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Title: Lost in the Wilds of Brazil
Author: Foster, James H.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lost in the Wilds of Brazil" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: _A large wildcat was greedily devouring the remains of
a small deer._]


LOST IN THE WILDS OF BRAZIL

by

JAMES FOSTER



The Saalfield Publishing Company
Akron, Ohio             New York

Copyright, MCMXXXIII
The Saalfield Publishing Company

Printed in the United States of America

      *      *      *      *      *      *

    THE EXPLORATION SERIES
    BY JAMES FOSTER
    LOST IN THE WILDS OF BRAZIL
    CAPTURED BY THE ARABS
    SECRETS OF THE ANDES
    THE FOREST OF MYSTERY

      *      *      *      *      *      *


CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                   PAGE
         I A Startling Discovery                 1
        II Firebugs at Work                     12
       III Valuable Information                 19
        IV The Treacherous Crook                30
         V A Worth-while Offer                  42
        VI Off for the Wilds of Brazil          49
       VII New York-And On                      58
      VIII The Beginning of Trouble             62
        IX A Daring Rescue                      71
         X In the Heart of the Jungle           83
        XI On the Alert                         93
       XII A Fearful Sight                      98
      XIII The Death Struggle                  107
       XIV The Deserted Village                126
        XV Danger at Hand                      122
       XVI A Thrilling Encounter               132
      XVII Terrible Peccaries                  140
     XVIII A Nightmare Experience              150
       XIX The Call for Help                   157
        XX Fighting Against Heavy Odds         165
       XXI Magnificent Country                 174
      XXII Lost in the Wilds of Brazil         180
     XXIII Terrible Cries of Savages           188
      XXIV The Hideous Village                 199
       XXV Reunion at Last                     210
      XXVI The Terrible Battle                 227
     XXVII Human Heads Still Dripping!         232
    XXVIII The Forced Get-away                 238



CHAPTER I

A Startling Discovery


"Look here, Joe. There's something stirring. I know the signs. Our
dads wouldn't keep together constantly, studying maps and reading
books and making frequent trips to the museum, for nothing. It----"

"You're right, Bob. They certainly must have something important in
mind. And I have an idea as to what it is."

"Another expedition into the unknown," cut in Bob Holton, in tones
that implied certainty.

"But where, do you suppose?" asked Joe Lewis, his brown eyes sparkling
with interest.

"More than I know," the other youth replied. "Could be any place. But
wherever it is, I'll bet they've been there before. They just travel
from one end of this little old world to another in search of birds
and reptiles and animals, and they always find them."

"And always will," added Joe with strong conviction. "Why," he went
on, becoming even more absorbed, "do you remember the time they went
to Africa in search of a white rhinoceros?"

"Yes. Looked high and low for several months, and finally got one
after all hopes had been abandoned. Oh, it takes them to do it. Just
let the curator mention the things wanted, and if it's at all
possible, our dads will get them. All specimens are alike to----"

He was interrupted by the sound of footsteps from the side of the
house and turned to see who the person might be. While he is looking
expectantly, it might be well to tell who the boys were, and what had
been their experiences up to the time this story opens.

Bob was a big fellow, strong and muscular, and endowed with the
ability to do the right thing at the right time. He was one of the
star players on the high school football team. Everyone liked him--he
was so straightforward and sympathizing and trustworthy.

Joe was of medium size, with almost black eyes and a naturally dark
complexion. He was lighter and less robust than his friend, but was
possessed of fierce courage and bravery. He never started a thing
without finishing it.

Mr. Holton and Mr. Lewis, fathers of the youths, were noted
naturalists and collectors of specimens for museums and zoos. They had
been nearly everywhere and always welcomed any hint that might start
them on a new trip into the unknown. The two men had met several years
before at a convention of scientists, and took a great liking to each
other. As they both lived in Washington, D. C., they agreed to work
together in behalf of a large museum, and Mr. Lewis made an attempt to
purchase the residence next to that of his friend. He was at last
successful in acquiring it, and then began the warm friendship between
the two youths, Bob and Joe.

The boys were together much of their time and got along excellently,
following in their fathers' footsteps as much as possible by taking
hikes into the woods to study nature. Fresh with the vigor of youth,
they were having a grand time together, but would have had a still
greater one had they been permitted to accompany the men on the
various scientific expeditions.

"You're only freshmen," Mr. Holton had told them, about three years
before. "Wait till you're juniors or seniors, and then perhaps we will
consider taking you along."

Now the boys were in their senior year, or would be when school opened
the coming fall, and were eagerly anticipating the future.

"If they'd only make a trip this summer," said Joe, shortly after
school had closed. "Then we might----"

Let us return to the boys, as they cast glances at the side of the
house. The sound of footsteps grew louder, and the next moment Bob's
father came into view.

"Hello, Dad."

"Hello, Mr. Holton."

The naturalist returned the greetings and then made his way to a porch
seat. Several moments he spent in lighting a cigar. Then he turned to
the youths.

"What's all this praise you've been giving Mr. Lewis and me for our
scientific work?" he asked, trying hard to suppress a smile.

The young men grinned. They had not suspected this.

"You got it right," returned Joe. "You two have done as much for the
museum as anyone else in this old U. S. And that's as straight as a
lion's tail when he's about to charge."

Mr. Holton laughed unbelievingly.

"I know your game," he chuckled. "You're paving the way to accompany
us on that Brazilian trip we're about to take. Right?"

Bob and Joe jumped to their feet in wild excitement. A trip to Brazil!
Think of that! Then their supposition was correct. Something was
stirring after all.

Mr. Holton guessed their thoughts and broke the short period of
suspense.

"It's an expedition to the jungles of the Amazon," he explained, as
the boys seated themselves and listened with breathless interest.
"Going to get specimens of fauna for the museum. In addition, we wish
to make a study of several wild Indian tribes there. It's a trip I've
always wished to take, but, strange to say, I've never had the
opportunity. You boys probably know that this region is one of the
least-known on the face of the globe. It has the world's heaviest
forests, some of the most savage of people, and a wide variety of
birds and beasts."

"Great!" blurted out Joe in a strange, animated tone. "How wonderful
it would be! Away out in the wildest of Brazilian wilds, seeing
strange and astonishing things--things that only a very few have the
opportunity of seeing."

"It's my idea of adventure," declared Bob, taking up where his friend
had left off. "Why can't you arrange to take us with you?"

The scientist eyed the young men intently with an expression of
sympathy.

"Then you want to go that badly?" he asked, and then his eyes fell. He
had been young himself once. How often had he visualized this very
mission! How many times had he tramped through the heavy Western
woods, imagining himself in a great tropical forest, with its
mysteries, thrills, and tragedies! If those longings could only have
been satisfied when they were strongest!

For over a minute Mr. Holton stared thoughtfully at the floor. Then,
with twinkling eyes, he glanced up at the boys.

"What would you give to go with us?" he asked, his face brightening.

"What!" cried Bob, with a look that combined delight with
bewilderment. "You mean that we can go?"

"Not exactly," was the reply. "I just asked you what you'd give to
go."

"Everything!" blurted out Joe. "Everything we've got--and then some.
Oh, do take us, Mr. Holton," he went on more pleadingly. "We're old
enough by now to take care of ourselves."

"I'd like to have you," the naturalist said. "And so would your
father. But your mothers----" Here he stopped. It was unnecessary to
continue. The youths understood.

"But I'm sure they'll consent," Bob said, with a certainty that he was
far from feeling. "Especially if they know you are willing to have
us."

"Of course there's a possibility," the man assured them. "But I
wouldn't be too sure of it. You know how they are. Unwilling to have
their sons take any unnecessary risks. Well, perhaps they're right,"
he went on, tapping the chair thoughtfully. "Perhaps it isn't best to
tax good fortune too much. You boys are young and have a great future
before you. What if anything should happen----"

"But, Dad," Bob pleaded, "nothing will happen. We'd be with you and
Mr. Lewis--and anyone else who would be along. Nothing has happened to
you so far. You've always come back O.K."

"We've had some narrow escapes, though," with a shaking of the head.
"Fever, wild beasts, savages, hurricanes--there's no limit to the
number of tragedies that may befall an expedition into the unknown.
But then," his tones became more lively, "you boys want to go with us
regardless of these dangers, and if I must say so, I believe you'd
make a good showing. I'll talk the matter over with Mr. Lewis and your
mothers and let you know later how things look."

"Fine!" cried Bob, overwhelmed with joy. "Now tell us some more about
this mission. What section of Amazonia do you intend to explore?"

"The lower middle," was the response. "We intend to follow the Amazon
to the Purús River, where we'll branch off and travel by native canoes
for approximately five hundred miles."

Joe gave a long whistle.

"Five hundred miles by canoe!" he gasped, almost unbelievingly. "Seems
almost impossible. How can you take food enough along?"

"Does seem sort of absurd. But we'll manage it. And we expect to live
on game and fish to a certain extent. Everything will have to be timed
to a dot. We won't dare stay any longer than our food supply lasts.
When that begins to get low, back to civilization we'll go."

"How long do you expect to be gone?" Bob asked.

"We--ll, perhaps three or four months. We want to get as much done as
possible. You see," he explained, "as I said before, our stay is
limited to the supply of provisions we have with us. If it were
possible to carry enough, I would like to spend at least six months
there. What a wonderful opportunity to study primitive man in his
everyday life."

"Should think it would be rather dangerous," remarked Joe. "He might
object and study you instead. Headhunters, I mean."

"It's a chance we have to take," was the reply. "But after all, if we
treat them kindly there is little danger. Human nature is much the
same all over the globe."

"I'll trust you to come out all right," Bob said.

"We hope to," the scientist returned. "And we also hope to add
greatly to the world's knowledge of Brazil and its animal
inhabitants."

"At present that isn't very much, is it?" Joe asked.

"You can't exactly say that," Mr. Holton answered, "for a large amount
is known about different sections that have been more or less
frequented by civilized man. But when you refer to the deeper, more
inaccessible regions, then it's different. Of course there have been
numerous expeditions sent out to explore these unknown sections, but
even now there is a large and interesting field open to the
scientist."

"Well," said Bob, after a short silence, "I only hope that Joe and I
may go with you."

"We'll see about it," his father replied. "But I can assure you that
consent from your mothers will not come without considerable---- Well!
Look who's here. Come on the porch and sit down, Ben." He referred to
Joe's father, Mr. Lewis, who, as usual, was to be his intimate
companion during their stay in Brazil.

Mr. Lewis was a man of medium height, with sparkling blue eyes and a
complexion that was extremely bronzed.

"Hello, friends," he greeted, seating himself and wiping the
perspiration from his brow. "I suppose," he said to Mr. Holton,
"you've been telling the boys about our coming expedition to South
America. Right?"

"Right!" echoed Bob. "And not only that, but Joe and I are going with
you."

"What's that!" Mr. Lewis cried in surprise.

"Yes," Bob's father returned, "they've put in their request to be a
part of the expedition. What do you think of it?"

"Well--a--I hardly know. How do you think their mothers will look at
it?"

Mr. Holton shook his head.

"Impossible to say," he answered. "But we can all guess. Still, if we
see fit to take the boys along, we can put the matter before them.
They may consent after considerable pleading."

"Hurrah!" cried Joe, in tones of gratitude. "And I'm sure----"

He stopped suddenly and sniffed the air sharply.

"There's something burning," he said quietly, and then moved around
the house.

The next instant he was back, pale-faced and panic-stricken.

"Our garage is on fire!" he cried. "It's all ablaze!"



CHAPTER II

Firebugs at Work!


At Joe's ominous words, Mr. Lewis leaped to his feet.

"Come on," he said in wild excitement. "We can't get there any too
quickly, for not only are the cars in danger but a satchel of valuable
papers as well."

"Something in connection with our expedition to Brazil?" asked Bob's
father, as he took second place in the race to the garage.

"Yes. They're very important. I should have taken them in the house at
once."

As they turned to look at the scene, a feeling of helplessness crept
over them, for already the blaze had leaped high in the air, and the
crackling sound told that the fire had made considerable headway.

Bob rushed into the house and telephoned the fire department. Then,
with Mrs. Lewis and Joe's sister, he moved back outside, to see that
the structure was blazing even higher.

Meanwhile the others had unlocked the doors and were inside, doing
their best to roll out the cars. But the smoke was so thick that they
were making little headway.

"Quick!" cried Mr. Holton. "Where are the keys, Ben?"

"I don't know. I--I can't seem to find them. Should be in my pocket.
No, guess I left them in the house."

The next instant he was gone, leaving his friends to survey the
situation more carefully.

"It strikes me," remarked Bob thoughtfully, "that if we wait for him
to return with the keys it will be too late."

"But what--how----" Mr. Holton stammered, but was interrupted by his
son.

"The only way that I can see is to break the glass in one of the
doors. Then we can get inside to release the emergency brake. How
about it?"

"I'd hate to do that, my boy. Yet there seems to be no other way out."

As Bob had stated, it was evident that if they were to wait for the
keys the cars would be badly burned. There was a possibility that the
gasoline tanks might even explode, for at intervals particles of
ignited timber fell from the blazing roof and missed them only a few
inches. Rapidly the flames crept downward. Already they were halfway
down the wall and moving like lightning. There was no time to lose.
Something must be done!

"Come on," Bob urged, entering the garage once more. "We must get
those cars out at any cost."

He looked about for some object with which he could break a glass, but
could see nothing.

"If there was only a board, or even----"

"Here," came from his father, moving on up with a sharp piece of
metal, "let me do it."

There was a crash, a splintering of glass, and the next moment Mr.
Holton was inside. It took but a second to release the parking brake,
and then the car rolled easily out of danger.

"There," panted the naturalist, rubbing his hand over his forehead.
"Now to get to the coupé."

Just then there came the sound of fire bells, and before they had
attended to the other car, several fire trucks pulled up in front of
the house. Their occupants were easily attracted to the scene of the
fire, and they lost no time in hurrying back.

"Quick!" yelled Joe, almost panic-stricken. "Let's get Dad's private
car out. The enamel is already off the left front fender."

Again Mr. Holton made use of the iron pipe, and the remaining
automobile was pushed out just in time to avoid a large section of the
roof that suddenly caved in.

"A narrow escape!" breathed Bob, stopping only for a moment to examine
the finish that had been slightly scorched.

"A very narrow one," returned Joe, as he thought of what would have
happened had the roof fallen on the top.

By now two lines of hose had been attached, and firemen were working
unflinchingly to check the cruel flames which, owing to a strong north
wind, were protruding several yards beyond the roof. Occasionally a
spark would fly over to the house, and this did not in the least
simplify the efforts of the fire fighters.

A large crowd had gathered to view the spectacle and included several
of Bob's and Joe's friends who lived near by.

"Some blaze, eh, fellows?" was the comment made by John Peterman, a
classmate in school.

"The biggest I've seen for an age," put in Tom Rogers, another friend.

"How'd it start?" asked another.

"Beyond us," answered Bob. "Do you have any idea, Joe?"

"No. I'm sure Dad wouldn't have left a cigar stub----"

"Impossible," his chum broke in, "for that blaze started on or near
the roof."

Mr. Lewis had now joined the others, and his delight was beyond words
when he saw that the cars had been removed in time to avert disaster.

"I kept thinking that I could find the key," he said. "I finally did,
but not in time to save them."

Gradually the flames were diminishing, and if the firemen kept up the
good work it promised to be over in a short time.

"Good thing that your garage is quite a distance over," remarked Joe
to his friend. "One is bad enough without having two on fire."

Finally the last blaze was extinguished amid a rousing cheer from the
crowd, and, after closer examination inside, the firemen left the
scene, and the crowd gradually thinned until no one was left but Bob,
Joe, their fathers, and a few neighbors.

"Covered by insurance, isn't it?" inquired Bob of Mr. Lewis, as they
cast a resentful look at the charred beams of the structure that had
once been a fine garage.

"Yes, but this may delay our expedition to Brazil for a week or two
until I can look after the reconstruction of it. That is"--he glanced
at Mr. Holton--"unless your father objects."

"Not in the least," came from that individual. "In fact," he went on,
"that is about the only way out."

Bob and Joe walked into the burned building. All about were
ashes--ashes that had once been the roof of the structure. The
charcoal smell was strong about them.

"Don't know where we'll keep the cars tonight," said Joe, glancing up
through the hole in the roof.

"Guess we can find room in our garage," his friend replied. "We only
have the one car, and it doesn't take up all the room by any means."

"Awfully good of you."

Suddenly Bob uttered an exclamation that brought his friend hurrying
to his side.

"What is it?" Joe asked.

For answer the other youth pointed to a small tin box that was black
from being in the fire. It had hung on the wall behind an old radiator
hood, which had a moment before fallen to the floor.

"What could that be?" Bob Holton asked. "Does it belong to your dad?"

Joe reached up and took it down from its hanger.

"Has a hole in the top. And what's that thing protruding from the
side?"

"Beyond me. Could be a---- Great Scott! Come on. We must get it to
your father at once."

Bewildered, Joe followed his friend to the back door, where the two
men were still conversing.

"What does this mean?" asked Bob coolly, handing the box to Mr. Lewis.

The latter examined it closely for a moment. Then, suddenly grasping
the meaning, he stared at the others.

"Firebugs at work!" he exclaimed, fumbling the box nervously. "Someone
_set_ the garage on fire!"



CHAPTER III

Valuable Information


At the remark Mr. Holton gasped in astonishment.

"Who would it be?" he asked. "Has anyone got anything against you?"

"Not that I know of," Joe's father replied. "Let me think."

He assumed a mood of thoughtful anxiety, and Mr. Holton took the small
box for a closer examination. It was about eight inches square, with a
hole in the top out of which protruded a short iron stem. Inside, an
alarm clock was still ticking.

"Hmm! That fire was probably set for ten o'clock," Mr. Holton
murmured, as he noticed that it was now nearly eleven.

"How long ago do you suppose it was set?" inquired Bob.

"Impossible to say," the response came. "It couldn't have been more
than twelve hours ago, however."

Mr. Lewis looked up.

"I can think of several people who could be bad enough to do this," he
said thoughtfully. "But I cannot say which one it would be.

"First I might mention a man who wanted to buy some specimens from me,
but I declined to sell them. He had a sour disposition, and his temper
was thoroughly aroused when, after he had offered large sums of money,
I refused him. Said he'd get even some time."

"What'd he want with them?" Joe asked.

"Wanted to sell them to a well-known museum. You see they were very
rare birds that I got in New Zealand, and he'd have been offered a
large sum for them."

"Could be the very man!" Mr. Holton said. "Who else might have done
it?"

"A rival naturalist," the other returned. "Name is Davis--Thomas T.
Davis. Perhaps you remember, Howard. The fellow with the gold
eyeglasses and scarred face. Said he got it when a tiger sprang at
him. Always----"

"Yes," Mr. Holton interrupted, his eyes bright with sudden
recollection. "The museum employed him awhile, didn't it?"

Joe's father nodded.

"He always had a dislike for me," he went on. "Didn't like it at all
when I headed that expedition to central Asia."

There was a short silence. Then Mr. Lewis made a resolution.

"I'm going to put this matter in the hands of detectives," he said.
"They may be able to figure it out."

"That's the thing to do," Bob agreed. "Seems to me, though, that this
first man you mentioned is responsible. The one who wanted to buy the
specimens from you."

"Could be. But I am very much in doubt as to whether he would do such
a thing."

"Are you certain that there is no one else that has anything against
you?" Mr. Holton questioned.

"No. Not certain. But fairly sure."

Suddenly Bob's face lightened, and he turned to Mr. Lewis.

"Do you know where this man lives? The one who wanted to buy the
specimens from you, I mean."

"Why--yes," Mr. Lewis faltered. "That is, I have it in my memorandum.
What do you want with it?"

"Don't know that it'll be any good at all. But we could inquire of his
neighbors what kind of man he is."

"Good idea. Better let me go, though."

Bob shook his head.

"Joe and I haven't anything else to do," he argued, "and we'll be glad
to do it."

"All right. Come in the house and I'll put his name and address on
paper."

In a short time Mr. Lewis was back with a folded paper, which he
handed to Bob.

"Now use tact in getting your information," he said. "Remember, don't
let the people you inquire of in on the secret."

"We won't," came the response, and after securing permission to use
Mr. Holton's sedan, they left for the man's address.

What would they find? Would the people living near know anything about
this person? Would the youths find that he had moved and, owing to his
criminal record, had told no one of his new location? These questions
were in the minds of Bob and Joe as they went farther toward their
destination.

After a twenty-minute ride they pulled up on a poor cross street near
the city limits and gazed to their left at a small house set back from
the sidewalk. Directly beside it was another house of slightly better
appearance.

"That's the place," pronounced Bob. "Doesn't look like anyone's at
home."

"Let's go to the house next to it," suggested Joe, getting out of the
car. "We'll trust to luck that the occupants are not related to the
man we're after."

The boys made their way to the door and knocked. For over a minute
they waited in silence. Then, as it was evident that there was no one
at home, they turned to leave. But at that moment a small car moved up
to the curb and stopped. Two men got out and started toward the house
where the alleged crook lived. But the second they caught sight of Bob
and Joe they turned back to their car.

"Come on," whispered Bob. "Let's follow them. I have a notion that one
of those fellows is the man we're after."

Joe nodded in agreement.

"Did you notice how strange they acted when they saw us?" he asked.
"Perhaps they thought we were officers that had come to arrest them."

The youths made their way to their automobile and had the motor
started just as the other car whizzed away.

For over ten minutes they followed cautiously, and they were satisfied
that the men had not noticed them. Then at last they turned up a
dilapidated street and stopped in front of a small, weather-beaten
house. Here they left the car and went inside, while Bob and Joe
stopped a square away.

"Let's go up and look around," suggested Joe.

As quietly as possible, the boys walked up to the house.

"Come around to the back," beckoned Joe. "There might be a window."

His supposition proved correct, for they found one before they reached
the back porch. The glass was out and the opening was boarded up
fairly tight, but there were several large cracks.

Cautiously Bob leaned up close and peeped inside. Then he turned to
Joe.

"Four men inside," he whispered. "Two of them are the ones we
followed. Wait! Let's hear what they're saying."

Again he leaned over to the window, this time to listen. Joe squeezed
up close that he might hear also.

"Where do you suppose he is?" one man was saying in a gruff voice.

"Left town, mebbe," another answered. "Just plain slipped out on us,
an' him owin' us a lot of dough."

"The dirty tramp!" a third said with an oath. "We'll get him, don't
you worry. No guy can put anything over on us!"

"He's afraid of the cops, no doubt," the first said. "Maybe---- But
say! Speakin' of cops, we saw a couple of guys at the house next door
to him, and nobody lives there. Haven't for two months. They might
have been detectives."

"He means us," whispered Joe. "We scared them off, I guess."

The man who had been silent now spoke.

"You may be right," he said. "It don't take them detectives long to
get on a guy's trail. If you stick around where you been keepin'
yourself they'll get you sure. That's prob'ly the reason why this guy
ain't home. Give him time. He'll settle with us."

But the first man was impatient.

"We want our dough now!" he bawled. "We was supposed to have it at
noon an' he didn't come. He owes us a good many bucks, and for the
spark machine too. He was supposed to pay for that, you know."

Bob and Joe looked at each other. The spark machine!

"That proves it!" Bob whispered, gritting his teeth. "They're the
fellows that set your dad's garage on fire, all right! We'll make
them----"

"Shhh!"

"But listen, Tim," one of the men was saying, "there ain't any use to
get hot-headed yet. I know this guy pretty well. I've done a lot for
him and he's done a lot for me. He's never backed out on me yet. He's
got plenty of money, even if he is tryin' hard to get more.

"Here's what let's do. Let's give him till tomorrow night, and then if
he don't pay us we can go after him."

"All right." And the agreement was made.

Bob and Joe looked at each other. What were they to do now? They had
secured evidence that these men were the guilty ones. Now would it be
best to report the matter to the police at once, or had they better
wait longer for any further information that the crooks might
unknowingly give them?

"Let's wait a few more minutes," suggested Joe. "They might leave the
house just as we made for our car, and then it would be too bad."

Bob thought this good advice, and he leaned against the house to wait.
Joe remained at the window.

For a minute there was silence inside. Then the man called Tim got up
from his chair and started for the door.

"Where you goin'?" he was asked.

"Over to see if I can't collect that dough," he growled. "Anybody want
ter go with me?"

"What's the use?" one fellow asked. "We was there not more than an
hour ago."

"All right. Leave it to me."

He walked on toward the door.

"Come on," muttered Joe. "Let's get to our car before he gets away."

As hastily, yet as quietly, as possible the youths ran around the
back of the house and through the alley for a distance of about a
square. Then they turned out to the street and to their car.

Joe had the motor started just as the crook left the curb.

"Let's head him off," suggested Bob. "We can easily get there before
he does if we cut across and not take the through street."

"Good idea," and the car was turned up a narrow cross street.

Before long the boys were in the neighborhood of the house occupied by
that man who had indirectly set Mr. Lewis's garage on fire by hiring
criminals experienced in that line to do it.

