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Title: Working North from Patagonia - Being the Narrative of a Journey, Earned on the Way, Through - Southern and Eastern South America
Author: Franck, Harry Alverson
Language: English
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                             WORKING NORTH
                             FROM PATAGONIA

[Illustration: Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana]

                      WORKING NORTH FROM PATAGONIA
                       AND EASTERN SOUTH AMERICA

                            HARRY A. FRANCK

                  Author of “A Vagabond Journey Around
                    the World,” “Zone Policeman 88,”
                   “Roaming Through the West Indies,”
                  “Vagabonding Down the Andes,” etc.,

                      ILLUSTRATED WITH 176 UNUSUAL
                         MAP SHOWING THE ROUTE


                                NEW YORK
                            THE CENTURY CO.

                          Copyright, 1921, by
                            THE CENTURY CO.

                          Printed in U. S. A.



Though it stands by itself as a single entity, the present volume is a
continuation and the conclusion of a four-year journey through
Latin-America, and a companion-piece to my “Vagabonding Down the Andes.”
The entrance of the United States into the World War made it impossible
until the present time to continue that narrative from the point where
the story above mentioned left it; but though several years have elapsed
since the journey herein chronicled was made, the conditions encountered
are, with minor exceptions, those which still prevail. South American
society moves with far more inertia than our own, and while the war
brought a certain new prosperity to parts of that continent and a
tendency to become, by force of necessity, somewhat more self-supporting
in industry and less dependent upon the outside world for most
manufactured necessities, the countries herein visited remain for the
most part what they were when the journey was made.

Readers of books of travel have been known to question the wisdom of
including foreign words in the text. A certain number of these, however,
are almost indispensable; without them not only would there be a
considerable loss in atmosphere, but often only laborious
circumlocutions could take their place. Every foreign word in this
volume has been included for one of three reasons, because there is no
English equivalent; because the nearest English word would be at best a
poor translation; or because the foreign word is of intrinsic interest,
for its origin, its musical cadence, picturesqueness, conciseness, or
for some similar cause. In every case its meaning has been given at
least the first time it is introduced; the pronunciation requires little
more than giving the Latin value to vowels and enunciating every letter;
and the slight trouble of articulating such terms correctly instead of
slurring over them cannot but add to the rhythm, as well as to the
understanding, of those sentences in which they occur.

                                                        HARRY A. FRANCK.


           CHAPTER                                      PAGE
                 I THE SOUTH AMERICAN METROPOLIS           3
                II ON THE STREETS OF BUENOS AIRES         24
                IV OVER THE ANDES TO CHILE                64
                 V CHILEAN LANDSCAPES                     82
                VI HEALTHY LITTLE URUGUAY                111
               VII BUMPING UP TO RIO                     138
              VIII AT LARGE IN RIO DE JANEIRO            173
                IX BRAZIL PAST AND PRESENT               193
                XI STRANDED IN RIO                       242
               XII A SHOWMAN IN BRAZIL                   270
              XIII ADVENTURES OF AN ADVANCE AGENT        295
               XIV WANDERING IN MINAS GERAES             315
                XV NORTHWARD TO BAHIA                    342
               XVI EASTERNMOST AMERICA                   372
              XVII THIRSTY NORTH BRAZIL                  399
             XVIII TAKING EDISON TO THE AMAZON           430
               XIX UP THE AMAZON TO BRITISH GUIANA       456
                XX STRUGGLING DOWN TO GEORGETOWN         502
               XXI ROAMING THE THREE GUIANAS             554


 Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana                             _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

 In Buenos Aires I became “office-boy” to the American
   consul general                                                     32

 The new Argentine capitol building in Buenos Aires                   32

 A Patagonian landscape                                               33

 The government ferry to Choele Choel Island, in the Rio
   Negro of southern Argentine                                        33

 A rural policeman of the Argentine                                   48

 My travels in Patagonia were by rail and in what the
   _Argentino_ calls a “soolky”                                       48

 A typical “boliche” town of the Argentine pampa, and
   some of its inhabitants                                            49

 A family of Santiago del Estero                                      49

 A woman of Córdoba, _mate_ bowl in hand                              64

 Even a lady would not look unladylike in the _bombachas_
   of southeastern South America                                      64

 The highway over the Andes into Chile was filled with
   snow                                                               65

 A bit of the transandean highway in the wintry month of
   May                                                                65

 At last I came out high above the famous “Christ of the
   Andes” in a bleak and arid setting                                 80

 The “Lake of the Inca” just over the crest in Chile                  80

 On the way down I passed many little dwellings tucked in
   among the boulders                                                 81

 The stream that had trickled from under the snows at the
   summit had grown to a considerable river, watering a
   fertile valley                                                     81

 The street cars of Chile are of two stories and have
   women conductors                                                   96

 Talcahuano, the second harbor of Chile, is only a bit
   less picturesque than Valparaiso                                   96

 The central plaza of Concepción, third city of Chile                 97

 Valdivia, in far southern Chile, is one of the few South
   American cities built of wood, even the streets being
   paved with planks                                                  97

 Countrymen of southern Chile in May to September garb               112

 A woman of the Araucanians, the aborigines of southern
   Chile                                                             112

 A monument in the cemetery of Montevideo                            113

 A gentleman of Montevideo depicts in stone his grief at
   the loss of his life’s companion                                  113

 A rural railway station in Uruguay                                  128

 The fertile Uruguayan plains in the Cerro Chato (Flat
   Hills) district                                                   128

 “Pirirín” and his cowboys at an _estancia_ round-up in
   northern Uruguay                                                  129

 Freighting across the gentle rolling plains of the
   “Purple Land”                                                     129

 A _gaucho_ of Uruguay                                               132

 A rural Uruguayan in full Sunday regalia                            133

 An ox-driver of southern Brazil, smeared with the
   blood-red mud of his native heath                                 133

 The parasol pine-trees of southern Brazil                           140

 Dinner time at a railway construction camp in Rio Grande
   do Sul                                                            140

 A horse ran for seven miles along the track in front of
   us and made our train half an hour late                           141

 A cowboy of southern Brazil                                         141

 The admirable Municipal Theater of São Paulo                        160

 Santos, the Brazilian coffee port                                   160

 A glimpse of the Rio sky-line from across the bay in
   Nictheroy                                                         161

 The slums of Rio de Janeiro are on the tops of her rock
   hills                                                             161

 An employee of the “Snake Farm” of São Paulo                        176

 Residents of Rio’s hilltop slums, in a chosen pose                  176

 The heart of Rio, with its Municipal Theater, the
   National Library, the old Portuguese aqueduct, and, on
   the left, a shack-built hilltop                                   177

 A news-stand on the mosaic sidewalk of the Avenida Rio
   Branco                                                            224

 A hawker of Rio, with his license and his distinctive
   noise-producer                                                    224

 The brush-and-broom man on his daily round through the
   Brazilian capital                                                 225

 The sweetmeat seller announces himself with a
   distinctive whistle                                               240

 The opening of the “Kinetophone” in Brazil                          240

 The ruins of an old plantation house on the way to
   Petropolis, backed by the pilgrimage church of Penha              241

 At a suburban cinema of São Paulo the colored youth
   charged with the advertising painted his own portrait
   of Edison. He may be made out leaning affectionately
   on the right shoulder of his masterpiece                          288

 The central praça of Campinas                                       288

 Catalão and the plains of Goyaz, from the ruined church
   above the town                                                    289

 Amparo, like many another town of São Paulo, is
   surrounded on all sides by coffee plantations                     289

 Itajubá, state of Minas Geraes, the home of a former
   Brazilian president                                               304

 Ouro Preto, former capital of Minas Geraes                          305

 The walls of many a residence in the new capital, Bello
   Horizonte, are decorated with paintings                           305

 Diamantina spills down into the stream in which are
   found some of its gold and diamonds                               320

 A hydraulic diamond-cutting establishment of Diamantina             320

 In the diamond fields of Brazil                                     321

 Diamond diggers do not resemble those who wear them                 321

 Victoria, capital of the state of Espiritu Sancto, is a
   tiny edition of picturesque Rio                                   352

 Bahia from the top of the old “Theatro São João”                    352

 Beggars of Bahia, backed by some of our advertisements              353

 A family of Bahia, and a familiar domestic chore                    353

 The site on which Bahia was founded                                 368

 Not much is left of the clothes that have gone through a
   steam laundry of Bahia                                            368

 Taking a jack-fruit to market                                       369

 The favorite Sunday diversion of rural northern Brazil              372

 The waterworks of a Brazilian city of some 15,000
   inhabitants                                                       372

 A Brazilian laundry                                                 373

 Brazilian milkmen announcing their arrival                          373

 The mailboat leaves Aracajú for the towns across the bay            380

 Another Brazilian milkman                                           380

 Carnival costumes representing “A Crise,” or hard times             381

 A Brazilian piano van needs neither axle-grease nor
   gasoline                                                          381

 Ladies of Pernambuco                                                384

 A minstrel of Pernambuco—and a Portuguese shopkeeper                384

 Advertising the Kinetophone in Pernambuco, with a monk
   and a dancing girl. “Tut” on the extreme left, Carlos
   behind the drummer                                                385

 The pungent odor of crude sugar is characteristic of
   downtown Recife                                                   400

 In the dry states north of Pernambuco cotton is the most
   important crop                                                    400

 Walking up a cocoanut palm to get a cool drink                      401

 Wherever a train halts long enough in Brazil the
   passengers rush out to have a cup of coffee                       401

 The houses of northeastern Brazil are often made
   entirely of palm leaves                                           416

 Transportation in the interior of Brazil is
   primitive—and noisy                                               416

 Our advertising matter parading the streets of a
   Brazilian town off the main trail of travel                       417

 The _carnauba_ palm of Ceará, celebrated for its utility
   as well as its beauty                                             417

 Rural policemen of Ceará, in the heavy leather hats of
   the region                                                        432

 From town to port in São Luis de Maranhão—and a street
   car                                                               433

 A street of São Luis de Maranhão                                    433

 My baggage on its way to the hotel in Natal. At every
   station of northern Brazil may be seen happy-go-lucky
   negroes with nothing on their minds but a couple of
   trunks                                                            448

 Dolce far niente between shows in Pará                              448

 The cathedral of Pará                                               449

 Pará has been called the “City of beautiful Trees”                  449

 Ice on the equator. It is sent out from the factory in
   Pará to the neighboring towns in schooners of
   varicolored sails, a veritable fog rising from it
   under the equatorial sun                                          464

 Two Indians of the Island of Marajó, the one a native,
   the other imported from India to improve the native
   stock                                                             464

 A family dispute on the Amazon                                      465

 The captain and mate of our _gaiola_ were both
   Brazilians of the north                                           465

 An Amazonian landscape                                              480

 A boatload of “Brazil nuts.” The Amazonian paddle is
   round                                                             480

 An inter-state customhouse at the boundary of Pará and
   Manaos, and the Brazilian flag                                    481

 A lace maker on the Amazon                                          496

 The Municipal Theater of Manaos                                     496

 Here and there our _batelão_ stopped to pick up a few
   balls of rubber                                                   497

 Now and then we halted to land something at one of the
   isolated huts along the Rio Branco                                497

 Our _batelão_ loaded cattle at sunrise from the corrals
   on the banks                                                      500

 The captain of my last Brazilian _batelão_, and his wife            500

 Though families are rare, there is no race suicide along
   the Rio Branco                                                    501

 Dom Antonito and one of the ant-hills that dot the open
   campo of the upper Rio Branco                                     508

 I crossed the boundary between Brazil and British Guiana
   in a leaky craft belonging to Ben Hart, who lived on
   the further bank of the Mahú                                      508

 Hart had built himself a native house on the extreme
   edge of British Guiana                                            509

 Hart and his Macuxy Indian helpers                                  509

 Fortunately Hart was a generous six feet or my baggage
   might not have got across what had been trickling
   streams a few days before                                         512

 We impressed an Indian father and son into service as
   carriers                                                          512

 Macuxy Indians with teeth filed or chipped to points                513

 An Indian village along the Rupununi                                513

 The father and son turned boatmen, against their wills,
   and paddled us down the Rupununi                                  528

 Two of my second crew of paddlers                                   528

 One of my Indians shooting fish from our dugout                     529

 “Harris,” my “certified steersman” on the Essequibo                 529

 We set off down the Essequibo in the same worm-eaten old
   dugout                                                            532

 “Harris” and his wife at one of their evening campfires             533

 Battling with the Essequibo                                         533

 More trouble on the Essequibo                                       540

 High Street, Georgetown, capital of British Guiana                  540

 Cayenne, capital of French Guiana, from the sea                     541

 The “trusties” among the French prisoners of Cayenne
   have soft jobs and often wear shoes                               541

 A former Paris lawyer digging sewers in Cayenne, under a
   negro boss                                                        560

 Schoelcher, author of the act of emancipation of the
   negroes of the French possessions in America                      560

 The human scavengers of Cayenne are ably assisted by the
   vultures                                                          561

 In the market-place of Cayenne. The chief stock is
   cassava bread wrapped in banana leaves                            561

 A market woman of Cayenne, and a stack of cassava bread             576

 Homeward bound from market                                          576

 French officers in charge of the prisoners of Cayenne               577

 White French convicts who would like to go to France,
   rowing out to our ship black French conscripts who
   would rather stay at home                                         577

 Along the road in Dutch Guiana                                      580

 A Mohammedan Hindu of Dutch Guiana                                  580

 A Chinese woman of Surinam who has adopted the native
   headdress                                                         581

 A lady of Paramaribo                                                581

 Javanese women tapping rubber trees after the fashion of
   the Far East                                                      588

 Javanese and East Indian women clearing up a _cacao_
   plantation in Dutch Guiana                                        588

 Javanese celebrating the week-end holiday with their
   native musical instruments                                        589

 Wash-day in Dutch Guiana                                            589

 An East Indian woman of Surinam                                     592

 A Javanese woman of the Surinam plantations                         592

 A gold mining camp in the interior of Dutch Guiana                  593

 Pouring out the sap of the bullet-tree into the pans in
   which it hardens into “balata,” an inferior kind of
   rubber                                                            593

 A ferry across the Surinam River, joining two sections
   of the railroad to the interior                                   596

 A Bush negro family on its travels. Less than half the
   dugout is shown                                                   596

 A Bush negro watching me photograph our engine                      597

 A “gran man,” or chieftain of the Bush negroes,
   returning from his yearly visit to the Dutch governor
   of Surinam, with his “commission” from Queen
   Wilhelmina, and followed by his obsequious and
   footsore valet                                                    597

 The main street of Paramaribo, capital of Dutch Guiana,
   with its row of often mortgaged mahogany trees in the
   background                                                        604

 An East Indian and an escaped Madagascar prisoner from
   Cayenne cutting down a “back dam” on a Surinam
   plantation in order to kill the ants that would
   destroy it                                                        604

 Javanese workmen opening pods of _cacao_ that will
   eventually appear in our markets as chocolate and
   cocoa                                                             605

 A landscape in Hindu-inhabited British Guiana                       608

 Indentured East Indians enjoying a Saturday half-holiday
   before one of their barrack villages                              608

 Prisoners at work on a leaking dam in Ciudad Bolívar on
   the Orinoco                                                       609

 The trackless _llanos_ of Venezuela                                 609

 An Indian family of eastern Venezuela                               612

 Lopez, the hammock-buyer, and the charm he always wears
   on his travels                                                    612

 A Venezuelan landscape                                              613

 Hammock-makers at home                                              620

 The palm-leaf threads of the hammocks are made pliable
   by rubbing them on a bare leg in the early morning
   before the dew has dried                                          620

 Lopez buying hammocks                                               621

 We were delighted to find a rare water-hole in which to
   quench our raging thirst                                          621

 Lopez uncovers as he passes the last resting-place of a
   fellow-traveler                                                   624

 Dinner time in rural Venezuela                                      624

 Lopez enters his native village in style                            625

 The hammock-buyer in the bosom of his family                        628

 Policemen of Barcelona, and a part of the city
   waterworks                                                        628

 A glimpse of the Venezuelan capital                                 629

 The statue of Simón Bolívar in the central plaza of
   Caracas                                                           629

 A bread-seller of Caracas                                           636

 The birthplace of Simón Bolívar of Caracas, the
   “Washington of South America”                                     636

 A street in Caracas                                                 637

 The Municipal Theater of Caracas                                    637

                      WORKING NORTH FROM PATAGONIA

                               CHAPTER I

In Buenos Aires I became what a local newspaper called “office boy” to
the American consul general. The latter had turned out to be a vicarious
friend of long standing; his overworked staff was sadly in need of an
American assistant familiar with Spanish, the one sent down from
Washington months before having been lost in transit. Moreover, being a
discerning as well as a kind-hearted man, the consul knew that even a
rolling stone requires an occasional handful of moss. The salary was
sufficient to sustain life just inside what another consular protégé
called the “pale of respectability,” and my duties as “outside man”
brought me into daily contact with all classes of _Porteños_, as natives
of what was reputed the most expensive city in the world are known in
their own habitat.

Two years of wandering in the Andes and jungles of South America is, in
a way, the best possible preparation for a visit to the largest city
south of the United States. The man who approaches it from this corridor
will experience to the full the astonishment it is almost certain to
produce upon an unprepared visitor; he will be in ideal condition to
recognize the urban artificialities which make it so great an antithesis
of the rural simplicity of nearly all the southern continent. Like the
majority of Americans, I suppose, though I had now and then heard rumors
of its increase and improvement, my mental picture of the Argentine
capital was as out of date as the spelling “Buenos Ayres” that still
persists among even the best of English and American authorities. It was
the picture hastily sketched by our school books of not so long ago,
and, except in the matter of a few decades of time, it was essentially a
true one.

A bare half century back the City of Good Airs had the appearance of a
Spanish town of the Middle Ages, and worse. Though it faced the River
Plata at a point where it is more than thirty miles wide, it had no real
harbor. Travelers landed from ships by first transferring to rowboats
far out on the yellow-brown horizon, then to ox-carts driven hub-deep
into the shallow, muddy stream. The streets were so innocent of paving
that business men often remained at home lest they find it impossible to
extricate themselves from the quagmires that masqueraded under the name
of _calles_. Temporary wooden bridgelets were laid across corners from
one scanty raised sidewalk to another; at the height of the rainy season
even horsemen were sometimes mired in the very heart of town. Men still
living tell of a pool in the present bustling Calle Rivadavia about
which sentinels had to be posted to keep careless people and their
horses from drowning in it. Municipal lighting was unknown. A few
public-spirited citizens hung up tallow candles before their houses;
wealthy residents, obliged to make their way through the bottomless
night, were attended by menials carrying lanterns. There were neither
water pipes nor sewers; each citizen dug his own well beside his garbage
heap. In winter the one-story houses, stretching in solemn yet
disordered array down the narrow, reeking streets and built for the most
part of sun-baked mud bricks, became slimy, clammy dens in which disease
bred and multiplied. The hundred and some thousand inhabitants, mixtures
of Spanish adventurers and Indians from the great pampas beyond, had but
little contact with the outside world and were correspondingly
provincial, conservative and fanatical.

Such was Buenos Aires within the memory of men who do not yet consider
themselves old; such it is still in the average imagination of the
outside world. It is with something stronger than surprise, therefore,
that the newcomer finds the Argentine capital to-day the largest
Spanish-speaking city on the globe, second only to Paris among the Latin
cities of the world, equal to Philadelphia in population, resembling
Chicago in extent as well as in situation, rivaling New York in many of
its metropolitan features, and outdoing every city of our land in some
of its civic improvements. Personally, I confess to having wandered its
endless streets and gazed upon its unexpected cosmopolitan uproar in a
semi-dazed condition for some time after my arrival. It was hard to
believe that those miles upon miles of modern wharves, surrounding
artificial basins capable of accommodating the largest ships in
existence, backed by warehouses that measure their capacity in millions
of tons, were situated on the same continent as medieval Quito, that the
teeming city behind them was inhabited by the same race that rules
languid La Paz and sleepy Asunción.

The greatness of Buenos Aires has been mainly thrust upon it. Of all the
cities of the earth only Chicago grew up with more vertiginous rapidity.
The city of to-day has so completely outreached the plans of its
unsuspecting founders that it is constantly faced with the problem of
modifying existing conditions to meet metropolitan requirements. It was
a comparatively simple matter to fill in and pave the old quagmires that
posed as streets; it was quite another thing to widen them to
accommodate modern traffic. Laid out by Moorish-influenced Spaniards in
a century when the passing of two horsemen constituted the maximum
demand for space, the streets of old Buenos Aires are narrower and more
congested than the tightest of those at the lower end of Manhattan
Island. In most cases the problem has been frankly abandoned, for
nothing short of destroying all the buildings on one side or the other
of these medieval passageways could improve them. The result is that a
walk through what was the entire city fifty years ago, and which is now
mainly the business section, is an ordeal or an amusing experience,
according to the mood or the haste of the victim.

The _Porteño_ has made various bold attacks upon this problem of
congestion. Nearly thirty years ago he hewed his way for a mile and a
half through the heart of the old town, destroying hundreds of buildings
in his insistence on more space. The result is the Avenida de Mayo,
somewhat resembling the boulevards of Paris in the neighborhood of the
Opéra and stretching from the already old and inadequate _Casa Rosada_,
or presidential palace, to the new congressional building, which
resembles and in some ways outdoes in majestic beauty our own national
capitol. But this chief artery of downtown travel is, after all, of
insignificant length compared with the mammoth Buenos Aires of to-day,
and the older flanking street of Rivadavia, once the principal highway
to the pampa beyond, cutting the entire city in two from the waterfront
to the open plains, is quite incapable of handling the through traffic
which refuses to risk itself in the constricted _calles_ of the downtown

Similar heroic treatment has been applied in other parts of the old
town. Wherever the stroller wanders he is certain to come out often upon
an open space, a little park or a plaza, which has been grubbed out by
the bold demolition of a block of houses. I cannot recall another city
where parks are anything like as epidemic as they are in Buenos Aires.
There is not a point in town out of easy strolling distance of one or
more of them, some so tiny that they can be crossed in a hop, skip, and
a jump, the largest, aristocratic Palermo, so large that one may wander
for hours without crossing the same ground twice.

Buenos Aires is not a city of skyscrapers. Built on a loose soil that is
quite the antithesis of the granite hills of Manhattan Island, with
unlimited opportunity to spread across the floor-flat plains beyond, it
has neither the incentive nor the foundation needed to push its way far
aloft. Custom in this respect has crystallized into requirement, and a
city ordinance forbids the height of a building to exceed one and
one-third the width of the street it faces. The result is that while it
has fewer architectural failures, fewer monstrosities in brick and
stone, the city on the Plata has nothing that can rival the epic poems
among buildings to be found at the mouth of the Hudson. From a distance
it looks curiously like one of our own large cities decapitated to an
average height of three or four stories, with only here and there an
ambitious structure peering timidly above the monotonous general level.
Flat and drab are perhaps the two words which most fully describe its
general aspect.

On every hand the traveled visitor is reminded of this or that other
great city; it is as if one were visiting a newly laid out botanical
garden in which the origin of most of the plants, taken from old
established gardens elsewhere, is plainly evident, with only here and
there a native shrub or a curious hybrid to emphasize the changed
conditions of soil and climate. When one has noted the origin of nearly
all its human plants, it is no longer surprising that Buenos Aires seems
more a European than an American city. Architecturally it most resembles
Paris, with hints of Madrid, London and Rome thrown in, not to mention
certain features peculiarly its own. This similarity is the pride of the
_Porteño_ and every recognition of it is a compliment, for like nearly
all Latin-Americans, he is most enamored of French culture. Not only is
he accustomed to refer to his city as the “Paris of South America”—all
South American capitals are that to their own people—but he copies more
or less directly from the earthly paradise of all good _argentinos_. The
artistic sense of the Latin comes to his aid in this sometimes almost
subconscious endeavor; or, if the individual lacks this, there is the
guiding hand of the community ever ready to sustain his faltering steps.
City ordinances not only forbid the erection of structures which do not
fit into the general scheme of a modified Paris, but Buenos Aires
rewards those who most successfully carry out its conception of civic
improvement. Every year the building adjudged the greatest addition to
the city’s beauty is awarded a bronze façade-plate and is relieved for a
decade from the burden of taxes.

It would be unreasonable to expect a community with such pride in its
personal appearance to permit itself to be disfigured by an elevated
railway system. Besides, as it is spread evenly over an immense space of
flat country, “B. A.’s” transportation problem is scarcely serious
enough to require this concession to civic comfort. Of street-cars in
the ordinary sense it has unlimited numbers, plying in every direction;
all they lack is freedom to go their way unhampered in the oldest and
busiest section of town. Their one peculiarity, to the American, is that
they refuse to be overcrowded. No one may enter a tramcar while its
seats are filled; nine persons, and nine only, may ride on the back
platform. If you chance to be the tenth, there is no use insisting that
you must ride or miss an important engagement. The car will refuse to
move as long as you remain on board, and if there happens to be within
call one of the spick-and-span, Britishly imperturbable, New-Yorkly
impersonal policemen of Buenos Aires, you will probably regret your
insistence. It will be far better to accept your misfortune with Latin
courtesy and hail one of the taxis that are forever scurrying past. Or,
if even the modest demands of these well-disciplined public carriers are
beyond your means, there is the ancient and honorable method of footing
it. The chances are that if your destination is anywhere within the
congested business section you can walk to it and finish your errand by
the time the inexorable street-car would have set you down there.

