found that above two inches of snow had fallen and that it was still
snowing. At daylight it came on to rain, but quickly changed to snow
again; so we made a fire and waited for an hour to see if the weather
would clear. At last, on a gleam of sickly sunshine appearing, we
proceeded to arrange the circle, Casimiro starting first. Emerging from
the valley and ascending to the high pampa, we met a terrific gale of
wind from the south, driving before it small snow in freezing blasts;
but two ostriches jumped up from behind a bush, and Mr. Clarke balled
one of them with great dexterity. This was very cheering, as we were all
very hungry. But, as it was impossible to face the driving sleet and
wind, which prevented us from seeing ten yards before us, we adjourned
to the valley, leaving Casimiro, who was not visible, to his own
pursuits. Suddenly El Sourdo discovered smoke behind a clump of trees,
and, to our great delight, there was our friend before a good fire,
nicely sheltered from snow and wind, within an arbour neatly cut out
of a bush. We adjourned to the fire and had breakfast; invigorated by
which, and encouraged by a lull in the storm, we started off to renew
the chase, but soon got separated by the thick snow-storm. Mr. Clarke,
El Sourdo, Gonzalez, and myself, who were together, came close upon a
herd of guanaco, making for the coast to escape the gale. The dogs gave
chase and killed some, others were balled; in fact a regular slaughter
took place, and eight or ten carcases were soon lying on the plain. Now
came the tedious job of cutting up. I found myself standing alone by a
dead guanaco, none of the others being visible, though not fifty yards
distant. I proceeded as best I could to arrange the meat, and was about
half through the task, with fingers nearly frozen, when I discovered Mr.
Clarke and El Sourdo, and shortly after it cleared up, and the remainder
of our party, all loaded with meat, arrived. Thus supplied, we turned
our faces homewards, and arrived at Santa Cruz a little before sundown,
where a steaming kettle of coffee soon dispelled our cold and put us
into good spirits.

Mr. Darwin and Admiral Fitzroy have thoroughly described the
configuration of the Valley of Santa Cruz and its surroundings, so
that a lengthened attempt to portray it is not necessary. I would
particularly refer the reader to the accurate and picturesque
description by the former of the bench formation which causes the
western part of the environs of the river to present the appearance of
the shores of former successive estuaries--of a vast river or fiord.

Near the settlement the ascent of the Southern Barranca immediately
leads to a level plain extending for the space of a couple of miles;
then there is another rise of perhaps fifty feet, and another plain,
which extends for about the space of a league to a range of successive
ridges, which we called the Blue Hills from their peculiar appearance on
clear days. These, eastwards, lose their elevations, and merge into the
undulations of the high Pampa and a rolling cheerless waste of stones,
coarse grass, and incense bushes; its uneven surface often traversed by
ravines running in various directions. Amongst these hills there is a
large lagoon which Casimiro informed me he used to visit whilst residing
with the missionaries for the purpose of procuring wild fowl, of which
there were then great numbers, but they had latterly given up this
resort. There are other lagoons scattered at intervals in the
before-mentioned plains, which, during the winter, were frozen, and
the beautifully smooth ice often caused Mr. Clarke and myself to long
for a pair of skates; indeed, we tried to manufacture a pair, but
without success.

Towards the sea coast from the Blue Hills the slope appears gradual,
until nearing the coast, when the plain is intersected by gullies and
deep fertile valleys, which render hunting very tedious work, as it is
necessary to trust almost entirely to the dogs. Game abounds in this
direction, especially during the winter. We made numerous excursions up
river, generally staying away from the settlement three or four days,
our favourite rendezvous being a place about sixty miles distant, called
'Chickrookaik,' marked by Fitzroy as an Indian Ford or Pass of the river
Santa Cruz, which statement both El Sourdo and Casimiro confirmed. At
this point the river narrows considerably, and on the south side there
are steep cliffs almost overhanging the water, a cave in which cliffs
was always a sure find for a puma. Both above and below this point are
large wide plains extending from the 'banks' or cliffs to the river,
which may easily be encircled; and the game being hemmed in between the
horsemen and the river are readily captured. Sometimes the ostriches
take to the water, but in the winter this saves trouble, as their legs
get frozen, and on landing they are unable to move. We made an excursion
on one occasion some miles higher up the river, and found abundance of
game. We had previously on our road had good luck, but, as is often the
custom, left the slain animals concealed in bushes, with a poncho or
something over them. During the interval of our absence severe weather
set in, and on returning to examine our _caches_ the foxes and birds
of prey had accounted for the meat. The foxes are a great trouble to
the hunters, as, frequently, whilst they are encircling the herds of
guanaco, and taking the greatest care to keep out of sight, one of these
brutes will jump up, the dogs give chase, and then good-bye to all
chance of sport. Fitzroy remarked the number of guanaco bones found in
his ascent of the river Santa Cruz, which appear to have puzzled him,
but the cause is not far to seek. During the very severe winters which
occur I believe about once in three years, these animals, finding no
pasture on the high lands, which are covered with snow, are necessarily
driven down to the plains fringing the river, where they die from
starvation. There is also a disease prevalent amongst them something
similar to scab in sheep. On one occasion a hunting party killed ten
guanacos, all of which were scabby, or, as we called it, 'sanoso;' and,
consequently, unfit for food. Mr. Clarke told me that after one severe
winter he found ostriches lying in heaps, dead under the bushes, and
also guanacos. The difficulty of getting the horses across the swift and
deep stream, with its banks encumbered by ice, prevented us from making
frequent excursions to the northern side of the river. A level plain
extends from the banks for about a mile, bounded by a chain of irregular
hills; near the foot of these I picked up many specimens of a spiral
shell, apparently a Turritella, which appeared to have been vitrified;
and some were as translucent as glass, and of different colours. Beyond
these hills rolled a succession of uneven plains diversified by ridges
and hills; the general slope of the ground being apparently from west to
east, and the hills towards the west often assumed the form of abrupt
lofty cliffs. Near a laguna at the foot of a cliff a hundred feet high
I found boulders incrusted with sulphate of iron, such as had been
pointed out to me in the Falklands, and numerous oyster shells and other
marine shells occurred in various localities. There are no streams, but
frequent lagoons in the hollows, and surrounded by a luxuriant growth of
incense bushes. The unbroken plains abound in round thistle, califate,
and the curious shrub called 'ratstail,' from the appearance of its
twigs when the thick bark is pulled off. When burned it emits a dense
black resinous smoke. To the north the horizon is bounded by a lofty
range of hills which form the barrier of the valley of the Rio Chico,
about sixty miles distant. These northern hills abounded with puma, some
of which, killed in our hunts, were of unusual size, measuring fully six
feet exclusive of the tail, which is generally half the length of the
body. They are, of course, most numerous where the herds of guanaco and
the ostriches abound; in the southern part of Patagonia their colour is
more of a greyish-brown than that of the species found in the Argentine
Provinces. These 'Leones,' as they are universally called in South
America, always appeared to me to be the most cat-like of all the
felidæ. They are very timid, always running from a man on horseback,
and, by day at least, from a pedestrian; they run for a short distance
in a series of long bounds, at great speed, but soon tire and stand at
bay behind or in the midst of a bush, and sitting upon their haunches,
spit and swear just like a monstrous tabby; sometimes endeavouring
to scratch with their formidable claws, but rarely springing at the
pursuer. Mr. Clarke on one occasion had his mantle torn off in this
manner. At another time, when hunting in the vicinity of Santa Cruz,
I observed from a distance Gonzalez hacking with his knife at a big
incense bush, and, on reaching the spot, found him occupied in clearing
away branches to allow him to knock a huge puma on the head with his
bolas. He was dismounted and attended by his dogs, which bayed the
animal. Still, had the puma not been a cur, he could doubtless have
sprung out and killed or severely wounded the gaucho. The Indians affirm
that the puma will attack a single man alone and on foot, and, indeed,
subsequently, an example of this came under my notice; however, if a
person should be benighted or lost, he has only to take the precaution
of lighting a fire, which these animals will never approach. They are
most savage in the early part of the spring or breeding season, when,
according to my experience, they are found roaming over the country in
an unsettled manner; they are then also thinner than at other times,
but, like the wild horse, they are generally pretty fat at all times of
the year. The females I saw were sometimes accompanied by two cubs, but
never more. The meat of the puma resembles pork, and is good eating,
though better boiled than roasted, but one or two Indians of my
acquaintance would not touch the meat. The hide is useful either for
saddle-cloths or to make mantles of; and owing to its greasy nature it
can be softened with less trouble than that of the guanaco. In Santa
Cruz one of the men had a pair of trousers made of lion's skin, which
worn with the hair side out was impervious to wet. From the hock and
lower part of the hind legs boots may be constructed similar to those
made from horse hide, and in common use amongst the Indians and also
the gauchos of Plata. These, however, are only made from pumas of large
size, and they wear out very quickly. To kill a puma with a gun is
rather a difficult matter, as, unless the ball enters his skull, or
strikes near the region of the heart, he has as many lives as his
relation the cat. I once put three revolver bullets into one, and
ultimately had recourse to the bolas as a more effective weapon. When
wounded they become very savage, but they are at all times bad customers
for dogs, which they maul in a shocking manner. The Indian dogs are
trained to stand off and bay them, keeping out of range of the claws;
nevertheless they not unfrequently get killed. Perhaps the simplest way
of taking the pumas is to throw a lazo over them, as directly they feel
the noose they lie down as if dead, and are easily despatched. I was
particularly struck, as are all hunters, with their eyes, large, brown,
and beautifully bright, but with a fierce glare that does not appeal to
any feelings of compassion. I shall never forget the expression in
the eyes of one puma, best described by the remark made by one of the
Indians as he reined back his horse, expecting a spring: 'Mira los ojos
del diablo!' ('Look, what devil's eyes!')

One expedition on the northern shore was long remembered and talked of
over the fire; and, indeed, might easily have had a very disastrous
conclusion.

Towards the latter end of July I proposed to Mr. Clarke that we should
proceed on foot, and investigate more closely the bed of fossil shells
mentioned as situated on the hills about a mile from the north bank of
the river. Accordingly, one morning we prepared to cross the river,
and the remainder of the men, hearing of our intentions, volunteered,
together with El Sourdo, to accompany us, and, after having visited the
hills, to organise a hunting circle on foot: we started about sunrise
and crossed the river to the north side, where we secured the boat above
high-water mark; we then all proceeded to the hills, investigated the
beds of fossil shells, and gathered many beautiful specimens. The hunt
was then formed, so many dogs being apportioned to each person, and
the circle being directed to close on a point on the bank of the river
about three or four miles west of the settlement. The ground was very
favourable for our operations, as the dips, or slightly-depressed
valleys, hid us from the view of the game. On emerging on the plain at
different points we saw several guanacos and some ostriches; and those
nearest them slipped their hounds, following on foot at their topmost
speed. Mr. Clarke, Isidoro, El Sourdo, and myself were in the centre,
and killed amongst us two guanacos and an ostrich. Antonio, who was
pointsman, disappeared to the westward with El Cookè, following their
dogs in full chase of a herd of guanacos. Our party lit a fire, ate the
ostrich, and conveyed what meat we thought advisable to take back with
us towards the boat, following the river bank, which was strewn in
many places with cornelians and flint-agates, and occasionally with
fossilised shells. On our arrival at the boat we launched her down the
beach, and, as the wind had by this time risen to a severe gale and the
tide was rapidly ebbing, watched anxiously for the return of the two
defaulters; for the navigation of the river is at no time very easy,
and when the tide is low, even in daylight, nearly impracticable. At
length, after dark, when the squalls of bitterly-cold wind had become
very violent, we saw fires in the distance, and, almost half an hour
afterwards, our missing men appeared, each with a load of meat on his
shoulders. They arrived considerably exhausted, so we gave them a rest,
and then dogs and all got into the boat and we shoved off, Mr. Clarke
steering. We proceeded all right for a few yards, and then stuck on a
bank; after several ineffectual efforts to shove the boat off, we all
jumped into the water and fairly hove her over the bank until the water
was up nearly to our shoulders, and then got in and pulled across. Owing
to the violence of the wind and the strength of the current, we only
succeeded in landing fully three-quarters of a mile from the house;
here we secured the boat, and ran up as fast as we could to get our
now frozen clothes off and a drink of hot coffee. We all agreed that
on another expedition it would be advisable either to encamp on the
northern shore until daylight, or come back early enough to be able
to get across while it was possible to see the banks. But the general
conclusion was, not to go again at all.

The weather in July was intensely cold, the lowest reading of the
thermometer, which was duly examined every morning, being 8°. Washing
our clothes became impossible, as during the process the water froze
and the garments became stiff as boards. When crossing the ford, if the
potro boots of the rider happened, as was not unfrequently the case, to
get filled with water, in a few minutes not only were the boots coated
with ice, but the inside resembled an ice-pail. The effect of the river
ice piled up on the shore by the tides was very striking. Huge floes
had accumulated to the height of fifteen feet and upwards, and, besides
rendering the passage difficult, had buried the carefully-stacked
wood-pile under a small mountain of ice. This was in the comparatively
sheltered valley. On the Pampas, when the fierce south wind blew, as
it almost invariably did, it seemed impossible to face it and live.
One attempt made nearly resulted in Gonzalez being overcome by the
sleep which is a forerunner of death, and the horses of all the party
absolutely could not advance. The snow lay eighteen inches deep, and we
had flattered ourselves that the guanaco and ostrich would prove an easy
prey. _They_ could not run--but _we_ could not chase, and were thankful
to make our way, slowly and laboriously, down from the desolate and
storm-swept Pampas.

The Indians from the Rio Chico occasionally visited us, and Orkeke's
objections to my company were gradually giving way. He had probably
feared that an English Señor would require a considerable amount of
attention, and give constant trouble; but during our intercourse he
found that the stranger could (and did) groom his own horse, and wait
on himself generally, as well as take his part in whatever was being
done, even to sleeping out with no shelter but the ample guanaco mantle.
Casimiro also, according to promise, visited the camp, and argued in my
favour, finally obtaining from the chief a somewhat reluctant permission
for me to join his party. Towards the end of July some of his Indians
had come to the settlement to inform us that the scarcity of game in
their vicinity had compelled them to shift their quarters to a place
higher up the Rio Chico. They anxiously enquired if the schooner had
arrived; we were as eagerly looking for her, but day after day passed,
and the looked-for boat did not appear.

On the 24th of July everybody had gone hunting, except Juan Chileno (who
was cook for the week), and myself, whom a hurt received in my foot
had compelled to remain quiet. I was employed reading a book, 'Charles
Dashwood,' for perhaps the twentieth time, when Juan came in to say that
the hunting party had returned. As it was only ten o'clock, my first
idea was that the schooner had arrived with Don Luiz. However, this was
dispelled by Juan, who had gone out to reconnoitre, rushing in with the
news that ten Chilians had arrived on the south side with twenty-one
horses. Shortly afterwards Mr. Clarke himself came in and corroborated
the intelligence. These men proved to be deserters, who had escaped by
night from Punta Arena, taking with them nearly all the horses in the
corral. They had left on the 2nd of July at 2 A.M. Four of the number
were those previously recaptured in Santa Cruz, who had been kept in
irons and closely confined at night; but by a supreme effort they had
broken their chains, and, together with the others who had everything
arranged outside the cuartel, had effected their escape. The sufferings
these men must have undergone during the twenty-two days' journey over
the Pampas, exposed without shelter to the fierce winds, and sometimes
with the snow up to their horses' girths, must have been something
frightful, and many of them were frost bitten. It was out of the
question for us to receive them, as our own supplies were failing, and
in truth we congratulated ourselves on the horses being secured in the
corral, and anxiously watched the movements of the new comers. The party
during the afternoon succeeded in crossing the river to the north side,
swimming their horses; and disappeared in the direction of the Rio
Chico.

By this time even the kind companionship of Mr. Clarke failed to
reconcile me to the tedious monotony of our life. The game also became
scarcer and scarcer, and the chance of the schooner's coming appeared so
indefinite, that at the beginning of August I began to think it would
be better and more amusing to migrate to the Indian camp, where, at any
rate, plenty of meat was procurable. Accordingly, when the Indians came
over again on a visit on the 7th of August, I bought a horse, or rather
changed away a revolver for one (a three year old, newly broken), and
started in company with Orkeke, Campan, Cayuke, and Tankelow, four
Indians, all of whom were previous acquaintances. Casimiro followed with
his family, taking one of the horses from Santa Cruz to assist in the
transport of his household. This horse was one I had been accustomed to
ride in Santa Cruz, and on arriving at the Indian camp was lent me as
a second horse. Shortly after passing the first hills on the northern
side, our party not being burdened with women and children, started off
at a hand canter, which was kept up until a puma suddenly sprang out of
a bush, when chase was immediately given; he, however, got into a thick
tangle of incense bushes, from which we tried in vain to dislodge him,
and although pelted with stones he lay there spitting like a great cat.
Cayuke wished to fire the bush, but Orkeke would not waste time, so we
mounted and proceeded on our journey. We continued riding over plains
and ridges until about 4 P.M., when we reached a large laguna, close to
which grew some high coarse grass and shrubs; here several ostriches
were started, and one killed by Orkeke. On reaching the range of hills
before described as the southern barrier of the valley of the Rio Chico,
we halted, and shortly had the ostrich cooking on a good fire. We looked
back for Casimiro, but could not see him, so after supper and a smoke
pursued our journey by the soft light of a young moon. As I pointed
it out to my companions they all saluted it by putting their hands to
their heads, at the same time muttering some unintelligible words. This
reminded me of the English custom of turning money at first seeing the
new moon. We rode on until about 9 P.M., when we reached the Indian
encampment. We had been previously puzzled by seeing fires burning a
considerable distance up the valley, and found that our chief, Camillo,
had already marched in that direction. One of the first persons who
accosted me was Arica, and I shortly discovered that all the Chilians
were installed with the Indians in different toldos, which was rather
an unpleasant surprise. I was ushered into Orkeke's toldo with due
ceremony, and we took our seats by the fire. I had brought a bag of
coffee with me, so we set to work and roasted some, after which one of
the Chilians was given the task of pounding it between stones, and we
all drank what the Indians not inappropriately term 'potwater.' Many
Indians crowded in to have a look at us, and amongst others that I
noticed was a remarkably pretty little girl of about thirteen years of
age, a niece of Orkeke's, who took some coffee when offered in a shy
and bashful manner which was delightful to contemplate. In due time we
all retired to rest, and a little before daylight I was woke up by the
melodious singing of an Indian in the next toldo. Shortly afterwards
Orkeke went out and harangued the inmates of the remaining toldos, and
presently the horses were brought up, and most of the men started for
the chase. Snow had fallen during the night, a biting cold wind was
blowing, and Orkeke told me there were very few animals about. I
took this as a hint not to ask for a horse, so contented myself with
sauntering round and examining the encampment. Some of the men were
playing cards, one or two sleeping, whilst the women were almost
universally employed in sewing guanaco mantles. About 3 P.M. Casimiro
arrived with his family, and proceeded to the tent of a southern Indian,
named Crimè, and shortly afterwards the hunting party returned by twos
and threes, but the chase had not been attended with much success. We
passed the evening pleasantly enough, making acquaintance with each
other, and Keoken, the little girl, instructed me in the Indian names of
the various objects about the place. Next morning the order was suddenly
given to march. As this was totally unexpected, and I was not prepared
for departure, I made up my mind to return at once to Santa Cruz, and
fetch my clothes and other small articles; also to take back a colt,
promised by an Indian called 'Tchang' to Mr. Clarke. After some little
difficulty, as the Indians did not wish me to go alone for fear of
getting lost, or any other mischance befalling me, Graviel, the youngest
son of Casimiro, started with me. We had to take the colt, what a sailor
would term, in tow, that is, drag it for some distance with a lazo. As
Graviel's horse was shy, this work fell to my share. Shortly after the
start, rain, or rather sleet, came on, and the contrariness of the brute
at the end of the lazo claiming all my attention, I could not manage to
keep my mantle tight round my shoulders, and getting thoroughly wet, and
losing one of my knives, cursed Tchang, colt and all, freely. After a
short time, however, when well out of sight of the Indians, I cast off
the towing line, and we drove our 'bête noire' before us. We returned by
a different route to the one travelled on the outward journey, guided
a good deal by my pocket compass. Towards nightfall, deceived by the
appearance of a hill, I flattered myself that we were near Santa Cruz.
But, alas! it was still miles away, and we got into fresh difficulties
with our charge, which, being tired, absolutely refused to go down the
hill, and had to be taken 'in tow' again and dragged along, and it must
have been nine or ten before we reached the banks of the river. Here,
after unsaddling our horses, we vainly attempted to kindle a fire, but
everything, like ourselves, was so saturated with snow and wet that
all attempts were fruitless; so, fairly tired out, and without fire or
supper, we laid down under a bush, and, ensconced under our mantles,
were soon in the land of dreams.

Next morning Graviel acted like a dutiful boy for once in his life, and
left in search of the horses. Meanwhile the boat came over, and I was
anxious to expedite matters; so, after splashing barefooted through
several yards of sharp-edged ice on my way to the boat, which had
grounded some distance from the shore, I got over to the island, where
I was not sorry to get something to eat and a fire to warm my frozen
limbs. I packed up my few things, ready for a start later on; but when
the flood-tide made, a heavy gale of wind sprang up, and it was with
great difficulty that the boat could bring over Graviel and the colt.
The cheerful news also awaited me that my horse was missing, and that
Graviel and El Cookè had seen a large puma on the river bank, which had
probably watched in close proximity to us whilst sleeping the night
before. Owing to the gale, it was impossible to cross that evening, so
we made up our minds to stop and sleep on the island.

Next day, my horse not appearing, Mr. Clarke lent me one, sending
Isidoro to bring the horse back, in the event of our not meeting with
the missing steed. About 4 P.M. I bid adieu to my friend, whose kindness
during my stay had proved him a friend indeed. Having shaken hands with
the remainder of the boys, who one and all heartily wished me luck, we
started; and after vainly searching for the missing horse, rode on till
about 10 P.M., when we halted and bivouacked by the side of a laguna.
Next morning early we arrived at the Rio Chico, which we crossed on the
ice, and about 2 P.M. reached the toldos. The men were away hunting, the
smoke of their fires being visible, rising from the higher plains to the
northward. As we had eaten nothing since our supper the night before,
which was furnished by a small skunk (which, though very palatable, was
unfortunately very thin), we were in urgent need of something to eat,
and Arica hastened to cook some guanaco meat on the asador or iron spit.

When the hunters arrived, Orkeke gruffly asked Isidoro what he had
come for, and seemed, naturally enough, the reverse of pleased at the
information of the loss of his horse; and, altogether, the old chief's
behaviour did not seem auspicious; but, without appearing to notice it,
I made myself at home in the toldo, and took up my quarters as one of
the family.



CHAPTER III.

THE RIO CHICO.

  Breaking up of the Camp. -- An Idle Day. -- A Rash Start. -- A
    Dilemma. -- Alone on the Pampa. -- Reunion. -- The Kau or
    Toldo. -- The Domestic Interior. -- The Indian Tribes. -- Three
    Races. -- Order of the March. -- The Hunt. -- Indian Game Law.
    -- Tehuelche Cookery. -- Basaltic Hills. -- An Indian Festival.
    -- My First Tehuelche Ball. -- Mrs. Orkeke's Spill. -- Fording
    Rio Chico. -- A Battle. -- Death of Cuastro. -- Dangerous
    Times. -- Chilian Conspiracy. -- Obsidian Plain and Pass. --
    First Ostrich Eggs. -- Amakaken. -- Lifting the Boulder. -- The
    Devil's Country. -- God's Hill. -- Condors and Dinner. --
    Sunrise on the Cordillera. -- The Plague Herald. -- Gelgel Aik.
    -- Escape from Matrimony. -- Téle. -- Eyes of the Desert. --
    Preparations for War. -- Another Fight. -- Water Tigers. --
    Indian Bravoes. -- Iron Ores. -- Ship Rock. -- Perch Fishing.
    -- Appley-kaik. -- Casimiro's Escape. -- Arrival at Henno.


The morning after we had rejoined the Indian camp was marked by a
general breaking up of the party. Camillo and some others had already
left, and by this time were several marches in advance; Orkeke and
Isidoro started off to Santa Cruz, in search of the lost horse, and
charged with some little commissions for me. Finally, Casimiro and all
the rest broke up their encampment and started, intending to overtake
Camillo. Before leaving, Casimiro came to me, and affecting great
interest in my welfare, confidentially urged me to accompany himself and
live as an inmate of his (or rather Crimè's) toldo, adding that he had
been informed that Orkeke had no real intention of marching northward,
but designed to keep me in his toldo until, by some means or other, he
could possess himself of my arms and ammunition. As I saw no reason to
believe this story, I declined to comply with the proposal of Casimiro,
who, having consoled himself by begging a little coffee, took his
departure, and the encampment was reduced to the toldo, of which I was
to consider myself an inmate, and another, belonging to the only Indians
who remained--Tankelow, Orkeke's brother, and his son, a youth of about
eighteen. Besides these, there were three of the Chilian deserters
who as narrated had escaped from Punta Arena; one was attached to the
household of Tankelow, and the other two to that of Orkeke. One of these
was Arica, already mentioned, who being a very clever worker in hide,
had employed himself in adorning saddles and bridles for the Indians, by
which he had acquired a pretty good stock of gear. The condition of all
three was, however, not enviable. They had lowered themselves at first
by volunteering to discharge the drudgery of fetching wood and water,
and by this time were little better than slaves, obliged to perform
the menial offices, which before had been the task of the women.
These fair creatures, headed by Mrs. Orkeke--a young woman almost six
feet in height, and displaying a corresponding breadth across the
shoulders--employed themselves in cutting out and sewing guanaco
mantles, weaving fillets for the head, and chattering. Tankelow and his
son presently started for a hunt; but as I was not offered a mount, and
deemed it more reasonable to give my only charger a good rest and feed,
I could only accompany them to the river, the frozen surface of which
they crossed, and disappeared up a cañon that led up the Barranca, on
the northern limit of the valley, to the Upper Pampa. Having wistfully
watched them, I reconnoitred the valley of the Rio Chico. Behind me, to
the south-east, the river wound through plains covered with withered
coarse grass, some eighteen inches high, extending on either bank for
several miles till terminated by the rising barranca. Snow lay here
and there in patches on some of the higher ground, and increased the
dreariness of the prospect. About two leagues below the river divided
into two branches, which reunited beyond an island of some extent.
Looking up river in a north-westerly direction, the valley soon narrowed
in, the southern barranca sloping down to within a couple of miles of
our camp; and the view was closed by two remarkable hills resembling
fortresses, which seemed to stand on guard on either side. I made a
slight sketch of the outlines of the view, which forms the background of
the hunting scene.[4] Having strolled back to the toldo, I was greeted
by the women with the usual demand, 'Mon aniwee'--Anglicè, 'Lend us the
pipe,' which was duly charged and handed round. We then sat and watched
the proceedings of Keoken, Tankelow's pretty little daughter, just
budding into womanhood, and a small boy to whom I gave the name of
Captain John, who were amusing themselves by catching and riding some of
the horses which were tamer than the others. The urchins soon grew tired
of their equestrian feats; and, prompted by the spirit of mischief,
which seems ever to haunt children, and especially Indian boys, came
and begged a match of me. Not suspecting their purpose, I gave them the
coveted prize, with which they hurried off in high delight, and in
a very few minutes had set fire to the rank, withered herbage, some
distance off the toldo, but to the windward. The conflagration was at
first unnoticed by us; but at dusk, when Tankelow returned from hunting,
with a supply of meat, it was palpably dangerous. So all hands had to
set to work, and by dint of tearing up the grass, with great trouble we
stopped its progress, which if aided by a breeze in the night would very
probably otherwise have consumed the toldo and endangered the inmates.
Of the culprits no notice was taken, the occurrence being apparently
regarded as all in the day's work. After our supper off guanaco meat,
and a smoke, I turned in, and slept soundly on my Tehuelche bed of hides
and bolsters which had been carefully arranged by the tall hostess.

  [4] Frontispiece.

The next day was got through by having a thorough 'wash' of my clothes,
and cultivating a closer acquaintance with the Chilian Arica, from whom
I obtained a dog in exchange for an old guanaco mantle. But as on the
third day no signs of the return of Orkeke appeared, the inaction became
insupportable, so after the departure on a hunting excursion of Tankelow
and his son, Arica and myself determined to start in pursuit of Casimiro
and his party. As Arica had no horse, it would be necessary for us to
ride and tie; but even thus we could make quick travelling. Accordingly
at 2 P.M. we started, much to the astonishment of the ladies, who
protested that we were certain to lose our way or be killed by the
pumas. One old lady, Orkeke's sister, after trying in vain to dissuade
us, presented me with a slice of charqui, which with a few handfuls of
coffee formed our stock of provisions. That day we did not get very far;
but in the next march, as the track of the Indians was plain, we had
made thirty miles by the time we halted, at nightfall, at a place where
another valley from the northward joined that of the Rio Chico. Our
charqui had barely sufficed for an evening meal, so this day we
satisfied our appetites with a supply of the tuberous roots of a
plant which grows in great quantities in most parts of Patagonia.

[Illustration: HUNTING GUANACO AND OSTRICH, VALLEY OF RIO CHICO.]

The plant, which in its growth resembles very closely the balsam bog
of the Falkland Islands, and might be easily taken for it but for the
absence of the gum, which perhaps was attributable to the quality of the
soil or the season of the year, is easily recognisable by its mass of
tiny green leaflets, and presents the appearance of a small hillock of
earth crowned with delicate moss. By digging down into the heap, one
large and several small tuberous roots are found, which when roasted in
the ashes prove sufficiently palatable to hungry men.

We went to sleep in the open air, rolled up in our guanaco mantles, but
awoke to find that a heavy fall of snow had covered everything a foot
deep, and totally hidden all trail of the Indians. In this dilemma,
quite uncertain which of the two valleys to ascend, and feeling
extremely cold, we first looked out for a place of shelter. This was
afforded us by a little dell or recess in the side of the barranca,
which was thickly overgrown with incense bushes. Betaking ourselves
thither, we speedily had a blazing fire kindled, and while warming our
chilled limbs held a council. It was decided that I should mount, and
proceed to hunt for some food; and then, if the weather moderated, we
could proceed. Arica was left in charge of the fire, with a strong
caution from me to keep it up, and to make as much smoke as possible,
by way of signal to the Indians. After a good deal of difficulty my
horse, which was only half broken, and had a playful way of rearing up
and striking with his forefeet, was curbed with the leathern thong which
forms the Indian bit. I then proceeded to scale the barranca bordering
the river valley, and soon reached the desolate undulations of the
higher Pampa. As a necessary precaution against losing my way, I was
careful to take two or three bearings of conspicuous hills, visible in
the northern limits of the valley; for the monotonous and dreary waste
of the Pampa, strewn with boulders and shingle, alternated with tufts of
grass, presents no track or landmark to guide the wanderer. It was not
long before two or three herds of guanaco were sighted; but the dog,
which had probably during the night foraged for himself, and found some
half-eaten carcase, would not run, and a gallop of some twelve miles
proved fruitless. Just as I was about giving up in despair, I observed a
herd in a hollow, which I was able to approach unobserved. Knowing that
our chance of food for the day depended on success, I warily approached,
and then charged, and to my delight succeeded in entangling one with
the bolas. He was soon despatched; and while I was busily cutting off a
supply of meat, to my sudden surprise an Indian came galloping up. The
newcomer proved to be Tankelow, who was in search of me. He brought word
that Orkeke had found the strayed horse, and had returned; and that the
party were marching as fast as they could to overtake Casimiro. He had
been detached, partly to hunt and partly to find us. In reply to my
inquiries about Arica, he assured me that he was all right, and as there
seemed no reason for disbelieving the statement, we speedily rode back
to the party, and rejoined them on the march; being received with shouts
of laughter by the ladies; but as Arica was nowhere to be seen, I
expressed my determination to ride back in search of him. This, however,
they would not allow, but despatched a mounted Indian and spare horse
to bring him in, and a good piece of meat for his refreshment. We then
proceeded at a brisk rate, and by nightfall reached the camp. Orkeke
at first seemed rather to resent my having started off alone, as if it
argued a want of confidence in him; but his delight at having recovered
his horse assisted him to recover his good humour. Mr. Clarke had sent
me by him some powder, which he _said_ he had lost, and some articles,
such as linen and tobacco, and my presenting them all to him quite did
away with any traces of ill feeling.

The several detachments were all now reunited, and the party mustered
altogether, besides the Chilians and myself, eighteen able-bodied
Tehuelche or Patagonian men, with a proportionate number of women and
children. The most important among the Indians were Orkeke, the actual
cacique, and his brother Tankelow, who possessed the greater number of
horses; Casimiro, whose leadership was still rather _in posse_; Camillo,
Crimè, Cuastro, Cayuke, &c. One more must be mentioned by name, Wáki; a
perfect Hercules in bodily frame, and a thoroughly good-natured fellow,
with whom I became great friends. Of all these men, who were in the camp
by the Rio Chico on August 15, but eight survived to reach the Rio Negro
in the following May; the rest had, at one time or another, been killed
or had died. The secret feuds, which were before long to endanger the
safety of us all, were as yet concealed, and all appeared to be good
friends. The whole were housed in five toldos--by which Spanish name the
Indian kau, or tents, strongly resembling those of our own gipsies, are
known. They were pitched in a sheltered hollow, with their fronts facing
the east, to avoid the bitter violence of the prevalent westerly winds.

Fitzroy has given an excellent description of the toldo; but to
those readers who are unacquainted with it a brief sketch will not be
unacceptable. A row of forked posts about three feet high is driven into
the ground in a slightly slanting position, and a ridge pole laid across
them; in front of these, at a distance of about seven feet, a second
row, six feet high, with a ridge pole; and at the same distance from
them a third row, eight feet high, each slanting a little, but not
at the same angle. A covering made of from forty to fifty full grown
guanaco skins, smeared with a mixture of grease and red ochre, is drawn
over from the rear, and the great drag of the heavy covering straightens
the poles; it is then secured by thongs to the front poles, while hide
curtains fastened between the inner poles partition off the sleeping
places, and the baggage piled round the sides of the tent excludes the
cold blast which penetrates under the edge of the covering. The fire is
kindled in the fore part, or 'mouth of the tent.' In very bad weather,
or when encamped for the winter, an additional covering is secured
to the front poles and brought down over an extra row of short posts,
making all snug. It is a common arrangement for relatives or friends to
combine their toldos, when, instead of bringing down the coverings to
the ground at the side, they are made to overlap, and thus one tent roof
will cover two or three distinct domestic interiors.

The furniture of the toldos consists of one or two bolsters and a horse
hide or two to each sleeping compartment, one to act as a curtain and
the other for bedding. The bolsters are made of old ponchos, or lechus,
otherwise called mandils, woven blankets obtained from the Araucanos,
who are famous for their manufacture, stuffed with guanaco wool and sewn
up with ostrich or guanaco sinews. The bolsters do duty as pillows or as
seats, and help to form the women's saddles on the march. Besides these,
the women all own mandils for their beds. The men occasionally use the
cloths worn under the saddles for seats when the ground is damp, but as
a rule all the inmates of the toldo squat upon Nature's carpet, which
has the advantage of being easily cleaned, for the Tehuelches are very
particular about the cleanliness of the interior of their dwellings,
and a patch of sod accidentally befouled is at once cut out and thrown
outside by the women.

The cooking utensils are simple, consisting of an asador, or iron spit,
for roasting meat, and an occasional iron pot, which serves for boiling
and also for trying out ostrich grease and marrow, which is employed
both for cooking and for mixing with the paint with which the faces of
both sexes are adorned. To these, wooden platters and armadillo shells,
to serve broth in, are sometimes added. The duty of pitching and
arranging the toldos on the halt and striking them for the march,
as well as loading the poles, covering, and furniture on the horses,
devolves entirely upon the women, who display great strength and
dexterity in the work.

About the toldos were innumerable dogs of all sizes and breeds, and
Mrs. Orkeke rejoiced in the possession of two fowls brought from the
settlement, and the all important possession of the Indians, horses,
completed the bustling liveliness of the scene. There were not less than
150 belonging to the various members of the party, Orkeke and Tankelow
owning about forty, besides mares and skittish colts of all ages, which
ran about so that they could not be counted. The reader can imagine what
a scene the march and encampment of such a party presents, and the care
with which the Indians must select their route so as to be sure of game
for themselves and pasture for their animals. Of the dogs and horses in
use by the Tehuelches a fuller description will be given hereafter.

But, to convey a clear understanding of the relations between the tribes
which will be mentioned in the ensuing pages, it is as well here briefly
to distinguish them. In the various maps and accounts of Patagonia
extant, numerous tribes, with different names, are marked and recorded.
These accounts, so far as my observations enabled me to judge, have
arisen from the custom of parties of the tribe combining to travel or
fight under the leadership of a particular chief, and being described by
themselves, when met with, by his name. I have been enabled to recognise
thus the Moluches, who were so called from Malechou, a hereditary chief
of that name; and the celebrated chief Lenketrou united under his
leadership men of several tribes, and is said to have commanded 1,500
men in his great raid on the Rio Negro settlements. There are now
between the Rio Negro and the Straits about 500 fighting men, giving
at a rough estimate a population of about 3,000. The Tehuelches,
or Patagonians proper, exclusive of the Foot Indians of Tierra del
Fuego--who are distinct, though they may be of the same original
stock--are divided into two great tribes, the Northern and Southern.
They speak the same language, but are distinguishable by difference of
accent, and the Southern men appear to be, on an average, taller and
finer men, and are more expert hunters with the bolas. The Northern
range chiefly over the district between the Cordillera and the sea; from
the Rio Negro on the north to the Chupat, occasionally descending as
far as the Santa Cruz River. The Southern occupy the country south of
the Santa Cruz, and migrate as far as Punta Arena. The two divisions,
however, are much intermixed and frequently intermarry; always,
notwithstanding, preserving their clannish division, and taking opposite
sides in the frequent quarrels. Our party was composed in almost equal
parts of both Northern and Southern, and one inmate of our toldo was a
Southern named Hummums, a brother of Mrs. Orkeke. From the Rio Negro as
far as the Chupat, another tribe, speaking a different language, is met
with, having their head-quarters at the Salinas, north of the Rio Negro.
These are the Pampas, called by the Tehuelches 'Penck,' whence I believe
the name Pehuelche has been corrupted. Several clans of this nation
extend over the plains north of Rio Negro, and make frequent inroads
into the Argentine settlements as far as the province of Santa Fé, and
even, I believe, to Cordova and Mendoza. The Pampas of the north of
Patagonia sometimes keep cattle and sheep, but generally subsist by the
chase. A third tribe appear, by their language and physique, to be a
branch of the Araucanos of Chili. These are the people called by the
Tehuelches Chenna, and also the Warriors; they are otherwise known as
Manzaneros, from their head-quarters Las Manzanas, so named from the
groves of apple trees; once a station of the early Jesuit missionaries,
who vainly endeavoured to convert and civilise these tribes. They are
less migratory and more civilised in their habits than the Tehuelches,
and are said to keep herds of cattle and sheep in the sheltered valleys
of the Cordillera, and sometimes till a little maize. I do not know
whether the Jesuit Fathers taught their disciples the art or no, but
from the apples of Las Manzanas these Indians brew a very tolerable
cider, besides making an intoxicating liquor from the beans of the
algarroba. The Tehuelches altogether depend for their stimulants on
the chance supplies of rum procured in trade at the settlements, and
this and disease, small-pox especially, are rapidly diminishing their
numbers.

We remained in our encampment by the Rio Chico for one day, during which
the missing Arica arrived. He was received with very black looks by
Orkeke, who from this time, although still allowing him a place in his
toldo, and a horse to ride, seemed to have conceived a violent aversion
to him, which argued badly for the Chilian's future safety. It appeared
that during my absence he had given way to the desire of providing
something to eat, and had left the fire to burn out, while he foraged
for roots. On returning he saw a huge puma couched by the extinct ashes
of the fire. Just, however, as Arica was about to fire the revolver
which I had lent him, the beast bounded away into the bushes. But as he
was convinced that the puma was close at hand waiting for an opportunity
to attack, he spent several hours on the watch with his revolver ready.
His delight may be imagined when, worn out with want of food and rest,
he was relieved by the arrival of the Indian with the meat and a horse
for him to ride.

The next day we made a short march up the river valley, the caravan of
women and horses, as usual, proceeding along the track, while the men
hunted in the adjacent plains. I was fortunate enough in the hunt to
kill a guanaco and an ostrich, and duly shared them with Casimiro. The
order of march and method of hunting which constitute the daily routine
are as follows: the Cacique, who has the ordering of the marching and
hunting, comes out of his toldo at daylight, sometimes indeed before,
and delivers a loud oration, describing the order of march, the
appointed place of hunting, and the general programme; he then exhorts
the young men to catch and bring up the horses, and be alert and active
in the hunt, enforcing his admonition, by way of a wind up, with a
boastful relation of his own deeds of prowess when he was young.
Sometimes the women, while the chief is haranguing, rekindle or blow
up the embers of the fire and prepare a slight breakfast, but not
invariably. Some cold meat is also occasionally reserved from the
evening meal, and placed in a hide bag to be carried with them on the
march, to be given to the children when they are hungry. But the general
custom for the men is to wait until the day's hunt has supplied fresh
meat. When the Cacique's 'oration'--which is very little attended to--is
over, the young men and boys lazo and bring up the horses, and the women
place on their backs the bolsters of reeds, tied with hide thongs,
mantles, and coloured blankets, which form their saddles; others are
strapping their belts on, or putting their babies into wicker-work
cradles, or rolling up the skins that form the coverings of the toldos,
and placing them and the poles on the baggage-horses; last of all the
small breakers, which are carried on the march, are filled with water.
The women mount by means of a sling round the horses' necks, and sit
astride of their bolster-saddles; their babies--if they possess any--and
their pet dogs are hoisted up, the babies being stowed in the cradles
behind them; then they take their baggage-horses in tow and start off in
single file. The men, who generally wait until all are ready, then drive
the spare horses for a short distance, and having handed them over to
the charge of their wives or daughters, retire to a neighbouring bush,
where a fire is kindled, pipes are lighted, and the hunt commenced in
the following manner:--Two men start off and ride at a gallop round a
certain area of country, varying according to the number of the party,
lighting fires at intervals to mark their track. After the lapse of a
few minutes two others are despatched, and so on until only a few are
left with the cacique. These spread themselves out in a crescent,
closing in and narrowing the circle on a point where those first started
have by this time arrived. The crescent rests on a baseline formed by
the slowly-proceeding line of women, children, and baggage-horses. The
ostriches and herds of guanaco run from the advancing party, but are
checked by the pointsmen, and when the circle is well closed in are
attacked with the bolas, two men frequently chasing the same animal from
different sides. The dogs also assist in the chase, but the Indians are
so quick and expert with the bolas that unless their horses are tired,
or they happen to have gambled away their bolas, the dogs are not much
called into use. Puma are very frequently found in the circles, and
quickly despatched by a blow on the head from a ball. On one occasion I
saw Wáki completely crush, by a single blow, the skull of an unusually
large one. The Indian law of division of the game prevents all disputes,
and is as follows: The man who balls the ostrich leaves it for the
other, who has been chasing with him, to carry or take charge of, and at
the end of the hunt it is divided; the feathers and body from the head
to the breast-bone and one leg belonging to the captor, the remainder to
the assistant. In the case of guanaco, the first takes the best half
in the same manner; the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, and the fat and
marrow bones are sometimes eaten raw. The Tehuelches also cut out the
fat over the eyes, and the gristly fat between the thigh joints, which
they eat with great gusto, as also the heart and blood of the ostrich.
Owing to the entire absence of farinaceous food, fat becomes a necessary
article of diet, and can be consumed in much larger quantities than
in more civilised countries. That this is not merely owing to the
inclemency of the climate is proved by the appetite for fat which the
gauchos in the Argentine provinces acquire. When the hunt is finished,
and the birds cut up and divided, fires are kindled, and whilst stones
are heating the ostrich is plucked, the wing feathers being carefully
tied together with a piece of sinew. The bird is then laid on its back
and drawn; the legs are carefully skinned down, and the bone taken out,
leaving the skin; the carcase is then separated into two halves, and the
backbone having been extracted from the lower half, and the meat sliced
so as to admit the heated stones laid in between the sections, it is
tied up like a bag, secured by the skin of the legs, with a small bone
thrust through to keep all taut; this is placed on the live embers
of the fire, a light blaze being kindled when it is nearly done to
perfectly roast the outside meat. During the process of cooking it has
to be turned frequently to ensure all parts being thoroughly cooked.
When ready it is taken off the fire, and the top part being cut off and
the stones extracted, the broth and meat are found deliciously cooked.
The party, generally consisting of twos or fours, sit round the dish and
eat the meat, sopping it in the broth. The back part, which consists
nearly altogether of fat (when the ostrich is in good condition), is
then divided, pieces being given to each, and reserved as tid bits for
the women and children. When the head and breast half are to be cooked,
the bone is not extracted, but the wings turned inside and the breast
cavity filled with heated stones, and tied up with half of the skin of
the legs, which have been divided, additional pieces of meat from the
legs having been placed in the breast cavity. The fat of the breast
is divided amongst the party at the fireside, the owner in all cases
reserving none or a very small piece for himself, as the others who
are cooking at the same fire are sure to give him plenty. The cacique
generally receives the largest share, or if he is not present, the
greatest friends of the owner. The wing feathers are carefully taken to
the toldos and stored with others for future trade. The ostrich is most
thoroughly eaten; the gizzard, which is large enough to fill both hands,
being carefully cooked by the insertion of a hot stone and roasted; the
eyes, too, are sucked, and the tripe devoured; but when the birds are
thin they are simply skinned, and the carcase left to the pumas. After
the meal, concluding the hunt, is finished, a pipe is handed round,
saddles are re-adjusted, and the game placed on them, and the party
adjourn to the toldos, which by this time have been pitched and arranged
by the women.

Guanaco are not much killed, unless a long stay in a place is intended,
or an Indian feels inclined for blood, or ostriches, which are always
eaten in preference, are scarce. The meat of the guanaco is, however,
excellent; the haunches are generally what is termed in Spanish
'charqueared,' which means that the meat is cut off in thin slices,
and, after a little salt has been sprinkled over it, is dried in the
sun. When thoroughly dried it is roasted in the ashes, pounded between
two stones, and mixed with ostrich or other grease; this preparation,
like pemmican, is very useful for a man going a long journey, as it
can be carried in a small compass, and a mere handful satisfies the
appetite.

[Illustration: START FROM THE CAMP AT MÔWAISH OR WINDOW HILL.]

It would be tedious to describe every day's march, and the routine of
hunting, as we made our way slowly up the valley of the Rio Chico, which
was still frozen over. The weather was cold, and occasional showers of
snow accompanied the strong piercing westerly winds which blew every
day. The valley sometimes opened out into wide grass-covered plains,
dotted with incense-bushes, then rose again in huge bare ridge and
furrow-like undulations. Occasionally there occurred patches of swampy
ground with frozen lagoons, and here and there open springs, the resort
of numerous waterfowl. The hills on the northern side appeared bare
and rugged, rising abruptly out of irregular forms, while the southern
heights were lower, and presented more of the steep declivities known
as barrancas, interrupted at intervals by high rugged hills of basalt,
often assuming the appearance of ruined castles, closing in at the bends
of the winding river. To one of these--a remarkable hill under which we
were encamped on August 23, about 120 miles from Santa Cruz--I gave the
name of Sierra Ventana, from a window-like opening through its peak; the
Indians called it Môwaish. (See Illustration.) In many places the bases
of these hills were formed entirely of a description of lava, and one
of the Chilians informed me that whilst passing over a ridge, he had
observed several large masses of pure iron: this, however, I was
inclined to disbelieve, as although farther up the country iron ore
exists in large quantities, I only observed in this part a species of
ore similar to that common at Drobak, in Norway.

On one occasion, while marching, we observed smoke in our rear,
which was thought to be caused either by a messenger in search of us
announcing the arrival of the schooner, or else by a party of the
Southern Indians who had some idea of marching north. However, no scout
was sent back to discover the truth, so we remained in ignorance. On the
26th we halted, and encamped by the side of the river in a broad opening
of the valley; here there was a lagoon, not completely frozen, in which
grew a description of flag, of which the root, or rather lower stem, is
eaten by the Indians, and is succulent and juicy, with a pleasant taste.
The boys and girls soon brought a large supply into the toldos. The day
after our arrival in this place, the attainment of the age of puberty
of one of the girls was celebrated according to custom. Early in the
morning the father of the child informed the cacique of the event, the
cacique thereupon officially communicated the intelligence to the acting
doctor or medicine-man, and a considerable shouting was set up, while
the doctor adorned himself with white paint and was bled in the forehead
and arms with a sharp bodkin. The women immediately set to work to sew
a number of 'mandils' together. When the patchwork was finished, it was
taken with pomp and ceremony by a band of young men, who marched round
the poles--already fixed to form a temporary toldo--singing, whilst the
women joined in with the most dismal incantations and howlings. After
marching round several times, the covering was drawn over the poles, and
lances were stuck in front, adorned with bells, streamers, and brass
plates that shook and rattled in the breeze, the whole thing when
erected presenting a very gay appearance (its Indian name literally
meaning 'The pretty house'). The girl was then placed in an inner part
of the tent, where nobody was admitted. After this everybody mounted,
and some were selected to bring up the horses, out of which certain
mares and fillies were chosen, and brought up in front of the showy
toldo, where they were knocked on the head by a ball--thus saving the
blood (which was secured in pots) to be cooked, being considered a great
delicacy. It is a rule amongst the Indians that anyone assisting to take
off the hide of a slaughtered mare is entitled to a piece of meat, but
the flesh was on this occasion distributed pretty equally all round.
Whilst the meat was cooking, Casimiro, who was ruler of the feast,
sent a message for me to come to Crimè's toldo, where I found him busy
working at a saddle, in the construction of which he was, by the way, an
adept. His wife had a large iron pot bubbling on the fire, containing
some of the blood mixed with grease. When the mess was nearly cooked,
we added a little pepper and salt, and commenced the feast. Previous to
this I had felt a sort of repugnance to eating horse, as perhaps most
Englishmen--except, indeed, the professed hippophagists--have; but
hunger overcame all scruples, and I soon acquired quite a taste for this
meat. On this occasion everybody ate where they liked, in their own
toldos. Casimiro informed me, after the meal was concluded, that
there would be a dance in the evening. I looked forward with great
anticipation to this 'small and early,' and shortly saw some of the
women proceed to collect a considerable quantity of firewood, which was
placed outside the tent. Presently, towards dusk, a fire was made, first
outside the sacred precincts. The women all sat down on the grass round
about, but at some distance from the men, who were all seated on the
grass, except four and the musicians. The orchestra consisted of a drum
made by stretching a piece of hide over a bowl, also a sort of wind
instrument formed of the thigh-bone of a guanaco, with holes bored in
it, which is placed to the mouth and played, or with a short bow having
a horsehair string. When all was ready, some of the old hags all the
time singing in their melodious way, the band struck up, and four
Indians, muffled up in blankets, so that their eyes only were visible,
and their heads adorned with ostrich plumes, marched into the ring, and
commenced pacing slowly round the fire, keeping time to the music. After
two or three promenades, the time gradually quickened, until they went
at a sort of trot; and about the fifth round, dancing fast to the music,
they threw away their mantles, and exhibited themselves adorned with
white paint daubed all over their bodies, and each having a girdle of
bells extending from the shoulder to the hip, which jingled in tune to
their steps. The first four consisted of the chiefs Casimiro, Orkeke,
Crimè, and Camillo, who, after dancing with great action (just avoiding
stepping into the fire), and bowing their plumed heads grotesquely on
either side to the beats of the drum, retired for a short time to rest
themselves, after which they appeared again and danced a different
step. When that was over four more appeared, and so on, until everyone,
including the boys, had had a fling. Sometimes, to give greater effect,
the performers carried a bunch of rushes in one hand. About 9 P.M.,
everybody having had enough, Casimiro gave the sign. The band stopped
playing, and all retired to bed. The dancing was not ungraceful, but was
rendered grotesque by the absurd motions of the head. It was strictly
confined to the men, the women being only allowed to look on.

On the second day's march from the scene of my first Indian ball we
crossed a rocky ridge abounding with a description of vesicular lava;
the ridge ran out from the southern limits of the valley and terminated
in precipitous cliffs, round the base of which wound the river. The
surface of the ridge was fissured in many places with deep chasms like
Alpine crevasses, on the brink of one of which my horse stopped just in
time to escape a fall. The caravan had gone a more circuitous route to
take advantage of the lowest and easiest crest. On the other side of the
ridge the valley suddenly spread out to the extent of several miles, and
on the western horizon a line of snowy peaks was visible, their summits
capped with clouds: this was our first view of the Cordillera. The low
ground was cut up by streams and small lakelets of water, formed by the
overflow of a small fork of the river, which glistening in the afternoon
sunshine presented a beautiful silvery appearance, very refreshing
to the eye wearied with alternate gazing on withered grass and black
volcanic rocks. However beautiful to look at, this scene would clearly
prove difficult travelling, so a halt was called, and our course debated
on; ultimately it was resolved to cross the river and encamp on the
northern bank, where the ground was higher and free from floods, so
loads were carefully adjusted, and children transferred to the arms
of the men, to give the women more freedom of action; baggage-horses
were also taken in tow by the young men, and Casimiro and another
volunteering to lead the van and act as pilots, we proceeded to make our
way to the river-bank, which rose by a gradual elevation from the lower
inundated plain. After much floundering about in water-holes, and
various spills, which caused great merriment, especially when Mrs.
Orkeke and all her gear came down by the run, an iron kettle of which
she was very proud clattering down so as to frighten several of the
horses into what threatened to become a general stampede, the bank
was safely reached; the river was swollen high, and its rapid current
running six or seven miles an hour, was bringing down huge sharp-edged
masses of ice. It seemed almost impossible for the women and baggage
animals to cross. However, Orkeke, taking a long pole to sound with, led
the way, and by watching their opportunity to dodge the floating ice,
which cut the horses' and riders' legs cruelly, all got safely over. A
wilder scene could hardly be imagined--dogs howling on the bank fearing
to pass, women singing out to their various friends and relations, and
here and there an adventurous Indian, who scorned to go by the ford
with the rest, disappearing for a second in the river, horse and all,
but ultimately emerging some distance down the stream. The water was
bitterly cold, as may be imagined, and the piercing wind benumbed our
dripping bodies; so on arriving at the north bank, where there were some
small sandy hillocks, we kindled a large fire, and had a warm and a
smoke whilst the women were employed pitching the toldos. It had been
decided to remain here some days and then proceed to the vicinity of the
Cordillera for the purpose of catching wild horses. But, as will be
seen shortly, 'l'homme propose et Dieu dispose.' Looking up towards the
Cordillera from our encampment, the valley appeared to expand a few
miles up into one immense plain, and the Indians informed me that before
reaching the mountains there is a great drop or basin where the wild
horses are found. This was probably, at the period of our visit, a vast
sheet of water from the melting snows. Lake Viedma lies some miles to
the southward from the head of the valley, and I should be inclined to
think that the course of the Rio Chico, which undoubtedly flows from it,
would be found to come from the south to north, and bend easterly at the
head of the valley, where it unites the numerous streams as described by
Viedma in his journey in 1580. I am also inclined to think that Viedma
being taken twice across the Rio Chico mistook the river at the second
crossing for another, which he has marked as the Chalia, a name, by the
way, unknown to the Indians, save as applied to an unsavoury parasite
only too common among them. The following morning, September 2, we were
sitting quietly round the fire discussing a breakfast of boiled ostrich
prepared by the lady of the house, when suddenly the clash of knives was
heard, and we saw two Indians, destitute of mantles, with naked swords
in their hands, run across from Camillo's to Crimè's toldo. In a minute
everything was in an uproar; arms were produced, guns and revolvers
loaded, and some of the Indians equipped themselves in coats of mail,
and others, with the assistance of the women, padded themselves about
the chest and upper part of the body with thick blankets and corconillas
or saddle-cloths. Knowing what was about to happen, the women, and with
them all the Chilian deserters except one, beat a retreat to a safe
distance from the toldos. Having assumed my arms, and feeling thoroughly
mystified as to the real cause of this excitement, I went to Camillo's
toldo, where the scene explained itself. He was lying on his bed dead,
with a frightful gash in his side, having been murdered by Cuastro, one
of the Indians whom we had seen running to Crimè's tents. On issuing
from the toldo Casimiro met me, and asked for a revolver, as he had no
firearms, and I lent him one accordingly. The Indians showed by their
changed countenances all the fury of fight; their very complexions
seemed ghastly, and their eyes glared and rolled, seeming to see blood.
The two opposing parties, the Southern Indians--friends of Crimè, who
was a cousin of Cuastro--and Orkeke's and Casimiro's people or the
Northern party, were soon ranged in open line at some twenty yards
distance from each other. Cuastro was conspicuous by his tunic or 'buff
coat' of hide studded with silver, while his only weapon was a single
sword or rapier. The fight commenced with an irregular discharge of guns
and revolvers, which lasted a few minutes, till some of the Northern or
Orkeke's Indians, led by Casimiro, closed up, and a hand to hand contest
with swords and lances took place, resulting in the death of Cuastro and
the severe wounding of two or three Southern Indians. The Northerns then
drew off to reload, and were about to renew the action, when Tankelow
proposed a truce, which was accepted on the understanding that both
parties were to march at once in the same direction. The women and
children were then recalled from the bushes whither they had retired,
the horses brought up, and the dead buried. The Tehuelches' lance is
entirely different to that of the Araucanos or Pampas, and is only used
when fighting on foot; it consists of a heavy shaft eighteen feet in
length, at the extremity of which a blade is fixed about eighteen inches
long, constituting a most formidable weapon in the hands of an expert
Indian. Cayuke, whom I have before mentioned, in this fight was armed
with the lance, and ran Cuastro through the body, although protected by
his mail and endeavouring to parry the point with a sword. This Cuastro
was a brave man; when dying, with several bullets in his body, and
several lance thrusts, he sprang up to his full height and called out,
'I die as I have lived--no cacique orders me;' his wife then rushed up
to him crying and sobbing, but he fell down dead at the same moment.
Casimiro had a narrow escape; he parried a blow of a sword with what may
be termed the slack part of his mantle, but if the blow had caught him
on the head, as intended, it would have ended his career then and there.
The casualties were a wound in Crimè's leg, and a lance thrust clean
through the thigh of Hummums, a young Indian, who seemed to care very
little about it. The fight originated out of a vendetta between Cuastro
and Camillo, the latter having some years before caused the death of
a member of the family of the former, who had on a previous occasion
endeavoured to avenge it on Camillo, and he had only attached himself
to our party, in company with Crimè, in order to obtain an opportunity
of assassinating Camillo. This Cuastro had been suspected on good
grounds of making away with Mendoza, the Argentine sent from Buenos
Ayres in company with Casimiro, and who mysteriously disappeared; and he
had certainly, when under the influence of rum, at Santa Cruz, murdered
his own wife Juana, a daughter of Casimiro, so that brave as he was he
had richly deserved the fate he met with.