"Be careful and don't get too close," warned Joe, as they neared the
structure.

"O. K. Let's go around the alley. We can park there for a few minutes
and nobody will know anything about it."

The car was turned into the alley and parked almost directly behind
the house. Then the youths got out to stretch their legs and decide on
a plan of action.

"How will we work it?" asked Joe, glancing around to see if anyone
happened to be watching them.

For a moment there was no answer. Then Bob had an idea.

"Let's walk up to the back door," he said. "There are a lot of trees
and shrubbery close and we can hide behind them until we are sure that
everything is all right."

Joe agreed, and they made their way as quietly as possible.

When close enough, they saw that the door was shut and the blinds were
drawn. It was evident that no one was at home.

Suddenly there came a noise from the front of the house and both boys
concealed themselves behind a large clump of bushes.

"Someone's coming around to the back door," breathed Bob.

"Probably that's Tim who came back here to collect the money owed him.
The fellow we headed off, I mean. Yes, it's he," Joe observed, peeking
down the side of the house.

The sound of footsteps grew louder, and the next minute the man
stepped around the corner, fists clinched and face scowling.

"Come on," said Bob, and leaving his place of hiding he launched
himself with full force on the back of the crook.



CHAPTER IV

The Treacherous Crook


With an oath the man shook Bob off and turned to deal with him.

"You?" he growled in surprise. "You, little more than a kid, would
dare to fight Tim Donnahan? Why, I'll----"

The sentence remained unfinished, for at that moment Bob's fist shot
out with lightning rapidity and caught the man squarely between the
eyes. Without an outcry he went sprawling to the ground and rolled
over.

For a second he remained dazed. Then he recovered himself and regained
his feet.

Summoning all his power he lunged forward, mouth foaming and eyes
glaring with rage.

It was easy to see that Bob was dealing with no weakling. His heaving
chest was in itself a symbol of strength, as were also the powerful
arms and heavy body. But then neither was Bob a weakling, as he had
displayed so many times before. True he did not delight in fighting,
but when called upon he was able to give a good account of himself. If
the truth be known, he had not only won cups and letters in high
school football and basketball, but in boxing as well. Joe was lighter
and less robust, although by no means easy to knock out.

Now, as the young men faced this crook, there was a strong desire to
win in their minds. Here was a chance--perhaps the only one they would
have--to bring these men to justice for their cruel, underhanded way
of getting even with Mr. Lewis for a trivial matter.

They possessed two fears. What if this fellow had a gun with him and
thought nothing of using it? And what if the arch-crook would emerge
from the house?

"If he only stays away," thought Bob, as he cleverly ducked the large
fist that came with all force.

For nearly five minutes the fight kept up, neither of the participants
gaining anything.

Then suddenly the man swung around in an unguarded moment and sent his
fist crashing into Bob's jaw. Taken unawares, the youth went to the
ground, almost unconscious.

Grinning in triumph, the crook was reaching for a revolver when Joe
leaped forward and threw him on his side. The impact hurled the gun
several feet away, and both made for it.

But Bob was there first! He had struggled to his senses while Joe did
his part to prevent calamity.

"Get back!" Bob commanded, flashing the automatic in the man's face.
"It's all over now!"

For a moment the fellow could not believe that the tide had turned. He
stared first at Bob and then at Joe, muttering to himself. Once he
started forward, but, as the gun was pressed in his face, he shrank
back, apparently giving himself over to any fate.

"Get goin'," Joe commanded, advancing a step or two.

The order was obeyed, and they marched out to the alley, where Mr.
Holton's car remained, unmolested.

"Now," said Bob, handing the key to Joe, "I'll get in the back seat
and guard this man, and you get in front and drive us to the police
station."

No conversation was carried on during the trip, for the boys resolved
to take no chances.

"At any minute he might attempt a get-away," thought Joe, as he
increased the speed as much as was consistent with safety.

Through streets and side streets they went, until at last they found
themselves near the city's business district. It was thought best not
to travel on the busy thoroughfares for fear of attracting attention.

After rounding a sharp corner, Joe found it necessary to stop quickly
at a traffic signal.

Directly to the right was a horde of people, gathered to witness a
ceremony of the Salvation Army. There were fully thirty in the crowd,
and shrill notes of a trumpet attracted more spectators constantly.

Suddenly Bob and Joe were taken in total surprise. Their captive
leaned out of the car window and, hailing the crowd of people, cried,
"Help! A hold-up! Help!"

Immediately the people's attention was attracted, and with wonder and
curiosity they rushed toward the screaming man.

The two youths, because of the suddenness of the unexpected
happening, could not immediately master the situation.

The crowd enfolded the car and rushed toward Bob and Joe, against whom
the criminal had directed them.

"Well, of all the rotten experiences!" muttered Bob Holton, as a tall
man grasped him by the arm none too gently. And upon glancing behind
he saw that Joe, too, had been taken a mistaken prisoner.

So their captive had won out after all! Thus it seemed to the boys,
but they clinched their fists, and Bob especially was determined not
to be beaten so easily.

True they might wait and explain matters to the police, and if they
did not believe, perhaps the judge would. But there was too much
chance of losing, even though there was a possibility of winning.

The next instant they saw that it would be impossible to settle later,
for the crook, deciding it best to take advantage of the situation,
opened the door of the car, and with the words, "Arrest these
fellows," he ran down the street, leaving the crowd to stare in
surprise and wonder.

Thinking it useless to explain to the people in time to recapture the
man, Bob suddenly sent his fist crashing into the man who still had
hold of his arm with such force that he went down in a dazed
condition.

For a second the youth was free and, gathering courage, he broke
through the mass of people and dashed down the street in pursuit of
the escaped criminal, who could be seen some two blocks ahead.

"I ought to catch him after awhile," the youth thought, as he noted
that the man was rapidly losing ground.

Several more minutes brought pursuer and pursued to the Potomac River,
and Bob feared that the man might attempt to swim across but was
mistaken.

The youth was now close upon him, and when they came to a small clump
of shrubbery, Bob resolved to end the chase.

"Here goes," he thought, and, exerting himself to the utmost, he
caught up and aimed his foot in the man's path.

With an exclamation of rage the fellow went down head first in a clump
of bushes.

Immediately he was up, and with a hoarse bellow he aimed a blow at his
young enemy's chin. But Bob dodged and with expert quickness sent his
fist smashing into the man's nose.

Stunned, dazed, bewildered at this youth's daring, he again took
flight, Bob at his heels.

Had the revolver not been taken from him by the crowd of people, Bob
would have been tempted to open fire.

Suddenly a man appeared not far away, and Bob called to him for
assistance. The stranger finally grasped the meaning, and not
questioning the cause of the chase, started after the criminal from
another direction.

"We've got him," panted Bob, as he came within an arm's reach. "It's
all over now."

And so it was. With a terrific crack to the chin the youth sent his
enemy to the ground unconscious.

"But what does this all mean?" demanded the stranger who had helped in
the capture.

"He's a criminal," Bob answered. "Set a garage on fire. Tell you later
if you'll give me your name and address. Mine's Bob Holton. I live
at----Wait, here's one of Dad's cards."

The stranger accepted the card and in turn gave his name and address,
but it was evident that he was very much puzzled about the whole
affair.

The criminal's eyes were opening, and he squirmed about uneasily. At
last he seemed fully revived and sat up.

"Where's an officer?" Bob asked, looking about.

"Here," came a shout, and the next moment a policeman stepped up,
looked at the downed captive and then at Bob.

"Take this man to the police station," the youth directed.

"You're certain you've got the goods on him?"

"Yes. I'll come along with you."

Tim Donnahan slowly responded to the officer's command to "rise an'
get goin'," and they started to a police telephone, where a call for a
patrol wagon was to be made.

Meanwhile Joe, who was left behind in the car when Bob made his
escape, had resolved to free himself if it were at all possible. He
saw that it would be impossible to break away as his friend had done,
for the crowd was all the more determined to bring him to justice as a
"hold-up man," which they didn't doubt that he was. So the only thing
left was to do his best to make them believe what he told them.

"I tell you it's a mistake," he pleaded. "This first fellow that got
away is the guilty person. We caught him after he had set fire to my
father's garage. We were taking him to the police station when he
pulled his gag about being held up. You noticed he lost no time in
getting away, didn't you? Would a man who wasn't guilty have done such
a thing?"

His tones were so much in earnest that many of the people were
inclined to believe him.

"He's telling the truth, all right," declared one man, nodding.

Several policemen now came up on motorcycles, and Joe again told his
story.

"My friend is still after the crook down the street," he said, as
finishing words.

"All right," one of the officers replied, as if he believed. "Suppose
we go down the street and investigate. I'll get in the car with you."

Joe, glad of the chance to prove that he had told the truth, did as
directed.

A little farther down they pulled up beside the crowd that had
gathered at the spot where Bob had caught the criminal.

"There they are," pointed out Joe, as he saw his friend, a policeman,
and Tim Donnahan making their way to a telephone.

"Bob did get him," observed Joe, overwhelmed with joy.

The car was stopped beside them, and a short discussion was held.

Bob was asked to tell his story, and the policemen noted that it
exactly coincided with that told by the other boy.

"Looks like a clear case on you," one of the officers said to Tim
Donnahan, but the man remained silent.

"I'll go with you fellows to the garage that burned," the other
officer said to Bob and Joe. "And meanwhile," he went on, "we'll send
police out to get those other crooks you were talking about."

Bob took the wheel, and in less than fifteen minutes they pulled up in
front of Joe's house and got out.

Mr. Lewis and Mr. Holton came out to meet them.

"What's it all about?" the latter asked, as he noted the policeman.

"We've caught the fellows that set fire to Dad's garage," Joe
answered, and then proceeded to tell of their experiences.

When he had finished, the men looked at their sons with intense
admiration and praise. It was evident that the youths had gone beyond
their expectations.

"It was a brave deed!" commended Joe's father, patting them on the
back.

But Bob protested.

"We didn't do much. Catching that fellow wasn't so hard."

"You got the whole gang indirectly," corrected Mr. Lewis. "Now," he
continued, "you fellows are entitled to a reward. What would you like
to have?"

"Nothing," returned Bob. "It wasn't worth much. We came out all right
and had a lot of fun at that."

"I won't have it that way," rejected Mr. Lewis. "You boys must have a
reward for your services, and I'm going to see that you get it. What
would you like?"

There was a short silence. Then Joe's eyes twinkled, and he resolved
to venture a bold question.

"Let us go with you on that trip you're about to take to the wilds of
Brazil," he said quietly.



CHAPTER V

A Worth-while Offer


Both Mr. Lewis and Mr. Holton smiled. It was evident that they had not
expected this.

"That's the only thing that'll satisfy you?" the former asked, his
mind working rapidly.

The young men nodded.

"We'll be careful and do all we can for the good of the expedition,"
said Bob anxiously. "Please arrange to take us along."

There was a period of suspense. Then the men looked at each other.

"What will we say?" Joe's father asked, totally undecided.

Mr. Holton had been mentally debating the subject. Now he was ready
for an answer.

"Let's let them go," he said. "They're as big and strong as we and are
usually equal to any crisis. You see what they did to this gang of
men. Shows they are resourceful, and that's what you have to be in a
strange land where danger lurks at every step. In my opinion they'd be
a valuable asset to the expedition."

The youths looked at Mr. Holton gratefully. They felt that the battle
was nearly half won.

For nearly a minute Mr. Lewis was silent. Then he spoke with decision.

"I think you're right, Howard," he said. "We'll have a talk with their
mothers this afternoon, and I am of the opinion that they'll give
their consent if we go at them right."

"Fine!" cried Bob joyously. "Do your best to win them over. I think
they'll agree to let us go, especially since they have so much faith
in you. But say! You haven't told us who all intend to make up the
expedition. There isn't to be a large number, is there?"

"No," Mr. Holton answered. "We only intended to have three, Mr. Lewis,
an anthropologist, and myself, but if you boys accompany us the number
will, of course, be raised to five. And perhaps," he went on, "that
would be better than to have so few. You see it isn't like an
expedition into Africa, where there are plenty of native carriers to
bear your provisions. We'll have to rely more on our own resources
and be extremely careful that we don't get lost. Several million
square miles of jungle is a wide area to cut into, especially when so
much of it is unexplored."

"Should think it would be great fun," commented Joe, mentally
picturing the many thrills that promised to make the trip interesting.

"It will be," Mr. Holton returned. "But it will also have its dangers.
These are mainly of human character. Why, it is said that there are
tribes of Indians so uncivilized that they think nothing of----"

"Ahem!" Mr. Lewis cut in purposefully.

"What were you going to say?" Joe asked.

"Perhaps I'll tell you some other time," came the reply. "Right now I
think I'll have a look at my firearms. In all probability they need
oiling."

He left for the house, and the others remained for several minutes
longer. Then Mr. Lewis departed also, leaving the youths to
themselves.

"What do you suppose Dad was going to say--about the savages, I mean?"
Bob asked, glancing around to make sure that the men were gone.

"Something that shouldn't go into our young ears," smiled Joe and then
turned to the house.

As he did so he happened to glance out at the street, to see that two
men were making their way up to the house. Each carried a small hand
satchel. That they were strangers Joe guessed at once, although they
might not be to his father and Mr. Holton.

Joe waited until the men were close and then turned to meet them.

"Naturalists by the names of Lewis and Holton," one man said. "Can we
find them here?"

"Yes," Joe replied, wondering what was meant. "Come in the house and
I'll call them."

The strangers did as directed, and Joe went around to find his father
and Mr. Holton.

Bob took a chair on the porch.

Joe found the men cleaning their rifles. Neither could explain who the
strangers were.

"Perhaps they're from the museum," said Bob's father, as he and Mr.
Lewis left for the living room of the Lewis home.

During the discussion Bob and Joe remained on the porch, not wishing
to intrude on the naturalists' private affairs. They were not there
long, however, till Mr. Holton called them in with the others.

"Boys, this is Mr. Weslowe, and this, Mr. Duncan, both of the Neuman
Film Corporation. The young man on my left is Joe Lewis; on my right,
Bob Holton, my son."

After a few casual remarks, Mr. Holton proceeded to tell why the
representatives from the film corporation were there.

"You see, they learned of our proposed expedition into the wilds of
Brazil," he explained, "and they have come to make a business
proposition. Suppose one of you continues," he ended, looking at the
men, "for if these young men are to be a part of the expedition they
should know about this."

"As you know, we are with the Neuman Film Corporation," Mr. Weslowe
explained. "Now this house is always on the lookout for an opportunity
to take motion pictures of little-known places, and here is certainly
an opportunity. Unexplored Brazil! Ah! What a chance!

"The minute Neuman learned of this expedition they lost no time in
sending us out here to make an offer--one that we sincerely trust you
will take up."

He stopped to open his satchel and get out a folded paper. Then he
continued:

"We want you to take motion pictures of Brazil for our company. Will
you do it?"

For a few seconds no one answered. Then Mr. Lewis leaned forward.

"Won't it be difficult?" he asked.

"On the contrary," Mr. Duncan returned. "Very simple. Hardly anything
to it. We'll give you complete instructions and will not hold you
strictly responsible for any lost film. In fact it nearly always
happens that at least several score feet of film are lost on such an
expedition, where wet and damp have so much to do with the success of
the pictures taken."

"Of course," said Mr. Weslowe, "we realize that yours will be an
expedition for the good of science, not to take moving pictures. It is
for this reason that we will willingly place the responsibility, which
isn't very much, in the hands of these young men here--your sons.

"Now this will not mean," he assured them, "that they must put in all
their time for this cause. We only wish several scenes along the
journey. For instance, you might start by taking a movie of Pará, or
whatever other city you first reach. Then several hundred feet may be
used along the mainstream of the Amazon, showing the gradual progress
of the expedition. When you turn onto a less-known river, that's when
we want the real show to start. The country you'll pass through will
be wilder, and the pictures will be more interesting. But once again
let me assure you that the apparatus we'll furnish will be of the
simplest design, and you need not worry about not meeting with success
as far as that goes. And we'll pay you well for your trouble. Here's
the contract. Read it over. See what you think of it."

He passed the paper to Mr. Holton, who shared the reading with Bob,
Joe, and Mr. Lewis.



CHAPTER VI

Off for the Wilds of Brazil


"Well?"

It was Mr. Weslowe's voice after the scientists and their sons had
finished reading the contract.

Mr. Holton nodded.

"It's all right," he declared. "Contains nothing whatever that would
be objectionable."

Mr. Lewis agreed.

"We'll leave the matter to the boys," he said. "They'll be the ones
who will have charge of taking the pictures. And let me say that you
can rely on them."

"You haven't said that we can go yet," remarked Bob. "How about our
mothers? Will they consent?"

"Yes," Mr. Lewis answered. "They finally agreed. We were planning to
make it a surprise later."

"What!" cried Bob, while Joe gasped in astonishment.

"Fine!" blurted out Joe, after he had regained his breath. "We don't
know how to thank you enough. And I'll be more than glad to accept
this offer to take the movies. Bob will, too, I'm sure."

"All right," Mr. Weslowe said. "Here's a pen. You men, as the ones in
charge of the expedition, must sign here."

They did as directed, and then the representatives prepared to depart.

"The film, machine, and other equipment will be here inside of a
week," Mr. Duncan said. "And you'll find it as simple as we
explained."

Then they took their leave.

"A chance to make some money," said Mr. Lewis to the youths, as they
seated themselves on the porch awaiting the evening meal.

"Yes," said Bob. "And I know we'll find it interesting."

"What kind of a camera do you suppose they'll furnish?" Joe asked.

"Probably the small, simple kind that requires no tripod. All you do
is press a button and the film is automatically exposed. But you'll
have to follow the instructions closely or the whole thing will be a
total failure. And to a certain extent, Mr. Holton and I will be held
responsible."

Practically all of the next day was spent in the business district
purchasing various articles to be used on the coming great adventure.
In the evening when they returned home they were satisfied with
everything they had bought. Bob and Joe were especially delighted with
the new rifles that their fathers presented them, for they were of the
very latest design.

"I suppose they'll bring down anything," said Bob, in reference to the
guns.

"Anything but elephants, rhinos, and the like that have extremely
tough hides," his father answered. "You needn't fear them, though, for
we won't come across them in South America."

"What is considered the most dangerous game of that continent?" asked
Joe.

"The jaguar, generally," was the response. "He sometimes attains a
length of nearly six feet and is extremely powerful. He has been known
to attack a mustang, swim with it across a river, and place it in the
thick bushes. Again he has been seen to open fish and heavy turtles
with his powerful claws."

"Poisonous snakes are also dangerous," said Mr. Lewis, "although they
seldom attack a man without first being disturbed."

"There's a remedy for every such bite, isn't there?" inquired Joe.

"Yes. That is, for nearly every one. The strange part of it is that
one antidote may be totally ineffective against one kind of poison,
while it has effect on another. You see there are several types or
classes of venomous reptiles, and each has a different type of poison.
Hence several antidotes have to be carried so as to take no chances."

"Anacondas are not poisonous, are they?" asked Joe.

"No," replied Mr. Holton. "They are constrictors, that kill their
victims by crushing them to death. Another name for them is 'water
boa,' because they are found near a stream or mud hole. You boys
probably know that they are among the world's largest snakes, often
being thirty feet in length and thicker than a man's leg. They are
capable of crushing an ox to death, and often tear up small trees by
the roots."

Joe shuddered.

"I don't think I'd care to meet one of them," he said. "Especially
since I'm not an excellent shot like you and Dad."

"And Bob," added Mr. Lewis. Really Bob was not far behind the
naturalists in marksmanship.

After the preparations for the trip were fully completed, the youths
and their fathers rested, for the coming venture was to be a tiresome
one, and it was wholly unwise to use too much of their energy that was
to be so much needed later.

Meanwhile reconstruction work was being done on Mr. Lewis's garage,
and the workmen promised to have the task completed in three days.

"Won't have to worry about that," Bob assured his chum's father. "You
can just take it easy until the time comes to leave for Brazil."

Mr. Lewis nodded but found out later, as did Mr. Holton, that to rest
was impossible, much as they would have liked to. Frequent trips to
the museum had to be made, visits to various libraries were necessary,
and they found at last that a journey to Baltimore was inevitable. As
might be expected, they were greatly fatigued when, although every
matter was settled, only two days remained before the long mission
into the unknown.

That afternoon Professor Bigelow, a noted anthropologist who was to
be a part of the expedition, arrived at Mr. Holton's home, where he
was to remain until the expedition would leave. He was a rather small
man, with heavy gray hair and a swarthy complexion that the boys
rightly guessed was due to his many missions into strange lands to
study primitive people. He at once took a great liking to the youths,
and together they discussed many strange happenings, which the
professor related in breath-taking tales. He told of adventures in
darkest Africa, where many little-known clans of natives were studied.
He thrilled his listeners with stories of narrow escapes from the
Dyaks of Borneo, of journeys into Ecuador to investigate the savage
head-shrinkers, into India, Mongolia, Venezuela, islands of the South
Seas, and many other strange places. Yes, it was a great life--that
pursued by an anthropologist.

"Two more things I'd like to know," said Bob, the next afternoon.
"First, what food will we take along?"

"That is all arranged," his father replied. "A company in New York
packed our provisions in light tin containers that are airtight and
will float on water. You don't need to worry about our having enough,
for we took into consideration the possibility of a long, unexpected
delay. What's your other question?"

"This: Where do we sail from, New York? And on what ship?"

Mr. Holton gasped in astonishment.

"What!" he cried. "You don't know that yet? I thought we discussed
that matter several days ago."

"If you did, I wasn't there," Bob returned, grinning. "We've been so
busy with preparations that I haven't given it a thought."

"All right, I'll tell you. We sail from New York on the steamer
_Empire_, a vessel of ten thousand tons. It is scheduled to arrive in
Macapá, which is several miles inland on the Amazon, in twelve days.
Fairly good time, considering a stop at the West Indies."

At frequent intervals Mrs. Holton and Mrs. Lewis expressed the desire
for their sons to give up the thought of accompanying the expedition,
but the boys did their best to convince their mothers that, while
there were dangers attached, they were not as numerous as one might
think.

"Come to think of it, you can't blame them, though," said Joe. "We're
rather inexperienced in the art of exploring."

"We'll come through all right," Bob assured him. "Oh! How I wish the
time would pass quicker!"

Despite Bob's desire, the great day of leaving took its time in
coming. But when it did arrive, everyone was in readiness.

"Weather's cool and the sky's clear," observed Joe, as he and Bob
lugged their belongings out to the front porch of Bob's home, where
the members of both households were to gather before the party would
leave.

"Just the right temperature," declared Mr. Holton, who had moved up in
time to hear his son's chum.

The train was to leave for New York at ten o'clock and the party
barely had time to get breakfast and prepare themselves and their
possessions, which, by the way, included the motion-picture cameras
and several thousand feet of film, sent ahead by the Neuman Film
Corporation.

Bob and Joe--and the others to a less degree--had studied the
instructions on how to take motion pictures and felt that it would be
an easy matter to carry them out.

Shortly after breakfast Mrs. Holton and Mrs. Lewis drove the family
cars out in front, and the others carried out their belongings and got
inside.

"The last we'll see of good old Washington for several months to
come," sighed Joe, as he cast a final look at the homes they were
leaving behind.

There were tears in the eyes of Mrs. Lewis and Mrs. Holton as they
gave the youths and their fathers a warm farewell. Professor Bigelow
also took part in the leave-taking, for he was well liked by all.
Bob's smaller brother and Joe's sister gave tender good-byes, and with
one last adieu the adventurers made their way down the platform and to
the New York Limited.



CHAPTER VII

New York--And On


The trip to New York, while interesting, was without incident, and
they were glad to stretch their legs in the Pennsylvania Terminal,
where hundreds of people from all parts of the country were assembled.

"Now what?" asked Joe, after a bountiful lunch.

"Better get to a hotel," replied Mr. Holton, picking up his bags.

The party walked outside and hailed a taxi, the driver of which agreed
to take them to a comfortable hotel near the waterfront.

"An outside room," observed Bob, as he glanced at his ticket and
followed the others to an elevator.

Their sleeping quarters were on the seventeenth floor, where a
wonderful view of lower Manhattan and the waterfront could be had.

"Fairly high, but could be a lot higher," observed Joe, as he gazed
out at the scores of other tall buildings that were grouped about
them.

"The trend is upward," remarked Mr. Lewis. "Imagine how old New York
will look fifty years from now, when there may be buildings two
hundred stories high!"

"Suppose we go down and see how things look from the street,"
suggested Mr. Holton. "Been a long time since we've been here."

The remainder of that day was spent exploring Manhattan Island. They
turned in early in the evening, for they were very tired.

"Tomorrow," said Bob, as he threw himself on the bed, "we'll see
sights for sore eyes."

And they did. The scene at the dock was one of absorbing interest to
all, even as much as the men had witnessed it. Ships from all
countries were anchored in dense rows, their crewmen busy loading and
unloading cargoes. Boxes and bales were being piled in great stacks,
awaiting transfer by motor truck. Passengers and spectators crowded
closely around the sections where passenger liners were anchored.