I lost no time in exploring the luxuries of Buenos Aires’ new subway.
Only the year before the proud Avenida de Mayo had been disrupted by the
upheavals throughout its entire length, and already the “Subterraneo”
operated from the Plaza de Mayo behind the Pink House to the Plaza Once,
two miles inland and nearly a fifth of the way across the city. Like the
surface lines it belongs to the _Tranvías Anglo-Argentina_, a British
corporation, the concession requiring the company to pay the city six
per cent. of its gross receipts for fifty years, at the end of which
time the subway becomes automatically the property of the municipality.
The _argentino_ is fully awake to the advantage and possibility of
driving good bargains in the exploitation of public utilities and

The descent to any of the subway stations along the Avenue carries the
mind instantly back to Manhattan. The underground scent is the same,
news-stands and advertising placards are as inevitable; along the
white-tile-walled platforms are ranged even penny-in-the-slot scales and
automatic vendors, though with the familiar plea, “Drop one cent,”
changed to “_Echad 10 centavos_,” which is significant of the difference
in cost of most small things in the chief cities of North and South
America. Yet the subway fare is a trifle cheaper on the Plata, being the
tenth of a _peso_ normally worth barely forty-three cents. One’s
impression of being back in “Bagdad-on-the-Subway,” however, is certain
to evaporate by the time he steps out of his first _tren subterraneo_.
The _Porteño_ believes in moving rapidly, but his interpretation of the
word hurry is still far different from our own. There are certain forms
of courtesy which he will not cast off for the mere matter of stretching
his twenty-four hours a few minutes farther; there are certain racial
traits of deliberate formality of which he is incapable of ridding
himself. Moreover, the “Subterraneo” is British, and it retains the
dignified leisureliness of its nationality. One buys a ticket of a man
who is intensely aware of the fact that he is engaged in a financial
transaction; at the gate another man solemnly punches the ticket and
returns it to the owner, who is warned both by placards and italicized
remarks on the ticket itself that he must be constantly prepared
instantly to display it to the inspectors who are forever stalking
through the cars; where he disembarks, it is solemnly gathered by still
another intense employee, who will infallibly make the passenger who has
carelessly mislaid the valuable document in question produce another
ten-centavo piece and witness the preparation and cancelation of a
_billete suplementario_ before he is granted his freedom. There are no
express trains; the locals are rather far apart; they cease their labors
soon after midnight, and do not begin again until dawn. On the other
hand, the cars are roomy, spotless and as comfortable as a club
easy-chair; the noisy ringing of bells and slamming of doors by
disgruntled guards is lacking; signs to “Prepare yourself to leave the
coach before arriving at the station of destination” take the place of
any attempt to hustle the crowd. The company loses no courteous
opportunity of “recommending to the passenger the greatest rapidity in
getting on or off the cars, in order to accelerate the public service,”
but mere placards mean nothing to the Spanish-American dowager of the
old school, who is still inclined to take her osculatory and deliberate
farewell of friends and relatives even though the place of parting be
the open door of this new-fangled mode of transportation, surrounded by
inwardly impatient, but outwardly courtier-like, subway guards and
station employees.

Three important railway companies operate five lines to the suburbs, and
every evening great commuters’ trains, more palatial than the average of
those out of our own large cities, rush away into the cool summer night
with the majority of “B. A.’s” business men. It is perhaps a misnomer to
call the score or more of residence sections suburbs, for they are
compactly united into the one great city, of which they constitute fully
three fourths the capacity. But each district bears its own name, which
often suggests its character and history. Even a total stranger might
guess that Belgrano and Flores are rather exclusive dwelling-places;
Coghlan, Villa Malcolm, Villa Mazzini, and Nueva Pompeya recall some of
the races that have amalgamated to form the modern _Porteño_; one would
naturally expect to find the municipal slaughter-house and less pleasant
living conditions in Nuevo Chicago. In these larger and newer parts of
Buenos Aires the broad streets are in striking contrast to the crowded
and narrow ones down town. Though the _Porteño_ has inherited the
Spaniard’s preference for taking his front yard inside the house,
neither the sumptuous dwellings of the aristocratic north suburbs nor
the more plebeian residences of the west and south have that shut-in air
of most Latin-American cities, where the streets slink like outcast curs
between long rows of scowling, impersonal house-walls.

The far-flung limits of Buenos Aires inclose many market gardens, and
the land side of the city belongs to the backwoods it faces. But the
thousands of makeshift shacks which fringe it are not the abode of
hopeless mortals, such as inhabit the hovels of less progressive South
American towns. The outskirt dwellers of Buenos Aires have the
appearance of people who are moving forward, who insist that another
year shall find them enjoying something more of the advantages of
civilization. Indeed, this atmosphere pervades the entire city, bringing
out in pitiless contrast the social inertia of the great Andean region.
There are fewer slums in Buenos Aires than in New York; the children of
the poorer classes are less oppressive in appearance; beggars are
scarcer. Though there is squalor enough, the _conventillos_, or
single-story tenement-houses of the larger west-coast cities are almost
unknown. Economic opportunity has here given birth to new hope and
brought with it the energy and productiveness which constitute a great
people, and by the time the visitor has wandered with due leisure
through the vast length and breadth of Buenos Aires he is likely to
conclude that there the Latin is coming into his own again.

Though it is not quite so difficult to find a native _argentino_ in
Buenos Aires as to run to earth a genuine American in New York, there
are many evidences that its growth has come mainly from across the sea.
The city is not merely European in its material aspects, but in its
human element. The newcomer will look in vain for any costume he cannot
find on the streets of Paris or Rome; the wild _gauchos_ from the pampa,
the beggars on horseback, the picturesque Carmelite monks and nuns that
troop through the pages of “Amalia” and kindred stories of the past
century are as scarce as feather-decked Indians along Broadway. No city
of our own land is more completely “citified” than the Argentine
capital. Though there has as yet been far less European immigration to
the Argentine Republic than to the United States—a mere five million who
came to stay up to the beginning of the Great War—a disproportionate
number of these have remained in Buenos Aires. Fully half the population
of the city is foreign born, with Italians in the majority. The
long-drawn vowels and doubled consonants of Italian speech are certain
to be heard in every block, though more often as a foreign accent in the
local tongue than in the native dialect of the speaker. For the Italian
fits more snugly into his environment in the Argentine than in the
United States. He finds a language nearly enough like his own to be
learned in a few weeks; there is a Latin atmosphere about the southern
republic, particularly its capital, which makes him feel so fully at
home that he is much less inclined to segregate than in the colder
Anglo-Saxon North. Add to this that the climate is more nearly that of
his homeland, that the Argentine welcomes him not merely with five days’
free hospitality and transportation to any part of the country, but with
the communal _abrazo_ as a fellow-Latin and a near relative, and it is
easier to understand why ships from Genoa and Naples are turning more
and more southward on their journey across the Atlantic. Were it not for
the reversal of the seasons on the two sides of the equator, the
Argentine would have a still larger permanent Italian population. But as
it is summer and grape-picking time in the boot-leg peninsula when it is
winter on the pampas, large numbers of Italians flit back and forth like
migratory birds from one harvest to the other, or go to spend the money
earned where it is plentiful in the place where it will buy more.

The Castilian lisp also stands out frequently in the sibilant native
speech of “B. A.” and the _boína_ of the Basques is so common a
headdress in the city as to be inconspicuous. After the Spaniard there
are French, English, and German residents, decreasing in proportion in
the order named, and Americans enough to form a champion baseball team.
Jews are less ubiquitous than in our own metropolis, but they are
numerous enough to support several synagogues and a company of Yiddish
players for a season of several weeks, after which the Thespians find
new clientèle in the larger cities of the interior.

It is surprising to most Americans to find that Buenos Aires is strictly
a “white man’s town.” The one negro I ever saw there was posted before
the door of a theater, as an advance attraction. In the country as a
whole African blood is scarcer than in Canada; while the United States
has twelve non-Caucasians to the hundred, the Argentine has but five.
Nor do there remain any visible remnants of the aborigines, at least in
the capital. The caste of color, so intricate and unescapable in the
Andes, is completely lacking. Nor are the places of importance in its
social structure confined to those of Spanish origin. Along with the
Castilian and Basque names that figure in its society and big-business
columns are no small number not only Italian and French, but English,
Baltic, and Slavic, some of them more or less Spanicized by long
Argentine residence. As in Chile there is a little aristocracy of third
or fourth generation Irish, retaining the original spelling of their
family names, but pronouncing them “O-co-nór,” “Kel-yée,” “O-bree-én”
and the like. It was an ordinary experience in running consular errands
in Buenos Aires to come across business men with English or Irish names
who spoke only Spanish, or men who spoke English with both an Irish
brogue and a Spanish accent and accompanied their remarks with a wealth
of Latin gesticulation.

To say that these transplanted Irish are active in local and national
politics is to utter a tautology. Strictly speaking, Buenos Aires is not
self-governing; as a Federal District—the most populous one in the
world, by the way—it is ruled by an _intendente_ appointed by the
national executive. But its influence on the national life is more
potent than that of Washington and New York combined; as it has more
“influential citizens” and large property owners than all the rest of
the republic, it has roundabout ways of imposing its own will upon
itself. Not that those ways are devious in the cynical sense. It is
something of a traditional hobby among the heads of aristocratic old
families, most of them with ample wealth, to accept municipal office and
to seek public approval in it out of family pride, and their privilege
to be free from the handicap of listening to every whim of an ignorant
electorate. Thus Buenos Aires enjoys the distinction among large cities
of the western hemisphere of being for the most part rather well
governed. On the whole, perhaps a larger percentage of public funds are
actually and advantageously spent in municipal improvement than in the
case of most “self-governing” cities. Besides, it is one of the
distinctions between North and South America that while the cry of
“graft” is more frequent in our municipal than in our national affairs,
our neighbors to the south seem more capable of handling a city than a

It is as easy to become a citizen in the Argentine as in the United
States, but it is not quite so easy to remain one. The duties of
citizenship are more nearly those of continental Europe than of the free
and easy Anglo-Saxon type. There is compulsory military service, for
instance. In theory every male citizen must enter the army or navy for
two years when he reaches maturity; practically there is by no means
room for all in the armed force which the Argentine considers it
necessary to maintain. Hence the requirement reduces itself to the
necessity of drawing lots, and of serving if designated by the finger of
fate. This is no new and temporary whim in the Argentine, but was
already in force long before the European war. The _argentino_, however,
goes his models of the Old World one or two better. The man who does not
serve, either for physical or lucky reasons, pays a yearly tax toward
the support of the force from which he has been spared. As in
continental Europe, every citizen must have a booklet of identity,
issued by the police and duplicated in the public archives. This
document is so essential that, though I spent less than three months in
the country, I found it advantageous to apply for one, that is, the
simpler _cédula de identidad_ for non-citizens. The temporary resident,
and even the citizen, may “get by” for a time without this little
volume, but the day is almost sure to come when he will regret its
absence. Of two men whose public altercation chances to attract the
attention of the police, the one who can produce his _libreto_ is far
less likely to be jailed than the one who cannot. The chauffeur who has
an accident, the man who is overtaken by any of the mishaps which call
one’s existence to the notice of the public authorities, is much better
off if he has been legally registered. Moreover, the citizen can neither
vote nor exercise any of his formal rights of citizenship without
displaying his booklet. It contains the photograph, a brief verified
biography, the signature, and the thumb-print of the holder. The
_argentinos_ have carried the use of finger-prints further than perhaps
any other nation. Even school children taking formal examinations must
often decorate their papers with a thumb-print. Both photograph and
_cédula_ are produced by a well-trained public staff in well-arranged
public offices, in which prints of all the applicant’s fingers are filed
away under the number inscribed on his _libreto_, and where courteous
attendants bring him into contact with the lavatory facilities which he
requires before again displaying his hands to a pulchritudinous public.
In addition to the essentials contained in all booklets, that of the
citizen has several extra pages on which may be inscribed from time to
time his military and civic record.

But to come to the polls, now that we are armed with the document
indispensable to any participation in an election. A new election law
had recently been passed, one so well designed to express the real will
of the people that pessimists were already prophesying its attempted
repeal by the oligarchy of wealthy property owners, from whom it would
wrest the control of government. As in most Latin-American countries,
Sunday was the day chosen for the casting of ballots. About each
polling-place, most of which were in sumptuous public buildings, rather
than in barbershops and second-hand shoe stores, were a few of Buenos
Aires’ immaculate, imperturbable policemen and the three or four
officials in charge. Otherwise there was little animation in the
vicinity. The new election law forbids voters to approach the polls “in
groups,” and makes electioneering or loitering within a certain
considerable distance of the booths penal offenses. Glancing cautiously
about him, therefore, to make sure that he was not a group, the
_Porteño_ stealthily yet briskly stepped forward to do his civic duty.
The officials rose to greet him with dignified courtesy, and requested
permission to peruse his booklet. This being found in order, his
military service honorably completed, or his military tax paid, they
permitted him to cast his ballot, at the same time recording that act on
the proper line of his _libreto_. This latter formality is of such
importance that the voter himself would protest against its inadvertent
omission. For the new law in the Argentine _requires_ each citizen to
vote. Unless he can show unquestionable proof that he was seriously ill
or unavoidably absent from his home district on election day, the
citizen whose _libreto_ does not show, at the next revision by
authority, the mark of the election board is subject to a fine.

The most cynical of observers could scarcely have suspected any
“crookedness” in the election as it was carried out that day in Buenos
Aires. Outside the capital things were perhaps a trifle less ideal; at
least tales of strife drifted in for some time afterward from the remote
provinces, where the familiar old South American experience of seeing
the _cacique_, the hereditary “boss,” impose his will with a heavy and
sometimes a bloody hand was still repeated. But there was considerable
evidence that the entire country is improving in this respect. Those who
lie awake nights worrying about the future development of foreign lands
need not lose much sleep over the Argentine, for here at least is one
South American country unquestionably able to work out its own destiny.

The _argentino_ is in no such breathless haste as the American to know
the result of his elections. The newspapers of the following morning
carried many columns of comment on the aspect of the capital and the
principal towns of the provinces under the new law, but not a hint of
the future make-up of the legislative body. Weeks later the retiring
congress met in their new palace, and laboriously fell to counting the
ballots from all the republic, announcing the results piecemeal from day
to day, and causing the votes to be publicly burned in a corner of the
still unfinished grounds when the count had been verified.

It goes without saying, since military service is one of the duties of
citizenship, that Argentine women do not vote. In fact, there is almost
no evidence of a desire on their part to do so. A very small group of
_sufragistas_ did make a demonstration in the capital on election day,
sending through the streets an automobile decorated with banners,
flowers, and femininity. But as the four young ladies in the tonneau
were both comely and exquisitely dressed, the apathetic by-standers took
the attitude of considering them rather as exhibits in national beauty
and charm than for what they purported to be—all, that is, except the
police, who ungallantly took the group into custody for violating the
new law against electioneering on the day of balloting.

Perhaps the greatest personal surprise which befell me during the
election was to be asked by a policeman at one of the polls before which
I illegally loitered for a moment whether I desired to vote. One is so
palpably, so noticeably a “gringo” in other Latin-American countries
that it had never occurred to me that I might be taken for a citizen in
the Argentine. In nearly all the rest of South America the foreign
resident remains an _estranjero_ all his days; even his native-born
children are apt to be called “_hijo de inglés, de italiano, de
alemán_”; in the Argentine he is soon accepted as one of the
cosmopolitan race of the Silvery Republic. The Argentine, and perhaps
Uruguay, seems to be the only country south of our Rio Grande capable of
giving the immigrant an entirely new deal in the game of life and of
completely absorbing him into the body politic, at least by the second
generation. The sons of Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Italians who took up
their residence below the Plata are no more English, French, and Italian
than they would be if their fathers had come to the United States. If
any reference to their origin comes up in conversation, it is as
something casual, unimportant, like the color of their hair and eyes.
During my stay in the southern republic the son of an American dentist
who had established himself in Buenos Aires a generation ago lost his
life in a foolhardy airplane flight undertaken for the delectation of a
group of admiring young ladies, on the eve of an official attempt to fly
over the Andes. The temperament which caused him to accept such a
challenge under the circumstances was as typically Latin-American as
were the flowers, poems, and street names which were heaped upon “our
national hero” by his bereaved Argentine fellow-countrymen. In Peru or
Colombia his exploit might have been noted, but he would still have been
an _americano_.

The people of the Argentine, and particularly of Buenos Aires, have much
the same feeling toward the _madre patria_ as the average American has
toward England—forgiving, though perhaps still a bit resentful of the
past, aware of the common heritage, on the whole a trifle disdainful.
The popular term for a Spaniard in Buenos Aires is “Gallego” (or, in the
slurring Argentine pronunciation, “Gajego”), and the Galician has stood
for centuries as all that is stupid, servile, and clumsy, the unfailing
butt of Spanish drama. The _Porteño_ never says he speaks Spanish,
though his tongue is as nearly that of Spain as ours is that of England;
even in his school books he calls it the _idioma nacional_.

But the _argentino_ is still largely Spanish, whether he admits it or
not; he is distinctly of the Latin race, for all the influx of other
blood. The types one sees in his streets are those same temperamental
Latin-Americans to be found from Mexico to Paraguay, a more glorified
type, perhaps, more in tune with the great modern moving world, almost
wholly free from non-Caucasian mixture, larger and better nourished, and
with the ruddiness and vigor of the temperate zone. But they have much
the same overdeveloped pride, the same dread of demeaning themselves by
anything suggestive of manual labor. No _Porteño_ of standing would
dream of carrying his own valise from station to tramway; even the
Americans sent down to set up harvesting machinery on the great
_estancias_ cannot throw off their coats and pitch in, lest they
instantly sink to the caste of the peon in the eyes of the latter as
well as in those of the ruling class. Caste lines are sharper in the
Argentine than anywhere in western Europe; as in all South America there
is little or no “middle class,” few people of moderate wealth, tastes,
and station to fill in the great gulf between the day-to-day workman and
the powerful landed proprietors who dwell sumptuously in the capital on
the income from their vast estates out on the pampas, which they see far
less often than the medieval lord did his feudal domain.

The prevailing attitude toward life, including as it does an exaggerated
pride in personal appearance, gives Buenos Aires a plethora of
labor-fearing fops whose main purpose in life seems to be to establish
the false impression that they are the scions of aristocratic old
families of uncomputed wealth. Behold one of these frauds in his daily
peregrination, for he is too typical of the Buenos Aires point of view
to be passed over as a mere individual. At an aristocratic hour of the
afternoon he may be seen descending the steps of the far-famed, more
than ornate Jockey Club (pronounced “Shocky Cloop” in the Argentine) in
the patrician Calle Florida. His faultless black felt hat, carefully
creased at the front and back of the crown but full in the middle, the
bow of the band at the back of his head, is set at the twenty degree
angle, tilting to the rear, of the “last cry” of fashion. A silk scarf
of much yet subdued color, a tan suit cut low in front and retreating
suddenly below, the two coat buttons close together, displaying much
silver-and-gray waistcoat, the cuffed trousers razor-edged, surmounting
patent-leather shoes topped by silver-gray spats, one lavendar glove,
with what may be a diamond ring bulging through one of the fingers, its
wrist folded back over the hand it covers and in which its mate is
carried, completes his attire, though not his make-up. A brilliant
carnation in the lapel, a green-black overcoat of camel-hair,
blanket-like texture, drawn together behind by a half-belt fastened to
buttons on the sides, the skirts of the wide-spreading variety, thrown
with ostensible carelessness over the left arm, and a silver-headed cane
grasped by the middle at the latest approved angle, in the bare hand,
complete the sartorial picture. On the chronically disappointed face
cultivated by the gilded youth of Latin-America there is an aristocratic
pose, beneath which lurks a faint hint of the Bowery, particularly when
its possessor turns to ogle those of the passing ladies who are
ogle-worthy. Arrived in the street, he opens with grand manner a silver
cigarette-case and lights in the latest fashion a monogrammed cigarette,
summons a taxi with a languid, world-weary air by slightly raising his
cane, steps in and rides out of sight of the Jockey Club, alights, pays
the sixty centavos fare of the first fifteen hundred meters—and walks to
the ten-dollar-a-month room he shares with a companion. At the Jockey
Club races hundreds of these real or counterfeit favorites of fortune
may be seen on the hottest days in those same lavendar gloves—or rather,
their spotless replica—pulling out little pocket mirrors every few
minutes to reassure themselves on their personal charms, or attempting
to add to them by giving a new curl to their mustaches.

[Illustration: SOUTH AMERICA]

Physical exertion, even for exercise sake, has little place in the
scheme of life of these dandies, or of the majority of youths even of
the genuinely wealthy and patrician class. Of late certain influences
have been working for improvement in this matter, but they are still
hampered by the awkwardness of inexperience as well as laggard
_costumbre_. Out at Tigre, a cluster of islands and channels some miles
up the bank of the Plata, young men of the class that in the United
States would pride themselves on a certain expertness in sports may be
seen rowing about with the clumsiness and self-consciousness of old
maids, their shirts bunched up under their suspenders, their bodies
plainly uncomfortable in trousers inclined by the dictates of fashion,
as well as by the unwonted exertion, to climb to their chests, the
occasional young woman in the back seat sitting as stiffly as the model
in a corset-shop window.

The feminine sex of the same class does not, of course, yield to the
males in the matter of personal adornment. At the races, along the
shaded drives of Palermo of an afternoon, above all in the narrow Calle
Florida a bit later in the day, fashion may be seen preening itself in
frank self-admiration. In the material sense the Calle Florida is merely
another of those inadequate streets of the old town, four or five blocks
back from the waterfront, and given over to the most luxurious
shops,—jewelers, _modistes_, _tailleurs de luxe_. But Florida is more
than a street; it is an institution. For at least a generation it has
been the unofficial gathering-place of the élite, in so far as there can
be any such in so large a city, taking the place in a way of the Sunday
night promenade in the central plaza of smaller Latin-American towns. Up
to a few years ago the carriages drove directly from the daily promenade
in Palermo to join the procession that crawled back and forth along the
few blocks of Florida between the Avenida de Mayo and the Plaza San
Martín, the ladies in them affecting that air of lassitude which seems
to be most attractive to the frankly admiring cavalier south of the Rio
Grande. But the day came when the narrow _callejón_ could no longer
contain all those who demanded admission to the daily parade and mutual
admiration party, and the _intendente_ solved the problem by closing the
street to vehicles during certain hours of the late afternoon. There is
still a procession on wheels from eleven in the morning until noon,
given over particularly to débutantes ostensibly on shopping tours,
though invariably surrounded by long lines of gallants and would-be
_novios_; but the principal daily _corso_ is now made on foot, and
admiring males may without offense or conspicuousness pass near enough
in the throng that fills the street from wall to wall to their
particular ideal to catch the scent of her favorite perfume. Nor does
that require undue proximity, for the most circumspect ladies of Buenos
Aires see nothing amiss in making an appeal to the olfactory senses
which in other lands would lead to unflattering conclusions.

The gowns to be seen in such gatherings are said by authorities on the
subject to be no farther behind Paris than the time of fast steamers
between French ports and the Plata. To the bachelor more familiar with
the backwoods they seem to be as thoroughly up to the minute as their
wearers are expert in exhausting every possibility of human adornment.
Unfortunately, many of the demure, semi-animate ladies prove on close
inspection to be not so beautiful as they are painted. Not a few of them
could readily pass as physically good looking, despite the bulky noses
so frequent in “B. A.” as to be almost typical, were they satisfied to
let nature’s job alone. But the most entrancing lady in the world would
risk defeat by entering a beauty contest disguised as a porter in a
flour-mill. There are, to be sure, ravishing visions now and then in
these Buenos Aires processions, but unpolished candor forces the
admission that what to us at least is the refined and dainty type is
conspicuous by its rarity. It is a standing observation of critical
foreign visitors that the décolleté gowns seen at the Colón during the
opera season often disclose cable-like shoulder muscles bequeathed by
recent ancestors who carried loads on their heads. That to me is one of
the promising signs in Buenos Aires, a proof that the new “aristocracy”
is near enough the laboring generations which built it up not to have
lost its muscle and its energy; it helps to explain the youthful
enthusiasm of the Argentine, similar to our own and so unlike the blasé
hopelessness of much of South America. For the southern republic is as
truly the land of opportunity as is our own, inferior perhaps only in
extent and resources. Along with the fops lounging in the Jockey Club it
has many such types as Mihanovitsch, arriving half a century ago with no
other possessions than the porter’s rope over his shoulder and retiring
recently from the active ownership of the largest steamship company
south of the United States, with palatial steamers plying wherever
Argentine waters are navigable.

The gaudy ostentation of this _nouveau riche_ city of Latin-Iberian
origin is nowhere seen to better advantage than at the Recoleta, the
principal cemetery. This is a crowded cement city within a stone wall,
as much a promenade and show-ground as a last resting-place. Men sit
smoking and gossiping on the tombs; women take in one another’s gowns
with critical eye as they turkey-walk along the narrow cement streets
between the innumerable family vaults. The tombs are built with the all
too evident purpose of showing that one’s dead are, or at least were in
life, of more importance in the world than those of one’s neighbors.
They have four or more stories below ground, with shelves or
pigeon-holes for several coffins on each “floor,” and marble steps
leading down to them. On the upper or ground floor, usually surrounded
by elaborate statues sculptured in white stone, are ostentatious chapels
with plate-glass doors, locked with the latest American safety locks.
Everywhere reigns a gaudy luxury wholly out of place in a city of the
dead. The self-respecting corpse must feel as if he had been set up in a
museum instead of being disposed of in a sanitary and inconspicuous
manner. Here and there a tomb bears the sign “For Sale,” with the name
of the authorized real estate dealer under it. The seller, who in some
cases seems to have tossed out the bones of his forgotten ancestors in
the convenient old Spanish way, is certain to benefit financially from
the transaction, for the Recoleta is _the_ cemetery of Buenos Aires,
absolutely limited in space now by the city that has grown up about it,
and accommodations in it are as eagerly sought as boxes at the opera or
seats on the stock exchange.

“Le cheval est la plus noble conquête que l’homme ait jamais fait,” runs
an inscription, from Buffon, over the portals of the far-famed
race-track in Palermo, which, from the intellectual heights of the
Jockey Club, is no doubt true. It suggests, however, an attempt on the
part of the _argentinos_ to deceive themselves into believing that they
attend the races in such hordes every Thursday and Sunday because of
their love of horses, rather than to indulge their genuinely Spanish
infatuation for gambling. This same hint of hypocrisy, of kow-towing to
Mrs. Grundy, which is ordinarily little in evidence in the
Latin-American character, also smirks from the tickets of the lottery
maintained by the Federal Government, which calls itself the “Loteria de
_Beneficencia_ Nacional.” How widespread is this Iberian desire to get
something for nothing is shown by the fact that the Argentine not only
maintains the national lottery, with regular drawings every ten days and
frequent special drawings with enormous prizes, but two other official
games of chance, run by the Provinces of Buenos Aires and of Tucumán.

The gambling at Palermo is on the _pari mutuel_, or pooled bets system.
That is, those who wish to place a wager on a race—and virtually
everyone on the grounds seems to have that desire as often as a race is
announced—crowd their way to one of the many windows, and purchase as
many bet-tickets as inclination or the state of their pocketbooks
suggests. These tickets are of two kinds,—_Ganador_ (Winner) and
_Placé_. All money wagered on that race is pooled, the Jockey Club, to
which the whole establishment belongs, skimming off ten per cent. for
itself and distributing the rest among those holding winning tickets.
Thus when a favorite wins there are so many players to share the returns
that one often gets little more than his money back. There are none of
those hundred-to-one chances to make the excitement of large hopes worth
the risk of a small loss. Now and again an “outsider” wins at Palermo,
but it is a far more common experience to wager two pesos, to see one’s
choice come in a neck or a length ahead of the entire field—and to be
paid two pesos and ten centavos at the booking windows.