After the obsequies of the dead had been hurriedly performed--a
description of which is reserved for another place--the tents were
struck, and all marched off, the men remaining armed, and each party
travelling separately. Cayuke was sent back some miles to ascertain
if there were any signs of the other Southern Indians, who were half
expected to overtake us; but he returned some hours later with no
intelligence. We marched a few miles up the valley, rather coasting the
northern hills, and encamped by a most beautiful circular spring, the
water bubbling up through pure white sand and forming a tiny brook,
while little fishes darted across in the basin. The Indians still
remained with arms ready to hand--were very silent and ate nothing.
Several of the Northerns came into our toldo towards evening, and
remained a long time conversing by the embers of the fire, and ever
and anon one of the widows of the deceased would break out into a wail
of lamentation, sobbing in the most dismal and melancholy manner, the
lament at times being taken up by some of the older hags.

On the following day Crimè sent for me to dress his leg, imagining, of
course, that I understood surgery; so I washed the wound and bandaged it
with cold water bandages, which appeared to be successful, as in a few
days it inconvenienced him but little. Thence proceeding to Casimiro's
toldo--the smallest I ever saw--I got him to cover my saddle with a
guanaco skin I had obtained on the road. The children appeared to be the
only members of the party unaffected by the prevailing gloom. They had
found a snow-bank in a nook, and amused themselves sliding down it on a
bit of wood _à la Russe_. This evening things looked very black again.
A consultation was held in Orkeke's toldo, and although it was carried
on in a low tone, and I was little conversant with the Tehuelche tongue,
I heard my name frequently mentioned in connection with a revolver, and
also the Chilians. I was much puzzled at what was going on, but as Mrs.
Orkeke brought me some supper in the most gracious and smiling manner,
did not trouble myself more than to overhaul my arms quietly, and see
they were ready for use. I subsequently found out that a plot had been
set on foot amongst the Chilians to rise, rob, and murder the Indians,
and escape with the horses. Some, however, my informant among the
number, refused to join. The Indians, who are naturally quick-sighted,
had conceived a suspicion that all was not right, and were debating
whether it would not be better to kill the Chilians at once, before they
became more troublesome; but Casimiro prevailed on them to let them
remain until they did something to necessitate their destruction; and
so they escaped for the present.

September 5th, at an early hour, we were awoke by Orkeke's marching
harangue; and after coasting the hills bordering the valley for a few
miles, bade adieu to the valley of the Rio Chico, and struck into a
gorge of the northern hills, leading into an uneven valley lying between
low irregular hills of decomposed lava, which we followed, passing
several small lagoons in the lower hollows, around which there was
invariably a yellow description of clay. The hills were everywhere
covered with scrub, and presented a wild, bleak appearance, the grey
rocks only appearing now and then. After some hours' travelling through
this dismal district in a north-west course, we emerged on a large
plain at the western side, bounded by a range of hills 1,000 feet
high, forming a spur of the Cordillera. The weather was stormy, and we
could only catch occasional glimpses, through the driving clouds and
snow-storms, of the loftier peaks of the more distant mountains. Our
expedition in search of wild horses was, of course, after the recent
troubles, abandoned; and forced marches, to escape the Southern Indians,
in the event of their following from Santa Cruz, were the order of
the day. Hunting, however, was resumed by the unwounded, and several
ostriches were caught during the day. Towards evening the encampment was
fixed near a lagoon, the environs of which were barren, and destitute of
anything except a small low shrub which served for firewood. Although
the wind was northerly, it was bitterly cold; and as I had for some days
past adopted the native costume--keeping my 'store clothes' stowed away
under charge of Mrs. Orkeke--I felt it exceedingly. The 6th, 7th, and
8th of September were occupied in making forced marches northward,
accompanied by the usual hunting; and although both parties continued
armed, and appeared to be rather suspicious of each other, things went
on pretty smoothly. The country traversed on the 6th and 7th was a
large arid plain, dotted with a few stunted shrubs, enclosed by the
before-mentioned spur of the Cordillera on the western side, and on the
east by a low range of sandy-looking hills. The whole of this plain was
strewn with small pebbles of porphyry, quartz, silica, and obsidian;
also with small pieces of silicified wood. On the 8th we crossed the
spur by a pass walled on either hand with rocks of vesicular lava. Here
we halted for a quarter of an hour, and everyone broke off pieces of
stone suitable for making hand-balls for bolas. The descent on the
western side was no easy matter, the declivity being strewn with large
masses of rock and loose boulders, and the wind blowing bitterly cold,
and with such force that some of the women's horses could hardly face
it. Ultimately all managed to reach a spacious elevated pampa, on the
western side of which, some fifteen leagues off, rose the Cordillera of
the Andes. In the pass I observed several large pieces of obsidian,
so clear and peculiarly round-shaped that I at first imagined that a
demijohn had been carried thither by some previous party and broken. Of
this the women gathered some pieces, to serve as scrapers for cleaning
guanaco skins. We traversed the usual barren high pampa--interspersed
with low shrubs, coarse grass, and here and there an incense bush of
considerable size, which afforded a moment's shelter from the cutting
wind--for some distance, till we at length reached a cliff, below which
lay a grassy plain, watered by a small, rapid stream. About thirty miles
in the background were visible the lofty mountains of the Cordillera.
The inviting appearance of the pasture determined us to remain for a
couple of days to rest the horses, after the unusually long marches of
the preceding days. The following day was occupied chiefly in making
hand-balls for bolas from the soft porous stone obtained in the rocky
pass. Towards noon a frightful gale of wind sprang up, which blew down
most of the toldos; but ours, thanks to the strength of arm of Mrs.
Orkeke, who had securely fixed the poles, remained firm, only one or
two of the poles being broken. The river, here flowing in an eastward
direction, was the first stream met with since leaving the valley of
the Rio Chico. In the descent to it, the bench formation, although
recognisable, was not so much marked as in many of the other rivers.
After two days' rest, we resumed our journey; and having traversed the
grassy valley for, perhaps, a mile, ascended a slight ridge to a higher
plain of the usual sterile nature, in which the first ostrich eggs met
with were found. Our course was directed nearly north-west, to a range
of hills 800 feet in height; on their summit was a plateau strewn with
large stones and rocks.

We formed another hunt, in which numerous ostriches and several pumas
were killed. From the western side of the plateau we overlooked a large
plain, extending to the immediate vicinity of the mountains, but near
the side of which there appeared to be a cutting or steep descent, just
like a railway embankment. As it had been announced in the cacique's
address that we were to encamp near a spring on the eastern side, and I
had killed an ostrich, which, after giving a sharp run of half a mile,
had been turned by the cavalcade of women, I proceeded in company with
Casimiro and another to have some dinner. We accordingly selected a
bush, cooked, and ate our bird, and at the conclusion of our meal
mounted and proceeded to where we expected to find the encampment.
But, arriving at the spot, we found nobody, and looking over the plain
caught a glimpse of a belated woman just vanishing down the cutting
above mentioned. We accordingly followed, and an hour's gallop brought
us up with the remainder. The sun had set, but the light of a young moon
enabled us to make our way to the second bench. I may say the formation
altogether much resembled that of the river Cuheyli; but the river which
flowed in this valley was of small size, although, as we found, the
banks were boggy and almost impracticable. The moon had by this time
set, and after a considerable deal of confusion in the dark, all got
across, and night being far advanced encamped about a mile to the
northward. When daylight enabled us to examine the locality, we found
ourselves in a valley, walled in by lofty abrupt cliffs on both sides,
while a stream--bordered by marshes, containing numerous snipe and
teal--flowed swiftly down the centre of the glen. To the north the
valley appeared to bend westwards, so having nothing to do, I strolled
up to the turn and found that the high cliffs ceased, and were replaced
by the ordinary steep barrancas, covered from the top to the bottom with
incense bushes. The valley nowhere exceeded a mile in width, and the
gloom and oppressive effect of the prison-like walls of cliff rendered
it by no means a desirable place of abode, but the pasture skirting the
marsh was green and luxuriantly tender. While I was endeavouring to
secure some ducks and teal with the bolas, two of the Chilians came up
searching for firewood. They bitterly bewailed their lot in having
to work and slave for a parcel of savages, but finally forgot their
grievances in a slumber under a bush. Not caring to be supposed to have
been in their company, I returned to the camp, and examined the rocks,
which were different to those previously observed, showing in many
places granite, with schistose veins, and what appeared to be a species
of grey marble. A stay was made in this place of some four days, and
would have been longer, but that on the third day some of the party,
chiefly boys, who had strolled away a short distance, balling small
birds, came in with the news that Indians were coming from the south. A
scout was immediately sent out, horses brought up, and arms got ready.
Casimiro came to me for a supply of cartridges for the revolver, saying,
'Now we shall have to fight; for if those Southern Indians beat us,
they will spare neither man, woman, nor child.' This was cheering news,
seeing that the odds were likely to be about ten to one against our
side. However, just as we were mounting, the scout returned with the
news that he had found no traces of Indians; the supposed enemy being
only a troop of guanaco coming down to water. Cayuke, on its being
ascertained that there was really no danger, had one of his horses
killed as a thank offering; the meat of course being distributed for
food amongst his friends. There is in this place, which is called by the
Indians 'Amakaken,' a large spherical boulder of marble, which it is
the custom of the Indians to try their strength by lifting. Casimiro
informed me that this stone had been there for many years, and the
custom was very old. It was so large and heavy that I was just able to
grasp it with both arms, and raise it to the level of my knees, but
some of the Indians managed to lift it to their shoulders. The night
subsequent to the false alarm, snow fell heavily, notwithstanding which
on the following day the Indians, who did not appear to feel secure,
marched again in a northerly direction. Before quitting this valley, I
was fortunate enough to find an ostrich nest with four eggs in it,
which we devoured later on, cooked in the ashes by the simple method
of placing the egg upright, with a hole broken in the upper surface,
through which a piece of stick is inserted to stir round the yolk and
white, a little salt being thrown in, and the egg turned to ensure all
sides being equally done; the result being an omelette in the shell of
most appetising flavour, but a novice in this cookery is apt to burn his
fingers in turning the egg. Towards night we entered a dark and gloomy
gorge, winding amongst fantastic and confused cliffs and peaked hills,
thrown together in utterly chaotic confusion, which appeared to form a
barrier east and west. But it was impossible accurately to distinguish
the line, so inextricably were the heights jumbled together. My powers
of description are utterly inadequate to convey the idea of the
formless irregularity of this region of rocky hills.

At a late hour we encamped in a glen, or corrie, apparently without
a second outlet, and walled in by frowning cliffs, down the midst of
which a torrent foamed in a rocky channel. All the next day our march
continued through a barren desert of rocks, frequently intersected by
deep ravines with precipitous cliffs, the faces of which in many places
displayed beds of red and yellow ochre, visible at a great distance.
From some of these the women, after a scramble, replenished their
supplies of paint. The whole face of this district was torn and tossed,
as if by tremendous explosive force; and, except in some deep-lying clay
bottoms, where an occasional shallow lagoon was to be met with, the
track was waterless; snow lay on the heights and in some places on the
ground traversed by our march, in the course of which a number of the
large ibises, called in Chili bandurria (Theristicus melanopis), were
seen. The nature of the country rendered hunting laborious and useless.
Tankelow, however, found an ostrich and nest, the eggs from which, about
thirty in number, he, according to Indian custom, divided among those
who came up before they were removed from the nest; among these lucky
individuals was myself; for, seeing him make to the spot, and the male
bird get up, and being, moreover, well mounted and exceedingly hungry,
I was among the first arrivals. Far away to the right of our track,
extending thirty or forty miles eastwards, lies a district called by the
Indians 'The Devil's Country,' which, they assured me, is never entered,
probably from the barren and impracticable nature of the surface, which
seems, from description, to be even worse than the wilderness traversed
by us. Beyond this district there is a practicable track, sometimes
followed by the Indians, leading northward, probably used as a route to
the Chupat; but from that line to the sea the country is so impassable
that the Indians say it would require two years to proceed by the
sea-coast from Santa Cruz to the Rio Negro. The existence of such tracks
as these, and the desolate Travisias encountered near the coast, have
probably caused Patagonia to be described as an arid, almost waterless
country; but, in reality, after passing the coast barrier most of the
interior abounds in lagoons, springs, and frequent streams; and, even
in the Travisias, the numerous wild animals met with show that water
exists.

Towards evening we left the snow behind us; and descending a lofty hill,
which had bounded our view all day, came to a large swelling down, from
which the prospect was far more encouraging. Rolling plains extended to
the north and north-east, whilst the Cordillera rose like a wall on the
western side. This hill is called by the Indians 'God's Hill;' and the
tradition, as communicated by Casimiro, relates that from this spot the
Great Spirit dispersed the animals which he had made in the caverns.
But some of the animals must have remained behind, as, out on the lower
slope of the downs, two pumas were chased and killed. An hour's ride
over a sandy plain brought us to a valley with a stream flowing through
beautifully green pasture. This was the spot chosen for our encamping,
and some of the women were already busy planting the poles that form the
skeleton of the toldos; so, turning my horse adrift, I started down to
the stream, and, after the luxury of a bath, lay down and smoked until
the toldos were thoroughly arranged. The following day a short march was
made, in a north-west direction, to a valley containing better pasture;
here it was intended to give the horses much-needed repose. Meanwhile,
however, meat fell short, so a circle was organised; my horse was too
tired; but Orkeke, seeing me standing unprepared, said, 'Ask Ako (his
pet dog, and adopted child, and in virtue of his office the owner of
several horses) to lend you a horse.' As Ako had no objection I was soon
mounted, and started for the chase in high spirits. On our previous
journey we had remarked numerous tracks of what appeared to be ostrich
near the ground where our present circle was to be formed (viz., in
the direction of the Cordillera), and all expected to find plenty of
game. The circle was formed, myself going as one pointsman; and, after
arriving at the point, I watched anxiously for some time, but the only
animal that appeared was a male guanaco, which, as he did not see
me crouched behind an incense-bush, until he came within shot, I
successfully balled and killed. After waiting a little longer, and the
Indians being moderately near at hand, I changed my position a few
hundred yards, to a more likely spot; but no animals appeared, so I
proceeded in search of Orkeke, whom I shortly discovered smoking on the
top of a small eminence. After the pipe had been passed in silence, I
asked him what he had killed. 'Nothing,' was the answer; 'let's wait
and see; perhaps some other Indian has an ostrich.' A careful survey,
however, failed to discover anyone so lucky, although several had killed
guanaco. So we retired to where my dead guanaco lay uncovered: at our
approach two or three condors rose heavily up; and shortly about twenty
or thirty more spread their huge wings, sailed away, and perched on a
neighbouring rock. As for the guanaco, in the short half hour of my
absence it had been literally torn to pieces; so, after extracting and
eating the marrow-bones, we returned to camp, on our way capturing two
armadillos. During the past day or two the temperature had considerably
risen, the wind, though westerly, was mild and genial, and the Indians
affirmed that farther north it would be so warm that I should require
some covering for the head. We found on our return that Arica during our
absence had gone off somewhere on foot. As he had that morning asked and
obtained some tobacco from me, it seemed probable that he had determined
to attempt to make his way alone to reach civilisation at some point or
other. During our stay in this valley Casimiro requested me to write a
letter for him to the commandante at the Rio Negro, inquiring whether
the Argentine Government still allowed him his ration and pay as
lieut.-colonel in their service. I also wrote some letters to my
friends, but without much hope of their being 'mailed;' though Casimiro
assured me that when we joined the Northern Indians they would forward
them to the Araucanos, whence they _might_ go on by the people who went
to Rio Negro to fetch the chief's allowance of cattle; remote, however,
as were all these contingencies, still it was a pleasure to write. We
quitted the valley after three days' rest, during which Arica had not
appeared, and he was concluded either to have fallen a prey to a puma,
or to have gone off on his own account. We journeyed all day over
a rough hilly country, encumbered with large stones and occasional
patches of scrub of considerable height; ostriches abounded, and large
quantities of eggs were found. During a long march of about thirty miles
no water was seen until we reached the camp at sunset, situated in a
cañon; but along the route an occasional patch of snow sufficed to
quench our thirst. As I rode along in company with an Indian, named
'Tchang,' he began asking me questions: first, 'Who is cacique of the
English?' I explained to him that it was Her Gracious Majesty. 'Is she
married?' 'She is a widow.' 'Has she any children, and how many? Has she
lots of horses and mares and silver ornaments?' And so on, until I had
satisfied him; after which he rode along, repeating, 'A woman cacique!
A woman cacique! Four sons and five daughters! Lots of horses, mares,
sheep, and cattle! 'On the 22nd of September we left the encampment in
the cañon about sunrise, and, mounting the ridge on the north side,
halted close to the grave of an Indian; the broad and high cairn
of stones erected over it denoting him to have been a cacique of
importance, which fact was communicated to me in a low whisper by Wáki.
Here a fire was made, and a few stones added to the pile. Whilst the
Indians were warming themselves the sun rose, and the view of the
Cordillera, seen through the clear atmosphere, with the sun's first
rays illuminating the snowy mountain summits with a roseate flush,
was magnificent. We pursued our route over sandy plains, crossed at
intervals by shallow streams of water, and halted near some lagoons in
a place called by the Indians 'Kinck.'

The following day we marched again, hunting as usual on the way. A fat
ostrich at this time of the year was a rarity, but eggs abounded, and
formed the main staple of food; and the armadillos were also getting
into condition, and assisted to furnish a repast at the camp fire. On
the 27th we arrived at a place named 'Gelgel,' situated on the banks of
a rapid river, probably that debouching at Port Desire. This was the
point of divergence from the northern route to Patagones for any party
proceeding to hunt in the western plains. During our stay in Gelgel we
hunted in the surrounding country, and on several occasions observed
columns of smoke to the south, as if made by a party approaching. These
at last appeared nearer, and as no distinct answer was made to our
signal fires, scouts were sent out, but returned with no information,
one, however, asserting that he had found the tracks of many horses,
but his known character as an incorrigible liar made his statement
valueless. Still everybody became at last convinced that the Northern
Indians were at war with the Araucanos, and consequently preparations to
fight were commenced. After a watchful night, all fires out, and silence
strictly observed, all armed, and mounting their best horses, sallied
out. After a while the cause of the whole disturbance turned out to be
Arica, who had wandered for eleven days on foot, following our track,
subsisting on birds' eggs, and narrowly escaping the pumas, though he
had been more than once attacked by them in broad daylight, and had
killed one with his knife, his story being vouched for by the boots he
had contrived to manufacture out of his deceased enemy's skin. He looked
worn and haggard, his feet were sore, and he told me that another night
would have finished him. The Indians, who--owing to his desertion and
subsequent pursuit of us--had been kept on the alert all night, without
fire, and prohibited from conversing, were naturally indignant, and
wanted to kill him. But Casimiro and Orkeke interceded for him, and
he was brought back to the toldos behind another horseman. Casimiro,
_apropos_ of these signal fires, related to me a curious story, as
follows:--'Many years ago, when I was quite young, I was travelling
a few leagues to the northward, under my mother's charge. The party
encamped near a large lagoon not far from the Sengel river, and were
occupied in hunting in the neighbourhood. On several days in succession
smoke was observed in different directions, which approached nearer and
nearer each time. Being naturally supposed to be caused by the Indians,
it was answered, and scouts were at last sent to ascertain the cause, as
no messengers appeared. They returned, however, stating that they could
discover nothing. At the end of four days an Indian, tall, gaunt, and
emaciated, mounted on a very thin _mule_, arrived in the camp, and
asked for a chief whose name was unknown. The stranger was taken, as is
customary, to the chief's toldo, and his mule turned loose; but, strange
to say, it never moved from the spot where it was unsaddled, and the
Indian during the time he remained in the toldo neither ate nor drank.
At the end of three days he mounted his mule, which appeared as fresh as
when he arrived, and rode away to the northward. On the following day,
whilst hunting, a sickness struck the Indians--some falling dead from
their horses, while others, though able to return home, only survived a
short time. As is usual when disease breaks out, the toldos were removed
to some distance from each other, to escape infection, but many men,
women, and children died.' Of the fact that a plague or sickness did
cause the deaths of many Indians within a few days at some encampment
in these plains, I received further and reliable confirmation, my
informant, who was in the party, stating that the Pampa tribe was
decimated.

In the cliffs above the river on the eastern side of our encampment I
observed many balls of sandstone of various sizes. On breaking one in
two, a piece of what seemed to be ironstone formed a nucleus, around
which layers of sand appeared to have been aggregated. By what process
these balls could have been formed was to me a mystery; but they proved
very handy for bolas, only requiring to be slightly reduced in size.
Hunting to the westward from the encampment, we came across several
muddy, or rather clayey bogs, into one of which, when in full pursuit
of an ostrich, I rode, and my horse sank deep, throwing his rider a
complete summersault; and with much ado I first picked up myself, and
then with greater difficulty extricated my horse from the tenacious
morass.

After Arica's return, the Chilians manifested a restless spirit, and
frequently asked me the direction of the Chupat settlement. I replied
that it lay about 150 leagues to the E.N.E. from this point, as far as
I could judge; but that it would be better for them to remain with the
Indians, and do the women's work of providing wood and water, &c., than
to start off into a wild and dreary pampa, where they would inevitably
starve without a knowledge of the route or guides.

During our stay here I nearly fell a victim to a matrimonial
entanglement. A fair young Indian, whose hair cut across the forehead
denoted widowhood, moreover having several mares and considerable
possessions, to whom I had perhaps paid some slight attention, proposed
that I should set up toldo with her. This was quite out of my programme
of the journey, but inasmuch as the alliance might prove useful, as
well as agreeable, and feeling lonely in the absence of any particular
friend, I half agreed; so a go-between was despatched to arrange the
dowry, and it was settled that I should give a revolver in exchange
for two horses to be provided by the fair one's friends. However, the
evening before the happy day on which we were to have been united, the
alarm came, and as she belonged to the Southern Indians, I thought
better of giving up my arms; so I assigned as a reason for withdrawing
from the bargain, that I did not wish to leave my friend Orkeke's toldo.
I have no doubt that her people, desiring the help of my firearms, had
suggested the match to secure me to support their side. The lady at
first was rather disgusted, but soon got over it, and we remained on
our former friendly terms.

In this encampment two disagreements occurred between Indians and their
wives, which were the only matrimonial squabbles that came under my
notice during my wanderings in their company. One occurred between
Tankelow and his spouse in our toldo. It began by Tankelow's striking
his daughter, which his wife angrily resented; from words they came to
blows, and the squaw was getting rather the best of it, when Mrs.
Orkeke interposed with a strong arm, and forcibly put a stop to the
disturbance.

The following day Tankelow drove his horses off separately, but towards
evening a reconciliation was effected. On the 3rd of October we left
Gelgel-aik and marched west in the face of a bitterly cold wind. In the
hunt not less than seven pumas were killed, which were, as usual at this
time, very fat, and were duly boiled in the iron pots, furnishing an
excellent supper, the meat closely resembling boiled pork. During the
day seven of the Chilians were missed, and on our arrival at the toldos,
it transpired that they had determined to try and find their own way
to the Chupat settlement; and as they had left in an underhand manner,
which the Indians look upon as tantamount to a declaration of war, some
of the people wished to pursue and kill them, but this proposition was
overruled by Orkeke and Casimiro. The encampment was sheltered by a hill
named 'Téle,' close to a large lagoon, covered with waterfowl, into
which flowed a beautiful spring issuing from the hill; along the margin
of the clear pure water grew a profusion of a sort of green cress,
and at sunset flights of flamingoes (Phœnicopterus tgnipallo) and
rose-coloured spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) came to the lagoon to feed.
One day's hunting was done in the surrounding plain, which to the west
presents several of the remarkable drops or basin-like formations
described by Darwin as existing on the eastern side of the Cordillera.
On October 5th we broke up the camp and marched in a northerly
direction, until a stream of considerable size was arrived at; this
some of us crossed at once, although it was deep and the banks rotten
and unsound. The women and remainder of the party diverged to a ford,
old Orkeke sending one of the Chilians to take care that his little dog
(on whom he lavished his paternal affections) did not get wet. In half
an hour's time the whole party--Ako included--had crossed in safety, and
the camp was pitched on a peninsula between this river and another which
joined it lower down. The united streams may or may not form a tributary
of the Chupat, as the Indians disagreed on this point, some averring it
to be so, others stating that the river flowed into a large lagoon. The
weather had changed to drizzling rain, and the wet and sloppy state of
the toldos was very disagreeable. It did not, however, much affect our
clothing, as it is easy to dry a guanaco mantle by the fire, but care
must be taken only to expose the furred side to the heat, otherwise the
hide will become dried and apt to tear easily. Whilst in this encampment
lookouts were posted, and one came in stating that he had seen smoke in
a northerly direction. Consequently, on October 9, having rested our
jaded horses, which were rapidly improving in condition, from grazing on
the young green grass now springing abundantly in all the valleys, we
crossed a barren, clayey pampa, interspersed with bogs and marshes at
intervals, and on the 10th arrived at a small range of hills, running
east and west, under one of which the toldos were pitched, near to
another of those beautiful circular springs which frequently occur in
Patagonia; from the centre of the smooth white sand which formed the
bottom, the water bubbled up like liquid crystal, and silvery fishes
could be seen darting about in the circular basin. The Indians delight
in laving their hands and feet in the springs, and will sit there for
a long time admiring the beauty of these 'eyes of the desert.' As, on
our arrival, the women had not yet completed the domestic arrangements,
after throwing the spoils of the chase off our saddles, a party of us
ascended an adjacent hill to have a look round. The day was magnificent,
and the sun, just setting, bathed the whole country in a flood of red
tints. To the N.E. we observed three distinct columns of smoke which
the Indians averred to be caused by the five Chilian deserters, and
were very bitter against them, as they were supposed to have lost their
way, and to be desirous of returning again to the toldos. In this place
I found my compass would not act, owing, as I supposed, to having
been disabled; but as it subsequently behaved properly, its temporary
derangement must have been due to some local attraction. To the
northward, as well as I could guess the bearings, ran a long range of
hills, terminating in a peculiarly-peaked mountain, below which the
Indians pointed out the trees which fringed a river--according to their
statements, a tributary of the Chupat. To the west extended rolling
plains, which appeared to stretch away into the distance, interrupting
the chain of the Cordillera, as though there were a depression or break
in the mountains, no hills of large size being visible on the horizon.
Whilst lying down smoking on this hill, I picked up several pieces
of opal and cacholong combined, and as I was idly forming them into
different patterns on the ground, and had arranged a circle resembling
a miniature Indian grave, one of my companions observing what I was
doing, grew very angry and said, 'That will bring ill luck,' evidently
believing that I was mentally compassing the death of some one by
witchcraft. As I had no wish to be killed by way of prevention of any
imaginary spells, I quickly gathered up the specimens, many of which
were afterwards lost in the ensuing journey. The Indian name for this
place is Yaiken-Kaimak, signifying that it is the hill whence they espy
the signal smoke denoting the approach of the Indians from the north.

We remained five days in this encampment, a general uneasiness
prevailing, and arms being kept ready to hand. In addition to the
usual hunting, under the orders of the cacique, we were engaged in
performing exercises on horseback; this mounted drill being intended as
a preparation in case we should find the northern Tehuelches at war with
the Araucanos or Manzaneros Indians. The plains to the westward abounded
with guanaco, some thousands being enclosed in the circle at one time.
One day that I had not accompanied the hunting party, I was strolling
across the camp, having volunteered to occupy the post of the vidette
on an adjacent hill, when I observed a guanaco, very tired, coming
towards me; so, hiding behind a bush, I waited till he unsuspiciously
approached, and then rushing out, balled him with a pair of ostrich
bolas. As he was so close to me, his forelegs were perfectly tied up,
and I had not much difficulty in despatching him with a blow on the
head from another set of bolas. By this time I had attained tolerable
dexterity in the use of the bolas, and it was my invariable custom when
not otherwise employed to stroll about and practise. Besides their
use, my practical training had enabled me soon to acquire the art of
manufacturing them, and our many idle hours were employed in plaiting
ostrich sinews, so that I contrived to fit up an extensive assortment,
some of which I used to barter for tobacco. The weather during our stay
here became worse, rain, sleet, and gales of wind prevailing; and the
toldos, from the continuous rain and the marshy nature of the ground,
became so wet and wretched as to be almost uninhabitable, so that we
marched on the 16th over a level pampa--smoke to the eastward being
observed and duly answered during the journey. We encamped at night on
the north side of a small rapid stream, in a place called 'Pelwecken,'
situated a league from the wooded river, the trees of which were visible
from the encampment. I here saw a new game played by the Indians which
resembled that known amongst schoolboys as 'knucklebones,' being played
with small stones in lieu of the bones, and heavy stakes were lost and
won on the chances. On Sunday, the 17th, the Indians started to hunt in
the vicinity of the wooded river, and Casimiro proposed that I should
accompany him to the woods to cut poles for the toldos, and timber
for working saddles. Orkeke, however, for some reason or another,
recommended me to stay quietly in the toldos; and, as advice is
sometimes almost the same as a command, I acquiesced, although longing
to enjoy a close view of a tree again after so much wandering over the
treeless pampas. As the day was warm and fine, I strolled down the river
in search of the eggs of the upland goose (Chloephaga magellanica),
yellow-billed goose (Cygnus coscoroba), and other water fowl,
and returned about 2 P.M. with plenty of spoil. The women were
superintending the cooking of some of these, when one of them rushed
into the toldo and cried out that the Indians were returning and a fight
had taken place. A glance at the coming horsemen was at once sufficient
to convince us that she was right. They came galloping back by twos and
threes, swords drawn, mantles hanging off their shoulders, and their
faces glowing with fury. They at once proceeded to get their guns and
revolvers to renew the fight. Orkeke, however, arrived and made a
long speech, and ultimately quiet was restored. One man--a brother
of Camillo--had been killed and left on the pampa. The sister of the
deceased was frantic at his death, and, arming herself with a knife,
attempted to avenge him; but she was soon stopped, disarmed and quieted.
The deceased was armed with a six-shooter, and his assailant had only a
sword; one shot missed him and the next barrel missed fire, whereupon he
closed and ran his adversary through the body. Casimiro returned shortly
after the remainder, and when he heard of the fight and the result, was
for some time eager to renew it and avenge the slain man, who was a
relation of his own, but at last yielded to Orkeke's arguments. The
following day the smoke to the east appeared pretty close, and, when we
had marched on a little, two young men were despatched in its direction
with private instructions from Orkeke, and we proceeded to the wooded
river, where we luxuriated for a short time under the shade of a
description of birch tree and then forded the stream, which is of
considerable width and very rapid. The Indians declared that it was
impossible for any man to swim across the river in the deeper portion
below the ford, on account of some ferocious beasts which they termed
water tigers--'Tigres de l'agua'--which would certainly attack and
devour anyone in the water. They described them as yellow quadrupeds,
larger than puma. It is certain that two ostriches which, being too poor
for use, had been left on the bank, were found by us next day in the
shallow water, torn and half devoured, and the tracks of an animal
resembling those of a large puma were plainly visible leading down to
the water; but a puma invariably drags its prey to a bush; and, though
jaguar will take the water readily, I have never known one devour its
prey except on land, nor, as far as I know, are they found so far
south. The animal may be a species of the large brown otter with
orange-coloured fur on the breast, found in the Parana; but the Indians'
account is curious as bearing on the name of the lake--'Nahuel Huapi,'
or Tigers' Island. It is possible that the aguarra found in the valley
of the Rio Negro may also haunt these districts. They further told me
that stags had been seen on the banks of the river, but none were heard
of during our stay in the neighbourhood. A few miles below the ford the
belt of trees ceases, and on the southern side there is a peculiar group
of what seem to be square-shaped rocks, which at a distance have very
much the appearance of a small town regularly built and walled. This
is called by the Indians 'Sengel,' and was the scene of a great fight
between the Tehuelches and Araucanos many years ago, relics of which in
the shape of bones and skulls still whiten the plain. After crossing the
river, the young men who had been sent back returned, bringing with them
three horses belonging to the Chilians and one man of their party, who,
incredible as it seems, had assisted the Indians to dismount and disable
his companions. The particulars of the fate of the others were not
divulged, though a story was current that some of them had managed to
reach the Chupat. I asked no questions, but the blood-stained knife of
one of the young men told its own story. This day all the Indians rode
on in silence, the last two days' events having roused all their bad
passions. I rode alone, feeling that there was danger in the air, and
near our halting place joined Orkeke and two others at a fireside
for the purpose of cooking some ostrich eggs, which we were busily
discussing when a messenger came to say that Casimiro was waiting to see
me at a spot which he indicated. I mounted and rode off accordingly, but
had not gone far before the two bravos who had been commissioned to do
for the Chilians galloped up, one from either side, one brandishing his
sword and the other swinging his bolas. I at once put spurs to my horse,
and my mantle flying back discovered two revolvers belted round my waist
underneath it. They checked their career and sang out, 'Stop! Where are
you going?' But, without making any reply, I galloped on, being not
further interfered with, and soon joined my old friend. He then informed
me that, being utterly disgusted with the late proceedings and general
anarchy, he had determined to push forward by himself to meet the
Northern Indians, leaving his wife and children under the charge of
Cayuke. He therefore wanted the letters which I had written for him,
and my own, which he undertook to forward at the same time. So I rode
back to the toldos for the letters, which I carried to Casimiro without
anyone attempting to stop my way.

Having returned to the fire under the bush, I dismounted, and whilst
cooking another egg, gave Orkeke a piece of my mind; quietly hinting
that I carried ten lives about me. He assured me it was all a mistake,
and had happened without any orders from him, the young fellows only
wishing to try my mettle by way of joke. I replied that jokes of that
sort were sometimes dangerous, and the subject was mutually dropped.

We encamped by the side of a stream, into which many of us soon plunged
to take a refreshing bath, always a favourite enjoyment with the
Tehuelches, who are powerful swimmers, and dive well. While resting
here and sporting in the water a better state of feeling arose, and the
mutual suspicion and discord which had so long prevailed was gradually
forgotten. Casimiro had left, taking one of the Chilians; and his spouse
told me, amid a torrent of abuse of her better half, that he had gone
through fear, the other Indians having determined to kill him; and she
added that he had the heart of a skunk, a vulture, and an armadillo.
These combined would make a very nice mixture. That he was right in
making his escape at this particular juncture was very evident, for
the next day two young men were sent out, ostensibly as chasquis or
messengers, to look for the Northern Indians, but in reality to try and
overtake Casimiro and dispose of him; however, they returned without any
tidings of the wily old chief.

In the range of hills described as visible from Kaimak, there is a mine
or vein of iron ore, about a mile due west from the brook, and marked
by a large mass of white quartz. This is used by the Indians in the
manufacture of bolas, and an excursion was made to it. We brought
back numerous pieces, some of which, now in my possession, have been
examined, and pronounced to be brown and magnetic iron ore. The Indians
also told me that some leagues to the east of this spot a mass of iron,
having, as well as could be gathered from their account, the shape of a
bar-shot, lies in the middle of a barren plain, and is regarded by
them with superstitious awe. Whether this be an aërolite, or has any
connection with the ore on the hill side, it was not in my power to
determine, for in the critical state of feeling then prevalent a visit
of inspection was impracticable.

On the 22nd of October we marched a few miles, always following the
line of hills, and in a northerly course. Ostrich eggs still formed the
main staple of food, and furnished a diet sufficiently nutritious, but
producing all the effects of a course of 'Banting.' Fortunately this
day two of us killed fat pumas, some steaks off which broiled, by way
of variety, were an acceptable addition to the evening meal; but from
experience I should advise all travellers to boil their puma. We
encamped in a small gorge in the hills, directly under a peculiarly
pointed rock, which is called Yowlel, or Ship Rock, from its resemblance
to a ship under sail, and is regarded with superstition by the Indians,
who believe that all who endeavour to ascend it in the calmest weather
will, on arriving at the summit, have their mantles blown to pieces by
furious gusts of wind.

The next day--a glorious morning, after a night's rain--we proceeded
in the same direction; and while waiting for the heavy baggage, in the
shape of the women and children, several of us repaired to a regular
racecourse--a beaten track six feet wide, extending for almost three
miles, level and free from stones, though rather sandy. Here we had
trials of the speed of our horses to while away the interval; and when
the women appeared, proceeded to the chase, over a pampa formed by a
bend in the range of hills. During the hunt we found the carcase of a
guanaco, which had been killed by a puma, carefully covered up in grass
and scrub. It was a fat animal, such as the puma always singles out,
although I have read in some accounts that he follows the herds and
picks up the weakly ones. That this is not the case was proved on
various occasions, by finding the carcases left by these cats, which
were always those of animals in good condition. Early in the afternoon
we arrived at the encampment, by the side of a small river, flowing in
an easterly direction from the hills. The women, with the exception of
one or two, were not present, and might be seen about two miles off,
grubbing up a description of potato which grew in the neighbouring hill
side. The day was warm, and Orkeke invited me to go to the top of one
of the hills to see if any smoke or signs of Indians were visible. We
accordingly crossed the stream, and while riding along the northern bank
I observed fish swimming lazily on the top of the water. After crossing
a marshy patch of ground, we ascended the hills, and dismounting near a
bank of blue earth, climbed on foot to the summit, which was composed
of a description of quartz, with crystalline veins running through it.
Scrambling up this formation, we arrived at the top, whence we had a
beautiful view of the encampment and the green pasture bordering the
stream. To the northward the view was rather shut in by hills rising to
a considerable elevation. Just below us lay a valley, in which several
guanaco and ostriches were taking their evening meal. We remained here
for some time smoking and enjoying the face of nature generally, but
could discern no smoke or signs of Indians. Orkeke remarked that the
pasture had a fresher appearance lower down the course of the stream,
and proposed that we should inspect it. We accordingly descended from
our elevated position, mounted, and proceeded to the valley below; in
our descent being lucky enough to kill a fat male ostrich, which was
sitting on a nest of twenty-four eggs. We investigated the grass, which
was of good quality; and after an _al fresco_ meal, in which we were
joined by Tchang, returned to the toldos, where the women had just
arrived with a considerable supply of potatoes. I again, on our way
back, observed fish in the stream, so, turning my horse adrift,
proceeded to extract my hooks and line from the baggage under the
charge of Mrs. Orkeke. After a little delay all was ready; a piece of
meat supplied the place of fly as bait; and dropping it gently into the
pool, I soon had a bite, and pulled out a fish about two pounds weight,
of the perch class, similar to that called dorado in the River Plate.
After half-an-hour's fishing I landed several others as large, and as
it was nearly dark, returned to supper off fried fish and boiled
potatoes.

I had no opportunity of seeing the plants which produced these tubers,
but they exactly resembled those I afterwards obtained in the northern
country from a plant, the feathery fern-like leaf of which springs from
a long slender stem. The following day we shifted camp down river, to
the neighbourhood of the green pasture, and found large quantities of
the eggs of the upland geese, ducks, &c. In the neighbourhood one lonely
tree grew by the side of the stream, although the banks were lined
with driftwood, probably carried down from the wooded slopes of the
Cordillera, ten miles farther west, during floods. This day, smoke
having been distinctly seen to the northward, Hummums was despatched to
ascertain whether it were a signal from the much-looked-for Northern
Indians. Three days subsequently, about nine in the evening, whilst I
was lying dreaming of home, and had just--in dreamland--taken a glass
of sherry, Orkeke woke me up with the intelligence that fires were to
be seen to the north, which were no doubt caused by the 'chasqui' or
messenger previously despatched. In about three hours' time--somewhere
about midnight--Casimiro, Hummums, and another Indian rode into the
camp, and our toldo was soon crowded to hear the news from our chasqui,
who stated that the Northern Indians were in the wild cattle district,
where they had killed several animals; they were also well provided
with tobacco and other necessaries from the Rio Negro, where they had
been for trading purposes in August, and they would welcome our party,
provided that they came in a friendly spirit. The following morning we
had a great consultation in Crimè's toldo, at which it was determined
that all quarrels should be forgotten, and that we should march at once
to effect a junction with the other Indians. This having been resolved
on, all marched in an easterly direction to an encampment situated
on the borders of the same stream, and under a range of hills called
'Appleykaik.' Here we remained three days; and smoke not previously
accounted for having been observed to the east, two scouts were sent
out to ascertain the cause, but returned without intelligence. We spent
our time, as usual, in hunting, or bathing in the river; and on October
31 marched again, and had not gone very far, in a north-east direction,
before Tankelow--who had started earlier than the rest, and constituted
himself a _corps d'observation_--appeared, with a strange Indian of the
Pampa tribe, who stated that his companions were on their way to join
the Northern Indians. They had come from the neighbourhood of the
Chupat colony, and were, as far as I could make out, mixed Pampas and
Tehuelches. It was agreed that they should join us and the others at a
place called 'Henno,' to which we were at present marching. We continued
our route after this slight interruption, and encamped for the night
near the banks of a small stream. The weather had entirely changed, the
wind blowing bitterly from the south-west, with squalls of sleet, hail,
and snow; and but few of the party found it agreeable to take the
evening bath. Casimiro was in high spirits, as many of the Northern
Indians were relations of his, and he was to be invested with the
supreme command--in prospect of which he had already received presents
of horses, and was looking forward to the consultation of the chief,
which, he assured me, would have to be conducted with great pomp. During
our talk, Casimiro narrated all his adventures after quitting the
toldos. He had travelled so fast, knowing that he would probably be
pursued, that on the fifth day his horse broke down, as for two days
previous he had seen smoke from some encampment to which he was by this
time close, though he was uncertain whether it was that of his friends
or not. He left his Chilian companion, and proceeded to an eminence
to reconnoitre. During his absence the Chilian fell asleep; the grass
caught fire and surrounded the sleeping man. The Indians--Hinchel's
people--attracted by the smoke, came down and rescued him, all his
clothes having been burned off and his body severely scorched. Having
heard his story, Hinchel at once sent a party to search for Casimiro.
When the latter saw the five mounted Indians approaching, wrapped in
their ponchos, he was uncertain if they were Araucanos or Tehuelches,
and drew his revolver, prepared to pick them off in detail; but soon, to
his great relief, he recognised in the leader a relation of his own. He
also told me that when Hummums, our chasqui, arrived, he was entertained
by some friend of his own, to whom, in the evening, he boasted that he
and his friends had killed all the Christians in their camp. This story
was at once carried to Hinchel and Casimiro, who inquired if 'Muster'
had also been killed; to which the tale-bearer unhesitatingly replied
that he had. Hinchel, who had previously heard all about the English
visitor from Casimiro, was furious at what he considered a grave breach
of hospitality, and issued orders forthwith to apprehend the chasqui,
and to mount and make ready to avenge my supposed death by killing
Orkeke and all his party. Hummums, however, when interrogated as a
prisoner, in great terror declared that 'Muster' was safe, and that no
one had any idea of killing him, and then the storm blew over. But this
account, which was confirmed by the report of the chasqui, accidentally
overheard by myself, prepared me to meet Hinchel with feelings of
friendliness towards a chief who had evinced so keen a sense of the
care to be taken of a stranger who had confided himself to Indian
hospitality; and the impression of this chief's character then formed,
was fully confirmed on further acquaintance with him.

The two following days our route lay through a succession of rather
barren valleys, bordered by ranges of high hills, everywhere strewn
with rocks and boulders, and having a very gaunt and weird appearance.
The valleys generally contained good pasture on either the northern or
southern side of the streams which flowed down every one; but away from
the vicinity of the water the soil was sandy, with low bushes scattered
here and there.

On November 2nd, about 2 P.M., we arrived at a pass or gorge above the
rendezvous at Henno. The view of the valley below was very refreshing;
green grassy plains stretched for some miles, with a beautiful silvery
stream running down the centre. But, much to our disappointment, no
signs of Indians were visible; so we descended, and after bathing in a
pool, and waiting until the toldos were pitched, lighted a big signal
fire, which was shortly answered to the westward, and a messenger
was immediately despatched who returned towards nightfall with the
intelligence that the expected people would arrive next day; and we
had to reconcile ourselves to another night of anxiety, being not at
all certain as to the reception to be expected from the newcomers.



CHAPTER IV.

HENNOKAIK TO TECKEL.

  Ceremonial of Welcome. -- Hinchel's Indians. -- Tehuelches
    and Araucanos. -- Jackechan and the Chupat Tribe. -- My
    Examination. -- Encampment at Henno. -- Peaceful Occupations.
    -- The Oldest Inhabitant. -- Chiriq. -- The Hidden Cities. --
    Modern Legends. -- Mysteries of the Cordillera. -- Los Cesares.
    -- La Ciudad Encantada. -- Its Whereabouts. -- The Indian
    Cesares. -- The Guanaco. -- The Patagonian Ostrich. --
    Neighbourhood of Chiriq. -- Horseracing. -- Indian Horses. --
    Indian Dogs. -- Dog and Lover. -- Plaiting Sinews. -- Windy
    Hill. -- Surrounded by Fire. -- Young Guanaco. -- Arrival of
    Grog. -- News from Santa Cruz. -- Gisk. -- Romantic Scenery. --
    A Pleasant Neighbourhood. -- Fairy Glen. -- Breaking a Horse.
    -- Female Curiosity. -- The Wild Cattle Country. -- The Forests
    of the Cordillera. -- The Watershed. -- Among the Mountains. --
    Wild Flowers. -- A Bull Fight. -- The Bull Victorious. -- No
    Christmas Beef. -- Teckel. -- Change of Quarters.


As we were whiling away the next forenoon in fishing and disporting
ourselves generally in the water, smoke was descried at various points
to the westward, and about 2 P.M. the head of the heavy column of women,
children, and innumerable horses came into view on the northern side of
the valley. All instantly repaired to the toldos, accoutred ourselves,
and got up the horses in preparation for the arrival of the visitors;
the meeting of any number of Indians after a separation being recognised
as an affair of considerable importance. Shortly after our horses were
caught and saddled, and, indeed, before some of our party were ready,
the men who had been hunting _en route_ appeared, and the ceremonial of
welcome was duly observed.

Both parties, fully armed, dressed in their best, and mounted on their
best horses, formed into opposite lines.

The Northern Indians presented the gayest appearance, displaying flannel
shirts, ponchos, and a great show of silver spurs and ornamental
bridles. The chiefs then rode up and down, dressing the ranks and
haranguing their men, who kept up a continual shouting of 'Wap, Wap,
Wap.' I fell in as a private, though Casimiro had vainly endeavoured
to induce me to act as 'Capitanejo' or officer of a party. The Buenos
Ayrean colours were proudly displayed on our side, while the Northerns
carried a white weft, their ranks presenting a much better drilled
aspect than our ill-disciplined forces. Messengers or hostages were then
exchanged, each side deputing a son or brother of the chief for that
purpose; and the new comers advanced, formed into columns of threes,
and rode round our ranks, firing their guns and revolvers, shouting and
brandishing their swords and bolas. After galloping round at full speed
two or three times, they opened ranks, and charged out as if attacking
an enemy, shouting 'Koue' at every blow or thrust. The object of attack
was supposed to be the 'Gualichu' or demon, and certainly the demon
of discord had need to be exorcised. Hinchel's party then halted
and reformed their line, while we, in our turn, executed the same
manœuvres. Afterwards the Caciques advanced and formally shook hands,
making, each in turn, long and complimentary speeches. This was repeated
several times, the etiquette being to answer only 'Ahon' or Yes, until
the third repetition, when all begin to talk, and formality is gradually
laid aside. It was rather a surprise to find etiquette so rigorously
insisted on, but these so-called savages are as punctilious in observing
the proper forms as if they were Spanish courtiers.

These Northern Tehuelches, under the command of Hinchel, usually
frequent the country lying between the Rio Negro and the River Sengel,
and once a year, about July, visit the settlement of Patagones, where
their stay is generally short, only sufficient for them to barter their
furs and feathers, and for the chiefs at the same time to receive their
rations of mares, cattle, ponchos, yerba, tobacco, &c., allowed by the
Government of Buenos Ayres. By the time we met them in November they had
little to show of the gains of their August visit to Rio Negro except
a few mares and gay-coloured ponchos. Hinchel, however, owned two or
three head of cattle which were said to have been caught at the head of
the Chupat valley, being supposed to be stray cattle belonging to the
Welsh settlers. Some of the Indians had still also a little yerba left,
and tobacco in plenty; and on the occasion of the welcome many were
dressed in coloured ponchos, chiripas, and some in leathern boots. With
arms they were passably well provided, guns and revolvers being in
proportion of about one to four men. During the time that we were
occupied in the ceremony the women of the newly-arrived party busied
themselves in pitching their toldos; and shortly after we had returned
to our camp, which was a little apart from that of the new comers, and
appeared very small and insignificant when contrasted with theirs, the
Cacique came over, and presented mares, horses, and other gifts to the
chiefs of our party; and a grand feast was celebrated in our toldos.
Many of the new comers rode over, two or sometimes three mounted on one
horse, and would, if not acquainted with the inmates, stop in front
of a toldo and look in for a few minutes, then ride on to another,
and so on. As these were mostly young men, their real object was
probably to reconnoitre the young ladies. One, however, who, though
undistinguishable from the Indians in appearance, and who looked like
an Araucano, but was really by birth a Spaniard, having been carried off
in his childhood from a settlement, brought over a pack of cards, and
some of our party were soon deep in a game of siete, at which the
stranger being a proficient, soon cleared them out completely.

[Illustration: CEREMONY OF WELCOME (TEHUELCHES AND ARAUCANIANS).]

Next day I paid a visit to Hinchel. He spoke no Spanish, but he managed
to converse, and he asked me if the Southern Tehuelches were not a queer
lot, for he had heard that they killed men as readily as they would
guanaco. From what Casimiro had reported, I was already inclined to
respect this Cacique, who had expressed such readiness to protect or
avenge a guest of the Indians, and closer acquaintance only strengthened
my regard for him. He was a fine-looking man, with a pleasant,
intelligent countenance, which was not belied by his disposition.
He never, to my knowledge, exceeded sobriety, and was good-humoured
and self-possessed; though if once roused to fight, his resolute and
determined courage was well known. He was skilled at all sorts of
handicraft, and was always busily employed. He was generous to a
fault--ready to give away everything if asked for it, and often without
the asking. His great weakness was an inveterate fondness for gambling,
which, together with his lavish good nature, eventually impoverished him
greatly. At his request, I informed Casimiro and Orkeke that he desired
to hold a parlemento. Accordingly, the chiefs all proceeded to a place
agreed upon between the two camps, where they took their seats in a
circle on the grass. After various harangues from Hinchel and others,
it was resolved that Casimiro should be elected chief in command of the
Tehuelches; and that after the expiration of the young guanaco season,
all present, together with those expected from the neighbourhood of the
Chupat, should proceed to a place called Teckel, and thence march to Las
Manzanas, to unite there with the Araucanian Indians, some of whom had
already communicated with us, and had promised to forward my letters,
_viâ_ Las Manzanas, to Rio Negro.

The relations between the Tehuelches or Tsonecas of Patagonia and the
Araucanian Indians of Las Manzanas had been previously by no means of
a pacific nature. It has been already mentioned that near the Sengel we
passed the scene of a fierce battle between them. Tankelow bore still
the scars of seven lance wounds received in a battle when he was left
for dead on the field. On the same occasion Orkeke was taken prisoner,
but, although mutilated, succeeded eventually in effecting his escape.
Casimiro's father also became a prisoner in an unsuccessful assault
on an Araucanian stronghold. After two or three years' captivity he
succeeded, with two of his comrades, in escaping, and while hurrying to
rejoin the Tehuelches in the vicinity of Geylum, met with a solitary
Araucanian. He seeing a fire, approached unsuspicious of danger, and was
welcomed and invited to smoke; they then seized him, stripped and bound
him hand and foot, and left him lying on the pampa, a helpless prey to
the condors and pumas. The two fugitives, having thus gratified their
desire for vengeance, succeeded in rejoining their own people, and
organised an attack on the Araucanos, in which Casimiro's father was
killed. Some wonderful feats of valour were described to me as having
been achieved by the Tehuelches; but in fact the Manzaneros proved
themselves the superior warriors, and even at the time of our visit to
them had Tehuelche slaves. The powerful cacique Lenquetrou succeeded in
healing the old feuds, and united all the Indians under his leadership.
He was treacherously killed by an Argentine officer at Bahia Blanca
during the peace between the Indians and the Christians, and after his
death the old quarrels broke out afresh. Casimiro's diplomacy, however,
succeeded during the time of my visit in conciliating all parties,
and the result appeared in the amicable arrangements concluded at the
Parlemento, and afterwards successfully carried out. Had it not been for
this, my journey to Las Manzanas, and thence to the Rio Negro, would
have been dangerous, if not altogether impossible.

Two days after the arrival of the Northern party the Indians from
the Chupat came in, and were duly welcomed by our united forces, the
ceremonial on this occasion presenting a very animated scene. They
numbered between seventy and eighty men, with women and children,
occupying about twenty toldos. Most of them were young men of Pampa, or
mixed Pampa and Tehuelche blood, but there were a few pure Tehuelches in
their ranks, their chief being a Pampa named 'Jackechan,' or Juan. As I
watched them drawn up, or careering round us during the welcome, they
appeared to present a different type from that of my first friends,
being generally shorter, though as muscular, and even apparently more
broadly built, with complexions lighter, and their dress and persons
smarter and cleaner. They were all well armed with lances and firearms,
and were evidently kept well in hand by the chief. Their range of
country lay between the same limits as that of Hinchel's people, but
they habitually seemed to have kept more to the sea-coast, where many
of them had been accustomed to visit the Welsh colony at the Chupat for
trade, and in their opinion, as afterwards expressed to me, the honest
Welsh colonists were much pleasanter and safer to deal with than 'the
Christians' of the Rio Negro. They seemed to have been especially
impressed with the size and excellence of the home-made loaves, one of
which would be given in return for half a guanaco, and Jackechan often
expatiated on the liberality of the colonists and the goodness of their
bread. These men also felt strongly the kindness with which an Indian,
if overtaken with rum, would be covered up or carried into an outhouse
by the Chupat people; whereas at the Rio Negro the only attention
paid to him would be to strip and plunder him completely. During the
afternoon the chief, Jackechan, sent a request to the 'Englishman'
to pay him a visit, so I repaired to his toldo, and was courteously
received by him. He wore a beautifully-wrought silver chain, with a
medallion of the Madonna suspended to it, of which he seemed pardonably
proud. Having been invited to take a seat, and the pipe having been duly
passed round, it became evident that I was to be tested as to my real
claims to the character of an Englishman. Jackechan, during his visits
to the Chupat, had become acquainted with Mr. Lewis Jones, the Director
of the colony, and so had learned the name of the Queen of England, &c.,
and he proceeded to interrogate me accordingly. I found him to be a most
intelligent Indian, speaking Spanish, Pampa, and Tehuelche fluently; and
our acquaintance thus commenced ripened into a strong mutual friendship.
My answers proving quite satisfactory, he was evidently much pleased,
and ordered his wife to produce coffee, a little of which he had still
remaining from his store procured at Chupat. Whilst discussing this
luxury, we had a long conversation on various topics, and he produced
a photograph of Mr. Jones and some letters, one being an order for a
ration of animals, mares and cattle, from the Argentine Government. He
stated that he had not visited Patagones for some years, on account of a
fight that had taken place, but would perhaps now accompany our party.
Whilst conversing, his son, a boy of some twelve years of age, came in
and startled me by his unlikeness to the other Indian boys, for his
brown hair and eyes and fair complexion might easily have caused one
to take him for an English boy. His mother was not present, as, for
domestic reasons, Jackechan had parted with her; but I subsequently saw
her, and she, although a handsome woman, had no European traits about
her except that of having quarrelled with her husband. The following day
was spent in a second parlemento--or, as the Indians call it, 'aix'--and
all agreed to place themselves under the orders of Casimiro, for the
purpose of protecting Patagones in the possible event of an invasion
by the Indians of Rouke, or 'Calficura,' from the country north of Rio
Negro. All present saw the importance of protecting Patagones, as, if
that town should be destroyed, there would be no market for their furs,
&c.

Our encampment was situated in a large grassy valley watered by a stream
flowing to the eastward, which was finally lost in a large marsh. The
valley, which may have been about twelve miles in length and perhaps
four in width at its broadest part, was confined by hills which,
closing, narrowed it in at the eastern and western extremities. To the
N.W. and N. the hills--which almost merited the name of mountains--were
peculiarly rugged, more especially towards their summits. About N.N.E.
by compass from our camp, there was a pass formed by a dip or break in
the range leading north, and through the mouth of the pass we could see
the smoke of the hunting parties of the Araucanian Indians, who were,
however, many leagues distant. Throughout Patagonia smoke is always
visible at a great distance, and the practised eyes of the Indians can
distinguish it from the clouds, when ordinary persons would be unable to
discern it unless pointed out to them. On the southern and eastern sides
of the valley lay a range of hills, the rugged summits of which rose
from lower slopes of more regular swell, and presenting more even
and down-like surfaces than those on the western and northern sides.
Immediately above our encampment the hill of Henno, from which the
valley is named, rose from the plain. Near the summit of this hill
Orkeke and myself, who for amusement had ridden up to it, one day
came across the bleached skeleton of a man, perhaps one of two young
Argentines who, as I was subsequently informed, had travelled thus far
in company with the Indians, and had been for some--or no--reason killed
by them near this spot. In the surrounding hills red porphyry frequently
cropped out, and also veins of a red agate, unlike the flint agate so
common in all the plains of Patagonia. The rocks near the summits of the
hills were generally of igneous formation, and on the slopes of these
hills frequent springs gushed out, easily discoverable from a distance
by the vivid green of the grass growing round them. As we gazed down
from the height of Henno, the valley lay before us like a picture; our
few toldos were situated in a group to the east, on the south side of
the stream; about a quarter of a mile to the north the thirty or forty
toldos of the Northern Indians were pitched, and opposite to them, on
the north side of the stream, those of the party commanded by Jackechan
or Juan. The scene was animated but peaceful: here might be seen a party
of young men playing at ball, in another a man breaking a colt, and down
by the side of the stream groups of girls bathing, or wandering in the
swamps picking the wild spinach which grew all along the margin of the
water in great quantities. One day I went on an excursion with the
children to pluck spinach and plunder the nests of wild ducks and upland
geese, from which we returned laden with spoil, and in the evening a
stew, _à la_ Tehuelche, was made with ostrich grease, spinach, and eggs,
which combination was universally approved of. Another day we went
fishing, and after catching several with a hook and line, voted it slow
work, so contrived a net by sewing two ponchos together, and wading
into the stream dragged the shallow parts, and, notwithstanding the
duck weed, which rather impeded us, made several good hauls, the take
consisting of the perch-like fish and a black species of cat-fish: the
Indians, however, except Casimiro, would not eat the fish, and evidently
regarded my enjoyment of them much as an Englishman would at first view
their appreciation of blood. Another day we went on an expedition to
dig up a species of root somewhat resembling a parsnip, but although we
grubbed about for an hour our efforts were only scantily rewarded by
a few small roots, which were given to the children. One roasted in
the ashes, at Mrs. Orkeke's invitation I tasted, and found it rather
tasteless and insipid.

During our stay in this pleasant resting-place the weather was bright
and sunny, and on calm days warm, and the absence of rain almost made it
appear like summer; but whenever the west wind blew, the piercing cold
dispelled the passing illusion. The long delay which was necessary to
recruit our horses, in anticipation of a campaign against the young
guanaco and the wild cattle, was most acceptable to all the members of
our party; and after the two preceding months of quarrels, real and
suspected dangers, and forced marches, our present peaceable existence,
though devoid of adventure, was thoroughly enjoyable. An occasional
hunting party, interchange of visits and card parties with the recent
arrivals, fishing, foraging for birds' eggs, spinach, &c., with some
flirting, and, by way of business, a parlemento or two, made our time
pass merrily enough at Henno.