"Here we are," said Mr. Holton, pointing to a medium-sized ship
between two other smaller boats. "The _Empire_. Looks staunch enough."

The others agreed and then made their way up the gangplank. A
white-clad officer came out to meet them and upon receipt of their
tickets directed them to their staterooms.

"Large and comfortable," commented Bob, as he set down his baggage and
looked about.

"All you could ask for," said Joe, who was to share the room with his
chum.

The youths spent several more minutes in examining the articles
furnished them for the voyage. Then Bob turned toward the door.

"Let's go out on deck," he suggested. "It won't be long until the ship
lifts anchor."

On deck they found everything in readiness for the voyage, and the
scene of action below was interesting to the extreme. Crewmen hurried
back and forth with ropes, boxes, bales, and other objects, intent
upon a purpose. Visitors scurried off the ship and stood by to witness
the leaving.

"Everyone probably wishes he were going with us," said Bob, as the
crowd grudgingly stepped back for the gangplank to be pulled in.

The next instant the long-drawn, deep whistle of the boat sounded,
and with the ringing of gongs the engines started. A streak of foam
arose between the hull and the dock, and the ship started moving.

"Good-bye, America!" shouted Joe, leaning far out over the rail.

"Yes," affirmed Mr. Holton. "It's the last we'll see of good old New
York for many weeks to come."

Mr. Holton, Mr. Lewis, and Professor Bigelow turned and walked to the
other end of the deck. Bob and Joe remained where they were.

Neither of the youths said anything, for they were busy with their
thoughts.

Who knew what perils might befall them before they would again see
that land they so dearly loved?



CHAPTER VIII

The Beginning of Trouble


Bob and Joe found the ocean voyage very interesting, for it was
something new to them. The waves, sea gulls, flying fish, an
occasional shark, the painted horizon, and the ship itself all held
their undivided attention and made them thrill at the fact that they
were living through an experience that only a comparative few had the
opportunity of enjoying.

They spent much of their time on deck, enjoying the never-ending charm
of the ocean. Thus far the weather had remained peaceable enough, and
both boys expressed a desire for it to continue thus. They had never
witnessed a hurricane, but had heard from their fathers of how
destructive a tropical ocean storm could really be.

"The ship looks strong enough to come through safely," remarked Joe,
as he cast eyes about the deck.

"Yes," his friend replied. "She's built on the stoutest possible
lines."

Section by section the youths explored the _Empire_ and were much
impressed by everything they saw. They visited the various passenger
quarters, the bridge, the enormous kitchens, the hold, and last and
most interesting, the engine rooms, where mammoth turbines turned
harmoniously and kept the ship at a smooth, even gait. The vessel
interested them greatly, and while not built on the enormous
proportions of the huge liners that sailed between American and
European ports, it was large enough to keep the youths wondering.

"One of the many man-made wonders," said Bob, as he thought of how
complex the engines were.

One of the things that impressed the boys most was the large supply of
provisions that were taken along. There were literally tons of food,
water, novelties, and other goods stored in great rooms, and every bit
was to be used on this one voyage. Artificial refrigeration kept
perishable food fresh and wholesome.

Early the next day Bob and Joe showed their first signs of
seasickness. They had been standing at the rail watching the rolling
of the waves and were growing rather tired when Joe turned about, his
face pale and of a yellowish color.

"I think I'll go to my berth," he said, his voice unsteady.

"What's the matter? You----"

"It came at last," smiled Mr. Lewis, who had moved up to the youths.
"I seldom knew it to fail. Seasickness is almost sure to be felt on
the first voyage one takes. Bob, I'm betting that before two hours
will have passed you'll be as bad off as Joe. Of course," he went on
in a tone that he tried to keep serious, "let's hope you'll have
better luck, but the chances are against you."

Mr. Lewis's prophecy proved correct. In fact it was less than one hour
later that big Bob, after heroically postponing the dreaded
seasickness as long as he possibly could, turned and went to his berth
to join his stricken comrade.

"Too bad," remarked Mr. Holton, closing the door of the stateroom
after cautiously peeping in. "Perhaps their next voyage--if they take
any more--will be free from unpleasantness."

Throughout the remainder of that day the boys' condition remained
unchanged. If anything, they were worse off than before, and neither
would look at a bite of food of any kind.

"This is terrible," moaned Joe to his father, the professor, and Mr.
Holton, who went in to see how the youths were.

"Cheer up," Mr. Holton said in lively tones. "You can surely stand a
couple of more days."

He was right. It was two days later when the boys began to show signs
of recovery. Then only very slowly did they resume their natural
cheerfulness.

"Too bad we had to miss so much," mourned Bob. "But I'll admit there
wasn't much to see."

"Nothing but water," said Joe and then turned to go into the cabin. As
he did so he happened to glance down at the stern and pointed for Bob
to follow his gaze.

Leaning against the rail were the boys' fathers conversing with an
elderly bearded man, with a uniform that distinguished him as the
ship's captain. He seemed good-natured and humorous, for occasionally
he would cause the men to laugh so hard that they would have to grip
the rail to maintain their balance.

"Come over, boys," Mr. Holton said, glancing up.

They did so.

"This," he continued, "is Captain Crowell, chief officer of the
_Empire_. Captain, this is Joe Lewis, and this, Bob Holton, the young
men we were telling you about. What do you think of them?"

The old officer spent nearly a minute in looking the boys over. Then
he turned to the naturalists.

"Spirited-looking chaps," he grinned. "Look as if they'd like to
deprive Brazil of every bit of animal life in it. Better not let them
have a rifle. The jaguars will all make for cover."

"Roasting us, are you?" retorted Bob.

"No. What creature, no matter how fierce, wouldn't be afraid of two
mates who captured a gang of desperate criminals all by themselves?
You don't need to worry about these fellows," he said to their
fathers. "They'll take care of themselves and you, too, perhaps."

Bob and Joe took a liking to the old seaman and intended to discuss
many problems with him in the future.

"Maybe he can suggest something to do to while the time away," said
Bob the next day, when Captain Crowell was again referred to.

"That reminds me," the other youth blurted out. "There's a swimming
pool in the second deck. Let's go up."

Bob readily agreed, and they were soon floating calmly about.

"We'd better get as much out of this as we can," remarked Joe. "There
won't be a chance to enjoy this sport in Brazilian waters."

"No," put in Bob. "The alligators and piranhas and other dangerous
forms won't give us a chance to even wade."

The youths were not the only ones to invade the swimming pool,
however. As they neared the tropics, and the temperature steadily went
up, people from all over the ship enjoyed its cool retreat, the pool
becoming almost crowded. It was great fun. Nothing to do but just
splash about.

Games also held the boys' attention. Shuffleboard, quoits, deck
tennis, horseshoes, and other activities played an important part in
the daily life, and in times when they desired more quiet
entertainment, the library, with its scores of books of all types,
afforded interesting occupation.

Many leisure hours were spent conversing with Captain Crowell, who
always had a humorous tale to tell. On one occasion, when they had
been at sea nearly a week, Bob and Joe happened upon him standing at
the rail, gazing up at the sky, on his face a worried expression.

"Big storm coming," he said, after the salutation.

"A storm!" cried Joe and then looked upward.

Sure enough, clouds were banking heavily, and the sun was nowhere in
sight. A stiff breeze had arisen, and with this came the smell of
rain.

An officer came up and handed a slip of paper to the captain. He read
it, and then, with a parting word for Bob and Joe, he turned and went
toward the bridge.

The boys looked at each other. Were things going to turn out for the
worse? Surely something serious was wrong, or the captain would never
have acted in such manner.

"Getting darker," Bob said, as he noted that the clouds were joining.

"Won't be long before it'll rain," prophesied Joe, and he was correct,
for it was less than ten minutes later that a heavy drizzle fell,
forcing the chums into the cabin.

There they turned and looked out at the sea, which was rapidly getting
higher. The wind was blowing fiercely, its velocity increasing with
each minute.

"Well, boys, what do you think of it?"

It was Mr. Holton's voice. He and his two companions had moved up to
the glass, as had a number of other people.

"Suppose you answer that question," replied Bob. "You're in a better
position to know than we are."

"I believe we're in for a bad one," was the opinion voiced by
Professor Bigelow. "But how long it will last is hard to say."

Mr. Lewis nodded. "Tropical hurricanes are very uncertain," he said.
"Sometimes they last only a few hours, while at other times they keep
up for two and three days."

The boat was now rocking violently, and many people had difficulty in
keeping their footing. Bob and Joe took chairs that were fastened
securely to the floor. They intended to remain awake all night if the
storm did not subside.

But exhaustion was stronger than their intentions, and finally they
stumbled to their stateroom, ready for a night's rest.

"Storm or no storm, I'm going to turn in," Bob said, and then lost his
footing and went sprawling to the floor, with Joe on top of him. The
ship had suddenly tilted as she struck a mountainous wave.

"Wow!" cried Joe, gripping a water pipe and righting himself. "Better
hold tight from now on or we're likely to get a bad spill."

By almost a miracle the youths undressed. Then they tumbled into their
berths, to go to sleep at once.

About midnight they were awakened by a shrill, long-drawn whistle, and
all the sleep knocked out of them, they were on their feet in an
instant wondering what was meant by that unusual sound in the dark of
the night.



CHAPTER IX

A Daring Rescue


"What is it?" asked Joe, as he hurriedly slipped on his clothing.

"Beyond me," Bob answered. "Come on. Let's go out on deck. We may be
able to find out."

The ship was rocking terribly, and the boys found it difficult to keep
their footing. But they finally managed to catch hold of a rail, and
from then on it was easier.

Several other passengers were up also, intent upon investigating the
strange whistle.

"Maybe the boat's sinking," suggested Joe.

Bob shook his head.

"Probably isn't that. At least let's hope not."

With beating hearts the youths came up to the glass and turned to look
out at the angry sea. Then their expression changed.

A short distance from the _Empire_ was a small fishing schooner, its
prow out of sight in the water. On the stern stood a score or more
men, waving their arms frantically. It was evident that they were
panic-stricken, for several of them occasionally shouted for help. The
little boat tossed about violently on the crest of the mountainous
waves, her front deck gradually fading from view. Every minute it
seemed that the end would come.

"It's sinking fast!" cried Joe. "Why don't some of our crew do
something?"

"They are. Look."

Farther up on the _Empire's_ deck fifteen or twenty men, under the
direction of officers, were busy lowering lifeboats, although it
looked out of reason to let them down on that sea.

Suddenly Bob turned and started toward his berth.

"Where you going?" Joe asked.

"To get the motion-picture camera. Here'll be a good chance to take
some pictures. There's plenty of light around here."

The next moment he was gone, and Joe turned to the deck.

The roar of the storm was deafening, and the wind howled ruefully
through the funnels and masts. It was as though the end of the world
were coming.

In less than five minutes two lifeboats were lowered, four or five men
in each one. Then slowly they made their way toward the doomed
schooner.

Bob now returned with the movie camera and cranked away, delighted to
get an opportunity to film such an unusual happening.

The boys, however, were not the only ones to watch the daring attempt
at rescue. In fact the glass was now crowded with people, and Mr.
Holton, Mr. Lewis, and Professor Bigelow came up and wormed their way
to their companions.

"Most thrilling thing I ever saw!" exclaimed Mr. Holton, as he
breathlessly directed his gaze at the puny boats, which wallowed
heavily and threatened to be swamped at every moment.

On and on went the rescue boats, their occupants bailing furiously.
Now and then they threatened to capsize but always righted themselves.

In what seemed to be a long period of suspense to the spectators, the
_Empire's_ crew reached the fishing schooner, which was now far under
water.

One by one the fishermen climbed into the lifeboats, although it was
necessary to give sharp commands to prevent disorder.

When the last of the men from the doomed boat stepped into the
lifeboats, the officer in charge gave the word, and they started back
to the _Empire_.

The return trip threatened to be more perilous, for the boats were
very low in the water with the added load. Hurriedly the oarsmen set
to work, so that they might be a good distance from the schooner when
it sank, for a whirlpool would be created, meaning certain disaster to
all around it.

Once a giant wave passed over the little boats and they disappeared
from view, amid gasps from the spectators. But the danger was soon
over, and the lifeboats emerged unharmed, the crewmen bailing rapidly.

They were barely at the _Empire's_ side when the schooner sank. With a
last look at the scene of disaster, the fishermen boarded the ship.
They were water-soaked and shivering with cold, but were too glad that
they had been saved from the hungry depths of the sea to make any
complaints.

"They're Portuguese," observed Professor Bigelow, as the fishermen
came nearer.

The men muttered several words of thanks to the _Empire's_ crew, but
it was clear that few understood them. Professor Bigelow, however,
picked up the meaning at once and translated to his companions. Mr.
Holton and Mr. Lewis had a slight knowledge of that language, but
could not keep up with the excited men.

"The captain says it's too bad they had to lose the schooner,"
Professor Bigelow said. "He said they did their best to save it from
going down, but had to give up. They did not intend to be this far at
sea, but the storm gave them no chance of turning back."

In a short time the excitement was over, and most of the passengers
again retired, for the next morning they were to sight the West
Indies.

Bob was overjoyed at the success he had had in taking the movies of
the rescue and knew they would be a hit with the Neuman Film
Corporation. They were the first of any importance that had been taken
on the ship, and, as Joe said, a little action now and then does a lot
to liven up a thing.

The next morning the storm had completely subsided, and true to
schedule the _Empire_ sighted Porto Rico. There was a scramble of
passengers who had reached their destination.

"Probably think they'll be carried on," smiled Bob, as a rather
nervous man fled down the stairs.

At first the shoreline was so dim as to be hardly distinguishable from
the low clouds, but it gradually grew more plain. At last trees and
houses could be made out, and then the skyline of San Juan loomed up
in the distance.

"Looks like a city," remarked Joe.

"It is," his father replied. "Has over eighty-five thousand
inhabitants."

"Will we have time to go ashore?" asked Bob.

"Yes. The ship remains in port for about three hours," Mr. Holton
answered.

As the _Empire_ approached the city, she backed her engines and moved
slowly into port, where a small crowd of people were massed to give
greeting.

Several other boats, large and small, were anchored at the busy docks,
and the _Empire_ steamed in between two freighters, one of which was
being loaded with sugar.

"Sugar is one of the principal exports," explained Professor Bigelow,
as the exploration party prepared to leave the ship on a tour of the
city.

As soon as they were in port, the gangplank was lowered. The
adventurers made their way down, among a score of other passengers,
many of whom were to leave the ship here.

Bob and Joe were at once impressed by the native residents, for there
was a great variety of races. Spaniards were the most numerous, but
there were also Negroes, mulattoes, French, Americans, and a small
sprinkling of Indians.

"Quite a variety," commented Joe. "Though it is possible to see this
very thing in parts of New York."

The explorers found that it would be comparatively easy to walk to
various places of interest, and, after passing the former
governor-general's palace, they resolved to take in as much of the
city as they could in two hours.

They found that the city was built on Morro Island, although the
mainland could be easily reached by the numerous bridges. The streets
were regularly laid out, and in the white quarters the residences were
rather attractive.

"Doesn't look much like America, though," said Joe.

The exploration party reached the _Empire_ with thirty minutes to
spare, and they took chairs on deck to watch the busy dock below.

All too soon the whistle of leaving blew, and visitors scrambled down
the gangplank. Then, with one long blast the ship slowly steamed out
to sea, leaving Porto Rico behind.

At last they were on the final stretch. There would be no more stops
till they reached South America. Then only short stays at Paramaribo
and Cayenne, which were important seaport cities about two hundred
miles apart.

"How long will it be until we again see land?" asked Bob, as he and
the others sat on deck.

"Two days," replied his father. "No doubt that they'll seem like a
long time, too."

And they did. Bob and Joe were no more vexed than the others, however,
for the men were also anxious to get started into the unknown. But
when at last they did sight South America they forgot the past and
looked into the future.

The boys, with their cameras in hand, were the first to reach the
prow. They were closely followed by their fathers and the professor,
who also crowded in for a first view.

At first, land was only a speck far out on the horizon. Then only
gradually did it take on form and color.

"We're nearing Paramaribo," pronounced Mr. Holton, as he made out the
outline of the city.

"What country is it in?" asked Joe.

"Dutch Guiana," the professor answered. "One of the smallest nations
in South America."

The _Empire_ steamed into a port nearly as busy as that of San Juan,
although most of the boats were small.

For a second time the gangplank was lowered, and as the explorers had
a half-hour to spare, they started on a short walking trip of the
city.

"Quite a bit different from San Juan," said Bob, as he noted that many
of the people were native Indians.

The others nodded. None of them had been here before, and they
naturally took a great interest in these unusual surroundings. In fact
Professor Bigelow was the only one who had ever seen South America
before, but this did not lessen his enthusiasm.

The streets were, for the most part, narrow and straight, cutting one
another at right angles. The party was surprised to find the houses
extremely low, hardly any of them exceeding two stories. Some were
built of brick, but most were of cane plastered with mud.

Several minutes were spent in rambling over the various quarters of
the city. Then they went back to the ship, which was now nearly ready
to sail.

"South America is all right to visit," remarked Joe, "but I don't
think I'd care to live here."

The others agreed with him.

"And yet," said Professor Bigelow, "there are a number of cities that
are very well developed. Take Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, for
instance. They are large, clean, and well kept. A street in Buenos
Aires looks very much like a street in the United States."

Soon the _Empire_ was off, having unloaded a large cargo of American
goods. Several passengers also took their leave here.

From then on the scientific party was restless and eager to get
started into the unknown. As one nears his goal, he nearly always
finds it hard to wait through the last few stretches. Bob and Joe
especially were excited, for it was their first adventure. Their
hearts throbbed as they eagerly anticipated the coming days.

That evening they arrived in Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana,
and, as before, took a short trip about the city. It was much the same
as Paramaribo, however, and they were glad to board the _Empire_ again
for the last leg of the long journey.

It was about six hundred miles to Macapá, the _Empire's_ destination,
and the party settled back in anticipation.

Neither of the boys did anything of importance. They were too
enthusiastic over the coming great adventure.

"Let's take it easy on deck," suggested Bob, and they arranged chairs
for all of the party that cared to rest.

"There's nothing like enjoying the spell of the ocean," remarked Mr.
Holton.

A few days later Captain Crowell announced that they were sailing up
the mighty Amazon, and the explorers were thrilled to the bone. The
Amazon! At last one of their strongest ambitions had been fulfilled.
Bob and Joe were overjoyous, for they had had a strong desire to see
this great water system.

"Doesn't look like a river to me," said Joe as he tried in vain to see
the shore.

"Over a hundred miles wide at the delta," said Bob. "It's the greatest
river system in the world."

For several hours they steamed on up the great river, past small
settlements, plantations, and green islands. Occasionally they would
get a glimpse of beautiful wild vegetation, and their hearts would
beat fast. Then, almost without knowing it, they came to Macapá.

There was a fairly good port, and the vessel took her place between
two small river steamers. The long ocean voyage had come to an end.



CHAPTER X

In the Heart of the Jungle


"Now what?" asked Joe, as the party passed on down the gangplank.

"Better get our belongings together first," said Mr. Lewis. "Then we
can make inquiries about the leaving of a boat that'll take us to our
destination."

"But what about finding a place to stay overnight?" asked the
professor.

"You needn't worry about that."

All looked around, to see that Captain Crowell had moved up behind
them.

"I heard what you said," he remarked. "And let me say that you are
welcome to your berths on the _Empire_ until we leave for New York.
That may be tomorrow, or it may be the next day. Go on up and make
yourselves at home."

The party accepted the invitation with warm thanks. Then they moved on
up to the boat.

"Pretty soft," smiled Bob, as they sat on deck. "We might have hunted
for hours before finding rooms."

It was late that night when the party retired, but all slept well and
awoke the next morning ready for any plans that might be made.

After breakfast Mr. Lewis and Mr. Holton left for the dock, where they
would make inquiries about the leaving of a boat for farther upstream.
Bob and Joe followed a road out of town to see the country.

They hiked for perhaps two miles, looking sharply about. Then, as
there was not much new to see, they turned and went back to town,
desirous of finding out what information, if any, their fathers had
gained about the leaving of a boat.

By luck the boys met their fathers in the main street, and there were
smiles on the men's faces.

"Pat us on the back," smiled Mr. Holton, so overjoyed that he could
hardly keep his composure.

"What!" cried Bob. "You've found a boat so soon?"

The naturalists nodded.

"By chance we met the captain of a small freight vessel that happens
to be going up the Purús to Acre, on the Bolivian frontier," said Mr.
Holton. "Sheer luck, I calls it. Any other time it would have been
necessary to wait three or four weeks before finding such an
opportunity. Of course we wouldn't have waited that long, though. We
would have found it necessary to take two boats, one to Manáos, and
one on up the Purús. But the way things are now--" he smiled
broadly--"we're all set for a pleasant voyage, with no stops till we
reach our destination."

"When does the boat leave?" inquired Joe.

"In less than three hours," his father answered. "That means we'll
have to hurry and get packed."

They walked on down the dock to the _Empire_ and found Professor
Bigelow in the library. He looked up smilingly and placed his book
back on the shelf.

"What did you find?" he asked.

Mr. Holton told of obtaining passage on the boat to the Purús, and the
anthropologist was delighted beyond words. The delay was maddening to
him, even though he was able to keep his time occupied.

It did not take the party long to get their possessions together, and
after locating Captain Crowell and thanking him for the use of the
berths, they left for the newly chartered boat, which was anchored
farther down the pier.

"Small but staunch-looking," commented Bob, as they came to it.

"Built on rather speedy lines, too," added Mr. Lewis.

They lugged their baggage up on deck, to be met by the burly captain,
who in his rough attire was a strange contrast to Captain Crowell. He
was good-natured, however, and readily showed the explorers to their
sleeping quarters.

"Hope you have a jolly voyage," he boomed, leaving for the cabin.

"I told you boys wrong when I said we don't stop till we get to our
destination," Mr. Holton corrected himself, as the party started out
to the rail. "The boat stops at Manáos, but only for a couple of
hours. We'll have time to go about the city."

A little later the boat's whistle sounded, and then came the faint
chugging of the engines.

"We're off!" cried Joe excitedly. "Off on the last stretch of our
journey."

Soon the waterfront of Macapá was left behind, and the _Selvas_, for
that was the vessel's name, steamed out to the middle of the mighty
Amazon.

The explorers did not move from deck until one of the crew announced
that the noon meal was ready.

"Wonder what we'll have to eat?" asked Joe, as they went into the
dining room.

"Probably salt pork and a few other dishes of cured food," returned
Mr. Lewis, and he was right.

"It's all right for a change, anyway," said Bob.

The boys spent the remainder of that day in exploring the boat and
were impressed by everything they saw. Aside from the fact that it was
rather old, it was worthy of the great river on which it steamed.

"Let's hear something about Manáos," Bob said to his father that
night. "If we are to see it soon, I'd like to know what to expect."

"It's a wonderful city," Mr. Holton replied. "Large stores, office
buildings, hotels. If what I've heard is correct, we will be
astonished."

And they _were_ astonished. In fact, when they pulled into the busy
port, the boys' eyes almost popped from their heads. Even after
hearing about Manáos from their fathers, they could not believe that
they would find anything like this away out in the heart of the vast
wilderness.

"Has a rather impressive skyline," observed Joe, gazing ahead at the
outlines of the hotels and office buildings.

"Many of the structures are new," put in Professor Bigelow. "The
city's growth has been rather rapid. But now," he went on, "suppose we
get off the boat and take a short trip about town."

The adventurers easily procured a map of the city. Then they boarded a
street car for a ride down the principal business street.

"Modern is right," commented Bob, gazing out at the large buildings,
hotels, theaters, and stores.

They passed many points of interest, including the Theatre of Manáos,
the many parks and gardens, schools and colleges, and monuments and
statues. And to cap all this, they spent several minutes in one of the
most complete museums they had ever been in.

"Truly a great city in the heart of the forest," said Mr. Holton, as
they prepared to board the boat for the continuation of the journey.

They got to the _Selvas_ with barely five minutes to spare. Already
the crew were making ready for the long voyage that was to follow.

Shortly later they were again in the midst of the forest, after having
left Manáos behind.

"I see we're not the only passengers on the boat," said Professor
Bigelow, glancing across at two men who sat near the stern.

"Probably they're rubber gatherers who have a plantation farther
down," was the opinion voiced by Mr. Lewis, and his guess was right,
as they later found out when an acquaintance sprang up between the
Brazilians and the Americans.

That acquaintance was delightful and tended to relieve the monotony of
the trip. The men, Acmio and Piemo by name, took a liking to the
explorers and told of many strange sights of the jungle. They knew
nothing, however, of the region the expedition was going to penetrate.

"I bet we won't find anything, either," said Joe. "No one seems to
have been far in the interior."

At last the _Selvas_ came to the Purús River, and down this it
steamed.

"Considerably narrower than the Amazon," observed Bob. "But at that
it's a good many rods across."

"The Purús is noted for its crooked course," remarked Professor
Bigelow. "The sand bars occur with such regularity that the natives
reckon distances by counting the number of them."