The _Porteños_ seem to get much entertainment out of their race-track,
for all the slimness of the average winnings. The sumptuous pavilion,
confined to the use, free of charge, of members of the Jockey Club and
their guests, is always well patronized; the adjoining concrete stand,
called the “Paddock,” has its throng of seven-peso spectators even on
days when weather and grounds are not inviting to the sport; the swarms
of garden variety men and women who surrender two pesos for the
privilege of jostling one another in the other stands and about the
betting booths show an even less blasé interest. On fine days many
canopied tea-tables are set out on the smooth gravel space before the
Jockey Club pavilion, and there may be seen _Porteño_ fashion at its
gaudiest. The entire place is honeycombed with passageways for the use
of an army of officials, contestants, bet sellers and bet payers, the
latter superhuman in their facility in mental arithmetic. From the upper
seats one may look off across three complete racetracks, one within the
other and enclosing a lake and a small park, to the red-brown Plata,
stretching dull and featureless to the horizon. One might moralize and
point out the burden imposed on the mass of the population to support
the Jockey Club, perhaps the most ornate place of its kind in the world,
and surround the few thousand club members with luxury, could one
overlook the fact that if the average _argentino_ were denied the
privilege of risking his money on the races or in the lottery, he would
find other ways to hazard it, if only by betting on the number of rains
a year or the number of traffic blocks per hour in the downtown streets.

Of other forms of public entertainment Buenos Aires has its fair share.
The theater list for a given day numbers twenty-five performances,
ranging from the opera to a circus and a _frontón_ given over to the
Basque game of _pelota_—this, too, without counting the ubiquitous
“movie.” Serious drama has comparatively little standing, the popular
taste running to flippant one-act Spanish _zarzuelas_ or to the maudlin
and undress, with the audiences overwhelmingly male. Vaudeville bills
are apt to be cosmopolitan, each “artist” speaking his mother tongue,
for there is slight native “talent,” and an American negro doing a clog
dance that would not win him a single “hand” at home is much applauded,
since, coming from abroad, he must be good. A “national company” giving
native plays of real literary and histrionic merit was conspicuous by
its rarity.

Night life in Buenos Aires is brilliant at least in the material sense.
Though there are fewer blazing advertisements in all the town than along
Broadway, municipal lighting is more generous than in pre-war Paris.
Entertainments rarely begin before nine, and midnight usually finds the
streets crowded. By night, perhaps even more than by day, the visitor is
struck by the lack of rowdyism. As the city is less noisy than our own
metropolis, thanks to the absence of an “L,” among other things, so it
is less “tough.” Even the saloons—it seems more fitting to call them by
their local name of café—have little objectionable atmosphere; in them
one may order “soft” as well as “hard” drinks without arousing an
insinuating look from the waiter. The _Porteño_, like the southern
European from whom he is mainly descended, is temperate in his use of
liquor, and he expects his drinking-places to be as gentlemanly as any
other public rendezvous. Fully as numerous as the “cocktailerías,” often
presided over by expert mixers exiled from the United States, are the
_lecherías_ at which one may sit down at any hour of the day or evening
to a glass of the best of milk at a reasonable price.

The Latin-American privilege of ogling all attractive women has not, of
course, been eradicated even in Buenos Aires. But a recent ordinance
makes it a penal offense to speak to a woman on the street unless first
addressed by her, and the few respectable women who go out after dark
without escort are rarely subjected to anything worse than staring, and
perhaps an ostensibly unconscious little whispered monologue or popular
air. The same restriction has not, however, been placed on the fair sex,
and cases of blackmail turning on the point of who spoke first have not
been unknown in the municipal courts.

“B. A.” is particularly gay during the winter season, from June to
September. Then “Society” has returned from Mar del Plata, the Argentine
Atlantic City, or from the Córdoba hills; the few wealthy _estancieros_
who have residences on their estates come in from the pampa; gilded
loafers, opera singers, adventuresses turn up from the four points of
the compass, and the capital becomes doubly pretentious, expensive, and
crowded. Several times I came to it from journeys into the “camp,” as
the large English-speaking colony, anglicizing the Spanish word _campo_,
calls the country outside the capital, and each time I found it more
breathlessly in pursuit of pleasure. With the same latitude as Los
Angeles, the South American metropolis does not, of course, have what we
would call a real winter. Only once within the memory of the present
generation has snow fallen in sufficient quantity to cover the ground. A
temperature around the freezing point is the usual limit, and even in
the coldest days of July or August the sky is apt to be brilliant and
the atmosphere radiant. The cold, when it comes, seems extraordinarily
penetrating, just as the _pampero_, the suffocating norther of the
summer-time, seems hotter than anything the tropics have to offer. His
winter season is so short that the average _argentino_ makes little or
no preparation for it, with the result that he probably suffers more
from cold than those who live in really cold countries. Both law and
custom now require steam heat in hotels and the more important public
buildings, but the rank and file rarely come into contact with
artificial warmth.

A few years ago Buenos Aires caught a virulent case of puritanism from
some unknown source and made a concerted attack on notorious immorality.
The more vulgar features of night life were driven across the Riachuelo,
a filthy little stream that bounds the city and the federal district on
the south. There, beyond the jurisdiction of the city police—since the
section is subject only to the laws of the Province of Buenos Aires,
with its capital far away at La Plata—though still virtually within the
city limits, are gathered sailors’ recreation houses and the most
squalid vice. In _Porteño_ speech “beyond the Riachuelo” is the
equivalent of “outside the bounds of decency,” and in the moral shambles
of this region public entertainments reach a degradation which is beyond
American imagination.

In the capital itself things are not yet morally immaculate. The
_argentino_ looks upon the “social evil” rather in the French than the
American manner,—as something unavoidable, not particularly
reprehensible, and to be regulated rather than driven under cover. Vice
may be more widely spread than in our own large cities, but it is less
openly crude and vulgar, with more of the frankness and at the same time
of the chic naughtiness of the French. This is perhaps natural, for not
only is Paris the Porteño’s beloved model, but probably at least half
the women of this class come from France. Many other nationalities are
represented, but the rarest of all are native women. Whether Argentine
girls are “virtuous by constraint,” as some cynics have it, or the
national wealth is so great that few are forced to resort to the last
means of winning a livelihood, the fact remains that the predatory
female of Buenos Aires is almost certain to be a foreigner. Yet there
are few opportunities for women outside the home. Typists, clerks, and
the like are almost all men; in the biggest, and almost the only,
department store in Buenos Aires 2360 men and 640 girls were employed on
the day that official duties caused me to investigate the question.
Women, however, are steadily forging ahead as teachers in the numerous
and increasingly excellent public schools. Buenos Aires, by the way,
shows an illiteracy of barely ten per cent. for all its continuous
immigration. It has given insufficient attention to the development of
school playgrounds; its boys do not grow up with that love for athletics
which brings with it the worship of good health and physical perfection
of the body that is so potent an enemy of bad habits. Moreover, their
elders treat certain matters with a levity both of speech and example
which is not inclined to reform the rising male generation. In the moral
attitude of the Argentine capital there is much that could
advantageously be corrected, but there are civic beauties that would be
the pride of almost any city of our own land. For all the deadly
flatness of its site and its lack of landscape, it has a certain charm;
like all great cities it is cruel and heartless, with wrath-provoking
contrasts; and on the whole it is not particularly lovable.

                               CHAPTER II
                     ON THE STREETS OF BUENOS AIRES

In my daily rounds as “errand boy” I soon discovered that the _Porteño_
is not a particularly pleasant man with whom to do business. To begin
with, he is overwhelmed with a sense of his own importance, of that of
his city as the greatest, or at least soon to be greatest, city on the
footstool, and seems constantly burdened with the dread of not
succeeding in impressing those importances upon all visitors. There is
as great an air of concentrated self-sufficiency in Buenos Aires as in
New York, a similar self-complacency, the same disdainfulness of
anything from the insignificant bit of backwoods outside the city
limits, a frank attitude of disbelief in the possibility of ever
learning anything from those uncouth persons who have the misfortune not
to be _Porteños_, and with it all a provincialism scarcely to be equaled
off the Island of Manhattan. But the _Porteño_ has less reason to boast
of efficiency in his business methods than has his prototype of the
North. From the American point of view he is decidedly slow. The
telephone, for instance, has never been developed into a real aid to
business in Buenos Aires. The service is incredibly deficient, not
simply sometimes imperfect, but deficient in the sense which that word
has to those who have lived and attempted to telephone in Paris. At the
time of my erranding there were seven thousand telephone subscribers in
Buenos Aires—with a population rapidly approaching two million; and it
was so impossible to be added to the list that persons surrendering
their instrument had only to mention that fact in the “Want” columns of
a newspaper to sell at a price equal to the bonus paid for an opera box
the privilege of being the next to rent it. Yet once the telephone is
in, one’s troubles have only begun. Most _Porteño_ business men prefer
to do without one and go in person to see their professional
adversaries. In fact the atrociousness of the telephone service was the
chief raison d’être of my position in the consulate.

Having squirmed and shouldered one’s way through the narrow human
streams of the business district to the door of the building sought,
there begins the serious problem of reaching the desired individual. The
elevator service, in the few cases where there is one, is on a par with
the telephone. Nor is it reassuring to the timid, for on the
ground-floor cage there is almost certain to be a conspicuous sign to
the effect that, “As there exists a stairway, persons riding in the
elevator do so at their own peril.” Buenos Aires has not quite shaken
off the suspicion of a diabolical nature in all such new-fangled
contraptions. A man was killed by an elevator in an office building
during my days in the capital; when I chanced to pass the place nearly
two weeks later, the entire elevator-shaft had been gutted by municipal
order and three policemen were still stationed at the foot of it,
apparently to prevent anyone from climbing the shaft instead of using
the stairway.

Arrived at the proper floor, you find yourself face to face with the
greatest difficulty of all. From that moment you must wage pitched
battle, for the inevitable door-keepers are insolent beyond measure,
though sometimes with a veneer of Latin-American-style courtesy, and so
numerous that to pass them is like running a gantlet. To get as far as
the subsecretary’s subsecretary is often a strenuous day’s work. It
makes no difference how important your errand may be. These stupid
Cerebuses see no distinction whatever between the official spokesman of
the august _Consul General de los Estados Unidos de Norte América_ and a
book agent. Nor will foresight help you. For the great man inside is
invariably behind his schedule, scores of other applicants are sure to
be lined up in the anteroom, and though you have an appointment with him
for two, you are more likely than not to be still waiting at four. This
waiting in the anteroom is so customary in the Argentine that
_antesalar_ has become an accepted verb of the _idioma nacional_. Public
officials, from ministers to the lowest class of secretary, have mobs
before their doors during all their office hours, but instead of
increasing the latter until they cover the work to be done, or hurrying
things up in order to receive all applicants, they come late, fritter
away much of their time in non-essentials, and leave early, so that most
of the crowd has the pleasure of coming again the next day, and the
next. Doctors and dentists are particularly remiss in this form of
inefficiency. They, by the way, charge an admission fee, that must be
paid to the door-keeper before the patient can get in, and which has no
bearing on the regular charges “for professional services.”

The reason for this stagnation in the anteroom becomes apparent when you
at last step across the magic threshold. The American business man
presses a button as soon as he has heard you, and the thing is done at
once; the _argentino_ hems and haws, spends considerable time on
drawing-room courtesies and formalities, murmurs, “Ah-er-why-sí,
señor-er, come around to-morrow at three,” though it would be quite as
easy to make his decision at once. Most _Porteño_ business men with whom
I came in contact seemed to keep their minds on ice, or in a safety
vault somewhere, and to require time to go and consult them—for no one
who knows the Latin-American can even suspect that they wished to talk
the matter over with their wives. The saddest part of the whole story is
that when you come around mañana at three, the man either will not be
there or will be conferring with those who have appointments from twelve
to one, and will not have given your question an instant’s thought since
his door closed behind you.

There is a certain English and German influence in “B. A.” business
houses, and a corresponding native influence on the rather numerous
English and German business men in the city which makes them almost as
prone to procrastination as the _Porteño_. Five o’clock tea is served in
all offices, including congress and newspaper rooms. Of late years this
is often really tea, rather than _mate_, though black coffee and
liqueurs are still found on most portable sideboards. A British air of
deliberation pervades the commercial caste, though the pressure of
competition and high cost of living is gradually having its effect, both
in the increased pace of business and the lengthening of office hours,
which, if they begin late and are broken by tea-time, often last until
seven or even eight in the evening. “B. A.” still retains, however, a
few of those features which visiting Americans below the Rio Grande are
wont in their exasperation to dub “Spig.” There is the post-office, for
instance. It is as unsafe to assume common sense on the part of Buenos
Aires postal officials as of those in the most backward parts of South
America. Red tape, indifference, languor, and stupidity flourish almost
as vigorously in the _correo principal_ in the Casa Rosada as at the
crest of the Andes. You will probably find your letters filed under the
name “Esquire,” if your correspondents affect that medieval title; if
you wish to buy a stamp, the customary way is to go to one of the
tobacco-shops obliged to keep them, and buy it at a premium. Those who
insist on getting their stamps at the legal price must travel long
distances to the post office and shove and jostle their way through a
throng of Italians bent on sending home a part of their wages, to reach
at last a wholly inadequate hole in the wall behind which the female
clerks are deeply engrossed in gossip.

There is a reminder of some of our own overambitious towns in the
_argentino’s_ eagerness to boost population, as if there were some
virtue in mere figures, even though those be false. The national census
was taken during my sojourn in the republic—all in a single day by the
way, which was declared a holiday—and the method of computing the
population was not one to cause it to shrink. Long beforehand walls and
windows were covered with so many placards resembling those of a
vaudeville performance that the cynical observer might easily have been
justified in supposing that the printers had a special influence with
the government. On the day set not only was every foreigner included,
even though he happened only to be spending a few hours in crossing the
country, but orders were issued to count, through the consuls, all
_argentinos_ living abroad and all persons of whatever nationality at
the moment under the Argentine flag, whether on the high seas or on
steamers far up the Paraná and Uruguay rivers quite outside the national
jurisdiction. I was counted at my hotel, filling in a blank under the
eye of the Italian proprietor, though I had only the day before returned
from a foreign country and was on the point of leaving for another. The
enumerators received ten _centavos_ for each person enumerated, which
naturally did not tend toward a decrease of population, that sum being
paid by the government—though it turned out later that in many backwoods
districts it had also been collected from the enumerated. Placards were
then posted ordering any person within the republic who had not been
counted on the date set to come to town and present himself before the
Census Commission. These intensive methods resulted eventually in the
announcement that 1,490,675 persons were living in Buenos Aires on the
day in question.

If there chanced to be no “outside work” for the moment to keep me
scurrying through the avalanche of taxicabs, or no “office boy” duties
about the consulate, there was always plenty of recreation to be found
in watching the assorted humanity that filed in and out of the outer
office. Now a penniless sailor would drift in, to address the
work-swamped vice consul in such words as, “General, I ayn’t goin’ t’
tell you no stories, ’cause you’re a bright man an’ you’d ketch me up at
it an’ make a fool out o’ me. Only, I took just that one drink, general,
just that one drink, an’ they shanghaied me an’ ’ere I am an’ I ’as a
family in the States, general, s’welp me Gawd, general, an’ what am I
goin’ t’ do ...” and so on, until to my multitudinous duties was added
that of bouncer. Or perhaps a clean, neatly dressed young American,
perpetual outdoors in his face, would step up with, “I come from Texas,
that’s where my paw an’ maw lives, an’ I come down here to raise hawgs
an’ I thought I’d come in an’ tell you I was in the country an’ now
where can I get the best land to raise hawgs on an’ ...” another task
for the overworked “office boy.” If it was one of those rare days when
this continual procession of human quandaries was broken, I had only to
reach at random into the files to pull out a written one:

                                           Buenos Aires, April 25,
                                         To the Consol of the U. S. A.


  I am reading now the news of the war (it was the time of our sending
  marines to Vera Cruz) and the call at the arms to volunteers. If you
  remember, about 7 or 8 month ago, I have writen to you from Rosario,
  offering my blood for your Republica. Not answer have I received
  about. Now if you like to take in consideration this letter, I wish
  to start for the war and to be incorporated in the volunteer’s
  corps. This is not a strange offering. I am Italiaman and I cannot
  to forget the time passed in the U. S. A. and the generous heart of
  the Americaman when my country was troubled by the sismic movements.

  I live in New York six year, left the North America three year
  before, and am desiring now to see and live in that blessed country.
  Here has the hungry, and indeed to die starved in the streets. I
  wish better to die for the North American states. I love your land
  more than my country and severals of the Italiamen living in the
  States, believe me, Sir, will be incorporated for the war. I would
  to be at present in New York, not here: I well know that the
  international respects forbidden to answer me about, but I have not
  money in this poor country, and for that I can’t to start at my
  expenses. If you like to give me a passage, I am ready to start
  rightaway, and not body shall know my resolution.

  Hoping in your favorable answer, I am glad to be,

                                                   Yours respectfully,
                                                  MIKE ALBANESE.

Nor does Buenos Aires take a back seat to New York in the amusement the
stroller may find in its streets. There was the incident of Easter
Sunday, for instance. I went to church, but there was no special music,
only a cluster of priests in barbarically resplendent robes going
through some sort of silent service, so I drifted out again. There was
not even the parade of new spring hats to which to look forward, for
spring was still far off in Buenos Aires. In fact, the oppressive heat
of early March in which I had arrived had only begun to give way to a
refreshing coolness. The early autumn skies were brilliant, leaves had
scarcely begun to turn color. I bought a copy of _La Prensa_, tucked it
under an arm, and went strolling lazily up Rivadavia beyond Calle
Callao, the Forty-Second street of “B. A.,” flanking the gleaming new
congress building. Mounted policemen in rich uniforms, with horsetail
helmets and the white gloves of holidays, here and there decorated the
landscape. For some time I sauntered dreamily on at random, a trifle
bored by the monotony of life, for I had already been more than a month
in Buenos Aires and had tasted most of the excitement it has to offer.

I was half aware of crossing the broad Plaza Once de Setembro, still
covered with earth from the digging of the new subway. Finally, up in
the 2700 block, a man standing on a corner asked me if I could tell him
where Dr. Martinez lived. I replied that I was a stranger in those
parts. So was he. That was fairly evident to the naked eye, for he was
decidedly countrified in appearance and actions, though he was clean and
well dressed. He had just come up from Bahía Blanca, he said, and when
he got off the train in the station, he had met one of those men with a
_huascar_, a rope, over one shoulder and a number on his cap—a
_changador_, or porter, I explained—who asked him if he wanted his
baggage carried. He did, and gave the man his _maleta_ and also the slip
of paper with the address of Dr. Martinez on it. Then the _changador_
said it was customary to pay in advance, and as he had no change he gave
him a ten-peso bill and told him to bring back the small money.

The poor fellow was so evidently a simple, good-hearted countryman who
had never been in a large city before that I could not but admire, as
well as pity, his unsuspecting nature. Of course the _changador_ had
disappeared with the valise, the ten pesos, _and_ the address; and as
the _campesino_ did not even know the doctor’s first name, things looked
rather dark for him, for Martinez rivals Smith in directories and
telephone books. Still, it was no concern of mine, so after giving him
my sympathy and advising him to report the matter to the police, just
for form’s sake, I turned to go on.

Just then another man passed us at a brisk pace and the poor countryman
appealed to him for advice. The newcomer was quite evidently a
_Porteño_, a man under thirty, good-looking, with the frank and open
countenance one recognizes at once as belonging to an honest man. His
appearance was that of a clerk or small merchant. Knowing the countryman
was in good hands, I turned away again.

But he called me back, apparently feeling more secure with me nearby.
Then he told the newcomer of his hard luck. Naturally the latter was as
sorry as I was. He expressed his sympathy and started on, but the
countryman begged not to be abandoned in his trouble. The newcomer
yielded good-naturedly to the whim of the yokel and we fell into

“You are English?” remarked the townsman, casually, but before I could
answer, the countryman said with an air of finality, “No, he is German,”
and as it was easier to let it go at that than to bother to correct him,
I nodded. We strolled along for a block, puzzling over the sad
predicament of the countryman. At length the _Porteño_ asked pardon for
butting into any man’s private affairs, but, “Did this changador get
away with any of your money in the grip, too?”

“Ah, no; there I am lucky!” cried the estanciero. “Just before the train
got into the station I opened the _maleta_ and took out this roll of
billetes; it is seven thousand pesos”—in the utmost innocence the fellow
drew out the roll, large as a man’s forearm, a hundred-peso bill in
plain sight on top. I was about to protest when the other man did so,

“But, my dear sir! Do you know me? Or do you know this gentleman? Then
don’t you know better than to flash seven thousand pesos around in the
public streets? Why, if we were not respectable men we might tell you we
knew where this Dr. Martinez lives and then lead you into any old corner
and give you a _puñalado_ and....”

“Oh, I can tell you are honest men,” replied the countryman, with a
childlike smile, at which the other turned to me with:

“You see these country people live so simply and honestly at home they
never dream of the dangers of the cities.”

“Yes,” I replied. Then to the countryman, “But one mustn’t always judge
people by their faces,” for it was evidently up to me to say something
of a harsh nature to the simple rustic.

“Exactly,” said the _Porteño_; “we can see a man’s face but not his

Still the countryman seemed to prefer to trust to his own judgment of
physiognomy and implored us to help him find this Dr. Martinez, saying
that if it was a matter of giving us ten or twenty pesos each for our
trouble he would be glad to do so. The _Porteño_ forestalled my protest
by saying we were not that sort of men but that we would be glad to give
him any assistance possible, out of charity. So we set out along a side
street, telling the countryman to walk ahead.

“What do you think of that poor fellow?” said the _Porteño_; “and what
if he had fallen in with some dishonest shyster instead of us? Say, you
know I think the man is ill and....”

“Oh, _señor_,” he called to him, “you won’t think I am prying into your
private affairs, but is it some medical matter you want to see this Dr.
Martinez about? Because if it is, you know there are so many fakes
posing as doctors here in the city....”

“No, no; it is not for a medical matter at all,” returned the
countryman; “it is merely a family affair,” and he went on again. But
before long he turned back and to my astonishment there were tears
visible on his cheeks.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “it is true I do not know you, but I have seen and
talked with you and I am sure you are honest men, not the kind who would
outwit a poor countryman who knows nothing of the city and its ways. So
I am going to tell you just how things stand so you can advise me what
to do.

“My father and I own a big estancia down near Bahía Blanca. We are very
well-to-do—you will excuse my mentioning that—though we do not know much
of cities and their ways. Some time ago a man living on our estancia
died. He was thought to be a beggar, but when we came to disinfect his
hut what was our surprise to find inside his old mattress seven thousand
pesos in these little round gringo gold pieces....”

“Ah, he means English sovereigns,” put in the _Porteño_.

“Father was going to turn this over to the authorities,” the countryman
went on, “but our lawyer laughed at the idea, as the fellow had no heirs
and the authorities would only stick it into their own pockets. And as
the man had lived and died on our estancia, surely no one was more
entitled to the money than father. So he put it away in his strong
boxes—though, to be sure, it was a small amount to us and we never
needed it. Well, a few weeks ago my poor papá”—here he wiped away a
tear—“was riding along when his horse ran into a _cerco de alambre de
púas_. But perhaps you city gentlemen do not know what a _cerco de
alambre de púas_ is?”

“Oh, yes,” we both cried, and the _Porteño_ added, “it is that wire with
sharp points on it that you use out in the country to keep the cattle or
horses in a field.”

“Well, my poor father rode into one of those fences and his face was so
cut and torn that it has all turned black on that side, and the doctor
came and told us it was scurvy or cancer or some of those awful diseases
with a long name, and that poor papá would never get well.”

When he had blown his nose the campesino went on, and one could not help
pitying the poor chap, trying to hide his grief, for the people of South
America certainly have much family affection, especially those from the

“The doctor told us to call the priest, so I went and got Father Acosta,
our old family padre, who baptized me, and when he confessed father, he
found out about the seven thousand pesos. Well, he said at once that
father could not go to heaven with that on his conscience. So he told me
to take the money and come to Buenos Aires at once—for of course there
is no hope now of finding any of the beggar’s heirs—to see this Dr.
Martinez and, giving him two thousand pesos for his poor patients, as a
sort of commission, to have him take the other five thousand and send
half of it to some church to say masses for the repose of that poor
aviator who was killed the other day, and the other half to some good
hospital, to be used for the poor and those with bad hands and feet....”

“Ah, he means cripples,” put in the _Porteño_; “that’s what we call that
kind of poor people here in the city,” smiling upon our simple
companion. Naturally we two had looked at each other frequently during
this tale, for it scarcely seemed possible that even a _campesino_ from
the utmost pampa could be so unsophisticated. Now, was it a question of
the priest and this Dr. Martinez being confederates, or was the priest
as simple as the other yokels?

“If you don’t mind another personal question,” said the _Porteño_, “do
you know this Dr. Martinez?”

“Ah, no, but he has his name in the paper, in _La Prensa_.”

“My dear señor!” gasped the townsman. “Why, don’t you know that either
I, who am no doctor, or this gentleman, whom I think I am right in
saying is none either, can pay a newspaper sixty or eighty centavos to
put in an announcement that we are doctors, or anything else? Why, my
poor compatriot, a newspaper is merely a beast of burden that carries
anything you put upon it.”

“But,” gasped the countryman, “don’t the editors know people before they
put in their notices?”

“Poor simpleton,” murmured the _Porteño_. “Now, I must be getting on,
for I have friends coming to see me, but I’ll tell you what I should do
in your case. I should go to some of the largest and most respectable
commercial houses here in the city and turn this matter over to them,
taking their receipt and....”

“Ah, señores,” cried the countryman, almost in tears, “this is purely a
matter between my father and his conscience. I would not have it become
public under any circumstances; and besides, my poor father is so sick
that I must take the evening train back to Bahía Blanca at all odds.
And—excuse me, gentlemen, for mentioning it, but I have an infirmity—and
where can I go and sit down for a few minutes? Here on the sidewalk?”

[Illustration: In Buenos Aires I became “office-boy” to the American
consul general]

[Illustration: The new Argentine capitol building in Buenos Aires]

[Illustration: A Patagonian landscape]

[Illustration: The government ferry to Choele Choel Island, in the Rio
Negro of southern Argentine]

“Válgame Diós, no!” cried the _Porteño_, catching him by a sleeve, “not
in the street, or you will have a crowd gathered around you. I’ll tell
you what you can do. Go down that way a block and you’ll find a saloon.
Go in and buy a drink of something and ask them where you can sit down
to drink it.”

The countryman left us, and the _Porteño_ took advantage of the
opportunity to talk things over with me.

“It is evident that the simple fellow is in great danger of being done
by this Dr. Martinez, or somebody else, for how do we know he will not
take and keep the whole seven thousand? Now I am an honest man, and I
believe you are, too; are you not? Then it is our duty to take care that
this money gets where it belongs. You surely must know some German
church here in town where they can say masses for that poor aviator. We
can go and give the priest twenty-five hundred; and then there are
plenty of good hospitals, the German, the English, and so forth, where
they will accept and use for the poor the other twenty-five hundred. And
then we will not only have seen that the money goes where it was
intended, but there will be a _linda_, a pretty little commission of two
thousand pesos to divide between us. Can I depend on you to help me save
this poor fellow and his money?”