Our hunting parties were under the direction of 'the oldest inhabitant,'
an aged cacique called Guenalto, with venerable white hair, and who had
been crippled by a lance-thrust, received, to his honour be it said,
while endeavouring to mediate between two of his friends. His great age
and amiable character commanded universal respect; and on a hunting
morning he would sit under a bush and speechify for half an hour,
recounting old deeds of prowess, and exhorting us to do our best. The
old man was a frequent and welcome visitor at our toldo, where he was
encouraged to indulge to his heart's content in long-winded stories. My
compass greatly excited his curiosity, and he took it into his head that
it possessed a magical power which could effect the restoration of the
use of his arm. He accordingly begged to be allowed to hold it in his
hand; and sat patiently, with an air of awe and faith combined, for an
hour, afterwards declaring that the operation had done him much good.
We greatly pleased him by repairing his coat of mail, a complete tunic
of heavy iron chains, of unknown antiquity, bound together by strips of
hide, and weighing over a hundredweight. This he informed me he only put
on to defend himself from 'foolish Indians.'

His use of my compass was rivalled by the custom of other friends, who
were wont to borrow it when engaged in a game of cards; their belief
being that the magic instrument gave luck to the happy possessor for
the time being; and I often thought that it was fortunate I had brought
no other instrument, as 'shooting the sun' would have been certainly
regarded as a piece of sorcery, and any death or accident happening
afterwards would have been visited on the head of the magician. As it
was, my taking notes was often regarded with suspicious curiosity, and
inquiries made as to what there could possibly be in that place to write
about, as although the Tehuelche mind can comprehend writing letters to
friends or officials, it by no means understands keeping a journal; and
'some untutored Indian' might probably, if suspicious that 'i'faith
he'll prent it,' instead of waiting to cut up the book, anticipate all
reviewers by cutting up the intended author himself.

On the 18th of November the camp at Henno was broken up, and all marched
a few leagues to the west, crossing successive rocky ridges running
parallel to the Cordillera, and divided by well-watered valleys, and
encamped near a valley watered by the same river, which between this
place and Henno makes a considerable bend. This station was named
'Chiriq,' from a description of bush, with a leaf somewhat resembling
that of the sloe, which grows abundantly on the banks of the stream. The
wood of this shrub is soft and of little value, but burns well when dry.
At this time neither flower nor fruit was visible, but it was described
to me as bearing a berry resembling the currant. Since our departure
from the wooded river Sengel, a description of cactus, or, as the
Spaniards call it, tuna, bearing a tasteless fruit something like the
ordinary prickly pear, had been met with occasionally, and found very
troublesome, for as it grows close to the ground its spines are very apt
to lame the horses if not carefully avoided in the chase. From Chiriq a
large plain appeared to extend for some leagues to the westward, bounded
north and south by a wooded range of hills, and extending apparently
to the bases of the lofty snow-covered peaks of the Cordillera, which
appeared to form a complete barrier.

During our stay here an incident occurred which led to the collection
and comparison of the traditions concerning the hidden or enchanted city
which still are current and believed among the Indians and Chilotes.

One day while hunting we were startled by a loud report, as of the
discharge of a cannon, and looking to the west saw a black cloud of
smoke hanging above the peaks of the Cordillera. My companion Jackechan
told me that on several previous visits to this station the Indians had
observed similar columns of smoke in the same direction. On one occasion
so convinced were they that it was caused by human agency, that a party
set out to endeavour to penetrate the forests and reach the dwellings of
the unknown residents, which the smoke was believed to point out. They
proceeded some distance into the recesses of the mountain forests, but
the extreme difficulties of travelling compelled them at last to abandon
their purpose and retrace their steps. It is of course most probable
that both the explosion and the smoke proceeded from some unknown active
volcano in the range; but the Indians firmly believe in the existence
either of an unknown tribe, or of an enchanted or hidden city. The
Araucanians when met with farther north had a story current amongst them
of having discovered a settlement of white people, who spoke an unknown
tongue, in the recesses of the mountains in the same vicinity. The
Chilotes and Chilians from the western side fondly cherish the belief
in the existence of La Ciudad Encantada, and the mythical people Los
Cesares, to the discovery of which, according to De Angelis--to whose
research is due the collection of all the records on the subject--the
attention of Buenos Ayres, Lima, and Chili was so long directed. A
Chilote or Valdivian, named Juan Antonio, narrated to me that he knew a
man who was acquainted with another who had heard from a third that the
last-named deponent was one of a party who visited the coast opposite to
Chiloe for the purpose of wood cutting. They ascended in their boat a
river, which as described was probably that the upper course of which
we afterwards struck in the Cordillera. Having reached the woods, they
separated to cut timber. One of their number was missing at the evening
camp-fire; his comrades, however, waited for him, but gave him up at
last, and were already preparing to return, when he rejoined them, and
recounted a strange adventure. Deep in the forest he had come upon a
path, which he followed for some distance, till he heard the sound of a
bell, and saw clearings, by which he knew himself to be near a town or
settlement. He soon met some white men, who made him prisoner, and after
questioning him as to the cause of his being there, blindfolded him, and
led him away to an exceedingly rich city, where he was detained prisoner
for several days. At last he was brought back, still blindfolded,
and when the bandage was removed found himself near the place of his
capture, whence he made his way back to his comrades. Juan Antonio, the
narrator, and Meña, one of the Chilian deserters who was present, fully
believed this story, which, however, bears a suspicious resemblance
to one told a hundred years before; and both declared that it was all
caused by witchcraft or enchantment.

Another curious story was related to me, the hero of which was a
mischievous imp of twelve years old, who was afterwards attached to my
service as page, and for impudence and uselessness might have been a
page of the court of Louis Quatorze. He had been in company with Foyel's
tribe of Indians and Valdivians in the neighbourhood of the Cordillera.
One day the hopeful boy was missed, and although careful search was
made, no traces of him were discoverable. Three months afterwards he
turned up again, dressed in the same clothes and in remarkably good
condition, his spirits and impudence undiminished. My friend Ventura
Delgado, a white Valdivian, who was in the camp at the time of his
absence and return, vouched from personal observation for so much of the
story. When questioned as to his whereabouts and with whom he had been,
he answered with confidence, 'With the man on the island in the lake.'
There was no known lake nearer than Nahuel-huapi, thirty miles distant,
though a chain of lakes must from old accounts exist within the
Cordillera; and it certainly was strange how, if he had wandered in
the forests for so long a period, subsisting on roots, strawberries,
and the plant named talka, he should have preserved his well-fed
condition; it was equally puzzling to imagine why if made a captive
by strangers he should have been allowed to return.

Another curious fable was told by my guide J'aria, when we were
travelling from Punta Arena, _apropos_ of the wild animals in Patagonia,
on which Lieut. Gallegos was enlarging. J'aria asked if I had ever head
of the Tranco, or Trauco, which the Chilotes aver inhabits the western
forests of the Cordillera. Gallegos declared that there was no doubt of
its existence, and described it as possessing the form of a wild man,
covered with a fell of coarse shaggy hair. This nondescript--a specimen
of which would no doubt be invaluable to, though not met with on those
coasts by Mr. Darwin--is said to descend from the impenetrable forests
and attack the cattle, on which it preys. This is possibly a pure
invention, emanating from the aguardiente muddled brain of a Chilian,
but it seems to have a certain relation to the vague stories of unknown
wild tribes dwelling in the unexplored and wooded mountain regions.
It is hard to convey the sense of mysterious space and undiscoverable
dwelling-places impressed on the spectator by the vast solitudes of the
mountains and forests of the Cordillera. The inexplicable sounds of
crashing rocks, or explosions from unknown volcanoes, and the still
stranger tones which resemble bells and voices, all suggest to the
ignorant and superstitious natives confirmation of the strange
circumstantial stories handed down for several generations; and it is
hard for anyone, even with the assistance of educated reason, to resist
the powerful spell of the legends told in sight of these mysterious
mountains. My readers will perhaps laugh at the narration of these
vagaries of imagination, or will inquire what is the legend of the
Cesares, and of the enchanted city. If they have read the delightful
pages of 'Westward Ho,' they will not be unacquainted with the shifting
mirage of that rich city; which, from Mexico to the Magdalena, mocked
the search of so many eager adventurers. The Gran Quivira of New Mexico,
the fabled Iximaya, the El Dorado of Guyana, and El Gran Paytiti of
Brazil, the baseless fabrics of many a golden vision, are found repeated
with change of place and circumstances in this city of Los Cesares.
There is a curious combination of three distinct strands of legends in
the chain which connects the marvellous stories of the Northern Indians
and Chilotes with the accounts so circumstantially deposed to, and
firmly believed by, the Spaniards of the last century. The first is the
conquest of Los Cesares in 1539. Sebastian Cabot, from his settlement
of Carcarañal on the Parana, sent his pilot Cesar with 120 soldiers
to explore the river, 60 being left to garrison the fort;[5] this
expedition proceeded as far as the junction of the Parana and Paraguay,
which latter river they ascended to the Laguna Sta. Anna, on the way
defeating the hostile Indians. They reached the boundaries of the
Guaranis, with whom they made friendship and returned. They next set out
to proceed overland to Peru, and crossed the Cordillera. After making
their way against incredible difficulties, they reached a province, the
inhabitants of which were rich in cattle, vicuñas, and gold and silver.
The ruler of the province, 'a great lord,' at whose capital they at last
arrived, received his Spanish visitors kindly, and entertained them
with all honour, until at their own choice they were allowed to return
enriched with presents of gold and precious stuffs. The Spaniards
regained their fort on the Parana only to find it a deserted ruin; the
Indians having surprised and massacred the garrison. Cesar thereupon led
his party to the settlements, and thence started on another expedition,
in which he again crossed the Cordillera, and from a height beheld, as
he imagined, the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic on either hand,
probably mistaking some large lagoon for the distant Atlantic. He then
made his way up the coast to Atacama, and thence to Cuzco, at which
city he joined the conquerors just at the period of the capture of the
ill-fated Inca Atahuallpa.

  [5] Fte. S. Espiritu.

This marvellous traverse of all the country was spoken of ever after as
the conquest of Los Cesares, and the whole account was set forth by Ruy
Diaz Guzman in 1612, whose authority was one of the Conquistadores of
Peru, named Arzon, who had learned all the particulars from Don Cesar
himself in Cuzco. It does not seem, however, that more than this name,
and perhaps the tradition of the rich Indian city, were preserved in
the romantic rumours that began to obtain currency in the seventeenth
century, and continued to gain credit till 1781, when the Fiscal of
Chili, having been charged to make inquiry, summed up in an elaborate
state paper all the evidence in favour of the existence of a rich and
strong city, situated somewhere between 45° and 56° south, and urged
the Spanish Government to authorise an expedition to discover and take
possession of it. The city was described by various veracious (?)
authorities as 'defended by walls, ditches, and ravelins, the only
entrance being protected by a draw-bridge, besides which cautious
sentries were always stationed on an adjoining hill to detect intrusive
strangers. The buildings were sumptuously constructed, the houses being
of wrought stone with azotea roofs; and the churches were covered with
glittering roofs of silver, and gorgeously furnished within. Of silver,
too, were all utensils, knives, and even ploughshares made; and the
inhabitants used golden stools and seats. They were light complexioned,
with blue eyes and thick beards, and spoke a language unintelligible
to both Spaniards and Indians. They wore jackets of blue cloth, yellow
capes, and blue wadmal drawers and loose silk trousers, with large boots
and small three-cornered hats! They possessed numerous cattle, marked
with brands similar to those of the Spanish colonists; but their
principal article of cultivation was pepper, in which they traded with
their neighbours, maintaining withal a complete system of exclusive
isolation.' By one account the population was composed of the
descendants of the crews of several ships which had been wrecked in
the Straits of Magellan from 1523 to 1539, the survivors of which had
made their way overland and founded a settlement. A wandering padre
was said to have received the news of its existence from some Indians,
accompanied by a knife as a token, which was recognised as having
belonged to the captain of a stranded vessel. The padre set out to
discover his countrymen, but lost his life on the road. Another more
precise tradition declared that the surviving inhabitants of Osorno,
after having maintained a heroic defence against the Araucanians, under
the victorious chief Caupolican, in 1539, made good their escape with
their families and cattle to a peninsula in a great lagoon thirty miles
long and seven or eight wide, situate near Reloncavi, or the volcano
called Osorno, where they built a city strongly defended on the landward
side by a fosse and drawbridge raised every night. This lagoon was by
others said to be that of Payeque, near a rapid stream named Llanqueco.
An explorer named Roxas, in 1714, who started from Buenos Ayres, and
whose route lay south-west from Tandil and the Volcan, gives most
precise distances and landmarks to define the position of the Cesares.
He mentions especially a river with a ford only passable during one
period of the year, and a hill on which is found much magnetic iron ore.
These landmarks, and the rest of his description, point to the locale of
that remarkable rock formation mentioned in p. 100, which, seen from a
distance, might well cheat a traveller into the belief that he beheld a
fortified town. Wáki pointed it out to me, and said, jokingly, 'Perhaps
Christians live there.' The 'Indians of veracity,' so frequently quoted
in these accounts, who were, however, all bound to keep secret the
access to the city, doubtless confused their recollections of different
settlements visited in their migrations, and the Spaniards, prepared to
receive any new wonder, wove into the marvellous tale all the stories
told them, and regarded the joint fiction as undoubted fact. But two
more remarkable phases of this legend, and then we return to practical
Indian life. A military party, who set out in 1777 from Rio Bueno, and
marched to Lake Llanquechue, crossed the passes of the Cordillera under
Osorno, and passed the night near the snow line. They heard distant
artillery, and beheld the head of a great Laguna on the eastern side;
they brought back the astounding intelligence that two distinct towns
existed, one peopled by a race of Spanish origin, the Auca-Huincas, at
war with the Pehuelches; and the other by Englishmen, or Moro-Huincas,
who lived in amity with the Indians. And the Fiscal of Chili, in
his report, insisted strongly on the necessity of rooting out these
audacious islanders who had dared to plant themselves in the dominions
of 'our Lord the King.' Just as the jealous fear of the encroaching
English was thus mixed up in the Spanish version of the mysterious
Cesares, so the Indians connected them with the traditionary glories of
the great Inca race, and spoke of the Indian Cesares; and the potency
of the fable was shown by a proclamation put forth by the heroic and
ill-starred Tupac Amaru, who headed the unsuccessful rebellion against
the tyrant Christians in 1781, styling himself 'Inca, Señor de los
Cesares y Amazonas, con dominio en el Gran Paytiti.' But success mocked
his grasp, and he perished by the hand of the executioner, just as the
rich and coveted city whose lordship he claimed has eluded many an
explorer who has sacrificed his life in the hopeless search. But the
patient reader is probably weary of enchanted cities, and glad to return
to the daily routine of our Indian life, though it was at this time
butcherly enough. It was the all-important season of young guanaco
hunting; and though the chase afforded plenty of riding, it could hardly
be said to offer sport; but to the Indians it was a matter of business,
as their clothing and stock of skins to trade with depended on the
number of young guanaco killed at this time. Some notes of the habits of
the guanaco and rhea, or ostrich, which furnish the Patagonian Indians
with food and clothing, may not be out of place, though all critics
are warned that they are not those of a naturalist, but simply the
observations of a lover of birds and beasts.

The guanaco, known to the Indians as 'Nou,' is from three to four feet
in height, and from four to five in length, measured from the point of
the nostrils to the tail. The coat is woolly, but decreases in thickness
of wool, or rather becomes hairy, about the head and legs. Its colour is
of a yellowish red, intermixed with white in various parts of the body;
more especially under the abdomen, down the inside of the legs, and
round the lips and cheeks: the white also extends up the inside of the
neck and throat. The shoulder is slightly arched; the tail short, and
when the animal is in motion slightly elevated. The guanaco abounds over
a vast range of country, extending from Peru all down the regions east
of the range of the Cordillera of the Andes, over the vast plains from
Mendoza to the Straits of Magellan, and even to Tierra del Fuego. As a
rule, one male guanaco herds with a troop of about a hundred females,
and in the event of their being disturbed he will take up his position
on some neighbouring pinnacle of rock, and commence neighing something
after the fashion of a horse, keeping himself between the danger and
his wives. At the breeding season, however, the males go in flocks by
themselves, as do the females. Although it is stated in Monsieur Gay's
admirable book on the Zoology of Chili, that the females sometimes bear
three fawns, yet this must be a rare case: while we were hunting and
killing the young guanaco, the mothers invariably became separated, the
young ones lagging behind so as to prevent any appropriation of them to
their dams. However, during the time employed in killing the mothers
for the purpose of extracting the unborn young from the womb, I never
saw or heard of more than one fœtus being found. The guanacos are
excessively swift of foot, indeed almost unapproachable by horse or dog,
as a few buck leaps take them away far beyond the speed of a horse. They
frequently wait to allow a pursuer to approach close, and then bound
off, and speedily distance him. Their means of defence consist chiefly
in the savate, or use of the feet, more especially the fore ones,
although they also bite at times, and with their two peculiar canine
teeth could inflict a severe wound.[6] I have seen places where a puma
and a guanaco have evidently had a severe struggle, always, however,
resulting in the victory of the puma, as, on seeing these marks, we
invariably searched for and found the body near, carefully covered
over by the 'leon.' The flesh of the guanaco is excellent, something
resembling mutton; the young guanaco being more like very tender veal.
That their wool might be turned to account for mercantile purposes is
undoubted, as it is of very fine texture, and is at the present time of
value in Chili, where it is woven into ponchos, which are highly prized.
Up to the present time few have been domesticated, but they become very
tame, and might at a future date be found useful as beasts of burden,
as they are similar in most respects to the lama. There is one very
remarkable point about the guanaco: at certain times of the year a sort
of secretion, condensed into a hard substance like stone, is found in
round pieces, varying from ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, in the stomach.
To these stones some of the Indians attribute medicinal virtues. The
guanaco is of use to the Indians in every way. The skin of the adult
is used to make the coverings of the toldos, and that of the unborn or
young ones to make mantles for clothes; the sinews of the back furnish
them with thread; the skin of the neck, which is particularly tough and
durable, with lazos or thongs for bolas, bridles, &c., &c. The skin of
the hock supplies them with shoes or coverings for the bolas; from the
thigh bone they also cut out dice, or make a musical instrument. On
attaining the age of about two months, the coat of the young guanaco
begins to become woolly, and the skin is then useless for mantles, but
makes sufficiently good saddle cloths. The animal at this early age is
very swift of foot, and will give a good chase. They attain their full
size the second or third year after birth, and the adult male cannot be
better described than as apostrophised by Lieut. Gallegos. As we watched
a solitary guanaco standing on a hill above us, and every now and then
uttering its shrill warning neigh, 'Ah,' said Gallegos, 'you are a queer
animal; you have the neigh of a horse, the wool of a sheep, the neck of
a camel, the feet of a deer, and the swiftness of the devil.' The Rhea
Darwinii, called by the Indians 'Mekyush,' and by the Spaniards Avestrus
or Ostrich, which name is universally applied to it, is peculiar to
Patagonia, few being met with north of Rio Negro, and none being found
that I am aware of in any other part of the globe; with the exception,
perhaps, of the more northern and plain-like parts of Tierra del Fuego,
opposite the country extending from Cape Virgin to Oazy Harbour. It is
a variety of the Rhea Americana, common in the Argentine provinces of
Entre Rios and Santa Fé, also scattered over the Republic of the Banda
Oriental, and extending, I believe, as far north as Rio Grande do Sul
and the southern Brazilian province. They exist also in Chili, on the
plains at the foot of the Cordillera of the Andes. The chief difference
between these two species is that the Patagonian Rhea Darwinii is
smaller and of lighter colour than the American Rhea. The Patagonian
ostriches are very swift of foot, and run with their wings closed, while
the other species invariably spread theirs. The former birds also always
run in a straight line, except when leaving the nest, when probably, to
avoid being tracked, they run in a circuitous manner. Their plumage,
that is to say the wing feathers, are an object of commerce, and fetch
at present about a dollar a pound in Buenos Ayres. The marrow from
the leg bones is also, I believe, of use for making pomade, and was
formerly, if not at present, highly prized in Buenos Ayres. To the
Indian this bird is invaluable in many ways. Besides furnishing their
most favourite food, from the sinews of the leg thongs for bolas are
constructed; the neck is used as a pouch for salt or tobacco; the
feathers are exchanged for tobacco and other necessaries; the grease
from the breast and back is tried out and secured in bags formed of the
skin (taken off during the spring season, when the females, like all
the Patagonian animals except the puma, are thin); the meat is more
nourishing and more relished by the Indians than that of any other
animal in the country, and the eggs form a staple commodity of food
during the months of September, October, and November. The male bird
stands about 2½ feet high, and is to be distinguished from the female by
its being of a slightly darker colour, and of greater size and strength;
nevertheless, it requires a practised eye to detect the difference at
any distance. The male bird is also swifter. Their usual food consists
of short grass and the seeds of various shrubs, but more especially of
tender grass, which I have on several occasions watched them plucking,
from a convenient rock which hid me from their sight. On being alarmed
they immediately set off at a great speed; they possess great powers
of eyesight. If met or obstructed by horsemen in their line of flight,
they not unfrequently squat so closely that they can scarcely be
distinguished from the surrounding rocks, as the greyish colour of their
plumage so closely resembles the almost universal aspect of the Pampas
of Patagonia. These birds, though not web-footed, can swim sufficiently
well to pass a river. In the winter season it is not unfrequent for the
Indians to drive them into the water, where, their legs getting numbed
with cold, they are drifted to the shore by the current, and easily
captured, being unable to move. In snowy weather they are also easily
taken, as their eyes appear to be affected by the glare of the white
snow, and their saturated plumage doubtless becomes heavier. They are
polygamous, one male bird consorting with five or six hens, which
lay their eggs in the same nest--a hole about two feet six inches in
diameter, scooped out of the earth. They begin to lay in the early part
of September, the number of eggs in each nest varying from twenty to
as many as forty, or more. In the early part of the laying season
extraneous eggs were found scattered in different parts of the plain,
some of which were of diminutive size. Contrary to the usual rule
amongst birds, the male sits on the eggs, and when the chickens are
hatched assumes the charge of the brood. The young run immediately, or
shortly after emerging from the shell, and are covered with a down of
greyish black colour on the back, and whitish on the breast and neck.
Their cry resembles the syllables pi, pi, pi, uttered in a sharp, quick
manner. The old male, when any dangers appear, feigns to be hurt, like
other birds endeavouring to distract the attention of the hunter, in
order that his brood may escape by hiding in the grass. After the
male has sat for some time on the nest (I should place the period of
incubation at about three weeks), he gets thin, and the grass closely
surrounding the nest is found eaten quite bare. The females by this time
are beginning to pick up flesh, which is a fortunate provision of nature
for the Indians, who cannot subsist on lean meat. Whilst the females are
thin they are killed and skinned, the meat being left, and the skins
sewn into mantles for sale at the settlements. These birds at that
period are much afflicted with vermin, which invade the toldos and
guanaco mantles of the Indians, and cause them infinite annoyance.
(A useful hint occurs to me for future travellers amongst the
Patagonians--never allow the squaw of the establishment to place
ostrich mantles under your sleeping hides.) The young Rhea does not
attain its full plumage or size until the second year after its birth,
and is never pursued by the Indians unless food is really scarce. The
eggs are eaten in all stages, fresh or stale; the Indian not recognising
much difference between the unhatched chicken and the unborn guanaco.
The inveterate destroyers of these birds are, besides their human
enemies, the puma and foxes, the former of which will surprise and kill
the sitting bird, which he carefully hides, and then proceeds to eat the
eggs with great gusto. We not unfrequently found the eggs broken and
scattered by these animals, whilst the bird was generally discovered
hard by. The foxes, I think, content themselves with sucking the eggs;
but I was assured that near Geylum, where wild cats are common, these
latter will kill the bird on the nest, like their relatives the puma.
Besides these there are the condors, eagles, and hawks, which no
doubt commit extensive ravages on the young broods. With all these
difficulties to contend with, the Rhea Darwinii exists in great numbers,
and if not kept down to a certain extent by the Indians and other
enemies would overrun the whole country. We were, while at Chiriq,
busily engaged in the destruction of both guanaco and ostrich, the high
rugged range of hills that bounded Chiriq on the eastern side literally
swarming with guanaco; and as the females, heavy with young, could
not keep up their speed for a long distance, one man not unfrequently
captured and killed five and six, or even eight; extracting the young
and taking its skin for mantles and the carcase for food, while the hide
of the mother served, if needed, to repair the toldo. The marrow bones
also were taken as a dainty, but the meat was left for the condors,
puma, and foxes. We hunted almost every day, and traversed nearly all
the surrounding country. The plains lying to the west afforded beautiful
ground to ride over, covered with soft grass, but a few leagues from the
Cordillera a sudden dip occurs, which forms a huge basin, lying about 50
feet below the level of the plain, like the bed of a lake, and extending
to the mountains; the surface of this was chiefly covered with grass,
but in some parts the yellow clay and beds of stones were visible.
On the higher ground, before reaching this basin, numerous lagoons
occurred, round one of which there was a large gull-rookery, and the
inhabitants made themselves audible at a long distance. Here also I
noticed many of the teru-tero, a spur-winged lapwing, common near Buenos
Ayres. I had encountered them even as low as Santa Cruz, but never in
such large numbers. Our hunts on the plain were not so successful as
those on the hilly range, although in the previous year the Indians
asserted that the reverse had been the case. Perhaps the guanaco had
gained in experience, and felt themselves safer in the rocky heights
where riders were likely to get bad falls. The Northern Indians rode
most recklessly, going at full speed down the most precipitous places,
and, strange to say, although one or two accidents did occur resulting
in broken limbs, they were not numerous. This speaks volumes for the
sure footedness of their horses. It is their custom, when hunting
in rocky places, to place hide shoes on the horse's fore feet as a
safeguard against sharp stones. After hunting, it was the rule every
evening for those owning spare horses (and indeed for those who did not)
to repair to the race-course a little before sunset, and train or run
their horses, or look on at the others, and if there was a race, make
bets. The manner of racing is something similar to that in vogue amongst
the Gauchos in the provinces of Rio de la Plata, except that it is
generally conducted on principles of fair play. The stakes are always
deposited before the race comes off: if horses, they are tied out handy;
if ornaments, bolas, &c., &c., they are placed in a heap, the winners
removing them directly the race is decided. The horses are run
bare-backed, the two riders starting themselves after cantering side
by side for a few yards. Owing to the great care taken in training the
horses, very few false starts ever occur. The races are very often for
long distances, four miles or a league being the average, although, of
course, with young horses the distance is shorter. The Indian manner of
breaking colts is similar to that of the Gauchos; they are, however,
more gentle with their horses, and consequently break them better. One
rarely sees a horse amongst the Indians that is not perfectly quiet;
indeed, the smallest children are nearly always mounted on the racers
and best horses, although if a white man approaches or attempts to catch
them they show signs of fear and temper. Indeed, there appears to be a
sort of instinctive mutual bond between the Indians and their horses.
For lameness the cure most prevalent is bleeding in the fetlock with
an awl; sometimes the incision is made higher up the leg, and the awl
forced nearly through the horse's leg; he is then tied up for a short
time, and then let go, and the cure is generally certain. Of course
before the bleeding he is tied up several hours without water. The cure
for sore backs, which, though rare, sometimes occur owing to an ill-made
saddle, is a species of aluminous earth, applied to the wound after it
has been cleansed with a knife. This earth is only found in the southern
parts of the country, and it is very difficult to obtain any of this
much-prized medicine from the Indians. One deposit of it is found in a
cliff near Lake Viedma, so high that it can only be got at by throwing
stones at the face of the cliff, and so dislodging the earth.

  [6] The skull of a guanaco is well figured in Mr. Cunningham's work.

A few lines will suffice to gratify any 'horsey-doggy' friends who may
be curious as to the horse flesh and dog shows of the Indians. The
horses in use amongst the Southern Indians are, as a rule, of a hardier
race than those found amongst the Northern, Araucanian, and Pampas
Indians. Their general size is about fifteen hands, or indeed perhaps
less, but nevertheless they are of great speed and endurance; when one
takes into consideration that the weight of their riders is frequently
over fourteen stone, it appears extraordinary that they should be
enabled to carry them in the way they do. The horses are, of course, all
of Spanish origin, but time, climate, and the different nature of the
country have altered them to a considerable degree from the original
race. The horses found amongst the Northern Tehuelches are, as a rule,
larger than those previously mentioned, with finer heads and smaller
legs; they are also extremely swift, and being bred frequently from
captured wild mares, are admirably adapted for hunting purposes. The
horse, however, most valued is the wild horse captured and tamed; these
differ from the others in being, as a rule, of larger size and superior
speed. This, I think, only applies to Northern Patagonia, as I have
in other parts seen wild horses which in no way equalled those in
captivity. The horses vary in colour, those captured from the wild herds
generally being a dark bay, black, or brown. Near Port San Julian, I am
informed that there are numbers of wild ponies, about the size and make
of a shelty, which the children play with. The horses are entirely grass
fed, and in consequence of the dry nature of the pasture in the winter
season, and the subsequent hard treatment, they generally get very thin
in the spring time of the year, but soon pick up condition when given
a few days' rest, and allowed to feed on the fresh pasture. The dogs
generally in use amongst the Patagonian Indians vary considerably both
in size and species. First of all comes a sort of lurcher (smooth
haired), bred by the Indians from some obtained in the Rio Negro, the
mothers being a description of mastiff, with the muzzle, however, much
sharper than that of a mastiff proper; they are also very swift, and
have longer and lower bodies. Our chief, Orkeke, kept his breed of
this dog, which probably had been derived from the earlier Spanish
settlements, pure; and they were, for hunting purposes, the best I
saw, running both by scent and view.

Another description of dog observed had long woolly hair, and indeed
much resembled an ordinary sheep dog. These were passably common amongst
the Indians, but most of the dogs used in the chase--which are nearly
all castrated--are so mixed in race as to defy specification. I heard of
a dog captured from some Fuegians, which was very swift, and answered
perfectly to our description of harrier. These Fuegians are probably
those known as the 'Foot' Indians, who, by those who have descended on
their coasts, have been observed to use dogs for hunting purposes.

Casimiro informed me that Quintuhual's people formerly hunted on foot,
with a large sort of dog, which, from his description, must have
resembled a deer hound. The dogs are rarely fed, being allowed generally
to satiate themselves in the chase. The hounds belonging to Orkeke, and
one or two others, were exceptions to this rule, being fed with cooked
meat when it was plentiful. The women keep pet lap dogs of various
descriptions, generally a sort of terrier, some of them much resembling
the Scotch terrier. 'Ako,' for instance, was to all appearance a
thoroughbred dog of that breed. These little lap dogs are the torment
of one's life in camp: at the least sound they rush out yelping, and set
all the big dogs off; and in an Indian encampment at night, when there
is anything stirring, a continual concert of bow-wows is kept up. The
dogs are fierce towards strangers, but generally content themselves with
surrounding them, showing their teeth and barking, unless set on. That
they are ugly customers at night an amusing instance will prove. One
morning a dog was found dead near its owner's toldo, which had evidently
been knocked on the head with a bola, and finished with a knife;
the owner made a great outcry, but no explanation could be had. It
subsequently became known to me that a young gallant had sought
admission to the toldo of his innamorata by the accustomed method of
cautiously lifting the back tent cover from the ground, and dexterously
crawling underneath; when half through, he felt his leg seized in a pair
of powerful jaws. The lady was highly amused at the predicament of her
lover, who, however, extricated himself by a mighty and well-directed
kick with his foot in the muzzle of his assailant. When returning from
his 'rendezvous' he met his active enemy, and vindictively knocked him
on the head, and, to make sure work, cut his throat; but his leg carried
after all a deeper scar than his heart as a token of the love-adventure,
and when the story was told, and, as may be supposed, excited roars of
laughter, it recalled forcibly to my mind,

    'He jests at scars who never felt a wound.'

Our camp at Chiriq presented quite the appearance of a town of toldos,
and fresh arrivals were still expected from the S.W.; but the Indians
of the latter party, with whom we had not yet made acquaintance, sent a
chasqui with an invitation to Crimè to join their party, and a message
that they would ultimately meet us at Teckel. Accordingly, Crimè, who
was now rich in horses and gear, having received many presents, bid
us adieu, and set off with an imposing cavalcade. Poor fellow! he had
better have remained with us, as the sequel will show.

The weather during the first weeks of our stay in Chiriq was warm and
fine, but latterly the wind veered round to the west, and it changed to
sleet and cold rain, and the normal Patagonian climate. The humour of
the Indians seemed as variable, for old Orkeke grew exceedingly jealous.
Jackechan often used to lend me a horse on the hunting excursions, and
Orkeke one day asked me in a sullen manner whether I wished to change my
toldo, and go with my friend. My reply that I had no wish to do so at
present quieted him for the time, and he immediately offered me one of
his best horses for the next day, which was a real treat. I am afraid I
rather abused his generosity, as we had a great day chasing large herds
of guanaco, and with a racer for a mount, one was induced to ride
furiously. On the 20th of November it was decided to break up the camp
and divide into two parties to hunt, it being considered that our united
numbers were too great for successful hunting in one place. When all
were packing up and preparing to start, a row nearly broke out between
two of our old party: indeed it was with the greatest difficulty, and
only through the intervention of Casimiro, Hinchel, and two or three
more, that blood was not spilt. Of course, if the fight had commenced
between these two, such is the excitability of the Indians that it would
soon have become a general battle. This, and a heavy shower of rain
coming, prevented our march, so the women unpacked, and horses were let
go again. Some few Indians started to hunt, but came back shortly almost
empty handed, fairly beaten by the driving sleet and snow. During our
stay most of us had refitted all our gear, and were well provided with
bolas; many were the necks of guanaco stripped to obtain the hide for
them, and for making 'manêos' (straps for securing horses' legs), whips,
cinctas (girths), lazos, &c., &c. The work that I preferred was plaiting
ostrich sinews for thongs for the ostrich bolas. The ostrich sinews are
abstracted by dislocating the lower joint of the leg, the first sinew is
then pulled out by hand, and the others drawn out by main force, using
the leg bone as a handle. This bone is then separated from the foot, and
the sinews left adhering to the foot; they are slightly dried in the
sun, after which the extracted bone is used to separate the fibres by
drawing it sharply up the sinews. When sufficiently separated they are
cut off from the foot, split into equal sizes and lengths, and laid in a
moist place to soften; when sufficiently soft they are made into thongs,
cooked brains being used to make them more pliable, and lie better in
the plaits. These thongs are plaited in four plaits (round sinnet) well
known to every sailor, but the ends are doubled in a peculiar manner,
which requires practice to manage well. Before leaving Chiriq another
disturbance was nearly taking place, caused by one of the Chilians
quitting Tchang's toldo, and joining that of a man commonly called
Santa Cruz, an Indian well known at Patagones, and allowed a ration
of mares from the Government. Tchang, immediately on hearing of his
departure, put on his revolver and collared the Chilian's horse. To this
Santa Cruz objected, but Tchang kept the horse, and, revolver in hand,
defied anybody's claim to it. After this little incident the camp was
broken up, and the two parties divided--Hinchel marching S.W. and our
party to the N.W.

After a very cold and hungry march in the face of a bitterly piercing
wind, we encamped on the shores of a lagoon of some extent, called
'Hoshelkaik,' which signifies 'Windy-hill,' and certainly is worthy of
its name; for during our stay a succession of S.W. winds blew with great
violence. After our arrival a small boy cut his finger, and, according
to custom, a mare was killed. Some of the meat sent to our toldo was
thankfully received, as we were all half starved. Having strolled
through the camp and visited Cayuke's toldo, I found that Casimiro
had not arrived, having started, to my great disgust, with the party
travelling to the S.W., and taken with him a specially good horse, which
he had given me in exchange for a revolver. I was, however, glad to find
that Jackechan, the Pampa chief, was there, and we had a confabulation
and smoke together. On the 23rd, the previous day having been too rough,
the Indians started to hunt the enclosing grassy basin before mentioned
as existing at the foot of the mountains. Immense herds of guanaco
were driven down, and being encircled by men and fires the sport soon
commenced. The Tehuelches had for some reason set light to the grass in
every available part, and the wind rising to a furious gale, the fires
soon spread and joined in an advancing line. Jackechan, myself, and
several other Indians were in the centre of the circle, each employed in
skinning the guanaco we had already killed, when suddenly we found that
we were encircled in flame and smoke, and that if we did not want to
be well scorched we had better look out for means of exit. Leaving our
game, we galloped at the spot where the smoke appeared thinnest, but
after riding three or four minutes with our faces covered up, found an
impassable barrier of flame; so, half-maddened with the hot sand dashed
in our eyes by the gale, and nearly suffocated with smoke, we galloped
down the line of flame to a spot where, the grass being stunted, we
managed to get through without injury, although our horses' legs were
singed a little. We were very thankful to breathe pure air, though
the atmosphere was still thick with smoke, and nothing could be
distinguished of valley or anything else. Jackechan, with unerring
Indian instinct, led the way to a stream of water, where we were able to
drink and wash some of the hot sand out of our eyes. After a quarter of
an hour's rest and a smoke, as the flames had passed on, we determined
to ride back over the still smoking ground, and endeavour to discover
the bodies of our guanaco. We accordingly emerged from the hollow, where
we had sheltered ourselves, and once more plunged into the thick of the
driving smoke and heated sand: holding our mantles over our eyes, we
penetrated the murky atmosphere till Jackechan discovered two of his
animals; but as they were both roasted, or rather burned, and ourselves
and horses were nearly suffocated, we beat a hasty retreat. I was very
thankful when at length, ascending a steep declivity, we emerged at the
top into the pure air. 'Ah!' said Jackechan, looking down on the plains
still full of smoke, 'it has been a rough time, but "we are men, not
women," though we were fools to remain to the last.' I fully agreed with
him in this, as my eyes still smarted very painfully. How he found his
way through the smoke was perfectly inexplicable to me: if I had been
alone, my travels would have been concluded then and there. Towards the
evening of this eventful day the wind abated in violence, and during the
night snow fell, and all the ensuing day there were passing squalls of
white water or snow, and furious blasts of wind. About this time I came
to the conclusion that summer was unknown in these regions, and that
the Patagonian year consisted of two seasons--a hard winter and a bad
spring. The Indians, however, declared that the climate had grown
colder during the last two years. On the 28th of November we broke up
camp and marched to a valley situated under one spur of the wooded
hills, previously mentioned as bounding the northern side of the
valley--killing some young guanaco by the way. I was astonished on
galloping up to two to find they did not run away at first, although
their mothers had already gone, and taken up a position on a rocky
eminence some distance off. Whilst watching them, however, and
meditating on the necessity and cruelty of killing them, the two little
things started off; so, as my mantle was fast losing its beautiful
appearance, I put compunction on one side, and shortly killed them with
a blow on the head. On arriving at the fire where some of the Indians
were collected eating ostriches, I was proceeding to take the skins off,
when Tankelow, who presided, stopped me, saying that we would skin
them in the toldos, where the blood would be a treat to the women and
children. We accordingly reserved the luxury, and after a feed crossed a
small stream and piece of marsh, beyond which lay the encampment, where
the women soon verified Tankelow's words. Though the flesh of the young
guanaco is rather tasteless and soft, the blood has a sweeter taste than
that of the adult. The rennet, or milk, which is found curdled into a
sort of cheese in the intestines, is also eaten with gusto. The most
laborious part of young guanaco hunting consists in taking off the skin,
which, after the necessary incisions have been made with a knife, has to
be taken off by hand, the thumb being used to separate the hide from
the body. The calves, when three days old, run at about the speed of a
horse's hand gallop, but sometimes give longer chases. The Indian plan
is to kill them with a blow on the head from a ball, and then pass on to
another, and so on, afterwards returning to collect them in a heap and
skin them. After the hide is taken off it is necessary to expose it to
the air for a few minutes before folding it up, otherwise it is liable
to get heated, and will tear easily in the subsequent processes. We
hunted in the neighbourhood of Jeroshaik, or 'Bad Hill,' several times,
with varying success, sometimes proceeding up into the wooded hills,
where the timber in some places grew in clumps, as if planted by the
hand of man; in others filled up the rocky dells, until the main
forests were reached, which appeared to extend far into the Cordillera.
Most of the trees were of a species of beech, on which were many small
edible fungi, some of which we gathered for use; and traces of red deer
were frequently seen, and a few were chased by the Indians, but owing
to the thickness of the wood they escaped. Some of the Indians took the
opportunity to cut fresh poles for the toldos. The sight of woods and
trees was so refreshing that I spent several days consecutively amongst
them, very often alone, or with one companion. Nobody, except a sailor
after months on the sea, can imagine the pleasure of wandering under
trees to one who had passed so long a time in the barren and monotonous
plains. The weather, however, still continued wet and inclement. On
the 5th of December, some of us wandering on the heights above, made
out smoke to the N.E., and Campan went off at speed on horseback to
reconnoitre. He returned towards nightfall very drunk, and riding
straight to our toldo, proclaimed that El Sourdo, the Indian left
behind in Santa Cruz, had arrived at a place close to us, bringing
grog in two small barrels, and letters for me: when he had delivered
his news, he, with some difficulty, dismounted without coming on his
head; then produced a bottle half full of rum from under his mantle,
which he dispensed to the attendant company.

Our toldo was soon crowded, and it was proposed that on the following
day we should march and meet the visitor, all being eager for a drink.
Accordingly, on the morrow we started, in a storm of sleet and rain, and
prepared to hunt _en route_. While hunting, just after Jackechan and
myself had killed an ostrich, the former perceived a single toldo, which
he knew must be El Sourdo's, so we galloped towards it, accompanied by
two other Indians, and were received with open arms by El Sourdo and his
two wives, Jackechan being a very old friend. We were made to sit down,
and the olla, or boiling-pot, was brought out by the two wives, who
acted as Hebes by producing the rum, with which our host filled the pot,
and dispensed the liquor in a pannikin. One of the wives then produced
my letters, which proved to be from Mr. Clarke and Don Luiz P. B., the
schooner having arrived on October 5, all safe. El Sourdo then gave me
all the news verbatim--how a fight had taken place at the settlement
between Gonzalez and Antonio, in which the latter had been killed or
mortally wounded, and the former had escaped to the Pampas, but had
subsequently been captured and taken as a prisoner in the schooner to
Buenos Ayres; and other news of trivial importance. Meanwhile the grog
was fast disappearing, and the pot had to be replenished. This in turn
was about half-emptied by the time the other Indians and women arrived,
and Jackechan, very inebriated, was vowing eternal friendship to me,
while Tchang was howling in my other ear a lovely Tehuelche ditty. As I
had drunk in moderation, I thought it about time to clear, so, on the
plea of looking after my horse, retired and re-read my letters, which
anyone may imagine, although not coming from my relations, were of great
interest. After my departure no more liquor was given away, El Sourdo
selling two bottles for a young horse or a silver-sheathed knife, so
that he soon found himself a rich man. By midnight all the liquor
was exhausted and many drunk, but no disturbances occurred worthy of
mention, all arms having previously been stowed away safely. I was
roused from my first sleep by a lady from a neighbouring toldo, who
wished to embrace me, and, with feminine curiosity, wanted to know the
contents of my letters. She was, I am sorry to say, in an advanced stage
of intoxication, so after giving her a smoke, Orkeke, who had roused
up and was dying of laughter, politely showed her the door. Most of
the party went out hunting in the morning, the ride no doubt proving
beneficial to those suffering from headache, though little game was
killed; but the Sourdo, whom I had joined in a morning bowl of coffee,
remained at home, as his horses were very much used up, one of his boys
going on a friend's mount to procure meat. For four days after this
drinking bout we did nothing but slaughter and eat mares, somebody's
child having been slightly hurt in some manner. Although I have read in
various books that the Indians have a religious festival at which mares
are slaughtered as a sacrifice to the Deity at a certain time of the
year, I never saw anything of it. Whenever this sort of sacrificial
feast took place, there was always a special occasion for it--either a
death, or a child hurt, or some escape from a danger, when the animals
are killed as a thank-offering. Rather tired of remaining so long in one
place, on the 12th we marched due north across the plain, which was
called 'Gisk,' and encamped under a hill covered with trees, and the
sides furrowed with small gullies, densely filled with vegetation
and shrubs of two or three species. Here there were plants of the
description of potatoes before mentioned, but growing very deep in such
unfavourable ground that few were extracted. On the hill sides a plant
bearing a yellow flower grew in abundance, the leaf of which, the
Chilians informed me, was an excellent remedy for wounds and bruises,
and much used in Chili. Four days' hunting took place here, at the end
of which Orkeke, who had some story that the Pampas had been stealing
a march by hunting at night, and was rather disgusted at his continual
ill-success, proposed that we should separate, and in company with the
toldos of Tchang, go westward to a plain below the higher mountains,
which he stated to be abounding in guanaco. He also proposed a trip into
the Cordillera in search of wild cattle. This plan was eagerly approved,
as I anticipated persuading him, if possible, to penetrate to the
Chilian shores of the Pacific. We accordingly set out on our travels,
but had not gone far before a frightful storm of wind, sleet, and rain
set in, which wetted us all completely. We huddled for shelter under a
bush for some time, but as it continued there was nothing for it but to
push on, and about 3 P.M. the weather cleared up; we then entered a glen
with a wooded stream running down it, expanding higher up into an open
plain. A short distance up the valley the intended camping-ground lay,
so a small circle was made, in which some ostriches and guanaco were
killed. We then adjourned across the river under the trees, and soon
had a roaring fire blazing, by the side of which we dried ourselves and
cooked our dinner. A more romantic-looking spot than this I was never
in. On the other side of the stream was a mass of grey rocks, half hid
by shrubs, from amongst which here and there a dead tree stood up. On
one side the grass was beautifully green, and the trees were growing in
scattered round clumps a few yards apart; doves were cooing in their
branches, and young ostriches were running about. These, I am sorry to
say, were caught by the horsemen, who jumped down and secured them:
hunger had no scruples, and two furnished a good meal for each wet
and starving traveller. Despite our ducking, we were soon all in high
spirits, and some of us, before going back to the toldos, proceeded to
search for wild potatoes, a few of which we brought back. The following
morning the sun rose bright, with a clear sky, so we continued our march
in a westerly direction, arriving about mid-day at a gorge amongst the
wooded hills, where I hoped that we were going to encamp; the women,
however, diverged to the northward, and proceeding up a ravine or cañon
in the barranca of the high pampa, pitched the toldos in a gloomy,
prison-like spot. Melancholy as it seemed to me, it afforded abundant
pasture for the horses, which between the hills was scarce, so that they
were inclined to wander into the woods and be hard to find when wanted,
which undoubtedly was the reason of our taking the cañon in preference
to the wooded valley. This cañon, a little beyond our camp, divided into
two, in one of which was a laguna frequented by avocets. The stream,
which in spring poured down the glen, presented only an occasional pool
and a dry bed, in which were numbers of rounded white stones of chalky
substance, supplying capital materials for bolas, easily reduced to the
suitable form: it also occurred to me that the chips pounded to powder
might have the curative effects of chalk mixture, as diarrhœa had
affected some of the party, and the result of the medicinal experiment
was satisfactory, though it was impossible to prevail on the Indians to
try the remedy. Whilst the women were pitching toldos, the men, eight
in number, started to hunt again. Riding to the west, where the plain
was still open, we came upon another of the huge basins previously
described, on the western side of which, beyond a lagoon stocked with
waterfowl, flowed a broad winding stream fringed with trees. At a short
distance from the other side of the stream open glades extended for the
space of perhaps a mile to the verge of the interminable forests, rising
high up on the lofty sides of mountains, some of whose summits were
still partially snow-clad. To the south were two or three round detached
hummocks, hardly deserving the name of hills, crowned with trees. In
the foreground were immense herds of guanaco, and on the northern side
frowned a high range of arid-looking hills, forming a great contrast to
the deliciously-refreshing green aspect of the other points of view.
Whilst waiting concealed behind a bush for the coming herd, which had
been cunningly encircled by Tchang and another Indian, and were to be
driven in our direction, we gazed long at the beautiful view before us,
and Orkeke pointed out a mountain some distance to the north, underneath
which, he said, was the entrance to the scene of our future campaign
against the wild cattle. Towards evening we returned to the toldos,
pretty well loaded with skins. On another occasion, when hunting, we
made a circle, finishing off in the wooded district near the banks
of the river. On our return we hunted over a park-like country, with
alternate open glades and woods. Here we killed a doe red deer and a
large description of fox, apparently identical with the Falkland Island
species (Lupus antarcticus). In the vicinity of the woods, the velvety
sward was carpeted with the wild strawberry plants, which, however, were
only in bloom. On this occasion our enjoyment was marred by one of the
party getting a severe fall, which laid him up for a day or two. Before
we reached the toldos rain set in heavily, which during the night turned
to snow, and the morning sun shone on a white landscape. During our stay
the women went to the woods to cut fresh poles for the toldos, and the
men brought back from the wooded country a description of fungus, which,
when dried, forms an excellent tinder, of considerable value amongst
the Indians, as there are only a few spots where it is to be obtained.
After some days spent in this pleasant neighbourhood, as the supply of
guanaco was failing, we marched over the barren range of hills, and
passing a lagoon of considerable extent below the hills, encamped on
the other side of them, by the side of a smaller one, in a place called
'Gogomenykaik.'

During the hunt I had singled out a guanaco, and was in full chase
across the upper pampa, which was covered with stunted bushes and tufts
of grass, when the quarry suddenly disappeared, as if the earth had
swallowed him. The next moment my horse halted in mid-gallop, with
its fore feet on the edge of a precipitous descent which shelved away
without any warning. Below was a long beautiful glen, with a pool of
water glistening among the trees which filled it, but did not rear their
topmost boughs above the level of the pampa. Here the guanaco had taken
refuge, and as the descent was impracticable for a horse, I could only
gaze longingly down into the fairy-like scene, and turn away to join the
circle, remembering that it was only too easy to lose oneself by delay.
Of this an instance occurred the same day, for one of the Chilians did
not appear at the fireside when the hunting was completed. At first
no heed was bestowed on him, as it was natural to suppose that he had
chased a herd of guanaco to some distance, and was detained taking off
the skins; but when at sunset he was still missing, some dry grass was
fired, for the purpose of directing him to our camp. The following
morning he had not appeared when we started to hunt, myself going as
pointsman with Orkeke. We galloped for some distance over the plain,
and halted in a hollow, where we came on six young skunks outside their
parental burrow, into which they quickly vanished on our dismounting;
but as their burrows do not penetrate far, Orkeke soon grubbed out a
couple. As they were too small to kill for the value of their skins, and
too much trouble to carry home as pets for the children, we set them
free again, and I proceeded, leaving Orkeke to pursue his way slowly. A
slight rise brought me in front of a rocky hill, on the other side of
which was a river with wooded banks, across the valley of which river
lay my route. I at first considered it to be the same as that seen in
the previous encampment, but on reflection it was plainly another, this
flowing north-east, whilst the other took a south-west course. Our hunt
progressed very fairly. On closing the circle, one of the Chilians, who
was running a guanaco with me, and not expert in the use of the bolas,
entangled his horse and himself instead of the chase, which lost him his
spoils, and caused much merriment amongst the remainder of the party;
although I may as well state here that when a horse gets a ball round
his legs or under his tail, it is not much of a joking matter for the
rider. On our way back to camp, halting by a spring, we found large
quantities of wild celery; nettles were also common--the real old
English white-flowering one being prevalent. Although my bare legs got
considerably stung, I forgot to swear in Tehuelche, and forgave the
plant for old acquaintance sake. At the toldos we found the Chilian, who
had arrived recently, having run a herd some distance and lost his way,
but had been safely directed by our signal fires. In the afternoon some
of the party were occupied in breaking their horses, while others were
sitting at home lazily watching the performance. Conde's step-father,
generally known as 'Paliki,' had a three-year-old iron grey, with a
white star, and a very fine animal, tied up ready to be mounted for the
first time. Paliki entered our toldo to borrow my cincta, or girth, and
chaffed me, asking if I would venture to 'domar' him. Orkeke seconded
the proposal, and accordingly, having stripped off mantle and boots, I
proceeded to take the lazo and reins and mount. The instant he felt the
unwonted incumbrance he buck-jumped for several yards, finally jumping
into the middle of the brook and nearly losing his footing. I spurred
him out, and once on the bank he commenced to whirl round and round
like a teetotum. At last I got his head straight, and after a few more
buck-jumps he went off at racing speed, urged by whip and spur. After a
stretching gallop of three miles, I rode him quietly back, now and again
turning him to accustom him to the bridle-thong, but not venturing to
feel his mouth, and then brought him up to the toldo amidst the shouts
of the spectators. Orkeke expressed great surprise, and wanted to know
where I had learned to 'domar'; and the gratified owner insisted on
presenting me with a piece of tobacco. This was most welcome, as my
store was almost exhausted, though it had been replenished occasionally
by the possessors of guns and revolvers in return for my services in
putting the locks to rights; and the fear of being left tobaccoless--the
agony of which all smokers will appreciate--was becoming unpleasantly
strong. The following day we bade adieu to the lagoon, which, as usual,
was covered with swans and other wild fowl, which we never molested,
husbanding our powder in the event of future disturbances with other
Indians. We marched a few miles, and encamped near the river--indeed, on
its very banks, under the shadows of the trees. Here we passed our time
away hunting, bathing in the stream, smoking, and lying in the shade for
three days. One of my horses being lame, I could not hunt every day, so
frequently passed hours under the trees by the river, scrubbing my one
remaining shirt for future use, and working hide, &c. As writing in
the toldo was made almost impossible by the curiosity of the children,
crowding round me and asking questions, I generally used to take my
note-book to my retreat; here, however, I was often interrupted by the
girls, who came on the pretence of bathing, and evinced great playful
curiosity as to the contents of my book--for here, too, I used to peruse
and re-peruse my library, namely, half of the delightful 'Elsie Venner,'
which Crimè had picked up on board some ship to serve as wadding for his
guns, and sold to me for a little powder. To enable the reader to follow
our somewhat devious course and the intricacies of these hills and
frequent rivers, the sketch map at page 156 will be found useful; it
does not pretend to be exact, but gives a very fair idea of the line of
country traversed and of our migrations between Henno and Teckel.

On the 23rd, Indians having been seen to the north and guanaco hunting
proving a failure, Orkeke, to my great delight, proposed a visit to the
wild cattle country. The camp was accordingly struck, and following more
or less the valley of the river, which flowed after one turn nearly due
east, we shortly came out into an open plain running up between the
mountains, at the head of which we encamped by some tall beeches on the
banks of the stream. The whole of the latter part of the plain traversed
was literally carpeted with strawberry plants all in blossom, the soil
being of a dark peaty nature. Young ostriches were now numerous, and
every hunt some were captured and formed a welcome addition to our
dinner. The children had several alive as pets, which they used to
let loose and then catch with miniature bolas, generally ending in
killing them. Our programme was to leave all the women, toldos, and
other encumbrances in this spot, named 'Weekel,' or Chaykash--a
regular station, and which Hinchel's party had occupied a few weeks
previously--and proceed ourselves into the interior in search of cattle.
The following morning at daylight horses were caught and saddled, and,
after receiving the good wishes of the women, who adjured us to bring
back plenty of fat beef, we started off just as the sun was rising
behind the hills to the eastward. The air was most invigorating, and we
trotted along for some distance up a slightly irregular and sandy slope,
halting after an hour or two by the side of a deliciously clear brook,
flowing east, where we smoked. We had previously passed guanaco and
ostrich, but no notice was taken of them, the Indians having larger game
in view. After passing this brook, the head water of the river near
which we had left the toldos, we skirted a large basin-like plain of
beautiful green pasture, and after galloping for some time entered the
forest, travelling along a path which only permitted us to proceed in
Indian file. The trees were in many places dead, not blackened by fire,
but standing up like ghostly bleached and bare skeletons. It is a
remarkable fact that all the forests on the eastern side are skirted by
a belt of dead trees. At length, however, just as we came in sight of
a curiously pointed rock which in the distance resembled the spire of
a church, we entered the forest of live trees; the undergrowth was
composed of currant, bay, and other bushes, whilst here and there were
beds of yellow violets, and the inevitable strawberry plants everywhere.
After crossing a stream which, flowing from the north, afterwards
took a westerly course, thus proving that we had passed the watershed,
we proceeded, under cover of a huge rock, to reconnoitre the hunting
ground. The scenery was beautiful: a valley, about a mile wide,
stretched directly under us; on the southern verge a silver line marked
the easterly river, and another on the northern the one debouching in
the Pacific; whilst above, on both sides, rose high mountains covered
with vegetation and almost impenetrable forests. On the western side of
the valley a solitary bull was leisurely taking his breakfast, and above
our look-out rock a huge condor lazily flapped his wings. These were
the only specimens of animal life in view. Pursuing our way in perfect
silence, as from the first entrance into the forests speaking had been
prohibited, we followed the leader along the narrow cattle path, passing
here and there the remains of a dead bull or cow that had met their fate
by the Indians' lazo, and at length descended to the plain. It was about
mid-day, and the day was warm, so we halted, changed horses, looked to
our girths, got lazos ready for use, and then started on. As we were
proceeding we observed two or three animals amongst the woods on the
opposite side, but knowing that it would be useless to follow, pursued
our course up the valley. Having crossed the western stream, we at once
entered a thicket where the path was scarcely distinguishable from the
cover, but our leader never faltered, and led the way through open
glades alternating with thick woods, on every side of which were cattle
marks, many being holes stamped out by the bulls, or wallowing places.
The glades soon terminated in forests, which seemed to stretch unbroken
on either side. We had expected before reaching this point to have found
cattle in considerable numbers, but the warmth of the day had probably
driven them into the thickets to seek shelter. We now commenced to
ascend over a dangerous path, encumbered here and there with loose
boulders and entangled in dense thickets, whilst we could hear and catch
occasional glimpses of the river foaming down a ravine on our left, and
presently arrived at the top of a ridge where the forests became more
uniformly dense, and we could with great difficulty pursue our way. It
was a mystery to me how Orkeke, who acted as guide, knew where we were,
as on one occasion the slightly-marked paths diverged in different
directions, and on another we literally found ourselves amongst fallen
trees in a forest so dense that the light of day scarcely penetrated its
shades. Our leader, however, never hesitated, but led us onwards in all
confidence. Whilst brushing along, if I may be allowed the term, trying
to keep the leader in sight, I heard something tapping on a tree, and
looking up, saw close above me a most beautifully marked red crested
woodpecker. We at length commenced to descend, and, after passing many
channels of rivulets issuing from springs, where a slip of the horse's
foot on the wet and mossy stones would have occasioned something worse
than broken bones, as they were situated on the edge of a deep ravine,
finally emerged from the woods and found ourselves on a hill of some
three hundred feet in height, whence we looked down on a broad plain in
the form of a triangle, bounded by the river flowing through the ravine
on the north side, and on the southern by another coming from the south,
which two streams united in one large river at the western apex, at
a distance of about perhaps a league. Above and around, on all sides
excepting to the west and the ravines through which the rivers flowed,
rose the unbroken wall of the lofty mountains of the Cordillera, many of
their peaks snow-clad. No sound was to be heard except the rushing of
the river in the ravine, and no animal life to be seen except a condor
or two floating high above us in the clear sky. The scene was sublime,
and I viewed it in silence for some minutes, till the pipe, being handed
to me, dispelled all nascent poetic tendencies. The Indians remained
silent and looked disgusted, as a herd of cattle had been expected to be
viewed on the plain below. We descended to the flats, and crossed the
river, on the banks of which 'Paja' or Pampa grass grew in abundance,
as well as the bamboo-like canes from which Araucanian Indians make
their lance shafts, and a plant called by the Chilians 'Talka,' the
stalk of which, resembling rhubarb, is refreshing and juicy. On the
northern edges and slope of the ravine behind us towered graceful pines
60 feet high, which, though an impassable barrier of rock prevented
close inspection, appeared to be a species of Araucaria: the bark was
imbricated, and the stems rose bare of branches for two-thirds of their
height, like those figured by M. Gay. Many had been carried down by
landslips, and lay tossed and entangled on the sides of the ravine.
The increase of temperature after passing the watershed was sensibly
great, amounting to from 7 to 10 degrees, and the vegetation far more
luxuriant, the plants presenting many new forms unknown at the eastern
side. After leaving the plain and crossing the shallow stream, we left
our mantles, and girthed up near a tree in a thicket festooned with a
beautiful creeper, having a bell-shaped flower of violet radiated with
brown. The variety of flowers made an Eden of this lovely spot: climbing
clusters of sweet peas, vetches, and rich golden flowers resembling
gorgeous marigolds, and many another blossom, filled the air with
perfume and delighted the eye with their beauty. Proceeding still
westward we entered a valley with alternate clumps of trees and green
pastures, and after riding about a mile I espied from a ridge on one
side of the valley two bulls on the other side, just clear of the thick
woods bordering the ascent of the mountains. The word was passed in
whispers to the cacique, and a halt being called under cover of some
bushes, a plan of attack was arranged in the following manner. Two men
were sent round to endeavour to drive the animals to a clearing, where
it would be possible to use the lazo, the remainder of the party
proceeding down towards the open ground with lazos, ready to chase
if the bulls should come that way. For a few minutes we remained
stationary, picking the strawberries, which in this spot were ripe,
although the plants previously met with were only in flower. At the end
of five minutes spent in anxiously hoping that our plan would prove
successful, a yell from the other side put us on the alert, and we had
the gratification to see one of the animals coming straight towards our
cover. Alas! just as we were preparing to dash out, he turned on the
edge of the plain, and after charging furiously at his pursuer dashed
into a thicket, where he stood at bay. We immediately closed round him,
and dismounting, I advanced on foot to try and bring him down with the
revolver; just as I had got within half-a-dozen paces of him, and behind
a bush was quietly taking aim at his shoulder, the Indians, eager for
beef, and safe on their horses at a considerable distance off, shouted,
'Nearer! Nearer!' I accordingly stepped from my cover, but had hardly
moved a pace forward when my spur caught in a root: at the same moment
'El Toro' charged. Entangled with the root, I could not jump on one side
as he came on; so when within a yard I fired a shot in his face, hoping
to turn him, and wheeled my body at the same instant to prevent his
horns from catching me, as the sailors say, 'broadside on.' The shot did
not stop him, so I was knocked down, and, galloping over me, he passed
on with my handkerchief, which fell from my head, triumphantly borne on
his horns, and stopped a few yards off under another bush. Having picked
myself up and found my arms and legs all right, I gave him another shot,
which, as my hand was rather unsteady, only took effect in the flank.
My cartridges being exhausted, I returned to my horse and found that,
besides being considerably shaken, two of my ribs had been broken by the
encounter.