At this time of year the water was rather high, for the rainy season
was barely over.

They steamed on for the greater part of that day before coming to a
settlement, and this was small and crude. They did not stop, although
several men came out to greet them.

As they steamed farther, the river became more crooked. In fact it was
often impossible to see more than three hundred feet ahead. And as
they penetrated deeper into the jungle, vegetation became more dense.
Great clusters of bright-colored flowers lined the banks, tall trees
showed themselves above the other growth, parasitic vines wound
themselves around forest giants. Ferns, high grass, small bushes,
oddly shaped stalks--all these caught the eyes of the explorers.

After a long journey they reached the mouth of the Tapauá, and at a
small town between the two rivers the boat stopped. Here the
adventurers got off.

It seemed strange to set foot on ground out here away from
civilization. Why, it was almost like another world! For some time Bob
and Joe could not realize that they were now in the very heart of the
great Amazon jungle.

The captain of the _Selvas_ had given the party a letter of
recommendation to a Brazilian who would be able to fit them out with
boats and Indian crew. He lived at the edge of the town, and to that
place they went, led by Mr. Holton.

They found the man sitting idly in his thatched house. He was very
tall and slender, but looked to be possessed of great strength.

"You are Senhor del Pereo?" asked Mr. Holton in the native tongue.

"_Sí_," the man replied.

Bob's father took out the letter and handed it to him.

He read carefully for several moments. Then his face lighted.

Sure he would help them. Anyone who was a friend of the captain was a
friend of his. It would be easy to get a boat--or boats, for that
matter--and he knew of several trustworthy Indians who would readily
act as guides. But he knew nothing about the distant country. Few
people did. It was a land of mystery.

Mr. Holton translated to Bob and Joe. Then he again turned to the
Brazilian.

"You will lead us to the boats and guides now?"

"Yes."

They started out, the Brazilian in the van.

He led them around the village to a large native hut, in front of
which sat several semi-naked Indians. They were on their feet in an
instant when they caught sight of Senhor del Pereo, and with friendly
greetings listened to what he had to say.

For several minutes he conversed with them in their native tongue, and
in the end they nodded in acceptance.

"They will go," he said to the explorers. "They will be your guides in
an unknown country."



CHAPTER XI

On the Alert


"Now the next thing is to get boats," said Mr. Holton.

Senhor del Pereo announced that it would be possible to get them at
once, without having to have them constructed, and the explorers were
delighted.

He led them down to the river bank, where two large canoes were
aground. Each was about thirty-five feet long and capable of carrying
a ton and a half of cargo with ease. Mr. Holton and Mr. Lewis were
amazed.

"They are not native canoes," Mr. Lewis said, as he noted the deep,
full lines and high freeboard.

The Brazilian explained that they had been used by a party of British
hunters on the Purús River, and were purchased when the men were
through with them for a small sum.

"Got it all over Indian boats," remarked Bob, glancing farther down at
several that were moored.

The Indians had accompanied them to the boats, and now Senhor del
Pereo introduced the ones who were to be a part of the expedition.
There were six of them--three to attend to each boat. All were large,
strong fellows, capable of any kind of work required by the venture,
and the Brazilian assured the explorers that they could be relied
upon.

After attending to a few more matters with Senhor del Pereo, the party
set about loading their provisions and supplies in one of the boats;
the other was to be used as a storeplace for the specimens they would
collect.

Bob and Joe did a good share of the work. Then occasionally they would
take motion pictures.

When the last box was lifted up, Mr. Holton gave the sign, and, with
parting words with the Brazilian who had done so much for them, they
got in the foremost canoe and were paddled upstream by the crew. At
last they were off for the unknown.

"Now for the fun," smiled Joe, as he cranked the movie camera and
looked expectantly into the green depths of the bordering jungle.

"I suppose you're referring to hunting," said Mr. Lewis. "Well, we'll
do plenty of that a little later. But first we want to penetrate a
large distance from any outposts of civilization."

At the start, the river was rather wide, but it promised to narrow
later.

They glided swiftly on for perhaps three hours. Then Mr. Lewis
suggested that they stop for the noon meal. Meanwhile, the crew could
be resting.

The boats were brought to a stop at a large sand bank, and all climbed
out to stretch their legs after such a long journey in more or less
one position. Bob and Joe felt like running and shouting.

"Like to go in for a swim," said Bob, wiping the perspiration from his
streaming brow.

"So would everyone else," returned Mr. Lewis. "But with the alligators
and piranhas and other dangerous aquatic forms it's absurd even to
think of such a thing."

"Are they this close to the Purús?" asked Joe. "I thought they were
found deeper in the jungle."

Mr. Holton shook his head.

"Piranhas and alligators are very common all through this region," he
said.

Mr. Holton and Mr. Lewis got out a ration of food, while Bob and Joe
attended to minor tasks. Professor Bigelow looked after the plates and
utensils.

In a short time the meal was prepared, and all ate in quiet
contentment. The food tasted good after those three long hours of
constant traveling.

Bob and Joe glanced at the frowning jungle, which was but a short
distance away. It seemed to challenge the explorers to penetrate its
leafy depths, although in many places this was almost impossible.

"Quite a variety of trees," observed Bob, his eye scanning the edge.
"I suppose there are hundreds of different kinds."

"There are," answered Professor Bigelow. "All different kinds, from
mahogany to bacaba palms. Much of the wood is worthlessly soft and
useless, but mahogany and a few others are shipped to all parts of the
world. There would be a much greater amount sent out, though, if it
were all buoyant. The fact that many of the logs are not prevents them
from being floated downstream."

The explorers spent several minutes in the shade of a large tree,
talking and chatting merrily. Then the professor suggested that they
move on, and the others were more than glad to do so.

"You're right," Mr. Lewis told the professor. "We want to cover as
much ground as possible today."

The provisions were packed in the boat. They then boarded, to be
paddled upstream by the Indians.

There was plenty of room to move about, and the youths shifted their
positions frequently. Not because they grew tired of the scenery,
however, for at every yard there was something new to see.
Bright-colored flowers lined the banks, red-leafed bushes were common,
tall palms, grotesque vines, ferns, plants of all kinds that baffled
the boys. Occasionally they would pass dead branches covered with
living orchids. Then again there were trees that themselves had
flowers. Once they came to a tree over fifty feet high with wide,
spreading branches that were covered with yellow blossoms.

Often the river would bend sharply, making necessary utmost caution by
the crew. On one such occasion the explorers were engaged in
conversation when suddenly a loud splash from ahead made them look up.
Then, as they rounded the bend, they saw something that made them jump
to their feet and grasp their rifles.



CHAPTER XII

A Fearful Sight


On the bank not far away were at least fifteen large alligators, their
hideous jaws partly open as they basked in the hot sun. Frequently one
would plunge into the water to cool itself, and then there would be a
terrific splashing about.

As soon as possible, the Indians stopped the boats, and the explorers
viewed the creatures with a terrible awe. Here was their first
encounter with the wild life of Brazil. Here, not far away, were some
of the most terrible reptiles of South America.

For some time the alligators did not seem to notice the human
invaders. Then they one by one crawled off the bank and sank a few
inches beneath the water.

"Evidently don't care for our company," said Joe in a low tone. He had
brought the movie camera to his shoulder and was taking in the
unusual sight.

It was thought best not shoot any of the reptiles for fear of causing
an undue commotion. Then, too, it would prove difficult to get the
victims in the boat with so many others around.

In a short time no traces of the creatures were left, and the Indians
again turned to the paddles.

"Is it safe to go on?" asked Joe.

"Yes," the professor replied. "They probably won't attack the boats.
And if they should they could do little or no damage to the stout
hulls."

For a few seconds he conversed with the Indians. Then the party
resumed the journey, keeping a close watch about.

No more was seen of the alligators, and the explorers again were
quiet. But now they were more anxious than ever before, for the past
experience had stirred their sporting blood and made them long for a
jaunt in the forest. Even Professor Bigelow was affected, and he sat
fingering his rifle as if awaiting another such incident.

"Alligators and crocodiles are very much alike," said Mr. Lewis,
wishing to break the silence. "The only difference is in the canine
teeth. In the alligator they fit into pits in the upper jaw; in the
crocodile they fit into notches. Otherwise they look alike."

"Which is the most ferocious?" inquired Joe, thoroughly interested.

"Scarcely any difference," his father returned. "Both are bad enough
when they're after you."

For a time the adventurers paddled near the center of the river, in
order to avoid heavy piles of brush that lay near the shore's edge.
They did not feel like talking. The mid-afternoon sun beat down upon
them until they were dripping with perspiration. Why, even summer
Florida weather was nothing to this!

The water glistened like silver. It was almost impossible even to cast
eyes upon it, for the reflection of the sun was extremely blinding.

For entertainment and amusement the boys' fathers and Professor
Bigelow related some of their experiences, which Bob and Joe never
grew tired of hearing. The naturalists told of encounters with wild
animals; the professor, of savage people. Bob and Joe sat in silence,
marveling that before long they could tell of happenings probably as
much or more breath-taking.

Suddenly, as they neared a patch of bright red bushes, Mr. Holton
called to the Indians to stop the boat.

"What is it?" asked Bob, and then his gaze followed that of his
father.

Not far away on a low branch was a large oriole, almost the size of a
crow, with a red and white bill, and yellow, green, and brown plumage.
It uttered not a word, although no one doubted that it could.

"We must have that bird," whispered Mr. Holton. "It is rather rare,
and few of them are in museums. Keep quiet now, while I get a small
gun."

The others obeyed. The naturalist found a suitable shotgun. He raised
it to his shoulder, took careful aim, and pulled the trigger.

The next moment there was a terrible screeching and wailing. The bird
fluttered about for a brief second, then fell into the water.

"You got him," said Bob joyously. "You----Well, of all things!"

The reason for his exclamation was not far to seek. No sooner had the
bird struck the water than a rather small fish darted to the surface,
caught the bird by the breast, and bit it in two. It evidently did
not like the taste, however, for the remains of the bird's body were
left to float on the water.

"Stung!" exclaimed Mr. Holton, regaining his breath. "The piranhas
spoiled the chance of getting that specimen."

"So that fish was a piranha?" asked Joe, looking to see if he could
locate it in the dark water.

"Yes," Mr. Lewis returned. "They're mean creatures, all right. Got a
temper like a bull. They'll attack anything from jaguars to people,
and they usually do the job right. I once heard of a man devoured by
them in a very short time."

"It wasn't very large," said Bob. "Looked about like a pickerel to
me."

"It isn't their size," his father returned. "It's their ferocity--and
strong, sharp teeth."

"Let's don't worry about the bird," consoled the professor. "We'll
probably see more of them later on."

The naturalists resolved to follow the professor's advice and regard
the matter as one of the many discouragements that could be expected
at almost any time.

"After all, we didn't lose much," said Mr. Lewis. "But then--but
then----"

As they paddled on, signs of life became more frequent. Once there was
a small flock of bright red birds, and the naturalists had more luck
in bringing them in as specimens. None was shot near the river; only
those on shore were aimed at. A little later they saw the first
monkeys since they had turned down this river. They had often heard
the little creatures in the depths of the jungle, but had never been
successful in getting a glimpse of them.

Along toward evening Mr. Lewis suggested that they go ashore and pitch
camp for the night. His friends agreed, and after making sure that the
Indians were willing, he gave the word and the boats were turned into
a little cove, where they were tied to a stout tree.

"Plenty of room around here," observed Bob, as he got out and
stretched his legs. "No trees within a radius of several score feet.
Ought to be fairly good protection against night marauders."

The tents and poles were untied, and after locating a suitable site
the stakes were driven to the ground, the poles hoisted, and the
hammocks hung.

Then a bountiful supper was prepared, and the party ate hungrily. Bob
and Joe especially partook of large quantities, for their appetites
were those of youth.

After the meal the explorers sat in a group, chatting merrily. Even
the Indians took part in the conversation, answering many of the
whites' questions about the jungles they were passing through. Bob and
Joe had trouble in understanding them, but their fathers translated
whenever there was any difficulty.

A little later, darkness fell suddenly, and with it came the chill of
night.

"Seems strange that the nights should be so cool when the days are so
hot," remarked Bob, going into the tent for a coat.

"Does at that," said Mr. Lewis. "But it's true of all tropical
places."

Soon the sky became dotted with countless numbers of twinkling stars.
Soon afterwards the moon came out in full splendor, flooding the
boundless expanse with enchanting light, and casting a reflection on
the water beautiful beyond description.

The explorers were filled with awe as they sat staring into the vast
jungle, thrilled that they were the only inhabitants on this wild
shore.

For some time no one spoke. Then Mr. Holton rose and looked at his
watch.

"Getting late," he said, walking over to a box of supplies.

"Yes," agreed Professor Bigelow. "I suggest that we turn in."

The others agreed, and they attended to last-minute tasks.

"Ordinarily it is the Indians' duty to stand guard," said Mr. Lewis,
glancing at the brawny crew, several of whom had fallen asleep. "But
since they've worked hard and unflinchingly, and are nearly worn out,
I suggest that we whites take turn about on this first night. We've
had it comparatively easy all day. Then, too, it will increase their
respect and liking for us. What do you think?"

"I'm all for it," declared Professor Bigelow. "Now who is to have the
first watch?"

It was decided to draw straws, the person getting the shortest to be
the first guard.

By chance the short piece fell to Bob, and he took his place just
outside the tents, sitting on one of the boxes, a rifle in ready
grasp. The others retired to their hammocks.

For over a half-hour Bob stared quietly into space, glancing
occasionally at the sparkling river. Then he decided to change his
position.

But at that moment there came a crashing sound on the far side of a
group of palm trees.

The youth was on his feet at the instant, wondering what the noise
meant. Then he decided to find out.

"It's only a short distance from camp," he thought. "There's no harm
in going over there."

Grasping his rifle, he stole quietly in the direction of the strange
commotion.

It did not take him long to reach the patch of trees. Then he wormed
his way through the tall grass for a distance of perhaps twenty feet.

The next instant he shrank back, for the sight that met his eyes was
fearful and repulsive.



CHAPTER XIII

The Death Struggle


Beside a patch of bushes was a large wildcat, greedily devouring the
remains of a small deer. Most of the deer's body has been torn to
pieces, so that only the head remained intact. There was a terrible
stare from the wide eyes that caused Bob to shudder in disgust.

The tiger-cat was evidently very hungry, for it would scarcely bite
out one section when it would tear into another, crunching horribly.
Occasionally it would shift its position and sample various parts of
the body. It finally crouched at the stomach, and in no time stripped
the flesh from the bone.

The sight was not wholly to Bob's liking, but he could not tear
himself away. After all, the occasion was not one so terrible. All
wild creatures must eat, and this is the only way they know.

Bob lifted his eyes from the feast to the great cat, and for the
first time saw how beautifully marked it was. Why had he not noticed
that before? Probably because he was much more impressed by the meal.
The wildcat's fur was of a light brown, spotted and barred with black
and darker brown. Its abdomen was pure white, and seemed spotlessly
clean. It looked about four feet long, exclusive of the tail.

"Doesn't look very ferocious," Bob thought, but he knew what would
probably happen if the creature were to discover him in its domain.

For several minutes the feast continued, the animal's hunger seeming
to increase rather than lessen.

Suddenly there came a rustling sound from behind a low shrub.

Instantly the cat was on its feet, tail erect, eyes staring.

The rustling sound continued, and a moment later another cat of the
same type leaped out into the clearing, took in its surroundings
carefully, and then made for the body of the deer.

But it did not get far. A moment later the first tiger-cat crouched
itself and sprang at the invader's throat. Then a terrific combat took
place, the memory of which was to remain with Bob for many years to
come.

The creatures thrashed constantly about, each trying to inflict a
death wound. They growled horribly, and occasionally one would cry out
in pain. Sometimes they reared up on hind legs, biting and tearing
fearfully. Then again they would be on top of each other, stamping and
tearing to the height of their ability. For nearly five minutes the
fight continued, and by now it was evident that the invader was
getting the worst of it. Instead of being on the offensive it slunk
back, trying in vain to ward off the assaults of its enemy. Suddenly
it fell back, as a vital part was pierced. The first tiger-cat had
won.

A few more minutes were spent in awaiting any further movements from
the defeated, but as none came the victor resumed its feast.

"All over," Bob muttered to himself. "A swell fight, too. I wouldn't
have missed it for anything. But say! This fellow would be a fine
specimen for Dad and Mr. Lewis. I wonder if I can plug him. Don't
think the dead one will be of much use to them, it's so badly mauled."

The moon was still shining down brightly, and it was nearly as light
as day. This was both an advantage and a disadvantage. True, it would
be much easier to get a good aim at the animal, but the light would
make Bob much more easily seen. Still he resolved to chance it.

Gripping his rifle firmly, he parted the bushes and rose to his feet.
But the slight commotion caused the tiger-cat to turn about, and rage
came into its eyes as they lighted on the youth. What was this new
type of creature that had come to interrupt the feast?

Bob raised his rifle to his shoulder and awaited a chance to fire an
effective shot. But none came. The great cat crouched to spring.

"I've got to get him," said Bob, gritting his teeth.

Then, as the animal launched itself into the air, the youth took rapid
but careful aim and fired.

The bullet sped true, entering the open mouth.

The tiger-cat fell at the boy's feet, twitched about for a moment, and
then lay still.

"Hurrah!" Bob cried, exulted beyond words. "I got him. And what a fine
specimen."

The rifle shot had aroused the rest of the expedition, and they came
running out, wondering what was meant.

"What's up?" demanded Mr. Holton, as he first caught sight of his son.

"Plenty," Bob replied and led them to the bodies of the wildcats.

Everyone cried out in surprise and amazement at sight of the beasts.

"Ocelots," pronounced Mr. Lewis. "I didn't know that they were this
common. How did you happen to come across them?"

Bob was obliged to relate the entire experience. He told of how he had
come across one of the creatures at the body of the deer, of the
thrilling combat that took place when the other ocelot arrived, and of
shooting the survivor. The party listened with breathless interest,
and even the Indians demanded a translation.

"An unusual happening," said Professor Bigelow, looking at Bob in
admiration and wishing that he had been present.

"Takes old Bob to do it," smiled Joe. "And that required some nerve,
too. The first wild animal he's ever met."

"It's a case where the first is one of the most savage," remarked Mr.
Lewis, directing a glance at the creature's sharp canine teeth. "The
ocelot is next only to the jaguar in ferocity and daring."

"Not much left of the deer he was feasting on," observed Joe. "I
suppose he would have left little more than the skeleton if Bob hadn't
so rudely interrupted him."

Mr. Holton and Mr. Lewis procured knives and began the task of
skinning the creatures. It was believed that both could be used, as
the one that had been previously killed was not as badly mauled as Bob
had thought.

In a short time the skinning was completed, and they again retired for
the night, Bob remaining throughout the remainder of his watch.
Nothing more happened that night, however, and they awoke the next
morning to witness a beautiful sunrise. Breakfast was soon over, and
then began the task of breaking camp.

"Let's hurry," urged Professor Bigelow. "We want to cover twenty miles
today, if possible."

"And we will if rapids don't bar our way," said Mr. Lewis.

Soon the belongings were packed in the boats, and they started on up
the river. Meanwhile Bob and Joe were taking motion pictures quite
often and were always on the lookout for new sights. Many times did
they regret that they had been unable to film Bob's experience of the
night before.

The men kept their time occupied in writing notes and collecting
specimens, which were growing in number hourly. Already there was an
abundance of game. Monkeys quite often were crowded in the trees,
birds of brilliant plumage were more numerous, various small animals
darted out, and once Joe caught a glimpse of a wild pig running
through the underbrush.

"When are we going ashore?" asked Bob. "Looks like here is a good
chance to get some specimens."

"It undoubtedly is," Mr. Holton returned. "And we would try our luck
now if Professor Bigelow were not anxious to find a strange tribe of
Indians that's reputed to be somewhere in this region. When we locate
it we can stop and stay at one spot as long as the professor chooses,
for game will probably be abundant, and we will have the chance to get
scores of specimens."

That day they made nearly twenty-five miles, and all were delighted
that no rapids loomed up to hinder them.

"There's nothing that puts you at more inconvenience than rapids,"
said Professor Bigelow, as they sought out a place to camp for the
night.

They found the spot they wanted beside a rocky knoll, not far from the
river. There was a small open space a short distance away, and to this
the party made. Again preparations were made for the night, and then
the evening meal was prepared.

"Let's turn in early," suggested Mr. Holton, after they had finished
eating. "The three Indians in the back boat complained that one of the
clamps for an oar is loose, and it may take quite a while to repair
it. For that reason we must be up early in the morning."

The clamp, they discovered later, had been split through, making it
necessary to carve out a new one. To do this was not easy, for
suitable wood had to be cut and measurements taken. All told, there
was a delay of over three hours.

"Now let's go," urged Professor Bigelow, his patience almost
exhausted.

Day after day the miles were laid behind them in both a pleasant and
disagreeable manner. In times when treacherous rapids offered a
hindrance, they struggled unflinchingly, often knee deep in the water
or mud. But there were chances for relaxation, when there was nothing
to do but take it easy in the high seats of the boats. Bob and Joe
could not fully realize that they were not in a dream but that this
was the real thing--a wild, untamed land in the very heart of vast
Amazonia.

"It's great, Joe, old boy," said Bob, when over a week had passed.
"I've often visualized this expedition, but my expectations are far
surpassed."

One morning when they were paddling swiftly along, Professor Bigelow
uttered a cry of delight and pointed to the bank.

"Indians!" he cried excitedly. "At last we've found a band of
Indians!"



CHAPTER XIV

The Deserted Village


Professor Bigelow was right. On the shore not far away were a dozen or
more native huts, grouped in a cluster about one that was larger and
more carefully built. All about on the ground were various objects of
daily life, such as wooden machetes, pots and kettles of clay, pieces
of wood, and hides and skins of animals. But, strain their eyes as
they did, the explorers could see no Indians.

The explorers were uncertain as to whether it would be safe to go
ashore, but finally Professor Bigelow resolved to take the chance. He
was as excited as a boy, and seemed not able to wait until the boats
could be turned to the river bank.

The crew, however, were a bit dubious about the venture into an
unknown village. They had heard stories of how explorers had been
massacred by savage Indians, and as they had never been far as this
upstream, they were at a loss to know how the strange tribe would
treat them.

Still if the strange scientist was bound to hazard it they would go,
although they would be ready for instant flight if necessary.

The boats were brought up alongside the bank and made secure to small
trees. Then the explorers climbed out and looked about.

"An ideal site for a village," said Joe, glancing about.

"Trust the natives to pick out the best spots," said Bob.

Slowly and cautiously they walked toward the village, gripping their
rifles tightly. When within a short distance from the foremost hut
they stopped, and the professor, who had studied the languages spoken
in this region, called out loudly in the native tongue--or rather what
he thought to be the native tongue.

There was no answer, and the explorers proceeded on into the
habitation.

"No signs of life anywhere," said Professor Bigelow.

"Perhaps another tribe invaded and killed the inhabitants," suggested
Mr. Lewis, glancing about.

"No," disagreed the professor. "There is evidence that the place has
been recently inhabited. For instance, look at those ashes over
there," pointing to a place where a fire had been built. "They are not
very old. I know the signs. We can look for the tribe at almost any
time now."

"Seems strange that the women and children went away too," said Mr.
Holton, almost unbelievingly.

"They often do it," answered the professor. "The women, you see, do
almost as much as the men. In many cases they do much more. They many
times go along on excursions into the forest to carry the weapons and
the trophies of the hunt. And as this is a rather small settlement, we
can take that for granted."

"When do you think they'll return?" asked Bob.

"That is hard to say," was the reply. "It is all according to how long
they have been out. They may be back in a few hours, or it may be a
week. But," he added, "I am all for waiting. The chances are we'll be
all right."

They explored the huts and found them to be very substantially built.
There were few pieces of furniture in them, but the largest hut,
which was undoubtedly the chief's, contained several articles of
interest to the visitors. There were brightly decorated pots and
kettles, carved sticks, jaguar hides, spears and clubs, bows and
arrows and blowguns.

"Quite an elaborate display of implements," remarked Joe, examining a
blowgun with interest. This weapon was about ten feet long, round and
tapering, and covered with a glossy substance resembling glue. At each
end it was bound with heavy cord made from vines. A quiver of arrows
was attached to it, and, with utmost care lest they be poisoned, he
took one out. It was about three feet long and sharp as a needle.

There were many other objects of domestic use lying and hanging about,
and they were examined especially by Professor Bigelow, who had found
himself in an anthropologist's paradise. Baskets, closely woven from a
strange type of straw, were filled with farina; bone tubes for
snuffing were strewn about, and many kinds of ornaments hung on wooden
pegs.

Bob's attention was attracted to a kind of necklace, which was strung
with the teeth of some wild animal--unless, but this was hardly
probable, they were human teeth.

"Not human," smiled Mr. Holton. "Can't you tell a monkey's molars when
you see them?"

"Sorry, but I'm not as much of a naturalist and zoölogist as you are,"
laughed Bob.