I was, of course, considerably surprised at such a proposition from a
man apparently so straightforward, and for the first time felt it my
duty to stay in the case until I had seen the money properly disposed
of; the equivalent of three thousand dollars was no sum to see scattered
among sharpers. So I nodded, and when the countryman came back, the
_Porteño_ explained to him:

“Now, my friend, you do not know this Dr. Martinez. How do we know he
will not take the money and spend it on himself, on dissipation, in
short, to talk plainly between men, on _francesas_?”

“_Francesas_?” cried the countryman, with a puzzled air.

“Yes, on bad women, on those who sell their love,” explained the
_Porteño_; “we call them _francesas_ here in the city because so many of
them come from France.”

“Ah, yes, I have heard there are such women in the cities, poor things,”
said the farmer. “Also, it is only too true that this doctor may not be
honest. But tell me, gentlemen, what am I to do? My poor papá dying down
there in Bahía Blanca and——” again the poor fellow was weeping and it
was lucky we were on a small side street behind the Once station or we
should soon have had a crowd about us.

“Now, you do know us,” went on the _Porteño_, “even if only for a short
time, and I propose that you turn this money over to us, let us place
the five thousand in churches and hospitals we know of, and then divide
the two thousand between us as our commission for our trouble, which we
would surely be as much entitled to as Dr. Martinez, whom no one knows.”

To my astonishment the simple countryman jumped at the idea, either
because he was too unsophisticated to suspect anyone, or too anxious to
get back to his sick father to give any thought to the possibilities of

“Only, it is a commission of two thousand _between_ you,” he specified,
“not for each.”

“Surely, surely, we know that,” answered the _Porteño_.

We continued our stroll down the back street. The countryman, quite
evidently relieved to have the matter off his mind, reached for the
seven thousand pesos. Then an idea seemed to strike him, as if all our
talk about the dangers of the city had at last awakened a bit of
suspicion in his breast. He left the roll in his pocket and said
smilingly ingenuously:

“But, señores—you will excuse my suggesting such a thing—but before I
turn this seven thousand over to you—and I shall place it in the hands
of _this_ gentleman” (indicating me) “since I met him first, and you
will give me a paper with your names saying you will use the money as my
poor father desires—but just so I can say to him when I get back that I
turned the commission over to two honest gentlemen, who will carry it
out, I—you will excuse me, gentlemen, I am sure, if I speak frankly—I
just want you to show me in some way that you are not indigent persons.
In short—you will pardon me, señores—but just so my poor father can die
in peace”—here he wiped another large tear from his wind-and-sun-burned
cheek—“I wish to be able to tell him that you are persons of enough
wealth so that you will not need to spend this money on yourselves, just
some little proof, gentlemen.”

“Surely, most just and wise,” cried the _Porteño_, “and I am certainly
not the man to be unwilling to show you that I am a respectable person.
Of course I am not carrying about with me any such large sum as _you_
have, but if it is a matter of a thousand or so pesos, I never go about
without that amount on my person.”

Here he pulled back his coat a bit and displayed a smaller roll of
bills, though with the extreme circumspection of the city-bred man. The
countryman seemed entirely satisfied with this proof of honesty and,
shaking hands with the other most heartily, assured him that he had
every confidence in him. Then he turned his simple face questioningly
upon me.

I could not, of course, being a mere vagabonding “errand boy,” make any
display of wealth. But it seemed so eminently my duty to keep an eye on
the _Porteño_ until the countryman’s money had come into indisputably
honest hands that I determined to invent myself a small fortune with
which to keep my standing in the case. I drew out the nine pesos and
some change in my pocket with an apologetic countenance and addressed my

“I’m sorry not to be able to show at once that I am a person of means,
but I am so well aware of the dangers of large cities that I never carry
with me more than enough for the day’s expenses, and of course you are
not interested in seeing this tiny amount,” which I then put back into
my pocket.

“But you must have money somewhere,” asked the _Porteño_, anxiously,
“just enough to show this gentleman we can be trusted to carry out his
commission? Come over here a moment. You will excuse us for a minute,
won’t you?” he added, addressing the _campesino_.

“Yes, but señores,” cried the latter, almost in tears, “you are not
going to talk about anything to my hurt?”

“On the contrary, it is entirely for your good,” answered the townsman.
“Just excuse us a moment until we arrange this matter to your

The two of us crossed the street, where the _Porteño_ asked me again if
I could not show I had money.

“Why, yes,” I lied, determined now at all costs not to let him take
unfair advantage of the incredibly simple _estanciero_, “I have money in
the—er—the German bank and in the German consulate. But how can I get it
out, to-day being Sunday? Of course, if the bank-book would be
sufficient proof for our friend, I could hurry home and get that.”

“Where do you live?”

“Tucumán 1671.”

“Well, now, how could we arrange?” puzzled the townsman. “You could go
and get the bank-book. Or shall I go with you? No, it will be better for
me to stay here with our friend, for with seven thousand pesos in his
pocket, which anyone might take away from him—but you could run home and
get the bank-book, and that perhaps would keep him interested until
to-morrow, when the banks open—for of course, being a man from the
pampa, he won’t know that a bank-book is proof of having money—and
to-morrow you could get the money out and.... How much money have you in
the bank?”

“I can’t say exactly,” I answered, ostensibly cudgeling my brains to
remember, “perhaps a little over six thousand pesos.”

“Ah, that’s fine,” said the _Porteño_, his eyes shining, “because that,
with what I have, will just about equal the seven thousand our friend
has, and give him full confidence.” We turned back toward the

“Of course,” went on my companion, bringing his lips close to my ear,
“when we get that seven thousand—and I know you are not the sort of man
who will beat me out of my share just because it is going to be put into
_your_ hands. Are you?” When I shook my head he grasped my hand and
shook it fervently. “When we get that seven thousand it won’t much
matter whether the priest and the hospital—you understand me, as man to
man, don’t you?”

I gave him a wise look as we rejoined the countryman, who was nursing
his feet as if city pavements were already blistering them. When we told
him that if he wished to see my six thousand—for, as we expected, he had
little knowledge of, or faith in, bank-books—he would have to stay over
until the next day, he protested, naturally, that he must take the
evening train, his poor father being likely to die at any moment. But he
was apparently as tractable as he was simple, for when it was all
explained to him, that I would go home at once and be back within half
an hour, or forty minutes at the most, with my bank-book, that then we
would all three spend the afternoon and night together somewhere until
the banks opened in the morning, he admitted that that was probably the
best way out of it, that “papá” always had had a strong constitution
after all, that the money _must_ be properly placed before he returned
home, and after drawing out and looking at the roll of seven thousand
again and asking if we wanted him to count it to show that it was really
that amount, to which the _Porteño_ hastily protested and begged him to
get it back into his pocket as soon as possible, he agreed to our plan.
I was to catch a car home at once, get my bank-book, and return to them
on that same corner.

There being no car in sight, I set off at a swift pace along the tram
line. As I looked around to see if the car was coming, the two waved to
me to come back. I rejoined them, and the countryman again begged me not
to say a word to anyone about the matter, since it was entirely a
problem between his father and his conscience. I quieted his almost
tearful fears by assuring him that I lived all alone, that I had
scarcely a friend in Buenos Aires, and that I was naturally of a most
taciturn disposition. As I turned away again, the townsman took a few
steps after me and murmured in my ear, “If you will bring along your
rings and jewels, too, that will help to win his confidence.” I assured
him I would bring every piece of jewelry I possessed, and hurried off
once more down the street car line.

A couple of blocks beyond, where the street curved and hid my friends
from view, I turned a corner. A man who seemed to have been peering out
from behind it asked me if I knew “those two persons.”

“No,” I answered, “we were merely passing the time of day.”

“But don’t you know _esos son ladrones_—those are thieves!” he cried.

“Señor,” I replied, “my very best thanks for your kind warning, but I
discovered that about half an hour ago.”

Whereupon I continued for where I had started—to keep an engagement with
a fellow-countryman at the afternoon races in Palermo, a rendezvous I
had for a time feared I should have to miss unless I cut short my very
entertaining Easter morning with the bunco steerers.

                              CHAPTER III

The traveler who visits only Buenos Aires will almost certainly carry
away a mistaken notion of the Argentine. There is perhaps no national
capital in the world so far in advance of, so out of proportion to its
nation as is the great city on what the English called the “Plate.” We
of the northern hemisphere are not accustomed to cities which _are_
their countries to the extent that Buenos Aires is the Argentine.
American editors and publicists expressed astonishment, and in some
cases misgiving, when our latest census showed that one tenth the
population of the United States dwells in its three largest cities. Of
all the people inhabiting the Argentine Republic virtually one fourth
live in the capital.

The contrast between this and the great background of pampas is
incredible; Buenos Aires is far more closely allied to Paris or Rome
than to the broad country over which it rules. There are several reasons
for this disparity, besides the general South American tendency to dress
up the capital like an only son and trust that the rest of the country
will pass unnoticed, like a flock of poor relatives or servants. The two
principal crops of the Argentine, cattle and wheat, do not require a
compact rural population. Being the chief port as well as the metropolis
and capital, Buenos Aires has first choice of those who cross the sea
seeking new occupations and homes. It sucks the life blood from the
constant stream of immigration, leaving the “camp” a sparsely settled
expanse of boundless plain and the other cities mere provincial towns,
sometimes pleasant places to live in, but wholly devoid of metropolitan
features. Buenos Aires is as large as Philadelphia; the second city of
the Argentine is smaller than Akron, Ohio.

Numerous efforts have been made to bring about a better balance. The
government offers the immigrant free transportation to any part of the
country. Down on the Paseos of Colon and Julio, beneath the arcades of
which Spanish and Armenian petty merchants, cheap Italian restaurants,
and den-like second-hand shops make first appeal to the thin purse of
the newly arrived fortune seeker, the broad brick pillars are covered
with the enticements of employment agencies,—a _cuadrilla_ of such a
size wanted for railroad work three hundred miles west; so many laborers
needed on an _estancia_ in a distant province, free fare, nominal
fee—just such signs as may be seen on the corner of Madison and Canal
Streets in Chicago and in a score of our western cities. The wages
offered are from twenty to thirty per cent. lower than for the same
grade of labor in the United States at the same period, and the cost of
meals somewhat higher. But it is something more than this that causes
the majority of immigrants to pause and read and wander on in quest of
some occupation financially less attractive in or near the capital.
Possibly it is a subconscious dread of the horizonless pampas which
stretch away into the unknown beyond the city; some attribute it to the
now happily decreasing autocracy of grafting rural officials and the
lack of government protection in districts out of touch with the
capital. Or it may be nothing more than the world-wide tendency to
congregate in cities. The fact remains that Buenos Aires is congested
with the very laborers who are sadly needed on the great undeveloped
plains of the interior.

A railroad map of the Argentine is a striking illustration of this
concentration of population. As all roads once led to Rome, so do all
railway lines of the Argentine converge upon Buenos Aires. Tracks
radiate from the capital in every direction in which there is Argentine
territory, a dense network which suggests on a larger scale the railroad
yards of our great centers of transportation. No other city of the land
is more than a way station compared with the all-absorbing capital.
There is probably no country in the world in which it is easier to lay
rails, though it is sometimes difficult to keep them above the surface.
With the beginning of its real exploitation, therefore, new lines sprang
up almost overnight. As in the United States beyond the Alleghenies,
railroads came in most cases before highways; for though Spaniards
settled in the Argentine four centuries ago, the scattered _estancieros_
and their peons were content to ride their horses across the open
plains, and the modern movement is as yet scarcely a generation old.
There are many regions where the railroad is to this day the only real
route; those who do not use it drive or ride at will across the
trackless pampas, with thistles or waving brown grass threshing their
wheels or their horses’ knees. To-day there are railways not only from
Buenos Aires to every town of the adjoining provinces, but to Bolivia
and Paraguay on the north, to Chile on the west, and Patagonia in the
South. Long palatial trains roll out of the capital in every direction,
entire trains bound for cities of which the average American has never
heard the name, the destination announced by placards on the sides of
the cars as in Europe—and as it should be in the United States.

With the exception of a minor French line or two, and some rather
unimportant government roads of narrow gauge, all the railways of the
Argentine are English, very English, in fact, with British managers and
chiefs of departments, engines without bells, and with the nerve-racking
screech of European locomotives, to say nothing of the British “staff”
system which forces even “limited” trains to slow down at every station
enough for the engineer to snatch the sort of iron scepter which is his
authority for entering another section. The rolling stock, however, is
more nearly American in appearance. The freight cars are large, the
passenger coaches—of two classes—are built on a modified American plan,
without compartments. Both in comfort and speed the main Argentine lines
rival our own, though there are fewer through expresses which maintain
what we would call a high rate throughout their runs. For one thing the
government assesses a fine against those trains which are more than a
little late without palpable excuse, and it is natural that the
companies so arrange their schedules as to make such punishment
unlikely, with the result that many trains have a tendency to wait at
stations for the time-table to catch up with them. Nor, with the
exception of the through lines to the neighboring republics, do most of
the tracks forming that great network out of Buenos Aires fetch up
anywhere in particular. Nearly all of them have the air of pausing in
doubt on the edge of the great expanses they set out to explore, with
the result that while the provinces bordering Buenos Aires are so
thickly strewn with tracks that the map suggests there is not room to
set down a foot between them, there are enormous tracts of territory in
the central and western portions of the country wholly untouched by
modern transportation. Life slows down on these many arteries of travel,
too, in exact proportion to the distance from the heart from which all
the Argentine is nourished. But there are indications in most cases that
the pause at nowhere is only temporary, that presently the lines will
summon up breath and courage to push on across the still trackless

The great drawback to travel in the Argentine is the cost, both in time
and money. Distances are so great, places of any importance so far
apart, that while fares are not much higher than in the United States,
it takes many hours and many pesos to get anywhere worth going. Towns
which look but a cannon-shot apart on the map may be reached only by
several hours of travel, saddened by the despairing flatness and
monotony of the desolate pampas, where there is rarely a tree to give a
pleasing touch of shade, no spot of green to attract and rest the eyes,
a landscape as uninviting as an unfurnished apartment.

In my double capacity of consular protégé and prospective “booster,”
however, I was furnished with general passes by all the important
railways, and time is no object to a mere wanderer. But for this
official recognition of my unstable temperament I should probably have
seen little of the Argentine, for even the man who has tramped the
length of the Andes would scarcely have the patience to face on foot the
endless horizon of the pampas; and “hoboing” has never been properly
developed on Argentine railways. Rarely had I been given temporary carte
blanche on almost every train in the country when, as a second stroke of
fortune, consular business turned up which took me into various sections
of the “camp” without cutting me off from my modest official income. I
hastened to lay in a supply of heavy garments, for the first trip was to
be south, and the end of April had brought an autumn chill even in
Buenos Aires, over which birds were flying northward in great V-shaped

A general pass is more than a saving of money; it gives train officials
an exalted notion of the holder’s importance, and it permits him to jump
off anywhere on the spur of the moment. Yet for many miles south I saw
nothing worthy of a stop. When one has already visited La Plata, capital
of the Province of Buenos Aires, a short hour below the metropolis and
noted for its university and its rows of venerable eucalyptus trees,
there remains little to attract the eye in the flat expanse of that
province as it unrolls hour after hour on any of the lines of the “Great
Southern.” Several dairies, which maintain their own _lecherías_
throughout the federal capital, punctuate the first miles; otherwise the
landscape is a mere reminder of our own western prairies. Here is the
same scanty grass and clumps of bushes resembling sagebrush, the same
flat plain with its horizon barely rising and falling perceptibly with
the motion of the train. The only unfamiliar note is the ostrich,
scattered groups of which go scuttling away like huge ungainly chickens
as the express disturbs them at their feeding. At least we should call
this Argentine curiosity an ostrich, though science distinguishes it
from a similar species in the Old World under the name of _rhea
darwini_, and to the natives it is a _ñandú_. Time was when tawny
horsemen pursued these great birds across the pampas, entangling their
legs in the _bolas_, two or three ropes ending in as many heavy balls,
which they swung over their heads as they rode; but that is seen no
more. Even the waving plains of grass, across which the nomadic Indian
roamed and the gaucho careered lassooing wild cattle, are gone. Wheat
fields, bare with the finished harvest in this autumn season, alternate
with short brown grass, cropped by the cattle which everywhere dot the
landscape for hour after monotonous hour.

The gaucho, with his long, sharp _facón_ stuck through his belt, who
lighted his _fogón_ out on the open pampa to prepare his _asado con
cuero_, his beef roasted in the hide, who killed a steer for his morning
beefsteak or slaughtered a lamb for a pair of chops, who rolled up in
his saddle-blanket wherever night overtook him, with his daytime leather
seat as pillow, has degenerated into the “hired man,” the mere peon,
usually from Spain or Italy, who would be dismayed at the thought of a
night without shelter or a day without prepared food. Only a scattered
remnant of the real cowboys of the pampas are left, just enough to show
the present domesticated generation the stuff of which their forerunners
were forged; and even these are usually far away in the remotest corners
of the country.

Yet the newcomers take on gradually something of the gaucho’s look, a
hardiness, an air of abstraction, as if through gazing long at
monotonous nothingness they come to concentrate their attention inwardly
and become meditative of soul, with that solemn, self-reliant manner of
men who never turn the leaves of any book but nature’s. The countrymen
of Nevada or Arizona have the same weathered appearance as the groups
gathered about the rare stations at which the through train momentarily
halts; the saddled horses tied to wooden rails before the more
pretentious buildings among the little clusters of houses set out on the
unsheltered open prairie might easily be mistaken for Texas mustangs. In
these groups one begins to see suggestions of Indian blood, _mestizos_
with the yellowish-brown skin and thick black hair of the aborigines,
yet with a stronger hint of European origin.

Ordinarily this region is swirling with dust, but this year the rains
had been early and excessive, and the monotonous brown prairie was often
flooded, the dismal houses dripping; the wide public roads were
knee-deep sloughs along which tramping would indeed have been an
experience. Clusters of farm buildings, generally new, stood here and
there in groves of trees, planted trees, which in the Argentine are a
sign of opulence, a sort of seigneurial luxury, like diamonds or
liveried footmen. The trees native to the pampas being rare and scrubby,
it is chiefly the imported eucalyptus standing in little clumps, English
sparrows noisily gossiping among them, or rising in broken lines from
the frequent lakes of mirage or shallow reality. Boisterous hackmen,
sprinkled to the ears with mud, attacked in force the descending
passengers at every station serving a town of size and bore them away in
clumsy bespattered coaches. Huge two-wheeled carts reminiscent of
England here and there labored along the bottomless road from station to
town under incoming freight or outgoing country produce. Town after town
was monotonously alike, the houses built of crude bricks, with an
unfinished air suggesting that they were at most mere temporary
stopping-places of men ready to pursue fortune elsewhere on a moment’s

The chief characteristic of Argentine towns is their roominess. The
space they cover is several times that of Andean cities of equal
population. Though the houses often toe the street in the Arab-Spanish
fashion, they are frequently far apart and the streets are wider than
even Buenos Aires would care to have in her most congested section. No
doubt each hamlet has a secret hint that it is soon to become a great
city, and lays its plans accordingly. Next to their spaciousness and the
dreary plainness of their architecture, these towns of the pampas strike
the experienced South American traveler by the scarcity of their
churches. The largest of them seldom shows more than a single steeple;
many seem to have no places of worship whatever. Nowhere is there that
suggestion common to the atmosphere of the languid cities of the Andes
of a present world so unpromising that life can most advantageously be
spent in preparation for the next.

The “Great Southern” carried me so far into the south that only by
straining my neck could I see the Southern Cross, a tilted, less
striking constellation now than when I had first made it out in far-off
Central America by standing on tiptoe and peering over the horizon. The
journey might almost better be made by night than by day, for Argentine
sleeping-cars are comfortable and the dreary, unfurnished landscape is
almost oppressive. The only natural features to arouse a flicker of
interest are some rock hills near Tandil, duplicated farther on in
another little rocky range known as the Sierra de la Ventana. In the
first of these Buenos Aires quarries some of the stone for its building
and paving, the rest being brought across the Plata from Uruguay. Few
large countries have been more neglected than the Argentine in the
matter of natural resources, other than agricultural. Its rare deposits
of stone are far distant from where the material is needed, it has no
precious minerals, almost no forests, even the coal used on its
railroads must be brought from abroad. Yet it would gladly be rid of
some of its stone. Through much of the south it is hampered by a
_tosca_, a shelf of limestone a few feet below the surface, which
neither water nor the long roots of the alfalfa can penetrate. In the
more tropical north, particularly along the Paraná, the _alfalfales_
produce luxuriantly for twenty years and more without renewal. In the
south the calerous soil makes vigorous pastures on which fatten
succulent beef and mutton, highly prized by the _frigorí ficos_; but the
frequent droughts are disastrous in the thin soil regions, and at such
times endless trains carry the sheep and “horned cattle,” as the local
distinction has it, a thousand miles north to feed in the Córdoba hills.

The plain which seems never to have an end converges at last, like all
the railroads to the south, in Bahía Blanca. This bustling port and
considerable city, with its immense grain elevators and its facilities
for transferring half the produce of the Argentine from trains to ships,
is the work of a generation. It is nearly a century now since the
federal government sent soldiers to establish in the vicinity of this
great bay a line of defense against the Indians of Patagonia, but the
town itself took on importance only toward the end of the last century.
From a cluster of huts among the sand-dunes it sprang to the size of
Duluth, to which it bears a resemblance in occupation, point of view,
and paucity of historical background. The Argentine is third or fourth
among the wheat producing countries of the world, and of later years
Bahía Blanca, natural focal point of all the great southern pampas, has
outstripped even Buenos Aires as a grain port, to say nothing of the
frozen meat from its immense _frigorí ficos_. Of all the cities of the
Argentine it is the most nearly autonomous, for though La Plata remains
the provincial capital, the overwhelming commercial importance of Bahía
Blanca has given it a self-assertiveness that threatens some day to make
it the capital of a newly formed province.

A long vestibuled train carried us on into northern Patagonia, better
known now in the Argentine as the territories of Rio Negro, Chubut, and
Santa Cruz. I say “us” because I had been joined by a former assistant
secretary of agriculture of our own land, recently attached as an
adviser to the similar Argentine bureau. He was as profoundly ignorant
of Spanish as I of agricultural matters, and our companionship proved of
mutual advantage. All that night we rumbled south and west, halting now
and then at little pampa stations, if we were to believe the time-table.
For we were both snugly ensconced in our berths, the ex-secretary doubly
so, since nature had provided him with a more than imposing bulk—until
the breaking of a rail over a wash-out bounced us out of them.
Sleeping-cars are as customary in the Argentine as in our own land of
long distances, and more comfortable. At the height of the season at Mar
del Plata as many as a hundred sleepers a night make the journey between
that watering-place and Buenos Aires. The normal Argentine railroad
gauge is nearly ten inches wider than our own, which is one of the
reasons why the _dormitorios_ seem so much more roomy than a Pullman. As
in the international expresses of Europe, these have a corridor along
one side of the car, from which open two-berth staterooms, with doors
that lock and individual toilet facilities. The cross-car berths, one
soon discovers, are easier to sleep in than our lengthwise couches, and
the _dormitorios_ do away with what Latin-Americans consider, not
entirely without reason, our “shockingly indecent” system of forcing
strangers, of either sex, to sleep in the same compartment, shielded
only by a curtain.

The unconvertible cabins, preferable by night, become mere cells by day,
however, and drive most of the passengers to sit in the dining cars.
Here the waiters, like the _dormitorio_ porters, are white, with
king’s-bed-chamber manners; and the six course meals are moderate in
price and usually excellent—except the dessert, the ubiquitous,
unfailing, never-varying _dulce de membrillo_, a stone-hard quince jelly
which brings to a sad end virtually every public repast in the
Argentine. The trains are not heated; instead there are thick doormats
under each seat, and it is a rare traveler in the south between April
and October who does not carry with him a blanket bound with a

The mud-bespattered countrymen at the stations that appeared with the
dull autumn daylight seemed to be largely Spanish in origin, some still
wearing _boínas_ and other reminders of Europe that looked out of
keeping with the soil-caked saddle horses awaiting them behind the
railroad buildings. Most of them appeared to have ridden in to buy
lottery tickets, or to find which tickets had won in the latest drawing;
the raucous-voiced train-boys sold more to these modern gauchos than on
the train, especially the list of winning numbers at ten centavos. The
thought came to us that even if there are no other reprehensible
features to a national lottery, the habit it breeds among workmen of
spending their time hoping for a prize a week, instead of pitching in
and earning a weekly prize, is at least sufficient to condemn it.

My companion was making the trip for the purpose of studying the soil. A
splendid chance he had to do so with most of it under water! The
distribution of rain seems to be poorly managed in the Argentine. If the
country is not suffering from drought, it is apt to be complaining of
floods, or, in the warmer and more fertile north, of the locusts, which
sometimes sweep in from the wilderness of the Chaco in such clouds that
the project has seriously been considered of erecting an enormous net,
supported perhaps by balloons, to stop them.

We brought up late that afternoon in the frontier town of Neuquén, in
the national territory of the same name. A _garçon_ corseted into a
tuxedo served us dinner, for so they dared call it, in a rambling
one-story wooden hotel scattered over the block nearest the station, the
only thing worth considering on the bill of fare being “bife” (beefee)
or, as the waiter more exactly put it, “asado de vaca,” requiring the
teeth of a stone-crusher and the digestion of a _ñandú_. There is
something of the atmosphere of our own frontier towns in those of the
Argentine, but not the same studied roughness of character, no display
of shooting-irons. The tamest of our western cowboys would probably have
shot on sight those prancing, tuxedoed waiters and sent the proprietor
to join them for the atrociousness of his meals. Just what would have
been his reaction to the beds to which we were afterward assigned—sky
blue and pink landscapes so gorgeously painted on foot and headboards
that we thought it was dawn every time we woke up—is more than I can

The line which the “Great Southern” hopes soon to push over the Andes to
join the railways of Chile in the vicinity of Temuco ran no trains
beyond Neuquén on the Sunday which finally dawned in earnest over our
picturesque beds, but as pass-holders we had no great difficulty in
foisting ourselves upon a young English superintendent westward bound on
an inspection tour. In his track automobile we screamed away across the
bleak pampas of Patagonia, a hundred and twenty miles and back to
Zapala, the vast monotonous plain steadily rising to an elevation of
seven thousand feet and bringing us almost to the foot of the great
snow-bound range of the Andes forming the Chilean border. The air was
cool, dry, and bracing even down at Neuquén; at Zapala the
winter-and-mountain cold was so penetrating as to cause us not only to
wonder at but to protest volubly against the strange strain of
puritanism which had invaded even this distant corner of the Argentine
and made it a felony for the frontier shopkeeper to sell anything
stronger than beer on Sundays. Forty years ago all this region was an
unproductive waste across which roamed half-naked Indians, _boleando_
the _ñandúes_ for their sustenance and living in _toldos_, easily
transportable skin tents like those of certain tribes of Arab Bedouins.
To-day we were not even armed. Nowhere was there a remnant of those
“Patagones,” people of footprints so large that the southern end of
South America was named for them. The young Argentine general who was
once assigned the task of clearing northern Patagonia of the nomadic,
bandit-like aborigines had done his work with such Spanish thoroughness
that the entire tribe was annihilated, their chiefs dying as prisoners
on the island of Martín García. The government paid the expenses of this
expedition by dividing among the officers (not, be it noted, the
soldiers) the hundred million acres of land it added to the national
domain, and by selling the rest of it in enormous tracts at such
magnificent prices as three cents an acre. To-day intelligent
_argentinos_ are figuratively kicking themselves that they did not issue
government bonds instead and save this immense territory for the
homesteaders who would now gladly settle upon it.