[Illustration: A WILD BULL IN THE CORDILLERA.]

The Indians closed round me, and evinced great anxiety to know whether I
was much hurt. One more courageous than the rest, despite the warnings
of the cacique, swore that he would try and lazo the brute, and
accordingly approached the infuriated animal, who for a moment or two
showed no signs of stirring: just, however, as the Indian was about to
throw his lazo it caught in a branch, and before he could extricate it
the bull was on him. We saw the horse give two or three vicious kicks
as the bull gored him: at length he was lifted clean up, the fore legs
alone remaining on the ground, and overthrown, the rider alighting on
his head in a bush. We closed up and attracted the bull in another
direction, then went to look for the corpse of our comrade, who,
however, to our surprise, issued safe from the bush, where he had lain
quiet and unhurt, though the horse was killed. This little incident cast
a gloom over our day's pleasure, and lost us our Christmas dinner, as
Orkeke ordered a retreat to the spot where we had left our mantles,
although we tried to persuade him to attack the beast again, or, at any
rate, remain and eat some of the dead horse, and try our luck next day,
but he was inflexible. So having regained our spare horses we prepared
to return home, hoping to be able to pass through the forests before
nightfall. On our way across the plain previously described, wild cattle
were seen and one chased; but he, although balled by Orkeke, contrived
to slip the bolas, and escaping to cover stood to bay, where he was
left master of the field. This bull would have been taken had the other
Indians showed any degree of alacrity when Orkeke balled him; but they
were dispirited by the previous failure. As evening was coming on I
noticed a cormorant on the river: this and the increase of temperature
led me to believe that had we penetrated a few miles farther west we
should have reached the shores of the Pacific. Pursuing our track
homewards, after the second unsuccessful engagement, we managed to pass
the thick forest before dark, and descending to the eastern valley
saw numerous cows and bulls at intervals. A short time after dark
we encamped for the night under the shelter of some trees near to
the head waters of the western river, and after a pipe--by way of
supper--wrapping ourselves in our mantles were soon fast asleep. At
daylight we mounted and continued our journey, arriving about 2 P.M.
pretty considerably hungry, having eaten nothing barring strawberries
and talka, and a few unripe currants, since our last evening in the
toldos. The women were naturally disappointed at our ill-luck, but
uttered no complaints or reproaches, and hastened to pound some charqui
for our refreshment. Next day, all except myself and my companion in
the overthrow, who complained of headache, went out hunting and returned
at night with young guanaco, and an ostrich or two. Some of the women
had seen cattle near the encampment, and Orkeke informed me that in
former years they used to occupy the plains below us in large herds, but
that the Indians had driven them into the interior by excessive hunting:
he also stated that on one occasion he spent some months in this spot,
and caught and tamed a considerable number. His accurate knowledge of
the country made his statement credible, and he also showed me a sort
of corral that had been made to enclose the wild animals. For my own
part the name of the Cordillera recalls the most hungry Christmas time
of my life: to parody the 'Ancient Mariner,' it was 'Cattle, cattle
everywhere, and never a bit of beef.' The following day was spent in the
toldos, and some of the Indians were desirous, or pretended to be, of
going once more in search of cattle. Orkeke would not hear of it, so on
the 28th we marched, following the course of the river in a more or less
north-east direction. The weather was beautiful, and after leaving the
plain we rode along the winding valley, now and then starting a herd
of guanaco or a solitary ostrich. Towards evening we encamped on the
banks of the river, and the women, after pitching the toldos, employed
themselves in grubbing up potatoes. This day we saw smoke to the north,
caused by the hunting parties of the other Indians, and also some at a
greater distance, which Orkeke said was that of the Araucanian Indians,
whom it was expected that we should shortly meet with.

On the 29th we were preparing to march, and while the women were
engaged in lading the horses some of us were picking the berries of
the 'Califata,' or barberry (Berberis buccifolia), or looking for
strawberries, when a boy, from a party of other Indians occupying the
toldos near at hand, rode up as if despatched as a chasqui, and stated
that his party had communicated with the Araucanians, amongst whom
there had been a row in a drinking bout, resulting in the death of
the cacique. This story was fully believed, and Orkeke was rather
perplexed, as perhaps the new cacique might not be friendly disposed
towards the Tehuelches. Without hunting, we rode quietly down to the
next encampment, where the two strange toldos had already arrived.
On our near approach one of the Indians came to meet us, and whilst
discussing a pipe, after the observance of the usual ceremonial
prescribed by etiquette (as we had not seen the man before), we asked
him about the row amongst the Araucanos, which turned out to be all a
hoax on the part of the promising youth who had visited us. After a
while we adjourned to the toldos, situated on a bend of the river near
a ford or pass. We had now arrived at the camp agreed on as a general
rendezvous at Henno, previous to the dispersion of the Indians. This
valley is called Teckel, and is a favourite resting place after the
young guanaco season, both for the purpose of refreshing the horses
and manufacturing the young guanaco skins into mantles, previous to
proceeding to trade either at the Rio Negro or with the Indians of Las
Manzanas. The encampment is usually situated on the ground occupied at
this time, viz., on the west side of the river, about a mile from a
large barren hill which shuts out the view of the Cordillera. On the
east side the valley extends some three miles, and continues open to the
north for perhaps six miles. It is all fertile, but the best grazing
ground is at the north-east end. The banks of the river, which are
destitute of trees, are in many places high, and formed under the
surface earth of various stratified clays--blue, white, and red. In the
bottom of the stream, which is singularly free from stones, thick beds
of clay are of frequent occurrence, almost approaching to the tufa found
in the Parana and other confluents of La Plata, and in some spots there
are beds of black sand, probably auriferous; fish are procurable in any
eddy or pool, and crayfish abound and form the most tempting bait for
the others. Out of some of the finest clay I was enabled to manufacture
a pipe by the simple process of shaping it in the hand and then baking
it in the ashes, but it did not last long. Shortly after our arrival one
of the small children, whilst playing with bolas formed out of the foot
and sinews of an ostrich, hurt himself, and in consequence a slaughter
of mares took place, which opportunely enabled us to dispense with
hunting and rest our horses, which by this time stood in sore need of
some bye days; though, as there was a good race-course, we frequently
indulged in a race just to keep the horses in exercise. After we had
been about a week settled here, the women being all hard at work making
up mantles--which will be described in the next chapter--the Indians
began to arrive, and the hunting was resumed; only, however, when
absolutely necessary. Some of the new arrivals proceeded to the wild
cattle district, and managed to kill a bull, although--as before--an
accident occurred. As my lazo was used to capture the bull, I came in
for a share of the meat, which was divided amongst the people in our
toldo; but it proved very tough, and rather nasty. Perhaps the palate,
having been so long accustomed to guanaco, ostrich, or horse, could not
relish meat of a coarser description; but the hide was invaluable for
making maneos and other horse-gear. On January 7 a messenger arrived
from Casimiro requesting me to send him some information, and stating
that he was distant some three marches, and wished to wait some time to
refresh his horses, &c. After consulting with Orkeke and Jackechan,
we sent back a messenger to say that, 'As game was scarce now in the
vicinity of Teckel, and all were more or less desirous of pushing
forward, he had better make haste and join us, otherwise we should
continue our march towards Las Manzanas.' This message had the desired
effect, as on the 11th he made his appearance, with several other
toldos, a few only remaining in the rear with Crimè, who was reported
to be unwell.

On Casimiro's arrival, as he now possessed a good toldo, I changed my
quarters to his residence, as agreed on at the outset of the journey.
I was sorry to leave Orkeke, and the old man was very much grieved, a
present of a revolver only troubling him the more, as he informed me
that he had nothing to offer in exchange; however, my assurance that I
did not give him a present expecting an exchange, as is customary with
Indians, appeared to console him. The usual consultation of the chiefs
took place, in which all the preceding arrangements were agreed to, and
we remained stationary in Teckel until January 20. As I had by this
time become well acquainted with the mode of life and usages of the
Tehuelches, and was looked upon as one of themselves--and in fact had
acquired a position and influence among them--it may be as well to call
a halt, and devote a chapter to a description of the manners and customs
of the Tsonecas, as Tehuelches or Patagonians call themselves.

[Illustration: SKETCH MAP FROM RIO SENGEL TO TECKEL.]



CHAPTER V.

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE TEHUELCHES.

  Patagonian Giants. -- A Long Walk. -- Strength and Good Humour.
    -- Heads of Hair. -- Tehuelche Coquettes. -- Dress of Men and
    Women. -- Ornaments and Cosmetics. -- Toilette and Bath. --
    Arms and Implements. -- Ancient Bolas and Arrows. -- Saddles
    and Bridles. -- Silversmiths. -- Manufacture of Mantles. --
    Women's Work. -- Diet and Cookery. -- Smoking. -- Card Playing.
    -- Game of Ball. -- Ceremonies at Birth. -- Childhood. --
    Marriage. -- Funeral Rites. -- Religion. -- Demons and Doctors.
    -- Witchcraft and Omens. -- Medical Skill. -- Population and
    Politics. -- Etiquette. -- Tehuelche Character. -- Natural
    Affection. -- Advice to Travellers.


The first question asked about the Patagonians by curious English
friends has invariably had reference to their traditionary stature. Are
they giants or not? Whether the ancestors of the Tehuelches--to whom
alone, by the way, the name Patagonians properly applies--were taller
than the present race is uncertain; though tales of gigantic skeletons
found in Tehuelche graves are current in Punta Arenas and Santa Cruz.
The average height of the Tehuelche male members of the party with which
I travelled was rather over than under 5 feet 10 inches.[7] Of course
no other means of measurement besides comparing my own height were
available; but this result, noted at the time, coincides with that
independently arrived at by Mr. Cunningham. Two others, who were
measured carefully by Mr. Clarke, stood 6 feet 4 inches each. After
joining the Northern Tehuelches, although the Southerners proved
generally to be the tallest, I found no reason to alter this average,
as any smaller men that were met with in their company were not pure
Tehuelches, but half-bred Pampas. The extraordinary muscular development
of the arms and chest is in all particularly striking, and as a rule
they are well-proportioned throughout. This fact calls for especial
mention, as others have stated that the development and strength of the
legs is inferior to that of the arms. Even Mr. Cunningham alleges this
to be the case, but I cannot at all agree with him. Besides the frequent
opportunities afforded me of scrutinising the young men engaged in the
game of ball, in which great strength and activity are displayed, or
when enjoying the almost daily bath and swimming or diving, I judged
of the muscular size of their legs by trying on their boots, which, in
nearly all cases, were far too large for me, although the feet, on the
other hand, were frequently smaller than mine. The height of their
insteps is also worthy of remark, one example of which may suffice.
Having negotiated an exchange of an excellent pair of high boots,
manufactured by Messrs. Thomas, for some necessary article, with a
Tehuelche, the bargain fell through because he was unable to get his
foot into the boot, the high arched instep proving an insuperable
obstacle to further progress.

  [7] _Vide_ Appendix B.

An instance of the walking powers of the Tehuelches came under my
particular notice. On my first arrival at Santa Cruz, it will be
remembered that the schooner was lying in the mouth of the river waiting
for a fair wind. Two Tehuelches, named Tchang and Getchkook, had
embarked in order to proceed to the Rio Negro, but their patience
becoming exhausted by the delay, they asked to be put ashore, and walked
back to the settlement--a distance of over forty miles--in about twelve
hours, without food. I saw them on their arrival, and they did not
appear in any way distressed, merely remarking that it had been 'a long
walk.'

Their powers of abstaining from food are also very remarkable. When the
disturbances and fighting were going on they rarely ate anything: also
when travelling as 'chasquis,' or messengers, they will not unfrequently
go for two, and even three, days without tasting food. In our expedition
into the Cordillera we remained over forty-eight hours without food,
except wild fruit, and, although I at first suffered from hunger, my
companions did not appear to be in any way inconvenienced. As a Chilian
deserter remarked on one occasion, it was all very well for them to go
on without eating; 'but we can't--we've not so much fat.' Their strength
of arm is very great, and the distance to which they can throw the
ostrich bola is truly astonishing: thus I have seen Crimè and some
others ball an ostrich over seventy yards distant. When cutting wood
in the Cordillera with Hinchel, a Chilian deserter and myself had cut
a tree through, and, having fastened a lazo to the top branch, were
endeavouring to drag it down, but its branches became entangled in
another tree and we could not stir it. Hinchel, seeing our difficulty,
came up, and with one well-directed, vigorous tug cleared it from the
branches and brought it to the ground.

Mr. Clarke also informed me that when he was ill with fever, and had to
be removed from the Almacen to the lower house on the island, on account
of the noise made by the drunken Indians, Wáki mounted, and, taking
him in his arms, rode down seemingly unencumbered by the burden. Their
faces, of course, vary in expression, but are ordinarily bright and
good-humoured, though when in the settlements they assume a sober,
and even sullen, demeanour. Wáki and Cayuke, two friends of mine, are
particularly present to my recollection as having always had a smile on
their faces. Their ever ready laughter displays universally good teeth,
which they keep white and clean by chewing 'maki,' a gum which exudes
from the incense bush, and is carefully gathered by the women and
children. It has a rather pleasant taste and is a most excellent
dentifrice, worthy to rival Odonto or Floriline, and it is used simply
as such, and not, as Monsr. Guinnard[8] says, because their greediness
is so great that they must chew something. Their eyes are bright and
intelligent, and their noses--though, of course, presenting different
types--are as a rule aquiline and well-formed, and devoid of the breadth
of nostril proper to the ordinary ideal of savage tribes. The peculiar
prominence over the eyebrows has been noticed by all observers, and
retreating foreheads, though observable, are exceptional. The thick
masses of hair, and the obvious risk, which would deter the most zealous
craniologist from endeavouring to measure their heads, must be deemed
sufficient excuse for my not being able to state whether they are
dolichokephalic or brachykephalic; a point, however, which I confess did
not particularly attract my observation; but, for the partial comfort of
anthropologists, be it noted that both Chilians and myself interchanged
hats with some Tehuelches, especially Orkeke and Hinchel, without
finding misfits. The complexion of the men is reddish brown, that is
to say when cleansed from paint, and, like an old picture, restored to
their pristine tint, which is not quite so deep as to warrant Fitzroy's
comparison of it to the colour of a Devon cow.

  [8] Three Years' Slavery, p. 233.

The scanty natural growth of beard, moustaches, and even eyebrows, is
carefully eradicated by means of a pair of silver tweezers, and I was
often urged to part with my beard, and undergo this painful operation,
but I naturally objected to comply with the request. The men's heads
are covered with thick, flowing masses of long hair, of which they take
great care, making their wives, or other female relatives, brush it out
carefully at least once a day. Very few appeared to have grey hair;
though there were a few exceptions, one very old man's hair being of a
snowy whiteness, which contrasted strangely with his tawny face. The
women have, as far as I could judge, an average height of about 5 feet
6: they are very strong in the arms, but seldom walk beyond fetching
the supplies of wood and water, all their journeys being performed on
horseback. Their hair, which is of no great length, scarcely indeed
equalling that of the men, and very coarse, is worn in two plaited
tails, which on gala days are artificially lengthened, probably with
horse-hair interwoven with blue beads, the ends being garnished with
silver pendants. This practice, however, is confined, I think, to the
unmarried ladies.

Being an admirer of long hair, on my first joining the Indians I greatly
admired Tchang's daughter for her 'head of hair,' two immensely long
tails beautifully embellished, which I naturally thought was all her
own. But, meeting her by chance on the following morning returning
to the toldo with water, to my great disappointment I found that she
had taken her spare hair off, and her natural locks were the reverse
of long. The young women are frequently good-looking, displaying
healthy, ruddy cheeks when not disguised with paint. They are modest in
behaviour, though very coquettish, and as skilled in flirtation as if
they had been taught in more civilised society. The fair widow who so
nearly _hooked_ the Englishman could on occasions appeal as prettily for
help as a young lady in imaginary difficulties over a country stile.
Thus, when at Orkeke's request I led the way through a river--half way
across the channel suddenly deepened, with muddy bottom, and an abrupt
bank to land on--I heard a plaintive appeal, 'Muster, help me! my horse
is too small.' Exposure and work do not age them as soon as might be
expected, but when old they become most hideous beldames, and the most
weird-like witches imagined by Doré would be surpassed by a trio of
Tehuelche grandames. The dress of the men consists of a chiripa, or
under garment round the loins, made of a poncho, a piece of cloth, or
even of a guanaco mantle: but, whatever the material, this article of
dress is indispensable and scrupulously worn, their sense of decency
being very strong. All other garments are supplied by the capacious and
warm skin mantle, which, worn with the fur inside and the painted side
out, will keep the wearer dry for a considerable time in the wettest
weather. This is often dispensed with in the chase, but, if worn when
riding, is secured at the waist by a belt of hide or leather if it can
be obtained. When in camp the belt is not used, and the garment is worn
loose, something after the fashion of the 'melodramatic assassin's'
cloak. When sitting by the fireside, or even when walking about, the
furred part of the mantle is generally kept up over the mouth--as
the Tehuelches aver that the cold wind causes sore gums--a habit
which assists in rendering their guttural, and at all times rather
unintelligible, language more difficult of comprehension to the novice.

Their potro boots (fig. 5) or buskins are made from the skin of horse's
hock, and occasionally from the leg of a large puma, drawn on up to the
knee and fastened round the foot. It is thus worn for a day or two until
the boot has taken the shape of the foot, when the leather is cut at the
toes and sewn up to fit. When the sole is worn, or in very wet or snowy
weather, hide overshoes are worn besides, and the footprints thus made
are really large enough to convey the idea of giants' feet, and partly
explain the term 'Patagon,' or large feet, applied to these Indians
by the Spanish discoverers. The boots are rarely put on in camp for
economical reasons, though turning out barefoot in the frozen grass at
daylight is unpleasant even to a Tehuelche. But the material of the boot
would soon wear out if used for walking. In riding they are secured by
garters, either gay coloured woven bands, or, which is _de rigueur_
for chiefs, of hide, with massive silver buckles. Although the usual
head-dress of the men is simply a coloured fillet to confine the hair,
yet sometimes, and especially on state occasions, hats, if procurable,
are indulged in. Old Orkeke frequently wore a felt wideawake, which was,
on returning from hunting, carefully put up by his thoughtful spouse.

The women's dress consists of a mantle similar to that worn by the men,
but secured at the throat by a large silver pin with a broad disc, or
a nail, or thorn, according to the wealth or poverty of the wearer;
and under this is a loose calico or stuff sacque, extending from the
shoulders to the ankle. When travelling the mantle is secured at the
waist by a broad belt ornamented with blue beads, and silver or brass
studs. The boots worn by the women are similar to those described, with
the exception that in their preparation the hair is left on the hide,
while it is carefully removed from those of the men. The children are
dressed in small mantles, but are more frequently allowed to run about
naked up to the age of six or eight; their little boots are made from
the skin taken from the fore-legs of the guanaco, softened in the hand.
The small children generally remonstrated strongly and effectually
against wearing this article of clothing; and whatever the severity
of the weather, preferred running about barefoot. The cradles for the
babies are formed of strips of wicker-work interlaced with hide thongs,
fitted with a cover to keep sun and rain off, and made of a convenient
shape to rest on the saddle gear of the mother when on the march. They
are ornamented, if the parents are wealthy, with little bells, brass
or even silver plates. The women are fond of ornaments, wearing huge
earrings of square shape, suspended to small rings passing through the
lobe of the ear; also silver or blue bead necklaces. The men also wear
these necklaces, and adorn their belts, pipes, knives, sheaths, and
horse-gear with silver. Those who can afford it also indulge in silver
spurs and stirrups; most of their ornaments, except the beads, are
home-made, being beaten out of dollars obtained by commerce in the
settlements. Both sexes smear their faces, and occasionally their
bodies, with paint, the Indians alleging as the reason for using this
cosmetic, that it is a protection against the effect of the winds; and I
found from personal experience that it proved a complete preservative
from excoriation or chapped skin. It proved equally effective against
the sun, which in Henno peeled my face completely until I resumed the
paint--which I had left off--not wishing to appear as a noble savage to
the newcomers. The paint for the face is composed of either red ochre or
black earth mixed with grease obtained from the marrow bones of the game
killed in the chase, all of which are carefully husbanded by the women,
and when opportunity offers pounded and boiled in the large pots; the
grease and gelatine being carefully skimmed off and secured. On state
occasions, such as a birth feast, and for a dance, the men further adorn
themselves with white paint, or powdered gypsum, which they moisten and
rub on their hands, and make five white finger-marks over their chests,
arms, and legs. The usual morning toilette is simple; after the plunge
in the river, which is almost always the first thing, except of course
when circumstances prevent it, indulged in by both sexes, who bathe
scrupulously apart, and generally before daylight. The men's hair is
dressed by their wives, daughters, or sweethearts, who take the greatest
care to burn any hairs that may be brushed out, as they fully believe
that spells may be wrought by evil-intentioned persons who can obtain a
piece of their hair. From the same idea, after cutting their nails, the
parings are carefully committed to the flames. After the hairbrushing,
which is performed by means of a rude hand brush, the women adorn the
men's faces with paint; if in mourning they put on black paint, and if
going to fight, sometimes put a little white paint under the eyes, which
assists in contrast to the other in giving a savage expression. The
women paint each other's faces, or if possessed, as sometimes occurs, of
a fragment of looking-glass, paint their own. Both sexes tattoo on the
forearm, by the simple process of puncturing the skin with a bodkin, and
inserting a mixture of blue earth with a piece of dry glass: the usual
patterns consist of a series of parallel lines, and sometimes a single
triangle, or a double triangle, the upper one resting on the apex of the
lower. I myself had one line tattooed by a fair enslaver, and confess
that the process was rather painful.

Indians have a good deal of regard for personal cleanliness, and besides
the morning ablutions enjoy bathing when encamped near a river, swimming
and diving for hours together. They also are scrupulously careful as
to the cleanliness of their toldos and utensils, and will, if they
can obtain soap, wash up every thing they may be possessed of.
Notwithstanding these precautions they are very much afflicted by
vermin, which effect a firm lodgment in the wool of their mantles. This
may be attributed to their mode of life, and their food, as well as to
the materials of their clothing; and any traveller who wishes to sojourn
with the Indians must make up his mind to subject himself to these
inflictions, to which, however (_experto crede_), he will soon become
inured. Their method of hunting and of cooking the meat obtained by the
chase has been fully described in a previous chapter. Among the arms
and implements figured in the illustration will be found (figs. 9 and
10) the weapons chiefly employed in the pursuit of game, namely, the
bolas fitted with two balls called 'Chumè,' for capturing the ostrich,
and those with three called 'yachiko,' for guanaco hunting, which are
similar to those used by the Gauchos in the Argentine Provinces. The
balls are generally of stone, but sometimes white metal or copper balls
are employed, procured in the settlements, which require no covering,
and are more and more coming into fashion of late years; iron balls
also, or iron ore, obtained and hammered into the requisite shape by the
Tehuelches themselves, are common; these are for the round striking ball
or balls: but the oval shaped hand ball, which is grasped in the hand,
and is necessarily lighter by at least one-third than the other, is
generally made of the soft vesicular lava which abounds in so many
districts. The tough light thong for swinging balls round the head is
generally made, as previously described, of ostrich or guanaco sinews
plaited in four plaits, the length of which should be between seven and
eight feet. It is always best to ball a quarry when galloping in an
exact line, as the necks of guanaco and ostrich are always aimed at;
entangling the hind legs of the quadruped being useless, though cattle
and horses are always balled round the hind legs. A shot at a bird or
beast bounding or running across is almost sure to miss; of course
misses are frequent, as fifty to seventy yards is often the distance of
a shot delivered from a horse's back at full gallop; and the balls whirr
through the air with their peculiar sound, only perhaps to fall into
a tangled bush. Then it is that the advantage of the bright material
becomes evident, for the horseman does not stop, but gallops on and
throws another pair, returning afterwards to pick up the dropped
weapons, frequently very hard to find on the pebble-strewn, grass-grown,
or shrub-covered surface. I generally threw down a handkerchief or some
such thing, easily seen, to mark the spot; but the metal bolas are so
much preferred on account of being easily seen, that a pair are worth a
horse. In addition to the bolas, a lazo is used when hunting cattle or
horses, and sometimes for the pumas, although the ordinary method is to
kill them by first stunning them with a blow on the head. The arms of
the Tehuelches consist of gun or revolver, sword or dagger, a long heavy
lance, used only by dismounted Indians, and altogether different to the
light lance of Araucanian and Pampa horsemen, and the bola perdida or
single ball, so called because once thrown it is not picked up again:
this weapon is quickly constructed; a sharp-pointed stone is taken,
covered with hide except the point, which is left out, and a thong of
raw hide about a yard long is attached, with a knot made in the end to
prevent it slipping from the hand whilst whirling it round previous to
throwing it at an enemy. Before the introduction of firearms the bola
perdida was the original weapon of the Tehuelches, and is even at the
present day a most deadly missile in their hands. (See fig. 11.)

I am aware that Pigafetta, the historian of Magellan's voyage, describes
the ancestors of these Indians as using bows and arrows, but I am
inclined to think that this must have applied either to a tribe of
Fuegians or a party of Pampas living in the valley of the Rio Negro. It
is certain that no ancient flint arrowheads are met with south of the
Rio Negro, where they abound; also that there is but little, if any,
wood nearer than the Cordillera suitable for bows, and it is reasonable
to suppose that previous to the introduction of horses the Indian
migrations were confined to a smaller area; besides, although no
arrowheads are found in the interior of Patagonia proper, ancient bolas
are not unfrequently met with. These are highly valued by the Indians,
and differ from those in present use by having grooves cut round them,
and by their larger size and greater weight. The introduction and
diffusion of firearms has almost superseded the use of defensive armour;
but chain suits, and hide surcoats studded thickly with silver, are
still--as instances before given show--possessed and employed: and
before going into battle the warriors are often padded like cricketers,
corconillas or saddle-cloths, and ponchos being employed to form a
covering, the folds of which will turn a sword cut or lance thrust.

[Illustration: TEHUELCHE ARMS AND IMPLEMENTS

1. Saddle. 2. Bridle. 3. Girth. 4. Spurs. 5. Boot. 6. Adze. 7. Scraper.
8. Musical instrument. 9. Ostrich bola. 10. Guanaco bola. 11. Bola
perdida. 12. Pipe.]

During our long sojourn at Teckel, as hunting was avoided as much as
possible, in order to rest the horses, the men occupied themselves in
Indian arts and manufactures, some account of which may be deemed
interesting.

As the horse is the mainstay of the Indian, let the saddle-gear take
precedence. (See figs. 1, 2, 3, 4.)

The saddles are constructed in the following manner. A piece of timber
is split in two, and reduced, by means of a small hand-adze, to the
requisite size and thickness to form the side boards or flaps, skilfully
adapted to the shape of the horse's back; in these boards holes are
bored at each end, and the saddle-trees, which are chosen from angular
limbs of trees, like knees for boat building, and reduced to the
requisite size, are lashed on by hide. Over this fresh guanaco hide,
divested of its woolly coat and carefully cut to the proper shape,
is sewn with sinew, serving, as it dries, to bind the whole securely
together. Casimiro was the most skilful workman of the party, and made a
saddle for me which, although through having to start in a hurry it was
not smoothed down or covered with hide, I used for about five weeks
without any chafing of the horse's back. Underneath the saddle a thick
mandil, or poncho, is placed; and over the saddle a corconilla, or
housing, of puma or yearling guanaco skin, or, which is always preferred
if obtainable, a black sheepskin. The Araucanians weave corconillas of
most beautiful texture and brilliant blue colour, which are sold for as
much as 5_l._ in the settlements. The girths are made of thirteen or
fourteen ties of twisted hide from the neck of the guanaco, and fitted
with two rings connected by a leather thong. The stirrups are suspended
by strips of hide from the holes bored in the foremost saddle-trees.
They are generally made of a piece of hard wood fixed into a raw hide
thong, or sometimes of wood bent into a triangular shape. The swells, of
course, sport silver stirrups, but they are frequently not used at all.
The saddle is also taken off when the hunting circle is being closed
and the horses ridden bare-backed, but it is replaced to carry the meat
back to the toldos. Sometimes it occurs that an Indian loses his saddle
at play, when he is perforce obliged to ride bare-backed, and it never
appears to inconvenience them. The bridles are made of either plaited or
twisted hide. The bits used vary, but the more general is a simple bar
of either wood or iron, covered at either end with two flaps of stout
hide, from which two thongs extend under the horse's jaw, forming an
effectual curb, the reins being also secured to the hide-flaps. The bar
is frequently omitted, and a simple thong is placed in the horse's mouth
and rove through the piece of hide, which is secured to the bridle and
tied under the jaw. I used this simple bit the whole of the journey, and
never had reason to find fault with it. The spurs are made of two pieces
of hard wood, with nails filed to a sharp point fixed in the ends, for
which I once tried to substitute bone spikes, but they required constant
sharpening and broke quickly. The spurs are secured to the feet by
thongs. Head-stalls for breaking horses are made either of plain or
plaited hide, with a ring underneath for the Maneador.

Lazos are made either of twisted or plaited hide, similar to those in
use among the Gauchos. The only other articles of horse-gear worthy of
mention are the 'manèos,' called by the Indians 'caligi,' or straps for
securing the horse's legs, in order to teach him to stand when the rider
has dismounted; but the horses soon learn to await the return of the
rider. Since my return a hunting friend, hearing the chase described,
eagerly inquired, 'But who held your horse?' The well-trained Tehuelche
hunters hold themselves, and no boy or man is available to render this
service to anyone unlucky enough to be mounted on an uneducated steed.
Our breakers might take a useful lesson from the 'savages.'

Another branch of general industry is the manufacture of pipe-bowls,
which are peculiar in shape, as may be seen in the plate (fig. 12). They
are made of either wood or stone, fitted with a silver or metal tube,
and frequently ornamented with silver. The greatest pains is taken to
keep them free from tobacco juice by constant cleaning with an ostrich
feather.

Wooden platters are sometimes made, for containing meat or grease; and
I have seen wooden or horn spoons constructed, but these articles are
rare. Casimiro's toldo rejoiced in one of the latter, and it rather
resembled a shoe-horn. The men are many of them skilful workers in
silver, made from dollars obtained in the settlements, and tempered
until they become sufficiently malleable to be beaten out into the
requisite shapes, either for buckles, garters, plates, beads, or
studs for embossing belts or armour with. These 'cups,' or studs, are
generally hollowed out in a suitable cavity, worked in a stone; they are
then pierced at the edges with a bodkin, and sewn on to the hide with
sinew. The anvils and hammers for working silver are generally stone
implements; flints, however, are only used by the men for procuring
fire. The Tehuelches are also very handy workers in iron, and will
fashion a knife, or even an adze, out of any piece of metal procured by
theft, commerce in the colonies, or from wrecks on the coast. One of the
knives frequently used in the latter part of my journey was formed out
of one blade of an old pair of scissors forged for me by Hinchel.

Their tools for working silver, iron, wood, &c., consist of files,
known by the expressive name of 'Khikerikikh,' or perhaps a rasp, an
occasional saw, an axe, the inevitable small adze (fig. 6), a pair
of scissors, or an old chisel. Many of these have been obtained from
shipwrecks on the coast, others by barter in the settlements.

The women's most important occupation in camp was the making up of skin
mantles, which merits a full description.

The skins are first dried in the sun, being pegged down with thorns of
the algarroba tree. When dry they are taken up, and scraped with pieces
of flint, agate, obsidian, or sometimes glass, fixed into a branch
naturally bent so as to form a handle (fig. 7). They are then smeared
over with grease and liver kneaded into pulp, after which they are
softened in the hand until quite pliable, when they are placed on the
ground and cut with a small, very sharp knife into pieces, dovetailed
so as to fit one into the other, in order to secure strength of
seam, and parcelled out amongst a party of four or six women, with a
corresponding quantity of needles and thread, consisting of bodkins
formed out of sharpened nails, and dried sinews from the back of the
adult guanaco. A whole mantle is never sewn together at once, but when
one half is finished it is pegged out and the paint applied to it thus.
The surface is slightly damped, and each woman takes a cake or piece of
red ochre, if the ground is to be red, and, keeping it damp, lays the
paint on with great care. When the ground is finished, the pattern of
small black spots and blue and yellow lines is painted with the greatest
exactness, the women working all day with the most assiduous industry.
When completed it is left for a night to dry, and the other half
and wings, which serve in lieu of sleeves, are duly completed, and
subsequently all are joined together, presenting, when finished, an
unbroken surface of fur. The most favourite pattern (except when the
wearer is in mourning) is a red ground with small black crosses and blue
and yellow longitudinal lines for borders, or with a zigzag of white,
blue, and red. The untiring energy with which the women work, and the
rapidity with which they sew, are astonishing. When a man is married,
his wife, or wives, of course manufacture his mantles, assisted by their
friends, whom they help in their turn; but should he be a bachelor, as
in my unfortunate case, he gives out his skins to a fair lady, who works
like other people I have heard of--on half-profits, and the hunter
generally loses by the bargain; at least such was my experience, some
thirty or forty skins only producing a mantle containing about one-third
their number. Besides the guanaco mantles which are most generally worn,
others are made from the skins of the fox, puma, wild cat, cavy, and
skunk; the fur of the latter and of the wild cat are the most valuable,
but, like the others, are generally intended only for barter. The women,
besides making mantles, weave the fillets for the head previously
mentioned, from threads of unravelled stuff obtained in barter at the
settlements, or from their Araucanian neighbours. They work on the
same principle as that on which a sailor constructs a sword mat.
Besides these fillets, they occasionally weave scarves for the waist,
and garters. Many of them also work in the minor details of silver
ornaments, such as hollowing out or bending the studs, boring the holes,
and stitching them on to the belts or armour, as the case may be. They
also sew the skins together for the coverings of the toldos, which is
very laborious work. They scrape and dress horse-hides for the furniture
of the bed places, painting them in various patterns; make the bolsters
of reeds (often also ornamented with silver) to place as a protection
for their high saddles, cook the food, smash the marrow-bones and
extract the grease; take care of the children, and fetch wood, water,
and do all the 'chores,' as the Americans say. As may be seen, they are
pretty nearly always occupied; nevertheless, they occasionally find time
to play cards, and sometimes to squabble and talk scandal.

The children generally employ themselves in imitating their elders. The
boys play with miniature bolas, and catch the dogs with small lazos, and
the girls construct miniature toldos and sit in them; for this purpose
they carry off unchecked anything that may seem suitable. Frequently
when about to join the chase I had to interfere with these latter
games, and recover my saddle gear, which had been appropriated by the
juveniles.

The musical instruments of the Tehuelches have been previously
described. In Teckel, besides the native orchestra (fig. 8) and
harmonies, to which one had become accustomed, we furthermore rejoiced
in a cornet, with music from which Jackechan's brother frequently
enlivened our evenings. Many amongst the Tehuelches could blow the
ordinary bugle calls which they had been accustomed to hear when in the
Rio Negro or at Punta Arenas; and most of them appeared to possess a
good ear for music. Their songs, however, are not melodious, and are
mere repetitions of words devoid of all sense or meaning. Casimiro
informed me that formerly the old men were in the habit of singing the
traditions of the tribe and also some sort of prayer. It is much to be
regretted that these customs have fallen into disuse. I tried on various
occasions to obtain information about their ancestors, but all my
efforts were fruitless. When I asked them how their people travelled
before horses came into the country, they could not realise the fact
that such was ever the case.

There is little to add to the details already given of the cookery and
diet of the Tehuelches, which is necessarily almost confined to meat,
which, however, they _do not_ devour raw, as so constantly asserted. Fat
is largely consumed, both fresh and preserved; the need of this being,
as before said, attributable to the want of farinaceous food. Still
they are very fond of all sorts of wild fruits and vegetables, when
procurable; and besides the indigenous tuberous roots, and the
ever-present dandelion plants, which the girls gather for their friends
and relations, and which are eaten in a crude state, they will when in
the settlements barter their wares for potatoes, turnips, and other
vegetables. They are also extremely fond of biscuit and flour, which
they mix with water into dampers, and bake them in the ashes. Previous
to my sojourn amongst them, pepper was, I believe, unknown, but having a
small store in my possession, I induced old Orkeke and his dame to try
it, and they and others soon acquired a taste for it. Sugar, or anything
sweet, they are especially fond of. Salt is a very necessary commodity
with them, and when passing one of the numerous salinas that occur in
the country the stores are replenished. It sometimes happens, however,
if making a long stay in one place, or travelling in parts where salinas
are scarce, they have to go without it; and this is probably the cause
of a skin disease that at times occurs amongst them. Salt is carried as
a rule by the men when hunting, both to mix with the blood, which is
seldom eaten without it, and to season the guanaco or ostrich meat.

I think that as a rule the Indians, far from being gluttonous
gormandisers, eat less than civilised people. They never eat at stated
times, but when their appetite warns them; and on this point an Indian
once made the remark to me: 'The Chilians eat at regular hours, which
is foolish; we don't eat unless we are hungry.' I believe that I, as a
single individual, generally consumed more victuals than any Indian,
with the exception of my friend Cayuke, who was certainly a great
gourmand. He was also a great smoker; and whenever I met him invariably
said the few English words I had taught him, 'Load and light the
pipe--smoke.' The general manner of smoking is as follows. The smoker
lights his pipe, and then lies prone on the ground, and after puffing
a portion of smoke to each cardinal point and muttering a prayer, he
swallows several mouthfuls of tobacco smoke, which produces intoxication
and partial insensibility, lasting perhaps for the space of two minutes.
During this time his companions carefully avoid disturbing him in any
way. When it has passed off, he gets up, takes a drink of water, and
resumes his conversation or occupation. I have sometimes observed this
intoxication accompanied by convulsions, but only in rare cases. The
tobacco used for smoking (for they never chew) is generally obtained
from the settlements, but failing this a herb substitute is procured
from the Araucanians. This is never smoked pure, being invariably mixed
with either wood chopped up small or 'yerba' (Paraguay tea) stalks, if
obtainable. The mixture with dung mentioned by M. Guinnard is unknown
among the Tehuelches.

The women sometimes are smokers, but the custom is not universal,
being generally confined to the old ladies. Most of the men smoke, but
there are exceptions. I was very much astonished, however, by seeing
El Sourdo on more than one occasion give his pipe to his boy--a
precocious three-year-old--who whiffed his 'bacca' with apparently
great satisfaction to himself and his fond father.

[Illustration: THE "PRETTY HOUSE" AND DANCE.]

The chief amusements amongst the Indians (for hunting is a matter of
business and not pleasure) consist in horse-racing, card-playing,
gambling with dice made by themselves with mathematical exactness from
bones, and thrown from the hand, or with small stones, and playing a
game of ball. The horse-racing has been already described. The cards
used are sometimes the Spanish pack, obtained in the settlements, but
very frequently constructed by the Indians themselves of hide. These,
like the ordinary Spanish cards, are marked with the Spanish numerals up
to seven; but the court cards are entirely different, having, instead
of figures or pictures, monograms of native origin, the original
significance of which, if any, was undiscoverable. The ace, however,
is marked somewhat similarly to our own. The usual games played are
'Panturga,' 'Primero,' 'Siete,' and 'Yaik,' or fire, a sort of 'beggar
my neighbour.' The players sit down in a circle, with a poncho or
saddle-cloth to represent the board of green cloth; their markers
consist of pieces of sticks or grass, and their system of marking
is complicated. I generally--if I did indulge in the luxury of a
gamble--played in partnership with another who took charge of the
marking, but my invariable good luck rendered me unwilling to respond to
the invitation to take a hand. When stakes are lost, whether a horse,
troop of mares, saddle, lazo, or what not, the winner simply sends a
friend for them, or goes himself and takes them; all debts of honour
being scrupulously paid at once. Frequently large stakes are lost and
won. On one occasion I had negotiated the purchase of a horse from
an Indian possessed of a goodly troop, and having given earnest, had
started hunting on the animal to test his staying powers. My friend
the owner, who remained in camp playing, came to me on my return, and
implored me to consider the bargain as nil, as during my absence he
had lost nearly all his horses, and some of the articles of his wife's
dowry. I of course gave up the bargain, duly receiving back the earnest,
and he subsequently won back his horses and riches. The game played with
small stones is similar to that in vogue among schoolboys, and known
by the name of 'knucklebones.' It is generally played by the boys, but
their elders will not unfrequently join. The women play at cards, and
also at this game amongst themselves, staking their mandils, hides,
and saddle-gear on the results. Mrs. Orkeke was very fond of play, and
on one occasion I have reason to believe that she lost some of her
husband's tobacco, and laid the blame on one of the Chilians, who she
averred had stolen it. The man nearly lost his life in consequence, and
his tears and abject supplications showed the terror he was in, but
happily he on this occasion escaped. Strange to say, I was in no way
suspected, although I knew where the tobacco was kept, which I doubt if
the deserter did.

The game of ball is confined to the young men, and is played as follows:
A lazo is laid on the ground so as to form a ring about four yards in
diameter; the players, generally eight in number, step into the circle
naked, with the exception of the waistcloth. A ball composed of hide
stuffed with feathers, about the size of or larger than a tennis-ball,
is used by each party, who throw it up from under the thigh, and strike
it with the hand at the adversaries', each hit counting a point. Great
dexterity and activity are shown by the young men, and although I never
joined in any of their regular matches I frequently watched the parties
occupied in the game, in which their splendid muscular development was
brought out conspicuously. Besides these amusements, the Indians, when
ammunition is plentiful, occasionally fire at a mark; but as their
bullets are frequently hammered round with stones, the practice is at
times erratic, and the guns are also sometimes more dangerous to the
marksman than the mark.

The daily routine of occupations and amusements is varied sometimes by a
fight, and more pleasantly by some one or other of the ceremonials which
mark--as in all nations--the principal epochs of Tsoneca life, from the
cradle to the grave. On the birth of a child, if the parents are rich,
i.e. own plenty of mares and horses, and silver ornaments, notice is
immediately given to the doctor or wizard of the tribe, and to the
cacique and relations. The doctor, after bleeding himself with bodkins
in the temple, fore-arm, or leg, gives the order for the erection of
a mandil tent, or pretty house as the Indians call it, and mares are
slaughtered, and a feast and dance follow, such as described in Chapter
III., p. 76 as having taken place in the valley of the Rio Chico. The
child, shortly after birth, is smeared over with damp gypsum. The
mothers are able to travel on horseback the same, or, certainly, the
subsequent day, with the infant carried in a wicker cradle, and most
tenderly cared for by both parents.

To every child in its infancy horses and gear are allotted, which are
considered thenceforth as the personal property of the boy or girl, and
cannot be resumed or disposed of by the parents. No ceremonial attends
the naming a child, nor, as far as I could see, is there any fixed time
for doing so. The names most commonly used are taken, I think, from
places--from the place of birth. Patronymics or hereditary names--except
in rare instances, which appeared to be imitations of Spanish usage--are
unknown, but nicknames are universal, and parents are frequently known
by the name of a child, which usurps the place of their own.

The boys soon learn the use of the weapons, and both boys and girls ride
almost before they can walk: the sons rarely accompany the father to the
chase before ten or twelve years of age, and do not join in fights till
they are about sixteen years old, but there is no fixed period and
no ceremonial to mark their admission to the state of manhood. The
attainment of puberty by the girls is celebrated as described in p. 76.
From the age of nine or ten they are accustomed to help in household
duties and manufactures, and about sixteen are eligible for the married
life, though they often remain for several years spinsters. Marriages
are always those of inclination, and if the damsel does not like the
suitor for her hand, her parents never force her to comply with their
wishes, although the match may be an advantageous one.

The usual custom is for the bridegroom, after he has secured the consent
of his damsel, to send either a brother or an intimate friend to the
parents, offering so many mares, horses, or silver ornaments for the
bride. If the parents consider the match desirable, as soon after as
circumstances will permit, the bridegroom, dressed in his best, and
mounted on his best horse, decorated with silver ornaments--if he
possesses any--proceeds to the toldo of his intended, and hands over the
gifts. The parents of the bride then return gifts of an equal value,
which, however, in the event of a separation (a rare event), become
the property of the bride. After this the bride is escorted by the
bridegroom to his toldo, amidst the cheers of his friends and the
singing of the women. Mares are usually then slaughtered and eaten on
the spot; great care being taken that the dogs do not touch any of the
meat or offal, as it is considered unlucky. The head, backbone, tail,
together with the heart and liver, are taken up to the top of a
neighbouring hill, as an offering to the Gualichu, or evil spirit. An
Indian is allowed to have as many wives as he can support, but it is
rare to find a man with more than two, and they generally only have one.

On the death of a Tehuelche all his horses, dogs, and other animals are
killed, his ponchos, ornaments, bolas, and all other personal belongings
are placed in a heap and burned, the widow and other womankind keeping
up a dismal wailing, and crying out loud in the most melancholy manner.
The meat of the horses is distributed amongst the relations on both
sides; and the widow, who cuts her hair short in front and assumes black
paint, repairs, bag and baggage, to the toldo of her relations, or if
she has none in the party, to the toldo of the chief.

The body is sewn up in a mantle, poncho, or coat of mail, if the
deceased possessed one, and is taken away by some of the relations and
buried in a sitting posture, its face to the east, a cairn of stones
being erected over the place, varying in size according to the wealth
and influence of the deceased. I have never seen any of the graves
described in Mr. Wood's work, but as my travels as a rule were confined
to the interior, they may exist in some part of the sea-coast; nor did
the exhumation and removal of the body ever come under my notice, and I
should be inclined to doubt its being ever practised by the Tehuelches,
inasmuch as it is a rule amongst them never to mention the name of, and
to avoid all allusion to, the deceased, their idea being that the dead
should be utterly forgotten, though they will add a stone in passing
to the cairn of a distinguished chief or hero. The death of a child is
marked by a display of sincere grief on the part of the parents. The
horse it has been accustomed to travel on during the march is brought
up, the gear placed on it, even to the cradle, and the horse, thus
fully caparisoned, is strangled by means of lazos, whereas in all other
ceremonies where horses are killed they are knocked on the head with
bolas. The saddle gear, cradle, and all belonging to the child are
burned, the women crying and singing. The parents moreover throw their
own valuables into the fire to express their grief. These things some of
the women who cry are allowed to snatch out, as a recompense for their
services, but they seldom benefit much. On the occasion of the death
of an only child of rich parents, fourteen horses and mares were
slaughtered in addition to the one it had been accustomed to travel on.
Towards evening of the day of the event, previous to the burial of the
corpse, a select party of old women marched in procession round and
round the camp, crying and wailing. Gifts were also sent to the bereaved
parents by the chiefs and relations, as a well-meant effort to divert
their minds from dwelling on their loss.

The religion of the Tehuelches is distinguished from that of the Pampas
and Araucanians by an absence of any trace of sun-worship, although the
new moon is saluted, the respectful gesture being accompanied by some
low muttered words which I never could manage to hear. They believe
in a great and good Spirit, who according to the tradition related by
Casimiro at the place, created the Indians and animals, and dispersed
them from 'God's-hill,' as he explained the Indian name of the down (p.
89). I am not at all certain that this was not a confused combination
of the story of the Creation, as told by the missionaries, with his own
ideas. There is a great tendency in the Indian mind thus to combine the
marvels told them, or even to cap what they consider one legend with
another; but there is no doubt that they do believe in a good Spirit,
though they think he lives 'careless of mankind.' They have no idols
or objects of worship, nor--if a year's experience can enable one to
judge--do they observe any periodical religious festival, on which
either the good or evil Spirit is adored. The mention of this by other
travellers can only be explained by confused accounts which have
attributed Araucanian customs to the totally distinct Patagonians. The
belief which prompts all their religious acts is that in the existence
of many active and malicious evil spirits or demons, of whom the
principal one is always on the watch to cause mischief. To propitiate
or drive away this spirit is the function of the wizard, or doctor, or
medicine man, who combines the medical and magical arts, though not
possessed of an exclusive faculty for either. All sacrifices of mares
and horses, not at stated times, but as occasion requires, such as a
birth, death, &c., are intended to propitiate the Gualichu. When a
child hurts itself, the slaughter of mares seems to partake at once
of the nature of a thank-offering that the hurt was no worse, and a
propitiation to avert further harm.

In camp the Gualichu takes up his position outside the back of the
toldo, watching for an opportunity to molest the inmates, and is
supposed to be kept quiet by the spells of the doctor, who is not only
gifted with the power of laying the devil, but can even detect him by
sight. I inquired of one of the doctors what he was like, but received
an evasive answer; on which I informed him that my devil took all sorts
of shapes--sometimes appearing as a guanaco, ostrich, puma, skunk, or
vulture, at which the medical man was intensely amused. This household
devil is, as far as I could ascertain, supposed to enter into the
different parts of the bodies of people, and cause sickness which the
doctor is appealed to to cure. The treatment in the case of headache,
for instance, is very simple: the doctor takes the patient's head
between his knees, and performing a short ceremony of incantation,
shouts in his ear, exhorting the devil to come out. Mr. Clarke, when
travelling with the Indians south of Santa Cruz, was treated in this
fashion when suffering from feverish headache, and said that at the time
it relieved him.

Besides this Gualichu there are many others which are supposed to
inhabit subterranean dwellings, underneath certain woods and rivers and
peculiarly-shaped rocks. I was very much surprised at seeing the Indians
salute these objects by placing the hand to the head and muttering an
incantation; and for a long time held to the belief that they were only
expressing admiration for the Creator's handiwork; but subsequently I
learned that they sought thus to conciliate the spirits of these places,
reputed to be the spirits of deceased members of the faculty. These
devils' powers, however, are confined to the districts contiguous to
their habitations.

On one occasion, a horse about to run a match was taken up to a
neighbouring hill before daylight by the owner, and some secret ceremony
was performed by the wizard. Previous to the race the owner (Wáki) came
to me and advised me to put my stakes on his horse, as he had been made
safe to win by mysterious incantations which had secured the favour
of the local Gualichu; and, strange to say, the horse, which by his
appearance was much inferior to the other, did win, thereby establishing
a reputation for the wizard and the Gualichu.

I remember on one occasion when riding with Hinchel we came in sight of
a peculiarly-pointed rock, which he saluted. I did the same, at which
he appeared much pleased; and on our subsequently arriving at a salina,
where we found good salt, much needed at the time, he explained to
me that the spirit of the place had led us in that direction. In the
meeting of Indians the devils are supposed to be driven away by the
horsemen chasing at full speed round and round, and firing off their
guns.

The office of wizard is not hereditary; indeed those I met with were
unmarried. A boy or a girl, if what we should call odd, as in the case
of Cayuke's daughter, an old-fashioned and eccentric girl of thirteen,
is considered to be marked out as a wizard; but the functions, so far as
directing ceremonies, are sometimes performed by an ordinary member of
the party. The stock in trade of the regular wizard consists of a few
fetishes, or charms, carried in a bag, carefully concealed from public
gaze, and exhibited to his colleagues alone. In addition to these they
seem to possess a real knowledge of simples, although this is not
confined to them. Their professional operations are never accompanied
by epileptic seizures and real or simulated convulsions. They, of
course, are expected to prognosticate the success or failure of
undertakings, and the issue of sickness, and foretell the future
generally; and their position in this respect is a dangerous one, as a
failure of their predictions is frequently punished with death; but, to
make up for this risk, they are universally received with honour and
hospitably entertained, and are usually enriched by the accumulation of
presents. The power of witchcraft is by no means believed to be confined
to them; any person may be suspected of this crime, and it is not an
uncommon occurrence for people when dying to lay their death to the
charge of some person by name. All the missionaries' instructions did
not prevent Casimiro, after the death of either his mother or one of
his wives, from sending an agent to kill a woman who, as the deceased
averred, had bewitched her. Certain signs and omens are superstitiously
regarded; one particularly dreaded is the cry of the nightjar, common on
the slopes of the Cordillera, which, if uttered over a camp or toldo,
betokens sickness or death to some of the inmates. They hold this bird
in great veneration, and object to its being injured in any manner.
Another animal supposed to be possessed of magical powers is a flat
toad-like lizard, which is believed to lame horses by mysterious
agency, and is killed whenever met with. Another superstition is that
a two-headed guanaco exists in the south, the appearance of which is
a forerunner of sickness. According to my informant, after its last
appearance measles, or a similar disease, decimated the Southern tribe,
the disease having been propagated by communication with Punta Arenas,
where it was at that time rife. Any unfamiliar object that they do not
comprehend, as for instance, a compass or a watch, is regarded with
suspicion as being tenanted by an evil spirit. Sometimes these objects
are supposed to bring luck at play, and are eagerly sought for. One of
my companions was possessed of a watch, obtained in Punta Arenas, and,
before playing cards, he would often ask me to set it going, the ticking
being regarded as the voice of the hidden Gualichu. My compass was
also in constant demand, but the privilege of temporary possession was
necessarily restricted to a few favoured friends. I explained, to the
best of my power, the use of this instrument, which was comprehended by
many of them; and they became very fond of asking me to point out the
precise direction of various points known to them, and were greatly
delighted at the correctness with which their inquiries were generally
satisfied. A locket, worn by me round my neck, was also regarded as a
talisman, securing the wearer from death.

With all this superstition, regard for omens, and belief in demons, they
by no means accord implicit faith and respect to the wizards. Nor do
they trust to their spells alone in case of disease; many possess an
acquaintance with medicinal herbs, and apply them with good effect.
Besides being good farriers, they practise blood-letting, not only on
the sick, but, like our grandfathers, at regular seasons have themselves
blooded, believing it to be beneficial. Casimiro declared that the
superior health of the Tehuelches, compared with that of the colonists
or Christians, was attributable to this practice. They also understand
and sometimes employ poisons, not to envenom their weapons, but for
secretly taking off an enemy. Such cases are rare, but in one, which
came under my own observation, beyond all doubt, death was caused by
poisoning the inside of a potro boot, the wearer of which had a slight
wound on the leg.

Inquirers into the Tsoneca language are referred to the vocabulary in
the Appendix; but it is needful to state most distinctly that it is
altogether different from either Pampa or Araucanian. Though able to
converse in Tehuelche, I could not at all understand the Pampas; and
this is noted with reference to statements made in M. Guinnard's
work, which, coupled with other internal evidences already alluded to,
compel me to doubt that the author was ever in the hands of the real
Patagonians, his captors and masters being Pampas or Araucanos, whose
customs are well described by him.

As distinguished from these Indians, the number of the pure Tehuelches,
both northern and southern, in Patagonia does not exceed 1,500 men,
women, and children, according to the returns of effective warriors
given at the time when the union of all the various parties, combined
during my journey for political purposes, enabled me to compute
them with exactness. Beyond the two great divisions into northern
and southern, the subdivisions of tribes, so frequently given, are
imaginary, or arise out of names of temporary leaders. Nor is the term
clan very appropriate to the nomad parties, combined by custom or often
by chance. The population is steadily and rapidly decreasing, and the
inroads of disease and ill effects of liquor are, as usual, doing the
work of extirpation of this race.

As to their organisation, it must be distinctly understood that these
Indians owe no manner of allegiance to any head cacique, such as
Calficura, or any other, though they may agree to obey one chief,
as, for instance, Casimiro; nor are they, except by intermarriage
or voluntary association, politically united with either Pampas
or Araucanians. Their natural bias is to independence, and rather
insubordinate ideas of 'one man being as good as another.' Cuastro's
dying words, 'I die as I have lived--no cacique orders me,' aptly
express the prevalent feeling on this subject. Nevertheless, all
'parties,' however small, are, when travelling, under the command of
a cacique or 'gownok,' who is sometimes also designated by the more
endearing epithet of 'yank,' or father; but his influence is very
frequently confined to ordering the march and chase. Some of the chiefs
are hereditary, but it is not invariably the rule; and amongst the
northern Indians there are many petty chiefs, who are men that, having
become possessed of a few mares and horses, assume the title of cacique.
Great etiquette is observed between them; one chief being prohibited
by custom from entering the toldo of another unless presents have
previously been interchanged. Another curious point of etiquette is,
that a man is not allowed to look towards his father-in-law when
in conversation with him; this is, however, not confined to the
aristocracy, but also applies to the common herd. When two parties
of Indians are approaching one another, and sufficiently near to
distinguish the smoke of the hunting-fires, a signal-fire is lighted,
and a chasqui--called by the Tehuelches coêto--generally some relative
of the chiefs, is despatched from either side. On meeting they repair
to the camp of the most powerful, and, on arriving near, more horsemen
sally out and escort them to the toldo of the chief. On arrival the new
comer dismounts, his horses and gear are taken charge of, and he is
shown, with great formality, to a seat, where he patiently remains,
sometimes for an hour, answering, with grave face, all questions; and
then delivers any message he may be entrusted with. Although he may be
wearied, tired, and hungry, he never moves until the formalities are
concluded; he is then provided with the best food and accommodation his
host is possessed of.