Meanwhile Joe was cranking the movie camera, filming the entire
village. As a matter of fact he had been engaged in doing this since
they first sighted the village.

"These ought to be interesting scenes," he confided to Bob, as the two
walked toward the river bank.

"They will be," was the reply. "Tend to break the monotony of the
constant river-traveling."

At the shore they found several native canoes tethered to trees. They
were mere dugouts, but they looked staunch and strong enough to stem
almost any current.

The youths spent several more minutes at the bank; then they made
their way back to the others.

"What'd you find?" asked Mr. Lewis.

"Only native canoes," Bob answered. "Only----"

He stopped and listened. What was that he had heard?

Again it came to his ears, this time louder and nearer.

"Sounds like someone's shouting," said Joe. "Sounds like----"

"Indians!" cried Professor Bigelow. "The Indians are returning!"



CHAPTER XV

Danger at Hand


"Quick! Let's get to the boats at once!" cried Mr. Holton. "It won't
do for them to find us here in the village."

The explorers hastened to the river bank with all the speed they could
put into their legs. Not until they were safe in the boats did they
draw a breath. Then they cast glances about the shore.

The shouting grew louder, and the next moment twenty-five or thirty
semi-naked Indians burst into the clearing and made for the huts. But
one that was evidently the chief called them back and pointed to the
river, where the explorers' canoes were moored.

"Now's the time to act," muttered Professor Bigelow, getting out of
the boat.

He strode up to within fifty feet of the Indians, throwing his hands
apart in a gesture of friendliness. Then he called out something that
the other whites did not understand.

Immediately there was a turmoil of excited chattering, in which the
chief took the biggest part. Then the latter called back to the
professor, who listened eagerly. In the end there was a smile on his
face.

"It's all right," he said to the explorers, beckoning them to come
ashore.

"Sure there's no danger?" asked Mr. Lewis.

"It will be safe. The chief welcomed us into the village."

Mr. Holton was the first one out of the boat, followed by Joe, Mr.
Lewis, and Bob. The crew trailed.

They did not think it wise to bring their rifles, for the Indians
might suspect them. But each had a revolver in his holster, and it was
Mr. Lewis who warned them to be on the lookout for any treachery.

Professor Bigelow waited for them to come nearer. Then he led the way
into the village.

For several minutes he carried on conversation with the chief and
seemed to have little or no trouble in understanding him. The Indian
regarded him soberly most of the time, but at several of the
professor's remarks he smiled broadly.

"The professor's building up a feeling of good will," grinned Bob, a
new glow of respect for the scientist coming over him.

"He'll manage those savages all right," said Mr. Holton, as he
recalled some of the encounters with savage people that had been told
of Professor Bigelow.

The conversation ended with an introduction of the other whites to the
Indians, and after a few more casual remarks Professor Bigelow
resolved to tell why they were there.

While the remainder of his party waited in ignorance of what was being
said, he related the details of the expedition: why it had been
organized, what its purposes were, and where it intended to explore.
All this he put in the simple language of the natives, and although it
was difficult to convey many ideas correctly, he succeeded admirably.

The chief's answer was that he and his people would furnish
information about their daily life, and, if the whites so desired,
they would also help in getting specimens. The big Indian stressed
the point that these were the first white people he had ever seen,
although several of the older members of the tribe had met a party of
them many years ago.

Professor Bigelow translated what had been said, and the naturalists
were joyous. They could gain many things by remaining here with these
simple people.

As soon as the novelty had worn off, the chief, whose name was Otari,
escorted the party to one big hut, where they were to remain at night
during their stay at the village.

"Plenty of room here," observed Joe, glancing about the thatched
walls.

"Yes," Bob agreed. "Not a bit crowded. It's one of the best dwellings
in the settlement."

Much room as there was, however, there were only a few pieces of
native furniture and implements. A large box-like table, assembled
with wooden pegs, stood in the middle of the room. Beneath it were
five or six clay pots and containers, each washed clean. In one corner
were two bows and arrows and a blow gun.

"They sure use poor taste in furnishing a house," grinned Bob. "But I
suppose for them it's sufficient."

Professor Bigelow thought it wise to bring in their belongings from
the boats, but the others were a bit dubious about the safety of them.

"We can leave the crew to guard them when we are away," he said. "I
don't think even that will be necessary, for I have a light, portable
safe that I take on all expeditions such as this."

He opened a large box and took out several flat pieces of metal. To
his friends' astonishment they were easily lifted, although they
looked to weigh seventy pounds each.

"They are magnalium," he explained. "About the lightest and strongest
metal there is."

There were lock clamps at the edges of each piece, and these were
fitted into each other. In a short time a large safe stood before
their eyes.

Bob gasped in astonishment.

"That's a new one on me," he confessed. "Never heard of anything like
it."

"It's also new to me," said Mr. Lewis. "I knew there were such safes,
but heretofore I have never seen one."

"But," hesitated Mr. Holton, "what kind of an explanation will we
give the Indians? It occurs to me that they would take this as a kind
of insult. Might get it in their heads that we thought they would
steal something."

"Restrain yourself from worrying about that," the professor consoled
him. "I've used this before many times. As an explanation, we'll
simply say that the safe is a place to store the belongings where we
can have them easily at hand. Then, too, it will prevent any of the
children from curiously straying into our hut to meddle with things.
I've never yet had any trouble."

The safe was large enough to hold the professor's typewriter, paper, a
few books, and various other essential objects. In addition, there was
room for rifles, ammunition, knives and preparations used in skinning,
and several other articles that it was best to lock up.

"It's just the thing," remarked Joe. "Now we can be sure that valuable
possessions will always be here when we get back from a hunting trip."

"I will probably spend most of my time in here writing and conversing
with the natives," Professor Bigelow said. "So when you are out you
can be doubly sure that things will be all right."

It was now about meal time, and the chief wanted to bring the
explorers dishes of native food, but they thanked him, saying that
they would use their own provisions.

"For my part I don't care for any of their delicacies," grinned Joe.
"You can never tell what you're getting."

"True enough," laughed Mr. Holton. "For that reason we'll stick to our
own grub."

After lunching bountifully, the explorers rested on the straw beds and
felt much better for it. When an hour had passed, Mr. Holton rose and
walked over to the supplies.

"Let's go out specimen-collecting," he suggested, getting out a rifle
and small shotgun.

Bob and Joe were on their feet in an instant, their faces radiant with
delight. At last had come a chance to explore the jungle, with its
many thrills, wonders, and tragedies. How they had longed for it!

"Can't get there any too soon for me," said Bob, grasping his rifle.

Mr. Lewis also agreed, and they started out toward the back of the
village, Bob and Joe in the lead.

There was a fairly well blazed trail at the edge of the last hut, and
the hunters resolved to follow it.

"Probably won't be much large game along this path, but there will
undoubtedly be others branching off from it," remarked Mr. Holton, as
he took the lead and plunged into the jungle.

That jungle interested the youths immensely, for the variety of
tropical vegetation was wide. Trees of all types grew one beside
another, their leaves coming in contact with each other. Many of the
trunks were encircled with parasitic vines, which, in many cases,
caused the trees to be stunted. All about on the ground were shrubs
and bushes and tall grass that hindered walking.

"Have to be careful here," warned Mr. Lewis, carefully avoiding a low
shrub studded with sharp-pointed thorns.

"Right," agreed Bob's father. "Keep a ready hand on your rifles, for
there are countless creatures that may be dangerous."

Although the jungle seemed thick at the start, it was nothing to what
they found it later on. Vegetation was certainly dense. Large clusters
of ferns barred the way, their enormous leaves suggesting forests of
prehistoric times. Gay flowers loomed up here and there, tempting the
hunters to stop and marvel at their beauty. Oddly shaped plants were
numerous, among them being a stalk that grew straight up for a
distance of perhaps ten feet, then spliced and fell to the ground in
several places.

Bob and Joe had expected much, but this was beyond any of their
anticipations. Nature was certainly bountiful in displaying her art in
these little-known places.

After a fifteen-minute hike they reached a region of thick bushes,
many of which bore sharp-pointed thorns that were far from pleasant to
encounter. Even with their heavy clothing, they emerged with torn
garments and with bruises that stung and pained severely. But the
unpleasantness was lost before the many tropical wonders that
presented themselves.

Suddenly a flock of white birds flew overhead, and Mr. Lewis and Bob
fired their shotguns together. At once four fell to the ground, amid
the terrible screeching of the others.

"Egrets," said Mr. Holton, upon examining the birds.

As the hunters moved on they added many other birds and small animals
to the collection. One of the most remarkable of the latter was a
large ant-bear, with a long, slender head that terminated into a
toothless mouth. The creature was about four feet long, with a bushy
tail protruding another two feet.

Bob and Joe did their part in the specimen-collecting, and they at
once won the recognition of their elders for their accurate shooting.
Bob was especially praised, for he was not far behind the men in
marksmanship.

The hunters had been out several hours when Mr. Lewis suggested that
they get back to the village.

"Professor Bigelow and the others may worry about us," he said. "In my
opinion we have been out long enough for the first time."

The others agreed, and they were about to retrace their footsteps when
Joe caught sight of something that turned his blood cold.



CHAPTER XVI

A Thrilling Encounter


Protruding from a tree bough not ten feet away was a long, sinister
snake, its evil eyes glistening in what little sunlight penetrated the
dense jungle. Whether it was poisonous Joe did not know, but he knew
that even though it were not it would be dangerous to the extreme.

As cautiously as possible he nudged his companions, and then the
naturalists held their rifles tighter. Here, only a short distance
away, was a jararaca, one of the most poisonous of Brazilian
reptiles--a snake that often was known to take the aggressive.

For a moment there was silence--an ominous silence that ended in a
blood-curdling hiss.

Mr. Holton and Mr. Lewis raised their rifles and took long and careful
aim. Bob followed suit, although he was not sure that his aim would be
true.

Then, just as the snake prepared to strike, the men fired
simultaneously, and Bob pulled the trigger a second later.

In such a crisis it was necessary that their bullets take effect, and
they did.

The reptile's head was shattered into a horrible pulp that was all but
sickening, and the great body lashed about in pain. For several
minutes the movements continued; then, as life faded out, the snake
became less active, finally stretching out into one last mass.

"Whew!" breathed Bob, relaxing for the first time. "That was some
encounter."

Mr. Holton nodded in affirmation.

"If we had been stung by those terrible fangs it would have been the
last of us," he said, casting a resentful look in that direction.

"The venom is extremely powerful," remarked Mr. Lewis, wiping the
perspiration from his brow. "It is yellow in color, and takes effect
almost immediately. The nervous system becomes paralyzed in a very
short time."

"A pleasant way to die--I don't think," muttered Joe, shrugging his
shoulders.

They made a wide circle about the reptile's body and started on the
return journey.

"I'd like to have it as a specimen," remarked Mr. Lewis, referring to
the jararaca. "But in its shattered condition it would not be worth
the taking."

The hunters rested awhile under the shade of a large hardwood tree,
whose branches extended out over a great distance. Then Mr. Holton
took up his belongings, and the others did the same.

Gradually the jungle became less dense, and at last they came to the
village, where they were given a hearty greeting by the Indians, who
were glad to see the hunters back in the village. They found Professor
Bigelow in the hut, his hands flying over the keys of the typewriter.

At first he did not notice them, thinking they were Indians, but
finally he lifted his gaze.

"What kind of luck did you have?" he inquired absently.

The others hesitated a moment at the professor's almost unconscious
question. It was evident that the anthropologist was becoming deeply
absorbed in this work of observing the daily life of the little-known
Indians. Then, with a wink at the others, Mr. Holton decided on a
preposterous answer to see how the professor would take it.

"We brought down two tigers and an elephant," he said, in as sober
tones as he could summon.

"Hmm. Well, that's fine"--the typewriter still clicked rapidly. "I
suppose you'll have them skinned at once?"

Bob and Joe could not help breaking out in laughter, and the
naturalists joined them. Professor Bigelow looked up in surprise.

"I must confess I wish I could see something humorous," he said,
stopping his writing for a moment and looking at his companions in
wonder.

The others were laughing all the harder now, and poor Professor
Bigelow was bewildered beyond words. Only an explanation would satisfy
him.

As soon as Mr. Holton could regain his breath he hastened to assure
the professor that it was nothing about his person that caused the
laugh, but only his intense scientific enthusiasm. He joined in the
merriment also when the joke was told.

"That's one on me," he said mirthfully. "I guess I was too deeply
engrossed in this manuscript."

The remainder of that day was spent rather idly, for, hot as it had
previously been, it seemed to grow all the more stifling. Bob
remarked that he did not feel like doing anything but loafing, and the
others were none different.

The next day Bob, Joe, and their fathers again started out on a
collecting trip and added many new specimens to the already large
assemblage. They brought in gorgeously colored macaws, screamers,
woodpeckers, trumpeters, finfoots, waxbills, and many other birds.
They shot many small animals, including a type of opossum, a large
lizard, and an armadillo. It was indeed a large number of specimens
that the naturalists prepared that night.

"So far, everything is working out fine," smiled Mr. Lewis, as he put
the fauna up for exhibition.

Meanwhile the chief, Otari, was helping Professor Bigelow as best he
could and gave him several articles of daily use as a present, in
return for which the professor gave the Indian beads and mirrors and
other objects dear to all primitive people.

"I have enough material now to write several books," the professor
said joyfully. "The museum certainly will welcome this information.
And these articles that the chief gave me--well, they will tickle the
museum heads greatly."

Time tended to increase rather than lessen the number of daily
interests to the explorers, and they found themselves living as in a
dream. The great tropical forest about them added an enchantment to
the work, and the simple, primitive people that they were living with
caused them to imagine themselves living in prehistoric times.

"It's great, Joe, old boy," said Bob, deeply stirred. "Who would have
ever thought that away out here in the wilderness it would be possible
to come across things so interesting?"

"Yet," said Joe, "I suppose they wouldn't be interesting to everyone."

One day, when the party had been at the Indian village nearly a week,
Bob and Joe asked permission to go into the forest and try their luck
at getting specimens.

"All right," Mr. Holton replied. "But don't get too far away."

Bob picked out a rifle and Joe a small shotgun, and after parting
words with their elders they made for the jungle.

The trail was one that they had never taken, and it was consequently
necessary to be doubly careful to pick the right branch. But they had
little difficulty, as the main path was much wider than the branches.

In no time they were engulfed by the jungle, which was here even
thicker than they had previously found it. Monkeys were more numerous
in the tree boughs, and they peered doubtfully at the white hunters
who had invaded their land.

Joe raised his shotgun and brought several down, intent upon leaving
them at the spot until they would return to the village.

"So far, so good," remarked Bob. "Wonder what else we'll come across?"

"Time will tell," Joe replied.

On and on they trekked, keeping a sharp lookout on all sides. Once Bob
lost his footing and went sprawling on the ground.

"Better be more careful," warned Joe.

Suddenly there came a loud snort, and the youths were on the alert at
the instant.

Gripping their guns tightly, they stopped and waited.

Again it came, and the next minute they caught sight of a wild pig, or
peccary, rustling the tall grass not far away.

"Keep still," whispered Bob, raising his rifle. "Maybe I can get him.
Then we can have meat--and his hide as a specimen."

Several moments Bob spent in taking careful aim. Then he pulled the
trigger.

Bang! Oink! Oink! Silence.

"Hurrah!" cried Joe. "Killed him dead as a doornail. Now to get
his----"

He stopped suddenly as he caught sight of something that froze him
with horror. Not fifty feet down the path rushed a drove of peccaries
numbering at least twenty.



CHAPTER XVII

Terrible Peccaries


"Run!" cried Bob in tones of mortal terror.

He tore down the path at full speed, closely followed by Joe, who was
panting furiously.

The youths had a start of less than fifty feet, but how long they
could keep in the lead they well knew, for hardly any creature, large
or small, could elude the tireless chase of peccaries.

They dared not glance back for fear of stumbling, but feared that the
wild pigs were gaining rapidly.

What would the boys do? How could they ever escape that furious drove?

Suddenly Joe's foot slipped and he went down, his face as pale as
death. He looked appealingly to Bob.

Bob wheeled about and brought his rifle to his shoulder. The nearest
peccary was not more than ten feet away. The youth took hasty aim,
then pulled the trigger.

At the report of the gun the animal fell, gasping and writhing about.

Bob worked the bolt on his rifle. He took a second aim at the next
peccary and killed it.

For a moment, at least, the jungle was cleared, and by now Joe had
arisen to his feet, although the pain in his ankle was terrific.

"Come on," beckoned Bob. "We must get away at once. The rest of them
will be here in a moment. Can you make it?"

"I--I guess so. My ankle hurts terribly, though."

Not far away there was a large hollow, the place where the roots of a
tree had been before a hurricane had uprooted them. To this the boys
made with all speed. If they could only reach it in time there might
be a chance of escape, for the peccaries would find it hard to climb
the steep bank.

The youths scrambled down the edge and tumbled to the bottom. Then
they began the task of climbing the opposite side. They reached the
top just as the drove started down, and for the first time felt that
they had a good chance of escaping.

"Make for the trail," panted Joe. "Then we might get back to the
village."

They kept up the fast pace for a distance of several hundred yards,
and then, panting and gasping, they slowed down to a trot.

"Guess we've thrown them off the track," breathed Joe, hobbling along
almost on one foot.

"Let's hope so," Bob answered, glancing around for a brief moment.

At last they parted the foliage and burst into the village, their
faces red with fatigue, their bodies dripping with perspiration.

Mr. Lewis came out to meet them, and he glanced up in some surprise.

"What happened?" he asked, sensing that the youths had met with some
misfortune.

"Peccaries!" returned Bob. "A drove of peccaries! Doesn't that mean
something?"

"Ah!" the naturalist exclaimed. "Well, it's no wonder you're so worn
out. Let's hear about it."

Mr. Holton and Professor Bigelow now came running out, along with a
few Indians.

Bob related their narrow escape from the wild pigs, and Mr. Holton
shook his head gravely.

"You don't want any more such encounters," he said. "Good luck like
that couldn't happen twice."

"At that, we would have got away sooner if Joe hadn't sprained his
ankle," said Bob.

"A sprained ankle is a bad thing to have when in a wild land," said
Professor Bigelow, with a grim smile. "It often proves one's own
undoing. But now," he added, "I'm off to converse with the chief. I'm
getting a wealth of information about these strange people."

But though he was meeting with success, the professor was destined not
to be satisfied in prolonging his stay in this village. It happened in
this way. The explorers were seated about the campfire one evening
when the chief happened casually to mention a strange Indian tribe
that lived in the remote beyond. At once the anthropologist was on the
alert, ready to hear anything that Otari might say.

"Tell me something about them," urged the scientist in the native
tongue.

The chief explained that little was known about the tribe, except that
the members were extremely warlike and did not hesitate to kill anyone
that looked to be an enemy. Often they were cannibalistic, boiling
their victims in huge clay kettles. Asked how he knew about them,
Otari replied that one of his tribe, a born rover and adventurer,
happened to come across them when on an exploring expedition in the
upper reaches of the river. At first he was taken prisoner but was
later released and allowed to return down the river.

For nearly five minutes after Otari had finished, Professor Bigelow
was thoughtfully silent, absorbed in picturing the journey into the
unknown. How wonderful it would be to visit this strange tribe! What
an opportunity to win recognition from eminent men of his profession!

"How far away is this place?" he asked at last.

How far? A journey of many, many days through wild, heavily forested
country. It would not be safe to attempt the journey.

The professor then asked the chief how he thought the unknown tribe
would treat the explorers, and the big Indian shook his head
doubtfully.

"_Otanima turutee nevark_ [take big chance]," he said vaguely, and
then proceeded to point out the many dangers that would accompany the
venture.

But despite the Indian's warning, Professor Bigelow was determined to
investigate this unknown tribe. It was more than likely that Otari
was influenced by native superstition and that the dangers that he
feared were largely imaginative. After all he (Professor Bigelow) had
looked up many other strange people in various parts of the world and
had had little difficulty in winning their good will. Even the wildest
of savages, if well treated and presented with gifts, were more or
less easily won over. Surely this tribe would not be worse than others
he had visited.

Professor Bigelow sought out his companions and put the facts before
them, not hesitating to tell them that the venture would probably be
dangerous and fraught with displeasures. But he pointed out much
stronger that there would be a wonderful opportunity to study the most
primitive of men, in addition to finding many strange, or perhaps
unknown, animals.

The others listened intently, and in the end they were very
thoughtful.

Bob and Joe remained silent. Here was a time when they thought it best
not to voice an opinion, for they had had no experience in the work of
exploring.

"If it were not for the fact that the boys are with us I would answer
'yes' at once," said Mr. Lewis. "But since they are, I hardly know
what to say."

"It would be terrible if anything should happen to them," put in Mr.
Holton. "But they have proven that they are able to take care of
themselves in almost any predicament, and we wouldn't need to worry
about them. Still, that wouldn't prevent anything from happening to
the whole party. Yet Professor Bigelow has shown that he has an
enormous amount of ability to handle savage people, and I'd be willing
to bet that in the end we'd come out all right. What do you think of
it, Ben?"

"I'm willing to go if you are," Mr. Lewis replied. "As you said, we'll
probably have little or no trouble."

"Then you'll go?" the professor asked.

The others nodded.

"Fine! I assure you that I will do all in my power to bring about
friendly relations. And I might add that Otari has consented to give
me a list of words of the strange tribe's language. He got them from
the fellow that wandered into their domain.

"Now the next thing," he continued, "is to get our belongings together
and pack them in the boats. You can start doing that now, while I look
up Otari. I'll be back in a very short time."

The next minute he was gone, and the naturalists and their sons began
the task of packing their provisions in the boats. For some time no
one spoke. Then Mr. Lewis put down a box he was carrying and turned to
the others.

"We don't want to have any bloodshed if we can possibly prevent it,"
he said gravely. "But there may be a time when we'll find it necessary
to use our rifles in order to protect our lives. In that case, every
man must be depended upon to be wide awake and do his part in the
shooting. Let's hope that nothing like that happens, but as there is a
possibility, it is best to be on the safe side. I think it might be
wise to construct sides and a top on the boats, so as to ward off
spears and poisoned arrows--if any should come our way. We can get the
Indians to help us, and Otari will point out the best wood to use.
What do you say?"

"I'm all for it," replied Bob. "It might mean the difference between
life and death."

Professor Bigelow and Otari now came in, and the plan was explained
to them. At once the professor gave his approval, and translated to
the chief, who in the end sent men into the forest to pick out the
best wood to be used in building the enclosure. Then the work of
carrying the expedition's belongings to the boats was resumed.

In a short time the Indians were back with a good supply of a light
but tough wood, and the adventurers at once set to work at building
the sides and top on the boats.

First the sides were built up to a height of about three feet; then a
top was placed over about half of the length and fastened on securely.
The material was so light that no difference in the standing of the
boat was noticed. Yet Otari said that the tough wood would withstand a
blow from any kind of native weapon. To prove this, he ordered one of
his men to shoot an arrow at close range, and the sharp-pointed
missile merely glanced off the wood and fell into the river.

The explorers were well pleased with this floating fort, and stood for
some time admiring its staunch construction.

"Now to get to the other boat," said Mr. Lewis, picking up a hammer
and nails.

In less than an hour the second enclosure was built on the other
canoe, and it appealed also to the explorers.

"Let's get started at once," said Professor Bigelow.

The last of their belongings was packed into the compartments, and
then, with a sincere farewell to Otari and his tribe, the crew paddled
them upstream on another stretch of the great river journey.

What new adventures and thrills awaited them?



CHAPTER XVIII

A Nightmare Experience


It did not take the explorers long to pass a group of islands not far
upstream, one of the landmarks that Otari had told them about, and as
the islands were a number of miles from the village, they felt that
they were making a rapid start.

The country was gradually becoming wilder and more beautiful, but with
this came an increase in the number of dangerous obstacles that had to
be avoided. On the shore the jungle was denser than they had ever seen
it before. In many places, to attempt to penetrate its depths would be
difficult and perilous, and disaster would come upon anyone who would
not blaze a trail.

The variety of fauna was still greater, and many new specimens did the
naturalists add to their already large collection. Birds and beasts
and reptiles all fell at the report of the explorers' rifles.

Finally they came to a wide tributary, which forged off from the main
stream, making the two rivers form a perfect V. This was the second of
Otari's landmarks, and the explorers felt that another important
distance had been covered.

"The current's rather rough," said Bob, his eyes following the course
of the tributary.

The explorers passed the stream by, not thinking it wise to chance an
exploration of it.

The next day their adventurous spirits proved their own undoing. They
had been paddling constantly after the morning meal when suddenly they
came upon another tributary, this time branching out at right angles
from the main stream. There was something about that river that made
the explorers want to follow its rough course.

"Probably doesn't continue far," was the opinion given by Mr. Holton.
"Let's turn the boats up for a considerable distance. We may come
across something totally different."

The others agreed, for there was a possibility of finding almost
anything in this out-of-the-way tributary.