To tell the truth the region did not look like one for which men would
die of home-sickness,—dry and bushy, like parts of Texas or northern
Mexico, with chaparral and bristling clumps of stunted growth bunched
out here and there across a plain that struck one as essentially arid
for all the pools of water left by the unprecedented rain. My
authoritative companion assured us, however, that it had every sign of
great fertility, though requiring irrigation on a large scale, a
beginning of which has already been made in the vicinity of the Rio
Negro. Yet only a rude and solitary nature surrounded us on all the
journey, the same flat monotony, dotted here and there with flocks of
sheep guarded by lonely half-Indian or Gallego shepherds, which
stretches all the way to the Straits of Magellan.

Flocks of pheasants flew up every little while as we screamed past them;
the hoarse cry of the _chajás_, a species of wild turkey, alternated
with the piercing call of the little _teru-teru_. Only at rare intervals
did a scattered flock of sheep or an isolated makeshift _rancho_ with a
saddled horse behind it give a human touch to the monotonous desolation.
Where the foothills of the Andes began to send us undulating over great
smooth ridges, like a bark rocked by a distant storm at sea, there
appeared wagon caravans bound for Chile, still days away over the lofty
pass ahead. Gradually the great snow-thatched wall of the Andes, endless
to the north and south, rose to shut off all the horizon before us,
wind-rent clouds dashing themselves to shreds against it. Yet here in
the temperate south the snow and ice-fields seemed less striking, much
less beautiful than when towering above the sun-flooded tropics.

On our return to Buenos Aires we stopped at an agricultural station near
the town of Rio Negro, where irrigation was already showing results.
Baled alfalfa lay in quantities at the stations; large vineyards, much
as they looked out of place in this landscape-less region, were
producing well. There being no passenger train to rescue us, we got
telegraphic permission to take the first east-bound freight. Before the
delay became unduly monotonous a train rose over the flat horizon and
rolled in upon us. We made our way along the thirty-odd cars loaded with
sheep to what in our own land would have been a comfortable caboose—and
climbed into an ordinary box-car that had all too evidently been
recently and often used for the transportation of coal. There was not
even an improvised seat in it; trainmen and the sheep care-takers sat on
the bare floor with their backs against the sooty wall and bumped along
like penniless and unresourceful hoboes. I would have given several
pesos to have heard the remarks of an American brakeman who could have
looked in upon his Argentine fellows as we jolted across the apparently
level plains with the bitter chill of the pampas settling down upon us.

We gladly dropped off at Darwin, where we hired next morning what the
_argentino_ calls a “soolkee” and drove to the island of Choele-Choel,
with the assistance of a cumbersome government ferry. This thirteen
square leagues of fertile loam soil between two branches of the Rio
Negro is one of the most prosperous communities in southern Argentine,
with half a dozen villages, roads sometimes passable even in the wet
season, and noted for the variety of immigration with which it has been
peopled. My companion, weary perhaps of talking through an interpreter,
was particularly eager to see what remnants remained of a Welsh colony
once established here. We drove zigzagging along the wide checkerboard
earth roads between endless wire fences behind which many men were
plowing with oxen and a few with up-to-date riding gang-plows. Once we
paused to talk with one Villanova, political boss of the island, but
when my companion brought up the subject nearest his heart, the man
instantly showed opposition to the establishment of agricultural

[Illustration: A rural policeman of the Argentine]

[Illustration: My travels in Patagonia were by rail and in what the
_Argentino_ calls a “soolky”.]

[Illustration: A typical “boliche” town of the Argentine pampa, and some
of its inhabitants]

[Illustration: A family of Santiago del Estero]

“We have no middle class in the Argentine,” he explained, “and we do not
want one. We want only absentee landlords—or at least we have no way of
getting rid of them—and laborers, men who actually work and produce.
Agricultural schools would give us a class too proud of their schooling
to work, and at the same time without property. The distinction between
the man who toils and the man who owns is wide in the Argentine, but it
would be no improvement to fill in the gulf with a lot of haughty,
penniless drones.”

My companion had all but given up hope of using his native tongue
directly when there was pointed out to us a farm said to be owned by a
Welshman. But only his lanky daughter of sixteen was at home. The
ex-secretary addressed her eagerly; here at last he would get first-hand
information. The girl shifted from one undeveloped shank to the other,
backed away toward the unpainted frame farmhouse from which she had
emerged, struggling to answer a question in English, then turning to me,
she burst forth, all suggestion of embarrassment gone, in rapid-fire

“You see I was born in the Chubut, and English is only my third tongue,
for Spanish is my native language and father and mother always speak
Welsh at home and I almost never hear English and ...”

My companion bowed his head in resignation and turned our weary horse
back across the island toward the ferry.

The chill of autumn gradually disappeared from the air as the fastest
train in South America dashed in less than five hours, with only one
three-minute stop to change engines, from Buenos Aires to Rosario, two
hundred miles northwest of the federal capital. The rich-green immensity
of the well cultivated fields bordering the River Paraná were a contrast
to the bleak, bare, brown prairies of the south, and the gang-plow,
up-to-date methods of our great West were everywhere in evidence. In the
seat behind me two men were assuring each other that “the lands of this
region are worth ten times those of the interior,” and it was easy to
believe them. The rich black loam soil that came to light behind the
plows is said to produce two crops of splendid potatoes annually without
the use of fertilizer and with no change in crops for twenty years.
Though the day was warm and sunny, the cars remained hermetically sealed
throughout the journey, for the _argentino_ is true to type in his dread
of a breath of fresh air. Scarcely a glimpse of the River Paraná did we
catch, though we skirted it all the way to Rosario.

This second city of the republic has been called the Chicago of the
Argentine. It is more nearly the Omaha or Atlanta, not merely in size
but in the material prosperity, and the appearance and point of view
that go with it, which its position as a river port open to large ocean
steamers and as the natural outlet of all the fertile provinces of
northern Argentine has given it. Like Buenos Aires it has almost no
factory chimneys to emphasize its air of activity, which concentrates in
the vicinity of the wharves. A stroll through its busy, citified streets
is worth the exertion, or, better still, a round of its electric car
lines; but one would no more expect to find the picturesque and the
legendary past in Rosario than in Newark. Large and prosperous as it has
grown, it is not the capital of its province, much to the disgust of its
energetic citizens, but is ruled from Santa Fé, a languid little town of
several times the age but scarcely one eighth the population of the
bustling provincial metropolis. There are advantages in being a capital
in the Argentine which we of the north would hardly suspect.

I slipped on up the Paraná to have a look at this capital which the
Rosarians so universally tongue-lash. A splendidly fertile, softly
rolling, velvety-green country, with dark-red cattle standing in groups
here and there to give contrast, was the chief impression left by a
journey of several hundred kilometers through the province of Santa Fé.
Yet for some reason the city of the same name, though barely a hundred
miles north of Rosario, was humidly hot and swarming with flies, its
atmosphere that of an ambitionless town of the tropics content to dawdle
through life on what the frequent influxes of politicians bring it. Far
across the river, which here spreads out into an immense lagoon, lay
hazy white on a distant knoll the city of Paraná, capital of the
province of Entre Rios, between the rivers Paraná and Uruguay, which
unite at length to form the Plata.

Another floor-flat, fertile plain, with many ranchos and villages, with
“soolkees” jogging along the broad earth roads between wheat and alfalfa
fields and pastures dotted with fat cattle and plump sheep until the
eyes tired of seeing them, marked the trip westward from Santa Fé. Here,
to all appearances, was the best farming land imaginable, though one
could easily imagine better farming. Crowds of shaggy yet
prosperous-looking countrymen gathered at every station. The alfalfales
were still deep-green, though it was already becoming late autumn;
golden ears of corn of a size that even Kansas would envy were being
husked from the standing stalks and heaped to overflowing into huge
_trojes_, stack-shaped bins made of split palm-trunks or other open-work

I came at length to one of the oldest and most famous of Argentine
towns, a yellow-white city in a shallow valley, with an almost Oriental
aspect, and backed by hills—and hills alone are noteworthy enough to
bring a city fame in the Argentine. In fact, Córdoba sits in the only
rugged section of the country, except where the Andes begin to climb out
of it to the west. Among these ranges, sometimes called, with the
exaggeration natural to young nations, the “Argentine Switzerland,” are
many summer hotels and colonies, strange as it may seem to go north for
the summer in the south temperate zone.

Córdoba, the geographical center of the Argentine Republic, is centuries
old, with more traditions, more respect for age, than Buenos Aires, with
many reminders of old Spain and of the conservative, time-marked towns
of the Andes. In Córdoba it is easy to imagine the atmosphere of the
federal capital of a century ago. There is still a considerable
“colonial” atmosphere; respect for old customs still survives; age
counts, which is rare in the Argentine, a country like our own full of
youth and confidence in the future, and the corresponding impatience
with the past, with precedent. Peru had already been conquered and
settled when Córdoba was made a halfway station between the unimportant
river-landing called Buenos Aires and the gold mines of the former Inca
Empire, and it was founded by Spanish nobles of a better class than the
adventurers who followed Pizarro on his bloody expedition. Many of the
families of Córdoba boast themselves descendants of those hidalgos,
though to most _argentinos_ ancestry seems as unimportant, compared with
the present, as it does to the average American. The Córdobans, like the
ancient families of the Andes, look down upon newly won wealth as
something infinitely inferior to shabby gentility, though the latter has
been refurbished of late years by increasing incomes from the
neighboring estates. The _Porteño_ has little sympathy for the Córdoban
attitude toward life. He pokes fun at the conservative old city, calling
it the “Mecca” of the Argentine because of the pilgrims who come at
certain seasons of the year to worship its bejeweled saints; he asserts
that its ostensibly “high-brow” people “buy books but do not read them.”
The Córdoban retaliates by rating Córdoba, and perhaps Salta, the only
“aristocratic” towns in the Argentine, and has kept the old Spanish
disdain of commerce, which is naturally a disdain of Buenos Aires.

The conservative old families do not, of course, accept newcomers
easily. There is a strong race, as well as class, prejudice. Up to half
a century ago no student was admitted to the university unless he could
show irrefutable proof of “pure” blood, that is, of unbroken European
ancestry. That rule might be in force to this day but for the strong
hand of the federal government. The famous university, founded in 1605
by the Jesuits, and ranking with that of Lima as the oldest in America,
is outwardly an inconspicuous two-story building, though there are
artistic old paintings and cedar-of-Tucumán carvings inside that are
worth seeing. The students who attend it are, however, by no means
unobtrusive, though they do not seem to give quite such exclusive
attention to the color of their gloves and the brand of their perfumes
as do their prototypes in the federal capital. It is natural, too, that
such a community should retain an air of piety. Its ancient moss-grown
cathedral, likewise of Jesuit construction, with a far-famed tower, is
but one of some thirty churches in a town of a scant thirty thousand
inhabitants. Priests and monks give it by their number and
conspicuousness an atmosphere quite unlike Buenos Aires, with its
scarcely noticeable low Grecian cathedral, its lack of church towers,
and its rare priests. In Córdoba there are even beggar monks who make
regular tours of the province, reminiscent of medieval Spain. The church
and its functionaries own many fine estancias, for pilgrims have always
come in numbers, and society is pious to the point of fanaticism. If one
may believe the _Porteño_, the conservatism and fanaticism of Córdoba
would be worse than it is had not the central government sent to the
university a number of German Protestant professors, who have had some
influence on the community, not so much in Germanizing as in breaking
down ancient prejudices.

Among the amusing old customs that remain are some that lend a touch of
the picturesque to offset a certain tendency toward the modern. Cows are
still driven through the streets, attended by their calves, and are
milked before each client’s door; the conservative Córdoban will have
none of this new-fangled notion of having his milk brought in bottles,
in which there may be a percentage of water. Here there is still the
weekly band concert and plaza promenade, with the two sexes marching in
opposite directions; here the duenna is in her glory and prospective
husbands whisper their assertions through iron-grilled windows. The
_gente del pueblo_, or rank-and-file citizens, nearly all with a
considerable proportion of that Indian blood almost unknown in Buenos
Aires, live in adobe thatched houses in the outskirts and have the
appearance, as well as repute, of little industry, with the Andean
tendency to work only a few days a week since foreign industry has
raised their wages to a point where frequent vacations are possible.
Cactus and donkeys add a suggestion of Andean aridity in the outskirt
section, over which floats now and then a subtle breath of the tropics.

Córdoba in its shallow valley, veiled by thick banks of white mist, was
more beautiful on the morning I left than when more plainly seen. As our
train rose above it to the vast level pampa the city disappeared, but
all along the western horizon lay its famous mountains, a long ridge,
saw-like in places, turning indigo blue when the sun went down on a
brilliant day. On the other side of the train still lay the monotonous,
flat, low Argentine pampa, without hedges, ditches, almost without
trees, the roads mere wide spaces reserved for travel. The law requires
that federal roads be fifty meters broad, but in this land of unlimited
space and little stone no law can keep them from being impassable
sloughs in the rainy season and rivers of dust in the dry. Even here
were many enormous _estancias_, single estates of half a million acres,
which the train took hours to cross, though they are small compared with
some in the frontier country of the south. Here are _estancieros_ who
have the impression that the sun rises and sets on their property—which
is not without its influence on their characters and especially on those
of their children. In the “good old days,” which were not so long ago in
the Argentine, persons with money, political influence, or a military
record could acquire vast tracts of territory at trifling cost, and up
to the present generation these landed proprietors, among them most of
the old families of Córdoba, were virtually monarchs of all they
surveyed. Now the government, once so prodigal with its land, is
beginning to see the error of its ways, and is forming the habit of
talking in terms of square kilometers instead of square leagues, as well
as favoring bona fide settlers, though it still does not require those
who buy public lands at a song to settle upon and improve them.

Perhaps once each half hour did a more pretentious _estancia_ house,
surrounded by its thin grove of precious eucalyptus, break the monotony
of flat plain and makeshift _ranchos_. It is the scarcity of trees no
doubt that makes birds so rare in the Argentine. The two-compartment,
oven-shaped mud nests of the _hornero_ on the crosspieces of the
telegraph poles were almost the only signs of them, except of course the
occasional _ñandúes_ loping away across the pampa. The more and more
open-work reed shacks began to suggest almost perpetual summer. Then all
at once I ceased feeling the increasing heat, suddenly put down my
window, and a moment later was hurrying into a sweater. For a _pampero_
had blown up from the south, and seemed bent on penetrating to the
marrow of my bones.

When I peered out of my sleeping-car cabin next morning, a considerable
change of landscape met the eye. The “rápido” was crawling into Santiago
del Estero, and I seemed to have been transported overnight from the
rich green fields of the Paraná back to the dreary Andes, or, more
exactly, to the coastlands of Peru or Bolivia. Founded in the middle of
the sixteenth century, on the bank of a river that becomes salty a
little farther on, and forms in the rainy season large _esteros_, or
brackish backwaters and lagoons, “St. James of the Swamp” still suffers
intensely for lack of water. It is unfortunate that nature does not
divide her rains more evenly in the Argentine. Farther south only the
tops of the fence posts were protruding from the flood in some places;
here the country seemed to be habitually dying of thirst.

The main line of the “Central Argentine” does not run into Santiago, but
operates a little branch from La Banda (“Across the River”), because of
the treachery of the wide, shifty, sandy stream on which it lies. To-day
the railroad has a great iron bridge some two miles long, successor to
the several less hardy ones, the ruins of which may be seen just
protruding from the sandy bed along the way. The company asserts that it
spends more to keep up its road into Santiago than it gets back from
that city in traffic, but its concession requires it to maintain contact
with what is reputed the most “native” capital of province still left in
the Argentine. Center of what is said to be the least fertile section of
the country, it remains, for a time at least, to the part-Indian race
which the South American calls native, the ambitionless _cholo_ or
_mestizo_, with his Mohammedan indifference to the future, his inertia
before modern progress. In other words, Santiago is an example of how
immigration is driving the native town as it is the native individual
into the most distant and poorest corners of the Argentine.

The town is built of crude bricks or baked mud, the only material
available, and except in the center it is a disintegrated collection of
huts with ugly high fronts and the air of never having reached maturity
in growth, though they have long since in age. It has few paved streets
and no street-cars, though it is overrun by a veritable plague of those
noisy, impudent hackmen who swarm in rural and provincial Argentine and
over whom the police seem to have neither influence nor authority. A
dead-dry, yellow prairie grass spreads wherever the ground is not
frankly sterile; chaparral and other desert brush grows even within the
town. Its thatched _ranchos_ of reeds, to be found anywhere a few blocks
back of the central plaza, are overrun with goats, pigs, cur dogs, and
naked children, like the most backward towns of the Andes. Here are to
be found the _choclo_, _locro_, _chicha_, and other corn products common
to the Andean cuisine, the same thin sheets of sun-dried beef, the
swarming _gente del pueblo_ so common to Peru and Ecuador, so unknown in
Buenos Aires. The popular speech is again the Quichua of the Incas,
Santiago being the only Argentine town of any size where it has
survived, though it is a Quichua as different from that of Cuzco as the
Italian of Florence is from that of Naples. Most of the children and
many of the adults go barefooted, a rare custom in the Argentine;
virtually all citizens have the incorrigible Latin-American habit of
stopping all talk to gaze open-mouthed at a passing stranger, entire
groups of men on the street corners turning their heads to stare after
him until one feels genuine misgiving lest they permanently dislocate
their ostrich necks.

There are reminders, too, of the gypsy section of Granada or Seville,
hints of Luxor or Assuan in Upper Egypt, as well as of the somnolent
towns in the half-tropical valleys of the Andes. The thatched mud huts
are surrounded with cactus hedges on which the family wash hangs drying;
everything is coated with the fine white dust of the unpaved streets,
through which the half-Indian women wade almost ankle deep, their
slattern skirts sweeping it into clouds behind them. Now and then there
passes one of these _chola_ females leading through the dust-river a
donkey bestridden by a girl of the same race and drawing by two ropes
tied to knobs in its ends a rolling barrel of water, the
chocolate-colored river water on which the town seems chiefly to
subsist. A dry, cracked soil under an ardent sun, thin animals eating
greedily at poor tufts of scanty vegetation, cactus used as field fences
as well as inclosing the miserable _ranchos_, cactus with twisted trunks
that look like enormous snakes about to strike, immense cactus
candelabras of ten or fifteen branches, a few poor chickens picking at
the sterile soil about the _ranchos_ by day and roosting by night in the
rare scraggly trees, scores of hungry-looking goats browsing on nothing,
yet somehow keeping energy enough to gambol about a scene usually devoid
of any form of unnecessary activity, a few almost leafless scrub trees
on which hang rags of raw meat sun-drying into _charqui_, or, as they
call it in southeastern South America, _tasajo_—these make up the
background of almost any picture of Santiago. Against this stand out in
slight relief bronzed _cholos_ loafing in the shade of the huts, pigs
and children disputing the same dreary playgrounds, men shirtless or in
shirt sleeves, with rather lifeless, inexpressive brown features, women
dressed in shapeless thin cotton gowns of brilliant colors—apple-green,
pink, shrieking red—their rarely washed faces surmounted by masses of
coarse, thick, straight black hair knotted carelessly together at the
neck, little girls carrying naked babies almost as large as themselves,
nearly all holding in one hand the dried-gourd bowl of _mate_ heated
over a fagot fire in the open air, sucking it eagerly yet languidly
through the straw-shaped metal _bombilla_. A completely naked gamin of
five gallops about astride a stick, his slightly older and no more
expensively attired brother doing the like on a scrubby horse without
saddle or bridle, both scattering the pigs, dogs, and chickens at every
turn. From the hut doors or the midst of such families seated _al
fresco_ and taking their _mate_ from a single bowl that circulates round
and round the group come languid calls of “Ché Maria!” “Ché compadre!”
“Ché Gringa!” “Ché” is the popular nickname of affection or familiarity
in southern South America, corresponding roughly to our once widespread
pseudonym “kid.”

I had the customary _santiagueño_ pleasure of rising at an unearthly
hour to catch the morning train to La Banda, only to find there that the
“mixed” daily from Buenos Aires into the sugar-fields of the far north
was seven hours late. Over the way stood a hotel poetically named “El
Dia de Nosotros,” but that day was evidently past, for the place was
irrevocably closed, and it was only by a streak of luck that long after
my customary breakfast hour I got from an uninviting street stand a cup
of what purported to be black coffee. During the delay I fell into
conversation with two young Austrians who had been all the way up to
Salta in quest of fortune. The best chance for work they had found was
at cutting sugar-cane at terms under which no one but the most expert
could earn more than two pesos a day. Much as it resembles our own land
in some ways, the Argentine does not give one the impression of being
any such Eldorado for the newcomer whose stock in trade consists solely
of two brawny arms.

The _mixto_ crawled in at last, covered with a thick blanket of fine
dust. At the station of Araoz, on the boundary line between the
provinces of Santiago and Tucumán, the sterile, bushy country suddenly
gave way to sugar-cane, vast fields, veritable prairies of cane, not the
little patches of light-green that dot and decorate many an Andean
landscape, but prosaic, heavily productive stretches as unromantic as
Iowa cornfields, spreading as far as the eye could see in any direction.
Cutting had begun, for it was late April, and all the way to Tucumán the
dull, sullen rumble of the massive rollers was as incessant as the
pungent smell of molasses in the air, while everywhere great brick
stacks rose from the flat green landscape, belching forth their heavy
clouds of smoke on the hazy, humid atmosphere.

Tucumán, my farthest north in the Argentine, in a latitude similar to
that of southern Florida, was once under the Inca, though the casual
observer would scarcely suspect of any such past this bustling modern
Argentine town and capital of the smallest yet most prosperous province
of the republic. It is a town that lives, breathes, and dreams sugar,
accepting proudly the national nickname of the “City of Sugar.” A
checkerboard place, some of its wide streets paved with wooden blocks,
its houses of the old Spanish one-story style, yet often seventy or
eighty meters deep, with two flowery patios hidden away behind the bare,
though gaily smeared, façades, it has mildly the “feel” of the tropics
intermingled with its considerable modern activity. Electric tramways
and lights are very much in evidence, yet horsemen resembling those of
the Andean wilds may be seen riding along under the trolley wires. In
the central Plaza de la Independencia are orange-trees laden with ripe
fruit, pepper-trees, palms, and cactus, not to mention a highly
unsuccessful marble statue of Liberty, holding in her hands the links of
her broken chains as if they were considerably too hot for comfort.
About this never-failing civic focus are the government buildings, the
cathedral, the bishop’s palace, and several pretentious clubs, though
the entire circuit brings to view no architecture of interest. In one of
several other squares there is a statue of Belgrano, who defeated the
Spaniards in this vicinity in 1812 with the aid of “Our Lady of
Mercies,” whom the general rewarded by appointing her a generalísimo of
his armies. Near the central plaza, surrounded with an almost religious
atmosphere, is Independence Hall, in which was signed what amounts to
Argentine’s Declaration of Independence. It is a little adobe structure,
long and low, like many of the poor men’s _ranchos_ scattered about the
pampas, carefully whitewashed, with a restored wooden roof and other
improvements to make it look new and unnatural, after the approved
Latin-American style of disguising what it is feared may be taken for
the commonplace. All this is covered by a large modern concrete building
in charge of a _chinita_, who is theoretically always on hand to admit
visitors who desire to see the two good bronze reliefs, the medals, the
portraits of the signers of the declaration, to sit down in the
century-old presidential chair long enough for a snapshot, and to add
their autographs to the register locked away in the former presidential
desk, in approved tourist fashion. From Tucumán one can make out the dim
blue outline of the lower Andes to the west, and in clear sunny weather
the snow peaks of Bolivia stand out distinctly to the north. Indeed, it
is within the district embracing Tucumán and Santiago del Estero that
Argentine life begins to shade imperceptibly into the Bolivian or

Virtually the entire province of Tucumán is covered with sugar-cane and
orange groves. The rivalry between these two products has been acute for
decades, now one, now the other usurping the center of the stage. Toward
the end of the last century the northern part of the republic “went
sugar crazy” and burned whole forests of orange-trees in order to plant
cane. The result was a year of overproduction, the only period in which
the Argentine exported sugar, though she should easily be able to supply
half South America. On the contrary she habitually imports sugar, her
own in many cases, for the crude sugar shipped to Europe is often the
very sugar which was served in tissue-wrapped lumps in nearly every
restaurant and _lechería_ of Buenos Aires long before that sanitary
provision was thought of in the United States. But then, so does the
Argentine import garlic, and onions, peppers, _garbanzos_ (the Spanish
chickpeas of which she is still so fond), cheese, and millions of
“fresh” eggs, not only from Uruguay across the river but from Spain and
Portugal across the sea, though all these commodities might easily be
produced at home. Sugar pays what we would consider a heavy internal
duty, which is reputed to be one of the causes why there are so few
national refineries. In her one year of overproduction Tucumán province
gave the country nearly twice the sugar it could consume. The terrified
planters banded together to build up the export trade, got a bounty from
the federal government, which was later forbidden by the Brussels
convention, and forced the provincial government to pass a law limiting
sugar plantations. In carrying this out the _tucumanos_, who had burned
forests of orange-trees a few years before to plant cane, now burned
square leagues of cane-fields that were producing too generously. The
government indemnified the men who fired their fields and furnished them
free seeds of corn, wheat, and barley with which to replant them. But in
time the pendulum swung back again and to-day the province has little
interest in anything but sugar.