It is to be hoped that the narrated actual life in the toldos will have
enabled the reader to form an idea of the character of the Tehuelches
more favourable than that which--except by the missionaries, Messrs.
Hunziker and Schmid--has usually been assigned to them. They certainly
do not deserve the epithets of ferocious savages, brigands of the
desert, &c. They are kindly, good tempered, impulsive children of
nature, taking great likes or dislikes, becoming firm friends or equally
confirmed enemies. They are very naturally suspicious of strangers, but
especially those of Spanish origin, or, as they term them, Cristianos.
Nor, considering the treatment, treacherous cruelty and knavish
robbery, experienced by them at the hands of the invaders and colonists
alternately, is this to be wondered at.

In the southern part of the country, their frequent intercourse with
sealers on the coast has rendered them favourably disposed towards
Englishmen. This remark, of course, does not extend to the northern
Tehuelches, who have not the same opportunities.

In my dealings with them I was always treated with fairness and
consideration, and my few belongings--although borrowed at times,
according to their mutual way of acting towards one another--were taken
the greatest care of; thus an Indian would frequently ask to look at
my arms, and, after examining them, would carefully return them to me.
During my whole stay amongst them I only lost two articles: the first,
a flint and steel, was, I have reason to believe, stolen by one of the
Chilians; the second was a pair of ostrich balls, which were abstracted
from the toldo. The Indians, although honest enough as regards each
other, will, nevertheless, not scruple to steal from any one not
belonging to their party. Thus, when they enter the colonies for trade,
they will pick up a stray horse in the most natural manner; and in
Santa Cruz, Graviel and others constantly pilfered iron nails and small
articles. With regard to their truthfulness, my experience was as
follows. In minor affairs they nearly always lie, and will invent
stories for sheer amusement; thus, Mrs. Orkeke came to me whilst in
Teckel with the news that Casimiro's wife was dead. My remark was, 'And
a good riddance too!' which was received with a burst of laughter, and
the information that she was as alive as ever, only her eyes were bad. I
could cite many other similar instances of romancing on the part of the
Indians. Old Orkeke I never caught out in a direct lie, and he always,
when informing me about any subject, added, 'I do not lie.' In anything
of importance, however, such as guaranteeing the safety of a person,
they were very truthful, as long as faith was kept with them. After a
time, when they ascertained that I invariably avoided deviating in any
way from the truth, they left off lying to me even in minor matters.
This will serve to show that they are not of the treacherous nature
assigned to them by some ignorant writers. Nor are they habitually
cruel, even to slaves or captives. The Chilian deserters were always
well housed and fed, and lent horses to ride; and nothing but their
incurably bad dispositions and constant plots brought on them a fate
which, in truth, could hardly be thought ill-deserved, whereas the few
good ones of the party rose into high favour.

For my own part, I felt far safer amongst the Tehuelches, as long as
they had no drink or no fights, than I subsequently did in the Rio
Negro. Of course when they are drunk their passions become unbridled;
they remember old feuds, and at times will fight for mere fighting's
sake. It is not necessary, however, to go so far as Patagonia to observe
this. The finest trait, perhaps, in their character is their love
for their wives and children; matrimonial disputes are rare, and
wife-beating unknown; and the intense grief with which the loss of a
wife is mourned is certainly not 'civilised,' for the widower will
destroy all his stock and burn all his possessions: thus Paliki, before
the death of his wife, was a wealthy Indian; but when I knew him he
was poor and reckless, having destroyed all his property, and taken to
gambling and drinking in despair at his loss. Casimiro even declared
that his son Sam--whom I certainly should not have suspected of
disinterested affection for any human being--had ruined himself, and
become careless of his life, after his wife's death.

The children are indulged in every way, ride the best horses, and are
not corrected for any misbehaviour. I was always astonished that the
youths and young men did not grow up more headstrong and wilful, as a
result of want of training. People who have no children of their own
sometimes adopt a little dog, on which they lavish their affections, and
bestow horses and other valuables, which are destroyed in case of the
owner's death.

It has always been a matter of surprise to me that the missionaries
should have been so unsuccessful in their efforts to teach these
children of nature to read and write, for they are naturally very
intelligent (though of course there are exceptions). As a proof of their
quickness in imitations, with very little trouble I taught Hinchel's
son to write his father's name and those of two other Indians in a
very short time. I also used to draw ships on a board with a piece of
charcoal for the children's amusement, and they readily copied them.
Hinchel himself, wishing to explain a part of the course of the Rio
Negro, drew out a rough chart on the board, showing the bends of the
river, which I afterwards found to be perfectly correct.

Whilst in their native wilds, I observed little immorality amongst the
Indians; in the settlements, however, when debased by intoxication,
they are, no doubt, depraved and loose in their ideas. But it must be
recorded that, on the entry of the Indians into the settlements of the
Rio Negro, at a subsequent period, most of the young women and girls
were left with the toldos in Valchita, outside the Travesia, to be out
of the way of temptations. There are many Tehuelche youths now growing
up who have the greatest abhorrence of liquor; and I hope that in time
this abstinence will spread further among them, for they possess no
intoxicants of their own, and the rum is an import from the Christians,
the ill effects of which they are well able to discern.

One word of advice to the future traveller may conclude this imperfect
sketch. Never show distrust of the Indians; be as free with your goods
and chattels as they are to each other. Don't ever want anything done
for you; always catch and saddle your own horse. Don't give yourself
airs of superiority, as they do not understand it--unless you can prove
yourself better in some distinct way. Always be first, as you are not
likely to be encumbered by a wife or gear, in crossing rivers, or any
other difficulties; they will learn by degrees to respect you; in a
word, as you treat them so they will treat you.



CHAPTER VI.

TECKEL TO GEYLUM.

  Casimiro's Household. -- Carge-kaik. -- Quintuhual's Son. --
    Woolkein. -- Partridges. -- Meeting with the Araucanians. --
    The Cacique Quintuhual. -- Esgel-kaik. -- Araucanian Belles. --
    Communication with Chupat Colony. -- Diplaik. -- Calficura's
    Declaration of War. -- Tehuelches learn Fishing. -- My Indian
    Relatives. -- Woodland Rambles. -- An Indian Paradise. -- The
    Upper Chupat. -- Cushamon. -- Losing Horses. -- Official
    Functions. -- Message from Las Manzanas. -- Blessing the
    Liquor. -- Casimiro Intoxicated. -- Foyel's Encampment. --
    Great Parlemento. -- Foyel's Ideas. -- Gatchen-kaik. -- Arrival
    at Geylum.


On January 21 the word was given to march, and all the united forces of
the Tehuelches, numbering 200 men, with the usual allowance of women and
children, prepared to advance to join the Araucanos. Ten toldos, forming
Crimè's party, lingered behind, in consequence of the continued sickness
of this caciquillo, who, however, sent word that he would follow in our
rear.

All the horses were in excellent condition, and it was with great
delight that I saw the immense cavalcade set out. Our family party in
Casimiro's toldo included, besides the chief and his wife, sons, and
little daughter Chingook, an old brother-in-law, Kai, nicknamed Chileno,
and his wife and son Macho; and an old deaf and dumb woman of most
repulsive aspect. The only good feature in Casimiro's character was his
charity. He was always ready to afford an asylum to any destitute or
infirm people, and his toldo was never without some such object of his
pity. My honourable position as secretary and general referee next in
rank to the cacique, scarcely reconciled me to the exchange of the
orderly comfort of Mrs. Orkeke's household for the dignified discomfort
of my present quarters. They were also shared by Meña, whose good
qualities had raised him above his fellow Chilians. Their number had
been reduced to four, Arica having disappeared whilst hunting near
Teckel: without doubt his quarrelsome disposition had occasioned his
death at the hands of some one whom he had insulted or offended. The
route followed led northwards through a valley on both sides of which we
hunted, and arrived in the afternoon at an encampment called Carge-kaik,
or Four Hills. There was nothing remarkable in the scenery: the
hill-sides on either hand were covered with scrub, and the summits
presented masses of rocks, and in some places loose boulders, amongst
which numerous armadillos were basking in the sun. They are easily
captured, as they are very slow; but if they once get into their burrow
it is difficult to extract them, owing to the tenacity with which they
hold fast to the soil. They are very good eating, and are usually cooked
in the shell on the fire, the entrails, &c., being taken out, and the
cavity filled with heated stones. When they are in their best condition,
one leg is sufficient for a man, as there is about an inch of yellow fat
on them. Of the shells the women make work-baskets, to contain their
bodkins, sinews, &c., when sewing, or to serve as colour-boxes for the
different colours when painting.

The day following our arrival, Tankelow and another Indian were
despatched as messengers to the party of Araucanian Indians, or
Manzaneros, supposed to be encamped a few marches distant. During that
night a child was born, the parents of which were rich, and accordingly
a great slaughter of mares took place, the mandil tent was erected, and
a feast and dance announced.

Meanwhile, about 4 P.M., the chasquis returned, bringing with them an
Araucanian Indian, who was escorted to our toldo in due form amidst a
curious crowd, all eager to look at him, while he preserved a grave and
stolid demeanour. After the usual ceremonious formalities he sat down,
and by means of an interpreter stated himself to be a son of Quintuhual,
a chief residing at present about four marches to the north. His father
had with much pleasure received the courteous message sent by Casimiro,
and it would give him equal gratification to welcome the Tehuelches;
but he signified a desire first to meet Casimiro alone. This the latter
monarch did not appear to see in the same light--if I may be allowed the
expression--as it seemed to forebode no good intentions; but he replied
evasively, and thus the colloquy terminated.

This Indian was about the middle height, dressed in coloured ponchos,
with a silk handkerchief round his head. His features were regular, with
restless sparkling black eyes, and complexion about the same as that of
the Gauchos of the Rio de la Plata. He wore his hair cut short, and his
general cleanly appearance afforded a strong contrast to the flowing
locks and paint-bedaubed bodies of the Tehuelches.

Giving up my sleeping place to him, we soon made him at home, and after
he had had some dinner we proceeded in company to watch the dancers, who
were vigorously stepping out round the fire in front of the mandil tent.
Here we were joined by Jackechan, whose knowledge of the Araucanian
language enabled us to maintain a conversation. Presently, by particular
request, I joined Golwin (White) and two others in the dance, coming out
in full costume of ostrich feathers and girdle of bells, and properly
painted, to the great delight of the Indians. My performance elicited
general applause; and at last all retired for the night, myself taking
my saddle-gear and sleeping under a bush near the toldo.

After a delicious breakfast of fried fish, cooked most skilfully by
Meña, we prepared to march again, the chasqui bidding us farewell for
the present, and by 9 A.M. the whole cavalcade of women and children
were in motion, and the circle formed for the hunt.

Several shallow streams, fringed with dwarf beeches, were crossed,
flowing into lagoons or into the Teckel River, the course of which lay
north east of our line, and the cavalcade of women struck the valley
occasionally in the march. Of the hills dividing these streams, the
southern side consisted of gradual slopes covered with coarse grass,
while the northern counterslopes were precipitous, and covered with
loose rocks and stones. Orkeke, in the previous marches, had often
informed me that the Araucanos' country was very stony, and that there
were a great many armadillos, but little other game; and this day
guanaco were rarely seen, but ostriches were numerous and armadillo
abounded.

After crossing several ridges and glens, we at length traversed a
hillocky plain, of the usual scrub-covered aspect, and strewn with
flint, agate, and other pebbles, and encamped for the night in a place
called 'Woolkein,' situated by the side of a water-course which was now
nearly dry, the water only remaining in the deep holes. We had left the
cañon or valley of the river Teckel a few miles east, from which point
it appeared to give a sharp turn in an easterly direction.

To the west the mountains of the Cordillera were visible about twenty
miles distant, while on the south were the rocky abrupt hills already
passed over, and on the north a range of rather peaked hills running
west, and appearing to slope at their western extremity towards the
plains beneath the Cordillera. Next morning, before the rime was off the
pasture, we were again en route, and after a rocky descent of perhaps
fifty feet reached a second plain, everywhere strewn with stones, which
rendered galloping very difficult; nevertheless a large herd of guanaco
were enclosed and numbers killed, while ostrich, on the contrary,
appeared to be very scarce. To my great surprise, whilst running some
guanaco, two large partridges got up from close to my horse's feet, and
flying a short distance settled again. Partridges had been described to
me in the neighbourhood of Santa Cruz, but I had never seen one, and
these were the first met with in the country. Towards three in the
afternoon we emerged from the stony district to a plain covered with
sand and scrub, and after refreshing ourselves at a rivulet, travelled
westward, with the Cordillera in full front, till we turned a high
cliff which jutted out from the grassy slopes in which the hills fell
gradually down to the plains, and beyond it, turning again northward,
entered a level plain, at the far extremity of which we observed with
great contentment the answering smoke from the toldos of the Araucanian
Indians. On the south-west edge of this valley the high beetling cliff
obscured the view of the wooded mountains, which, however, showed out
between the hills shutting in the valley we had traversed up to this
point. On the eastern side rose a range of hills, barren and desolate,
with here and there a single guanaco in solitary majesty, cropping
the stunted grass. In front of us, directly to the north, lay a large
lagoon, in which numerous swans and flamingoes were wading and swimming
about. Beyond it were visible the toldos of the Araucanians, ten in
number.

We halted near the head of the lagoon, under shelter of some thick
bushes, to collect our forces, don our best ponchos and silver
ornaments, and change our horses, and then proceeded slowly to within
about a quarter of a mile of the toldos. To our great surprise nobody
appeared to receive us; but at length a woman arrived with the
intelligence that all the men were away hunting, but had been sent
for, and would arrive shortly.

Our women meanwhile erected the toldos on a green sward, carpeted with
strawberry plants, near to a small stream which divided our camp from
that of the Araucanos. All dismounted and rested after the long journey
of fully forty miles from the previous station; and in about half an
hour the Araucanos appeared, galloping like demons. Their women having
previously brought up their fresh horses, they were in almost less time
than it takes to write it in the saddle, and formed into excellent line,
lances in hand, waiting for us to go through the ceremony of welcome.
In about five minutes our ranks were dressed, and the usual galloping,
shouting, and ceremonious greetings gone through. I was particularly
struck with the bold, honest bearing of the young men of this party,
who, dressed in gay-coloured ponchos, with clean linen drawers and white
flannel vests underneath, presented a most civilised appearance. More
noticeable than the remainder, who numbered but twenty-seven in all,
were four brothers, particularly handsome, robust men, with florid
complexions, who at a distance, where the colour of their eyes could not
be distinguished, looked almost like Europeans; which remark made to El
Sourdo, who was my right-hand man during the performance, called forth
the reply in a low voice, 'Very much devil these Indians; perhaps
fight.' That he could have entertained the idea when we were at least
ten times their number, speaks volumes for the Araucanian character for
bravery.

However, all passed off quietly, and a council was fixed for the
following day. As we were returning to the toldos we observed some
of the Araucanians bringing up a flock of sheep, and others a herd
of cattle, from some woods bordering the stream, which flowed to the
northward. On the eastern side of the valley some four or five hundred
horses and mares were grazing on the green pasture; and Hinchel pointed
out to me with great glee the horses and mares--about a hundred
head--owned by his eldest son, who had married an Araucanian woman,
and resided with them; and the proud father declared that we should not
want for food, as he likewise owned cattle and sheep.

Casimiro informed me that many years ago whilst travelling northwards he
met these same Indians on foot. Their custom was to hunt with large dogs
that they kept expressly for the chase, and dividing the meat equally,
carry it back on their shoulders to the toldos. They also when on the
march loaded themselves with their household gear, leaving bags of
grease hung up in the trees for future use. He left them a couple of
mares, from which part of their present stock is sprung. This story,
however, should be taken with reservation, although it is perfectly
possible that in some fight their horses were taken from them, and
that subsequently, when all the Indians were joined together under the
Cacique Lenketrou to invade the settlements, they received a share of
the spoils, and have since added to their stock by trade.

The day following our arrival a council was held, and an interchange
of presents took place. Here I made the acquaintance of the old
chief Quintuhual, and presented him with a dagger. He was a short,
heavily-built man, with a grave and indeed solemn expression; but he
had a bad name for getting intoxicated and using knife or revolver
freely--in fact, running a-muck. He was of course a relation--nephew, it
was said--of Casimiro; but notwithstanding, he at first received me with
great suspicion, and when, in answer to his inquiries as to what I was
and why I came, he was informed that I was in the service of the Cacique
of England, who wished the Indians well, but that I had visited these
parts for my own pleasure, he replied that he was not a boy to be
humbugged easily; but having instituted private inquiries, he soon
changed his tone, showing me the greatest civility, and was never tired
of asking questions about England and Englishmen.

Here the letters forwarded some time previously, which we had thought
were by this time arrived at Patagones, were handed back to us. They had
been forwarded to Foyel's[9] people, but owing to those sent by me for
England being written on pink note-paper they were returned, the Indians
considering the colour of the paper to denote war.

  [9] Also called Poyel.

Quintuhual had with him a Valdivian or Chilote named Juan Antonio, who
acted as interpreter. This little man, who had originally come from what
he called his 'Pago,' somewhere in the vicinity of Porto Montt, bringing
liquor to trade with the Indians, had concluded to remain with them,
esteeming himself to be better off as a poor man in the Pampas in
company with Indians, than in the like station in the settlements. He
of course spoke the Araucanian language, which is generally used in
Valdivia, but was conversant with the Spanish tongue. Off his horse
he was a miserable little specimen of a man, and though tolerated
by Quintuhual, was looked upon as what Spaniards term 'Infeliz,' or
unfortunate one.

After a while the council broke up, but Crimè arriving with the ten
expected toldos, was resumed the following day; Quintuhual finally
agreeing to unite his party with the Tehuelches, and proceed under
Casimiro's banner to Las Manzanas.

The Chilote Juan Antonio paid us a visit in the evening, and informed us
that the toldos had been several months in this place, which was named
Esgel-kaik; the men having been absent hunting, first the young guanaco,
and afterwards catching and taming cattle in the Cordillera.

By his account these Indians were great adepts with the lazo, and would
gallop through the forests in chase of animals in the most wonderful
manner; one man only being required to catch and secure an animal, and
then proceeding to capture another. How different from our dreadful
failure, where seven men could not lazo one animal!

He further stated that with Foyel's Indians, who were distant a few
marches to the north, eight Valdivians had for the last two years been
employed catching cattle, and having now succeeded in getting together
a herd of about eighty head, intended shortly to return to Valdivia.

The third day after our arrival I visited the toldos of our new allies;
and while talking to one of the principal Indians, named Malakou, who
could speak a little Spanish, was asked if I could repair firearms, and
one or two very antique specimens of flint pistols and blunderbusses
were produced, the locks of which were wood-bound. Half an hour served
to set these to rights, at which the owners were much delighted, and
offered me tobacco, &c., which however I refused, taking instead a hide
to make a small lazo.

After bidding, not adieu, but _au revoir_, to my new friends, whilst
strolling back I was called into a toldo where four women were sitting
sewing mantles. One, who appeared to be of the Pampa tribe, old and
ugly, spoke Spanish, and stated that she was formerly in the Rio Negro
with the cacique Chingoli. She acted as spokeswoman for the others,
three tall, buxom lasses, daughters of a brother of Quintuhual, who was
Capitanejo of the party. They were gaily dressed in variegated ponchos,
with silk handkerchiefs bound round their fine glossy hair, which was
plaited into two long tails, and set off their clear, fresh complexions
charmingly. The first question they asked me was where I came from. On
answering 'From the direction in which the sun rises,' they asked if it
wasn't very hot there. They then asked if I had ever been above in the
sky; if I had not been dead one time and come to life again; whether
Casimiro had not been dead and come back again, and various other
questions of the same description.

After satisfying their curiosity to the best of my ability, and smoking
a pipe, I received a message by Juan Antonio that Quintuhual wanted to
see me in his toldo. Proceeding thither, I was shown to a seat on a
poncho, and discoursed with the old chief for half an hour; at the end
of which he made me a present of a 'jurga,' or, as the Tehuelches term
it, 'lechu,' a sort of blanket made by their women, similar to the
poncho, except, instead of two parts with an opening for the head to
pass through, it consists of an entire piece. It was perfectly new,
having been just completed by his daughters.

After a good dinner we adjourned to see the races, a great match being
on between the two tribes. The course was about four miles; and the race
resulted in a victory for the Tehuelches. Both sides had backed their
favourites heavily; and as on this occasion the ladies took a prominent
share in the betting, the Tehuelches were in great glee, having won from
the fair Araucanians many valuable mandils and lechus. In the evening a
grand feast took place, with a mandil tent and dance.

Near this place grew a quantity of the wild potatoes, and the women used
to start early in the morning and come back towards evening with their
horses loaded. The tubers were the largest I had seen, and closely
resembled the sweet potato in flavour. The usual way of cooking them was
boiling in a pot, a sod of earth being placed over all to keep the steam
in.

We made a stay of eight days in Esgel-kaik, amusing ourselves by racing,
visiting the Araucanos, and passing a very pleasant time, the only
drawback being the illness of Crimè, who grew gradually worse.

The day before our departure Jackechan and El Sourdo intimated that, as
they feared a disturbance, and wished to keep clear of any fight, they
would not accompany us to Las Manzanas, but purposed to proceed in the
direction of Chupat, and send in a messenger to the Welsh colony. So I
at once took the opportunity of forwarding a letter to Mr. Lewis Jones,
requesting certain supplies of yerba, tobacco, and sugar.

On February 5th the whole camp broke up, Jackechan and two toldos
marching to the north-east, and the remainder, who now formed an
extensive train, marching almost due north. Before leaving Jackechan
sent one of his wives and his youngest son, who was remarkably attached
to me, to our toldo, to be under the charge of her father, Kai Chileno.
El Sourdo had pressed me to go with their small party, and for some time
I wavered, but thought it best to stick to Casimiro, and pay a visit to
Cheoeque, and the much-praised Manzanas, where the Indians anticipated
finding plenty of fruit and plenty of drink. After leaving Esgel the
character of the country changed. We were no longer traversing Pampas,
with their dreary monotony, but journeyed through level valleys of two
or three miles in extent, watered by rivulets fringed with stunted
trees, and abounding with game. The general line of the dividing
hills--which were round downs and occasionally broken and waterworn
cliffs--was from east to west, seeming as if they were thrown off as
spurs from the Cordillera, from which, however, their western bases
were divided by a valley often narrowing to a glen, down which flowed
a stream in a northward course. Towards evening a halt was made at the
side of a stream where there was sufficient pasture for the horses, and
it was an amusing sight to watch the long line of women winding down the
hills in the distance, like a flock of ants; the Araucanians driving
their cattle and mares separate from our party, and their sheep bringing
up the rear by slow marches under charge of some lads.

Early the following morning the camp was struck, and after crossing a
hill directly above the encampment, which was covered with rank high
grass, we descended the northward slope to a wild, barren-looking plain,
at the northern side of which, near to a low range of hills, some
trees and a silver line marked the course of a river flowing from the
Cordillera, the mountains of which rose to a height of 2,000 or 3,000
feet, wooded nearly to the summits, and their crests glittering with
occasional patches of snow that had defied the power of the summer sun.
Traversing this plain, which was dotted with barberry and other bushes,
and varied here and there by small hummocky ridges, we closed the
hunting circle by the banks of the stream, a few miles distant from the
Cordillera. Here, in different parties, the usual fires were lit, and
the hunting meal discussed, after which we proceeded to the toldos.
The Araucanians had pitched theirs on the southern bank of the river,
amongst some clumps of trees; whilst those of the Tehuelches were
situated on the northern bank, the river dividing the two villages.
Westward from our encampment the barren plain was succeeded by a wide
level of grass, reaching to the base of the mountains, some two miles
distant; but higher up the course of the river, which trended to the
north, the plain appeared to resume its barren and stony aspect, with
here and there a dry lagoon, until the slope of the mountains was
reached, and detached belts of trees formed the commencement of the
forest. On the southern side of the river the pasture was not very
abundant; nevertheless there was sufficient for the horses, cattle,
and sheep of our allies to graze upon.

After the usual stable drill most of us bathed in the stream, which,
although nowhere of great depth, had pools at intervals suited for
bathing; but the water was icy cold. The day following our arrival at
this camp, which was named Diplaik, a birthday feast took place in the
Araucanian toldos, to which most of us were invited, the usual tent
being erected and a dance held in the evening, and the feast and dance
were kept up for two days and nights, at the end of which a messenger
arrived from Foyel to say that Calficura, the chief of the Indians
encamped at the Salinas north of the Rio Negro, near Bahia Blanca, was
going to make war on Buenos Ayres, the reason assigned being the murder
of one of his relations by the Christians; he therefore desired the
Araucanians and Tehuelches to join with him in the inroad. His literal
message was as follows: 'My horse is ready, my foot is in the stirrup,
my lance is in my hand, and I go to make war against these Christians,
who tire us out with their falseness.'

A parlemento was called, and the chiefs deliberated for some time,
but in the end determined to have nothing to do with the affair; so a
message was sent to the effect that he might do as he pleased, but that
they wished to maintain peace.

We remained some days in Diplaik, during which several races were run,
resulting on this occasion in favour of the horses of the Araucanians,
who won many horses and mares from their neighbours.

The international sports were diversified by a cock fight between
Orkeke's bird and one belonging to an Araucanian. My assistance was
requested to sharpen the spurs, and my friends were much astonished at
my indignant refusal to have anything to do with such a proceeding. The
Araucanian owner of the cock had also a hen which, during the march, sat
upon a clutch of eggs and successfully reared her brood of six chickens,
the hen, nest, and all being carefully transported on horseback, and
Dame Partlet seeming quite as much at home in the saddle as any Indian
mother with her nursling carried in the cradle behind her.

In the dry lagoons on the western side of the valley the women and,
indeed, sometimes the men, were frequently engaged in grubbing up an
edible root which grew in large quantities. The leaf of the plant
is very minute, and the root, which is found about a foot below the
surface, varies in length from 1 to 3 inches: it is quite white, and
about a quarter of an inch in diameter; when raw its taste resembles
that of a chestnut, but is rather sweeter. The Indians boil it and
drink the water, which is very sweet. During the last two days of our
stay we subsisted entirely on this food and fish caught in the stream,
as meat was not obtainable. Some of the Tehuelches were here induced for
the first time to taste the fish on which Casimiro, Meña, and myself
were regaling, and some of them took a great liking to it, and borrowing
my lines and hooks were soon sitting on the bank waiting patiently for
a bite. They caught several, and towards evening returned with my lines
and a share of the fish for us, which we did not require. As I had
plenty of hooks, these ingenious savages soon made lines for themselves
out of twisted ostrich sinews, and may, for all I know, at the present
time be occupied in fishing. The fact that none of these Tehuelches
would before this touch the fish caught by me, and even expressed great
disgust at the idea, is worthy of note, as it has been stated that on
the coast they catch and eat sea fish, which could only be alleged by
persons ignorant of their real habits of life.[10]

  [10] Cf. Guinnard, 'Three Years' Slavery,' p. 73.

On the 12th we marched; the cause of our detention for the two extra
days being the continued sickness of Crimè, who, however, at length
determined to make an effort and proceed, although barely able to sit
on his horse. The women followed, more or less, the valley of the river,
whilst the hunters ranged over the hills, which on the eastern side were
in most parts free from rock and stones and abounded with ostriches.
During the journey I came suddenly on two wild cats, one of which my
dog attacked and killed, and the other fell a victim to my bolas. These
were of the species common in the provinces of La Plata, and especially
in the islands of the Parana. Towards evening we came on another
small stream flowing into the main river, into the plain of which we
subsequently descended and found the toldos already pitched, literally
'sub tegmine fagi.' During this day's ride, happening to be in the same
part of the circle as the Araucanians, we cooked our dinners in company
and rode home together. On the way Quintuhual's eldest son, with whom
I had always had very friendly relations, said that he desired to
recognise me as his brother. So we accordingly joined hands, and riding
together formally declared that we were as brothers, and would always
remember the duties of our relationship and assist each other, if needs
be, in whatever part of the world we might be placed. All this was very
satisfactory, and it may be interesting to the reader to know that
my sisters and cousins were the good-looking girls who had asked
such curious questions at Esgel, and with whom, though we could not
understand each other's language, I had always kept up a laughing
acquaintance, thereby arousing considerable jealousy in the bosoms of
my Tehuelche friends. The gloriously warm weather which, for a wonder,
continued during our stay at Lilly-haik, as this station was named,
rendered our residence there most enjoyable, and we revelled in the
simple pleasures of the woods; sometimes three or four of us would go
away across the brook, and traversing a plain occupied by the horses and
cattle, search for strawberries amongst the ravines of the neighbouring
mountains, or climb the tall trees and gather the yellow insipid fungus
adhering to the branches, or lie down amongst the wild violets and
enjoy the _dolce far niente_. These Indian children of nature showed
themselves as thoroughly able to appreciate the idleness of gathering
fruit and flowers and roaming in the woods as school children on a
holiday ramble. On one occasion Casimiro and several others proceeded
in search of wood wherewith to construct saddles, and we felled several
fine trees, selecting and cutting off suitable pieces of timber. It was
hard work with blunt axes, but Indians are indefatigable when they
once commence a task. After my spell at the axe I wandered off with a
companion into the thicker forest in search of fungus to make tinder.
Of this we found little, but thirst soon made us seek for water, and
discover a delicious ice-cold rivulet, embowered with currant bushes
bearing ripe fruit. Here we remained a short time smoking and picking
currants, recumbent on the mossy turf, till a shout in the distance
warned us that our companions were returning. On our way home we killed
one of the flat toad-like lizards which the Indians regard as devilish;
we also caught a young skunk, which Casimiro wished to keep as a pet for
the children, but at my instance let it go and enjoy the delights of
freedom. 'Fancy a tame skunk!' some may exclaim; but in Hinchel's toldo
there were two skunks which, perfectly tame and as playful as kittens,
ran about everywhere, never using their offensive powers, and sometimes
getting lost for an hour or two caused a dreadful outcry to be raised by
the children until they were found.

The hill slopes were a garden of calceolarias, alyssum, tiny wild
geraniums, and other flowers unknown to me. Amongst them were two
magnificent creepers, one resembling a vine, with rich violet
trumpet-shaped flowers, and another displaying gorgeous circular orange
blossoms, with black lines radiating, like the spokes of a wheel, from
the centre. I looked in vain for seeds, but there were none mature, so
contented myself with plucking a flower, which was subsequently lost
with other specimens.

A disagreeable incident here gave me an opportunity of observing the
disposition of the Araucanians to enslave and illtreat any unhappy
'Cristiano' that they can either kidnap or purchase. One of the
Chilians, after more than once removing from one Tehuelche toldo to
another, listened to the delusive promises of an Araucanian and deserted
his old protectors rather than masters. He soon found that he had
exchanged an easy berth for real slavery. One day he besought me to
interfere to protect him from the cruelty of his master, who was urging
him with his whip to continue his labour of wood felling. He complained
that he was worked all day, and scantily fed, and obliged to sleep
outside the toldo; very different from his life amongst the Patagonians,
when food, shelter, and a horse to ride were always his lot. At my
intercession Quintuhual took him into his service to protect him, for no
Tehuelche would receive him; but he was afterwards reported to have been
killed by his quondam master, as a punishment for his desertion.

During our stay great gambling with cards was carried on amongst some of
the party; and Casimiro and Hinchel worked most assiduously constructing
saddles, which when finished they were in as great haste to gamble
away. A wedding also varied the proceedings in this place; and another
little incident, in the shape of a separation by mutual consent of an
Araucanian husband and Tehuelche wife, gave the old ladies subject for
gossip; but a reconciliation was soon after effected.

On the 16th of February we left Lilly-haik, and bid adieu to the
pleasant river and the sylvan delights of this Paradise, as it seemed
to us, with its flowery shades. As we ascended the northern declivity of
the high ground bounding the valley, I halted to take a farewell look;
and nowhere has a more beautiful scene presented itself to my gaze. The
valley narrowed as it curved to the west, and at its head, through a
gigantic cleft, the perpendicular walls of which rose several hundred
feet, the waters of the river issued from their mountain cradle. So deep
was the gloom of this gorge, that it was impenetrable to even Indian
eyes, and the river seemed to flow into the sunlight out of unknown
darkness. Above, on either hand, the precipitous cliffs sloped upwards
into high mountains clothed with a rich mantle of the dark green,
cedarlike foliage of the beech forests; and between their summits might
be discerned the dazzling peaks of far distant loftier mountains crowned
with perpetual snow.

Turning our backs upon this lovely scene, we crossed a remarkable
succession of barren and stony terraces or benches of curiously
irregular formation, the terraces running in different directions, and
presenting no parallel lines to indicate any uniform action of water;
the regular slopes and level surfaces resembling a complication of
gigantic steps. We at length descended to a plain bordering a river,
which all the Indians agreed in declaring to be the main branch of the
Chupat. The banks on the southern side were remarkable for being fringed
with a species of Pampa grass, while on the northern side grew a few
trees, near which the toldos were pitched.

The river was about forty yards in width, and easily fordable in most
places, although there were deep reaches where a horse had to swim.
The foremost party of the hunters crossed first, and some, either not
knowing or careless of the fords, enjoyed a bathe, swimming alongside
their horses. By eventide all our party, women and baggage, had arrived.
A few days' halt was occasioned in this place, named Chupatcush, by the
continued illness of the cacique Crimè. We hunted in all the surrounding
country, which presented no very remarkable features. Down river, or to
speak more correctly to the eastward, after passing a range of hills of
the usual description, covered with short tufty grass, interspersed with
shrubs, through which the river forces its way in a succession of narrow
gorges, a large plain opened out, which extended for perhaps nine miles
on each side, scantily covered with grass, excepting towards the banks
of the river, where the pasture was luxuriant.

A subsequent comparison of the observations made by Welsh settlers as to
its lower course with my own, aided by Indian accounts, enables me to
state that the Chupat river is characterised throughout its course by
the narrow gorge-like cuttings alternating with similar wide plains,
all of which are suitable for cultivation. Besides the Sengel, which
is doubtless one of its main feeders, other streams occurring in our
journey had also been described as tributaries of the Chupat, and by
their direction of course it would appear that their waters, if they
reach the sea, must flow into this river; but it seems to me difficult
to understand how, if the Chupat receives the drainage of so large
an area of country, its stream near the mouth, as described both by
Indians and settlers, can be of such small dimensions. It is, therefore,
probable that some, if not most, of the lesser rivers lose themselves
in lagoons or swamps in the central districts, and the reader must be
pleased to remember that the courses of these rivers, as indicated on
the map, are not in all cases laid down from my own observation, but
partly from Indian description and partly from an already existing map,
probably compiled from similar data.

To the westward plains occur at intervals apparently until the river
debouches from the ravines of the high mountains of the Andes, about
twelve miles from the encampment. At this point the stream flows from
the northward, and the Indians informed me has its source in a large
lake, most probably Nahuel-huapi. The pasture in the immediate vicinity
of the camp was scanty, having apparently been recently burned, but
the soil was of a rich alluvial description. In the chase the most
remarkable thing observed was the abundance of armadillos, one hunter
frequently bringing in two or three. Fish also were abundant in the
river, and averaged a larger size than those previously caught.

On February 18th smoke was observed to the northward, not far distant,
and towards evening a chasqui arrived, bringing with him a couple of
bottles of liquor for Quintuhual, as well as news that things were going
on well amongst Foyel's people; and on the 21st we again marched over a
high plateau broken by numerous irregular ravines which appeared to have
been swept by an inundation. High isolated cliffs stood up as though
the waters had washed round them and swept away the intervening soil,
leaving their waterworn faces marked with the indelible record of
the floods, as plainly as the torn and blasted rocks in the southern
districts bore the traces of volcanic fires. At last a more unbroken
plain terminated suddenly in a shelving descent of 300 to 400 feet,
the wall of a chasm covered with grass and shrubs interspersed with
scattered boulders, down which we made our way, encamping near the base,
where a beautiful spring gushed from the side. The bottom of the cañon,
which was nearly half a mile in width, contained a watercourse, the bed
of which was dry at this season, except a few pools of stagnant water
unsuitable for drinking.

It was intended to despatch messengers from this place, which was
called Cushamon, to Foyel, and also Cheoeque, the chief of Las Manzanas,
warning him of our near approach; and accordingly, after our arrival
in camp, I wrote a letter to the said chieftain at the dictation of
Casimiro, which in well-rounded periods and with much complimentary
verbiage explained the fact and reasons of our having united all the
Indians and inviting their co-operation.

The following morning, after the letter had been read and explained to
the assembled Caciques, the two messengers (sons of Caciques) appeared
with two horses each, and after receiving some verbal injunctions,
started on their journey, amidst the howlings of a few old women and a
blast from the cornet. The remainder of us, who had mounted, to add to
the pomp and ceremony of the occasion, went out hunting, some following
the ravine in an easterly direction, which, penetrating high pampas,
opened into a plain containing a lagoon fed by the waters of the
brook, whilst others encircled the high pampas above. Hinchel, whom I
accompanied on this occasion, pointed out to me several small holes with
little mounds of earth and rubbish at the mouth, which he asserted to
be the abodes of snakes, but no occupants were visible outside. He
described the snakes as dark in colour, about 2 feet 6 inches long, and
perfectly harmless, adding that they would be good to eat, which facts
were subsequently corroborated by Casimiro.

One of the troubles of pampa life is occasionally losing one's horses,
as was my case in this place, and I spent one entire day in search
before I recovered them, as they had strayed in company with a troop of
mares far up the valley, which here divided into two branches, opening
into watered grassy plains extending to the Cordillera. As there were
horse tracks up both valleys, according to the usual law of contrariety
I took the wrong one at first and had a long gallop for nothing. At any
time it is troublesome to have to look through about two thousand horses
all unmarked and many of the same colour, and perhaps resembling those
belonging to the perplexed searcher. An Indian, however, with his
natural quickness of sight, will distinguish his own horses at a great
distance amongst a hundred others. It has been already said that in this
roving life all must look after their own horses, for Indians do not
understand another person doing it for them, unless he be a son or
relation, and in all cases when preparing for the march everyone is
expected to find and bring up his own.

During our stay (until the 28th) in this encampment, the cold winds
again set in, and snow fell on one occasion, but not in great quantity,
and we were all very glad at length to get the order to march, and
proceeded in joyous expectation of shortly meeting the chasquis with
news from the other Indians. By this time the young guanaco had grown to
considerable size and afforded a lengthened chase, but their skins were
useless for mantles, the fur having acquired more of the thick woolly
nature of that of the full-grown animal. The next halt was made in a
place called Telck, a valley of considerable width, on one edge of which
the burrow of a Patagonian hare or cavy was pointed out to me, but the
owner was not visible. Here a messenger arrived with an answer to our
letter from Foyel, indited by a Valdivian Indian named Antonio Guaitu,
educated by the missionaries, who filled the post of secretary to the
chief. The Caciques having formed a circle, in which my place was next
the president, Casimiro, the chasquis were introduced and ceremoniously
handed me the letter, written in most peculiar Spanish, which, after
some private study, I was able to decipher and expound to the attentive
assembly. It contained many expressions of good will and hopes of a
speedy meeting, winding up with an apology that, owing to having left
his country north of the Rio Limay and come down into these parts in
order to hunt the young guanaco, he regretted having so few warriors
in his train wherewith to welcome 'the great chief of the south,'
viz., Casimiro. After this function, with my deportment in which, be it
modestly said, all the chiefs were much pleased, as well as gratified by
the amicable contents of the despatch, one of the Araucanian caciques
assuring me with many compliments that his horses were always at my
disposal for a mount, all adjourned to a shooting match, or rather
pistol practice, at which the performances were decidedly moderate, and
the mark seemed to be the safest place. Starting thence on March 3, and
travelling always northwards over the barren upper pampas with scarcely
a shrub on them, the wall-like Cordillera rising on the west, and ranges
of hills bounding the view to the east, about 2 P.M. we arrived at a
marshy plain: there, as we were halting to make a fire, a cloud of smoke
rose suddenly from the opposite side, indicating the near approach of
the chasqui sent to Las Manzanas. Half a dozen of us were immediately
despatched to verify the supposition, and, leaving our dinner for a
future occasion, raced across the valley at full speed, the Indians
firmly believing that the messengers would bring liquor with them, and
every one being ambitious of the first drink. We at length made them
out, and perceiving us in return they halted and dismounted by a small
hillock, where we shortly joined them, Casimiro following sedately, as
became so grand a personage. The Indians were disappointed as to the
advent of liquor, the messengers having brought nothing with them except
a few apples, some of which, distributed to us, proved to be very juicy
and refreshing, equalling any European apple. The only answer to our
letter was a verbal message to the effect that we should be welcome at
Las Manzanas, and that Cheoeque would collect a force to meet us, all
his people being at present busy in the mountains gathering the harvest
of apples and piñones; he also stated that he had received late news
from Patagones, one Mariano Linares, brother of the head chief of the
tame Indians in that settlement, being at present a visitor at Las
Manzanas. Casimiro was rather irritated at not receiving a written
answer, but on my pointing out that it was just possible Cheoeque did
not own a secretary in his suite, the chief was somewhat pacified,
although his dignity was rather hurt, and he recurred again and again
to the subject.

On our way to the toldos, which, during the interval of our hearing the
news, roasting apples, &c., had been pitched, Casimiro pointed out to
me the scene of a former fight in which a chief and several Indians had
been killed. It was a very desirable place for encampment, but, owing to
these antecedents, was carefully avoided, and instead of it our party
occupied a damp and even sloppy site on the borders of a small stream
that lost itself in a large marsh farther to the east, while the
Araucanians had selected a better spot a little higher up the valley.
The following day we hunted over some hills in the vicinity of the
mountains and killed a great quantity of ostriches, scarcely a man
coming home without a good supply of meat.

On March 5, early in the morning, whilst most of us were rounding up
our horses, others smoking at the fireside, some men appeared in the
distance with several horses, one of which appeared to be loaded. In a
moment many Indians were away to meet the newcomers, and one came back
at speed to inform us that they were Manzanero Indians bringing liquor
to trade with. They proceeded to Quintuhual's toldo, one of them being
a connection of the chief, and there dismounted, unloading their horse
of two sheepskins filled with rum. Great was the rejoicing amongst the
Indians, and large the crowd that soon collected round Quintuhual's
toldo, carefully keeping at a respectful distance. Casimiro and myself
were shortly sent for, and on riding over were invited to preside at
the commencement of the festival. On our dismounting, in company with
several of the other caciques, four lances were planted in the ground
(one having a white weft or poncho placed on it), and the chiefs, each
taking a horn or pannikin containing a very little rum, marched round
the lances muttering an incantation and sprinkling a little liquor
on the ground, also on the lances as they passed. This ceremony was
repeated twice, a select body of old women attending to sing and cry, to
assist in frightening away the evil spirit. After this my brother, who
appeared to be master of the ceremonies, handed pannikins of grog round,
and all were soon very convivial. After taking a glass or two I retired
in company with Orkeke and Hinchel, neither of whom was inclined to
drink much, owing to the possibility of a disturbance. The rest of the
party then began to buy drink, as the first free allowance was stopped,
and in a short time many were in an advanced stage of intoxication,
amongst whom was our head chief. The terms of barter were a mantle or
unbroken colt for two bottles of villainous Valdivian rum, which was,
as the Tehuelches agreed, a very exorbitant price; but inasmuch as the
dealers left it free for them either to go without or pay up, the liquor
was soon finished and the merchants possessed of some eighteen new
mantles and a good number of mares and colts. The artful Tehuelches,
however, during the ensuing night, stole back a portion of the mantles
and humbugged the Araucanians about the horses, professing not to be
able to catch them. Everything went on quietly until about 3 P.M., when
a fight took place, but the combatants were disarmed. From this up to 8
P.M. Quintuhual, Orkeke, and many of the people who had kept sober, were
occupied in quelling disturbances, Casimiro being as bad as any, and
sending for his gun wherewith to shoot some imagined enemy, which I
fortunately intercepted, and after plugging up the nipples hid it behind
the toldo. There was little sleep to be obtained till nearly morning,
when the inebriated ones laid down anywhere and everywhere to sleep
off their potations. The following morning Casimiro awoke with a bad
headache and bad temper, and commenced talking about something that had
been said to him the previous day, on which I informed him that he must
have no shame left in him to get so intoxicated, and that no Indians
could respect a chief who was the first to set an evil example by
wishing to create a disturbance, while Quintuhual had remained sober,
taking care of his people as became a chief, and that he (Casimiro)
should have done the same. This raised the ire of the ancient monarch,
who answered in a most impolite manner, so much so, that to avoid a row
I left him to his bad head and quitted the toldo till he should be in a
better frame of mind. Shortly after this little episode we broke up the
camp and marched a few miles to the north. Having been detained by a
missing horse, I did not start with the hunting party, but overtook the
people who had arrived with the grog, returning with their remaining
mantles, horses, colts, &c., and loudly abusing the Tehuelches for a set
of thieving rascals. One of this party was a Valdivian boy who spoke
fluent Spanish, and invited me to accompany him to Los Llanos, whither
he now intended returning. He stated that in seven or eight days he
hoped to reach his destination, and that from thence to the port of
Valdivia was but a day and a half's journey. On arriving at the next
encampment I bade adieu to these people, who continued their march
farther to the north, not liking to trust their property again in the
neighbourhood of our camp.

Only halting for the night, we resumed our journey shortly after
daylight, mounting a rather steep ascent to a high plateau strewn with
sharp stones and crossed by ridges of rocks at intervals.

Ostriches and guanaco were numerous, and although chasing them almost
involved the certainty of laming one's horse, many were killed. In this
hunt a male guanaco came racing towards me from the Indians on the
western side of the circle, and on my galloping to intercept him, he
turned and descended a ridge of rocks. I was about to throw the bolas,
being within distance, when he suddenly tripped and, falling on his
head, lay stunned at the bottom of the cliff, where I soon despatched
him with my knife.

These barren pampas terminated suddenly in a line of cliffs, gradually
but steeply shelving in some places, and in others presenting a
perpendicular descent of 200 feet; at the base lay a large plain watered
by a brook, and enclosed on the southern, eastern, and partially on the
western sides by these cliffs, while the northern and north-western
boundary was formed by hills rising in gentle slopes. In about the
centre of this plain, close to the brook side, were to be distinguished
the toldos of Foyel, to which the women were wending their way, having
descended by a ravine to the east, while some distance to the north-east
on the upper plains were to be distinguished the hunting fires of the
proprietors of the toldos. In due course of time we arrived, but as
the hunting party did not return till late, we saw nothing of Foyel's
people that evening, though letters were exchanged between the chiefs,
felicitating each other on the meeting, and appointing next day for the
ceremony of welcome.

The following morning, however, day broke with a furious south-west
gale, with passing squalls of snow and sleet, and so bitterly cold and
miserable that Foyel sent a note to state that, 'as the day was rather
frozen,' perhaps it would be better to postpone the ceremony till finer
weather, inasmuch as after it a parlemento would have to be held to
consider matters in general. Casimiro answered, through me, that he
was of the same opinion, but would do himself the honour of paying
a personal visit. Presently we sallied out in the storm, taking the
presents and the necessary number of women to cry, and proceeded to
Foyel's toldo, where we handed over the gifts, the women melodiously
howling during the operation. A short parley then ensued between the
two caciques, neither of whom, be it remembered, could understand the
language of the other. After this ceremonial was concluded, which took
place outside the toldo during a blinding snow storm, we returned to our
home, and shortly after the day cleared up a little, and Foyel's people
were visible bringing up cattle and sheep from distant parts of the
valley to which they had been driven to seek shelter from the storm.
Some headed in our direction, and were driven close to the toldo, over
which the Buenos Ayrean colours proudly waved to designate the dwelling
of the chief. Foyel then arrived and had an interview with Casimiro,
presenting him with cattle which were lazoed by some of the Valdivian
Indians, and a light-haired man dressed in Christian clothes, but with
rather a wild appearance. My first idea was that he was either Scotch or
English, but as he approached me whilst despatching one of the cows, I
asked him in Spanish where he came from, and whether he was not English;
he answered that he was from Chili, but had lived nearly all his life in
Valdivia working cattle, and had for the last two years been in company
with the Valdivians catching cattle in the Cordillera, and making his
head-quarters at Foyel's camp. His name was Ventura Delgado, and he
had visited Patagones the previous year in company with the secretary,
Antonio Guaitu, who took an application for rations for Foyel. As we
were both busy we arranged to meet and have a talk later in the day. A
good deal of eating took place in the forenoon, and to escape the crowd,
and also the persecution of having continually to write some nonsensical
message from Casimiro to Foyel, who about every half hour used to
interchange written messages, although the toldos were not above two
hundred yards apart, I quitted the chief's quarters for a stroll. While
roaming about the camp looking for the toldo in which my new Valdivian
acquaintance put up, I was called into another, where Casimiro's aunt,
one of our domestic circle, and my 'companion of the pipe,' was sitting
by the fire drinking grog, in which she invited me to assist her;
nothing loth, I sat down and we had two or three cheerers together,
after which the owner of the toldo, a brother-in-law of Foyel's, a
Pampa Indian, arrived. He spoke fluent Spanish, having formerly been
for a considerable time near the settlements, and was an intellectual,
fine-looking man; he was very civil and escorted me to Foyel's toldo,
where I spent the afternoon in company with Antonio Guaitu and Ventura
Delgado, the Valdivian.

On March 8, the day being fine and suitable for the ceremony of welcome,
Casimiro gave orders at an early hour for all to mount and hold
themselves in readiness to go through the necessary evolutions. About
an hour after the orders had been given, most of the Patagonians were
mounted and ready, so all proceeded to the part of the valley where the
united Araucanian Indians, under Quintuhual and Foyel, were already
formed in line, lances in hand, waiting for our motley crowd, who gave
considerable trouble to the chiefs, owing to their loose ideas of
formation: the caciques and adjutant no sooner had got one part of the
line into something like order, than the people at the other extremity
would break up into knots and converse or smoke. Foyel sent several
messages to Casimiro to keep his line properly formed, and at length
the Tehuelches were arrayed in something like order and the ceremony
commenced. After it was concluded a great Parlemento was held, which
lasted until the afternoon; all the previous resolutions were confirmed,
viz., that Casimiro should be recognised the chief of the South, his
jurisdiction extending over all Indians south of the Rio Limay; that
with his people he should guarantee the safety of Patagones, and hold in
check the Pampa Indians of Las Salinas, under the chief Calficura, in
the improbable event of his endeavouring to cross the Rio Limay for the
purpose of making raids into the settlements; 2ndly, that we should, all
united, march to Las Manzanas to visit Cheoeque, and propose to him to
guarantee with his forces the safety of the north bank of the river,
which would effectually bridle Calficura and secure Patagones. After
the Parlemento I proceeded to visit Foyel, and was received by him with
every expression of friendship and regard. During the course of our
interview he asked me to show him my compass, the fame of which had gone
before it. I at once took it off my neck, where I was in the habit of
carrying it, and endeavoured to explain its uses to him. Unlike the
other Indians, although at first regarding it rather with superstitious
awe, Foyel soon understood its uses, though he also hinted that it might
not only be useful for finding the way at night, but perhaps would bring
luck at play as well. I accordingly begged him to accept it, which,
after a little demur, he did with evident delight, wrapping it carefully
up and giving it in charge of his daughter.

He then commenced a conversation on the subject of Indians and their
relations with white people. He stated that he was in favour of friendly
intercourse both with the Valdivian people on the western side and the
Argentines on the eastern shores. I quote some of his exact words: 'God
has given to us these plains and hills wherein to dwell; he has provided
us with the guanaco, from the skins of which to form our toldos, and
from the young of which we make mantles to clothe ourselves with; also
the ostrich and armadillo for food. Our contact with the Christians of
late years has given us a taste for yerba, sugar, biscuit, flour, and
other luxuries formerly unknown, but which now have become almost
necessary to us. If we have war with the Spaniards, we shall have no
market for our skins, ponchos, feathers, &c., therefore it is for our
own interests to be on good terms with them; besides, there is plenty of
room for all.' He then went on to state that he was endeavouring to find
a route to Valdivia, avoiding Las Manzanas and the Picunche tribe of
Indians, who are against all foreigners; and that if possible he would
get families of Valdivian Indians and endeavour to cultivate some of
the valleys in the neighbourhood of the Rio Limay.

I was not at that time aware of Mr. Cox's descent from Lake Nahuel-huapi,
or could at once have informed him of that means of communication with
the settlements on the western side; still I doubt the practicability of
that route for women and children carrying with them household goods and
agricultural implements. After some more conversation, and receiving a
general invitation to visit his toldo whenever I felt inclined, and a
hospitable assurance that there would always be food for me if I was
hungry, I retired to Casimiro's, whilst Foyel went away to play cards,
taking with him my compass for luck, and curiously enough he won several
horses, silver stirrups, and other valuables from the Tehuelches.

The following day a race took place, the Tehuelches first taking their
horse up to the top of a neighbouring hill, where the doctor performed
some magical ceremony to ensure his winning, which he did, though
apparently inferior to his competitor. In this plain, called by the
Indians Gatchen-kaik or Rocky Hills, Crimè's illness caused us to remain
encamped until March 21, during the greater part of which time I and
several others were suffering from neuralgia and ulcerations in the
mouth, caused, I think, by the bad water we had to drink, perhaps also
by the want of salt, which had become a very scarce commodity.

Friendly rivalry was kept up between the tribes in play, hunting, and
other sports, in which fortune varied from one side to the other. Every
other day I visited poor Crimè, whose groans might be heard at night
accompanied by the chaunt of some old hag. The sick man always asked me
how long he would live. I at first tried to persuade him that he would
get well, but after a time, as he was really fast sinking, gave him to
understand that he might live a month if he was lucky. I offered to open
his leg and endeavour to cure him, but this he would not allow, stating
that if he died under the operation it would go hard with the doctor,
which was indeed true, so I gave up my intentions of performing a
surgical operation.

Before we broke up the camp a Valdivian and other Indians arrived from
Cheoeque's, but brought little news, stating that the Manzaneros were
still dispersed amongst the valleys of the Cordillera engaged in
gathering the yearly harvest of apples and piñones: of these we had
already received plenty from Foyel's people, who kept up a constant
communication with their relations near the Rio Limay.

On the 21st all left the valley and travelled a few leagues through a
diversified country. On the line of march cliffs, which stood out in
the glens in irregular, picturesque manner, were of yellow and red
sandstone, but to the westwards black basaltic heights could be seen
abutting on the plains, while in hunting over the higher ground masses
of ironstone and igneous rock were met with scattered over the surface.
We remained for the night in a valley called Changi, and, proceeding
next day, arrived about noon at a large plain shut in by sandstone
cliffs on the eastern side, at the northern side of which towered a
peculiar pointed rock, perhaps 300 feet in height, standing out alone
on the sloping descent; viewed from the western side it appeared like a
natural column composed of stratified yellow and red and black layers of
sand, and on the summit a condor had his eyry.

The plain extended for several miles to the west, where it was again
closed in by cliffs, differing from those to the eastward in being
composed of basalt. In this plain, called Geylum, situated, according
to Indian accounts, a few leagues to the eastward of Lake Nahuel-huapi,
and distant sixty miles from the Rio Limay, and seventy-five miles from
Las Manzanas, it was determined to spend the time required for sending
chasquis to give notice of our near approach, prior to all marching in
company for Cheoeque's head-quarters.



CHAPTER VII.

LAS MANZANAS.

  Catching a Thief. -- Miss Foyel. -- Start for Las Manzanas. --
    First View of the Apple Groves. -- Omens of War. -- Inacayal's
    Tolderia. -- Crossing the Rio Limay. -- Mr. Cox's Shipwreck. --
    Lenketrou's Raid. -- A Night of Alarm. -- Bravery of my
    Cousins. -- The Great Cheoeque. -- A Mounted Parlemento. --
    Apples and Piñones. -- Graviel's Madness. -- Las Manzanas. --
    Cheoeque's Palace. -- The Revels. -- Feuds between the Chiefs.
    -- The Picunches and the Passes to Valdivia. -- Trading and
    Politics. -- Resolutions of Peace. -- A Grand Banquet. -- Power
    of Cheoeque. -- Araucanian Customs. -- Farewell Presents. --
    Invitation to Return. -- Orkeke's Generosity. -- Return to
    Geylum. -- Outbreak of an Epidemic. -- My Pretty Page. --
    Departure from Geylum.


The day after our arrival at Geylum, Manzaneros or Araucanians arrived
from the north with cider of their own manufacture stored in sheepskins,
apples, and piñones, to trade; and a scene of debauchery ensued, as
usual. At night an attempt, nearly successful, was made to rob our
toldo: one of the women, however, was awake, and heard the thief
endeavouring to get into the back of the sleeping places where some
newly-finished mantles were stored; she gave the alarm to two of the
men, and they endeavoured to catch the would-be intruder, who, hearing
the alarm raised, started off at speed, not without receiving a cut from
a knife which marked him deeply on his shoulder; and, what was worse,
being recognised as he ran off.

Foyel invited me to drink at his expense, but I merely stayed in his
toldo long enough for the observance of etiquette; then retired to keep
Hinchel, who would not drink, company by his fireside. Whilst chatting
together he related how, many years ago, this place had been the scene
of a great battle between the Tehuelches and Manzaneros, in which he,
though only a boy, was struck down by a bola perdida and wounded with
a lance whilst on the ground; the battle resulting in a victory to the
Tehuelches.

The day following the drink, meat being scarce, I dined in Foyel's toldo
off a little cornmeal and a dessert of apples and piñones, of which
the honours were done by his daughter, a pretty girl of eighteen,
with long black silky hair, which it was the special duty of her
handmaid--a captive Tehuelche girl--to dress daily. This young lady
never condescended to any menial labour, though she occasionally busied
her delicate fingers with the needle; her dowry of about eighty mares
and the influence of her father made her of course a most desirable
match; but she, up to the time of my departure, had exercised the
privilege of an heiress and refused all offers. This evening she was
in great trouble, having lost a new mantle and some other valuables,
stolen no doubt by the Tehuelches. I promised to set inquiries on foot
through Casimiro, which resulted in the stolen property being given up,
and the thief proved to be the same individual who had endeavoured to
rob our toldo.

Shortly after this two messengers were despatched to Cheoeque, who
returned on March 25 with intelligence that the said chief would be
ready to receive us on April 2, and 'that we were to bring our arms,'
which latter message was rather ambiguous. I had been given the option
of taking our chief's message to Cheoeque, but owing to one of my horses
being lame, and for other reasons, preferred going with the mass later
on. Meña, the Chilian, was therefore honoured with the despatches in my
place, as he alone was competent to read the Spanish letters written
by myself as secretary, and he returned with glowing accounts of
the civility shown him at Las Manzanas, and the generally civilised
appearance of those Indians. We passed several very hungry and
disagreeable days in Geylum previous to starting; there was little game
in the surrounding country, and the weather was cold and wet, with
occasional snow. For two whole days Casimiro, Meña, and myself, who
were usually messmates, had nothing to eat but an armadillo and a few
fish which I caught in a pool of the stream. Near the Column Rock,
whilst hunting, we discovered a 'cache,' belonging to Foyel's Indians,
which contained something wrapped and lashed up in hides: although the
temptation was great to overhaul its contents, the package was left
unopened, and a quiet warning conveyed to Foyel that others were not
likely to be so scrupulous. This confirmed what Casimiro had said as to
these Indians providently leaving bags of fat and provisions in various
places to which they expected to return at no very distant period.