"But we must not stray too far from the Tapauá," warned Professor
Bigelow, as the crew turned the boats in that direction.

For the first hour the country remained much the same. Then they
reached a region where rocky crags protruded out from the shore,
making it necessary for the crew to be doubly careful in guiding the
boats. And with this danger came the possibility of another, for the
current was growing stronger. A terrific rapids could be only a short
distance downstream. At last, much to the surprise of all, they came
to another river, running at right angles to the one they were on.

A thought struck Bob.

"Do you remember that tributary we passed yesterday that formed a V
with the Tapauá?" he asked. "Well, I'll bet this is it. It runs almost
parallel with the Tapauá, and we've come upon it by taking this course
that runs at right angles."

"By George, you may be right," agreed Mr. Lewis, suddenly grasping the
meaning. "What say we turn down it and see if Bob isn't right? If he
is we'll gradually fork over to the Tapauá and be where we were
yesterday afternoon."

The others did not object, for they were curious to know whether or
not Bob was right.

The current gradually grew stronger, carrying the boats ahead at a
much swifter pace. Although this afforded the crew a chance to rest,
it worried the explorers, for it was plain that a rapids was somewhere
ahead.

They paddled on, however, confident that they were not near enough to
be in danger.

"We'll continue for a while," said Mr. Holton. "Then we may be able to
find out what is ahead of us."

The words had scarcely left his mouth when the boats rounded a corner,
not two hundred feet above a seething, boiling rapids, its waters
rushing madly past protruding rocks.

There was no time to lose. Something must be done at once!

"Stop the boats!" cried Mr. Lewis in Portuguese to the crew.

The Indians heard, and struggled with all their might against the
rapidly increasing current, but their efforts were in vain. The boats
had gained too much momentum.

The cruel water carried them on at terrific speed, which was increased
several fold when they went into the rapids. Then they realized that
there was little use trying to stop. The forces of man were puny
indeed compared to that terrific onslaught of foam.

"Make for the middle of the stream!" commanded Mr. Holton. "Even then
it will tax our efforts to the utmost."

The whites grabbed poles and what other objects they could find and
did their part in keeping the foremost boat at as near the middle of
the river as they could. But even with the added help it was extremely
difficult to guide straight.

The crew had the paddles, and they were doing their best to steer the
boats away from the banks. They succeeded fairly well, for the river
was still several score feet wide.

But grave misfortune awaited them.

Not far away was a small island, stretching several hundred feet along
the course of the river. The distance between the river bank and the
island shore was little more than twenty feet, hardly room enough for
the boats to get through. And to make matters worse, there were
several large boulders protruding near the bank. Disaster seemed
almost certain!

In the face of this grave danger the explorers remained calm,
determining to save themselves and the boats if it were at all
possible. But how?

With sinking hearts they saw the boats head directly for the rocks,
where they would immediately be dashed to pieces.

"We must--we've got to do something!" cried Professor Bigelow, rapidly
losing his nerve.

Bob and Joe were nearest the bank, and anything that could be done was
up to them.

Summoning all his power, Joe thrust a sturdy pole into the roots of a
large tree that grew almost in the water. He little expected anything
to come of the act, but it was a last resort.

Much to the surprise and relief of all, the sudden impact forced the
boat back into midstream, although Joe was nearly thrown overboard by
the clash.

Bob drew a sigh of relief. A narrow escape! Perhaps the closest they
would ever be to death and yet evade it.

But what of the other boat? The whites were so intent upon guiding the
one they were in that they completely forgot about the one that
trailed.

They quickly glanced around, to see that it had escaped also, and was
dashing along behind. How the good luck was brought about they never
knew.

"That was a wonderful act on your part," praised Mr. Holton, turning a
moment to Joe.

The latter shook his head.

"Don't know how I happened to think of it," he said modestly. "I
didn't expect any good from it, though."

The others also took part in the commendation, and Joe was glad to
turn the conversation to their present predicament.

"Looks like we have a fair chance now," he remarked, glancing far
ahead.

Then suddenly they struck a seething whirlpool and were spun around
broadside to the terrific current.



CHAPTER XIX

The Call for Help


"Quick!" yelled Mr. Holton to anyone who might hear. "Turn the head
around or we'll be swamped at once."

The Indian who was steering heard and was doing his best to swerve the
craft about, but he was having little luck. The terrible rapids was
reluctant to yield to the puny efforts of a mere human being.

Water was now dashing into the boat, and if this were to continue
there could be but one outcome--tragedy!

This time it was Bob who came to the rescue.

Pushing the Indian aside, he jumped into the seat and caught hold of
the paddle, at the same time giving the rudder a swift turn about.

There was a roar and a swish, and the next moment the boat had swerved
around and was facing the current head first, leaving the treacherous
whirlpool far behind.

"Great work, son!" panted Mr. Holton. "You saved the day that time."

It was now evident that the worst was over, for the current was
gradually losing its terrible force. Slowly but surely they were
pulling away from the perilous rapids, and if their good fortune
continued, they would soon be in calm waters.

"Unless," said Joe soberly, "we strike another whirlpool."

But no other whirlpool barred their way, and soon they were safely
riding the calm ripples farther downstream.

For the first time they were given a chance to relax. Their faces were
red from exertion; their bodies were dripping with perspiration. In
short, they were greatly fatigued.

"The most thrilling adventure we've had since we started," remarked
Bob, rubbing his forehead.

"It was a terribly narrow escape," affirmed Professor Bigelow, not
bearing to think of the tragedy that was so closely averted.

"We owe our lives to you boys," praised Mr. Lewis. "It was your
thought and action that prevented the boat from being dashed to
pieces. First Joe came across with a plan that kept us from striking
the rocks. Then Bob swerved the boat around out of the whirlpool. If
it hadn't been for you----"

"Forget it!" Bob dismissed the subject as best he could, and then
asked his friends' opinion of where they now were.

"Probably halfway to the junction with the mainstream," replied Mr.
Holton. "That rapids carried us along at a terrific speed."

His opinion proved correct, for they reached the Tapauá early the next
morning and turned the boats to retrace the distance covered the day
before.

"Might as well consider that much time wasted," said Joe. "For about a
day the journey will be a repetition of what it was two days ago."

They did not mind the delay, however. That is, all but Professor
Bigelow, who was anxious to find the strange tribe that Otari had
spoken about. Every mile that went behind them lagged, to him, till it
seemed that he was almost in a nightmare. Even after they had made up
for the lost time and were paddling several score miles farther
upstream, he was irritated. It was clearly evident that his impatient
scientific enthusiasm was getting the better of him.

As they traveled on, his anxiety increased rather than lessened, for
they were getting nearer the region occupied by the savages.

"The old boy's so excited he can hardly wait," smiled Joe, aside to
his chum.

"He's anxious to test his wits against the cannibals," returned Bob.
"Wants to stay for dinner, maybe."

They camped that night on a wide sand bank, at the base of a rocky
knoll. After the evening meal, they sat in a group about the
firelight, chatting merrily, despite the fact that they were near, or
perhaps in, the cannibal country.

They turned in early, and the night passed without incident.

"Well," smiled Mr. Holton the next morning as he went about preparing
breakfast, "nothing happened to disturb our deep slumber."

"Perhaps we are not quite near enough the dangerous territory,"
replied Professor Bigelow. "But according to Otari, we shouldn't have
to travel much farther."

That morning, for the first time, two of the crew began to show signs
of uneasiness. It was Bob who first noticed them talking in muffled
tones, and upon listening, he found that they did not like the idea of
going into this unknown country that was the abode of wild savages.
But as they appeared to come to no conclusion, Bob turned to help
prepare the meal.

After breakfast they paddled on upstream in search of a suitable
hunting area, for the naturalists wished to go ashore and add to their
collection.

At every point of the compass the scenery was beautiful beyond
description. There were steep, jagged cliffs, densely overgrown with
the brilliant green of tropical vegetation; tall forest giants,
towering a hundred feet into the sky; gorgeously colored flowers that
sent their sweet fragrance far afield.

Mr. Holton broke the enchanted silence. "Here we are," he said,
singling out a stopping place.

The boats were turned into a little cove, behind which was a stretch
of smooth country.

The naturalists and their sons picked out guns and prepared to leave
on a hunting trip, but Professor Bigelow announced that he would
remain at the boats to read.

"Don't see how he can read on a morning like this," murmured Joe.
"This cool air gets under my skin and cries 'action, _action_!'"

They decided to take all but two of the crew with them to help carry
in specimens, and strangely enough the two Indians who remained behind
were the ones Bob had heard talking about not liking the prospect of
penetrating into this unknown country.

Bob wondered if it would be safe to leave things as they were. For a
moment he thought of appealing to the others to change the situation,
but thought better of it and followed on into the forest. After all,
nothing would probably come of the happening.

"We want to get a jaguar today if it's at all possible," said Mr.
Lewis, his keen eyes scanning the surrounding trees, as if he expected
to find one of the big cats lurking there.

"A jaguar!" repeated Joe. "Fine. We'll get one if there's any around."

They tramped on for about five minutes before seeing any game but
monkeys and bright-colored birds. Then Mr. Lewis caught sight of a
long, lithe body gliding over the tangled underbrush.

The others saw, too, and they raised their rifles and fired.

The snake was immediately made into pulp, and the hunters ran up to
examine it.

"Coral snake," said Mr. Holton, recognizing the striped body. "Whether
it's poisonous I don't know. Here is one reptile that cannot easily be
distinguished as to whether it is of the harmless or poisonous
variety."

The reptile was no good as a specimen, and they passed it by.

Suddenly Mr. Holton stopped still in his tracks and pointed to a low
tree bough not far away. The others looked and then shrank back in
awe.

There, resting peacefully in the shaded depths of a limb, was a huge,
powerful jaguar, its spotted coat showing in strange contrast to the
surrounding jungle.

"Back," whispered Mr. Holton, slowly raising his rifle.

Carefully the naturalist took aim, while the others stood by with
ready rifles.

Bang! The bullet sped true.

There was a terrific pawing and clutching at the bough, but to no
avail. A second later the great cat fell to the ground, moved
convulsively for a moment, and then lay still.

"Hurrah!" cried Bob. "Our first jaguar."

"The biggest and most dangerous animal of South America," chimed in
Mr. Lewis.

At once the skin was ripped off and then placed in a bag carried by
the crew.

A little later Bob was several score feet behind the others, examining
a peculiar plant that had small blue flowers. As he started to pluck
one he suddenly heard a faint cry that seemed to come from the
direction of the river.

At first he thought it was some strange bird, but when he heard it
again he was immediately on the alert. That a bird? Absurd. But what
could it be?

Then a thought struck him, and he almost turned pale. It was Professor
Bigelow!

He called to the others to follow and then turned and ran with all
speed to the boats.



CHAPTER XX

Fighting Against Heavy Odds


Bob had often run in track races at high school, but never had he
equaled the pace that was now taking him to the boats. It was as
though wings had suddenly lifted him through space at an alarming rate
of speed.

The youth had all he could do to prevent coming in contact with thorns
and fringed plants, but he did his best. But what of thorns when
Professor Bigelow needed help?

On and on he went, swinging his rifle over shrubs and bushes. At times
it was necessary to hold his arms high above his head to prevent
striking limbs and other projections.

At last, after what seemed a terribly long time, he parted the foliage
and gazed ahead to see what was happening. Then a look of rage came on
his face.

On the river bank a terrific struggle was taking place between
Professor Bigelow and the two Indians who had been left behind. The
men had the professor down, and the latter's face was ghastly white as
strong arms and hands tried to choke him into unconsciousness.
Occasionally he would manage to call out a muffled cry for assistance.

For a moment Bob took in the situation carefully. Then he rushed at
the men with rage and fury and landed on the back of the one nearest,
bearing him to the ground with a thud. The Indians glanced up in
surprise at this abrupt interruption, and they turned to deal with
this new enemy.

One of the men gained his feet and launched himself with all force at
Bob's side, the impact hurling the youth from the back of the first
man. But Bob shook the fellow off and threw an arm around his neck
with the strength of one in desperation. There was a terrific
struggle, and the two thrashed about, neither able to gain the upper
hand. Bob gripped the Indian's neck with all his strength, and the
man's face began to turn purple from the terrific strain. It was
clearly evident that he would soon be put out of the fight.

But the other Indian was not motionless. In fact if it had not been
for him, the youth would have had the better of the first fellow, for
he was slowly giving out. But suddenly Bob felt a heavy body landing
on his back and had to release his hold on the first man.

This again gave the Indians the advantage, and they were quick to
sense their chance.

Bob soon saw that he could gain nothing as things were. He must resort
to some other means.

Professor Bigelow was now beginning to show signs of life, but he was
so badly battered that what little he did to help amounted to nothing,
for he was soon sent sprawling to the ground.

Suddenly Bob gained his feet, intent upon resorting to boxing, a
method that the Indians probably knew little about.

A quick glance around showed that his friends had arrived and were
making for the boats as fast as they could. But it was only a glance,
for the Indians were rushing at him with redoubled force.

Bob caught the first man squarely between the eyes and sent him
sprawling to the ground in a dazed condition. The other Indian saw
that it would be useless to continue the fight, for the other whites
were returning fast.

He turned and made for the boat, Bob at his heels. The youth suspected
that the man was going after a gun, and he was right. But he hardly
had the revolver in his hand when Bob pounced upon him and wrenched
the weapon from his grip. One hard blow put him out of the fight.

Then, for the first time, Bob drew a long breath. He was panting and
gasping from exertion, but he hurried over to Professor Bigelow.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yes," the professor replied, getting to his feet. And then: "That was
a wonderful fight you put up, Bob. If you had come much later, the
Indians would have escaped with the boat and our provisions."

"So that was their game!" said Mr. Lewis angrily, glancing at the
still limp Indian on shore. "They wanted to put you out and then
escape with the boats, leaving us here to starve!"

He drew his fist, and for a moment it looked as if another fight were
going to take place.

"Just for that we should desert them," gritted Joe.

"Can hardly do that," said Mr. Holton. "It would amount to the same as
murder for robbery, and such punishment is unjust. Now if they had
killed one of our party it might be different. Even then I'd hesitate
to do it."

"But they've got to have some kind of punishment," persisted Joe. "Who
knows but that they'll attempt the same thing later?"

"We'll have to keep a close lookout," returned the professor. "If we
see any more treachery we won't dare take any more chances."

The other members of the crew could not understand the actions of the
two would-be deserters, and at once cast them aside as traitors,
calling them names which, had they been translated into English, would
have been extremely shocking to civilized persons.

In a short time the two Indians emerged into consciousness, and they
sat awaiting any fate that might be thrust upon them. The explorers
were at a loss to know what to do with the men, but they finally
decided to give them hard jobs in full view of all, so that they could
neither escape again with the boats nor get the others of the crew to
thinking their way.

"Probably won't have any more trouble," remarked Mr. Lewis, as they
prepared to start up the river again. "We'll keep a sharp lookout,
and if we see any more dishonesty we'll act accordingly."

The specimens were prepared, and they resumed the journey up the
river, hoping that few more days would pass before they found the
unknown Indians. The whites were anxious and yet rather fearful to
come in contact with them, fortified as the boats were. Professor
Bigelow, however, took the matter lightly, and often when his friends
thought of his numerous visits to strange tribes, many of them
hostile, they were inclined to cast aside their worries and leave the
future happenings to him. For surely, with his wide experience, he
could see to any predicament.

"We want to make good time today," said Mr. Holton. "Twenty-five
miles, at least."

"We will," Joe's father assured him. "Unless," he added, "more rapids
hold us back."

"I don't think--I hardly believe they will," Professor Bigelow said,
but this was a statement of hope rather than of conviction.

Bob and Joe constantly took motion pictures of the country they were
passing through, and often they took the cameras with them on hunting
trips, to photograph not only wild life but any adventures that they
might have. The number of feet of exposed film had grown to nearly a
thousand, and they intended to make it several more before they
"closed" the picture. They were allowed four thousand feet and fully
expected to use all of it.

The next day after the fracas with the traitorous Indians, they were
paddling swiftly along when suddenly there was a jar and a crash, and
the foremost boat was sent aside and heading in the opposite
direction. At once the explorers were on their feet and had their
rifles in ready grasp. They cautiously peered over the side into the
river, half expecting to see a dozen or more savages leap out and make
for the boat.

But no savages came. Instead there arose a large black body, nearly
ten feet long, shaped like a seal, with the faintest suggestion of
fins protruding from its side. For a moment it glanced about, then
swam on up the river.

"A manatee," said Mr. Holton. "Or sea-cow, if you prefer that name."

"Sure is a whopper," observed Joe. "Looks like it might be dangerous.
Is it?"

"No," his father replied. "One of the most harmless animals of South
America."

Mr. Lewis raised his rifle to bring the creature down as a specimen,
but just as he prepared to pull the trigger it darted below the water
and swam off at a rapid pace, leaving a thin streak of ripples behind.
Then the naturalists saw that shooting would mean only a waste of
bullets.

A few miles on they came upon another rapids and saw that it would be
necessary to lay a portage of logs along the river bank in order to
get the boats through. Anxious to make time, they worked untiringly
and had the task completed in a short time.

"Now to get the boats through," said Mr. Holton, beginning to unload
their contents.

The canoes were heavy, even with the provisions removed, and it
required all the combined strength of the whites and the Indian crew
to get them beyond the rough stretch. But the undertaking was finally
finished.

Next the provisions were carried around, placed in the boats, and the
latter were moved into the river. At last the strenuous task was
completed.

"Ready to go again?" asked Joe.

"It's about noon," said Professor Bigelow. "I suggest that we get a
lunch."

The others agreed, and an ample repast was prepared.

Then Mr. Lewis advised that they take it easy under low palm trees.
The others, with the exception of Bob and Joe, were glad of a chance
to repose. The boys, however, were restless and eager to explore the
surrounding territory. Unlike their elders, their tireless limbs cried
out for action, even after hard labor.

"We'll be careful and not take any chances," Joe assured the men.

But had they realized what dangerous country they were in, they would
never have started out.



Chapter XXI

Magnificent Country


There was a rocky hill not far away, and it was Joe who expressed a
desire to go over and climb to the top.

"Fairly high," he remarked. "Ought to be able to get a good view of
the surrounding territory."

"Yes," Bob agreed. "Maybe we can catch sight of an Indian village in
the distance. The unknown tribe! Be fine if we could be the ones to
locate it, wouldn't it?"

"Sure would. Professor Bigelow would be delighted beyond words. Think
of the rumpus he'd kick up if we announced that we'd found the savages
he's been hunting."

It was a distance of less than a half-mile to the foot of the knoll,
and the youths made it in a very few minutes. Then they began the task
of climbing the jagged side. There was little vegetation to hinder
their progress, although twisted vines and shrubs were rather numerous
on the ground.

"The undergrowth offers footholds that we could not otherwise find,"
said Bob. "Here's a place where it comes in handy, even though most of
the time it's merely something to avoid."

At last, panting and perspiring, the youths reached the top of the
hill and then turned to glance down below. Jungle, jungle, jungle!
Nothing but heavily wooded country stretched before them. As far as
the eye could see the great tropical forest loomed up--in green,
brown, red. It was as though all the world were covered with dense
vegetation. The boys turned about.

On the other side was the river, winding through gulches and hills and
stretching out of sight in the distance. Opposite the hill were the
boats, and under trees not far away were the explorers resting
peacefully in the shade.

It was a spectacular view, and Bob and Joe spent several minutes in
silently gazing down.

"No evidence of human habitation anywhere around," remarked Bob,
trying to single out a settlement somewhere in the distance.

In the vast, silent jungle sound travels far, and realizing this, the
youths shouted to the others, to let them know of their commanding
position.

"Now let's get down from here and tramp on through the forest," said
Joe, finding a foothold in the heavy soil.

It was necessary to exercise more care in descending, for the rocks
were pointed and dangerous to step on. A safe place had to be felt out
cautiously.

The youths reached the bottom in a very short time, however, and
followed a narrow trail that wound out of sight.

"Be impossible to cut through this jungle if there were no trails of
any kind," said Bob, his keen eyes unable to penetrate the tangled
mass of vegetation on either side of them.

"Not without a machete, anyway," nodded Joe. "Even then it would be a
hard job."

The youths hiked on until they came to a small stream that emptied
into the river. They sat down on the bank to take in their
surroundings.

On the other side of the stream was a break in the ground that
indicated the presence of a gully--how steep, they did not know. They
resolved to find out as soon as they had rested.

"Unless," said Joe, "we can't get across the creek. Never can tell how
many alligators and piranhas have migrated here from the river."

He picked up a stone and threw it with all his strength into the muddy
water, hoping to arouse any life that might be lurking sluggishly out
of sight. Once he thought he detected a slight ripple other than that
caused by the stone but was not sure.

"Don't believe I care to wade it," backed out Bob. "Wouldn't feel
funny to have a toe nipped off by a piranha, or worse yet, to be
carried into an alligator's lair. Suppose we throw a log across for
safety."

They spent several more minutes sitting on the bank in idleness. At
last Joe got up and looked about the near-by jungle.

"No logs around here," he called to Bob, who had wandered along the
bank.

Further search was not in vain. A small tree that had been uprooted by
a hurricane lay in a patch of bushes not far away, and it was carried
to the stream and thrown across. Then the youths began carefully
walking along its narrow surface.

Bob reached the other side first, and he warned his friend to be
careful. Joe was, and in a few moments also had crossed the log.

"Now let's see what's beyond that ravine," he said.

They walked over to the edge and then halted abruptly, awe-stricken
and spellbound at the wonderful panorama that stretched out before
them. They were standing at the brink of a two-hundred-foot canyon,
which sloped down and back up to form a perfect U. At the very bottom
was a large grove of huge red flowers, which added not a little to the
beauty of the scene.

"Some view," breathed Joe, gazing far ahead at the distant jungle.

Bob nodded. "Bet we can see twenty miles or more," he said. "And
nothing but dense jungle."

The youths spent several more minutes in looking off into space. They
could not tear themselves away from the wonderful view. It seemed
almost impossible to come suddenly upon such a gulch in a land that
seemed fairly level.

At last Bob shouldered his rifle as a signal to move on.

"Can't spend too much time here if we expect to do any more
exploring," he said, looking at his watch. "They'll expect us back in
another hour."

"Where'll we go next?"

"No difference to me. How about down the hill?"

They hiked down the gradual slope of the canyon, although the jungle
was in places impenetrable.

When about halfway down, Joe stopped suddenly, his face an ashen gray,
his limbs trembling. Bob's eyes opened wide, and he clutched his rifle
tightly.

The next moment there came a horrid hiss, and the thirty-foot anaconda
lunged forward.



CHAPTER XXII

Lost in the Wilds of Brazil


The largest snake of Brazil was about to strike and enfold the youths
in its terrible coils. And that could mean but one thing--death in an
awful form.

Slowly Bob and Joe raised their rifles and took careful aim at the
horrible head. They must not miss. Here, if ever, was a need for
accurate shooting.

There came another hiss, and the reptile glided still closer, its
wicked eyes gleaming in the sunlight. It was moving stealthily, as if
wondering which of the boys to make for.

"Now!" whispered Bob and a second later pulled the trigger.

Bang! Bang! Two rifles spoke, but only one found the mark. It would
have been a difficult task for even an expert marksman to strike that
small swaying head. And Bob and Joe were not expert marksmen,
although the former was much better than the average.

But the bullet had only glanced the top of the head and had done no
real damage. The reptile was only more enraged.

"Run!" cried Joe, as he saw that the anaconda was preparing to strike.

"One more shot," whispered back Bob, again raising his rifle. "I'm
afraid we couldn't get far if we ran."

Again the rifles spoke, and this time, thanks to the young hunters'
courage, both bullets smashed into the head and shattered it. The
great snake thrashed about in its death struggle, the coils describing
circles and curves. At last it quieted down and lay still. For the
first time it had been defeated.

Bob and Joe waited several minutes for any other signs of life, but
none came. They moved up to examine the great body, which lay
stretched out over a radius of fifteen feet.

"Thicker than a man's leg," observed Joe, who was still unsteady from
the terrible encounter.

"An unusually large specimen," commented Bob. "Think of the excitement
our dads would stir up if they could see it."

"They might take it back to the States," said Joe. "Only--I doubt if
it would be much good to them with the head shattered as it is."

The boys spent several more minutes in examining the anaconda. Then,
unwilling to lose precious time, they started on down the decline.
They intended at least to reach the other side before turning back.

"Steep along here," said Joe, as they came to a rocky edge.

"Couldn't fall far," his friend remarked. "The heavy vegetation would
catch you before you'd fallen ten feet. But even then I wouldn't care
to lose my balance and come up against a tree."

The young explorers stumbled on to the bottom and then began the
ascent of the opposite side.

Suddenly they heard a vicious snarl and looked back to see that a
large, powerful jaguar was poised ready to spring. Its wicked eyes
shone like beads as it bared its sharp teeth.

Slowly the youths raised their rifles and took steady aim. Joe was the
first to pull the trigger, and a moment later Bob followed.

A part snarl, part whine came from the beast, and it weaved as if
going to fall. But it righted itself and then again prepared to
spring.