Tucumán retains none of the primitive methods by which cane is turned
into brown lumps of _panela_ or _chancaca_ on the little plantations
scattered through the Andes. Some sixty immense _engenios_ grind
incessantly during the rather short but exceedingly busy season. The
capacity of many of these mills is large, though they work less than
those of Cuba. These, and the often enormous estates about them, are in
most cases owned by English or other foreign firms, the American being
most conspicuous by his absence. Not only are we unrepresented in
ownership but in the machinery used, which is with rare exceptions
British, French, Belgian, and German, for the _argentino_ seems to have
an instinct which draws him toward Europe and causes him to avoid all
unnecessary contact with what he calls the “North American.” It is not
that he fears the “Collosus of the North,” like so many of the smaller,
bad-boy republics nearer the Gulf of Mexico, rather is he firmly
convinced that his country is as powerful and self-sufficient as our
own, but he is inclined by temperament and custom to turn his eyes
eastward rather than northward.

In this busy season of the Argentine autumn and winter Tucumán province
is a hive of activity. Thousands of workmen of many races are scattered
among the horseman-high plants which stretch to the horizon in every
direction, slashing off the canes at the ground, clearing them of leaves
and useless top with a few quick swings of the machete, and tossing them
with graceful easy gesture upon piles often several meters away. Along
the wide and soft dirt roads which cut into squares the dense jungles of
cane, there is a constant stream of cumbersome two-wheeled carts,
usually drawn by five mules, the _meztizo_ driver in his ragged garments
and soiled, broad-brimmed hat astride the off hind animal, as they
strain toward the points of concentration. There the load is weighed and
lifted in a single bundle by huge cranes which are the only American
contribution to the average estate, and dropped into the cars of the
private railroads that crisscross all the province, or directly into the
carriers that feed the three sets of mammoth inexorable rollers. The
_bagasa_ left over from the crushing is burned at once in the mill
engines, along with the wood brought in from constantly increasing
distances; the _mosta_, or saccharine residue so poor and dirty that it
will not produce even the lowest of the three grades of unrefined sugar,
is turned into alcohol. Every important factory has a village clustered
about it, a community complete from bakers to priest. Field workers have
an unalienable right to the two finest canes they cut or load during the
day, and at dusk long broken lines of them may be seen returning from
the fields carrying their poles over one shoulder, like homeward bound
fishermen, or seated on the ground, machete in hand, peeling the cane
and cutting it into sections, to thrust these in their mouths, crush and
suck them, and spit them out upon the earth about them.

No traveler with a bit of time to spare should leave the Argentine
without visiting her chief “holy place,” presided over by _La Virgen de
Luján_. If we are to believe all we are told, it is this patron saint
who has made the Argentine the prosperous, happy land it is to-day. To
her groups of pious women, headed by the archbishop, made pilgrimage
from Buenos Aires when the bill of the new socialist deputies threatened
to become a divorce law; to her the country turns when it gets too much,
or too little, rain; here the Irish-Argentinos gather en masse on St.
Patrick’s day.

Genuine pilgrims are expected to fast on the day they visit Luján.
We—for a friend made the journey with me—came nearly carrying out this
requirement in spite of ourselves, having missed the train we planned to
take and unwisely set out on foot without waiting for the next. For once
outside the city limits, it is a long way from Buenos Aires to the next
shop or restaurant. Luján is something more than forty miles west of the
capital, the usual “boliche” town of the pampas and a slough of mud in
this autumn season, the unfinished dull-red brick “basilica” bulking
high above it and visible many miles away. The legend, which still finds
a surprisingly large number of believers in the Argentine, runs that in
the time of the Spanish dominion a community of Spanish monks set out
with great ceremony to transport a statue of the Virgin from Buenos
Aires to Peru. Arrived at the hamlet of Luján, the cart in which it was
being carried stopped. Nothing could induce it to move on. No doubt it
was the rainy season and there was excellent reason for its
immovability, but the good monks concluded that the Virgin was
expressing a desire to remain where she was, and her wishes were
respected. A small chapel was erected and her cult perpetuated. When
immigration increased and swarms of devout Italians, not to mention the
Spanish and Irish, began to settle in the vicinity and make frequent
pilgrimages to the shrine, the bishop in charge took it as an indication
that the powers of a better world wished the Virgin to be housed in a
building befitting her increasing popularity. He undertook the erection,
from popular subscriptions, of a “Gothic cathedral” which should be the
most imposing in the Argentine, though this, to be sure, is not saying
much. It was planned to spend six million pesos, half of which are
already gone, and as soon as the walls had been raised the bishop
insisted on opening the building, which perhaps is why there is so
little suggestion of Gothic about the bare brick, towerless,
façade-less, on the whole dismal structure.

Though we might be willing to fast, when there was no choice in the
matter, not all the patron saints on the globe could have forced us to
wallow through the mile or more of black mud between the station and the
“basilica.” For that matter, we noted that even the pious pilgrims who
had arrived with us in their gleaming patent-leather shoes climbed
unhesitatingly into the comfortable, if tiny, horsecar, and that not one
of them gave a suggestion of dropping off to finish the journey on his
knees, or even on foot. We were no less astounded, if secretly more
pleased, to find that one of the rascals keeping the restaurants tucked
away among the many _santerías_, shops in which are sold tin “saints”
which _los fieles_ may carry home to perform their cures by hand, was
willing to jeopardize our future salvation by providing us, before we
had consummated the object of every visit to Luján, with as much of a
repast as one learns to hope for in an Argentine “boliche” town.

Inside the unfinished but already richly decorated “basilica” the
curved-stone back of the altar and the stairway rising above it was
already carved with the names of those who credited the Virgin with
curing them of incurable ailments. There were other less conspicuous
places for similar testimonials from those with less mesmerism over the
root of evil. About the altar were gathered groups of pilgrims engaged
in the preliminary formalities of the faithful who come seeking aid.
Peasants still wearing the garb of Lombardy or Piedmont, and no doubt
come to ask the Virgin for a little less rain and a better price for
their corn, that they might buy the coveted piece of land next their own
or send more money to the old people they had left behind in Italy,
mingled with richly garbed _Porteñas_ who were praying perhaps for
motherhood or the welfare of a lover.

“But where is the statue?” asked my impious companion of a young priest
who was marching back and forth committing to memory some password to

“Why—er,” gasped the startled ecclesiastic, “do you mean the Blessed

“Yes,” returned my companion, carelessly.

“Follow those broad curving stairs and you will find our Blessed Lady of
Luján in that little room above the altar,” replied the horrified youth,
crossing himself fervently.

Above we found a single worshipper, a working woman dressed in the most
nearly whole and spotless gown she possessed, kneeling on the marble
floor, to which she bowed her forehead now and then, her eyes fixed on a
doll some two feet high overdressed in heavy gilded robes and covered
with bracelets, necklaces and girdles of false pearls and diamonds—for
the real ones, worth a king’s ransom, are deposited in a safety vault in
Buenos Aires and are used only on the anniversary of the Virgin’s halt
in Luján. Back of the woman her son of five was climbing high up the
iron grill surrounding the chapel, in his own particular effort to reach
heaven. I lifted him down before he broke his neck, whereupon he sidled
over to the lunch-basket the pair had brought with them and, keeping a
weather eye on his devout parent, stealthily drew out a quart bottle of
wine wrapped in a newspaper. Setting his teeth in the protruding cork,
he tugged at it for some time, like a puppy at a root, drew it at last,
and with an eye still on his mother, deep in her communing with the
Virgin, gulped down nearly half a liter, re-corked the bottle, and
slipped it back into its place.

On the way down we halted to speak with a well-dressed warden, who
assured us that he had personally known of “thousands of supernatural
cures” performed by the Virgin of Luján.

“Why,” he cried, growing more specific, “I have known many rich ladies
to come out here from Buenos Aires on crutches, make a promise to our
Blessed Virgin and go back home and—and by and by _they would send out
the crutches_ as proof of being cured, and perhaps a diamond necklace to
show their gratitude to Our Lady. There is no ailment that Our Lady
cannot cure.”

“Curious,” I mused, “but as I came in I noticed just outside the gates
four beggars,—a blind woman, a one-legged man, a man without legs, and a

“Ah, _esa_ gente! _That_ class of people!” cried the warden, with a
world of disgust in his voice and a deprecatory shrug of the shoulders.

                               CHAPTER IV
                        OVER THE ANDES TO CHILE

It was with keen regret that I cut myself off from Uncle Sam’s modest
bounty when the time came to set out on a journey that was to carry me
outside the Argentine and beyond the jurisdiction of our overworked
consulate. But with a handful of gold sovereigns to show for my
exertions in running errands and eluding _Porteño_ prices, the day
seemed at hand for continuing my intensive tour of South America. The
“International,” of the “Buenos Aires al Pacífico” leaves the capital
three times a week on what purports to be a trip clear across the
continent. In spirit its assertion is truthful, for though the
“International” itself halts where the Argentine begins to tilt up into
the Andes, other trains connect with it and one can, with good luck and
ample wealth, reach Santiago de Chile, or Valparaiso on the Pacific,
thirty-six hours after bidding the _Porteños_ farewell.

On a crisp May morning I set out westward from “B.A.,” lying featureless
and yellow-white in the brilliant early-winter sunshine, not a church
spire, scarcely a factory chimney, though many unsightly American
windmills, rising above its monotonous level. The heavy “limited” train
made scarcely half a dozen stops all day, though no extraordinary speed.
At the rare stations a few passengers hastened to enter or leave the
cars; between them trees and windmills rose or receded hull-down over
the horizon of the dreary pampas. Outside each uninspiring town was an
ostentatious city of the dead; in the sodden fields were flocks of
sheep, cattle, and horses, fat as barrels, some snorting away at sight
of the train, others gazing disdainfully after it. In many places the
pampa was flooded, sometimes for miles, the shallow temporary lakes
dotted with wild ducks, the roads mere rivers of mud, with only the tops
of the fence-posts out of water, in which dismal looking animals were
huddled up to their bellies, or crowded together on little muddy
islands. Many mud houses were half under water, their thatched roofs and
adobe walls turned into velvety green lawns; hay-stacks had grown
verdant with sprouting grass; several pairs of horses dragging along the
churned roads a load of baled alfalfa was one of the rare signs of
activity. Even the _ñandúes_ seemed to have fled to some modern Ararat.

[Illustration: A woman of Córdoba, _mate_ bowl in hand]

[Illustration: Even a lady would not look unladylike in the _bombachas_
of southeastern South America]

[Illustration: The highway over the Andes into Chile was filled with

[Illustration: A bit of the transandean highway in the wintry month of

Farther west the country was somewhat drier, or at least more often
above water. Here the vast pampa was divided by wire fences, producing
the illusion of an immense cobweb, broken only rarely by a dense blue
grove of eucalyptus trees planted about the central house of an enormous
_estancia_, estates in most cases too large for the economic health of
the country. Up to recent years the great mistake of the Argentine
government was to grant mammoth tracts of land to men who quickly became
so wealthy that they moved to private palaces in the capital, leaving
little or nothing for the homesteads of what might be a host of
productive freehold farmers. The railway company is striving to get
these huge estates broken up, encouraging colonization by offering
prizes for the best crops along its lines, as well as special
inducements of transportation. For much of the region through which the
“Buenos Aires al Pacífico” runs is so thinly populated that, as in some
of our western states, the common carrier is forced to help produce
something to carry. But the big landed proprietors have a Spanish pride
in the size of their holdings, and with it an abhorrence not only of
manual labor but even of living on their estates, from which the income
is large enough for their comfort under the poorest systems of farming,
or mere grazing, and it is not easy to induce them to sell even those
portions lying wholly idle. The company has various ways of combatting
this attitude. The most common is to build stations only where wealthy
_estancieros_ donate not merely the land needed for immediate use, but
room for future railroad development and sometimes for the building of a
village and the beginning of more intensive agriculture about it.

A few of these have developed into true frontier towns, with enormously
wide mud streets and electric lights, stretching far out into the
country, as if the inhabitants expected to wake up any morning and find
the place trebled in population. They were like a country without a
history,—prosperous, contented—and uninteresting. There being almost no
stone or wood all the way from the Córdoba hills to Tierra del Fuego, it
was not strange that the majority even of town houses were made of the
only material at hand, mud, as the Esquimaux build of snow and ice; yet
the most dismal of these structures were by no means the comfortless
dens of the Indians and _cholos_ of the Andes. It was Sunday, and
especially on that day is it the custom in the smaller provincial towns
to _hacer el corso_, to parade back and forth, at the station at
train-time. Groups of comely girls, well dressed for such districts,
powdered and perfumed, with flowers in their hair, their arms
interlocked, were not content to display their charms to their rustic
fellow-townsmen outside the station barriers, but invaded the platforms
and strolled from end to end of the train as long as it remained. As
attractive members of the fair sex are never without their attendant
groups of admirers in South America, the latter increased the platform
throng to a point where it was a lucky traveler who could find room to
descend and make his way across it.

For long distances there were almost no signs of animate life except
occasional flocks of _ñandúes_ cantering away like awkward schoolgirls.
About every _boliche_, country store and liquor shop, were groups of
shaggy pampa ponies and their no less shaggy riders, the animals
prevented from deserting their owners by rawhide thongs binding their
front feet together. _Bombachas_, the bloomer-like nether garments of
the pampas, were much in evidence among these modern _gauchos_. A few of
these, no doubt, were independent farmers; the majority were plainly
hired men whose greatest likeness to the hardy part-Indian cowboys of a
generation ago is the ability to absorb some five pounds of meat a day,
washing it down with copious draughts of boiling _mate_. Vegetables are
as little grown in the Argentine as in most of South America, and the
employees, only the _mayordomos_ and the pen-driving class missing, who
gather daily about the _asado_ provided by the _estanciero_, still live
almost entirely on meat, with occasionally a few hardtack _galletas_
from these pampa stores. Boys of seven or eight, with true _gaucho_
blood in their veins, who sat their horses as if they were part of them,
galloped about some of these smaller towns, _boleando_ cats and dogs
with astonishing skill. At the more important crossings an old man or
woman, sometimes a little girl, stood waving as solemnly as if the whole
future of the railroad depended upon them the black-and-yellow flag that
means “all safe” to Argentine trainmen. Country policemen were almost
numerous, riding along the miserable roads or dismounted at the
stations, covered with dust or mud and mingling with the hardy,
independent countrymen. The rural Argentine police still have a far from
enviable reputation, though they no longer tyrannize over the new style
of _argentino_ as they once did over the bold but unsophisticated
_gaucho_ of the “Martín Fierro” type. Yet on the whole they were not a
body of men to inspire confidence. One felt at a glance that, far from
trusting to their protection, it would be better to have someone else
along in the more lonely sections of the country to protect one from the

Mendoza, metropolis of western Argentine and capital of the province of
the same name, lies at the very base of the Andes, six hundred miles
inland from Buenos Aires and barely one fourth as far from the Pacific,
though with the mighty Andean wall intervening. Built on plentiful flat
ground in what is sometimes called the “Argentine California,” the city
is laid out in wide checkerboard streets, some of them shaded by rows of
magnificent trees of abundant foliage. Each street is bordered with
ditches made of mosaics of small cobbles, for the torrents that pour
down from the Andes at certain seasons are worthy of man’s attention,
and though the town is not tropical, banana, acacia, and mulberry trees
bathe their feet in these intermittent streams and take on an
extraordinary vigor. The central section has a number of modern business
buildings, but the dwellings are nearly all still in the old Spanish
style, often large houses, but capacious chiefly in depth, so that one
only half suspects the several flowery patios they inclose. Few
buildings are of more than one story, and even the stylish habitations,
with columned façades and _corredores_ paved with colored marble
_dalles_, are made of mud baked with straw and lime. For Mendoza still
remembers the days, sixty years ago, when an earthquake destroyed the
entire town, burying nearly the whole population of ten thousand in the
ruins. Nothing remains now of the old town except the ruins of a church
or two that are preserved as historical souvenirs and warnings against
high buildings, mere masses of bricks standing like monoliths on the
summits of walls that seem ever ready to fall down and on which a bush
or a plant has here and there taken root; yet the _mendocinos_ are only
beginning to put their faith in reinforced concrete. Many of the houses
are smeared pink, saffron, blue, or other bright color, and when it
rains the mud roofs run down over the façades, streaking the colors or
washing them out to a leprous gray.

Being almost entirely a one-story town, and retaining the Moorish style
of architecture, even the hotels of Mendoza have no windows on the
streets, the only openings to the rooms being the door on the patio, so
that the guest who needs a bit of light must disclose to servants and
fellow-clients all his domestic activities; and to reach the bathroom,
if there is one, means parading the entire length of the courtyard.
Sidewalk cafés are thronged even on “winter” evenings; as elsewhere in
the Argentine, every workingman’s restaurant has its _cancha de bochas_,
a kind of earth-floored bowling-alley native to rural Italy. There are
electric street-cars, and the electric lights, outdoors and in, outdo
our own in size and brilliancy. While the English own the important
Argentine railroads, Germans hold most of the concessions for electric
light and power in the provincial towns, and Mendoza is no exception to
this rule.

The modern _argentino_ is not only a transplanted European, but in most
cases has come over within the past century. Only Caucasian immigration
is welcome, no negroes and none of the yellow races being admitted. As
in Buenos Aires, there is in the capital of each province an immigration
bureau, with attendants speaking the principal tongues of Europe, which
strives to place the newcomer to his and the country’s advantage. Thus
there is a decidedly European atmosphere even in towns as far back in
the depths of America as Mendoza, one that all but obliterates the
purely American aspect. The city retains a suggestion of Spanish
colonial days, but the native _bombachas_ are no more familiar sights
than the Basque cap of the Pyrenees and the hemp-sole sandals, the short
blouse with wide sash of contrasting color, and the clean-shaven
features of the hardy Spanish peasant and _arriero_.

Like several of the more important cities far distant from the federal
capital, Mendoza enjoys a certain local autonomy, though the prevailing
political party in the Argentine advocates a strongly centralized
government more nearly like that of France than that in the United
States. The province prints its own small money, legal tender only
within its limits, for the national currency not only becomes scarcer
but more and more ragged and illegible in ratio to the distance from
Buenos Aires. A not entirely unjustified fear of revolution, too, causes
the province to maintain a large police force, for the Argentine has
nothing like our National Guard. It is easy for the federal government,
often looking for just such a chance, to intervene at the first
suggestion of trouble in a province, and as such intervention means a
suspended governor, a legislature forced out of office, and the loss of
nearly all political patronage, the provincial authorities find it to
their advantage to have a dependable police force. Persistent rumor has
it that the police of Mendoza, however, are far from perfect, that they
lose few opportunities to force bribes from, and otherwise tyrannize
over, the population. Many fines may legally be imposed and collected
directly by the police, and the story runs that it is particularly
unfortunate to attract their attention toward the end of the month. They
are then apt to be penniless, and are given to wandering the streets
after dark, seeking whom they may run in and threaten to lock up if he
does not at once pay the “fine” then and there levied by the police. If
the victim asks for a receipt, rumor adds, he is instantly clapped into
jail, or rather, is sent to stand all night or sit down in mud in the
prison yard. Even important citizens of Mendoza hesitate to go out alone
after dark at the end of the month.

I spent May twenty-fifth, the Argentine Independence Day, in Mendoza. An
official salute woke the town at sunrise, to find itself already
fluttering with flags, the blue-and-white Argentine banner
predominating, but with many others, the yellow-and-red of Spain in
particular—and one lone Stars and Stripes, in front of a sewing-machine
agency. The uninformed stranger might have suspected that there is more
patriotism to the square yard in the Argentine than in any other land.
Had he inquired a bit, however, he would have learned that the law
requires all inhabitants—not merely citizens, be it noted—to fly the
national flag on May 25 and July 9, as it requires all men to uncover
when the national anthem is played, and all school children to learn by
rote certain chauvinistic platitudes. Nor should the fact be overlooked
that the “Veinticinco de Mayo”—for which Argentine towns, streets,
shops, cafés, and even dogs are named—is perilously near the end of the

In the morning everyone went to church, from white-haired generals
lop-shouldered with the weight of the gleaming hardware across their
chests to newly-rich Spaniards who still wore shoes with less ease than
they would have cloth _alpargatas_. Scores of police, dozens of firemen,
still wearing their hats or helmets, as is the custom throughout South
America, lined the aisles from entrance to altar. When all the élite and
high government officials had gathered, the archbishop himself preached
a sermon founded on the not wholly unique assertion that politicians
seek government places for their own good rather than for that of the
governed, ending with the warning that the Argentine was sliding
pellmell to perdition because the teaching of the Catholic religion is
not permitted in the public schools. The governor of the province lent
an attentive ear throughout this harangue, and watched the service with
attentive Latin-American politeness; but it was noticeable that he did
not show enthusiasm, and that no ceremony was included that required
kneeling or crossing oneself on the part of the congregation, for
Argentine government officials are often noted for their anticlerical
attitude. There was an entirely different atmosphere here than at the Te
Deum I had attended on Colombia’s Independence Day two years before in
cloistered Bogotá.

The municipal band met us outside the cathedral and led the parade of
police and firemen—marching like men long accustomed to drilling—of
citizens and ecclesiastics, the archbishop, still in his purple,
surrounded by a guard of honor with drawn bayonets. The procession broke
up at the entrance to the Parque del Oeste, said to be the largest city
park in South America. Miniature trains, astride which human beings look
gigantic, carried those who did not care to walk, or hire other
transportation, out to this extensive civic improvement, spreading over
all the landscape at the base of the Andes to the west of the city. The
crowning feature of this enormous new park, with an artificial lake
nearly a mile long, concrete grandstands, and broad shaded avenues, is a
solid rock rising from the plain on which the city is built, the first
outpost of the Andes that bulk into the heavens close behind it. The
entire top of this hill, reached by a roadway cut in a complete circuit
of it, has been blasted off, and on this great platform has been reared
a gigantic creation of granite and bronze called “The Armies of the
Andes.” It commemorates the passage of the Andes by San Martín’s troops
early in the last century to free Chile from Spanish rule, one of the
most heroic expeditions in American history,—a badly equipped, half
starved force struggling through snow-blocked passes on what seemed then
an almost quixotic mission. Yet the conception and execution of the
monument, magnificent in proportions, rarely surpassed in dignity, is
worthy of its subject. Behind and above the splendid equestrian statue
of San Martín are his officers and the army of liberation, ranging all
the way from low relief to detached figures, the whole surmounted by an
enormous winged victory, while around the monument hover huge bronze
condors. All this, be it noted, was planned and carried out by a
provincial town of fifty thousand inhabitants. Of the view to be had
from it, on one side the plains of the Argentine, flat as a motionless
sea, on the other this same plain, bursting suddenly into mountains,
which climb in more and more jagged formation to the snow-clad summits
of the Andes almost sheer overhead, mere words are but weak symbols to

Meanwhile the excellent municipal band had been playing all the
afternoon in a kiosk nearer the park entrance. Soon after noonday we
low-caste promenaders on foot had begun to gather about it; then a few
poor public vehicles took to ambling around it; better and better
carriages appeared, with coachmen in high hats and livery; finally
private automobiles, large and gleamingly new, joined the now crowded
cortège. Pedestrians had become too many for free movement; the
carriages and automobiles circled in unbroken procession farther and
farther out on the horseshoe-shaped drive, until each heard only
occasional snatches of the music as they passed near it. A few silk-clad
ladies and their perfumed escorts deigned to descend and stroll a bit.
Policemen on magnificent horses, white plumes waving from their helmets,
directed the traffic with princely gestures. By dusk all Mendoza was
there, every class of society from the proud hidalgo descendent of the
conquistadores to the millionaire Spaniard who came out forty years ago
with his worldly possessions in a cardboard suitcase, and who now took
care to avoid the old Spanish match-seller who was his boon companion on
that memorable voyage. Vendors, hawkers and fakers, announcing their
wares as loudly as they dared without arousing the wrath of the haughty
army officer, master of ceremonies, who would presently vent his spleen
upon those who failed to snatch off their hats at the first note of the
national anthem, mingled with honest European workmen in _boínas_ and
_alpargatas_ and sun-faded shirts, enjoying a rare day of recreation in
the life-time of toil which they naïvely consider their natural lot.
Though wine flows as freely in Mendoza as in Italy, not a suggestion of
drunkenness did I see during the day.

As evening advanced, the crowd became more and more silk-hatted in looks
and temperament, a better bred, less provincial, more cosmopolitan, yet
also more blasé throng than similar gatherings over the Andes. The bony,
ungraceful women numerous in northern countries were rare, the plump
type not only of Mendoza but of all the Argentine most in evidence being
physically attractive in spite of overdress and enameled faces. Soon
after full darkness had fallen some of the most regal equipages fell out
of the procession by failing to turn the outside corner of the drive,
and wended their way homeward. The better class of hired vehicles
gradually followed their example; the public hacks, whose occupants were
having perhaps their one spree of the year, at last got tardy, regretful
orders to turn townward, until the place was left again to the
foot-going classes, many of the hawkers, fakers and vendors still
wandering among them, emitting rather helpless yelps in a last effort to
be rid of what remained of their wares. There came a hurried last number
by the band, cut unseemly short as the players dropped out and fell to
stuffing their instruments into their covers, and behind the hurrying
musicians the last stragglers took up the march to town. Not a
firecracker had exploded all day; no fireworks enlivened the evening,
though the grounds of the chief plaza and several smaller parks were
gaudy with colored electric lights set out in the form of flower-plots,
and similar lights outlined the municipal theater into which all those
who had attended services in the morning, with the exception of the
ecclesiastics, crowded to hear “Rigoletto” sung by fresh young Italian
voices with more power than polish.

The “Buenos Aires al Pacífico” has several lines in and about Mendoza
province, with frequent trains out through the vineyard districts. One
train travels an S-shaped route and comes back to the station from which
it starts without covering any of the ground twice, then makes the same
trip in the opposite direction. When I rose at dawn, the Andes stood out
against the sky as if they had been cut out of cardboard; by the time I
had reached the station long banks of steel-gray clouds were rising like
a steam curtain under the rays of the red sun, until the range was all
but hidden from view. My journey through the vineyards uncovered great
peaks capped with snow and glaciers that seemed to touch the sky, and
everywhere were grapevines, stretching away in endless rows, between
some of which oxen were plowing and men hoeing, vineyards limited only
by the horizon or the Cordilleras in the background. As there is little
natural campo on which to fatten herds in Mendoza province and
insufficient rainfall to make wheatfields productive, grapes were
introduced here half a century ago by Spaniards who brought them over
from Chile. The torrents pouring down from mighty Aconcagua were caught
and put to work, and wherever there is irrigation grapes grow abundantly
in what was a bushy Arizona when the first settlers came, until to-day
the province does indeed resemble California. For a long time Mendoza
furnished the Argentine all its wine. Then Europe began sending it over
at prices that competed, the vineyards spread into neighboring provinces
along the base of the Andes, and Mendoza lost its monopoly. When the
railroad came, it brought French, Spanish, and Italian peasants who knew
grapes as they knew their own families, and the Argentine became the
greatest wine-producing country in all the world outside western Europe.
Now there is a little corn, alfalfa, and grain, though all these are
insignificant compared to the principal product. Spaniards I met along
the way asserted that corn or wheat paid better now than grapes, so low
in price as to be scarcely worth picking, and that olives would do best
of all, if only the growers would bring in experienced workmen and give
the trees proper care.