On the day fixed in the council, held subsequent to the return of
the chasquis, we all started, fully equipped, on our journey to Las
Manzanas, mustering 250 men of the united Indians, without toldos or
baggage, and in light marching order with a few spare horses. A few
horses were loaded with coverings for toldos, mantles, &c., which the
women hoped to sell to advantage to the Araucanians, and a few of the
women accompanied the expedition to conduct their barter, while a guard
of perhaps forty men remained behind to provide food for the women and
children who were to await our return.

We crossed the gradually sloping irregular plains covered with stunted
bushes, but scarcely deserving the name of high pampas, which bordered
the northern side of the valley of Geylum, and after passing between two
parallel walls of rocks, forming a sort of natural street, we emerged
into a succession of grassy plains, separated by barren rocky hills
covered with scrub, on attaining the summits of which the wooded
Cordillera on the western side rose into view some few leagues distant.
About 11 A.M., after we had been some four hours on our march, we met
two men, bringing with them a pack horse with a couple of skins of
grog for Foyel's people. They were soon surrounded by Tehuelches,
who proposed to drink there and then, and were much inclined to help
themselves; but a messenger from Foyel's people in the rear arriving,
they were permitted to pass unmolested on their way to Geylum, and we
proceeded on our journey and formed a circle to hunt. The country became
more impracticable for riding as we left the lower plains and mounted
some hills broken by deep gorges and bristling in every part with rocks
sparkling with unusually large plates of mica, which glistened like
glass in the sunshine; these hills were terminated by steep cliffs, over
which the ostriches were driven, a party having previously descended to
look out for them below. It was a curious sight to see the ostriches
dropping down heights varying from 10 to 50 feet, often two or three
together, with outspread wings. They appeared generally to be stunned
for a minute or two on reaching the bottom, and by the time they were on
their legs found themselves hampered by a ball from the unerring hand
of some stalwart Tehuelche, and running a yard or two fell with broken
legs.

Descending from these cliffs we mounted a range of hills more than 2,000
feet high, by means of a tolerably practicable track for travelling, and
on arriving at the summit halted for the remainder of the cavalcade.
From this point a most magnificent view presented itself; right below
us, looking quite close, but really some thirty miles distant, lay a
dark line as of a deep cutting, marking the valley of the Rio Limay,
which on the west side was terminated by high wooded mountains with
steep precipitous sides. Away to the N.W. was a very high snow-clad
mountain, on which the rays of the setting sun were shedding a
rose-coloured light. Between this and the line of the river rose
wooded ranges of hills, the real apple groves we had heard so much
about; below these again was a low peaked eminence, at the foot of
which, invisible to our eyes, lay our destination, viz., the toldos of
Cheoeque. For weeks Las Manzanas and Cheoeque had been almost the sole
topic of conversation, and the general excitement, which had been
intense at starting, now culminated at the sight of our distant bourne.
As we halted the Indians all raised their hands to their foreheads,
saluting the distant river, and inviting the Spirit of the locality to
be propitious to our undertaking, as to the issue of which there was
great uncertainty. The night before Casimiro had pointed out the redness
of the setting sun, and declared it to be an omen of war; but without
paying attention to the omen, which indeed was not perceptible to my
eyes, the unprecedented visit of 250 Tehuelches ostensibly for peace
might very possibly be otherwise understood by Cheoeque: indeed, it
afterwards appeared that he, in reality, was by no means assured of our
pacific intentions.

When all were collected and prepared to descend the mountain, it
transpired that Casimiro, who had been missing since the hunt commenced,
had, in company with several other Tehuelches and Foyel's Indians,
returned to drink. This was very annoying, and all present united in
abusing him for setting such an example when about to enter a part
of the country whither we were going on sufferance, amongst a not
remarkably friendly-disposed set of people. We halted after nightfall in
a valley at the side of a small rapid stream, the banks of which, for a
short distance, were covered with high tussocks of broad-leaved pampa
grass, amidst the shelter of which we bivouacked, although the night was
cold and frosty. Firewood was plentiful, supplied by drift wood brought
down by winter or spring floods, so with blazing fires and under the lee
of the pampa grass we slept warmly enough. It was necessary, however, to
keep a sharp look out on the horses, as pasturage was scanty. Before
daylight, after a slight consultation, Guenalto was given chief command,
and we again started; after following a winding valley for a short
distance and scrambling up a steep slope, we continued to ascend a hill
of considerable height and attained a more open country, the western
side of which was bounded by the Cordillera. In one of the valleys
bordering the mountains we came suddenly upon the Valdivians, driving
their cattle en route to return to their own country, Cheoeque having
sent orders to the Picunches occupying the country near, the only known
passes through the Cordillera, to allow them to traverse their district
unmolested; notwithstanding this precaution, they were by no means
certain that the Picunches would not ease them of the trouble of taking
care of their animals on their arrival in the neighbourhood of the
passes. Clearing this open country we again ascended a slight rise, at
the top of which grew a single apple tree in solitary majesty, but it
had been stripped long since of its fruit. Descending this one-tree
ridge we entered a cañon, and after half an hour's ride a sudden turn
brought the valley of the Rio Limay into view immediately below. Having
passed through the cañon, we halted on a slight eminence immediately
underneath the barranca bordering the southern side of the valley of the
river. From this cliff to the river bank, varying from about a mile to
half a mile in width, extended a grassy plain cut up here and there
by streams, and wooded at intervals. About a league to the west the
barranca blended with the declivities of high precipitous mountains,
and the river appeared to force its way from the south between steep
precipices before trending into the valley. On the northern side the
valley, though dotted here and there with clumps of trees, was more
open, and the distance to the barranca greater than that on the southern
side. Immediately opposite our post was situated the tolderia of some
of Inacayal's Indians, and grazing on the surrounding pastures cattle,
sheep, and numerous horses were visible. The river appeared to be of
very considerable width, but very rapid through the whole course of this
open valley. A mile west of the opening of the cañon three small islands
were descried, which Hinchel pointed out as the pass, or ford if it
deserves the name. We accordingly proceeded in that direction, and
taking off all unnecessary gear, strapping our mantles close up, or
wearing them like plaids over our shoulders, descended through the trees
and soon plunged into the river.

[Illustration: CROSSING THE RIVER LIMAY.]

The first part of the ford was deep, but the water then shallowed
on nearing the shore, and the velocity of the noisy stream greatly
increased. Still we arrived easily enough at the first island, but to
pass from that to the smaller one appeared at first to rather daunt even
the Tehuelches. The current was running like a millrace, and the waters
foamed over the uneven bottom with a rush and roar that rendered all
warnings inaudible. It was evident that only strong horses could
cross at all; but one or two bolder spirits dashed in, and although
unacquainted with the pass, reached the second island some distance
down the river in safety, so the remainder shortly followed, the women
crossing behind the men; here and there were places in the ford which
necessitated swimming, and in others were huge boulders, over which the
water swirled in large waves. At last we all reached the bank in safety,
and were met by some of Inacayal's Indians. Being among the lucky first
arrivals, I came in for some apples and other food that some of these
people of Inacayal's had thoughtfully brought with them from the toldos.

When all were mustered and had resumed their clothes, we started for the
toldos, where we were received by Inacayal, and as it was needful to
await those who had remained behind drinking, we bivouacked by the bank
of the river, and shortly some cattle and mares were brought up and
slaughtered to satisfy the cravings of our hunger. After bathing in the
river, I was sitting by the fireside watching our dinner cooking, when
I received a message to say that I was required in one of the toldos.
In that indicated I found an old Indian, a brother of Quintuhual, who
spoke fluent Spanish; he invited me to sit down, and then narrated that
an Englishman named Cox had formerly descended the river from Lake
Nahuel-huapi in a boat, but in trying to descend under cover of night,
had been wrecked in the rapids at the bend, about a mile above the ford
which we had recently crossed: he then took refuge among these Indians,
by whom he was hospitably received, and subsequently returned to
Valdivia across the mountains, being unable to proceed to Patagones. The
old Indian entertained a most friendly feeling for Mr. Cox, whom he had
known well, as he had remained several days in his toldo.

After talking some time about this, food was served, and he then
proceeded to ask my opinion as to the treatment the Indians experienced
from what he called the Spaniards, stating that the Chilians were
encroaching on one side and the Argentines on the other, by which means
the Indians must eventually be driven off the face of the earth, or else
fight for their existence.

After some more conversation I returned to our fireside accompanied by a
half-bred nephew of Inacayal, who had left Patagones some eight months
previously, having been 'wanted' by the Juez de Paz on account of his
having deserted from the army, and having further, in a quarrel, either
killed or wounded a Frenchman. He was anxious to induce me to use my
influence with Casimiro to allow him to join us, which I did not do for
the best of reasons, viz., that he appeared to be a great scoundrel, but
I volunteered to take a message to some of his friends in Patagones.

About midnight, bugle calls on the opposite side of the river indicated
the approach of the rest of the party, who arrived next day, but
Casimiro was in the bad temper customary with him after a debauch, and
steadily refused to proceed and take advantage of the fine weather; so
another day was spent in loitering about by the side of the river and
eating a great deal of beef.

My first cousins, who were also nephews of the old man who had formerly
been acquainted with Mr. Cox, started in company with him to procure
some apples and piñones, promising me plenty when they returned.
Meanwhile I made acquaintance with a Pampa Indian named Gravino, who
must have originally been a Christian captive; he himself stated that
his mother formerly resided near the settlements, and described her as
a Pampa Indian; on her death he, being about fifteen years of age, left
the settlements to join the Indians of her tribe, and had got but three
days on his journey when he met the united party of Tehuelches, Pampas,
and Araucanos, or, as he called them, Chilenos, under the cacique
Lenketrou, proceeding to make a raid on the settlements; he had nothing
for it but to turn back, and much against his will proceed to rob people
under whose protection he had formerly been. In the foray he, with
another youth of about his own age, succeeded in driving off a troop
of mixed horses and mares, but being dreadfully tired he laid down to
sleep in a retired place, having secured his riding horse by means of a
lazo attached to his own ancle. At night he was awoke by a stampede of
all the horses; and his own taking fright at the same time dragged him
some yards, until disentangled by his companion, who cut the lazo: they
then tried to secure their animals, but found that the Araucanians had
taken off all the best, so he did not make much by the invasion. He had
since been employed as a 'manso' or tame Indian in the service of the
Argentine Government, but disliking the work had returned to the Pampas
and married a relation of Inacayal's. He was a fine-looking young
fellow, neatly dressed in ponchos made, as he informed me, by his wife.

On the following day, amidst a storm of wind and rain, we started for
Las Manzanas. After ascending the northern barrancas of the river
valley, we traversed a level plain where a hunting circle was made for
form sake, as the ostriches were very scarce, and I only saw one killed;
and passing below, or rather to the N.E. of the hill before mentioned,
descended into a valley watered by a small stream; this we followed for
some distance, until we arrived at a point where another valley opened
into it, the two united forming one of considerable width. Here, under
the shelter of some trees, we halted and lit fires to warm ourselves,
for the drenching rain had by this time thoroughly forced its way
through our mantles. Whilst conversing and making as merry as possible
under the circumstances, a messenger dashed up, splashed with blood, and
with the effects of drink or furious excitement visible in his face.
All crowded round to hear the news, and he shortly informed us that
the party who had started to obtain apples on the previous day had
met another party of Indians with liquor. A drinking bout ensued, and
a quarrel occurred in which a man was killed; but the rest went on
drinking, leaving the body outside, where the dogs made a meal of
it. This so exasperated one of his comrades that he galloped off to
Cheoeque, to whose tribe the party belonged, and the chief at once sent
twenty-five horsemen to surround my cousins and demand payment for the
death. This they refused to give, so a fight took place, in which four
out of the five brothers and another were left for dead, with lance
thrusts all over them, the youngest escaping on his own or somebody
else's horse, after dropping four of the enemy who tried to intercept
him, with a revolver brought by me from Santa Cruz. This was bad news
for us, as we were bound to protect these people, who belonged to our
united Indians. A consultation took place, in the middle of which
Inacayal dashed up with a party all well armed with lances, in addition
to their other arms. Foyel's people came next, eager for the fray; the
Tehuelches, however, having an eye to business, in the way of bartering
the mantles they had brought with them for trade, overruled the warlike
ideas of these people, saying 'it was better to wait a little.'
Meanwhile guns were loaded and arms got ready, and a party were being
told off to proceed to the scene of the _mêlée_ and pick up the wounded,
when a messenger arrived from Cheoeque with proposals of a peace. I
and the rest of the relations of those who had been killed, as we then
supposed, were placed under a guard of Tehuelches for a short time until
the party started to find the wounded men. We then all proceeded a short
distance down the valley, and bivouacked in the pampa grass about a mile
and a half from, but out of sight of, the toldos of Cheoeque. Messengers
passed two or three times between the latter's residence and our
bivouac, and ultimately a very old woman came over and made a long
oration on the benefits of peace. This was all very well, but as both
parties were evidently suspicious of each other, a watch was kept in the
event of a surprise; and as we thought it probable that the negotiations
would fall through, we spent the night shivering round the fires and
making bolas perdidas. I assured Quintuhual and Casimiro that there
would be no fight, at which the latter grew very irate, saying he knew
better, that the whole business was a trap to obtain the gear and
firearms of our party, also stating that I did not understand these
Indians, in which I differed from him. Later in the evening news came,
that although fearfully cut about, none of 'my cousins' were dead; the
opposite party, however, had fared worse, losing three killed outright.
For six men to fight against twenty-five seems long odds, but I believe
that Quintuhual's and Foyel's people are the bravest Indians to be met
with in the southern part of America, fully deserving the proud title
of 'the Warrior Indians.'

The following morning at daylight all mounted their best horses, and
forming into column of six proceeded, with the lancers of the warriors
at our head, towards the toldos situated in a valley running at right
angles to the one we had rested in the previous night. On arriving in
sight of Cheoeque's ancestral halls, we observed the Araucanians or
Manzaneros forming into line and manœuvring about half a mile
distant; we approached to within 300 yards, and then forming into open
line to display our whole force (my proposal of hiding a reserve behind
an eminence having been overruled), awaited the course of events. Thus
we remained about half an hour watching the Manzaneros, who presented
a fine appearance, dressed in bright-coloured ponchos and armed with
their long lances; they manœuvred in four squadrons, each with
a leader--from whose lance fluttered a small pennon--moving with
disciplined precision, and forming line, wheeling, and keeping their
distances in a way that would not have discredited regular cavalry.

At the end of the half hour's suspense hostages were exchanged, and
we went through the ceremony of welcome. The Tehuelches were all very
excited, and being in the middle of the troop, when we formed column and
raced down towards the Manzaneros, I at first thought that we were in
for a general scrimmage. On arriving, however, at the line, our leaders
wheeled sharp round, and we went through the usual routine, with the
unpleasant exception that both sides had their guns and revolvers loaded
with ball, and every now and then a bullet would whistle past one's
ears or close over our heads. After the usual hand-shaking between
the chiefs, the great Cheoeque, an intelligent-looking man of some
thirty-five years of age, well dressed in blue cloth ponchos, a hat,
and leather boots, rode down our line, shaking hands with everybody and
making some remark. When he arrived at my number I felt rather ashamed
of my dress, a simple mantle not in a very good state of repair. He, on
his side, having asked who I was, appeared rather astonished at hearing
I was an Englishman, and having been further informed that I had written
the Spanish letters previously sent to him, which had been translated by
a Valdivian, stopped for some minutes conversing with me. After this
a parlemento took place, during which all remained mounted, and the
discussion lasted till sundown, by which time every one was very hungry.
The conclusions arrived at related chiefly to effecting a firm and
lasting peace amongst the Indians present, on which point a happy
unanimity prevailed. Another day was appointed for the discussion of
Casimiro's proposition for guarding Patagones, and the Chilian war
with the Indians farther north; also to consider Calficura's message
concerning a raid on Bahia Blanca, and the Buenos Ayrean frontier
generally.

One of the principal persons present at the parlemento was a chief
subordinate to Cheoeque, named Mafulko; a fine-looking old man,
magnificently dressed in ponchos which, as well as his arms, were
profusely ornamented, indeed almost covered, with silver; he was
remarkable for a most stentorian voice, which when raised in discussion
became an absolute roar, as of a bull of Bashan. He afterwards noticed
me particularly and was very courteous, pressing me to come and visit
him in his own country, which lay to the northward of the Snowy
Mountain.

In his train was a man who accosted me in pure Spanish, stating that he
had read and translated my letter, and warning me that these Indians
hated the name of Spaniard. Before I could make any inquiries he was
called away; but, when in Patagones, questions were asked as to an
unfortunate settler who was a captive and slave amongst the Araucanians,
and the description tallied exactly with that of the poor Spaniard. His
master was, doubtless, fearful of recognition and mediation on my part,
so hastened to interrupt our colloquy.

We dispersed and bivouacked in the neighbourhood of Cheoeque's toldos,
where animals were lazoed and slain for our immediate wants; and
Manzaneros and Picunche Indians came round bartering piñones, apples,
and now and then a little flour, for knives, bolas, &c. The piñones were
some in husks and some ready husked, the white almond-like kernels,
about the size of dates, being strung on threads; and, whether roasted
like chestnuts in their husks or boiled, proved delicious. The apples
also were deliciously fresh and juicy, and I considered a score of them
fairly purchased for a pair of bolas, although my comrades declared I
had been cheated by the Picunche thieves.

Towards evening Cheoeque sent over to say that, as it was late and
disturbances might occur, he considered it would be better not to allow
any liquor to be sold until the following day, when all arms might be
stored in a safe place, and anybody who felt disposed to get drunk might
do so with comfort. To this Casimiro agreed, further assuring me, in the
most positive manner, that _he_ would keep sober. Whilst we were sitting
by the fireside, a bird, exactly resembling our well-known nightjar,
flew over our heads, uttering its peculiar grating cry; the Indians all
looked startled, asserting that it was a sign of ill luck, and that
whenever this bird croaked in the vicinity of an assembly of people some
one was sure to fall sick or die. Their superstitious belief in the
ill-omened bird received a confirmation, for in the middle of the night,
while asleep by the fire, I was roused by Graviel, who, shaking my arm
and shouting 'Let us go, let us go!' rushed away from the fire-light
into the dark night. His father and myself followed him, and after a
long chase caught and, with difficulty, mastered him. He was raving mad,
struggling violently, and vociferating incoherent nonsense. When the fit
had passed off, his exhaustion and prostration were so great that all
thought he would die; but he recovered for the time.

At break of day we were all on the alert; and, as the evening previously
we had been too tired and hungry to observe the scenery, I proceeded
to reconnoitre the locality generally. To my great surprise, the
head-quarters of Cheoeque consisted but of four toldos, belonging to the
chief and his brother-in-law, the men who had received us having come
from distant residences unaccompanied by their wives, and bivouacking,
like ourselves, in the open air. The scene of the encampment was a
valley running east and west, the western end being apparently shut in
by some high mountains, spurs of the Cordillera. A good stream watered
this valley, which was everywhere more or less wooded: away to the
north-west, about four miles distant, the apple-groves might be seen;
these trees had, however, already been stripped of fruit, and it was
necessary to proceed much farther to the north to procure any; but
an expedition to visit that district and to get fruit, planned by
Orkeke, Hinchel, myself, and others, proved impracticable. Beyond the
apple-groves the place was also pointed out where the araucarias grow,
from which the piñones are gathered, just below the snow-clad mountains
we had viewed from the ridge above the Rio Limay, and about thirty miles
distant.

In our valley the pasture was rather scanty, although there appeared to
be sufficient for the three flocks of small sheep, each owned by one
of Cheoeque's wives, to get into good condition; but sheep will feed
anywhere. Immediately behind the toldos was situated a corral for
enclosing cattle, none of which, however, were visible, having, probably,
been driven off to some secluded valley near at hand, to avoid giving
our people a chance of helping themselves. Round this corral were
grouped the Indians of Cheoeque's tribe, and the Picunches with fruit,
&c. to barter; and between the corral and the river lay the bivouac
of the Tehuelches; our fireside being denoted by Casimiro's flag, the
colours of the Argentine Confederation. Up and down the valley, and even
about the neighbouring hills, were scattered our horses. Proceeding to
inspect the toldos, at which I had given but a cursory glance the night
before, I found that they were all fixed dwellings; that is to say,
not put together so as to be moved in marches, like those of the
Patagonians. They were, indeed, constructed in the same manner, but the
poles were much stouter, and the whole edifice more resembled a house.

Cheoeque's toldo was quite sixteen feet high, and able to accommodate
forty men; while three fires of huge billets of wood burned in the front
part. It was closed in completely, except a doorway in the corner with
a skin curtain by way of door; and along the front ran a species of
verandah, composed of interwoven branches, forming a pleasant canopy,
under the shade of which we sat and smoked. Inside, the bed-places were
raised on timber; and altogether, what with the sheep, corral, &c., the
place had such an air of civilisation about it that, with a small effort
of imagination, one might have fancied oneself in a frontier estancia of
the settlements. There were other toldos hidden amongst the trees on the
northern side of the valley, but these I did not visit.

About eight o'clock several loaded horses came in sight, bringing the
liquor which had been stowed away in the valley in which we had encamped
the night after the disturbance. As soon as the jars and skins had been
unloaded in Cheoeque's toldo, an order was passed round for all arms
to be given up, and after some little difficulty they were nearly all
collected and stowed in a safe place. The chiefs were then formally
invited to drink, and subsequently all comers were asked, the liquor
being provided in the most liberal manner by Cheoeque. This chief was
fully conscious of his high position and power; his round, jolly face,
the complexion of which, inherited from his Tehuelche mother, is darker
than that of his subjects, exhibited a lurking cunning, and his frequent
laughter was rather sardonic. He possessed a regally strong head, and
was disposed to despise Casimiro for his inebriety; in fact it was plain
that he regarded himself, and not without reason, as superior to all the
caciques, even though they were not subject to him.

Hinchel, myself, and many of the Araucanians had remained away; and I
was proceeding to look up the horses, when I was called to the corral
by some of the Picunches. These men presented a cast of countenance
decidedly differing from, and much inferior to, that of the Araucanians,
from whom they were easily distinguished by their darker complexions;
but they were very courteous, asking how I came to be with the
Tehuelches, and what sort of a place my country was; and were pleased
when I told them it was hilly and well wooded, and, referring to
Devonshire, that apples abounded. Of course all our conversation was
carried on by means of an interpreter (a Valdivian). After a few more
questions some rum was produced, and having taken a glass I mounted and
proceeded on my original quest. Hinchel rode a part of the way with me,
as he was bound in search of a former acquaintance, whose toldo was
pitched about four leagues distant, and who was, he said, the best
worker in silver amongst the Indians. I afterwards saw specimens
of his handiwork, in the shape of silver tubes for ornamenting
stirrup-leathers, and the appearance of these and other silver ornaments
made of solid metal in peculiar patterns, evidently of their own
devising, left little doubt in my mind that these Indians or some of
the neighbouring tribes possess the knowledge of the places whence the
precious ore is to be obtained, and smelt it themselves.

On returning after having counted and driven the troop of horses
belonging to our party down to the best pasture, I found that Cheoeque
had sent several messengers in search of me, so I at once proceeded to
his toldo, where I found him and Mariano Linares sitting on two real
chairs, the latter playing a guitar, Casimiro slightly inebriated and
vowing eternal friendship, and howling Indians, men and women, in
various stages of intoxication, all round. Cheoeque shook hands, invited
me to a seat, and provided me with a glass of grog out of his own
bottle, which it is needless to say was not watered like the remainder.
I then took advantage of a slight confusion occasioned by an Indian
wishing to embrace Cheoeque, and retired, but was intercepted, and had
to drink with various acquaintances before reaching the bivouac. As
our fireside was soon occupied by noisy, half-drunken Indians, amongst
others Hinchel's son, who, very drunk, had come to get his gun for
the purpose of killing the master of the revels, but was fortunately
overthrown and bound down by his father, who opportunely arrived, I
retired to Foyel's bivouac, where Gravino and others were keeping
guard, to be in readiness to look after their chief. He arrived soon
after midnight, much to their relief.

The jealousy existing between Foyel and Cheoeque, which had broken out
in the disturbance so nearly fatal to my cousins, had existed ever since
the migration of this chief and Quintuhual to the south, and all the
Araucanos of their following kept themselves on this occasion as much
as possible aloof, and abstained from sharing in the jovialities, while
the Tehuelches, who were unconcerned in the matter, enjoyed themselves
freely.

The next day Foyel and Quintuhual marched off their followers in regular
array, and proceeded homewards followed by many of the Tehuelches,
the great races which it had been settled to hold being abandoned in
consequence of the uneasy state of feeling and the consequent fears of
a quarrel: the fight in that case would have been an obstinate one,
as Cheoeque's forces would not have been much too strong for their
opponents, although outnumbering them. We had been surprised on arriving
not to find more Indians ready to receive us, as we only counted ninety
lances, but it transpired that some were concealed in the woods by
the side of the river, who did not appear; besides these seventy or a
hundred men had gone to Patagones to obtain their chief's ration of
cattle, but 200 more, friends and relations of Foyel, who were on their
march to the rendezvous at Las Manzanas, had turned back on hearing
of the attack made by Cheoeque's party on their friends, my cousins.
Whether they remained away in order to be neutral or to come to the
support of their kinsmen did not appear, but Foyel had frequently
boasted that 200 of Cheoeque's followers would espouse his quarrel. The
Picunches were the original cause of the feud. This tribe, asserted by
Antonio Guaitu, who gave them the name of Chollo, to be a branch of the
Araucanians, are under Cheoeque's dominion, though governed by local
caciques. As already mentioned, they live near the passes of the
Cordillera and plunder all travellers. They had not respected Foyel's
messenger bringing him stores from Valdivia, and at last forcibly
annexed two sheepskins of rum, on which occasion some fighting ensued.
Thereupon Foyel sent Cheoeque a defiant message to the effect that if
any more robberies by his subjects took place, he should make reprisals;
that the latter chief must have imagined that he (Foyel) had forgotten
how to ride and use his lance. All this was subsequently amicably
settled, but in the end Foyel, who was by right under the rule of
Cheoeque, preferred to throw off his allegiance and retire across the
Rio Limay. The chief reason alleged by him was that although Cheoeque
received large rations of cattle from the Buenos Ayrean Government, he
never thought fit to share them with his subordinate chiefs. How far
these stories were true I cannot say; as to the Picunches and their
subjection to Cheoeque, the Valdivians had been detained over a year
waiting for a safe conduct, which was at length obtained on the eve of
our arrival, and as far as could be afterwards ascertained, they passed
unmolested, although probably suffering loss of cattle from the weather,
as it was full late in the year to cross the passes, which during the
winter are obstructed by snow and swollen rivers.

Antonio and Ventura Delgado assured me they would have to cross one
river seven times owing to its tortuous windings, and on every occasion
be obliged to swim their animals. This I at first fancied to be a branch
of the Rio Limay, but in answer to other inquiries the Valdivians stated
that it flowed to the westward. _Apropos_ of this route, an enterprising
German had some short time previously crossed from Valdivia to trade
with the Indians; he was allowed to pass unmolested with all his
merchandise, and drove a profitable trade, and at last started on his
return journey with a goodly stock of horses and gear, but near the
passes he was stripped of everything and left to make his way homewards
on foot if possible. It was very tantalising to be so near Valdivia and
not to be able to explore the route thither and visit the Picunches,
and indeed Casimiro and myself had planned a trip from Las Manzanas,
but it was abandoned, owing to the lateness of the season and other
circumstances, combined with my own conviction that if the Cacique got
into Valdivia he would not be able to tear himself away from civilised
pleasures for too long a period.

After the drinking bout and the departure of Foyel's party, a day
devoted to trading intervened, political discussions being postponed in
consequence of the indisposition of Casimiro, who required twenty-four
hours to recover from the effects of Cheoeque's hospitality. Our
Tehuelches, thanks to the profuse generosity of Cheoeque, disposed
of all their wares to advantage, and became the happy possessors of
numerous horses, silver ornaments, and mandils. Had it been necessary
for them to purchase liquor, they would have returned empty-handed and
in bad tempers. The Manzaneros appeared to depend on the Tehuelches for
their supply of toldo coverings, just as the latter in their turn must
procure from them the woven mandils and ponchos. I noticed that the
horses brought up for sale by the Manzaneros more resembled those used
in the Argentine States than the breed common amongst the Tehuelches,
showing finer points and greater speed for racing on flats, but being
inferior in the staying powers requisite for hunting.

The second parlemento or council, attended by numerous chiefs, was duly
held, in which Mariano Linares, brother of the chief of the Indians in
pay of the Government, participated. He was a connection by marriage of
Cheoeque's, and had been despatched from Patagones to induce him to keep
the peace. The speeches of the Araucanos were made in a peculiar chant,
intoned in fact, in a manner closely resembling that I have since heard
in some churches at home. Cheoeque thus intoned an harangue setting
forth how chiefs had come to him from Araucania proper, soliciting his
aid in the war with Chili. He had at first refused to receive them, but
at last had heard what they had to say, and it was probable that he
might send a small force to assist his countrymen.

Calficura's message relating to the foray on the settlements had been
forwarded to us already. Many speeches were made, and Linares and
Casimiro pointed out that it was to the Cacique's interest not to
interfere, as he would inevitably lose the valuable supplies of horses
and cattle given him by the Buenos Ayrean Government, and that it was
more profitable to receive the annual rations than plunder and break up
the Rio Negro settlements. Finally, it was unanimously resolved that
a message should be sent to Calficura, desiring him to confine his
hostilities to Bahia Blanca, and that Cheoeque should protect the north
bank of the Rio Negro and guard Patagones on that side, while Casimiro
guaranteed the southern, which arrangement was duly adhered to on both
sides. Accordingly Calficura revenged his real or supposed injuries on
the 'Cristianos' by two destructive inroads into Bahia Blanca, carrying
off plunder and captives. But letters from the Rio Negro have informed
me that peace had been restored, and an exchange or ransom of prisoners
effected. This will be more fully dwelt upon, but it is mentioned here
in order to show that the Indians are fully aware of the advantages of
peace, though they are undoubtedly, the Araucanians especially, jealous
of the encroachments of foreigners, and the traditions of their
past history have caused them to hold the very name of Spaniard or
'Cristiano' in abhorrence. It is also difficult for the superior
caciques in all cases to restrain the petty caciquillos from small
depredations; but a fair and well-arranged system of 'rations' will
prevent them from making forays, and it is much to be regretted that
the well-intentioned and liberal plans of the Buenos Ayrean Government
for the protection of the frontiers are too often thwarted by the
unscrupulous agents who enrich themselves by appropriating the supplies
intended for the Indians. Some may consider the method of keeping the
chiefs quiet by pensions undignified; but it is certainly a more humane
and economical policy than continual wars of reprisals, which in the end
would lead to the extermination either of the Indians or the settlers,
most probably the latter, and the certain impoverishing of the country.

After the parlemento a grand banquet was given by Cheoeque to all the
assembled caciques and their sons. Over three huge fires in his spacious
toldo, large iron pots were supported on tripods, containing beef,
mutton, and horse flesh. The guests sat down as they could, while
Cheoeque sat, as the Spaniards say, 'on horseback' on a chair in the
middle of the toldo, dressed in a magnificent cat skin mantle, and
holding a 'revengue' or hide whip in his hand, with which he ever and
anon chastised an intrusive dog, or even one of his numerous sons if
they came too near, or made too much noise.

The small boys were evidently used to it, and showed great agility in
avoiding a blow, and equal unconcern if they received it. The chief's
three wives presided at the fires, and wooden platters loaded with large
portions of meat and a due allowance of fat were handed round for the
first course. Each guest was expected to consume all that was in the
platter, and when cleared it was carried off, washed, and refilled for
another. The second course consisted of apples and piñones, raw or
cooked according to taste, and it was strict etiquette to eat or pocket
all the fruit supplied. Water was handed round after the feed, no other
drink being produced save a private bottle, from which the chief helped
two or three of his most favoured guests. There must have been at least
thirty present at once, and there were ample room and abundant supplies.
And subsequently a succession of guests of less distinction were fed;
all the Tehuelches as well as Araucanos and Picunches being maintained
during their stay by the chief.

I was very much struck with the obedience and respect evinced by these
people towards their Cacique. His authority extends as far north as
Mendoza, over hundreds of Indians, residing in fixed tolderias, some few
in the valley near Manzanas, but the chief part more to the northward,
near the groves of araucarias. But the power of the chief is absolute,
and his word is law to his most distant subjects. At an order from
him they leave their toldos, wives, and children, and repair mounted,
and ready for any service, to his head-quarters. His wealth is
considerable: besides the numerous flocks and herds, one of the toldos
was used simply as a treasury, where his stores of silver ornaments,
ponchos, mantles, &c., were safely stowed away.

I was present in his toldo at the arrival of a messenger. The Indian,
who had evidently come from a long distance, did not venture to enter
until commanded to do so, when, with the utmost respect, he took his
seat at a distance from the chief, communicated his message, received
his orders, and retired; when again ready for the road he appeared to
receive final instructions, after which he mounted his horse and rode
off without more ado.

The subordinate caciques, whose office and rank are hereditary, appeared
to be finer and more intelligent men than the rank and file. Whether
this was owing to a difference of race, or merely to their aristocratic
descent and hereditary refinement of features and bearing, I cannot say;
but their superiority was very marked; whereas among the Tehuelches no
such difference between the caciques and their clansmen is observable.
The superiority of these semi-civilised Araucanos to their southern
neighbours was evident in every way, save only bodily strength. Their
residence in a more fertile country, near the apple and araucaria
groves, gives them great advantages over the nomad Patagonians. They
cultivate wheat, small quantities of which were brought to us for sale;
besides storing the natural harvest of piñones and apples, from which,
as before stated, they brew cider of unusual strength, and also distil
'pulco,' an intoxicating liquor, from the algarroba bean. My intercourse
with both Foyel's people and those at Manzanas was not sufficiently long
to enable me to become conversant with their language and customs, which
have been described by others. The language, of which I learnt a few
words, seemed softer and more melodious, as well as possessing a more
copious vocabulary, than the guttural Tehuelche, and appeared to me
closely akin to the Pampa tongue; but Jackechan, who could speak both,
and Gravino, strongly insisted on the distinction between the two
dialects. Their personal habits were excessively neat and cleanly, the
morning bath never being omitted by men, women, and children, who all
regularly trooped down to the water just before dawn; and their dress
was much more carefully attended to than that of the Patagonians. I had
no opportunity of witnessing their religious ceremonies, but was assured
that they are worshippers of the sun, and there was no vestige of idols
of any sort possessed by them. Their ceremonials on occasions of births,
&c., were very similar to those of the Tehuelches, save that the
'doctor' appeared on such occasions more elaborately adorned with
various colours.

When Quintuhual's niece was sick, her brother enacted the part of
'wizard,' duly painted and adorned with a head-dress of feathers.
Instead of a mandil tent, a screen of ponchos hung over posts was
erected, and all the finery of the family displayed. I was a guest at
the feast of slaughtered mares, but was not present at the previous
proceedings, as by this time the restraints of dignity as a caciquillo
forbade my wandering about as an idle spectator.

They were invariably scrupulous not to commence a meal without first
throwing broth or a small piece of meat on the ground, at the same time
muttering a charm to propitiate the Gualichu, and they are generally
more superstitious and more fearful of witchcraft than even the other
Indians. They have some knowledge of precious stones, and seem to
attribute certain virtues to them. Thus Foyel possessed what seemed to
be a magnificent rough turquoise, which he was on the point of bestowing
on me, when his wife and brother-in-law interposed some remark, upon
which he apologised, saying that he did not like to part with it, as
it had been long in the family. They object strongly, however, to any
strangers picking up stones as specimens, or appearing to 'prospect' in
any way, which, being forewarned by Ventura Delgado, I was especially
careful to avoid. Mons. Guinnard has given a description of some of
their games, differing from those in vogue among the Tehuelches, as for
instance gambling with black and white beans. Casimiro is my authority
for stating that this people preserve the singular custom of abduction
in marriage. The intending bridegroom does not trouble himself to obtain
the consent of the bride, but having paid the fixed dowry or price to
her parents, he gallops up, and forcibly seizing the girl carries her
off before him to the bush, whence, after an enforced honeymoon of two
days, they return as man and wife to his dwelling. This, however, is
not the practice in the case of the marriage of a cacique's daughters.
Polygamy is allowable: thus the great Cheoeque possessed three wives,
the chief favourite, whose amiable good-humour deserved the honour,
occupying the central place in the toldo; but all three lived in perfect
harmony and took care of each other's children with impartial affection.

These Araucanos are, as I have said, apt to kidnap or buy captives,
and I am inclined to suspect that there is a scarcity of women amongst
them, of which the exterminating cruelties practised towards women and
children by the frontier 'Cristianos' is a probable cause. They are
certainly more dangerous to strangers than the Southern Indians, and it
is unsafe to venture amongst them without proper safe conducts from the
cacique.

To myself Cheoeque offered permission to travel directly north
through the interior of the country as far as the Argentine Provinces,
guaranteeing my safety; and the temptation was only resisted by
reflecting on the necessity of keeping faith with my Tehuelche friends
by proceeding to Patagones. He also gave me a cordial invitation to
return, and an assurance that I should be always welcomed as a friend.
All our business, both commercial and political, being concluded, and
the farewell banquet over, Cheoeque distributed gifts of horses, &c.,
among the Tehuelches in return for the numerous presents he had received
from them. As a set-off to a set of gold studs, he presented me with
one of the peculiar lances always used by his people, about fifteen to
eighteen feet long and very light, the shaft being made of a cane, which
grows in the Cordillera forests, strongly resembling a bamboo, and of
the thickness of the butt of a stout pike rod. This present, by the way,
caused me to commit a breach of etiquette. I placed it leaning against
the toldo, and was at once requested to remove it, as it was a sign of
war, though whether it was regarded as a challenge or an omen was not
clear; but I was instructed that the lance must either be laid down on,
or planted upright in the ground. Another lance was also bestowed on
Casimiro, besides numerous horses and other valuables. We took leave of
the powerful Cheoeque, and of Linares, with whom, as it had been settled
that I should proceed as chasqui, I made an agreement to meet in
Patagones, and on the 11th started on our return to the toldos, all in
high satisfaction at the success of our visit. The natural exultation of
Casimiro was much lessened by the continual illness of his son Graviel,
on whom a careful watch had to be kept to restrain him, in the event of
his being attacked by another paroxysm of madness.

Riding up the valley where we had slept the night previous to arriving
at Cheoeque's, we observed some cattle in the thicket on the borders
of the stream; part of the herd belonging to the chief, which had been
stowed away in various secluded parts of the neighbourhood. We crossed
the barren high pampa, and descended, about one o'clock, to the banks
of the Rio Limay, bivouacking in the same spot as on our journey to Las
Manzanas, close to Inacayal's toldos. Here we found Orkeke and a good
many other Tehuelches; also the four wounded men, two of whom were
already on the high road to recovery.

We proceeded to Inacayal's toldo at his personal request, where we
remained until evening was drawing on, when cattle were brought up,
caught, and slain, and divided amongst the chiefs. Whilst busy shaving
a piece of hide wherewith to make some gear, I received a message from
Orkeke, whose fire was situated at perhaps a hundred paces from ours,
that he wished to see me when disengaged, and after supper I strolled
down, and found the veteran sitting loading his pipe. After a smoke,
he invited me to accompany him to inspect his newly-acquired troop of
horses, and show him which I considered to be the best. I picked out
a young white animal that had belonged to Cheoeque's own stud. 'Very
well,' he replied; 'take him; he is yours; I never made you any return
for the revolver you gave me in Teckel.' Although I did not require the
horse, it would have been insulting to refuse it, so I walked off with
my racer in tow. This little incident is mentioned to correct the notion
entertained by some that the greed of gain is a predominant feature in
the Indian character.

The following morning we bid adieu to Inacayal and his people, and
turned our horses' heads for the pass of the river Limay, which was
if possible more swollen and rapid than on the previous occasion; but
we all crossed in safety, although Casimiro's and my horse fell once,
fortunately where the water was shallow. Everybody, however, got
thoroughly wet, and a continual downfall of rain coming on, prevented
all chance of drying our mantles. We marched back by a route lying to
the westward of that we had before followed, passing under and amongst
the high wooded mountains, on the heights of which every now and then we
could perceive a condor sitting in majestic solitude, looking down on us
like a priest from a pulpit.

About four P.M. the rain cleared off, and we bivouacked in a grassy
valley, with incense and other bushes growing on the sides. Here,
owing to the sickness of Graviel and another of our party, we passed a
miserable time, not even being able to get dry; and in addition to our
previous discomfort, towards evening a frost set in, and when I woke up
about midnight to look round for the horses my mantle was like a board.

I kindled a fire, as the weather was now clear, and soon all the party
were huddled round it to warm their half-frozen limbs before lying down
again.

The next morning at daylight, thoroughly chilled and hungry, two of
us started to fetch the horses, some of the new ones having, as we
expected, found their way back to within a few miles of the Rio Limay.
However, by the time the sun had risen to sufficient height to give some
warmth, we had caught up the others of our party, and not sparing our
horses, by two o'clock had passed through the street of rocks and come
in sight of the toldos, where we shortly arrived.

Before sunset all the Tehuelches had returned to the bosoms of their
families, and all were glad to sleep under the shelter of a toldo once
more, after having passed twelve days and nights in stormy weather
without any covering save our mantles.

The 14th of April, the morning after our return, a complaint was made
by Foyel's people that the Tehuelche Indians left behind, thinking
it useless to proceed to the plains, some miles distant, to hunt for
the supply of the toldos whilst cattle and sheep were grazing in the
immediate vicinity, had helped themselves in the obscurity of the night.
Meña corroborated the fact; and although he had been away hunting
with the greatest assiduity, he had met with but little success, and
complained bitterly of the hungry times they had endured.

Soon after our arrival Kai Chileno was seized with illness, and in a few
days several of the more aged and children sickened with headache and
fever, showing all the symptoms of severe influenza. Alarmed lest the
sickness should spread, on the 16th of April most of the Tehuelches
struck toldos and took the road leading to Patagones; but our toldo and
another remained behind on account of the continued illness of Graviel
and the others. Towards evening of the same day we suddenly heard shouts
and cries in the toldos of Foyel, and all except Casimiro, who sat quite
still by the fireside, rushed to seize their arms, naturally thinking
that a party had arrived to fight from Las Manzanas. After a little
suspense we observed a line of men advancing towards our toldos on foot,
shouting, firing, and brandishing their arms. Casimiro, who was having
a quiet laugh at us, then explained that they were only fighting the
sickness. The party advanced to our toldo, beating the back of it with
their lances, to scare away the Gualichu, and then retired.

We all had a good laugh over this affair; and I was amused to hear Meña,
who was an intelligent youth, arguing that the Indians were quite right,
as sickness never attacked an armed man.

We lived chiefly on air the last four days of our stay in Geylum, as
no hunting was done; but Foyel, after learning our wants, came to the
rescue, presenting me with a couple of sheep, which I received with
gratitude, and divided amongst the party.

It had been intended that his party should accompany the Tehuelches
to Patagones, but as it would be necessary to leave their women and
children in Geylum with only a few boys to take care of the flocks and
herds, and they were not confident as to the pacific intentions of the
Manzaneros, he and Quintuhual considered it more advisable to remain
for the present in their camp, and afterwards, by riding in fast,
to overtake our party en route previous to their arrival in the
settlements.

I bid an affectionate adieu to Miss Foyel, who had always shown me the
greatest kindness, and the natural grace of whose manners would have
adorned a civilised drawing-room. Her parting words were an invitation
to return if possible and pay another visit to the toldo, where I had
been made to feel myself at home.

Her father asked me to procure him a grinding organ, as Casimiro had
informed him that he had seen music made by turning a handle. I promised
to get one if I could, and after a cordial farewell returned to our
toldo, as we intended going away at daylight on the 17th.

Accordingly we prepared for a start; and a boy came over from the other
toldos to join us. He was a Tehuelche, whose father had been killed on
suspicion of witchcraft, and being a remote connexion of Casimiro's, had
claimed his protection, which of course was granted, and he (Casimiro)
had agreed to take him with us, informing him that he was to act as my
page, look after my horses, &c., and make himself generally useful. This
was a very fine idea, but one glance at the face and figure of this
illustrious youth was sufficient to show me that I should probably spend
my time in looking after him, and a more mischievous imp I never
saw. When told that he might catch one of my horses to travel on, he
immediately fixed on the wrong one, a horse that I had myself barely
mounted for perhaps six weeks, in order to get it into condition for the
journey into Patagones.

This horse he caught, and came down to the toldos at full gallop over
rocks, stones, and bushes, with a grin of delight on his face. After
being warned in mild terms that he was not to ride that horse, which I
took from him and turned loose, he proceeded to catch one of Casimiro's,
which he treated in the same manner, but at length got the right one,
and then, without saying 'With your leave, or by your leave,' galloped
off, yelling at the top of his voice, to follow the road which the
Indians had taken the previous day.

We were about to start ourselves when, at the last moment, Quintuhual
sent to say that he wished to have a council. So Casimiro and myself
remained in the pouring rain squatting on the grass listening to a
repetition of what we had heard the previous day.

When the council was concluded a sheep was brought up and killed. The
poor beast was lashed to a post with its head looking to the sky, and
the throat being cut, salt was forced into the wound, the lip of which
was compressed _secundum artem_, in order to flavour the blood and
lungs, &c., which formed the repast. All the girls then crowded round,
each preferring a request to us to bring a little yerba, flour, sugar,
&c., from the settlements, till, our horses being ready, mine having
been additionally burdened with the dead mutton by way of provisions for
the road, we extricated ourselves from the crowd, and amidst repeated
injunctions, charges, and affectionate farewells, got away, and towards
4 P.M. started to overtake the now distant cavalcade.



CHAPTER VIII.

GEYLUM TO PATAGONES.

  A Sick Camp. -- Oerroè Volcanic Hill. -- Crimè's Deathbed. --
    Graviel's Promotion. -- The Burning Ground. -- Hot Springs. --
    Fighting the Gualichu. -- A Real Fight. -- A Soda Lake. --
    Encampment at Telck. -- The Doctor comes to Grief. -- An
    Obliging Ostrich. -- Appointed Chasqui. -- Miseries of Pampa
    Life. -- A Bad Time. -- The Plains of Margensho. -- Casimiro's
    Distrust. -- Doctor and Sick Child. -- Duties of a Messenger.
    -- Departure of the Chasquis. -- Travelling Express. -- The
    Paved Pampas. -- An Ideal Bandit. -- Letter from the Chupat
    Colony. -- Trinita. -- Teneforo's Pampas. -- Champayo's
    Generosity. -- A Morning Drink. -- Departure from Trinita. --
    Valchita. -- The Pig's-Road. -- Wild Horses. -- The Travesia.
    -- Limit of the Patagonian Fauna and Flora. -- First View of
    the Rio Negro. -- Sauce Blanco. -- The Guardia. -- San Xaviel.
    -- Approach to Patagones. -- Señor Murga. -- Welsh Hospitality.
    -- Among Friends at Last.


We were now fairly started on our journey eastward to the Rio Negro,
on my part with contending feelings of regret at quitting my recently
acquired and amiable relatives, and of joyful expectation of reaching
Patagones and finding there that which travellers, amidst all the
excitement of new countries and strange people, still so eagerly long
for--news from home! We galloped forward casting longing looks behind
at the forest-clad slopes and snowy peaks of the Cordillera, the
never-to-be-forgotten beauty of which made the dismal prospect of the
country before us still more dreary.

My friends had been unanimous in describing the district that intervened
between Geylum and a place spoken of as Margensho, nine marches distant,
as both difficult to travel, and affording scanty pasture for the horses
and little game for the people. The rain which had been falling when
we left, had turned to sleet driven by a strong westerly gale, and my
load of mutton sadly interfered with the management of the sheltering
mantle. Fortunately, as the direction of our route was easterly, we thus
escaped having to face the storm, while the gale in our backs stimulated
both horses and riders to their utmost speed.

At the entrance of the rock-strewn gorge which formed the eastern
gateway of the valley of Geylum, to the south of which towered the
isolated column of rock, we were suddenly startled by the apparition
of mounted Indians galloping towards us from the direction which our
advanced party had taken. Conjectures as to possible calamity in the
shape of a fight or accident were speedily dispelled, as they proved to
be Tehuelches riding back in search of lost horses, which they averred
had been stolen and craftily concealed by the Araucanians. So we
continued our march through a succession of narrow rocky gorges winding
amongst the hills, till, as the twilight was growing dark, we arrived,
wet and weary, and feeling symptoms of illness, at the encampment
situated in one of the usual grassy valleys. The toldo when reached
proved to be in utter disorder, two of the women and a child having been
attacked with the epidemic; so we set to work ourselves to light a fire,
secure the skin covering of the toldo, and arrange the beds, and after a
time the interior assumed a more ship-shape aspect, although the grass
(our carpet) and everything else were wet. On every side one heard
complaints of some child having fallen sick, and throughout the night
the wailing cry of the women 'Ah gelay loo!' over their darlings
rendered sleep all but impossible. Next morning broke fine and clear,
so it was determined to march onwards in the hope that speedy change
might get rid of the epidemic, but starting was almost as difficult as
staying.

Of our party Meña had returned to look for a missing horse; Crimè was
dying, and Casimiro was attending to him; and what with sick friends and
children all were occupied or distracted, and the business of catching
the horses devolved on myself, single-handed at first. Having secured
the troop, the next task was to catch my newly-acquired steed; the sight
of a lazo was sufficient to make him gallop a league, and as he was
very swift, three hours were spent in ineffectual efforts, but at last,
two or three of my comrades coming up to my assistance, he was caught.
Giving my flibbertigibbet page charge of the remaining horses, I
started, in company with one of my friends, to join the hunting circle,
already in course of formation.

We rode up a valley in an easterly direction, on our way passing the
invalid Crimè, who, groaning with pain, lay stretched out at full length
on a sort of couch composed of blankets on the horse's back, his wife
leading the horse and wailing out loud. But as condolences were of
little use, we passed on in silence, and shortly emerged from the
valley, which sloped up by gradual ascent to a wide plain of sandy soil
and stunted bushes, bounded on the eastern horizon by a line of high
jagged hills, which stretched to the southward as far as the eye could
reach. While sitting under a bush by the fire, I was attacked with
headache and sickness, the premonitory symptoms of the epidemic;
however, I mounted and joined the hunting party, and at the end of
the circle felt much better, although unable to eat.

The finish brought us to the entrance of a valley which wound among the
precipitous rocky hills of the range seen from the farther verge of
the plain. While watching the cavalcade of women and baggage, I looked
long in vain for my own troop of four horses, but at last descried
them trotting without a guide in the rear of the column, their natural
sagacity or perhaps thirst having induced them to follow their comrades.
The trusty page had left them to take care of themselves, and gone off
hunting on his own account, which behaviour, repeated on a subsequent
occasion, caused the loss of the stud. Towards evening we encamped in
a valley enclosed by three hills, one of which, of decidedly volcanic
aspect, was named 'Oerroè.' The side of this hill was thickly scattered
with fragments of the vesicular lava which furnishes the favourite
material for the hand bolas. As most of us had exchanged our weapons
of the chase for apples, piñones, &c., in Las Manzanas, many were soon
employed picking stones and fashioning bolas. I took very good care
that my page should be unprovided with hunting implements, but, alas!
here he fell sick, or pretended to be, and was just as useless as
before. The day after our arrival Crimè's sufferings were terminated. I
received a summons to his death-bed; the Cacique, though wandering, knew
his friends, and called all to witness that his death had been caused by
a Southern Tehuelche whom he named and described, and then, raising
his arm, pointed to a vacant space and cried, 'Look at him, there he
stands.' He then asked me to 'feel his arm,' and as, to please him, I
laid my finger on his pulse it beat slower and slower, till, with a
sudden gasp, he died. According to etiquette we silently retired, and
the toldo resounded with the clamorous crying of the women and the
wailing of his widow. The usual funeral rites were hurriedly gone
through, but most were too absorbed in their own troubles to participate
in them. During the night three children died, and more were at death's
door; and, the supply of horseflesh from the funeral victims being
abundant, all thoughts of marching were abandoned, and the camp
resounded with the lamentations of the women. In our toldo all the
inmates were sick, and the duty of looking after the horses devolved
on myself and Casimiro, who was recovering from his attack.

We were joined in this place by Hinchel's son with his Araucanian wife,
with whom another man came to look for a girl who had run away from
Foyel's toldo, but his quest proved fruitless, as she remained
invisible, stowed away in some of the toldos. This man brought further
news that Cheoeque's people, renewing the old feud, were arming to fight
now that we had gone; also that a man had been killed in a drunken brawl
since our departure, and that a rumour was current that the Valdivians
had had their cattle taken from them, and various other stories, most of
which were declared to be lies by Orkeke, who, having lost a horse, had
returned to look for it in Geylum; the budget of alarming news thus
proving to be a fresh illustration of the Indians' proneness to invent
if they have nothing of real importance wherewith to astonish their
hearers. Crimè's widow took up her abode in our toldo; and as, by this
chief's death, the post of Capitanejo, with the rank of Lieutenant in
the Buenos Ayrean army, and the right of drawing rations, was vacant,
Casimiro consulted me as to his successor. But successive proposals of
those who seemed most fit, beginning with Wáki, were objected to by the
Cacique, who at last declared that he should name his almost insane son
Graviel as the chief to be placed by the Argentine Government upon the
list of the Caciques to be conciliated by annual pay! On April 22 a
start was made, but we remained to the last, as four of Casimiro's
horses which I had brought down to the valley the previous evening were
missing, so the chieftain returned to look for them, and the rest of the
toldo pursued their journey.

After taking a farewell look at the Cordillera, which was presently shut
out from view by the hills, the counterslope of which we descended, a
hurried march led us through a very barren rocky country entangled in
broken irregular hills, with scarcely a bush to shelter under, and
little or no pasture. We encamped, or rather reached the camp after it
was pitched, in a cañon containing a small spring and a very little
green pasture, and went to bed supperless, as, not being in time for the
hunt, and game being very scarce, what we could beg from our neighbours
was naturally given to those recovering from sickness.

Jackechan's wife and child were still very unwell, and, as the child was
supposed to be dying, the doctor was sent for. He proceeded to cure it
by laying it on the ground, muttering a charm and patting it on the
head; after which he put his mouth close to its chest and shouted to
bring the devil out: he then turned it on its face and repeated the same
process. The child's health mended next day, and it was shortly out of
danger.

About ten o'clock at night Casimiro returned with his horses, which had
strayed a considerable distance on the road back to Geylum. The next day
a long march of twenty miles brought us to an encampment on the western
verge of a broad plain, watered by a brooklet. During the hunt the
first Patagonian hares, or cavies, were caught. These little animals
live in burrows, but are generally out feeding or sleeping in the grass
during the day. They are excessively swift for perhaps a mile, but, like
the foxes of this country, soon get tired. The chase of these small deer
afforded an agreeable relief to the monotony of the journey. As soon as
we entered a plain or valley where they abounded, as they always were
found in numbers where the pasture was good, all hurried off to 'stop
the earths,' i.e. close up the burrows with bushes; but the cunning
little beasts often evaded us by slipping into a burrow overlooked
by the earth stoppers. It required considerable skill to bring them
down with the bolas, as, if only caught round the legs or body, they
disentangled themselves quickly, but a blow on the head proved at once
fatal. They are good eating, though the flesh is somewhat dry when
roasted. Their skins are made up into mantles, but are of little value,
as the hair soon comes off.

About a mile below the encampment, where the sandy plain narrowed
and sloped down to a low-lying grassy valley, a singular phenomenon
presented itself. The morning after our arrival, when going out to look
for the horses, a furious easterly gale whirled the dust aloft in dense
clouds, and, to my great surprise, the sand, which was driven into
our faces, was as hot as when the fire so nearly encircled us. Almost
blinded in forcing our way through this curtain of driving sand, we rode
right into a hollow, where the earth appeared to be on fire; as the
horses plunged through the heated surface the hair was burnt off their
fetlocks, and they were nearly maddened with fright, so that it was a
difficult feat for the riders without saddles or stirrups to keep their
seats. Once I was somewhere near my horse's ears, but, more by good luck
than good management, just escaped being thrown as it were into the
fire. After the gale had partially moderated, I proceeded to inspect
this place, and found that, although not, as I at first thought,
absolutely on fire, the ground was smoking as if from internal
combustion. The surface presented a crust of baked yellow clay, which,
yielding to the horses' feet, disclosed a black subsoil; there was
no flame, but a thin white vapour issued from the ground. When I
incautiously ventured a step on the treacherous crust it gave way, but
I managed to extricate myself with no further damage than burning my
potro boots. The Indians stated that the fire had been originally caused
some years previously by their having kindled the pasture higher up
the valley, and that the ground had been burning ever since. It
was impossible to discover whether there was any subjacent bed of
combustible matter which might thus have been ignited; but, as there are
hot wells and springs in the same range not many miles distant to the
south-east, it seems more probably due to volcanic agency. The principal
hot spring was described as a circular basin of about six feet in
diameter, the water, of a temperature not so hot as to scald the hand,
bubbling up through numerous holes in a clay bottom. In many of the
surrounding hills there are lava and pumice of not extremely ancient
formation; some of the hills have also an appearance of having been at a
recent period the outlets of eruptive forces, which have scattered large
shattered masses of rock over the sides of the extinct craters.

In this encampment I had a serious misunderstanding with our chief,
which all but ended in a downright quarrel; but after consideration we
agreed to make it up, as although on two occasions of danger he had left
me to my fate, I thought it better on the whole to keep friends for the
present. The evening of this quarrel, as a party of three toldos were
starting off to go to the Chupat, and Casimiro was desirous of extending
his fame to the Welsh settlement, I wrote a letter to the authorities
enquiring about some saddles, part of his Argentine rations sent thither
by mistake, which the chief declared to have been intended for him,
but which had been distributed amongst other Indians. The letter was
forwarded by one of the Indians who was supposed to be of English
parentage on one side, although he showed but little traces of English
blood in his type, with the exception perhaps of his hair, which was of
a lighter colour than that usually met with: he was a very good-natured
fellow, and I regretted his departure, as he was one of my adherents,
but being a man of very sober habits he did not wish to be mixed up in
the universal orgie which would probably take place on arriving in the
vicinity of Patagones. With this party the young widow who had made
overtures of marriage to me also departed, after an affectionate
farewell, and receiving a handkerchief as a remembrance. The following
morning we also started, and one of the universal loafers who had
gambled his property away, asking for a mount, was told to catch the
'white horse' presented by Orkeke: he accordingly borrowed a horse to
catch him, and at the end of our day's journey had not succeeded in
doing more than driving him in, to use a nautical term, in our wake;
this was exactly what I had intended, as this Indian was a great rogue,
and had cheated me at cards out of a set of metal bolas, equivalent to
a horse.

Our march lay up the valley, and the circle was formed on the
surrounding volcanic hills, the sides of which, besides the vesicular
lava, presented large masses of the ironstone noted as having been
observed at Santa Cruz. Shrubs were sparsely scattered on these hills,
and game was exceedingly scarce.