"It's up to you, Bob," murmured Joe in a tone that he tried to keep
steady. "My rifle's empty. Can't get it loaded in time."

Bob frowned.

A second later he raised his gun to fire, but it caught on a sharp
protruding branch and was wrenched from his grasp. With a frightened
glance at the huge cat he turned to run, and Joe was at his heels.

The boys well knew that they had little chance of escape in that dense
jungle, but they resolved to retreat as fast as their legs would carry
them. And the fact that the jaguar was severely wounded gave them
courage to run with all the strength they could muster.

"Good thing you got him in the leg," panted Joe, as they made for a
faintly outlined path not far away. "We wouldn't have had a chance in
the world otherwise."

As Joe said, the boys would have proved no match for the animal's
agility had it not been wounded. Even as it was, they knew that the
great cat was gaining rapidly. In no time it would be upon them.

A few yards down, the path branched into several directions. They
chose the one to the right, for no reason at all. It offered no better
chance of escape than did the others.

"Oh!" groaned Joe, imagining that he could feel the hot breath of the
beast. "We can't keep this up much longer."

The youths refused to lose heart, however, and continued as rapidly as
they could. At several other places the trail branched, and they
followed the widest and most clearly defined. They had no notion of
where they were going. In fact they did not care, as long as they were
outdistancing their terrible enemy.

At last they found it impossible to continue the flight. Their breath
gone completely; their hearts were beating like triphammers.

With a sudden movement Bob wheeled about and brought out his hunting
knife, just as the jaguar prepared to spring. The great cat lunged
forward, bearing the youth to the ground. As he fell, Bob summoned all
his strength and plunged the sharp blade of the knife deep into the
animal's side at a point where he judged it would find the heart. His
aim was true. With one last cough the beast rolled over and lay still.
The knife plus Bob's courage had proven too much for even its brute
strength.

For a time the youth could not speak. At last he managed to blurt out
a few almost unintelligible words to Joe, who had been helpless to
render aid during the death struggle.

Joe sighed and shook his head. "Another narrow escape!" he breathed,
picturing what would have happened had not Bob made use of his hunting
knife.

The boys spent only a short time in examining the great cat, for they
were anxious to get back to the boats at once.

"Let's hurry back to camp," moved Bob, looking at his watch. "We've
been gone several hours. Doesn't seem possible, does it?"

But little did the young hunters dream that they were miles from the
boats and their elders--that they had unknowingly penetrated deeper
and deeper into this dense jungle.

After one last look at the great jaguar, the chums started back down
the trail, heading for the boats. They wondered what kind of a
reception their fathers would give them after being gone so long.

Ten minutes of constant hiking brought them to a spot where the trail
branched into four or five other paths, each winding in a slightly
different direction from the others. Which branch should they take to
get back to camp?

"Strange," mused Joe. "I thought sure we could pick out the right
branch. But you know we didn't have much time for thought when that
jaguar was chasing us."

The youths spent fully ten minutes in trying to decide on which trail
they had turned out, but in the end they were no more enlightened than
they were at the start. They tried to remember some landmark that
might be suggestive but could not. The heavy Amazonian jungle had
proven too much for their memories.

But they refused to admit that they were beaten, and at last chose the
middle trail, as it seemed more like the one they had followed. There
was no use giving up without showing fight. They walked on constantly
and at last came to another place where the path branched. Here again
they were at a loss to know which direction to take.

"Believe it's the one to the left," concluded Joe, scratching his head
thoughtfully.

"I'm sure I don't know," the other said. "But if you think you're
right, we may as well follow it."

They did follow it. One, two, three miles they hiked. But where was
the canyon?

"We're surely on the wrong course," said Bob, glancing at his
pedometer. "Three miles is farther than we went before. And we haven't
come to the spot where I dropped my gun yet. Suppose we go back and
try another trail."

Joe was willing, and they retraced their footsteps, at last coming to
the place where the path branched.

"Suppose we try the one to the right," suggested Joe, and they did.

But when, after a half-hour's tramp, they made no more headway than
before, they saw the futility of continuing on this trail. Again they
went back and took another direction. And again they failed to come to
Bob's rifle. The youths continued the search for several hours, never
ceasing. But each time they met with failure. The cruel Brazilian
forest was not to be conquered by man.

Finally, exhausted and baffled to the extreme, they sat down on a
decaying tree trunk. The stark truth had at last dawned on them. They
were lost--lost in the wilds of Brazil!



CHAPTER XXIII

Terrible Cries of Savages


"Oh, why did we have to wander so far away!" moaned Joe, rapidly
losing his nerve. "We should have known better than to try to
penetrate this endless jungle."

Bob was equally touched, but he resolved to keep up hope. There was no
use in tamely submitting to fear so soon. One more search might bring
them to the river, and then it would be easy to find the boats.

"We'll come out all right," he said, "although I'll admit we're in a
tight fix."

The youths rested for nearly a half-hour. Then their strength--and to
some extent their hope--restored, they again took up the task of
finding the right trail.

Back and forth they hiked, confident that at last they would happen
upon it. But search as they did, their efforts were in vain. The
cruel Brazilian jungle was not to be conquered by man.

At last, satisfied that nothing could be gained by continuing such
efforts, Joe moved that they take one of the other trails in the hope
that it would lead them to the river.

"All right," said Bob. "No use trying to find the one we followed when
running from the jaguar."

Joe had reloaded his rifle, and Bob had placed his hunting knife ready
for instant use. They were taking no chances on meeting some
formidable jungle beast.

The path that they now followed was wider than the others and
consequently was more likely to lead to some definite spot. But
neither of the chums was sure that they were heading for the river. It
might lead them fifty miles away, for all they knew. Still they hiked
on.

"Do you know," remarked Bob, when another hour had passed, "that I'm
beginning to think that these trails were not cut by wild animals!
They're too closely defined. Now take this one, for example. See how
wide it is? And look over there. The vegetation's been _cut_ by a
machete."

Joe grew suddenly pale. He clutched his rifle tighter.

"You mean--savages?" he demanded, at the same time looking sharply
about.

"I may be wrong," Bob said quietly, "but that is my opinion. And as
we're about in the region inhabited by the savage tribe that Professor
Bigelow was searching for, it seems that these paths could have been
cut by them. What do you think?"

"I'm all too afraid that you're right," was the reply. "And we'll have
to be very careful from now on. At the slightest unfamiliar sound
we'll have to hide."

Bob groaned.

"If I only had my rifle," he cried. "Or if I had brought my revolver
it wouldn't be quite as bad."

But there was no use regretting something that could not be helped,
and Bob and Joe resolved to meet conditions as they were. Perhaps if
it should happen that Indians discovered them, it would be best not to
use their weapons except in self-defense. If the natives' good will
could be gained, it would not only help them but be of benefit to
Professor Bigelow also.

All the remainder of that afternoon the youths tramped on up the
trail, hoping to burst at last upon the river. They were tired and
downhearted when finally they stopped by a small spring of cool water.
Experience had taught them that in the great majority of cases these
jungle springs were ideal drinking places and that only a very few
were poisoned. So they drank freely of the refreshing liquid and felt
much better for it.

"Better stop here for the night, hadn't we?" asked Bob, taking in the
surrounding country.

"Yes," his friend replied. "There's a good place to sleep," pointing
to a large hollow in the ground.

A little later darkness fell suddenly, and with it came the usual
chill of the atmosphere. Joe had some matches in a small waterproof
box, and he took them out and ignited the dry branches of an uprooted
tree. The fire blazed lively up into the black reaches of the jungle,
giving off heat that was welcomed by the two chums as they sat close
together.

Before retiring, they took account of their weapons and ammunition.
Joe's rifle was the only firearm in their possession, but both boys
had a large supply of cartridges that should last a long time. With
cautious use they might make them satisfy their needs for several
days. But after that? Still there was no use worrying about the
future. They could let it take care of itself. At present they were
safe.

"I'll take the first guard," said Bob, half an hour later. "You turn
in and get several hours' sleep. I'll call you when the night's half
over."

Joe grudgingly consented. He had intended to stand watch first.

Bob heaped the fire up high and had a good supply of fuel ready to
keep it blazing constantly.

But when ten minutes had passed he smothered it down to half the size
it had been. It was not wise to keep it too high, for though it was a
sure protection from wild animals, it might attract the attention of
hostile Indians.

"Have to prevent that at any cost," the young man thought.

Bob sat moodily fingering his rifle, gazing into the dark depths of
the jungle. From afar came a terrorizing howl of some beast that had
fallen victim of a stronger enemy. Shortly later there came another
howl of different origin. Then another, another, until the whole
jungle rang with fiendish cries.

It was enough to frighten anyone, and Bob stared rather fearfully
into the surrounding forest, wondering what tragedies were going on at
that moment.

"Probably scores of creatures being killed," he thought, shifting
uneasily.

Nothing happened throughout his watch, and he at last moved over and
tapped Joe on the back. The latter jumped to his feet as if shot, and
gazed fearfully about, as if expecting to see a band of cannibals rush
in on them. But a moment later he smiled sheepishly.

"Guess I was dreaming," he said, taking his position on a log.

Bob readily sympathized with his chum, for the day had been a
strenuous one, and their endurance had been taxed severely.

"We'll surely find a way out tomorrow," Bob said, curling up in the
hollow.

"Hope so," was the reply.

Joe's watch was also devoid of incident, and late the next morning he
called the other youth from his slumber.

They were obliged to begin the day without any breakfast, although
they were extremely hungry. They could have shot some small animal,
but Bob thought it wise to wait until noon.

"By that time," he said hopefully, "maybe we'll have found the
river--or something else."

They followed the same trail until Joe stopped and looked about.

"We're not getting any place as things are," he said. "Seems to me the
river should be over in that direction."

"I think so too," agreed Bob. "There should be plenty of branch paths
that would take us over there."

They found one before another five minutes had passed, and turned onto
its narrow surface.

"The world's greatest jungle," mused Bob, shaking his head.

"Sure is a whopper," the other agreed. "Wonderful. I had no idea it
would have such a wide variety of plants, and that it could be so
dense."

All that morning the boys spent in vainly searching for the river. The
trail that they had turned onto continued, but where it would lead to
they did not know. It might have gradually circled several miles out
of the way.

During that desperate search the chums saw a large number of all types
of wild animals, although none happened to be dangerous. Monkeys
crowded thickly down to the lowest boughs, small gnawing creatures
darted across the path, brightly colored birds flew swiftly overhead.
Occasionally the boys could get a glimpse of a snake slinking through
the underbrush. It was a wonderful menagerie and could have been
enjoyed to the full had they not been in such a terrible plight.

"Do you know," remarked Bob, his eyes on a small creature, "I believe
these animals are used to seeing people."

Joe looked around inquiringly.

"Now take that small furred creature that just passed," Bob continued.
"Did you notice how wary it seemed? One glance at us was enough to
send it running back at full speed. They never did that before. Now
here's what I think: we're in a country inhabited either by rubber
gatherers or Indians. Why rubber gatherers would be so far from
civilization I don't know, unless----"

"I don't think they would be," interrupted Joe. "We didn't come across
any boat that they might have come in. And of course they wouldn't
have come all these hundreds of miles by land."

"Then it's Indians. Savages, cannibals, maybe, for all we know. It's
their bows and arrows that have scared these wild animals out of
their wits."

The youths knew not what to make of the situation. There could easily
be Indians in this region, for Professor Bigelow was almost sure they
were near the strange savage tribe that Otari told about. But how the
natives would treat these two lone whites was a mystery. If there
should be a battle the youths knew that their rifle could be relied
upon only as long as the supply of cartridges lasted. Then they would
be compelled to surrender.

"I have a plan," stated Joe, several minutes later. "If anything
should happen that we are discovered by savages, it might be best to
act extremely exhausted, as if we couldn't stand up a minute longer.
We could even fall in our tracks before they quite get sight of us.
The chances are they would sympathize with us and take us into their
village."

"Then what?"

"We could gain their friendship and have them lead us to the river."

"Fine!" cried Bob Holton, his hope renewed. "Takes you to think of
some plan to get us out of danger. Most likely we could carry it out,
for these savages are only grown children when it comes to catching
on to anything unusual. But we'd have to be very careful and keep a
close watch for any treachery."

Along toward noon the youths began to look for game. They were by now
furiously hungry and felt as if they could devour almost any creature
that would fall at the report of their rifle.

They did not have to wait long before a large duck-like bird flew over
and perched on a tree bough, not twenty feet away. Joe handed his
rifle to his chum.

"Take a shot at it," urged Joe. "We may not see another chance as
good."

Bob aimed carefully and fired just as the bird prepared to take
flight. A moment later feathers flew and the creature fluttered to the
ground.

"Hurrah!" cried Joe. "Now we eat!"

A fire was built of dead wood in the vicinity, and the young hunters'
quarry was placed over the flames to bake. Before long a delicious
odor filled the clearing, and the youths prepared a feast fit for a
king.

"Roast duck! Think of that!" cried Joe.

The bird tasted good, despite the fact that it was rather tough. Bob
and Joe ate heartily, until only a small portion was left. Then they
stretched themselves on the soft grass for a short rest.

"I feel like getting some sleep," remarked Joe. "But of course----"

He stopped suddenly and strained his ears to listen.

Bob looked inquiringly but remained quiet.

A moment later there came a long, weird chant that cut through the
thin jungle air with remarkable clearness. It was repeated several
times, always nearer. Never before had the youths heard anything like
it, and they were intensely bewildered.

Bob looked inquiringly at his friend, but the latter could give no
explanation.

"Beyond me," he muttered.

Again the cry came, and then the boys jumped to their feet in horror.

"Savages!" cried Bob excitedly. "Indians--wild Indians. They're coming
this way!"



CHAPTER XXIV

The Hideous Village


"Oh!" groaned Bob hopelessly. "Guess it's all up with us."

"No, it isn't," the other youth retorted. "You remember what we said
to do in such an emergency, don't you? Act extremely exhausted, as if
we couldn't move another foot. Lie on the ground--do anything to make
them feel sorry for us. They will if the thing is carried out right."

The cries were gradually getting louder, indicating that the Indians
were coming closer. Occasionally some savage would chant louder than
the others, and then there would be a grand chorus of shouts and
yells.

"They're getting nearer," muttered Joe. "Come on, let's lie on the
ground. Act as if you're half dead."

The youths threw themselves on the soft grass and awaited
developments.

They had not long to wait.

A figure burst into view from around a bend in the trail. Another,
followed by fully twenty other savages, their gruesome faces showing
surprise and bewilderment at sight of the youths.

Who were these persons--persons of a strange color? Were they enemies?
Were they on the ground waiting for a chance to kill? What was that
strange long thing that was beside them? What were they doing here?
Had they been sent down from the sky to bring destruction to villages,
or had they wandered from an unknown region in the remote beyond?

For fully ten minutes the savages were silent. Then they began
chattering loudly and moved stealthily up to the boys, bows and arrows
and blowguns in readiness.

Bob and Joe waited in terrible suspense, half expecting to be pierced
by deadly weapons. The youths longed to move about, if only for a
moment. Once Joe felt an itching along his back, and the desire to
scratch was almost uncontrollable, but he finally managed to remain
quiet.

An Indian that was evidently the chief felt of the boys' bodies and
limbs carefully, while his men looked on, ready to send an arrow at
once if necessary. At last, after feeling the beating of the boys'
hearts, the native regained his feet and conversed with the others.

Then Bob and Joe were picked up by strong arms and carried through the
jungle.

Where would they be taken? What was to be their fate? Could they gain
the friendship of the savages? These questions were in the youths'
minds as they were being carried along the trail.

"Maybe they're going to put us in boiling water," thought Joe, and he
shuddered in spite of himself. "But then," he finally reasoned, "they
probably won't do that. After all, very few tribes are cannibalistic."

How long the tramp continued, Bob and Joe did not know, but at last,
after what seemed several hours, they came to a spot where the path
broadened into twice the original width, and a few minutes later they
parted the bushes and came to a large native village, where at least
sixty wild Indians were walking about. At sight of the warriors and
their burdens the Indians rushed forward and crowded around, their
eagerness to get a view of the strange people resembling that of
small children at a circus.

There was a turmoil of excited chattering, in which everyone took
part. Questions flew thick and fast, and it was all the warriors could
do to answer them.

Bob and Joe were placed in one of the native huts and for a short time
left to themselves. There was a crude door at the entrance, and this
was shut to keep out the curious.

Then for the first time they opened their eyes and looked about.

"We're in a fairly large hut," whispered Bob, glancing about. "And
there are several pieces of furniture to keep us company. Over there
is a kind of a table, laden down with pots and---- Hurrah! There's our
rifle. What do you know about that!"

"They're certainly generous," admitted Joe. "It's a wonder they didn't
take it and start pulling the trigger, which would no doubt have
resulted in five or ten of them getting their brains blown out."

"But now," mused Bob, "what do you think? What'll they do with us?"

"I don't happen to know," was the response. "But we'll----"

He ceased abruptly, as he noticed that the door was opening. The
youths took a sitting position and tried to act as innocent as they
could.

A second later the chief entered, followed by ten others. They stopped
short when they noticed that the boys were sitting up, and stared in
wonder.

Bob and Joe threw their hands apart in a gesture of helplessness and
smiled gratefully. Bob beckoned the men to come in the hut.

They stood undecidedly at first, but finally, convinced that these
strangers meant no harm, moved on in the dwelling.

Then the boys did all they could to convey the idea that they were
thankful to the Indians for saving them from death from exhaustion,
and in the end it looked as if they had succeeded. Not until the big
chief smiled, however, did they feel secure, for there were grim looks
on the faces of all the savages. But when the chief showed his teeth
in friendship, the youths felt that the battle was won. With the head
native on their side things looked a great deal brighter.

"Now for something to eat," said Bob to his chum. "I'm not particular
what it is, just so it's nourishing."

He put his hands to his mouth, and began working his jaws as if
chewing. Then he imitated drinking. The chief understood, and he gave
directions to one of his men, who dashed off to another part of the
village.

Meanwhile the others stood gazing at the youths, who in their
sun-tanned condition were scarcely less dark than the Indians
themselves.

In a short time the Indian returned with plates and pots of food,
which he placed on the ground beside them.

"Do you suppose the stuff's all right?" asked Joe, hesitating to begin
eating.

"Don't know why it wouldn't be," Bob returned. "Why should they poison
us? At present we're too much of a curiosity to kill. They'll at least
wait for the novelty to wear off."

The food tasted good despite the fact that the boys were ignorant as
to what it was. They ate heartily, and in a very short time their
strength was restored.

Then by signs they asked permission to walk around the village. At
first the natives hesitated, but at last the chief nodded in approval,
and the youths got to their feet.

"If we could just speak some of their language," said Bob, as they
went out of the thatched house.

"Be easy then," affirmed Joe. "But maybe we can get them to take us to
the river, and then Professor Bigelow can talk with them."

The chief led the way around the settlement, pointing with pride to
many articles that were the results of the Indians' handiwork. Many
objects were totally new to the boys, and they viewed them with
interest. But when they came to one large hut they saw something that
turned their blood cold with horror.

Hanging thickly on the walls were scores of dried human heads, their
features perfectly preserved. In fact the ghastly trophies were so
thick that there were no cracks between them.

Bob and Joe glanced around the room in terrible awe. Suddenly, as they
turned about, their eyes fell on something that again caused them to
be horror-stricken, this time more than before.

Near the corner were two heads that were--white!

"Explorers," breathed Bob, rather nervously. "Or were they
missionaries? At any rate these heads were those of white men--and
they've been killed for their heads!"

The youths felt fairly sick, and once Joe reeled as if to fall. But he
got a grip on himself and resolved to take matters as they were. At
present they were in no danger. The terrible and yet genial chief
seemed to be their friend. But how soon his lust to kill would come to
the surface they did not know.

They spent no more time at the horrible trophy house, for it contained
such things as one might see in a nightmare. Bob and Joe made up their
minds to seek out something more pleasant.

They found it in a large board that had lines crossing and
crisscrossing from one side to the other. The chief got out a box and
took out several wooden pegs, which he placed in the spaces on the
board. He moved them back and forth and laughed.

"Must be some kind of a game," concluded Bob, thoroughly interested.

The boys spent several hours in touring the village, and although they
were constantly enfolded by the crowd of curious savages, they
enjoyed the experience. It was unique and different, but they felt
some repulsion for the various activities carried on by these heathen
people.

"All right for a visit," mused Joe, "but I don't think I'd care to
live here."

"I'd feel a whole lot safer back in the boats with our dads and the
professor," said Bob, as he thought of the hideous dried human heads.
"Still," he went on, "I suppose we should do all we can to help
Professor Bigelow. Here is a chance for him to get plenty of
information of the kind that he wants most."

Late that afternoon Bob and Joe took the rifle and, motioning for the
chief to follow, started into the jungle just back of the village.
They intended to give the native a real surprise and thrill, such as
he had never before had.

At last he went with them, probably wondering what the strange whites
had in mind, but willing to find out.

"Maybe we can show him how to kill a jaguar," said Joe, keeping a
sharp watch over the forest.

No game was in the immediate vicinity of the village, owing to the
frequent hunting trips made by the savages. But when they had gone
several miles there came fresh signs that wild creatures were close
by.

Suddenly they caught sight of a large tapir rooting in the tall grass.

Bob took the rifle and, motioning to the Indian, he pointed to the gun
and then to the animal.

A moment later he pulled the trigger.

At the report of the weapon the big Indian jumped in fright and was on
the verge of running back to the village, when Bob pointed again to
the gun and then to the tapir, which was now dead. Then for the first
time the chief caught the meaning, and he looked at the boys with
something like worship in his eyes.

What strange magic was this? A long thing that spouted fire had killed
a tapir instantly, without a struggle. These people must be gods.

From that moment on, the chief's friendship for the youths increased
to devotion, which at times promised to be embarrassing. But Bob and
Joe did not care. This would be all the better opportunity for
Professor Bigelow to secure information on the savages' daily life and
customs.

The three hunters trudged on farther, hoping to stir up more game.
The boys wished particularly to get a shot at a jaguar, so that the
power of the gun could be demonstrated still further.

"The old boy'd just about throw a fit if he saw the rifle pot off the
king of Brazilian wild beasts," smiled Joe.

At last they burst through a thick mass of vegetation and found
themselves on the bank of a small stream.

At once Bob and Joe were wild with delight, for this stream evidently
was a tributary of the river. And the river was what they wanted to
find above all else.

"Hurrah!" cried Joe, overwhelmed with delight. "We've as good as found
our party already!"



CHAPTER XXV

Reunion at Last


The chief was puzzled by the actions of Bob and Joe, and the boys
realized it, but there was no use trying to explain. It would take
more than signs to convey the idea that more whites were near the
river.

"Suppose we try to get him to go with us," suggested Joe. "Think he
will?"

"Hard to say. We'll find out."

The youths beckoned the Indian to come with them, and they were
surprised to find that he did so without hesitation.

"He probably intends to do anything we ask from now on," said Bob.
"Our ability to kill wild beasts with fire was too much for him. Maybe
he thinks he'll die like the tapir if he refuses."

There was a narrow trail along the bank of the stream, and Bob led the
way down it, followed by Joe and the chief. The boys intended to make
as much time as possible, for they wished to reach the river as soon
as they could. How far away it was, they did not know. Perhaps a large
number of miles.

"If we can just keep the chief with us everything will turn out fine,"
said Bob.

All the rest of that day they trudged on, keeping their rifle ready
for any savage jungle beast that might show itself. The Indian kept
with them tirelessly, and many times he proved of valuable assistance
in pointing out the easiest course through the underbrush.

Along toward evening they stopped at a large open space that was
devoid of vegetation.

"Better stay here for the night, hadn't we?" asked Joe.

"Yes," Bob replied. "You stay here and build a fire while the chief
and I go in search of game. Don't think you'll be in any danger. We'll
be back in a short time."

Bob and the Indian started out down the bank of the stream, confident
that they would see game sooner or later.

They had not far to go.

At a sharp bend in the trail a small animal, the name of which Bob
did not know, darted out and made for the water.

But it did not get there.

Bang! came the report of the rifle, and the bullet sped straight. The
creature fell dead at once.

This time the Indian did not show signs of fear, for he knew what was
to come. Instead he looked at Bob with awe and wonder in his eyes.

Back at the clearing they found that Joe had started a large fire. The
warmth of it felt good as the chill of the fast-approaching night
fell.

"You did have some luck, didn't you?" observed Joe. "Wonder if it'll
be good eating."

"Hope so."

The animal was skinned with Bob's hunting knife and placed over the
fire to bake. Then the three sat together to witness the falling of
night. As usual it came suddenly, and they huddled closer to the fire.

In time the animal was thoroughly baked, and then they began the meal.

Suddenly the chief got up and dashed through the jungle out of sight,
leaving the youths to wonder at this sudden departure.

"Think he's gone?" asked Joe, trying to catch sight of the Indian
through the dense vegetation.

"Doesn't seem possible that he'd desert us as abruptly as this,"
replied Bob. "He seemed to be all our friend."