I left Mendoza on a crisp May morning, and the autumn leaves I had not
seen for years were falling so abundantly that a line from “Cyrano de
Bergerac” kept running through my head, “_Regardez les feuilles, comme
elles tombent_.” Here they lay drifted under the rows of slender
yellowed poplars which stretched away through the vineyards, endless
brown vineyards everywhere covered with the dead leaves of autumn
standing in straight rows as erect as the files of an army and backed
far off by the dawn-blue Andes, their white heads gradually peering
forth far above as the day grew. Between the rows glided Oriental
looking people, lightly touching them on either side, bent on unknown
errands, for the fruit was nowhere being gathered. Unpicked grapes,
shriveled to the appearance of raisins, covered even the roofs and
bowers and patios of the flat adobe houses. Here and there a weeping
willow or an _alfalfal_ showing the advantages of irrigation gave a
contrasting splotch of deep green to the velvety-brown immensity. Before
his majestic entrance the god of the Incas gilded to flaming gold a
fantastic white cloud high up above his eastern portal, then lighted up
the files of yellowing poplars, then brought out the golden-brown of the
vast vineyards, gave a delicate pink shade to the range of snow-clads
away to the west, and at last burst forth from the realms of night in a
fiery glory that quickly flooded all the landscape.

I am not sure that I have ever seen nature so nearly outdo herself as in
this dawn and sunrise across the vineyards of Mendoza, while we crept
upward from the Argentine toward the Cordilleras. No other hour of the
day, certainly, could have equaled this, and it made up amply for the
discomfort of being routed out of our comfortable cabins on the
“International” before daybreak, to wash in icy water and stumble about
in the starlight until we were thoroughly chilled, before we had been
permitted to board the little narrow-gauge _transandino_ train, so tiny
in contrast to the roomy express that had carried us across the pampas
that one seemed crowded into unseemly intimacy with one’s
fellow-travelers. Across the aisle sat a priest with an open
church-book, mumbling his devotions and crossing himself at frequent
intervals, but never once raising his head to glance out the window. No
doubt when he gets to Heaven he will falsely report that the earth has
no landscapes to vie with those of the celestial realms. Over me swept a
desire to get off and walk, to stride up over the steep trails and feel
the exhilarating mountain air cut deep down into my lungs, sweeping
through every limb like a narcotic, and to take in all the magnificent
scene bit by bit, instead of being snatched along, however slowly,
without respect either for nature or my own inclinations.

The day turned out brilliant and cloudless; in full sunshine the scene
lost some of its delicate beauty of coloring, though still retaining its
grandiose majesty. The vast pampa sank gradually below us as we turned
away toward the mountains, the irrigated green patches grew almost
imperceptible. Slowly the plain itself was succeeded by fields of loose
rocks on which vegetated a few gaunt, deformed trees, spiny bushes,
gnarled and crabbed clumps of brush scattered in unneighborly isolation.
The sun flooded the barren, fantastic, million-ridged and valleyed
foothills of many colors, rolling up to the base of abrupt mountains
that climbed, rugged and unkempt and independent of all law and order,
like some stupendous stairway to heaven, to the clouds in which their
tops disappeared. Cliffs washed into every imaginable shape by centuries
of hail, snow, and mountain winds—for there is no rain in this
region—cast dense black shadows, which in the narrow valleys and tiny
scoops and hollows contrasted with the thousand sun-flaming salient
knobs and points and spires and hillocks—a lifeless stony barrenness
only enhanced by the scattered tufts of a hardy yellow-brown bush barely
a foot high.

Hour after hour we wound back and forth across the river Mendoza, fed by
the glaciers above, taking advantage of its two flat banks to rise ever
higher, while the river itself grew from a phlegmatic stream of the
plain to a nervous mountain brook racing excitedly past through deep,
narrow, rock gorges. The rare stations were “beautified” with masses of
colored flowers that would have been pretty enough in their place, but
which here looked tawdry and seemed to mock man’s feeble efforts to vie
with nature in her most splendid moods. Above Cachueta, noted for its
hot baths exploited by the city of Mendoza, in so dismal a landscape
that visitors come only from dire necessity, all vegetation had
disappeared and all the visible world had grown dry and rocky and barren
as only the Andes can be in their most repellant regions. Not even the
cactus remained to give a reminder of life; not even a condor broke the
deadness of the peaks which seemed cut out with a knife from the hard
heavens. After several bridges and tunnels there came an agreeable
surprise,—the valley of Uspallata, with a little pasture for cattle. But
this oasis did not last long, and soon the dull, reddish-brown cliffs
shut us in again. Broken and irregular peaks eroded into thousands of
valleys of all shapes and sizes gave lurking-places in which shadows
still hid from the searching sun, like smugglers on a frontier. Though a
certain grandiose beauty grew out of these crude, planless forms of
nature, they ended by giving the beholder a disquieting sadness. One
seemed imprisoned for life within these enormous walls; the utter
absence of life, the uniformity of the dry desolation, especially the
oppressive, monotonous solitude, enhanced by a dead silence broken only
by the panting of the sturdy little locomotive crawling upward on its
narrow cogwheel track and the creaking of the inadequate little cars
behind it, seemed to hypnotize the travelers and plunge them into a sort
of stupor from which nothing short of imminent disaster would arouse

Between ever higher stations the only signs of man were rare _casuchas_,
huts of refuge built of the same dreary material as the hills, tucked
away here and there against the mountainsides. Before the building of
the railroad these served travelers as shelters for the night or against
the dreaded _temporales_, hurricanes of the winter-bound Cordillera. At
the Puente del Inca, a natural rock bridge under which the Mendoza River
has worn its way in a chasm, we caught the first clear glimpse of
Aconcagua, its summit covered with eternal snow and ice. Yet it seemed
small compared with the tropical giants of Chimborazo and Huascarán,
with their immense slopes of perpetual blue glaciers, perhaps because
there was no contrast of equatorial flora below, and it was hard to
believe the scientists who rank it the highest in the western
hemisphere. By this time snow lay in patches about us and stretched in
streaks up every crevice and sheltered slope, yet the mammoth glacier
peaks and striking Alpine beauty one expected was little in evidence.

As we drew near Las Cuevas, the increasing desire for a mountain tramp,
coupled with that of seeing the famous “Christ of the Andes” which the
traveler by train comes nowhere near, caused me to sound several of my
cosmopolitan fellow-travelers on the suggestion of leaving the train and
walking over the summit. But the few of them who did not rate me
hopelessly mad felt they could not spare the three days between this and
the next train, even if they were not seriously infected with the tales
of Chilean bandits. Yet I could not sit supinely in a railway coach and
be dragged through a dingy, three-mile tunnel, to come out on the other
side without having seen a suggestion of the real summit. Besides, there
was another excellent reason to drop off the train at Las Cuevas. There,
at the mouth of the international tunnel, my Argentine pass ended, and
the fare through and over the summit, a mere fifty miles by rail, was
almost twenty dollars. Even second-class, with the privilege of sitting
on a wooden bench in a sort of disguised box-car, was but little less
than that, and it was noticeable that all but the well-dressed had
disappeared from this also, the most expensive bit of railroading in the
world being too much of a luxury for the rank and file. These high rates
make the Andes a doubly strong barrier against immigration from the more
crowded and less capacious Pacific slope, which is to the _argentino’s_
liking, for on the eastern side the Chilean is hated and feared, all the
talk of international affection notwithstanding, as something between a
cruel and piratical Indian and a Prussianized tradesman.

As we drew into Las Cuevas I gathered together the essentials of kodak
and note-book and turned the rest of my baggage over to a young
Norwegian on his way to Valparaiso, with a request to leave it at Los
Andes, where the _transandino_ joins the government railways of Chile.

The train went on. The detachment of Argentine police that had given it
their protection up from Mendoza clambered upon the released engine and
went back down the mountain, and I found myself stranded and almost
alone in something far less than a hamlet at more than ten thousand feet
above sea-level. A quick movement instantly reminded one of the height,
an altitude doubly impressive at this latitude and at this season. Even
near midday it was not particularly warm in the sunshine and it was
decidedly cold in the shadows. Yet I must climb more than three thousand
feet higher to get over into Chile. The section-gangs of half-Indians,
in their heavy knit caps without visors and thick woolen socks reaching
to the knees, were a sullen, cruel looking crew, with marks of frequent
dissipation on their bronzed faces, men suggesting the Andean Indian
stripped of his humility and law-abiding nature and gifted with the
trickery that comes to primitive races from contact with the outside

With sunset it grew bitter cold, an icy wind howling and moaning
incessantly even through the chinks of the dismal, guestless frontier
hotel in which a coarse and soggy supper cost me three pesos. When it
was finished, the landlord led the way out into the frigid, blustery
mountain night and, wading through a snow-drift, let me into the first
room of what is in summer-time a crowded wooden hotel, telling me to
lock the outer door, as the whole building was mine. What he would have
done had a lone lady also stopped here for the night I do not know—wired
to Mendoza, perhaps, for a chaperon. I burrowed under a veritable
wagon-load of quilts. Two or three times during the night I awoke and
peered out the curtainless window upon the bleak, jagged snow-clads
piled into the starlight above, each time wondering whether day was
near, but there was no way of knowing, for not a sound was to be heard
above the howling of the wind and the shivering of the doors and windows
of the unsheltered wood structure.

At last there seemed to be something faintly brighter about the white
crest of the range, and I coaxed myself out of bed. The darkness was
really fading. I drank the cup of cold tea I had prevailed upon the
landlord to leave with me the night before, strapped on my revolver for
the first time since leaving Bolivia, and set out as soon as I could see
the next step before me. The automobile road that zigzags up the face of
the range, accomplishing the journey to the “Cristo” in seven kilometers
of comparatively easy gradients in the bright summer days of December
and January, was heaped high with snow in this May-day winter season and
was plainly impassable. Beyond the last dreary stone refuge hut I took
what had been pointed out to me the day before as a short cut and,
picking up a faint trail, set out to scramble straight up the barren,
rocky slope toward the grim, jagged peaks above.

For hours I clawed my way upward through loose shale and broken rock,
all but pulling the mountain down about my ears, slipping back with
every step, filling my low shoes of the city with sand, snow, and the
molten mixture of both, panting as only he can understand who has
struggled up an almost perpendicular slope in the rare atmosphere of
high altitudes, my head dizzy and my legs trembling from the exertion.
Every now and then I had to cross a patch of hard snow or ice so steep I
must clutch with toes, heels, knees, and fingernails to keep from doing
a toboggan to perdition hundreds of feet below. Sometimes there was
nothing for it but to spring like a chamois from one jagged rock to
another, at the imminent peril of losing my balance once for all. In
many places the mountain itself was made of such poor material that it
came apart at the slightest strain, so that many a time I laid hands
upon a rock only to have it come sliding down toward me, threatening to
carry my mangled remains with it to the bottom of the valley. I would
gladly have gone down again and, after kicking the “short cut”
informant, made a new start, but that was next to impossible. It was
difficult enough to climb these great toboggan fields of loose shale and
ice; it would have been a rare man who could have descended them whole
without at least the aid of an Alpine stock. There remained no choice
than to keep on picking my way back and forth across the face of the
cliff, gradually clawing upward, reviving my spirits now and then by
eating a handful of snow, always subconsciously expecting to receive a
well-aimed shower of stones or knives from a group of bandits ensconced
in one of the many splendid hiding-places about me.

I had lost myself completely and, convinced that I was in for an all-day
struggle, could have met with resignation the lesser suffering meted out
by bandits, when I suddenly struck what proved to be a gravelly ridge
between two peaks and on it an iron caisson marking the international
boundary. Far from coming out at the “Christ of the Andes,” I found the
famous statue standing in utter solitude in a sandy pocket of the
mountains free from snow so far below me that it looked almost
miniature. By the time I had climbed down to it, however, the figure
itself, erected by the two nations to signalize what they fondly hope
will be perpetual peace between them, grew to several times life size
and took on an impressiveness much enhanced by its solitary setting.

Not a sign of humanity had I seen or heard when I emptied my shoes and
set off down the opposite slope. On the Chilean side the highway was
drifted still deeper with snow, in places stone hard, in others so soft
that at every step I sank knee-deep into it. The brilliant sun that had
cheered me on all the breathless climb here grew so ardent that I was
forced to shed my outer clothing. I was present at the birth, nay, the
very conception, of the River Juncal, which later joins the Aconcagua
and flows into the Pacific, for I had stood even higher than the point
where the snow and glaciers begin to melt and trickle down the mountain.
It is this foaming blue river which carves out the route down into
Chile, leaving highway and railroad the precarious task of following it
down the swift and insecure slope.

Near the mouth of the international tunnel the Lago del Inca, beautiful
in its setting of haggard mountain faces, reflected the blue of the
glaciers and the white of the snow peaks above. From there on all was
comparatively easy going, for though the sharp ballasting of the little
narrow cogwheel railroad mercilessly gashed and tore my shoes, I had
already saved enough in fare to buy several pairs. Now and then I met a
work-train straining upward out of the mouth of a sheet-iron snow-shed
or one of the many long dark tunnels through which I passed with hand on
revolver butt. By the time I had met several section-gangs, however,
dismal, piratical looking fellows, with a suggestion of Japanese
features, in ragged patched ponchos and wide felt hats, I decided that
they were more savage in appearance than in character, and when at last
a whole gang of these reputed cut-throats left off work to show me a
short cut, I laid away the stories I had heard of them along with the
fanciful tales of danger I had gathered in many other parts of the
world. They were _rotos_ indeed, “broken” not only in the sartorial
Spanish sense in which the word is used in Chile, but in the meaning it
has in American slang. Not a suggestion did they have in manner or
features of that hopefulness of the Argentine masses, but rather the air
of men perpetually ill or saddened by a recent death in the family, who
lost no opportunity to drown their sorrows in strong drink.

There were grades as steep as ten per cent. in the rackrail line down
which I strode at forty cents a mile. In places the western face of the
range was so steep that the mountain fell almost sheer for hundreds of
feet to the railroad, the loose shale seeming ready to drop in mighty
avalanches and bury everything at the slightest disturbance, and
suggesting some of the problems faced by the American engineers who
built the more difficult Chilean half of the _transandino_. The station
of Juncal, perched on a rock, posed as a railway restaurant, but at
sight of its price-list I fled in speechless awe, and at the next stream
below fell upon the lunch I had been brilliant enough to pilfer from my
Argentine supper the evening before. The tiny brook that had trickled
from under the snow below the “Cristo” had swollen to a scarcely
fordable river when, toward evening, with twenty-eight miles, or more
than eleven dollars’ worth, of ups and downs behind me, the huts that
had begun to appear, carelessly tucked in among the broken rocks and
mammoth boulders of the Rio Juncal, collected at last into a little
village called Rio Blanco, in which I found an amateur lodging. I had
heard that Chile was different from the other west-coast countries, but
this first glimpse of it scarcely bore out the assertion. Here were the
same squalor, cur dogs, chicha—even though it was made from
grapes—Indian fatalism and indifference to progress with which I had
grown so familiar in the other lands of the Andes.

Descending still farther into Chile next morning, I met a fellow tramp
limping toward the summit, a mere bundle of whiskers and rags, evidently
a German, though he was either too surly or too sad to speak, carrying
all his possessions in a grain-sack, his feet wrapped in many folds of
burlap. The twenty-two miles left were an easy day’s stroll, much of it
through the rocky canyon of the river that had roared all night in my
ears. In mid-morning I passed the famous “Salto del Soldado,” where the
railroad leaps across an abysmal chasm with the Rio Juncal brawling and
foaming at its bottom, from one tunnel directly into another, and over
which hovers the legend of some soldier jumping to fame and death in the
revolt against Spanish rule. I had dinner in an outdoor dining-room
under a red-flowered arbor beside the track, where a large steak—of
rhinoceros, I fancy—corn cakes fried in grease, excellent coffee, and
endless chatter from the pudding-like Chilean woman serving it, cost
only a peso—and the peso of Chile is but little money indeed. The woman
had never in her life been a mile farther up the valley, so that I was
an object of the deepest interest to her as a denizen of the unknown
world above and beyond the jagged snow-clad range that bounded her

By afternoon the weather had become like May at home. There was nothing
autumnal about it except the pencil-like Lombardy poplars touched with
yellow along the beautiful valley of the Juncal, back up which one
looked almost wonderingly at the glacier-capped range walling off the
rest of the world. The country was very dry, the hills inclosing it
rocky and half-sterile, yet enlivened by the green of the organ cactus
which grew plentifully, the more distant ranges showing a faint red
tinge through their general blackness. Some of the parched fields were
being plowed with oxen. Gradually the mountains flattened themselves
out, a genuinely Andean traffic of mules, straw-laden donkeys, and
half-Indian _arrieros_ on foot grew up along the broad highway following
the valley, now well inhabited, chiefly in huts thrown together of a few
reeds or willows, as if there was nothing to look forward to but
perpetual summer. The once narrow gorge had expanded to a broad,
well-settled valley that suggested California when, in the later
afternoon, footsore, but many dollars ahead, I wandered into the town of
Santa Rosa de los Andes, junction point of the most expensive and one of
the cheapest railroads in the world, and found my half-forgotten baggage
awaiting me.

[Illustration: At last I came out high above the famous “Christ of the
Andes” in a bleak and arid setting]

[Illustration: The “Lake of the Inca” just over the crest in Chile]

[Illustration: On the way down I passed many little dwellings tucked in
among the boulders]

[Illustration: The stream that had trickled from under the snows at the
summit had grown to a considerable river, watering a fertile valley]

The bewhiskered conductor of the express which snatched me on into the
night looked like the Bowery at five in the morning. Indeed, one noticed
at once a wide difference between the prosperous spick-and-spanness of
the Argentine and squalid, uncheerful, _roto_ Chile, whether in the
crowds of poor people quarreling over the few crumbs of coal to be found
in the cinder heaps at the edge of town or in the general appearance of
the government railway and its rather unkempt employees. I fell asleep
soon after the train started at seven, woke once when we seemed to be
rushing through high hills and over deep valleys, and again at a station
where the one employee and the two policemen were wrapped to the eyes in
ponchos heavy enough for the Arctic circle. Then myriads of lights
flashed up out of the night ahead, the brakes ground us to a halt, and
we were set down at a station named “Mapocho,” which turned out to be
one of three serving Santiago, capital of Chile.

                               CHAPTER V
                           CHILEAN LANDSCAPES

Santiago rises late. I had wandered a long hour before I found a café
open, and when I dropped in for coffee the man who spent half an hour
preparing it grumbled, “Eight-thirty is very early in Santiago.” My
second discovery was that the Chilean capital was squalid. Landing at
the most northern of her three railroad stations—which turned out to be
no worse than the other two—had been like dropping into Whitechapel; and
the electric sign toward which I headed had brought me to the lowest
type of slum hotel. Had I come down the West Coast and been familiar
with nothing better than Lima, Santiago would perhaps have seemed less
oppressive, for it is a trifle more modern and only a few degrees more
shabby in appearance than the City of the Kings. The change from the
Argentine, however, or, more specifically, from Buenos Aires, was like
that from the best section of New York to the lower East Side.

This contrast, I was soon to discover, is to a large extent true of all
Chile. The _roto_ who makes up the bulk of the population, in or out of
the capital, always looks like a very low-paid brakeman on a coal-train,
who has just come in from an all-night run through a waterless country.
With this class as a basis, Santiago was dirty, unkempt, down at heel.
The cobbled streets were in many cases only half paved, full of dusty
holes with loose cobblestones kicking about in them; the very house
fronts were covered with dust; nothing seemed to have been cleaned or
repainted since the last century; the city looked as if the civic
feather-duster had been lost—though there was no lack of ragged vendors
of this implement making the day hideous with their cries. The great
difficulty seemed to be that few could afford them, for it was another
shock to find that prices were almost as lofty in Santiago as in Buenos

The region was, to be sure, suffering for lack of the rain that eastern
Argentine had received in such superabundance, but this did not wholly
account for the general appearance of disrepair, suggesting a place once
of great importance that had lost all ambition to keep its social
standing in the world. The huge checkerboard town, with immense blocks
of those straight, though narrow, streets required of his colonial
builders by Charles V of Spain—perhaps because he had grown weary of
losing himself in the Bostonese labyrinths of Spanish cities—contained
an extraordinary percentage of slums. Miles upon miles of _cités_ or
_conventillos_, ground-floor tenements of single rooms opening off blind
alleys, stretched away in every direction from the central plaza, giving
off the odor which emanates from cheap lodging-houses and overcrowded,
unwashed families. It was the squalor of cities, too, as distinguished
from the comparatively agreeable uncleanliness of the country.

The main business section of Santiago is relatively small, with the more
important stores, banks, and offices within a few squares of the Plaza
de Armas. Even this was considerably down at heel. The building material
being chiefly mud plastered upon wooden slabs, there are many
half-ruined buildings near the center of town, while “way out there
where the devil lost his poncho,” as the Chilean calls the far
outskirts, some of the conditions were incredible. Unlike the capitals
of Argentine and Brazil, Santiago has never been made over and
modernized by the federal government, for all its abundance of
“saltpeter money,” and, as elsewhere on the West Coast, there is no
distinctly residential section. Some parts are a trifle more fashionable
than others, but the uniformity of the town is on the whole monotonous,
doubly so because there are few buildings of interest either
architecturally or otherwise. A square surrounded by the chief public
structures; the capitol, covering an entire block behind the cathedral;
the more distant Museum and Art Gallery, make up almost the entire list
of imposing buildings. Long _galerías_, roofed passages that are
virtually public streets, are almost the only unusual feature. Though
its architecture is what might be called modernized Spanish, with
sometimes more decorative street-toeing façades and more roomy patios
than in Spain, it lacks some of the attractiveness of Spanish buildings,
and at the same time makes little provision for plumbing, and none
whatever for artificial heat. In Chile, to all appearances, the social
standing of soap and water has not yet been recognized. The River
Mapocho runs through town in a cobble-paved channel, but like those of
all the west-coast capitals, it is insignificant either as a stream or a
laundry and bath. Even boarding-schools and colleges take no account of
that strange modern habit of “washing the body all over”; it is a rare
house of even the “proud old families” that has a bathroom.

Of late years many of these old families have found that they can
materially augment their ever less adequate incomes by renting the lower
stories of their “palaces” as shops, with the result that the always
slight line of demarcation between business and residence has now been
almost wholly obliterated. Under the _portales_ of a palatial, red-brick
building covering one whole side of the main plaza, its upper stories
once the “Hotel de France,” but now a dingy vacancy, are dozens of petty
little shops, fly-swarming fruit and peanut and sweetmeat stands,
uncleanly male and female vendors of newspapers. As elsewhere in the
Andes, there are many little cloth-shops run by “Turks,” as South
America calls the Syrians. Street after street is crowded with dingy
little hole-in-the-wall merchants; street stands abound in which are
sold the favorite dishes of the _gente de medio pelo_, the ragged
masses,—_mote molido_ (boiled and mashed ripe corn); _mote con
huesillos_ (the same with scraps of bones and meat thrown in), and the
thick, greasy soup known as _cazuela_. The half-trained tailors, to whom
no doubt is due the fact that few men of Santiago are in any sense
well-dressed, squat in little one-room dens, gazing out upon the passing
throng like the craftsmen of Damascus. To make matters worse, the women
commonly seen on the street are almost exclusively _mujeres de manto_,
dressed in crow-black from heels to the fold of cloth wrapped about
their heads, leaving only the front of the face visible, the lack of
color adding to the general gloom of the town.

In contrast there is much sartorial display by the small well-to-do
class, and at the other end of the social scale there are many hints of
the picturesque. Each morning heavily laden ox-carts of country produce,
drawn by four, and even six, oxen, led rather than driven by men walking
ahead and prodding them over their shoulders with long, sharp, often
gaily painted goads squawk into town and almost to the central plaza.
The wielders of the goads wear the short, ragged ponchos, sometimes of
velvety vicuña cloth, the invariably soiled felt hats, and the
_alpargatas_, or, more likely, the simple leather sandals called
_hojotas_ common to the _roto_ class. Some of these countrymen come
riding in on horseback, their half-bare feet thrust into large wooden
closed stirrups, and adorned with immensely rowelled spurs, frequently
with a woman sitting sidewise on the crupper behind them. Milkmen—who
are often mere boys—use what we call a police whistle, and make the
morning hideous with their deliveries.

It is only from Santa Lucía that the Chilean capital gives a suspicion
of its great extent. This crowning glory of Santiago, a tree-clad rocky
hill rising abruptly in the center of the flat city, a sort of
perpendicular park of several stories, is the only place in which it may
be seen in anything like its entirety. There, four hundred feet above
the housetops, one realizes for the first time that it may, after all,
have four hundred thousand inhabitants. To climb any of the zigzag
rock-cut stairs leading upward from the imposing main entrance is to
behold an ever spreading vista of the city, stretching far away in every
direction, monotonously flat and low except for several bulking old
churches of the colonial Spanish style. The chief charm of the town, if
that word can be used of a city that has little of it, is its proximity
to the Andes. It lies well up in the lap of a plain more than two
thousand feet high, at the northern end of the great central valley of
Chile in which most of its population is gathered, with large hills in
the far distance cutting it off from the Pacific, and, so close at hand
as to seem almost above it, the everywhere dominating background of the
main Cordillera of the Andes. But for this great white overhanging
horizon, Santiago would be commonplace indeed; with it, its most dismal
scenes have the advantage of a splendid setting. It is never
uncomfortably hot; its brilliant winter days are magnificent, chilly
rather than cold, even in the mornings and evenings. Except for a few
kerosene heaters in the more luxurious homes, where foreign travel has
broken the ice of _costumbre_, artificial heat is unknown. The wealthier
classes keep warm from June to August by wearing overcoats and wraps
indoors or out, at the theater or at their own dinner tables; the great
ragged masses accomplish the same end by crowding together in their
single-room dwellings, tightly closing all windows—and succumbing early
and often to tuberculosis.