Towards evening we encamped on the borders of a stream in a place called
by the Indians Telck. There the sickness broke out afresh in its worst
form, and several children died, in consequence of which a quantity of
mares and horses were slaughtered, and numbers of ponchos, ornaments,
and other property burnt by the parents in their grief. It was most
distressing to see and hear the melancholy manifestations of sorrow,
and the sound alone of that dreadful crying aloud, and the dismal
'ullagoning,' to use the Irish expression, of the old women, haunted
me even in my sleep. The night of our arrival a mock combat with the
Gualichu took place, in which everybody joined. After dark, when many
were sitting by the firesides conversing, and I myself was reclining on
my bed smoking, the Doctor came into the toldo, and communicated with
the chief, who told all to get their arms ready, and loaded his gun: on
a shout being set up all fires were immediately extinguished, and all
commenced firing off guns, clashing their swords, and beating the backs
of the toldos, and yelling 'kow-w!' at each blow; firebrands being, at
the same time, thrown into the air by the women, with clamorous shouts
and cries. The scene was wild and striking, the darkness of the night
being only illuminated by the flashes of the guns or the sparks from
the brands whirled high into the air. At a given signal all stopped
simultaneously, and for two or three minutes the camp remained in
perfect darkness, after which the fires were relighted, and things
resumed their ordinary aspect.

The following day, strange to say, a real fight took place, in which one
man was wounded, and for a few minutes a general mêlée or free fight
appeared imminent. Parties were already forming to cancel old blood
feuds, when further mischief was checked by the return of Hinchel,
myself, and others. We had been absent trying new horses on the
racecourse, which, as in almost all the camping-grounds since leaving
the Rio Sengel, was a regular beaten level track of about a couple of
miles in length, and my new horse had established his fame as a racer
by winning a match over a distance of a mile-and-a-half; meanwhile the
quarrel broke out--such are the uncertainties of Indian life.

We remained some days in this place, and whilst hunting in the
surrounding country (where hares abounded), we observed a new
description of spinous shrub with small ovate leaves and yellow flowers,
resembling holly, and growing to about two feet in height. Casimiro
and myself agreed to try whether the leaves might not be medicinal, so
a quantity were bruised and boiled: the infusion proved exceedingly
bitter, reminding me of quinine, and acted as an admirable sudorific,
being administered to the invalids with great success. In one of our
excursions we had crossed the hills and descended on a high elevated
plain, concluding our hunt near a swelling eminence exactly resembling a
huge 'barrow' thickly overgrown with shrubs, from which what appeared to
be a salina was espied, to our great delight. Hinchel and myself being
alone, and having a fat ostrich to discuss for dinner, determined to
enjoy our meal by its shore, first testing the quality of the salt, a
luxury which we had long been destitute of. Dismounting, we proceeded
to investigate it; but to our great disappointment, after walking over
every part of it, and digging down with knives a foot below the surface,
the supposed salt proved to be bitter and nauseous nitrate of soda.

After quitting the vicinity of the Cordillera the weather had every day
become warmer, and the frosts at night much lighter: indeed whilst in
Telck some warm days were experienced, although the winter season was
fast approaching. Near this encampment the small edible root previously
described as growing in the dried-up lagoons was found in abundance, and
was collected by the women and children.

Cavies were plentiful in the hollows and valleys in the neighbouring
hills, and even close to the encampment, but the chase of other game
proved difficult, the hill sides being so strewn with stones as
to render galloping a horse a certainty of laming him. In this
neighbourhood Hinchel pointed out a detached pinnacle of rock, much
resembling that noticed at Geylum, and according to custom invoked a
blessing from the guardian spirit; and then he informed me that on the
third next march we should pass a deposit of yellow ore, lying to the
south of the route, and that during the hunt he would show it to me.
Orkeke also corroborated this statement, and I have every reason to
believe that there is in that locality a deposit of iron or more
probably copper ore.

As the meat of the slain horses was nearly consumed, we marched the
following day across a most stony, rocky, and inhospitable country, and
at length arrived at a range of hills, through which ran a steep, narrow
gorge. Descending through its tortuous windings, we at length arrived
at a spring, the waters of which, joining with another small rivulet,
flowed out and formed a sort of marsh at the head of a large plain. From
the slope of the hill bordering the ravine a fine panorama extended to
the east, the entire face of the country appearing to be more uniformly
undulating than the confused ranges of hills, through the intricacies
of which we had been marching and hunting since leaving Geylum. In the
foreground were visible distant black figures, moving with swiftness
across the plain in pursuit of numerous ostriches; and away to the
eastward rose a column of smoke, the cause of which was eagerly
speculated on.

I am conscious that the description of this part of the journey is not
likely to give a very clear idea of the country traversed; and that
the directions of the successive ranges, and the general character of
the ground, are left too much to the reader's imagination; but, in
deprecation of criticism and censure, it is pleaded that I was under
the impression that this district had been traversed, and accurately
surveyed and described, by a savant employed by the Argentine
Government; and that I was deprived of the assistance of my compass,
which had been presented to Foyel. The notes taken at the time were very
scanty, and my recollections were confused, inasmuch as I was labouring
under a constantly-recurring attack of sickness, which was only kept
at bay by resolute endeavours not to give way; but which rendered
observation and record, in addition to hunting and the usual toils of
marching, impossible. It was the more needful for me to endeavour to
keep up, as all were more or less ill, and becoming increasingly gloomy
and dispirited. To add to the troubles which weighed down the Indians'
spirits at this place, the doctor's horse fell while descending a
precipitous rocky hill. The unfortunate physician was stunned, and very
nearly crushed to death by the horse falling on him; great grief was
universally expressed at this catastrophe, as no one was left to cure
the invalids and contend with the malignant Gualichu, who it was natural
for the Indians to imagine had laid a trap for his opponent, and upset
the medicine man's steed in order to have the field clear for himself.

We encamped in a sort of morass by the side of the hills overlooking the
plain, and were woke at daylight by the chattering of a flock of blue
and orange parroquets; these birds, which brought back old pleasant
associations of the banks of the Parana, and almost seemed to be
harbingers of civilised life, were numerous in this locality, though
they were the first of the species that I had observed in the country.

The distant signal smoke was concluded to indicate the presence of
Jackechan and the Pampa Indians under Teneforo, and all were in spirits
at the prospect of obtaining news, and perhaps luxuries in the shape of
flour, yerba, &c., from Patagones. The order was accordingly given to
march, and a large answering signal fire kindled in some dry pasture
bordering the hill side, a messenger being at the same time despatched
to ascertain the news. After a rather long march over a barren plain
strewn with angular masses of chalcedony and projecting rocks resembling
alabaster, we arrived at a dreary encampment, sheltered under a bank,
from which a spring gushed out, forming a refreshing rivulet.

The mutiny of my page had compelled me to enjoy the pleasure of driving
my own cattle, following the track in advance of the other people;
besides this, an attack of fever rendered me indisposed, and, indeed,
incapable of hunting. While languidly jogging on in the centre of the
circle which was made on both sides of the tracks, and anathematizing
one of the horses who would every now and then endeavour to join the
hunt on his own account, I observed an ostrich coming straight towards
me: the sight was reviving, and leaving the horses to themselves, I
galloped to the cover of a friendly bush, and when he was within a short
distance dashed out, and discharging the bolas, had the satisfaction of
seeing him turn a somersault and lie with outstretched wings stunned. An
Indian riding up at the time claimed the customary division, and took
charge of the bird, on which we regaled our friends at the close of the
hunt. Many of the hunters came in empty-handed, or with only a skunk,
of which there were numbers in this vicinity, hanging to their saddles.
By this time the armadillos had taken up their winter quarters under
ground, and only came out of their burrows on a remarkably sunny day.

At night we encamped under a barranca or steep rising to the eastward.
On his arrival Hinchel informed me that we had passed the vein of ore
previously spoken of, and the hot springs, the Indians having shortened
the journey by deviating from the usual line of march.

The chasqui returned late at night with intelligence that the smoke had
been caused by a party of Pampas Indians travelling to join Quintuhual,
or, at any rate, in that direction, but whatever provisions or tobacco
they had they kept to themselves, and had purposely avoided us.
Jackechan and Teneforo had started for Valchita _en route_ for
Patagones, after waiting for our coming more than a month in Margensho,
the place appointed as a rendezvous. Whilst there they had received
liquor and other luxuries from Patagones, but no disturbances had
ensued, the only casualty being that a woman had been severely burned by
falling into a fire whilst in a state of intoxication. All was reported
to be peaceable at Patagones, and a rumour was current that Commandante
Murga was about to give up his governorship. Casimiro, on receiving all
this intelligence, immediately wished a despatch to be indited, although
I pointed out to him that it would be better to wait until we had
arrived at a nearer point; he was so urgent that on the following
morning I composed an elaborate letter, detailing the union of the
tribes, the precautions taken for protecting Patagones, and requesting
a hundred mares for Casimiro and his people: when finished it was
carefully wrapped up and stowed away in my baggage till wanted.

The talk then naturally turned on the subject of the choice of
messengers to be despatched to Patagones on our arrival at Margensho.
It had been previously arranged that I should be sent fully commissioned,
as being better able to represent to the authorities what had been
resolved on, as well as to impress upon them the immediate requirements
of the Indians, and several others now volunteered to accompany me, and
got quite merry at the thoughts of a drink. But we were still three
marches distant from Margensho. The following day we were again _en
route_, traversing a succession of plains with rocky ridges cropping up
at intervals, until we at length reached a grassy valley enclosed by
steep walls of rocks sixty feet high; gravely perched on the summits
of which several slate-coloured Chilian eagles were visible, their
occupation being to prevent the excessive multiplication of little
cavies. On the hill sides bordering this valley, our old friend the
incense bush, which had for many marches back been very scarce, grew in
luxuriant profusion. At this season it was covered with berries which,
though uneatable, are used by the Indians mixed up with water as a
drink; this infusion has a very sweet taste, but I should think must
be very unwholesome. On arriving at the encampment, at the head of the
valley, near some pools of standing water, we were apprised, by the
lugubrious sounds of the women's monotonous chants, that the number of
the children had been further diminished by several deaths. One of this
day's victims to the epidemic being Algo, Tankelow's youngest daughter,
the father was in great distress and anger, as he attributed the death
not to the distemper, but to witchcraft.

The warm and tolerably fine weather experienced since our departure from
Telck had been succeeded by a heavy, murky, still atmosphere, and the
clouded sky promised a downfall of rain, which speedily came. The next
day more children and the old deaf and dumb woman died; over her little
moan was made, but the lamentations over the children were terrible to
hear, and on all sides mares were slaughtered. The abundance of meat,
and the general confusion, combined with the rain to defeat Casimiro's
anxious desire to proceed. The accumulation of miseries had rendered all
the Indians gloomy and ill-humoured; and since our departure from Geylum
we had had ample experience of the wretched side of Pampa life.

This district is always dreaded by the Indians, who assert that
they invariably are attacked by a similar sickness when in it,
notwithstanding that some considered it to have been occasioned by
poison or deleterious drugs administered by our late neighbours. The
marches had therefore been forced and prolonged, and the increased
fatigue had doubtless aided the distemper in its fatal effects. Nearly
half the children and several of the elder people died during our
progress to Margensho, and the utter misery and discomfort cannot be
described. The rain had continually drenched us; the women, distracted
with their endeavours to soothe the sick children and their grief over
the dead, could not attend to their domestic duties; our mantles were
unmended, and proved but a poor shelter from the rain, no small misery
in this climate, and the arrangements of the toldos were utterly
devoid of their customary care and comfort. The usual good temper and
cheerfulness of all had fled, and grief, sickness, and angry suspicion
cast a gloom over every countenance. One misery, starvation, had
certainly been avoided by the abundance of horse-flesh, but it can
easily be imagined that we could have borne hunger better. We had
endured cold, and hunger, and fatigue, as well as danger, before, but
nothing has left so indelible an impression of a thoroughly bad time
as that march from Geylum to Margensho.

At last Casimiro issued orders to march, and with two or three more of
us started in advance. While waiting under the shelter of a mass of
rocks for the remainder to overtake us, I fell asleep, and on waking up
found the rain pouring down in torrents, and the chief just directing
Meña to return and see what the women were about. Our page arrived a
little later to say that the Indians had refused to march, the occupants
of our toldo alone being on their way to join us: these soon appeared,
so we proceeded in the storm, having agreed that to return, after having
once started, would be an ignominious proceeding.

We followed for some distance the valley, or rather the plain, into
which it had opened out, and then ascended some abrupt rocky heights at
its eastern extremity; crossing these hills, in the valleys or ravines
of which incense bushes grew almost like a forest, we halted for a time
by the side of a rivulet flowing from a spring on the hill side.

After kindling a fire to warm our bodies, wet as we were and chilled by
the wind, which, originally west, now blew from the south with cutting
violence, the sight of numerous guanaco on the heights above determined
us to encircle a herd; we accordingly mounted the heights, and having
completely failed in our attempt, descended to the other side. A large
lagoon lay at our feet, and away to the east a succession of plains
extended to the encampment called Margensho.

These plains were bounded for a short distance on the north side by
a range of hills, which came to an abrupt termination at the end of
the lagoon, on the south side by another range gradually sloping to
the eastward, and on the western side by the rocky heights we were
descending. The view would have been enjoyable on a fine day, but in
such a Patagonian tempest of rain and wind, landscapes were by no means
appreciated. Near the lagoon was another herd of guanaco, some three
thousand strong, who tempted us to a vain endeavour to encircle them,
but they descried us before we could approach within a mile, and were
soon lost to sight on the plains leading towards Margensho. Whilst
riding down the edge of the hills Casimiro pointed out some thyme, a
little of which we gathered to flavour our soup with in the evening.
We then descended and sheltered under the overhanging bank of a dry
watercourse leading to the lagoon. The women and remainder of the
cavalcade shortly arrived, and loading my page with firewood, to his
intense disgust and the extreme delight of every one else, we proceeded
a little farther to the south, where the pasture was good, and
established ourselves for the night.

The following morning early we all started to hunt, and were more
successful than on the previous day, though the wind was blowing a
fearful gale from the S.W., with occasional storms of sleet. Towards the
afternoon, by which time, having finished our hunting, we were snug
enough under the toldo, it rained hard, and with the rain the Indians
commenced to arrive, till before dusk a town of toldos occupied the
borders of the hills.

Casimiro this evening sent for volunteers to go in with me as messengers
or chasquis to Patagones, on our arrival at Margensho, now but one march
distant. But of those previously so desirous to go on, not one appeared,
nor would any one Indian consent to lend his horses for so long a
journey. The chieftain was sadly put out, and cursed the caciquillos all
round. He then tried to dissuade me from going myself, saying that it
was a great distance, that the desert or travesia was a fearful place,
that I should probably lose my horses, that many people had starved,
at the same time wishing me to lend my horses to some other Indian. He
narrated how he himself had occupied twelve days in crossing it, and had
been obliged to abandon a horse and the saddle and gear of his remaining
steed, and with difficulty, nearly starved, on foot, and driving his
almost worn out horse before him, had made his way to a station.

At the same time a young Indian started to cross the desert, but lost
his way, and, quoth the Cacique impressively, 'His bones are there now.'

One statement, that the chañals or white thorns grew higher than the
horses' heads and tore the unlucky riders' mantles to pieces as they
forced their way through them, my own after experience fully verified.
I, however, adhered firmly to my original intention of going, as agreed
to by him, and conveying, with my own hand, the letter I had written:
and it was finally settled that Meña, Nacho, and I should, on arriving
at Margensho, start on our journey as chasquis. Casimiro's real motive
for dissuading me was distrust, as we had on two or three occasions
disagreed, and once nearly come to blows; he was therefore afraid that
I should, on arriving at Patagones, work against his interests and
give him a bad character. Meña, who had taken a great fancy to me,
volunteered for the purpose of keeping an eye on Nacho, who was my
'bête noire' and not to be trusted.

These arrangements having been brought to a satisfactory conclusion,
we proceeded to the toldo of a friend and assisted at the ceremony
performed by the doctor of curing a sick child, more especially
concerning the part of painting with red ochre, killing, and eating
a white mare.

On this occasion the parents formally invited the principal chiefs and
their relations and friends, and the ceremony commenced as follows:--All
the men were either sitting or standing in a circle, in the centre of
which sat the mother holding her infant in her arms. The doctor then
came in, and under his direction the mother plastered the infant
from head to foot with white clay, the wizard meanwhile muttering
incantations; when this was completed the doctor disappeared for a
minute or two, returning with an ornamented hide bag in his hand; this
he opened, and produced from the bottom some charms carefully enveloped
in rags, which he, after performing some mystic hocus-pocus, returned to
the bag. He next took the baby from the mother, and patting it gently on
the head, and muttering in a low tone, dipped its head into the bag two
or three times, and then returned it to its mother. A white mare was
brought up and, after being daubed all over with hand-marks of red
ochre, was knocked on the head, cooked, and eaten on the spot, the
heart, liver, and lungs being hung on a lance, to the top of which was
suspended the bag containing the charms. Care was taken, as in other
ceremonies, that no dogs approached to eat the offal, which was buried,
the head and backbone being removed to a neighbouring hill.

On the 9th of May we started, arriving the same evening at Margensho,
which was, as the Indians had previously described it to me, a large
grassy plain lying below a step or barranca, and watered by a brook
running N.E. and S.W. During the hunt over the previously described
plains there was nothing remarkable except the extreme scarcity of game,
skunks alone being numerous; fortunately I killed a male guanaco, and as
I had the previous day corrected my page he brought up the horses most
carefully, so that all was in readiness for an early start. Before
sundown the chiefs were collected, and the contents of the letter read
to them; they all appeared pleased, and after adding a postscript
setting forth the names and number of the chiefs who required rations I
closed the correspondence.

Hinchel came and provided me with tobacco, asking as a favour that if
any of his friends in the settlement should enquire if he got drunk when
occasion offered in the Pampas, I would bear witness to his sobriety; he
also entreated that I would either return to the Indians or remain in
Patagones until he arrived, which latter I promised to do.

At the risk of repetition it must be said this man was the best
Tehuelche, excepting perhaps Wáki, I ever had anything to do with; he
was frank, honest, generous, sober, and in every way fit for a chief; a
ready and skilled workman in all Indian trades from breaking a colt to
constructing a saddle or silver necklace; his only vice being gambling,
but for which last habit he would have been the richest and most
powerful chief, as he was universally respected.

Orkeke also sent for me, and put into my hand a packet of tobacco for
the journey, which he assured me would be long, tedious, and dangerous.
I promised to ask particularly for his ration, and if the Government
would not grant it, to make him a present myself. He wished me to
return, but I pointed out to him that for various reasons it would be
better not, so we parted, agreeing to meet in Patagones.

It may be as well to mention that if the post of chasqui or herald, as
he may be styled, be an honourable one, for which as a rule only the
near relatives of chiefs are employed, the duties are sufficiently hard.
The chasqui is expected to ride like 'young Lochinvar,' as fast and as
far each day as the horse will carry him; he must not turn aside or halt
even for the purpose of hunting, and unless an ostrich or other game
cross his path may have to go without supper after his day's fifty or
sixty miles' journey, while his bed and bedding are the ground and
mantle. Of course endurance, sobriety, and reliable steadiness of
purpose are essential qualifications, especially if the distance to
be travelled over be great. And Nacho had always approved himself an
excellent chasqui, and was an unerring guide even across the trackless
travesia.

When the chasqui falls in with other Indians on the march, or an
encampment, he is ceremoniously received and honourably entertained, and
it is usually expected that in case of need he will be supplied with
fresh horses to prosecute his mission.

The following morning at daylight another consultation took place, and
the letter had to be again produced, and another postscriptum added. I
then took down in my note-book the immediate requirements of Casimiro
and other friends, which, according to agreement, were to be sent back
by Meña and Nacho, myself remaining in the settlement until the arrival
of Casimiro, when we were to proceed together to Buenos Ayres either by
land _viâ_ Bahia Blanca, or by steamer.

At about eight o'clock, when the rime of the frost was just cleared off
the grass, we, after bidding adieu to all friends, caught our horses
and started. I took with me only my suit of clothes in a bag, and the
letters. Each of the party was provided with a piece of meat from the
guanaco I had slain the previous day by way of provision, and with two
horses apiece we were at length _en route_, the old women chanting
melodiously to keep the devil out of our way. My page affected great
distress at my departure, but as he had my remaining horses to take
charge of, and a legacy of a mantle I had no particular use for, having
worn it almost without interruption since leaving Santa Cruz, he was, in
all probability, delighted to see, as he thought, the last of me as we
disappeared over the ridge.

We travelled slowly for the first half hour, and had just released our
spare horses from the lazos, which hitherto had restrained them from
rejoining their fellows, when we heard a shout behind us, and an Indian
appeared driving a troop of horses. He was from the encampment, and
being a Pampa was _en route_ to join his tribe, whom he expected to meet
somewhere about Valchita, five days' journey on, and from whom we were
to get fresh horses wherewith to cross the travesia to the settlements.
This addition to our party was unexpected, but we considered the more
the merrier, and three at any rate is an awkward number to travel
sociably together. Putting our horses to a hand canter, we now regularly
started, leaving care behind, and looking forward to bread, coffee, and
other long untasted good things. We passed the time in talking over what
we would get, how we should be received, and in smoking and singing. Our
route lay along the barranca, which changed as we proceeded in a N.E.
direction, to higher rugged hills interspersed with sandy valleys
covered with scrub and incense bushes.

By nightfall we had arrived at a pointed hill, under the brow of which
we encamped. We had seen plenty of ostrich and guanaco, but had not
delayed to hunt, only pausing to pick up an armadillo that happened to
be basking in our road.

On dismounting we secured all the horses with lazos or manéos, as they
might probably be inclined to stray away. After gathering a little
firewood, kindling a fire, and discussing the armadillo and a small
piece of meat each, we wrapped ourselves in our mantles and lay down to
sleep, every now and again during the night getting up to have a look at
the horses. The morning star was shining brightly above the horizon when
we saddled up, and crossing the brow of the hill mounted to an adjoining
pampa, where the rocky nature of the ground obliged our unshod horses to
go at a foot pace. Added to this a bitter cold wind and small driving
rain were not improving to the temper, until after an hour or two of
difficult and slow travelling, the sun rose magnificently and dispelled
the mists and drizzle, and restored our cheerfulness. We at length
descended into a ravine leading to a series of small valleys, containing
here and there ponds covered with teal and other water birds. We
travelled at a gallop through the same description of country till
5 P.M., when, after passing a high barren plateau, similar to that
encountered at starting, we suddenly came to an abrupt declivity, at
the bottom of which, in a plain extending for about five miles, lay a
large salina.

We descended where it was feasible, and after stopping to get a little
salt, proceeded to encamp near a small spring of fresh water. About a
mile to the eastward large herds of guanaco and several ostrich were
visible in the plain, and near our halting place we found the tracks of
a puma, for which we searched diligently, but without success.

After securing our horses, as on the previous night, we dined, minus
armadillo, off a piece of scraggy meat, and turned in. The salt from
the salina was of excellent quality; it was necessary to remove a little
of the upper surface, which had slightly deteriorated by exposure to the
atmosphere, and then we cut out cakes of salt like pieces of ice, which
served for plates. It is a strange fact that both into this and other
salinas small rivulets of fresh water flowed, fed by springs in the
neighbouring hills.

The next morning (if it could be so called) at the same hour we were in
the saddle, and traversing the plain crossed some ridges of moderate
height, and continued passing through a tract of country thickly wooded
with incense and other bushes. About 2 P.M. we arrived at a rivulet of
water, near which were marks of a recent encampment; after examining
these we came to the conclusion that a week had perhaps elapsed since
the occupants had left. We travelled forward at our utmost speed over
ground of much the same description, diversified now and again by ranges
of low hills, putting up occasionally a partridge, of which birds we
observed two different species, one crested, and nearly as large as a
hen pheasant, and the other smaller than an English bird, and which took
only short flights and then cowered--and were fortunate enough to kill
a couple. The sun went down behind some hills, and still we found no
suitable place to halt in; at last, however, we came to some ponds of
water, where we all, being pretty well tired, dismounted, and tethering
two of the horses allowed the remainder to go loose. We found the water
brackish, though drinkable, but the animals would scarcely touch it, and
wandered about, necessitating a watch on them all night; this was rather
weary work, especially as a sharp frost came on, and with all our care,
at starting time two horses were missing. After a search of an hour they
were found, having wandered in search of better water, and, wiser than
ourselves, found out a spring about two miles to the east.

The sun was up before we got away, after warming and eating the last of
our food, which we had cooked overnight: it was dry and dusty, and all
the washing in the world could not have got the grit out of it; however,
we laughed over it, saying we would soon have a bottle of wine to wash
away the dirt from our throats. One thing we congratulated ourselves
on was being well provided with tobacco, and although we boasted no
pipe, mine having been lost at a previous encampment, Casimiro's
correspondence with Foyel and Cheoeque, which I had carefully kept,
provided us with cigarette papers. We rode on accordingly, rejoicing,
and passing out of this wooded country traversed a succession of high
pampas, set with small blocks of granite exactly resembling paving
stones, and placed as thickly and regularly as if paviors had been at
work. The appearance of a London street undergoing repair brought this
singular formation vividly to my mind. These pampas terminated in
waterworn cliffs thickly strewn with stones, and as our horses scrambled
like cats up the slopes, their hoofs sent the stones clattering down,
and they found it hard to keep their footing. At the foot of the cliffs
were watered valleys, and whilst descending into one of these valleys
I noticed for the first time the algarroba thorn, which was in fruit.
There were two sorts, one with black fruit, which Nacho warned me not to
touch, as it was poisonous, the other bearing yellow pods, which though
somewhat dry, as the season was so advanced, we plucked and ate as we
rode along, the taste proving something between tamarinds and peach.

Near a lagoon in one of these valleys we halted for a few minutes, and
on pursuing our journey espied a horseman with a troop of led horses
approaching from the opposite side. I had halted for a moment and saw
my companions rein up, and racing up to know the cause, observed him.
When within 200 or 300 yards, all halted; and Nacho rode forward, and
ceremonious explanations ensued, followed by formal introductions. He
was a Pampa Indian outward bound to join those mentioned as having
passed us eastward of Margensho; he gave us news that Jackechan's,
Teneforo's, and other Indians were in a place called Trinita, some four
hours' gallop only distant. When he found that I was 'Anglish,' he spoke
in high praise of my countrymen whom he had met in Rio Negro.

This man was a perfect picture; he was splendidly mounted, and had a
troop of horses all as good as the one he bestrode. He was well dressed
in ponchos and white drawers, and wore a silk handkerchief round his
head. Over his saddle was a poncho containing, as we supposed, a store
of yerba, flour, or other luxuries, and he had a bold, careless,
good-humoured face, with restless eyes; altogether he gave one an idea
of the imaginary generous bandits one reads of in novels, and to make
the character complete it turned out afterwards that he had almost
certainly stolen the horses from Trinita.

After five minutes' conversation we started in opposite directions, and
our party pressed on at speed. From the steep hill above the valley we
saw, to our joy, the smoke of hunting parties, apparently not far off.
However, it was four o'clock when we arrived in the vicinity of the
fires in a green pastured valley. From one of the two toldos pitched
there, a man emerged with a matè pot in his hand and a bombilia or reed
used for imbibing matè, like straws for sherry cobblers, in his mouth.
As these people proved not to be the Indians we wanted, after saluting
him we galloped on, and crossing the valley, where we had to jump our
horses over a brook, ascended the opposite hill. A new growth of bush
growing 16 feet high, with long switches like osiers, forced itself
unpleasantly on our attention, as, when riding fast, they sprang back
into one's face in the most painfully annoying manner. On the hillside
we overtook and passed a caravan of women travelling in the same
direction as ourselves, and from the summit of the range saw in the
valley below two different groups of thirty to forty toldos each, about
half a mile apart. Galloping on we arrived, about 5 P.M., at the nearest
tolderia; but on inquiring for Patricio, to whom we had been directed
to go by Casimiro, found that he belonged to the others, to which we
proceeded, and were duly received, our horses, &c., taken care of, and
ourselves ushered with all ceremony into the presence of Patricio (a
half-bred Pampa and Tehuelche). After the hour's etiquette of answering
questions, we were each given one rib of a guanaco apiece to eat. I was
so hungry that I could have eaten a dozen at least, so on the plea of
washing started off to look for Jackechan's toldo, which I shortly
found, and was received with open arms by my friend and El Sourdo. After
his 'missus' had given me some food, followed by the luxury of a matè
with sugar, Jackechan related his proceedings subsequent to leaving our
party.

After a few days' march in the direction of the Chupat, he came across
some cattle, which were caught and killed, and then, whilst in the
same spot, he despatched the messenger to Chupat with the letter, who
returned in fifteen days with an answer, but without any stores.

The letter, carefully wrapped in a piece of old linen which had served
as the envelope to my own epistle, was ceremoniously handed to me by the
light of a blaze produced by some grease thrown upon the fire. I read
and interpreted the contents to Jackechan. The writer--Mr. Hughes, if I
recollect rightly--expressed his pleasure at hearing of my safety, but
regretted his inability to forward any stores or clothing, as the supply
in the colony was extremely scanty, owing to the non-arrival of the ship
with Mr. Lewis Jones on board, which had been expected for some months.
It need scarcely be said that I had been quite unaware of the privations
endured by these unfortunate colonists, which the despatches of
Commander Dennistoun have made known to the public during the preparation
of these pages for the press, and to which reference will be made in the
ensuing chapter. Jackechan, after the return of his messenger, proceeded
to Margensho, in the vicinity of which he met the parties under
Teneforo, Patricio, Antonio, and other petty chiefs. These all united,
and, sending into Patagones, obtained liquor and other stores, with
which, as before mentioned, they had a drink for ten days, but no
quarrels or fights took place--a fact which redounds to the credit of
the chiefs. After waiting a month for our party, they, owing to the
scarcity of game, had come by easy stages to this place (Trinita).
Jackechan then explained that the first toldos were those of the Pampa
Indians, under Teneforo and Champayo, the former being absent in
Patagones, getting his rations of animals; his Indians are pure Pampas,
and are often called Kerekinches,[11] or armadillos, for some reason
unknown to me. Some of them are in the service of the Argentine
Government, and liable to be called upon by Linares, chief of the Tame
Indians. The remaining toldos were those belonging to the Indians under
Antonio and Patricio, who were composed of mixed Tehuelches and Pampas.
The two encampments were situated about half a mile apart, separated by
a winding stream, in some places concealed by most unusually high reeds.
The position was entirely surrounded on the eastern, southern, and
western sides by high rocky eminences; but to the north the valley
apparently continued for some miles: its breadth was about three miles,
and everywhere in the vicinity of the stream, which in some places had
overflowed its banks and formed a marsh, the most luxuriant pasture was
growing.

  [11] Quirquincho.

On returning to Patricio's toldo, I formally asked for the necessary
horses to prosecute our journey, but was refused on the grounds of his
having none to spare; so we determined, as our horses showed symptoms of
fatigue and one was lame, to give them one day's rest before proceeding.
We passed the following day with our friends, and I made acquaintance
with the petty chief Champayo, for whom I wrote a letter requesting a
ration which was due to him. He was very civil, and presented an Indian
to me named Luiz Aguirre. This man had been brought up in Patagones,
whence he had received his names, his parents, I believe, having been
killed. He was a very intelligent man, and had formerly been in the
troop of Linares, but had left disgusted with the quarrelling and
generally mutinous state of those Indians, and taken to the Pampa, where
he could live a free and happy life with his wife--at least so he
affirmed.

After we had taken various matès together, Champayo, on my mentioning
the cause of our not proceeding that day, said, 'Your people shall not
want for horses. I will supply them, and send Luiz Aguirre in with you,
and you can give him the answer about my ration.' I afterwards visited,
at his own request, the Cacique Antonio, for whom I also wrote a letter
requesting that his ration should be sent to him at the Guardia of Sauce
Blanco, as, owing to having lost his troop of horses in a storm, he
could scarcely reach the Upper Guardia. This was true, as at the first
toldos we had visited in the neighbouring valley in Trinita we had
been informed of Antonio's loss, which was most probably a gain to our
well-dressed bandit friend; but he had some enemies on the road to
Patagones, which was the real reason of his not going as far as the
Upper Guardia.

After dinner, having asked me all about our proceedings, he commenced
to give me advice as to what I should do on arriving at Patagones.
He assured me that I should get employment readily, but especially
cautioned me against drink, as the commandante disliked drunkards, and
would not encourage them!

At a late hour I retired to Patricio's toldo, and coiled up in one
corner. The next morning we were getting our horses ready for a start,
when a boy galloped into camp with the news that people were coming in
from Patagones. Everybody at once mounted and went to escort in the new
arrivals, who proved to be Teneforo himself and two of his followers.
They had brought a hundred head of horses and cattle as far as Valchita,
two days' journey from Trinita, and had left them there, bringing on
with them only some liquor and yerba, which were at once unloaded. After
I had been presented to the newly-arrived chief, who hailed me as a
brother, and honoured me by a place among the four caciques, who,
pannikins in hand, walked round the lances in due performance of the
ceremony of blessing the liquor, already described, the drinking
commenced.

When the people arrived the sun had just risen, and by 10 o'clock most
of the liquor, which consisted of some gin and caña, or white rum, had
disappeared. Many of the Indians were intoxicated, but all after a
merry, good-tempered fashion, which it had never been my luck to see
before. After imbibing freely enough with my numerous friends--who, if
it had been left to them, would have made me as drunk as themselves--I
mounted my horse, and after a bathe amongst the tall reeds on the
borders of the stream, returned to the toldo, where I found the aged
Patricio singing to himself in a very maudlin state. By sundown all were
sober again, and Patricio imparted to me that he intended himself to
proceed with us, as well as some other friends, his wife, and two or
three other women, but that we were to travel by the lower route, which,
though longer, was easier and safer than the shorter and upper road,
where the thorns grew higher and thicker: the latter is usually selected
in summer, when water is scarce, of which at this season there was no
danger.

The following morning, bidding adieu to Antonio, Champayo, and
Jackechan--whose ration I had promised to procure--we started, eleven
men and four women, taking plenty of horses, besides a troop of mares
for an Indian called Hernandez, settled near the Guardia Chica, the
mares being intended for the purpose of treading out his crop of corn.
We were soon out of sight of the encampment at Trinita, and proceeding
at either a gallop or a trot through an undulating country, in which
incense, algarroba, and other shrubs abounded, arrived near sunset at
a stream, on the north side of which we encamped, amongst some thick
bushes. A little distance to the west lay a large salina, from
which, several miles across, the place takes its name, being called
Hitchin-kaik, or Salt Hill. The stream flows round one side of the
salina, and is, I think, the same that we subsequently crossed near
Valchita. This time we travelled in great style, the women having
brought with them stores of horse-meat and yerba.

After dinner we all sat round the fire and took a matè, and some of an
Indian sweetmeat, a yellow paste made from the algarroba bean pounded
and mixed with water. Old Patricio, who had turned over a new leaf and
grown quite frisky after the drink, said that I was a fortunate man,
having a wife with me; alluding to one of the wives of the Cacique El
Ingles, who was travelling with us to rejoin her husband near Patagones.

The following morning at daylight we again started, and, travelling
over much the same description of country as on the previous day,
arrived, about mid-day, at the place where Teneforo had left his cattle.
Here we dismounted and refreshed ourselves off the round berries, about
the size of a turnip-radish, the fruit of a small plant growing by the
margin of the water, which had a very pleasant taste. The river here had
a fringe of tussocks of pampa grass, under which we reclined and smoked.

The cattle were grouped about amongst these tussocks, and Golwin,
Jackechan's son with the light hair, amused himself by vain attempts to
count them. After half an hour's dawdling we proceeded, leaving behind
one of Meña's horses which was done up, and, following more or less
the line of the river, we arrived, about 3 P.M., at the encampment of
Valchita. As it was early in the day, some of the party started to hunt,
but returned empty-handed. We filled up the skins and water-bottles, in
anticipation of entering the travesia the following day; and, after the
usual meal and matè, sought out each his own particular nest in the
Pampa grass, and went to sleep without fear of the horses straying far,
the pasture and water both being of the best quality. As it was in
this encampment that, according to Casimiro, the defunct Mendoza had
discovered gold, I prospected carefully for any signs, but only noticed
that parts of the adjoining pampa were strewn, amongst other pebbles,
with pieces of quartz. At the usual hour we started to commence the
ascent to the travesia, or desert, which rose above us to the north, in
a high plateau. On ascending a short distance, we observed on our left
hand (to the westward) a salina of several leagues in length, which
bordered the edge of the travesia in about an east or west direction.
I am inclined to think that the river Valchita loses itself in this
salina. This river is subject to great floods, evidences of which were
visible in the drift weeds and rubbish clinging to the bushes and shrubs
throughout the valley, evidently left there by the spring inundation. By
a gradual ascent we at length reached the level of the plateau, and saw
before us an interminable dreary expanse strewn with small shingle, and
covered with shrubs varying from four to twelve feet, or even higher,
and here and there small tufts of grass. No signs of life were visible.
The sky was bright and clear, although clouds were gathering on the
southern horizon, and the wind (it nearly always blows in Patagonia) was
cutting. I remarked to Luiz Aguirre that it would possibly rain; his
reply, 'I hope it will--it will be splendid, then all the lagoons will
be full,' told of the danger of drought, but found no assent from me,
having had enough of wet weather during the excursion to Las Manzanas.
During the ride he told me that he knew the difference between the
Catholic and Protestant religions, and of the two he preferred the
latter; he also asked me if I had ever been to China, where the tea came
from, and various other questions evincing a considerable amount of
information; and wound up by proposing that I should set up a trading
establishment near the Chupat; Jackechan--who, if any one can claim it,
is the real lord of the soil--having volunteered to cede the ground to
me. In the event of establishing a store in that neighbourhood, this
astute Indian considered that all the Indian trade would be taken out
of the hands of the people of Patagones, who notoriously used false
weights, besides charging exorbitantly for all articles supplied to the
Indians.

About 2 P.M., as the rough shingle had already begun to tell on our
horses' feet, a halting place was found near a laguna containing
rain-water of the colour of _café au lait_. The horses were for the
present let loose, to pick up the best meal they could off the stunted
grass near the borders of the lagoon. Before dark most of them were
tethered, and a careful watch kept all night, lest they should return to
Valchita in search of pasture and water. After a lengthened conversation
by the fireside--in which I was informed that the track we were
travelling was called Pig's-road, from wild pigs, or perhaps peccaries,
having been killed near one of the lagoons in the route--we wrapped
ourselves in our mantles and sheltered ourselves like hedgehogs under
the bushes, from time to time getting up to look round for the horses.
Next day we rode over the same interminable desert of stones, and
bushes of the following descriptions:--Chañal or whitethorn; picayun,
furnishing the best firewood; the osier-like switches before described;
black bush, which is useless for burning, owing to the pestiferous smell
it emits; algarroba, incense, which are, however, very scarce; and some
others whose names I was unable to procure. The chañal is the only one
that impedes the traveller's progress, as the thorns are large and
sharp. In the other road (more to the west), which we had avoided,
although the distance is shorter across the travesia, and therefore more
used by the Tehuelches, who dread this crossing, especially in summer
or for small parties, the chañal grows to the height of ten to fifteen
feet, and, like the 'waitabit' thorns in Albania, renders fast riding
impossible.

This day we were about to start hunting, when a demijohn of rum was
discovered in a bush. This put an end to the sport, for, although it was
hidden again in another place, enough was taken out to render most of
the party talkative, a bottle or two also being reserved for discussion
at the camp fire.

At 4 P.M. we camped by the side of a lagoon similar to the previous one,
and, our Valchita water being finished, diluted the rum with meal and
water about the consistency of Spanish chocolate. I forgot to state that
in the excitement of the 'find' the horses were not looked after, and
on mustering to proceed, one of Nacho's had disappeared, and, although
carefully searched for, he was not found again.

The next day, despite the dissipations over night, we were in the saddle
at daybreak, and had hardly traversed a league of this wearisome waste
when we came suddenly upon seven wild horses. An effort made to surround
them failed, owing to the difficult nature of the ground; but the
failure was to me fully made up by the magnificent spectacle of these
splendid creatures careering in their untamed strength and beauty across
the plain.

We subsequently hunted and killed guanaco and ostrich, and also saw
some hares and partridges. At about 10 A.M. our eyes were gladdened
by the sight of the sea, and presently the level plain rose into more
undulating country, and from the crests of the elevations at times a
full view of the inlet called the Laco de San Antonio presented itself.

Smoke was visible ahead, and we accordingly pushed on, and made a long
and rapid march, the surface being here altogether free from the small
stones which had previously caused so much damage to the horses' feet.
That night we halted, as usual, by the side of a lagoon, the water of
which was not more than two inches deep.

Patricio during this day's journey pointed out to me a dry lagoon near
which efforts had been made to sink a well for obtaining a permanent
supply of water, but, although the shaft was of some depth, none had
been reached, and the work had been given up in despair. It is a mystery
even to the Indians where the guanacos, wild horses, puma, and other
game that exist in this desert, find water, as these lagoons, depending
entirely on the rainfall for a supply of water, must inevitably, in this
country where little rain falls, be dry for many months in the year. No
doubt springs exist in hitherto undiscovered places.

Before leaving the travesia, a few remarks, which cannot claim to be
called a description, may be interesting.

This desert consists of a plateau about three hundred feet above the
level of the valley of the Rio Negro, stretching to the southward more
than thirty leagues to Valchita. Of its extent westward I have no
precise information; but it narrows considerably in the interior,
forming an irregular triangle, with its base on the coast, and its
apex near the junction of the Rio Limay and the northern streams.

The soil is either clay or sand and gravel, with small stones strewn
thickly over the surface; while the only vegetation met with consists of
the bushes already mentioned, and scanty tufts of coarse grass.

It is much dreaded by travellers, and, after traversing it, I can well
believe the stories current of people having perished on the passage;
the track once lost would be very difficult to regain; while the want of
water in the summer, and the danger of horses straying and leaving the
traveller helpless, are both probable risks. With all our watchfulness,
two horses strayed away and were lost. In the winter there is no fear of
want of water; but the fatigue of travelling is at all times great, and
the horses are almost worn out by the time that the desert is passed. It
serves, therefore, as a barrier, protecting Patagones from all danger of
attack by the Indians from the south, who in their forays must descend
the river. A large troop of horses can scarcely find pasture, and, after
the rapid journey, would not be in a condition for their riders to
attack with success, if opposed vigorously by people able to defend
themselves.

This district appeared to form a distinct and well-defined limit between
the habitats of various animals; as for instance, the Rhea Darwinii,
or smaller ostrich of Patagonia, and the Rhea Americana. The latter,
according to my experience, is never found to the south of it, and I
am at a loss to understand how Mr. Cunningham could have met with any
specimens of it, as he seems to imply.[12]

  [12] Natural History of the Straits of Magellan, p. 134.

The Tehuelches often described the larger Rhea as found north of the
travesia, and as distinct from that hunted in their country. They also
particularly insisted on the fact that the Gama, or deer--abundant in
the Rio Negro valley and the country north of it--is never met with
south of the travesia. The same remark is true of the Viscacha and the
Aguarra (Lupus manatus), though the latter is probably to be met with in
the spurs of the Cordillera.

Patagonia may thus be properly considered as cut off by the Rio Negro
and the line of the Cordillera, and possessing its own races and a
separate Fauna and Flora.

It may be added that only one species of armadillo, the Quirquincho
(Dasypus minutus, Gay), occurs within these limits. The algarroba and
other bushes, though found in and near the borders of the travesia, do
not occur south of its immediate vicinity.

It was a joyful hour for all when, on the fourth day, after galloping
from dawn till ten o'clock, we at length came in sight of the valley,
still three miles distant, where large willows--which, by the way, are
unknown in Patagonia, save a few at Chupat, probably introduced by the
settlers--marked the winding course of the Rio Negro. We halted at the
head of an abra, or lateral opening which ran up into the barranca from
the main valley, and saw in the distance a solitary rancho, the first
civilised dwelling beheld since my departure from Santa Cruz.

After a rest, to enable all to come up, some having lagged behind
perforce, their horses being hardly able to limp along, we made our way
down the slope and at length reached the river, in which our thirsty
steeds soon drank their fill.

The rancho, which belonged to Hernandez, for whom the convoy of mares
was intended, was then visited. The owner was absent, but his Indian
wife did the honours, at least as far as serving us with matè, for no
food was produced, though all were dreadfully hungry. I wished to stop
and don what an American would call my citizen's clothes, thinking that
we should immediately proceed to the Guardia I had heard so much of from
Luiz Aguirre; but he told me not to be in a hurry, so in my dirty mantle
I remained for the present.

After half an hour's delay we left the rancho and followed the south
bank of the river, which here was a swift stream 200 yards wide, passing
the farm of Hernandez, where a man was occupied in ploughing, and mares
and cattle were grazing. The river here made a bend towards the southern
barranca, which so nearly abutted on it as to compel us to ride close
along the bank. Small partridges got up frequently, and I made a mental
resolution to come and have a day's shooting at a future period in the
magnificent willows bordering the river; blue pigeons were cooing in the
trees; and through an opening we caught a glimpse, on the opposite bank,
of a well-built, comfortable-looking estancia in the foreground of a
wide extent of rich flat land, with corral, galpones, and the usual
surroundings, which Luiz Aguirre informed me belonged to Mr. Kincaid.
The feeling of having safely emerged from the desert into the
settlements put us, though very hungry, into the best of spirits; and
after a cheerful half hour's ride, passing on our road a tumbledown,
unused rancho, we arrived at Sauce Blanco, or 'White Willow;' there the
river, sweeping to the northern side, leaves a wide rincon, or expanse
of rich alluvial ground. This is considered as belonging to the Indians,
some of whom are always to be found encamped near the rancho, which
belonged to the Cacique El Ingles, and three toldos were pitched in its
vicinity.

We presented to the chief his wife, whom we had brought with us, and
I was warmly welcomed as a relative, the cacique being a nephew of
Quintuhual. This chief derives his name from his alleged relationship to
some one or other of the officers of Fitzroy's surveying expedition, so
that I was doubly welcome in my English and Indian character. Here we
camped amongst the pajas, or pampa grass, and, having been presented
with a mare and some pumpkins, soon had a good fire blazing and meat and
pumpkins cooking; these latter being dressed by cutting them in halves,
taking out the seeds, and filling the interior with hot ashes, and then
placing them on the ashes, the result being, at all events as it seemed
then to my taste, delicious. I wished to proceed direct to the Guardia,
but, as Patricio and the others put it off till the morrow, in my
ignorance of the road and usages of the place, I was forced to 'do at
Rome as Rome does.'

A good wash in the river was one of the first things indulged in, and
the enjoyment of getting rid of several days' accumulation of the dust
and mud of the travesia can be better imagined than described.

The following morning, before daylight, we all bathed in the river, and
after taking matè with the cacique El Ingles, and a warm by the fireside
after sleeping in the frosty night air, we prepared to visit the
Guardia. Casting off the Indian mantle, I assumed the usual dress of an
Englishman of the period, shooting-coat, &c.; and having been provided
with fresh horses by our friend, half an hour's gallop brought us
to the north bank, opposite the Guardia--not, however, without
misadventure, for as we made our way along the narrow uneven horse-path,
full of ruts, and hemmed in by Pampa grass, Luiz Aguirre's horse
stumbled and threw him, rolling over him and crushing his revolver into
his ribs.

The mean appearance of the much talked of Guardia at once dispelled the
ideas of it derived from the imaginative descriptions of the Indians,
but previous experience of Spanish frontier towns saved me from
disappointment. The settlement consists of a small fort mounted with one
gun, a cuartel or barracks, and a few houses, one or two built of brick
and the others of adobe, clustering round the fort. Almost, if not quite
all, of these are 'pulperias,' or grog-shops and stores, intended for
trade with the Indians, for whose transport a launch is kept. The usual
object first seen in frontier towns--an unfinished church--is here
conspicuous by its absence, no provision for spiritual wants being made
in the Guardia. After about half an hour's delay on the bank, a bustle
on the other side was observed, caused by getting ready a large launch,
which shortly crossed to our side; and having secured our horses with
lazos and manéos, we jumped in, and I was greeted by a non-commissioned
officer, who congratulated me on my arrival, stating that the
Commandante, Señor Murga, had been expecting me for some months. We
crossed over in great pomp, a soldier playing the cornet in the bows of
the boat, and, landing, we proceeded to a store kept by a man named Don
Fermin, where we were all ushered into a room behind the shop, and
the Indians exposed their skins and plumes for trade. My friend the
non-commissioned officer had left me, as I declined to surrender my
letters to any one but the Commandante in person, and he was at the time
at Patagones, distant eighteen leagues from this Guardia. Meanwhile I
watched the trade going on between Don Fermin and the Indians.

Now and again people came and contemplated us, as if we were some
strange sort of wild animals; but as I was out of the trading, no one
bid the stranger welcome, and I formed a bad idea of the politeness of
the inhabitants, though perhaps my shaggy hair and dress, not altogether
of the neatest, may have been against me.

The Indians were soon in full enjoyment of some grog and biscuits, which
they naturally asked me to share. After a bite and a sup, finding the
proceedings slow, I left the room, and shortly after met Mr. Alexander
Fraser and Mr. Grenfell, the owners of an estancia a few miles lower
down the river; and after introducing myself was most kindly received,
and supplied with cash, a civilised medium of which I had not a sou
to enable me to gratify the desire of treating my Indian friends to a
bottle or two of wine and spirits and a few loaves of bread.

Mr. Fraser hospitably pressed me to come on to his establishment at
once, but being desirous of handing the letters to the Commandante
without delay, I returned across the river with the Indians.

A foretaste of Rio Negro manners was given us at the other side, as one
of the horses, saddle, lazo and all, was missing--stolen by some of the
civilised inhabitants. The horse belonged to El Ingles, and had been
lent to Meña to go down from the encampment to the Guardia; the lazo
belonged to me.

At the camp most of the people got more or less drunk, and Nacho
received a richly-deserved thrashing for being pugnacious, after which
he was lashed down, and left to cool in the frost for an hour.

In the morning I started for Patagones, accompanied by El Ingles and
another Indian; but as our horses proved to be too tired to proceed
into Patagones, we stopped for the night in a toldo at San Xaviel, the
head-quarters of Linares and his Tame Indians.

I took up my quarters at the toldo of one Chaloupe, and after supper,
being desirous of communicating the political arrangements to the chief,
proceeded on horseback behind another horseman, who proved to be a
brother of Rouque Pinto, to the chief's residence, a long low house.

After a little delay I was ushered into the Sala, where the two wives
of the chief were sitting sewing. The usual matè was served, and I
waited long in vain for the chief, who was away collecting his followers
for an intended pursuit of some of Calficura's Indians, who had recently
driven off cattle from the valley.

At last I bade good-night to my fair hostesses, and summoning my
companion, who had been taking matè in the kitchen, set out to return.
We had scarcely proceeded a hundred yards when the tramp of approaching
horsemen was heard, and my companion enjoined strict silence, for fear
of 'accidents,' and reined up our steeds under the shadow of some trees,
till we heard the people pass. When their voices had died away in the
distance we proceeded, and resumed our conversation, in the course of
which he informed me that it was unsafe to meet people at night in this
vicinity unless when well armed. I rather opened my eyes at this, and
moralised considerably on the benefits conferred by civilisation on
Indian races. At Chaloupe's toldo I found Antonio Linares, brother of
the chief, who had brought with him a bottle of brandy, over a glass of
which I told him my business, which he promised to forward, and after a
nightcap he left in search of more boon companions. This young fellow
was very well dressed in cloth ponchos and chiripas, leather boots and
clean linen, and wore a revolver in his belt. He playfully informed me
that he had been in search of some one he had quarrelled with all the
afternoon, and would have shot him if he had found him.

Mrs. Chaloupe made me up a luxurious bed with ponchos and my own saddle
gear, and indeed all the inmates of the toldo showed me the greatest
civility.

At an early hour in the morning I started on my now jaded horse in the
hopes of seeing Linares, but on arriving at his house was informed
that he had already left for Carmen to have an interview with the
Commandante, Señor Murga.

Refusing the proffered matè, I hastened on and speedily overtook him
taking a stirrup cup at a friend's house. After introducing myself
and joining in a social glass, I was glad to avail myself of his
companionship, as our routes lay in the same direction, and transact my
business on the road.

An hour's ride brought us in sight of Patagones, at which point I
diverged from my companion to the chacra or farm of my expected host
Don Pablo Piedra Buena, situated on the river bank. Half an hour's ride
brought me to the house, but finding no one at home, with the exception
of a big bull dog, I soon started in search, and shortly came on two men
occupied in ploughing. After the usual salutations I inquired for Don
Pablo, and was very civilly answered that he was shortly expected at the
farm, but that if I went straight to Patagones I should probably meet
him on the way. Accordingly, being very desirous of some breakfast, I
spurred my horse into a gallop, and rode towards the town. Its aspect,
as viewed from a distance, although it appeared rather irregular, was
tolerably imposing; the fort and buildings on the northern bank, which
are situated on a rise, showing out prominently, whilst on the southern
shore the cathedral (unfinished, of course) and English mission station
were the most noticeable buildings. After making a slight détour through
ignorance of the track, I arrived at the immediate vicinity of the
southern suburb, which, like all Spanish settlements, new or old, failed
to bear a close inspection.

An extensive mud-hole, which a fall of rain would probably render
impassable, bordered the outskirts, which, when reached, were found to
be plentifully strewn with offal, heaps of bricks, and other _débris_,
making it incumbent carefully to pick one's way along the paths.

As I had heard that it was possible the Commandante would come over to
the south side to arrange about a race, I visited a pulperia, indicated
as a likely place to learn his whereabouts, where I found Linares and
his capitanejo (adjutant) taking a glass of brandy, and was introduced
by them to the proprietor, Don José Real, who offered his services, and
informed me that Commandante Murga was expected in about half an hour. I
accordingly proceeded to the mission station, where, having introduced
myself to Dr. Humble, I left my now tired horse in his quinta, and
after a short rest returned to José Real's, and found the Commandante
Murga, to whom I presented the letter from Casimiro and my own letter of
introduction.

At first sight I was not prepossessed in favour of Señor Murga; he was
about the middle height, dressed in Garibaldi shirt, uniform trousers
and boots, and casquette with the lace bands denoting the rank of
colonel. He disposed of my business by saying that he would attend to it
'mañana,' to-morrow, which is the answer to everything in the provinces
of La Plata, and evidently dismissing the subject from his mind, resumed
an argument with Don José about a racehorse.

This Colonel Murga is addicted to field-sports of every description, is
a good rider, in fact a perfect gaucho, and rarely misses a cockfight on
Sunday after mass.

Somewhat disgusted with my reception I proceeded to the boatman's
house with the intention of crossing the river to the north side, and
knocking at the door asked in Spanish for Solomon. It was opened by
a well-dressed woman, and inside I perceived a broad-shouldered,
well-built man at his breakfast. I was about to retire with apologies,
when he recognised me for an Englishman, and guessing who I was,
immediately dragged me in and seated me at the table, whilst the
good wife cut slices of bread and butter and brewed more tea. I was
considerably hungry, as the Americans say, and enjoyed the bread and
butter and tea as I never enjoyed a meal anywhere else. The kind,
honest welcome of this Welsh family will always remain as a pleasant
remembrance to me of Patagones.

Leaving the house with Solomon we met Don Pablo, who was equally hearty
in his welcome, and we proceeded across in his company to the northern
shore, where my friend placed his house at my disposal, and I took up my
quarters with him; and after the necessary ablutions, and the reduction
of a twelvemonth's growth of hair to a decent length, got into a new
suit of clothes which were brought from Señor Aguirre's store, and felt
that I was a civilised Cristiano once more.

That afternoon I was introduced by Don Pablo to several of his
relations, who were all most kind and amiable, and their agreeable
society dispelled the thoughts which I had entertained of returning to
the Indians; instead of which I now determined to send Meña and Nacho
out with the answers to the letters and some stores, and wait in
Patagones, until the arrival of the rest, employing the interval in
reconnoitring the place and studying its chances in the future.



CHAPTER IX.

THE RIO NEGRO SETTLEMENTS.

  Patagones, or Carmen Old Town. -- The Fort and Buildings. -- The
    Southern Town. -- The English Mission. -- Elements of the
    Population. -- The Negroes. -- The Convicts. -- Lawless State
    of Society. -- The Cemetery. -- Early History of the Colony. --
    A Successful Stratagem. -- Villarino's Ascent of the River. --
    Expedition of Rosas. -- The Island of Choelechel. -- La Guardia
    Chica. -- Estancia of Messrs. Kincaid. -- Ancient Indian
    Graves. -- Flint Weapons. -- The Shepherd and Pumas. --
    Estancia San André. -- The Indians and the Colonists. --
    Calficura's Raid. -- Indian Method of Attack. -- The Tame
    Indians. -- View of the Valley. -- Trade of Patagones. --
    Fertility of the Soil. -- Rio Negro Wine. -- The Sportsman. --
    Advice to Emigrants. -- Interview with Col. Murga. -- The
    Government Grants to Chiefs. -- Casimiro again. -- The
    Tehuelches in Town. -- Farewell. -- The Welsh Utopia. -- Social
    Life at Patagones. -- The Steamer at Last. -- Aground. -- The
    Pilot. -- Pat Sweeny. -- Adieu to Patagonia.


As it did not at the time occur to me that the rising settlements of
the Rio Negro could have escaped being fully described already, I must
candidly confess that the duty of keeping a diary was neglected during
my stay; and recollections alone have furnished the materials for what
has been peremptorily urged on me as a necessary supplement to my
travels--a description of Patagones. This name, which seems intended to
designate the future capital of Patagonia, has completely usurped the
place of the original title El Carmen, conferred on this settlement
in honour of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, under whose patronage it was
placed.

The modern town, situated on a bend of the Rio Negro, about eighteen
miles from the sea, consists of two parts separated by the river, here
about 450 yards wide: the older and most important on the northern bank,
where the authorities and principal people reside, and a new suburb on
the southern bank, known as El Merced, which, though of recent growth,
threatens to eventually rival the northern portion. The means of
communication between the two is supplied by ferry-boats, which are
procurable at almost all hours.

On the northern beach a wooden pier has been erected, opposite his
store, by Señor Aguirre, the grand capitalist, banker, and factotum of
the place, to allow the steamer to unload with greater facility. It is
probable that the northern side will continue to preserve its importance
for some time to come, owing to the want of equal facilities for landing
goods on the other side, where at low tide an extensive mudbank is
exposed, which has to be passed to reach the shore.

The position selected for Carmen by the founder combined security with
easy access to the river. The barranca at this spot advances as it were
to meet the river bend, and leaving but a narrow intervening space. A
rather steep hill rises to a plateau, which again to the north, or rear
of the town, falls by a step to the level of the pampa. The crest is
crowned by the fort, and up the declivity climbs the town, laid out with
scrupulous adherence to the prescribed pattern, the regularity of its
streets and cuadros not being, however, very perceptible to a stranger,
owing to the formation of the ground. Next to the fort, the most
prominent buildings are the Commandante's house, a pretentious red
brick building, and the old church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, an
insignificant edifice, both situated a little below the crest of the
hill, and under the wings as it were of the fort.