The youths waited silently, almost convinced that the man had left for
good.

But a moment later he emerged from the jungle as suddenly as he had
disappeared. In his arms were several varieties of what was evidently
wild fruit.

He ran toward the boys with a smile as he glanced first at the roasted
animal and then at the fruit he was carrying. When he reached the fire
he deposited the stuff near, and then sat down to eat.

"A welcome addition to the meal," said Bob joyfully. "Takes these
savages to know what all the vast forest contains that's nourishing."

Nevertheless the young men were careful to see that the Indian ate
first before they sampled any of the wild fruit.

"Take no chances," remarked Joe. "Ten to one he means no harm, but
it's best to be on the safe side."

The chief ate of everything, however, and then the boys followed
suit. They found that all of the fruit was delicious, with flavors
that they had never before tasted.

There were large, round melons, like a cross between a watermelon and
a cantaloup. There were bulbs resembling potatoes, bunches of small
bright-colored berries, and wild bananas.

It was a meal unlike any that the boys had ever eaten. They felt like
savages themselves, and were delighted that soon they would come to
the river.

"Won't it be wonderful to see our party again?" asked Joe, deeply
touched.

"Sure will," Bob replied. "But we don't want to be too sure that
everything will turn out all right. Something else may turn up that's
not expected."

After the feast the three sat in silence, watching the moon float
silently and majestically over the great jungle.

At last Joe turned to put more fuel on the fire.

"Hadn't some of us better turn in?" he asked. "We've had a tough time
of it today and need rest."

Bob agreed, and they set about arranging watches.

"I'll be the first guard," announced Joe. "You and the chief curl up
by the fire and get some sleep. I'll call you in a few hours. We'd
better not disturb the Indian tonight."

Thus it was arranged, and Joe sat idly beside the fire, his rifle near
by.

His watch passed without incident, and at last he tapped Bob on the
back. They changed positions, Joe retiring and Bob keeping a lookout
for intruders.

Despite the fact that Bob had a strange feeling that something would
happen, the night passed peacefully, although the youth was confident
that wild animals were just beyond the zone of firelight.

In the morning Joe and the Indian were up early, preparing to hike on.
The former still did not know where the boys were going or what their
purpose was, but he showed no signs of hesitation.

"We want to see the river today," remarked Bob, as they again took up
the trail.

"I think we will," the other youth returned. "We made good time
yesterday, and if the luck continues, we will today."

All morning they tramped without a stop. They were tired and
exhausted, but did not wish to lose time until necessary.

About noon they came to another clearing, and Bob moved that they stop
for the noon meal.

The chief and Joe went into the jungle a short distance away to gather
wild fruit, which alone was to serve as their meal.

In a short time they returned with a bountiful supply, and then the
feast began.

"Several new additions to our menu today," remarked Bob, as he noticed
that there were cocoanuts, roots like carrots, and a plant resembling
cane.

The three ate heartily of everything, and then they started on.

"Stream's getting wider," observed Bob, several hours later.

"Yes," returned Joe. "The river shouldn't be very far away."

He had scarcely uttered the words when they rounded a sharp curve and
found themselves at the junction with the river.

For a moment the youths could hardly believe their eyes. Here at last
was the thing they had been searching for all these days--the thing
that would lead them to their fathers and the others of the party.
Never had anything looked so good to them.

"At last!" breathed Joe, too delighted for words. "Now let's hurry on
up to the boats."

"How do you know we should go up?" demanded Bob. "They could be easily
farther downstream as well."

"I know it," was the response. "But it seems to me that I remember
passing this stream several hours before we stopped."

"All right. Let's go."

They had to search quite a while before a path was found that followed
the river.

"If we keep up this good time, we'll surely see the boats today--if
they're there to see," said Bob, as he led the way up the trail.

Notwithstanding this, they hiked on constantly for the remainder of
the afternoon without coming to the explorers' boats.

"Perhaps if we fire rifle shots it will attract their attention," said
Joe, and he sent out three shots, repeating at intervals.

"What's that?" said Joe, raising a hand for silence.

"Thought I heard an answering report," he said. "But maybe---- Yes,
there it is again. And there."

Two shots had sounded from afar, and at once the boys responded with
Joe's rifle.

"Now let's move on upstream," said Bob. "If we can meet them halfway
it will be all the better."

The youths again followed the trail, the Indian chief close behind
them. They realized that the answering reports had come from afar and
that it would take no little hiking to get to them.

About every five minutes Joe raised the rifle and fired, each time
receiving an answering shot.

Finally, after an hour's constant traveling, they heard a crashing
sound in the jungle not far ahead, and they were on the alert at once.

A moment later Mr. Lewis and Mr. Holton emerged and looked about.

Their eyes fell on Bob and Joe, and the men rushed forward in intense
relief and thankfulness.

"Boys!" cried Mr. Holton, almost unable to believe his own eyes.

The next instant they were stammering out words of thanksgiving at
finding their sons alive and apparently none the worse for their
experience.

"We didn't see how you could possibly escape tragedy," said Mr. Lewis
gravely. "Getting lost in the vast Amazon jungle is a serious thing,
especially when you have no food of any kind with you."

"All the time we were in doubt as to how we'd come out," said Bob.
"Worst part of it was that we were afraid to hike far for fear of
getting farther away from the river, but we knew we couldn't get any
place sitting down."

"Tell us all about it," urged Mr. Holton, and the youths related their
experience from start to finish. They told of shooting the jaguar, of
the necessary abandoning of Bob's rifle, and of the flight that
followed. And at last of coming across the strange tribe of Indians
that was probably the one Professor Bigelow had been searching for.

"A fearful experience," breathed Mr. Lewis, when the youths had
finished. "Not many could have had such good luck. If you hadn't come
across the Indians, your fate would probably have been sealed by now."

"But wait," hesitated Joe, with a sudden recollection. "Here's the
chief of the tribe we got in with. We finally got him to come with
us."

He glanced around, but the Indian was nowhere in sight.

"Strange," mused Bob. "He was here a few minutes ago. Could he have
left?"

He called loudly, but it was unnecessary. The man had only stepped
behind a bush, undecided as to whether to come in sight of the other
whites, and at once left his place of concealment and walked out
warily.

Bob and Joe beckoned for him to move up to them. At first he was
uncertain, but finally concluded that it would be safe to venture
nearer.

The boys introduced him as best they could by signs, and although it
was rather awkward, they felt that much of his uncertainty vanished
before the cordial attitude of Mr. Lewis and Mr. Holton.

"Now we must get to the boats," Joe's father said. "Professor Bigelow
will be worried about us, if he is not by now."

They hiked on up the river, the chief following.

"Won't the old boy be surprised when he finds that Professor Bigelow
can talk with him!" smiled Joe, as they rounded a long bend.

"That isn't a strong enough word," laughed Mr. Holton. "Still," he
hesitated, "we don't want to be too sure that this Indian is from the
tribe that the professor was searching for."

The boats were several miles distant, and it would require several
hours' traveling to get to them. But the whites were all overly
anxious and made good time.

At last, after passing through a thick grove of palms, they sighted
the boats in the distance.

Professor Bigelow came running up at once, a broad smile of
thankfulness on his bronzed, scholarly face. He gave the boys a
welcome almost as warm as that of Mr. Holton and Mr. Lewis. The crew,
too, took part in the reception and muttered words of joy at seeing
Bob and Joe alive and unharmed. Even the Indians who had previously
attempted desertion joined in, outwardly at least.

"But look here, Professor," said Bob. "We've found the savage tribe
you were searching for and have brought you the chief."

"What!"

For answer Bob motioned for the Indian, who was standing several score
feet down the path, to come closer. He grudgingly did so, and the
professor was taken completely aback in surprise and joy. His eyes
opened wide, and it was some time before he could regain his
composure.

"How can I ever thank you enough?" he muttered, his eyes on the sober
Indian. "We might have searched for days and days and then not found
the tribe."

He turned to the chief and said something that the others did not
understand. At once the savage's face lightened, and he began
chattering so rapidly that the professor had to put up a hand for
silence.

"I'm sorry, but I'm not that familiar with his language," laughed the
professor. "I think, though, that if he'll talk slowly I may be able
to understand him. Luckily he's from the same tribe that Otari told
about."

Again Professor Bigelow turned to the Indian and this time asked him
to talk more slowly.

He did, and a long conversation followed. It was broken and awkward,
but in the end the professor gained a large amount of information.
There was a smile on his face as he turned to the others.

"He says he will tell me all I want to know about his people if I will
go with him to his settlement. His people will treat us all right. I
don't think there is cause to worry about that. What do you think
about going?"

"All right with me," returned Mr. Holton. "That was one purpose for
coming up here, you know. And the chances are that we'll find an
abundance of fauna in those remote forests. I'm all for it."

"Fine," burst out Professor Bigelow. "Then we'll go at once. But
first," he hesitated, "we'll have to decide who will go and who will
stay with the boats."

"Why not take the boats with us?" suggested Joe. "The stream that Bob
and I followed to the river is deep, even if it isn't wide. I think we
can easily paddle through."

The others gave their approval at once, and they moved on up to the
boats.

They decided to get a lunch first, however, for all were tired after
the day's strain. The chief was in no special hurry to get back to the
village, as he had often left on long hunting trips alone.

Soon after the meal the provisions that had been taken out were packed
in the boats, and then all climbed in.

"Now let's make time," urged Mr. Lewis, and the crew paddled them
upstream.

The afternoon was rapidly wearing away, and before long it would be
night.

At last Mr. Holton called to the crew to stop the boats.

"It's unsafe to paddle farther," he said. "Suppose we turn up into
that little bay over there."

The suggestion was carried out. Then they made camp.

"Hope nothing happens tonight," said Bob, as he prepared to turn in
for the night.

"I'm with you there," his chum returned. "Somehow I've had enough
thrills for a while."

But he had no way of knowing how soon action would present itself in a
big way.

The next morning they were up early, preparing to resume the journey
shortly after breakfast. The chief of the strange tribe told Professor
Bigelow that they should reach his village late that day, if all
turned out well.

"I'm not especially anxious to get back among those wild men," Bob
said aside to his chum. "But we must do all we can to help Professor
Bigelow."

Late that afternoon the chief said something to the anthropologist and
pointed to a clearly defined trail that wound away through the heavy
vegetation.

"He says that here is where we leave the boats and head for his
village," the scientist told the others in animated tones.

"Fine!" exclaimed Mr. Lewis, also delighted that the journey had come
to an end. "There's a place that will act as a harbor," pointing to a
groove in the shore.

He directed the crew to paddle the boats to land, and as soon as this
was done all climbed out and made the crafts fast to staunch trees.

Professor Bigelow turned to the savage and conversed for several
minutes. Then he moved to the boats.

"The village isn't far away," he said. "It will be safe to leave our
provisions here for the time being."

As a precaution, however, and also because the naturalists wished to
secure new specimens, they carried their rifles and a good supply of
ammunition.

The chief led the way along the path, the others close at his heels.
The path was so well cut that they had no trouble in walking along
briskly. A half-hour, the Indian said through Professor Bigelow, would
be all the time required to get to the village.

Suddenly the explorers heard a faint screaming and shouting that came
from the village, and at once the chief began chattering nervously.

Professor Bigelow gave a groan and translated to the others.

"He says that probably a fight is taking place between his tribe and
another," said the scientist.

"What!" cried Mr. Holton excitedly. "Then that means that we whites
may have to use our rifles after all. Ask him if the other tribe is
using poisoned arrows."

The savage nodded in affirmation when the question was put before him,
and the whites tightened their grips on their weapons.

"I guess this means that we're in for some excitement," Bob confided
to his chum, as the party again followed the trail.

Ten minutes later they parted the foliage and came abruptly within
full view of the village. All uttered cries of consternation at the
furiousness of the battle that was taking place between the two savage
tribes.



CHAPTER XXVI

The Terrible Battle


Spears and arrows and darts flew thick and fast, striking down many a
man on both sides. Fierce cries filled the atmosphere and made the
Americans shudder. Here in the untamed wilds of Brazil was taking
place as terrible a battle as the world had ever known. Savages--wild,
hostile Indians--were the participants, and no people anywhere were
more terrible when excited to insane fury.

For some time none of the explorers spoke. They were too captivated by
the scene. But at last Mr. Holton turned thought into action.

"Get your rifles in readiness," he commanded. "It's up to us to drive
this tribe away. The chief's men seem unable to do it.

"Now we're all good shots," he went on. "Suppose we fire a volley of
bullets and see if we can't make them leave without bloodshed. If we
can't, we'll have to shoot to kill. Come on, now."

The whites raised their rifles, and, one at a time, pulled the
triggers. Five shots rang out, much to the surprise of the savages.
But as no damage seemed to be done by the strange reports, the Indians
regained confidence and sent spears and arrows in the explorers'
direction. As a result, one of the crew went down, wounded in the
thigh.

"We'll have to shoot to kill," said Mr. Lewis at once.

He raised his rifle and, taking careful aim, fired at the nearest
native, who went down instantly.

Mr. Lewis's shot was followed by those of the other whites, and at
once panic ensued among the invading savages.

After only a thin defense, they took to their heels with cries of
fright and bewilderment, leaving their dead and wounded behind.

"Guess that drove them off all right," said Bob with a grim smile.
"Come on, let's----But wait! Look! The chief's tribe is worshiping
us."

Bob was right. The Indians had fallen to their knees, waving their
arms and muttering words that were not understood even by Professor
Bigelow.

Even the chief, accustomed as he was to the rifles and the whites'
power to bring down animals, bowed his head in awe at his tribe's
deliverance.

It was a most embarrassing situation, and for a time the explorers
were at a loss to know what to do next.

Finally Professor Bigelow walked forward and uttered kind words, at
the same time raising hands for the savages to rise to their feet.

He succeeded well. At once they got to their feet and resumed
something of their usual attitude, although they were not quite
convinced that these people were not gods.

The chief went forward and conversed with them so rapidly that
Professor Bigelow could not keep up.

"He's telling of his visit to our camp," the scientist said. "He
perhaps considers it a much-prized experience."

As soon as the chief had finished, the Indians jabbered excitedly,
eager to get all the details. Occasionally they would look at the
whites as if they considered them super-beings.

"They can't get over the thought that we have higher powers than they
have," mused Bob. "But maybe," he hesitated, his thoughts going back
to the terrible trophy chamber of dried human heads that was one of
the tribe's prized possessions, "it will be just as well to let them
go on thinking that way. It would be hard to say when they might turn
against us if they thought we were ordinary persons."

"Turn against us?" demanded Mr. Lewis, rather surprised. "What makes
you think they would do that? They seem all right."

"Don't know that they would," Bob replied, exchanging meaning glances
with Joe. "Still it's wise to be on the safe side."

It was evident that Bob's significant statement had the men highly
puzzled. Finally Professor Bigelow demanded an explanation.

"There's nothing to it--except that these people are headhunters,"
said Joe. "If you don't believe it just take a look at the place where
they keep the heads. And say! They've killed a couple of white men,
too."

Astonished gasps came from Mr. Holton and Mr. Lewis, but not from
Professor Bigelow. Anthropologist as he was, he had suspected this
from the start. Very few _savage_ tribes in the wilds of Brazil did
not have that custom.

Suddenly a groan made all turn about, to see that the Indian of the
crew who had been wounded by a spear had regained consciousness. His
side apparently pained severely, for on his face was a look of agony.

Mr. Holton got to work at once.

"Ask the chief if we can have some water," he said to Professor
Bigelow. "Bob, suppose you run down to the boats and bring a box of
antiseptic. Go as fast as you can. Meanwhile we'll be taking care of
others that were wounded."

Bob grabbed a rifle and dashed off down the path for the stream.

He reached the boats in record time and hurriedly got out a box of
first-aid materials. Then he made his way back to the village.

But he had gone only a few yards when a fluttering noise caused him to
look up.

At once his jaw dropped in astonishment, and a look of surprise and
wonder came on his face.



CHAPTER XXVII

Human Heads Still Dripping!


The sight that Bob beheld was one that few hunters and scientists have
the opportunity of seeing. Strange sights were common enough in all
little-known lands, but this was indeed a wonder of wonders.

Not thirty feet in the air a bird resembling an eagle was carrying a
half-grown tapir with apparently perfect ease, although the tapir was
three times heavier than itself. The tapir was very much alive, as
indicated by its writhing movements, but these availed it nothing. It
might as well have been caught in an iron vise.

For several minutes Bob stared spellbound, taken completely aback.

Finally he called himself to action and raised his rifle.

"Dad and Mr. Lewis would no doubt welcome the addition of such an
unusual specimen as this eagle," he thought and then pulled the
trigger.

The report of the gun was immediately followed by the dropping of the
bird and its prey. It fluttered about for a moment and then lay still.
The tapir had been killed instantly by the fall.

Much to Bob's surprise, the bird could be lifted easily, and he
hastened on to the Indian settlement, confident that the naturalists
would nearly throw a fit over the strange eagle.

And he thought right. Mr. Holton and Mr. Lewis exclaimed in delight
and surprise when they caught sight of Bob and the strange creature he
was carrying.

"Where did you ever find it?" asked Mr. Lewis, and Bob was forced to
tell of the entire experience.

"The great hairy eagle," pronounced Mr. Holton, when the youth had
finished. "I thought they were confined to the jungles of Guiana,
didn't you, Ben?" he asked of Joe's father.

"Yes," was the reply. "Never heard of their being found here. Such is
unusual indeed. The claws are the most powerful of any known bird."

But there was little time for further examining the specimen, for the
wounded Indians needed treatment. The member of the crew was looked
after first, and then they turned to the chief's men, many of whom
were seriously wounded. As for those who had been struck by poisoned
arrows, treatment was unnecessary, for death had set in long before.

The better part of an hour was spent in giving first-aid to the
unfortunate savages, and in the end they felt that a large number of
lives had been saved by their actions.

"But don't think that the natives have no cure for human ills," said
Professor Bigelow. "The chances are that they know of many remedies
that surpass those of civilization in curing properties."

When the task was completed, the Indians invited the whites to come in
the main hut and participate in a feast in honor of their ability to
drive off the hostile invaders. The invitation was accepted at once,
for the explorers were all very hungry.

"Wonder what they'll give us to eat?" asked Joe, as they went into the
thatched hut.

"Perhaps it'll be better not to know," Bob grinned.

Whatever it was, however, it tasted good, and they ate heartily of
everything.

"Now I'm going to get in touch with the chief, whose name I recently
learned is Reemikuk," announced Professor Bigelow. "But first,
however, I must have my typewriter. That means a trip to the boats."

"And while he's doing that, Mr. Lewis and I can have a look about the
village," Bob's father said. "Perhaps you boys can show us the places
and things of interest. Will you do it?"

"To be sure we will," returned Joe. "But first," he said with a grim
smile, "you must prepare yourselves to see things that are
unpleasant."

"What do you mean?" his father demanded.

For answer the youths led the way to the trophy house and its hideous
contents.

Impulsively the naturalists shrank back in disgust at the scene. Never
had they laid eyes on such a place of horror before.

"To think," muttered Mr. Lewis, "that even these wild people could do
such hideous things!"

But despite the gruesomeness of the place they spent several minutes
there, unable to tear themselves away from its terrible fascination.

At last Mr. Holton made for the outside.

"Now for something more pleasant," he said. "What is there, boys?"

"Plenty," answered Joe. "There are games and baskets and carvings
and...."

All the remainder of that day was spent in examining the many articles
of interest made by the simple savages.

When at last they went back to the hut that was to be theirs during
their stay at the village, they found the professor in earnest
conversation with the chief and a witch doctor.

The Indians were talking slowly, so that the scientist could pick up
every word. He glanced up at the other whites only for a moment, so
deeply engrossed was he in what the savages were telling him.

"He seems to be enjoying himself immensely," observed Joe aside to his
chum.

"No doubt about it," Bob replied. "And look how the Indians are
regarding the typewriter. Probably think it's another of the whites'
magics."

Professor Bigelow _was_ enjoying himself. Every strange custom of the
savages appealed to him as a wonderful item to put in the book he
intended to write about the primitive inhabitants of these wild
regions. But two days later something happened that, although
considered a very interesting custom by the anthropologist, was not to
the liking of the other whites. A band of twenty-five warriors had
gone into the upper reaches of the river several days before, and now
they returned laden with--human heads!

"Ugh! Me for the hut," said Bob, a sickly feeling creeping over him as
he viewed the ghastly trophies.

And the others, with the exception of Professor Bigelow, felt the same
way. The anthropologist, however, seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the
terrible scene.

"How thrilling a custom!" he said to his friends that night, as they
prepared to retire.

For answer the others only groaned.

But if the explorers thought the mere carrying in of human heads was
gruesome, they were to witness something still more terrible before a
week would pass.



CHAPTER XXVIII

The Forced Get-away


"Bob!"

"Joe!"

"Did you see it?"

"Yes. Human bones! These savages are _cannibals_!"

It was night--a dark, lowering night. The moon was nowhere in sight.
Not a star twinkled down from the heavy jungle sky. Huge, roaring
fires blazed in front of the chief's large hut, while about them
danced scores of painted savages, shouting and screaming and
gesticulating.

It was a scene wild enough to strike terror to the heart of anyone.
Bob and Joe gazed fearfully into the raging mob, wondering if the
lives of them and their companions would be taken for the feast.

The boys moved over to their elders, who were standing at the other
side of their thatched dwelling.

"Cannibals!" Professor Bigelow was muttering. He had seen too.

Mr. Holton and Mr. Lewis nodded, on their faces a grave expression.
They were so taken aback as to be almost speechless.

"I think perhaps we had better get away from here," said the
professor, who, although deeply attentive to scientific work, knew
when he was in a dangerous situation. "I know enough of the ways of
primitive people to surmise what they'll probably do to us if we stay.
Their appetites for human flesh will be so stimulated that they will
no doubt kill us also. Lucky that this happened as late as it did. I
wouldn't have wanted to leave so soon if I had not secured about all
the information there is to be obtained about them."

Just before leaving, Bob and Joe got out their cameras and took motion
pictures of the gruesome feast, and in the end they were almost
convinced that nothing of this kind had ever been shown on the silver
screen.

With the aid of flashlights, whose beams, by the way, were concealed
from the savages, the explorers had gathered their belongings together
and were now ready to leave for the boats. Of course it would be
perilous traveling at night through the jungle, but the chance had to
be taken.

At that moment an Indian entered their hut, glanced about, and then
started to call to the others.

Displaying a quickness remarkable for his size and weight, Mr. Holton
launched himself full force at the fellow, sending him to the ground
unconscious.

"Now let's get away--quick!" he said. "There's no telling when the
whole tribe will be in here after us."

As quietly as possible, the explorers and their Indian crew dashed
away down the trail for the stream, never looking back, but fearing
that they would hear the screams of the cannibals at any moment.

The flashlights rendered traveling easy, and as they had been over the
trail many times, they reached the boats in record time.

Their possessions were piled inside. Then they climbed hastily in and
were paddled swiftly away.

It was not until they had reached the main stream that they felt safe.
Then they turned the boats downstream on the journey back to the
coast.

"It isn't wise to tax good fortune too much," said Mr. Lewis, as the
narrow stream faded in the distance. "We came up here for two definite
purposes, and we've accomplished them both. First, Professor Bigelow
has made a rather extensive study of little-known Indians, and second,
Mr. Holton and I have collected hundreds of specimens for the museum.
You boys have met with success in taking moving pictures, also. Now
that our work is finished, we'd better get to the Purús at once."

However, "at once" was a bit too hastily, for there were dangerous
rapids that had to be portaged, totally unknown animals that diverted
the naturalists' attention, and a hundred and one reasons for making
slow progress, even downstream. But at last they sighted the Purús in
the distance.

"Now to hunt up Senhor del Pereo, the man who fitted us out with our
boats and crew," said Mr. Holton.

They found that individual in his house at the edge of the little town
that rested between the two rivers.

He was more than glad to see the explorers back after such a long,
perilous journey, and insisted that they remain at his house
overnight, or until a boat could be found that would take them to the
Amazon. The explorers accepted the invitation at once, glad of the
chance to partake of the comforts of civilization after those long
weeks into the unknown.

The next day they were fortunate in getting passage on a boat bound
for Manáos. It was a small steamer, scheduled to reach its destination
in less than five days.

At Manáos the explorers had another streak of good luck, finding a
large liner that would take them straight to New York.

Down the mighty Amazon they steamed, at last coming into the port at
Pará for a short stay.

After a walk about town, the Americans again boarded the vessel for
the trip to New York.

It was an ideal evening as they steamed majestically out of the busy
harbor and turned toward the United States.

"Do you know, Joe, old boy," remarked Bob, as they sat with their
elders on deck in the light of the full moon, "the farther away we get
from the region we explored the more I prize our experience."

Joe nodded.

"It was great," he agreed. "And just think. We were lost--lost in the
wilds of Brazil."



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

The four books in this series have been transcribed in the same
manner. This means that in some books, table of contents and or/list
of series names have been added.

Except in cases of obvious typographical errors, archaic and
inconsistent spelling has been retained.





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