The fort itself, crowning the crest of the hill, or barranca, is of
imposing appearance when viewed at a distance, but a closer inspection
dispels the illusion, and reveals its utter uselessness for defensive
purposes. The walls are in wretched repair, and the whole edifice is so
decayed that when one of the American gunboats stationed in the Rio de
la Plata visited the place some four years ago, and duly saluted the
Argentine colours, the reverberation of the discharge of her big gun
shook down a portion of the wall fronting the river! The armament
consists of a few field pieces of small calibre mounted _en barbette_,
and of very little use, as a single well-directed shell would demolish
the whole structure; but if advantage were taken of the position for the
construction of a substantial battery mounted with modern artillery, the
approaches to the town from all sides could be thoroughly commanded and
easily defended.

The Plaza or square lies immediately behind the fort, which forms one
side, and some comfortable houses are situated in it, several of which,
however, were only in course of construction. The condition of the
streets is very bad, especially those descending the hill to the
river-bank; in some places the pedestrian sinks ankle deep in sand, and
in others stumbles over rugged masses of sandstone. The pleasantest part
of the town is the street running from the pier and store inland round
the base of the hill: here a considerable tract of low land stretching
from the rear of the houses on the eastern side to the river is laid out
in gardens, or quintas, full of all kinds of fruit trees, backed by a
row of tall poplars fringing the waterside.

One of these houses was the hospitable abode of my esteemed friend Don
Pablo Piedra Buena. It was a long low house, built of sun-dried bricks
and whitewashed. We occupied one end, consisting of three rooms, the
next part being occupied by Don Ramirez, captain of the steam transport
Choelechel (at anchor within hail, off the Quinta), and his wife. The
remainder was tenanted by Don Domingo, an Italian, as a restaurant and
hotel. Besides Don Domingo's hostelry, the town boasted another hotel,
the property of Señor Aguirre, situated close to his store and pier, a
fine well-built stone house, the only one of that material I observed in
Patagones, almost all the other edifices being of brick, except in the
Negro quarter of the town, where they were simple adobe houses. Whatever
their material, many of the buildings in all parts of the town were,
like the fort, in a most tumbledown condition, and a freer use of
whitewash would, if the inhabitants only knew it, cover a multitude of
sins, both against external decency and internal cleanliness.

On the southern shore a considerable tract of low land extends from the
river, and is liable to be overflowed at high spring tides. This is
devoted to the cultivation of wheat, ditches being cut to afford
imperfect drainage; across these flats a causeway--the construction of
which is chiefly due to the exertions of my friend the Welsh boatman
Solomon--leads to the new town of El Merced, built on the higher ground,
beyond the reach of floods. This, too, is laid out on the universal
plan, and judging from the piles of brick and the numerous sites marked
out for future houses, is rapidly growing in size and importance. The
roads, however, were at the time of my visit as execrable as on the
north side, and the outskirts were offensive with offal and rubbish,
while the pantaño or mud-hole seemed to present an impassable barrier to
friend or foe. The most noticeable buildings were--first, the new Church
of Señora del Merced, in the Plaza, which, with its two towers, quite
threw into the shade its elder rival del Carmen, on the northern side;
and next the English Mission Station, a considerable building occupying
two sides of a square, one wing containing the room used as a chapel,
whilst the other constituted the residence and dispensary of the
missionary, Rev. Dr. Humble. This gentleman, whose hospitality I
frequently enjoyed, combined in his own person the functions of doctor
and clergyman. As regards the mission, the converts did not appear to be
numerous; indeed an Indian girl, who acted as servant and nurse, seemed
to be the only specimen. The whole establishment was scrupulously
neat and clean, and afforded an agreeable contrast to the surrounding
buildings. In front a considerable tract of ground extended to the
river bank, part of which constituted a pleasant garden, or quinta,
the remainder being used for grazing the horses of the establishment,
whilst a ditch cut at the lower end afforded a harbour for the medical
missionary's boat.

Dr. Humble formerly had a school for children, but it was given up, I
believe, on account of the opposition raised by the Padre. The church
was generally pretty full on Sundays, when the British flag is hoisted
to denote the hour of prayer; and as half the service was conducted
in Spanish, a good sprinkling of the native inhabitants was generally
present--some perhaps with a view to obtain advice from the pastor
in his medical capacity, in which his skill and kindness made him
deservedly popular.

According to Sir Woodbine Parish, the population of Patagones in 1832
amounted to no more than 800: although no statistical means of accurate
information were at my disposal, I should be inclined to estimate the
present number of inhabitants at not less than 2,000, and they may
exceed that number.

They are divided into four very distinctly-defined classes:--1st. The
descendants of the original and early Spanish settlers; 2ndly. The more
recent foreign immigrants; 3rdly. The negroes; and 4thly. The convicts
sent hither from the Argentine Republic. The descendants of the original
settlers, who for some unknown reason are styled by their townsmen
'Malagatos,' both in name and character manifest their unmixed descent
from the sturdy Gallegos, or settlers from Galicia. Closely united by
intermarriage, they form, as it were, one family, almost every member
of which is either a Crespo or a Real. Although hitherto jealously
exclusive as regards any admixture of their 'sangre azul' by alliance
with the foreigners--except perhaps Englishmen--the men are remarkable
for their hospitable kindness and courtesy, whilst the ladies would vie
with those of any part of Old Spain or the Argentine provinces in grace
of manners or beauty. One noticeable feature of their character was
that both men and women manifested a far more punctilious respect for
religion than I had ever observed in other Catholic countries. Every one
made it a point of being present at mass whenever it was celebrated. I
was among the guests when Don Benito Crespo was entertaining a party at
dinner, given to celebrate his daughter's birthday, which happened to
fall during the period of the novena in honour of Santa Rosa, and when
the bell sounded for vespers everybody rose from table and hurried off
to the church.

The second part of the population--the foreigners--present a motley
group of people of all nations, but the majority are Italians and
Basque Spaniards. There are a few French, English, Welsh, Swiss, and
Germans.

The negroes are the descendants of an importation of slaves, introduced
when the slave trade was legal by the Governor, a Frenchman named Viba,
Casimiro's patron, who appears to have entertained an idea of employing
them to cultivate the public lands. They all live together in one
quarter of the town--excepting, of course, those who go out as
servants--and keep up many old traditions and customs. They are called
by the Gauchos 'Blandequis,' which may be a corruption of Mandingo,
and are a fine hard-working race, whose industrious habits and general
character differ widely from the debased type of the negroes in the
Brazils. Their exact numbers I am ignorant of, but was informed that
they were once very much more numerous, their rapid decrease being
caused by their being drawn as soldiers, and the ravages of the
universal scourge of small-pox.

Lastly comes the convict element. Carmen, at an early period of its
history, was made a 'presidio,' or frontier penal settlement, in this
respect resembling Punta Arenas; but the strict discipline of the
Chilian colony is altogether wanting in Patagones. There is a constant
importation to the latter place of deserters from the army, robbers, and
felons of every description, sent down from Buenos Ayres. These men
are, on their arrival, either enlisted as soldiers, or turned loose on
society, and allowed to work where and how they please, or otherwise
obtain a livelihood. They cannot, it is true, escape, as there is no
chance of getting away by sea, and the almost certain danger of death or
captivity amongst the Pampa Indians is a sufficient safeguard against
their betaking themselves to the interior; but beyond this there is no
restraint exercised. Horse-stealing is, in the event of any animal
being left unwatched, a moral certainty, and robberies of all kinds are
frequent and go almost unpunished; while murder, in the rare cases in
which the criminals are detected, simply involves being sent back to
Buenos Ayres for a trial, which results in a sentence of transportation
back to the Rio Negro. One man named Ruiz was pointed out as having
been four times backward and forward to and from Buenos Ayres for
murders committed: this man openly boasted that whenever he wanted a
trip he had to kill a man. Another man, who had robbed the Bishop of
Buenos Ayres of a jewelled clock, by presentation of a forged order,
filled the position of billiard marker at the hotel, and was looked on
as rather a clever fellow. The Commandante's orderly was also a man sent
down for homicide. The state of society when these ruffians--every one
of whom carries a knife, which is used on the slightest occasion--are
allowed thus to remain loose may be better imagined than described.

My friend Don Pablo was attacked one evening close to his house, but
fortunately escaped unhurt. Murder is of weekly occurrence, and it is
necessary for everyone to carry some weapon of self-defence, while few
people think of leaving the town without a revolver.

In the utter absence of legal protection, a project was mooted among
some of the foreigners to establish a vigilance committee on the simple
principle of mutual protection and agreement to avenge any injury to one
of the society. As Sir Lucius consoled his friend by the remark that
there is 'snug lying in the abbey,' the unprotected inhabitants of
Patagones can pride themselves on their possessing an excellent new
cemetery, situated to the north, about half a mile outside the town,
which is surrounded by a brick wall, with iron gates, and kept in a neat
and orderly condition. A little east of it, nearer the town, lies the
old cemetery, the neglected state of which, when I visited it, offered a
melancholy contrast: the mud wall was breached in many places; coffins
appeared protruding from the sand, and in some cases were actually
uncovered; skulls and bones lay exposed to view; and, as a climax, a
cat jumped out of one coffin in which she had taken up her abode. I was
extremely surprised at such want of respect being shown by the residents
to the bones of their departed ancestors, and remarked on it to my
companion, who shrugged his shoulders and muttered something which
sounded like the inevitable 'Mañana.'

The most interesting relics of the first founders of the colony are a
number of caves, or dwellings, excavated in the sandstone cliff, four
miles below the town; they contain three or four chambers, leading into
each other, and from eight to ten feet square. In one I remarked a sort
of trough, hollowed out in the sandstone, which more resembled a manger
than anything else. Tradition narrates that these were used as dwellings
by the first settlers, or perhaps as hiding-places for themselves, or
for their cattle, in times of war with the Indians.

Under the Spanish dominion the colony made but slow progress,
notwithstanding the abandonment of all other attempted settlements on
the Patagonian coast, which left the entire advantages to be derived
from the valuable whale and seal fisheries in the hands of the people of
Carmen; their inertness allowed this mine of wealth to remain unworked,
and it fell into the hands of English and American fishermen, who worked
them till a recent period. The Argentine Government has asserted its
claim and granted a lease of the fisheries to Don Luiz Buena, with
authority to warn off all intruders; but the fisheries do not, I
fear, produce the profit deserved by his energy. The Carmen settlers
alternately traded with, and were plundered by the Indians, preferring
the profits of this doubtful commerce to the dangerous, though
profitable, sealing and whaling. That the Indians' hostility had
something to do with the concentration of the Spanish forces at the Rio
Negro appears from a fact which has been studiously omitted from the
Spanish records. The Indians preserve an accurate tradition to the
effect that the first colonists at Port Desire aroused the anger of the
natives, who made a successful attack: the colonists retreated into
the church, where every soul perished at the hands of the natives. The
buildings and fruit-trees still existing are the only monuments of the
destruction of this colony.

From the time that the South American colonies asserted their
independence, Patagones shared in the consequent increase of population
and development of trade, as already pointed out. Since Sir W. Parish
wrote, the population has largely increased and the value of property
risen; and although the 'old inhabitants' complained to me of the want
of progress, the growing demand and price given for land and houses at
that time, compared with former years, proved the contrary. One item of
its history must not be omitted. During the war between the Brazilians
and the Argentine Confederation, the inhabitants of Patagones
distinguished themselves by defeating and capturing a Brazilian
expedition sent to endeavour to reduce the place. The story was told me
as follows:--A strong force of the Brazilians landed near the sea-coast,
and marched overland towards Carmen, halting about a league north of the
town. The garrison, numbering about fifty regulars and some volunteers,
sallied out, equipped with a large assortment of coloured ponchos.
Taking up a position behind a hill which concealed them from the enemy,
who were ignorant of their real strength, the cunning men of Carmen then
displayed themselves as if for a reconnaissance, and retreated, but only
to change their ponchos and reappear as a fresh detachment; the
enemy was thus led by these repeated feints and transformations to
considerably multiply the real numbers of the Argentine troops, and
hesitate to attack so seemingly large a force. After nightfall the
herbage in the neighbourhood of the bivouac of the invading army was set
on fire. Bewildered by the smoke, the Brazilians retreated, but were
encountered by other fires in their rear, and, seeing themselves
apparently surrounded and opposed by superior numbers, their leader
capitulated. The story is substantiated by the existence of the wreck
of a Brazilian man-of-war, still visible in the river.

The fertile valley of the Rio Negro must needs be described in order to
convey a proper idea of the resources of Patagones as a colony. By far
the greater extent of this valley is as uncultivated as when it was
first explored by Don Basilio Villarino, who, under the orders of
Viedma, ascended the river in order to ascertain its source, and whose
diary is extant in the collection of De Angelis, a valuable abstract of
it having been given by Sir W. Parish, though sufficiently long ago in
our rapid age to be almost forgotten. He ascended with launches first as
far as the Island of Choelechel, seventy leagues from Carmen, which he
recommended should be fortified as an advance post against the Indians;
thence, after incredible difficulties, he succeeded in reaching the foot
of the Cordillera, always keeping on good terms with the natives. Here
he met with the Araucanians (termed by me Manzaneros), and was in great
hopes of reaching Valdivia through their aid, as they showed themselves
friendly disposed; when, unfortunately, the Indians fell out amongst
themselves, one of the chiefs being killed in the mêlée. The chief who
caused this man's death came with his people to the Spaniards to implore
their assistance, which was promised. This led to the whole of the
remaining Indians forming a league and declaring war against the
Spaniards, whose name up to the present they detest. Being obliged
to abandon his intention of reaching Valdivia, Villarino reluctantly
determined to return, and accordingly, after being supplied by his
allies with a store of apples and piñones, descended the river and
returned to Carmen.

From the description of this journey, together with the mention of the
supplies of apples and piñones obtained at the farthest point reached, I
am inclined to assume that this point was near, if not identical with,
the place where we passed the Limay on our journey to Las Manzanas, a
mile or two below the rapids where Mr. Cox was wrecked.

Villarino states that he entered in his small boat a channel where the
river flowed over rounded stones to the S.W. Now the point where Mr.
Cox's boat was lost was a rapid to all appearance impassable for a boat:
however, it is possible that Villarino employed Indians on horseback to
track his boat, and that the state of the river was more favourable for
navigation at the period of his visit.

The mention of the friendly Indians who accompanied him on his return
and settled under the protection of the Spaniards, suggests the idea
that these may have been the ancestors of Los Mansos or the Tame
Indians, at present in the service of the Government. Casimiro had a
legend about Indians friendly to the first Spanish settlers, who were
subsequently illtreated by them, and I believe revolted. Luiz Aguirre
also asserted that his father was one of the original chiefs of the Rio
Negro, who for a long time was friendly to the Spaniards, but at length,
a revolt taking place, was imprisoned and kept in Carmen as a hostage,
where he died. In the year 1832, when Rosas, for the protection of the
southern frontier, made his great attack on the Indians, and driving
them back to the neighbourhood of the Cordillera, forced them to submit
to his terms, he established a military post at Choelechel, as advised
by Villarino. His scheme was, I believe, to extend from this point a
chain of forts as far as Mendoza, thus keeping the Salinas Indians quiet
inside the chain, and driving the Araucanos up to their native valleys
of the Cordillera.

This plan was never carried out, and the post, to which the name Isla
de Rosas had been given, was abandoned. Rosas was, notwithstanding his
having beaten the Indians back, very popular amongst them, and on his
overthrow a relation of his, Don Pedro Rosas, took refuge in the Salinas
with his artillery and battalion. Orkeke and several friends of mine
often inquired after Rosas, saying that 'he was a good man,' &c.

The next expedition up the river occurred only a year previous to my
arrival in the Rio Negro, when the steamer Choelechel ascended as far
as the island, accompanied by a land force under the Commandante Murga.
Indians were found occupying the island, and a European was reported as
resident among them, and as exercising the authority of chief. Although
he refused to hold any communication with the Argentine commander, it
is most probable that this was the famous Frenchman Aurelie I., who was
said to have obtained a supply of arms landed in the Rio Negro, and
brought up to this island. The expedition did not think fit to disturb
the Indians, and returned with little to show as the result of their
journey.

It was in contemplation to despatch another expedition, but I have as
yet heard no news of its progress from my Patagones correspondents, and
it is probably postponed till 'mañana.'

The large island of Choelechel, which I know only by description, never
having visited it, appears to be not only an important station in a
military point of view, but also admirably adapted for cultivation;
there are, however, some reasons against its occupation for that
purpose: the first is the undoubted hostility of the Indians to any
enterprise tending to occupy what they consider their country; secondly,
its distance from Carmen or Patagones as a base of supply for bringing
up implements and importing produce, supposing the first difficulties
overcome. A railroad or tramway might, I am sure, be constructed at
little cost to run down the whole valley of the river, or steam launches
of good power, fitted to burn wood, would furnish an effectual means of
communication. The present Government steamer Choelechel both draws too
much water and is of too small power to render material assistance in
the way of opening up the river. The Capitano Major Ramirez pointed out
these defects to his Government previous to her being brought to the Rio
Negro, but his opinion was overruled.

Foyel and a cacique named Limaron, who claims territorial rights
over the island, had a scheme for cultivating Choelechel and other
advantageous spots, importing for the purpose Valdivian settlers used to
the labour from the other side of the Cordillera, and obtaining their
supplies and implements from Carmen.

The present further limit of settlement in the valley is the advanced
military post called La Guardia Chica, situated about seven leagues
above the second Guardia, and about twenty-five leagues from Carmen. It
has not, I believe, been in existence many years, and was two years ago
the scene of an _émeute_ amongst the garrison, which was graphically
described to me at our watchfire in Las Manzanas by Rouque Pinto, who
had evidently assisted, if not as an actor, at least as a spectator at
the scene. The troops, who were mostly foreigners, according to his
account, suddenly rose, shot or stabbed the officer in command, and
then their lieutenant, who was killed whilst endeavouring to escape by
swimming the river. The mutineers then sacked the place, getting of
course intoxicated on the contents of the grog shops, and remained
in possession for a day or two, when a party, headed by a man named
Bonifaccio, a Government agent for treating with the Indians, rode in
and took the ringleaders, who were, I believe, summarily shot. I tell
the story as it was told me, and can only vouch for the truth of the
fact that the officers were killed in a mutiny, which was afterwards
suppressed by the determination and courage of Bonifaccio.

Woodcutters frequently come up the river thus far to procure the red
willow timber. Their plan is simple: they ride up bringing their axes,
ropes, and provisions, and when arrived at the scene of their labours
turn their horses adrift, which readily find their way home. The men
form their timber into a raft, and voyage on it safely down the river.
This, although hard work, is a profitable occupation for men skilled
with the axe. Perhaps at some future period their operations will be
extended farther west, and rafts of Araucarian pine, apple, and other
trees will be floated down from the forests of the Cordillera.

From the Guardia Chica or Little Guardia, still keeping on the north
side, a wide flat plain extends to the Guardia described in the previous
chapter; in this several farms are situated, most of them wheat-raising
establishments. Nearly all this land is leased by Señor Aguirre from
the Government, and he has at present a large number of men engaged in
cutting a channel or ditch for the purpose of irrigating an extensive
tract of land. The men employed in this work are nearly all of them
natives of Santiago del Estero, and it is needless to state that it is
a most expensive undertaking: it is only to be hoped that Señor Aguirre
will find his labour and expense repaid by fruitful crops.

A few farms are rented by Welsh settlers, refugees from the Chupat,
who wisely have preferred the valley of the Rio Negro to that luckless
settlement.

A little above the Guardia is situated the estancia of Messrs. Kincaid,
of which we caught a glimpse on our first arrival at civilisation. I had
the pleasure of staying some days at this farm, where a good deal of
land had been brought under cultivation, and flocks of sheep might be
seen grazing on the rich plain.

The estancia, from its situation in what is termed a rincon or corner,
namely, a peninsula nearly surrounded by a bend of the river, possessed
great advantages, and as it is one of the most convenient places for
passing cattle to the south side, the owner, who keeps a boat on the
river, was enabled to do a profitable business with the Indians when
they received their rations, by assisting them in ferrying their animals
across.

The overseer, under Mr. Kincaid, was a Scotch shepherd, whose gude wife
superintended the ménage; the house was a substantial edifice, built
mainly by Messrs. Kincaid, the beams being taken from willow trees
felled in the rincon. Up to the time of my visit these gentlemen had
been working against fortune, neither of the yields of grain in the two
previous years of their occupation having been even a good average.

Close to this estancia a number of ancient Indian burial grounds exist,
where, besides skulls and bones, numerous flint arrowheads may be found,
some of which, in my possession, have been exhibited to the learned
members of the Anthropological Institute, and found to present the
peculiar Indian type. Besides flint arrow-heads, pestles and mortars,
fashioned out of a porous stone, are also to be found. These articles
probably belonged to an old race of Indians who inhabited the Rio Negro
previous to the advent of Spaniards and horses, and the pestles and
mortars were probably used for pounding the algarroba bean into a paste
like that at present manufactured by Pampa Indians under Teneforo;
indeed, Luiz Aguirre gave me to understand that these Pampas were of
an original stock formerly inhabiting the valley of the Rio Negro, but
I leave these conjectures to the consideration of ethnologists more
skilled than myself. Near these ancient graves I renewed my acquaintance
with the old familiar vizcacha of the plains of Buenos Ayres, which I
have previously pointed out does not exist in Patagonia proper, viz., to
the south of the Rio Negro. Two other species of armadillo besides the
quirquincho were described as being found in their neighbourhood, but I
was not fortunate enough to meet with either description, as they were
at this season hybernating. Puma have been killed in the neighbourhood
of one of the sheep stations. The shepherd heard two outside the corral
on one occasion, and giving chase the puma ascended a small tree. The
shepherd was only lightly attired, but he stripped off his shirt and
fastened it to a stick planted by the tree, which unknown white object
so terrified the 'leones' that they remained quiet while he fetched his
gun and shot them both.

The skin of an aguarra killed on the premises was also shown to me, but
I had not the good fortune to see one alive. The rarity of the animal
causes the skins to be highly valued, being worth 5_l._ each in Carmen.

From the second Guardia a short gallop past the advanced barrancas, near
which the river flows in another bend, brings the traveller to another
wide plain, which to the north runs up into an abra deeply recessed in
the receding barranca: in this there are several farms; one of which,
six miles below the Guardia, belonging to Messrs. Fraser and Grenfell,
is named the Estancia San André, and is also situated (_i.e._ the house
and parts intended for wheat growing) inside a rincon or corner
partitioned off by a good whitethorn or chañal fence, resting at each
end in the river. The sheep and cattle graze during the day outside, but
the latter and the horses are invariably brought within the enclosure
at night for fear of theft. This foresight of enclosing the cattle had
saved Mr. Fraser a considerable loss a short time previous to my visit,
as a party of marauding Indians rode along outside the fence, and
finding nothing but sheep, which travel too slowly to be securely
lifted, proceeded to the next estancia and drove off the cattle and
horses, after stripping the shepherd of his clothes, but doing him no
bodily injury.

When the news reached Mr. Fraser he got some men together and started
in hot pursuit; although a stern chase is a long one, the cattle grew
tired, and the Indians, probably some of Calficura's people, abandoned
them, escaping with the horses only.

I passed several days at the Estancia San André, spending the greater
part of my time in reading, first the papers, and then all the available
books, and now and then sauntering about with a gun to shoot partridges
or pigeon, whilst my companions were busy, each with his team of oxen
ploughing in the seed, or carting bricks down to the new house in course
of completion.

The house we occupied was of adobe, and getting rather into a tumbledown
condition; but the new house was a substantial brick building, the
bricks burnt by the future occupiers, and the walls run up by some
Italian masons. This new house was situated on the extremity of the
rincon, or corner, or where its apex touched the river: in front of it
was a small island, rapidly undergoing conversion from its original
reed-covered state to a fertile garden, in which a good crop of potatoes
had already been grown and fruit trees were being planted.

The old house was to be given up to the Capataz, or head man, who then
resided with his wife in a portion of it. This man was a native, named
Medado; and I have since heard that, when pursuing the Indians who
had invaded some stations near Bahia San Blas, he swam the river
unaccompanied, and rescued two captives, for which he was made an
officer of National Guards. His chief business consisted in looking
after the cattle and horses, and training the racehorse, of which Mr.
Fraser was justly proud.

During my stay the San André crack was entered against a horse of
Linares' over a short course, and won easily, landing stakes of about
eighty head of cattle.

I noticed, whilst at San André, a very beautiful description of small
hawk, which appeared closely allied to our merlin, and shot one
specimen.

The San André people, like those at Rincon Barrancas, had been
struggling against ill-fortune for two seasons; the last season their
harvest was a fair one, but unfortunately they delayed thrashing out for
a long time, waiting for a thrashing machine from England, which, when
it did arrive, would not work properly, and made it necessary for them
ultimately to resort to the native fashion of treading out with mares;
bad weather ensued, and a considerable portion of the grain was spoiled:
such are the woes of Rio Negro farmers, especially improving ones.
During my visit the daily routine of tilling, marking cattle, bringing
up the horses, &c., was carried on; but we found time to visit the next
estancia, owned by a Swiss gentleman residing in Buenos Ayres, and
managed in his absence by a Swiss countryman, known by the name of
Don Juan. Here, as sheep at the present time hardly paid the cost
of shearing, an experiment was being made of curing mutton hams for
exportation to Buenos Ayres, and a large number had been already cured
and were ready for shipment; but the result of the experiment is unknown
to me, and the ingenious Don Juan has since died.

During my stay at San André and Rincon Barrancas I picked up a good
deal of information regarding the relations of the Indians with the
colonists, which perhaps may not be uninteresting to the reader. All the
settlements and guardias previously described are situated on the north
bank of the river, the south side being almost entirely, as far as this
point, in the hands of the Tame and other Indians. The Indian parties
who are most feared are the Araucanos, under the chief Rouque, and the
Pampas of Calficura, who has his head-quarters at the Salinas near Bahia
Blanca, while the former ranges from the neighbourhood of Choelechel
to the Cordillera. I should be inclined to think that Rouque is a
subordinate chief under Cheoeque, though I am not certain of the fact,
as the latter chief, during my visit to Las Manzanas, mentioned Rouque
as being with his people in the apple and pine groves, gathering the
autumn harvest; but I subsequently met some of these Indians at the
Guardia waiting for Rouque's ration, and recognised one as having been
present at our council and subsequent festivities in Las Manzanas. The
Government agent for Indian affairs, Bonifaccio, showed me a magnificent
pair of stirrups sent from Buenos Ayres as a present to Rouque, the
policy of the authorities being to keep him and Cheoeque from joining
Calficura in the threatened raid on the frontier. The reason assigned
for the declaration of war by this latter chief was the death--by which
he probably meant the imprisonment--of one of his inferior caciques; but
the real reason probably was that the Argentine Government, on account
of robberies committed by some of his people, had refused to renew his
ration of animals. The outbreak in Entre Rios, resulting from the death
of Urquiza, was then unforeseen, and it was intended to have despatched
a large force, under the command of Señor Mitre, to reinforce the whole
frontier, and if necessary crush Calficura; but the troubles caused by
Lopez Jordan necessitated the despatch of all available forces at once
to Entre Rios, and the meditated scheme of rendering the frontier
secure was postponed. Calficura subsequently took advantage of this by
attacking the frontier in various places, carrying off captives women
and children, besides numerous herds of cattle, winding up by attacking
and devastating the new settlements in the neighbourhood of Bahia
Blanca, his Indians penetrating boldly, almost without resistance,
into the very heart of the town, and returning with abundance of
booty. Patagones was not attacked, which may partially be due to
the arrangements effected in Las Manzanas, the unwillingness of the
Tehuelches to join, and the gaining over of Rouque. The latter chief,
however most probably played a double game, and whilst receiving rations
and gifts with one hand, allowed his people to join the raids and
received plunder with the other.

One reason for the Indians not committing great raids on the Rio Negro
settlements is simply that cattle and horses hardly exist in sufficient
numbers to reward a foray on a large scale. Small parties sometimes
come in, as in the case described, when the horses were taken from the
'China Muerte,' the estancia of Mr. Fraser's neighbour; but these are
rather robberies than hostile invasions--indeed, no important raids have
occurred since the time of Lenquetrou, who united all the Indians for
the purpose, and swept the valley in a raid which, it may be remembered,
was described to me by Gravino, a participator in it, at Inacayal's
toldos, near the Pass of the Rio Limay. The settlers were naturally
anxious to know my opinion as to the probable safety of the Rio Negro,
and I assured them that, from what I knew, there was little chance of a
raid, but that on the contrary Bahia Blanca was sure to be attacked, and
I especially warned one of our countrymen who was on his way to Bahia
Blanca not to hazard himself by settling outside the town at the present
juncture. Englishmen are apt to suppose that because they possess good
weapons, rifles and revolvers, and are able and ready to use them, they
can resist an Indian attack; but the whole system of their warfare
consists in sudden surprises. They secretly collect their forces, and
waiting at a safe distance during the night, come in at the early dawn,
and perhaps the unsuspicious settler, going to the corral or looking
for his horses, observes in the distance what appears to be a troop of
horses, driven, according to custom, by one or two mounted men; these
approach unchallenged, but in a second every horse displays an armed
rider, shouting his war-cry. They then spread out, as if to encircle the
game, thus presenting no front to the rifles of their opponents, and
dash down lance in hand; and whilst some secure the animals, others
set fire to the dwellings and carry off the women--if there are
any--captives. In some cases they kill the men, but generally only
when much resistance is offered.

Although their chief object in warfare is to carry off cattle and
captives, the Indians will at times fight desperately, regardless of
odds, and show little or no fear of death; and the survivors will never
leave their wounded or killed on the field. The Indians in the service
of the Government, mustering about fifty lances, and residing chiefly
on the south side, are commanded by a man named Linares, previously
mentioned as living at San Xaviel; he receives the pay and rations of
an officer in the army, of what rank I do not know, and all his men
regularly receive pay and rations. These are supposed to act as
gendarmerie; but although Linares and his four brothers are probably to
be depended on, I doubt very much if the rank and file could be trusted
to remain true to their colours in the event of a united raid taking
place, such as that organised by Lenquetrou.

They have all acquired, by their lengthened residence in the
neighbourhood of bad characters, a rowdy, swaggering disposition not
generally, according to my experience, common amongst uncivilised
Indians; and frequent losses of cattle occur to people settled on the
south side, no doubt attributable to these dubious allies and defenders.

Between San André and Carmen the winding course of the river twice
approaches and recedes from the barranca, forming two successive wide
alluvial plains, partly settled and partly in natural pasture, in one
of which a mill turned by water-power was at this time in course of
erection, the existing corn-mills being cumbrous, old-fashioned affairs
worked by horses.

The barranca then abuts on the river, except in one place, where there
is a farm and wharf used for loading salt, forming a cliff close to the
river bank as far as Carmen. Above this farm and wharf an old fort,
apparently untenanted, and armed with one gun, is situated; and away to
the north-east, in an indentation in the plain, lies a large salina from
which the salt is extracted.

From the immediate neighbourhood of this fort a fine view of the valley
below presented itself: right in front, or nearly due south, on the
other side of the river, lay San Xaviel, partially shrouded by trees;
scattered farms occurred to the west of this, and along the bank as far
as the south side of the town. In the river several delightful-looking
cultivated islands were to be seen, the most noticeable forming the
vineyard of Don Benito Crespo. Beyond the town, to the south-east, the
eye ranged over unbroken plains, with dots here and there marking sheep
stations or small farms. Of the south side little has been said: near
the town there are many small estancias; but a great drawback, I am
told, to settling there is the fact that no secure titles to the
properties are procurable, and therefore there is no security of
occupation in the event of acquiring a piece of land. An important
establishment must not be overlooked, namely, the saladero of Señor
Aguirre, situated about a league below the town of Carmen, whence a
considerable amount of hides and tallow is exported to England. During
my stay a North-German or Dutch barque was lying off the place loading
a cargo. Besides these commodities, the exports of Carmen include salt,
wheat, ostrich feathers, and peltries obtained from the Indians, and
some few ponchos and saddle-cloths; while the imports may be placed
under the head of sundries or notions, from imitation ponchos and cheap
finery to Paraguay tea and bad spirits.

Although to my eyes, so long accustomed to treeless wastes, rocky
spur-like mountains, and wild grassy valleys, the valley of the Rio
Negro appeared almost a garden of Eden, no doubt to any new arrival from
England it would not have the same aspect. The valley through which
the river winds is destitute of any trees, besides the fringe of tall
willows which belt the stream, extending (except perhaps in Sauce
Blanco) nowhere more than a couple of hundred yards from the bank. The
plains stretching on either bank to the chañal and scrub covered deserts
in many places were so closely eaten down by sheep and cattle as to
present the minimum of vegetation, at least in the winter season.

However bare and unpromising the land may seem, such is the fertility of
the soil that wheat may be grown, crop after crop, and year after year,
on the same land. Potatoes attain a very large size and are of excellent
quality, but these are chiefly grown in the islands of the river.

The Government have lately issued orders that all islands belong
inalienably to the State, and all present occupiers are obliged to pay
a small head rent to the authorities, which seems to point at a future
occupation of Choelechel.

Besides potatoes, all other European vegetables and fruit-trees grow
well; tobacco seems to thrive, and vines promise to furnish a staple of
export in the shape of Rio Negro wine. In one of the islands, occupied
by Don Benito Crespo, and leased by him on shares to some Spaniards from
the neighbourhood of Cadiz, a great number of vines have been planted
and large quantities of grapes pressed out yearly. The wine, which is
called 'Chacoli,' has the muscatel flavour and bouquet of Moselle, and
is a thin pure wine, excellent to drink in the warm weather, as it is by
itself not at all strong or heady. I should imagine that it would not
bear exportation, but Don Benito has hopes that his Andalusians will
shortly be able to produce a superior quality. Besides wine, I tasted at
the table of this hospitable gentleman some brandy, the produce of the
same grape: it was of course colourless, of good taste, but any number
of degrees over proof.

A sportsman can always find amusement either in shooting ducks,
partridges, geese, and other wild fowl, or mounting his horse and
chasing ostriches or deer in the abras or openings running far up like
inlets of grass between the scrub-covered promontories of the barranca.
Fish may be caught in the river, chiefly, I believe, the delicious
pejerey[13] or large smelt, and those perch-like fish described as
existing in the rivers of Patagonia.

  [13] Atherinichthys Argentinensis. Cunningham, p. 54.

For guanaco, the pampas near San Blas must be visited, but the valley
and the lagoons formed by backwaters of the river furnish abundance
of black-necked swans, upland geese, red-headed ducks, widgeon, teal,
flamingoes, and roseate spoonbills.

It will be evident that to any active and enterprising young men,
prepared to rough it a little, and possessed of a small sum of ready
money, who wish to invest in land and cultivate, there is much to be
said for and against the Rio Negro as a home. The land may be had at a
reasonable price, and little clearing is required. Implements may be
brought from Buenos Ayres, either in a sailing ship or by the steamer
which is supposed to run monthly, though rather uncertain in its
movements. The climate is pleasant and healthy, and one good season of
harvest would almost repay the outlay on a moderate establishment.

As to the drawbacks to be placed on the contra side, the river is
subject at times to floods, at other times droughts prevail, and, unless
artificial irrigation be resorted to, crops will fail, besides which
occasionally a million of locusts will save the farmer the trouble of
reaping his harvest; the cattle, of which most people keep enough to
supply milk and meat for home consumption, may be run off by Indians;
and last, but not least, the settler may lose his life by the hand of
some felon. But no colony offers a certainty of making a rapid fortune.

The great mistake most English settlers make is going out to a place
with the idea that they are going to make a 'pile' in a year or two and
then return to Europe.

In my opinion the settler should go with the intention of making the
place he has chosen his home: then if successful he can return, but he
should not look forward to it. The Basque population are looked upon in
the Argentine provinces as the best immigrants, as they generally stay
in the country. The Italians, on the contrary, grub away for some years,
starving and pinching, until they have amassed a small sum of money
sufficient to enable them to live at ease in Italy, while English
and all others are looked upon as people to be fleeced if possible.
Sheepfarming in the Rio Negro is, I think, to be avoided, as in other
places in the Argentine provinces. Señor Aguirre told me that he had
lost a large sum of money in this investment, and many of my countrymen
from the Rio de la Plata can sympathise with him.

Two sturdy Scotchmen are at present trying the experiment near Carmen,
and as sheep were at a low price when they commenced, they may succeed.

It is a question in my mind whether larch or araucaria pines would not
thrive along the flats bordering the river; perhaps the climate is too
dry for the latter, but the experiment is almost worth trying for anyone
possessed of means and inclination to take up his abode for a term of
years in the Rio Negro. For my own part, were I a settler, I should
be induced to confine my efforts to the cultivation of the vine, and
perhaps tobacco, keeping of course the necessary stock of animals for
home consumption.

It must be clearly understood that I am not recommending or interested
in the Rio Negro as a place to which intending emigrants should direct
their thoughts; it undoubtedly possesses great natural advantages, which
are, as yet, insufficiently developed by most of the colonists. Their
estancias, with the exception of those of my Scotch and English friends,
are generally small, miserable-looking tenements, with offal scattered
round the ill-kept corral; and their agriculture is as indifferent
as the neglected appearance of the houses would suggest. But for all
that, there is not a really poor man--except in consequence of his own
laziness or drunken habits--in Carmen and its vicinity, and labour is
in great demand at high wages, while living is cheap, which experience,
since my return, has taught me to be a painful contrast to the state of
our own population at home.

I was recalled from Rincon Barrancas and my speculations on the Rio
Negro as a field for emigrants by the distant view of Indians, espied
from the lookout on the top of my host's house, as they descended from
the travesia, and hastened back to the town to receive them, according
to promise. It will be remembered that on my arrival as chasqui I
presented to Señor Murga my despatches, in which Casimiro detailed his
arrangements for the protection of Patagones. A list of the chiefs
to whom rations or gifts of cattle, horses, &c., were due, was also
enclosed, and a request that a hundred mares should be sent out at once
with the returning messengers. After some days' delay I was sent for
by Señor Murga, who, it may be here remarked, is reputed to thoroughly
understand the Indians, and to display considerable address in managing
them. It was amusing to observe the natural suspicion and perplexity
aroused in the mind of the Commandante concerning my position among the
Indians; and my reply to his question as to what rank and influence I
possessed among them, and how I was interested for them--that I was
simply a guest and friend--did not seem at all sufficient to explain
matters. But he discussed the question of the chiefs and their requests,
and assured me that all the chiefs who should be found to be entitled
to rations should duly receive them: he, however, absolutely refused to
send out any mares, declaring that Casimiro should receive all his dues
when he arrived.

As the grand Cacique had for several years not drawn his annual
allowance, amounting to 200 cows, 100 mares, 500 sheep, and a quantity
of clothes and yerba, it can be well imagined that with fair play and
prudence he would, on this visit, become a wealthy as well as powerful
Cacique, as a reward for his labours. At his previous visit he had
left a quantity of cattle and sheep, under charge of some of the Tame
Indians, to increase and multiply; but alas! on his arrival, in reply to
his inquiries, only one small flock of sheep was forthcoming, the rest,
instead of multiplying, having been gambled away by their guardians. The
liberality of the Argentines and the largeness of the gifts may appear
surprising; and indeed the nominal value, as charged to the Government
for these annual gifts to the Indians, is very great. I saw myself 1,000
head of cattle pass on their way to Rouque, and Cheoeque was expecting
1,200. The cattle were brought down from the Tandil by purveyors, whose
business must be as lucrative as that of American army contractors;
for the Indians are sometimes when sober, or oftener when intoxicated,
induced to part with their newly-acquired possessions for a mere trifle,
and the cattle, reverting to the dealer's hands, thus do duty over again
as a ration perhaps to the same Cacique. Thus the Indians benefit but
little, while the Government pays a large amount and the purveyors and
other agents grow rich, Indians and Government being esteemed apparently
as lawful and natural pigeons, to be plucked by any safe means.

The Commandante's reply had been duly forwarded to Casimiro, together
with some liquor and presents for my friends; and the morning following
my return from the country I was awoke early by a knock at the door, and
on opening it found five or six Tehuelches who had made their way over
the river to my quarters. After giving them a matè we all proceeded to
the store, and I gave one or two some small presents. Among these first
arrivals was my friend Jackechan, the Cacique from the Chupat, who
confided to me that he had been very drunk the night before. The
Tehuelches had not, however, waited till they reached the settlements
for an opportunity of abandoning themselves to the pernicious enjoyment
of 'lum.' It soon came out that their delay at Valchita had been
necessitated by a prolonged debauch on liquor procured from the Guardia.
Casimiro had of course set the example, and the drink had, as usual,
also led to quarrelling, which resulted in a general fight; several had
been killed, including Cayuke, so often mentioned as a staunch friend;
and I was greatly grieved at being unable to get any accurate tidings of
my Herculean comrade the good-natured Wáki, who had, beyond doubt, been
killed at the same time.

Such common occurrences were little regarded by my visitors, all of
whom were caciquillos, and whom I presently dismissed rejoicing, with a
promise to visit them on the south side in the evening. But my troubles
had only just commenced. All day long Tehuelches kept arriving, and not
knowing what to do with themselves, followed me about wherever I went,
much to the amusement of some of my acquaintances.

In the evening I crossed to the other side, and remained for the night
with my old hosts. All were in a great state of delight, as their
rations were to be given them without delay--the yerba, sugar, and
spirits from Aguirre's stores, and the cattle and mares from the Guardia
in front of Sauce Blanco. Old Orkeke, who had not expected to receive
rations, had been allowed, in consequence of my urging his claims, the
same as other minor chiefs, and was consequently in high delight.

They were, on the other hand, very dissatisfied at the extremely low
prices which their feathers and peltries had realised, and abused
the dealers very roundly as a lot of rogues. False weights and other
tricks of trade had been freely employed to cheat the Indians; and the
storekeepers also charged exorbitantly for necessaries supplied to
them. Their custom is to bivouac in the yards or corrals at the back of
the stores, where they light fires and cook as in their own country, and
pay in the end as dearly for their accommodation as if in a West End
hotel. I delighted the heart of Mrs. Orkeke by presenting her with
a long-promised iron pot and a shawl; and to Hinchel's son I gave a
promised pack of cards, and to the children raisins, sweets, or bread.

Jackechan's wife and daughter, who had always shown me great kindness, I
took into the store, and told them to choose whatever they fancied most;
whereupon they both, without hesitation, selected two small bottles of
scent to put on their hair. I must remark, _en passant_, that all this
family were exceptionally clean in their habits and persons, and I
promised, if I returned to Patagonia, to travel in their toldo, as I
had then some idea of journeying by the sea-coast to the Chupat, and
perhaps to Santa Cruz. Jackechan's son--the boy with light hair and
complexion--volunteered to come to England with me, and I consented to
take him; but on hearing that there were no ostriches or guanaco where
we were going, he thought better of it.

Some of Quintuhual's and Foyel's people also arrived, but behaved
themselves in a very different manner to the Tehuelches. Their women and
children had all been left in Geylum, and the men walked about in a very
independent manner, with a proud, superior bearing, not condescending to
admire anything, or to ask for any presents. One of them, on the boatman
requesting his fare for bringing him across the river, refused flatly,
and then drew his revolver to enforce his denial.

Last, but not least, as became so great a personage, Casimiro arrived,
attended by Meña, who acted as secretary. His costume had suffered
considerably from his late pursuits, and his appearance was by no means
improved by a gash in his face received from a Manzanero in a brawl at
Sauce Blanco. He installed himself in the hotel, hired the fifes and
drums of the garrison to play whilst he was at breakfast, and for two
days kept open house for all comers, ending the day in an advanced state
of intoxication.

At the end of this debauch a bill was handed to him which, I should
think, took the value of nearly half his rations. This sobered him, and
he, taking my advice, left the hotel, and crossing the river proceeded
to Sauce Blanco to look after his rations and Indians. On the whole, the
Indians behaved very well whilst in the settlement. I saw, of course,
some drunkenness, but not nearly so much as I had expected. One and all
parted from me with most cordial farewells, and pressed me to return to
the Pampa, as they call it, as soon as possible. Jackechan was one of
the last to leave. He, as well as one or two of the others, had found an
old acquaintance in Mr. Humphreys, formerly of the Chupat colony, but
now settled in Patagones as carpenter. We all met in Mr. Humphreys's
house one Sunday after church, and had a long talk relative to this
Chupat settlement, and to the answer received to my letter brought by
Jackechan's chasqui. The statement in it that the settlers had no stores
of any sort, and that of the Indian messenger that they were almost
destitute of clothing, have been fully corroborated by the despatches of
Commander Dennistoun, H.M.S. Cracker, published whilst these pages were
being written. Mr. Humphreys considered himself and the few companions
who had accompanied him to the Rio Negro fortunate in having left
when they did; and all agreed that the colonists would do better if
transferred to the Rio Negro, where those who were skilled in trades
would be able to live in comparative ease, and the mere labourers find
plenty of work, and be able at any rate to maintain themselves. I cannot
but record my astonishment that Mr. Lewis Jones--who, although I am not
personally acquainted with him, must, from the report given me by the
Indians, be a man of no ordinary understanding--should endeavour to
maintain the colony in a place which had formerly been tried by others
and abandoned as hopeless, the distance of the harbour--thirty miles
off--alone being a certain obstacle to its prosperity.

The visionary scheme of a Welsh Utopia, in pursuit of which these
unfortunate emigrants settled themselves, ought not to be encouraged,
likely as it is to end in the starvation of the victims to it. Had it
not been for the charity of the Argentine Government, this must have
been their fate ere now. Jackechan described to me that he had seen the
settlers 'eating grass,' and had taught some of them how to hunt and
furnished them with bolas. The Blue Book just published confirms the
truth of this statement, and perhaps renders it needless for me to go
more into the subject; but I must add that, though at that time friendly
and well-disposed, this chief considered the settlers as intruders on
his territory, and avowed his intention of demanding payment at a future
time--a refusal of rent being in such a case sure to be followed by a
very summary process of cattle driving and eviction.

The Rio Negro, with all its drawbacks of Indians, locusts, floods, and
droughts, is certainly infinitely superior to the Chupat. If the Welsh
wish to live as a separate community, I am sure that Señor Aguirre will
only be too happy to let them settle on his tract of land between the
Upper and Second Guardia, where already some of their countrymen--Messrs.
Williams and Owen--have taken land.

After the Indians had left, I gave myself over to the enjoyments of
social life in Patagones, which did not prove sufficient to reconcile me
to the delay consequent on the non-arrival of the steamer. My days were
spent in walking about, playing billiards, and taking matè; and a visit
in the evening to Don Domingo's, where a party were in the habit of
meeting to play 'truco' for sweetmeats. Sometimes we varied this by
calling on some of the fair señoritas, or spending the evening at the
house of Mr. Davis, the engineer of the Choelechel, in the company of
his amiable señora. All the young ladies agreed that Patagones was very
'triste,' especially those who had been to Buenos Ayres, and had enjoyed
the delights of the opera and bands of music in the Plaza.

On Sundays, after mass and service in the mission station, attended by
all the English, a race would sometimes take place, or, in default,
there would be sure to be a cock fight held on the south side; at
either of which Commandante Murga invariably attended. There was also a
fives court, where some Basques or natives were generally to be found
playing. Once or twice I accompanied Dr. Humble--not, however, on
Sunday--in a pull on the river. Every day we looked out anxiously
for the steamer, which had been so long overdue as to make it appear
probable that she had met with an accident. Tired of the delay, I had
just negotiated my passage in a Dutch schooner laden with grain for
Buenos Ayres, when one evening the steamer arrived, having been delayed
in Bahia Blanca.

In the morning I was agreeably surprised by the size of the steamer,
formerly the Montauk, of Boston, but rechristened the Patagones, and
owned by Messrs. Aguirre and Murga. She was pretty well fitted up as
regards accommodation, but all the decks, cabins, and every part of her
presented a very dirty appearance.

After two days' stay she hoisted the blue peter, and, having taken my
passage, together with Messrs. Fraser and Kincaid, who were going to
Buenos Ayres on business, and Mr. Gibb, who was on his return to Europe,
repaired on board, where we found a considerable number of passengers
assembled; the distinguished billiard-marker who had annexed the clock
amongst the number. About 4 P.M. we weighed, and, bidding adieu to
Patagones, started down the river with the ebb tide, intending to anchor
for the night in the Boca and cross the long line of sandbank, which
forms a dangerous bar, with the morning tide. We steamed along smoothly
enough until just well within sight of the ships lying in the Boca,
when a sudden concussion announced that she was ashore on a sandbank,
where she stuck hard and fast. We thought little of the misadventure,
expecting to be off at high tide, and some of us went on shore and
pic-nicked on the flats bordering the river. We returned about ten, and
about midnight I was woke up by hearing one of the funnel guys snap,
and, going on deck, found that, though the bow of the ship was high
out of the water, the stern was in deep water, and the ship severely
straining amidships in consequence. A few minutes after the main steam
pipe broke: the steam had, however, luckily been turned off, or the
consequences would have been disastrous to those in the after part of
the ship. The ladies were then landed, for fear of accidents, and the
remainder of us held a consultation as to how we should get to Buenos
Ayres, and ultimately went to sleep on it.

The following morning the Choelechel came down and succeeded in towing
the vessel off, and the Dutch captain of the schooner came on board and
agreed to take me and some others on to Buenos Ayres. We accordingly
jumped into a boat, and proceeding down to the Boca, got on board the
schooner, hoping to sail the next day; but were again doomed to be
disappointed.

The captain went up to buy provisions, and did not return till late the
following evening. Meantime the wind set in foul in the morning, and
the line of roaring white breakers on the bar showed the impossibility
of sailing; so we were compelled to wait, looking out on the dreary
sand-dunes which narrowed the entrance to the river on either side.

Some of us went on shore to visit the pilot station, and had a talk with
the pilot, a brave old German or Dutchman. This veteran and his men
had successfully defended his station against a large force of Indians
in the raid of Lenquetrou. The enemy desired to get possession of a
howitzer which is kept in the station, and the Indians rushed actually
up to the enclosure, while the men fired on them almost muzzle to their
breasts, at last succeeding in beating them off with immense loss.

The boat's crew consisted of men of all nations. I got into conversation
with one, at first in Spanish, then in English. After lending me his
pipe, he looked hard at me and said, 'I know you: I am Pat Sweeny, and
ran away from the Sheldrake. What ship did you run away from?' I was not
dressed in my best clothes, and looked doubtless weather beaten enough;
but I recognised my friend, though he failed to remember me, and was not
enlightened as to my identity. Several weary days were spent in drinking
schnapps, and ineffectually trying to catch fish, when at last a
fair breeze sprang up, which speedily wafted us out of sight of the
Patagonian shores, and after a boisterous passage of six days the anchor
was dropped off Buenos Ayres.



APPENDIX A.


_A partial Vocabulary of the Tsoneca Language, as spoken by the Northern
Tehuelches._

  ENGLISH.                                AHONICANKA, OR TSONECA.

  I _or_ mine                             ya
  you _or_ yours                          ma
  his _or_ hers                           ti
  this one _or_ he                        win
  who                                     hem
  here                                    nanik
  there                                   mawoori _or_ mawook _or_ mon
  where                                   kinik
  when                                    kenoesh
  what                                    ket
  how                                     ----
  how much _or_ many                      kinkein kerum
  above                                   eok
  below                                   penk _or_ _wumka_
  immediately                             marso
  to-morrow                               nush
  yesterday                               nush
  day after to-morrow                     eounnush
  quickly                                 gemmo
  jealous                                 ynaien
  foolish                                 chops
  quick                                   sourno
  good                                    ketz
  pretty                                  coquet
  bad                                     terosh
  ill                                     hammersh
  hot                                     yporsk
  cold                                    kekoosh
  big                                     chaish
  little                                  talenque
  light                                   höppen
  heavy                                   pogelsh
  like                                    nourks
  far                                     éouns
  near                                    ekel
  similar                                 wáks
  tired                                   wotysk
  hungry                                  pashlik
  difficult                               wickemi
  hard                                    chornk
  soft                                    kattṅ
  ready                                   kush
  yes                                     ahon (_very guttural_)
  no                                      kompsh
  man (_Indian_)                          ahonican
  man (_Christian_)                       háchish
  people (_Indian_)                       tchonik
  woman (_married_)                       karken
  father                                  yank
  mother                                  yanna
  wife                                    ysher
  son                                     ykallum
  brother                                 yten
  sister                                  ystshen
  children                                coquetra
  friend _or_ companion                   gennow
  head                                    kittar
  eyes                                    ötl
  nose                                    tchal
  tongue                                  tal
  lips                                    chum
  teeth                                   oër
  hands                                   tsicc'r
  legs                                    noa
  feet                                    shankence
  toldo _or_ house                        kou
  poles for ditto                         hö
  hides, ditto                            wummum
  thongs                                  cowan
  mantle                                  kai
  fillet for hair                         kotchi
  boots                                   tsuccre
  clothes                                 kakewit
  hat                                     kor
  bolas (_three balls_)                   yatschiko
  bolas (_two balls_)                     chume
  sinews                                  katz
  lazo                                    laso
  knife                                   paiken
  gun                                     gilwum
  revolver                                gilwinikush
  powder                                  tchampum
  caps                                    kun
  lance                                   waike
  pot (_for cooking_)                     askem
  bottle                                  oëtre
  barrel                                  barr
  (bodkin) needle, _or_ nail              hüllen
  bag                                     hüll
  pipe                                    aniwee _or_ conganou
  tobacco                                 golk
  saddle                                  tusk
  bridle                                  hum
  bit                                     kankion
  stirrups                                keshon
  spurs                                   wateren
  girth                                   genig
  straps for securing horses' legs        kaligi
  whip                                    wakenem
  belt                                    wáti
  sun (_or_ a day)                        gengenko
  moon (_or_ a month)                     showan
  stars                                   ááskren
  a year                                  tsor
  fire                                    yaik
  water                                   léy
  snow                                    gél
  wind                                    hoshen
  rain                                    téwa
  smoke                                   p´āān
  clouds                                  páwall
  night                                   queyomen
  wood                                    kaki
  hill                                    yorri
  place                                   haik
  land _or_ country                       yerroen
  river                                   koona
  road                                    nooma
  poncho                                  lecho
  meat                                    yipper
  stones                                  kátch
  rocks                                   air
  grass _or_ pasture                      kor _or_ oet
  broth _or_ tea                          áásleish
  horse                                   ewoe _or_ cawall
  cattle                                  choi
  sheep                                   cámpān
  large deer                              shóen
  guanaco                                 rou
  ostrich (_or_ rhea)                     mikkeoush
  puma                                    gol
  fox                                     paltṅ
  skunk                                   wickster
  armadillo                               áno
  hare                                    pȧȧhi
  fowls                                   peyou
  fawn _or_ colt                          kooroo
  skins                                   wummun
  gold                                    wínki
  eggs                                    ȯȯm
  bones                                   kotsh
  marrow                                  tcham
  grease                                  am
  a chief                                 gounok
  fish                                    ȯin
  marriage                                coyenk
  wild potatoes                           appely
  sleep                                   shensk
  a file                                  kikeriki
  council                                 aix
  ill                                     hammersh
  ship                                    youlel
  gum _or_ rosin                          maki
  cards                                   bersen
  sit down                                pespesh
  catch                                   korigi
  to be tired                             ywotisk
  I go                                    yschengs
  he goes                                 wansk
  he has                                  hell
  give me                                 moyout
  lend me                                 mon
  write                                   ȧākren
  buy                                     amili
  change                                  quewarien
  I am tired                              wotyskiya
  I am hungry                             pashlik ya
  I am sleepy                             yshensk
  to kill                                 ymuck
  to fight                                ywowesk
  to sing                                 yworrish
  I like                                  yshorske ya
  to mount on horseback                   amcotts _or_ oin
  to race                                 káttern
  to send messenger                       wickeni coëto
  to talk                                 ayensh
  I understand                            ya omkes
  I do not understand                     ytonkes
  come along                              heroschengs
  to hunt                                 aoukem
  to speak                                kinscott
  to do a thing                           micheten
  make                                    máki
  to work                                 tirsk
  to light                                kaime
  to fill                                 meshawr
  to eat                                  shehattu
  march                                   wéen
  to break                                charsk
  to play                                 nayensh

  EXCLAMATIONS.

  of surprise                             wati, wati, wati
  of anger                                worrioo-wálloo
  curse it                                nourenk y sé
  on erring with the bolas                wow
  on catching an animal or in fighting    kow

  COLOURS.

  black                                   chorlo
  white                                   golwin
  yellow                                  waieken
  green                                   arkum
  red                                     kāōpen
  blue                                    kaliken
  brown _or_ bay                          soorsh
  piebald                                 hogel

  NUMERALS.

  one                                     chuche
  two                                     houke
  three                                   aäs
  four                                    carge
  five                                    ktsin
  six                                     winikush
  seven                                   ouk
  eight                                   winicarge
  nine                                    humanakoutsen
  ten                                     kake
  eleven                                  chuche kor
  twelve                                  houke kor
  thirteen                                aas kor
              kor added up to twenty
  twenty                                  wommenikukikor
  thirty                                  aasenikaki
  forty                                   cargekaki
  fifty                                   ktsinkaki
  a hundred                               patack
  a thousand                              huaranca


SOME SENTENCES.

  ENGLISH.                                AHONICANKA, OR TSONECA.

  Thank you                               Nouremi naki
  Lend me the pipe                        Mon aniwee--aniwee moyout
  Catch my horse                          Korigi ya
  Come along, friend                      Heroschengs gennow
  Will you come out hunting? (_Lit._      Heros aoukemshaw kinscott ya
    Come out hunting, tell me.)
  The people are fighting                 Ywowishk chonik
  How many are killed?                    Kinkeinkerum ymuck
  Where are you going?                    Kinek nis chengs
  Cook some meat; I am hungry             Herósh yipper wummi pashlik ya
  I understand Indian                     Omkes Ahonicanka
  I like your wife                        Ma yshorsks ysher
  What do you want?                       Keterum karn?
  It rains much to-day                    Chaiske nush que tewa
  We are going to see many people         Wushkaeye seonk chonik
  We are going to see another country     Wushkaeye kaiok yerroen
  Come here quickly                       Gommo heout witka
  What do you buy?                        Ket, m amli.



APPENDIX B.


_Testimony of successive Voyagers to the Stature of the Patagonians._

   A.D.
  1520. _Pigafetta_            The least, taller than the tallest men in
                                 Castille.

  1578. _Drake_                Not taller than some Englishmen.

  1591. _Knyvet_               Fifteen or sixteen spans high.

  1598. _Van Noort_            Natives of tall stature.

  1615. _Schouten_             Human skeletons 10 or 11 feet long.

  1669. _Narborough_           Mr. Wood was taller than any of them.

  1750. _Falkner_              A cacique 7 feet and some inches high.

  1764. _Byron_                A chief about 7 feet high, and few of the
                                 others shorter.

  1766. _Wallis_               Measured some of the tallest: one was
                                 6 feet 7 inches, several 6 feet 5 inches;
                                 the average height was between 5 feet
                                 10 inches and 6 feet.

  1783. _Viedma_               Generally 6 feet high.

  1829. _D'Orbigny_            Never found any exceeding 5 feet 11 inches;
                                 average height 5 feet 4 inches.

  1833. _Fitzroy and Darwin_   Tallest average of any people; average
                                 height 6 feet, some taller and a few
                                 shorter.

  1867-8. _Cunningham_         Rarely less than 5 feet 11 inches in
                                 height, and often exceeding 6 feet by
                                 a few inches. One measured 6 feet
                                 10 inches.



  LONDON: PRINTED BY
  SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
  AND PARLIAMENT STREET



[Illustration: MAP OF PATAGONIA]



       *       *       *       *       *



                                           Albemarle Street, London,
                                               _February, 1871_.


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