Santiago is the only city in South America in which there is any
noticeable “smoke nuisance”; the belching of this from many factory
chimneys, from the trains of the government railroad, with its smudgy,
soft Australian coal, adds greatly to what seems to be a natural
haziness of the atmosphere. But one may forget this in a score of quiet
shaded nooks of Santa Lucía. Among its several curiosities are a
drinking fountain—the only public acknowledgment that water is required
by the human system that I recall having run across in South
America—and, along with the statue of Valdivia, who here fortified
himself against the Indians, and of an odd bishop or two, the tiny
Protestant cemetery over which Vicuña-Mackenna, Chile’s chief literary
light and a member of one of her oldest and proudest families, caused to
be erected the inscription, “To the memory of those exiled from both
Heaven and Earth.” Chile has never taken its Catholicism in homeopathic
doses. It is only recently that even Protestant missionaries could be
married by anyone but a Catholic priest; up to a bare decade ago the
wicked heretics might not be buried in cemeteries, but were stuck away
in any hole in the darkest hours of the night, to be dug up next day by
prowling dogs. Largely through the efforts of American missionaries
there is now a civil cemetery and a civil marriage law. Only a few
months before my arrival a case had come up under the law against having
a saloon next door to a church, and the Supreme Court rendered the, to
the clericals “sacrilegious and unprecedented,” decision that a
Protestant church _is_ a church, even in Chile.

Not far from Santa Lucía, nearer the edge of the town, is a much larger
hill made of the loose shale common to the southern Andes and of much
the same appearance as the one of the same name overlooking Lima. San
Cristóbal belongs entirely to a group of priests. On top of it is a
gigantic statue of the particular saint of their order, with an immense
sheet-iron halo on which is squandered much electricity; but this is
offset by the income from an enormous sign just below it advertising
“Dulcinea Tea.” The Lick Observatory has a station on San Cristóbal, and
as the priests have begun selling the mountain as a stone quarry, they
wrung money for a long time out of the American scientists by
threatening to dig the hill away from under them. Now the observatory is
protected by an injunction, and there are other indications that Chile
is gradually recovering from her medieval fanaticism.

Santiago has an imposing public library, one which was not only actually
open but, strange indeed in Latin-America, one from which books could be
taken—if one had several sponsors and could deposit the full price of
the volume. One’s attention is usually first drawn to it by a statue of
two famous Chileans, not so much because of the artistic merit of the
monument as for the terror inspired by the situation of the two
immortals. For they stand some thirty feet above the pavement on a
pillar-like pedestal so slender that a single step backward or forward,
the slightest jostling of each other, would infallibly plunge one or
both of them to certain death, and the tender-hearted beholder, glancing
at their constant peril, can only hurry by with averted face. Under the
glass dome of the reading-room, beyond which most books never pass,
readers wore their hats and smoked when they chose. There were, of
course, no female readers. It is still considered unseemly in Chile for
a lady to be seen reading anything but her prayer-book. Here I heard a
lecture one evening under the auspices of the Geographical and
Historical Society of Chile, graced by some two hundred of the
_intellectuales_ of Santiago. The lecturer, in solemn frock coat,
lighting his cigarette after every other sentence and letting it go out
after each puff, with an appalling consumption of matches, read a long
and laborious dissertation on the burning question as to whether the
great Chilean national hero had been entitled to change his name from
Higgins to O’Higgins. The speaker contended that this was proper; any
other conclusion would have made him an outcast among his
fellow-_intellectuales_, for it would have been attacking one of their
most cherished illusions. But the long hour and a half during which he
argued that the hero in question came of noble stock in Ireland and was
not the descendent of Irish peasants, as commonly claimed, left the
unprejudiced hearer unconvinced and secretly giving the oblivious object
of their solicitude the far greater credit of having climbed to eminence
from the more humble origin.

There is a saying in Chile that the population is made up of _futres_,
_bomberos_, and _rotos_. The first are well-dressed street-corner
loafers; the _bomberos_ are volunteer firemen, and the _rotos_ form the
ragged working class that makes up the bulk of the population. The
latter, said never to be without the _corvo_, an ugly curved knife, with
which they are quick to _tripear_, to bring to light the “tripe,” of an
adversary by an upward slash at his abdomen, are not merely conspicuous,
but omnipresent. Everywhere this class is struggling for its livelihood.
Great streams of men and boys, kaleidoscopes of rags, come racing out of
the _Mercurio_ office with pink copies of “Ultimas Noticias” and scatter
to the four corners of the flat city—but there seem to be more sellers
than buyers. Poor, hopeless old tramps wander up and down the over-named
Alameda de las Delicias with baskets of grapes covered with dust and
almost turned to raisins, vainly trying to sell them. Slatterns and
slouches are the rule among the female division of the _roto_ class, and
Indian blood is almost always present in greater or less degree. In the
Argentine some eighty per cent. of the population is said to be foreign
born; in Chile, certainly in Santiago, not one person in ten suggests
such an origin. Very strict immigration laws forbid negroes, Chinamen,
and most Orientals to enter Chile, but though the country usually
welcomes white foreigners with open arms, they are not greatly in
evidence. The inhabitants of all classes have the west-coast
characteristics, indefinable but unmistakable, which distinguishes them
decidedly from the people of eastern South America.

Santiago has been called the “City of a Hundred Families.” These, still
noted for their Spanish exclusiveness and aristocratic pride, powerful
owners of most of the country, form an oligarchy of government in which
the ostensibly free-voting _roto_ has little real hand. The “best
families” oligarchy virtually tells the working class how to vote, and
in the main it does as it is bidden, out of apathy, to be obliging, or
from pure ignorance. Balloting is not really secret and there is
frequent corruption, such as the recent notorious case of half the
ballot-boxes in Santiago being carried down into the cellar of a public
building and stuffed with a new set of votes. According to law, the
voter must be able to read and write, and any _roto_ whom the landlords
do not wish to vote is denied the suffrage on this elastic ground. On
the whole, however, the oligarchy seems to work better than the more
common Latin-American rule of a dictator or a group of irresponsible
politicians. Its great fault is the stone wall it builds against rising
from the ranks, that and the opportunity it gives the powerful to cast
upon weaker shoulders the burden of taxation. The unfair advantages
given descendants of the favored “best families” is shown in the
frequent recurrence of the same name in Chilean biographies and
histories. The expression, “an education according to his rank,” is
often heard, and sounds strangely out of place in an ostensibly
democratic country. The dawn of industrialism is suggested, however, in
the strikes which are more and more breaking in upon the aristocratic
patriarchal life. One cannot imagine any other Indian of the Andes
striking, but his Araucanian blood has made the _roto_ not only free of
speech, sometimes insolent, ever ready with his _corvo_, but ready to
fight for himself in more modern ways.

“Some day,” said a Chilean man of letters, “our great land owners will
be taxed as they should be; but that will probably require a revolution.
The big absentee landlords exploit our natural resources and spend their
incomes in Paris, leaving nothing for the advancement of the country.
You have something of that problem in the United States, but the
proportion of your idle rich who spend their money abroad is negligible
compared with ours, and here there is no middle class as a depository of
the real culture and sense and moral brawn of the nation.”

Some of the old families of Santiago have lost their wealth, yet still
retain their pride and outward aristocracy. It is the custom of all the
upper class to go away for the summer, not so much because Santiago
grows a bit warm and rather dusty, as because it is the thing to do. One
of the standing stories of the capital is of poor but aristocratic
families who, unable to afford such an outing, shut themselves tight up
in the back of their houses for two months or more, living on what their
trusted servants can sneak in to them. Men who had every appearance of
being trustworthy assured me that this tale was far from being a fable.
One of them asserted that he had been invited the preceding February to
the “home-coming party” of a family whom he knew had not been outside
Santiago in a decade.

History is continually proving that unearned wealth takes away the
energy and initiative of a nation as of an individual, and Chile is no
exception to the rule. In the far north of the country, where it has not
rained in thousands of years, are deposits which give Chile almost a
world monopoly of nitrate, or _salitre_, as the Chilean calls it, the
only large source of public wealth in the country. The high export duty
on this gives the government four-fifths of its revenue, most of which
is spent in Santiago or falls into the pockets of politicians. If some
town in the far south needs a new school, or a pavement, or a tin hero
to set up in its central plaza, it appeals to Santiago for some of the
“saltpeter money”; and if its influence is strong enough, or the
treasury is not for the moment empty and praying for a new war, the
request is granted in much the same spirit with which our congressmen
deliver “pork” to their constituents. Naturally this destroys civic
pride of achievement and municipal team-work. Instead of spending the
greater part of her revenue from nitrates to develop some industry to
take their place when they are exhausted, “we are like a silly wanton,
who squanders her easy winnings for gewgaws without recognizing that the
time is close at hand when her only source of income will disappear,”
insisted one far-sighted Chilean. “Once our saltpeter gives out and
Europe stops lending us money, we’ll go to the devil.”

The fertile southern half of the ribbon-shaped country is excellent for
agriculture; her population, smaller but far more dense than that of the
Argentine, is already utilizing nearly all her resources above or under
ground; in the past century Chile has had only one revolution serious
enough to have echoed in the outside world, but that gives a misleading
impression of her law-abiding qualities. Indeed, all such blanket
statements give rather a false impression, for the country is assured no
such prosperous future as they seem to suggest. Though he is superior to
the Ecuadorian, and perhaps to the Peruvian, it would be easy to get an
exaggerated notion of the Chilean. He is interested only in to-day; he,
and especially his wife and children, are much given to show and
artificial makeshifts: if he is not exactly lazy he is at least far less
active and has less initiative than the more European _argentino_.

Chile is the home of fires and the dread of insurance companies. The
latter are said to demand higher rates than anywhere else on earth, and
the agent of an important foreign one assured me that all his clan live
in fear and trembling toward the end of each month and particularly at
the end of the year, when their clients are balancing their books,
because of the epidemic of arson which results from attempts to recoup
fortunes. This short-cut to solvency is constantly referred to in
newspapers, plays, and conversation; nor, if we are to believe the older
native novels, is it anything new. Chilean law requires the immediate
arrest of the owner and the occupant of a burning building, it being the
contention that either the one or the other is almost sure to be the
instigator of the fire. Nor is it up to the government to prove that the
suspect started the conflagration, but the task of the latter to show
that he did not, which is a horse of quite a different color. The
country is lined with blackened ruins, from mere _ranchos_ to modern
several-story buildings in which lives have frequently been lost. I saw
more burned buildings in Chile than in all the rest of South America,
and far too many to be accounted for merely by the somewhat greater
prevalence of wooden structures.

The fires themselves would be serious enough, were there not the
_bomberos_ to make them doubly so. There are no professional fire
departments in Chile. The glorious honor of fighting the flames is
appropriated by the élite, much as certain regiments and squadrons are
open only to a certain caste in our largest cities. The youthful males
of Santiago’s “best families” become _bomberos_ because it is considered
one of their aristocratic privileges to parade before their enamored
ladies in fancy uniforms and glistening brass helmets. As often as a
fire bell rings, all upper-class functions are temporarily suspended and
all the young bloods run—to the fire? Certainly not! They hasten home to
don their splendid _bombero_ uniforms, without which, naturally, it
would be highly improper to attack the flames. The newspapers always
include in their report of a fire the assertion that “the _bomberos_
arrived with their customary promptitude,” which has the advantage of
being both true and courteous.

There being no National Guard in Chile, gilded youth has no other
convenient way of showing off in uniform than to join the _bomberos_.
The regular army would be too serious an undertaking for them, even if
it were not below their dignity. Moreover, this is founded on
conscription, with a year’s service for those who “draw unlucky,” and as
the influence of caste is powerful in manipulating the drawings, the
ranks are filled almost entirely with _rotos_ or the poorer classes. The
Chilean army is German in tone and uniform, even to the big gray
Prussian capes of the officers, many of whom, as well as the
commander-in-chief, were of that nationality up to the outbreak of the
World War. The army is much in evidence and its splendor is in great
contrast to the shoddy, ragged dress of the bulk of the civilian
population. Its immediate neighbors credit Chile with a strong Prussian
temperament, and it, in turn, sends officers to train the troops of its
more distant neighbors. Those who should know maintain that it is only
the army that saves the oligarchy in power from the revolutions that are
frequently on the point of breaking out, but of which the outside world
seldom hears. Chile has no conscription for her navy, and for the first
time outside my own land I found placards picturing the ideal life
recruiting officers would have us believe is led on warships. As the
Chilean on his narrow strip of beach is almost English in his feeling
for the sea, there seems to be no great difficulty in manning the best,
or at least the second best, navy in South America.

Chileans themselves frequently refer to the prevalence of thieving among
their national characteristics, and explain it by saying that the
Araucanian Indians, who make up the basis of the population, had
communal ownership and still have little conception of the line between
mine and thine. Half the nation is by its own official admission of
illegitimate birth. In various parts of Santiago there are doors fitted
with a _turno_, known among the English-speaking residents as a “bastard
barrel,” softly upholstered, into which a baby may be dropped, the
_turno_ given a half turn and a bell beside it rung, when nuns or their
agents on the inside take charge of the mite without asking questions.
Thousands of “orphans,” whose parents are still running about town, are
housed by charity, and long troops of them may be seen any fine day
taking an airing in the streets. This condition is by no means entirely
the fault of the _roto_ class. None but the civil marriage is now legal
in Chile, whether by priest, minister, missionary, or rabbi; but the
poor man must take a day or more off and disentangle much red tape to
get married, only to be informed by his priest that in the eyes of the
church he is not married at all, until he produces a handful of pesos to
have the union religiously sanctioned. As throughout Latin-America, he
is apt to conclude that the ceremony is a mere waste of time and money.

Small as is the foreign population of Chile, the church is largely in
the hands of foreigners, so that “a Chilean cannot be born or married or
die without the permission of a Spanish, Italian, or French priest.”
German monks and nuns are also numerous, yet Chileans are not admitted
to most of the monasteries and convents. The foreign priest not only
makes the native pay high for his confessions and other formalities, but
frequently refuses him a pass through purgatory unless he leaves the
church a large legacy to cover his unquestionably numerous sins. Though
this property is ostensibly used to aid Chile with schools and the like,
even devout Chileans assert that their foreign priests send most of the
proceeds to the “Capital of the Christian World.” Complaints against
these conditions are legion, but the Chilean, like most Latin-Americans,
is more noted for criticism than for effective action.

Though Santiago rises late, and usually takes a siesta from twelve until
two, it retires early. Being the social and fashionable, as well as the
political, center of the republic, it has, of course, its elaborate
“functions,” and it is still near enough to the colonial days to retain
the weekly plaza promenade. On gala occasions this is worth seeing.
Santiago is one of the countless cities which claim to have the most
beautiful women in the world, and some of the claimants to this
distinction are comely even under their deluges of rice powder. Chilean
women of the better class, with their pale, oval faces and their velvety
black eyes, have a vague sort of melancholy in their manner, as if they
were thinking of the great world on the other side of the tropics, or at
least over the wall of the Andes. But evening entertainments are scarce
and poor in Santiago, and by ten at night the streets are commonly
deserted, except by the stolid _pacos_ wrapped in their heavy black
uniforms, and all doors are closed save those of a few cafés that drag
on until midnight. Half a dozen cinemas unroll their nightly rubbish,
usually fantastic and volcanic dramas from Italian film houses, woven
around the eternal triangle; now and then a _zarzuela_ company succeeds
in making a passable season of it. The favorite zarzuelas are such gems
as “La Señora no Quiere Comer Sola” (Madam does not wish to eat alone),
or “No Hagas Llorar á Mamá” (Do not make Mama weep), the surest way to
avoid which would seem to be to keep her away from the histrionic
efforts of the Chilean capital. Yet the élite of Santiago attend these
mishaps in considerable force and fancy garb, including overcoats or
wraps in the unheated buildings, all laboring under the delusion that
they are being entertained. There is opera for a month or two in the
winter; on rare occasions a really good dramatic company, rather Italian
than Spanish, makes a brief stay—and generally loses money, since, as a
Chilean novelist puts it, “the artistic taste of our public is better
suited to the slap-stick of short plays or the immaturity of some circus
of wild animals.” But the audiences which these entertainments turn out
toward midnight quickly fade away and leave the streets to solitude.

Among the poorer classes the _zamacueca_, the native dance of Chile,
popularly called a “’cueca,” is a principal diversion. A man and woman,
each waving a large gay handkerchief, move back and forth, as if
alternately repelling and inciting each other, to the tune of a harp and
a guitar and the clapping of many hands, while a big pitcher of _chicha
de manzana_ or _de uva_, which roughly correspond to our cider and
grape-juice respectively, passes from mouth to mouth. The better-dressed
class has certain simple pastimes in which both sexes join, though not
often and never without an awe-inspiring display of chaperons on the
side lines. There is, for instance, the “whistling game.” A man in
competition with several of his spatted fellows runs four hundred
meters, stops in front of a lady and whistles a tune, the name of which
she hands him on a slip of paper, the first one to finish the tune
without error and to return to the starting-point, being adjudged the
winner. On the whole, the Spanish spoken by this class of Chileans is
better than that heard in the Argentine, though there are many
“chilenismos,” expressions peculiar to the country. Chile usually gives
the “ll” its full sound, rather than reducing it to a poor “j,” but the
“s” is largely suppressed. In spelling the country has certain rules of
its own, the most noticeable being the use of “j” in many places where
Spaniards use “g,” a legacy left by the Venezuelan, Andrés Bello, first
president of the University of Chile.

I had looked forward with some interest to that far-famed feature of
Santiago, her female street-car conductors. Familiar as they have since
become, Chilean women led the world in this particular, the custom
dating back to the war with Peru, a long generation ago. The street-cars
of Chile are of two stories. Most of them are operated by a woman and a
boy, about half the force being female and few of the rest grown to
man’s estate. The boy is the _conductor_, which in Spanish means the
motorman, and the woman _cobrador_, or collector. Far from inspiring the
protection of wealthy rakes or causing enamored youths to squander their
income riding back and forth in the car presided over by some
unrelenting Dulcinea, however, most of the latter excite such repugnance
that the more squeamish prefer to suffer a slight financial loss to
accepting change from their unsoaped hands. On the back platform of the
dingy electric double-deckers usually stands as un-entrancing a member
of the fair sex as could be found by long search, her dismal appearance
enhanced by the mournful, raven-black costume she wears. She is sure to
be part Indian, her coarse hair tied in an ugly knob at the back of her
head, high on top of which sits a hat of polished black, with a long pin
stuck through it to add to the perils of life. In short, Chile’s female
conductors are not giddy young girls, but stolid women of the
working-class, very intent on their duties and only rarely whiling away
an odd moment in harmless gossip with the youthful motorman of the car
behind. Some romancer has written that the beautiful members of the clan
are quickly recruited to more romantic service. Perhaps they are, for
they certainly are not on the cars.

Street-car fares are absurdly cheap in Chile, so cheap, in fact, that
the service cannot but be poor and dirty. Inside the cars riders pay ten
centavos; up on the _impériale_ they pay five, which at the commonly
prevailing rate of exchange is less than two and one cents respectively.
Not the least amusing thing about Santiago is the street-car caste, or
the line of demarcation between the upstairs and downstairs riders. The
white-collar, non-laboring class will stand packed like cordwood in the
closed car rather than go up on the _impériale_, which is not only
preferable in every way but cheaper. It is this latter detail that makes
the upper story forbidden ground for the _gente decente_. As a
Chilean-born business man of English parents, educated in London and
widely traveled, put it in criticizing my “bad habit” of riding on top:

“I would much rather ride up there, too; it is airy, cleaner than
inside, you can see the sights, and the weather is generally fine in
Santiago. But if I did, my friends would look up from the sidewalk,
nudge one another, and say, ‘Hullo, by Jove! There’s Johnny Edwards up
there with the _rotos_. What’s the matter; can’t he afford a penny to
ride inside? I’d better collect that little debt he owes me before he
goes bankrupt,’—and within a day or two my creditors would be down upon
me in droves.”

The Chilean _peso_ is a mere rag of paper, originally engraved in New
York and more nearly resembling our own bills than those of most South
American countries. Theoretically worth a French franc, it is as
doubtful of value as legibility, being unredeemable either in gold or
silver and waking up each morning to find itself different from the day
before. On the face of the few bills that still have visible words runs
the statement, “The government of Chile recognizes this as a _peso
fuerte_,” which is by no means the same thing as promising to pay a
“strong peso” to the holder upon demand. The congress of Chile has
decreed that the peso shall be worth ten English pence; but there is
nothing quite so incorrigible in disobeying the laws of a country as its
national currency, particularly one in which it is the custom, when in
need of money, to go to a printing office instead of to a bank. No
wonder there is no national lottery in Chile; playing the exchange is
gambling enough to suit anyone.

With the exception of a few private, narrow-gauge lines in the nitrate
and coal fields, the railroads of Chile are government owned. A state
line now runs the length of the country, connecting its southernmost
port on the mainland with its most northern province, and even with the
capital of Bolivia. In the fertile, well-inhabited southern half of the
country the railroads, like the more important ones of the Argentine,
have the broad Spanish gauge, and down to where the population begins to
thin out the trains are long and frequent. The “Longitudinal,” running
for hundreds of miles northward from the latitude of the _transandino_
through dreary deserts a bare meter wide, carries neither through
passengers nor freight. The former would probably die of monotony or
thirst on the way; the latter would be valuable indeed after paying the
breath-taking freight rates. It is far quicker, more pleasant, and
cheaper to take, or to send by, the steamers along the coast, and the
real raison d’être of the “Longitudinal” is Chile’s determination to
keep the two provinces she took from Peru.

On the whole, the railroads of Chile are a sad commentary on government
ownership. There are probably more employees to the mile on Chilean
railroads than on any other system in the world, not because the Chilean
is a particularly poor workman, but because politicians foist upon the
helpless public carriers so many needy but influential constituents. Yet
both roadbeds and rolling stock of this overmanned system are
astonishingly _descuidado_,—uncared for, dust-covered, unwashed, loose,
broken, out of order, inadequate, with whole train-loads of perishable
goods rotting in transit, and frequent wrecks. It is common rumor that
the government pays twice the market price for all railway supplies,
thanks to the carelessness and the grafting tendencies of the personnel,
while every year finds the railroads with a million or more deficit. How
carelessly the trains are operated is suggested, too, by the
extraordinary prevalence of missing legs in Chile. It seemed as if one
could scarcely look out a train window without seeing someone crutching
along beside the track, to say nothing of those entirely legless, as if
the railroad habitually ran amuck among the population.

Started by Meiggs, the fleeing Californian who carried the locomotive to
the highlands of Peru, and continued by a deserter from an American
sailing ship, the Chilean railroads were built chiefly by American
capital, as well as by American engineers. They still bear many
reminders of that origin. The passenger-trains have comfortable American
day coaches, made in St. Louis; the sleeping-cars are real Pullmans;
even the freight-cars closely resemble our own. The engines, though
supplied with bells, are more often of British or German origin, or from
the government shops near Valparaiso. There are three classes, or, more
exactly, five, for the prices and service on the express trains are
different from the corresponding ones on the _mixtos_. Except that in
the former one is more certain of having an entire seat to oneself,
there is little difference between first and second class. Fares are
comparatively low even in these; on the lengthwise wooden benches of
third class they are cheaper than hoboing. Trunks, however, pay almost
as high as their weight in passenger, there being no free-baggage
allowance. The assertion is frequently heard in Chile that third class
is a disadvantage to the country, because the low price makes it too
easy for the _roto_ masses to move about. A rule that might not be amiss
in our own land is that the engineer who jerks a train either in coming
into or leaving a station is subject to a fine, if not to dismissal—but
of course the Brotherhood would never permit any such interference with
their long-established privileges. The trainboy nuisance, here known as
a _cantinero_, with the accent on the beer, is in full evidence. Though
the night trains carry Pullmans, there are no diners, because
concessions have been given at various stations to men of political
influence to run dining-rooms and the trains must stop there long enough
to contribute the customary rake-off. The monopolists are less given to
brigandage than they might be, however, and of late there has been
inaugurated a system of sealed lunches at three pesos, including a
half-bottle of wine. Moreover, it is a rare station that does not have a
crowd of female food-vendors, especially well-stocked with fruit in the
autumn season.

[Illustration: The street cars of Chile are of two stories and have
women conductors]

[Illustration: Talcahuano, the second harbor of Chile, is only a bit
less picturesque than Valparaiso]

[Illustration: The central plaza of Concepción, third city of Chile]

[Illustration: Valdivia, in far southern Chile, is one of the few South
American cities built of wood, even the streets being paved with planks]

The eight o’clock express from Santiago sets one down in Valparaiso, one
hundred and twenty miles away, at noon. From the Mapocho station the
train climbs out of the central valley of Chile, squirming its way
through many tunnels and over mountain torrents, with frequent
magnificent views of the rich, flat plain which gradually spreads out
hundreds of feet below. Then the valley narrowed and we came to
Llaillai, the junction of the line up to Los Andes and over into the
Argentine. Curving around the higher mountains, the other branch coasts
leisurely downward, passing here a long vineyard, there pastures
bordered by rows of Lombardy poplars and dotted with cattle, now a great
estate belonging to a man living in Paris, the stone mansion of his
administrator near at hand, the mountains forming the background of
every vista. At Calera the “Longitudinal” sets out into the arid north,
the fertile part of Chile quickly coming to an end in this direction and
turning into the dreary desert which is at present the country’s chief
source of wealth and fame. Then all at once the Pacific I had seen but
once since entering South America two years before burst out in full
ocean-blue expanse, without even an island to break up the unprotected
bay in which the winds often raise havoc. Below Viña del Mar, Chile’s
most fashionable watering-place, the precipitous hills come down so
close to the sea that there is barely room for the highway, railroad,
and tram line to squeeze their way past into the commercial metropolis
and second city of the country.

Valparaiso, the greatest port not only of Chile but of the West Coast of
South America, is the “Vale of Paradise” only comparatively. Built in
layers or strata up the steep sides of the barren, shale coast-hills, it
stretches for miles along the amphitheater of low mountains that
surround a large semicircular bay, behind which one can see jumbled
masses of houses sprawling away over the many ridges until these have
climbed out of sight. There is so little shore at Valparaiso that there
is room in most places only for two or three narrow streets following
the curve of the bay, and for only one the entire length of the town,
under the edge of the cliffs, much of it occupied by the dingy,
two-story, female-“conducted” street-cars. In the central part of town a
small space of flat ground has been filled in across one of the scallops
of the bay, and on this made land are cramped the principal business
houses and the central Plaza Arturo Prat. It is here that the
earthquakes do their most appalling damage. The rest of the city climbs
steeply up the shale hills overhanging the business section, in a jumble
of buildings which give the town its only picturesque and unique
feature. To get “top side,” where the majority of the Vale of Paradise
dwellers live, there are escalators, or, more properly, “lifts,” since
the majority of the largest foreign colony on the West Coast are
English. That is, every little way along the cliff are two cars at
opposite ends of a cable, which climb the slopes at precarious angles,
though they are level inside, in about two minutes at a cost of ten
centavos. For those who lack the requisite two cents, and for cautious
persons who will not risk their lives on the escalators, several
stairway streets rise in zigzag above row after row of sheet-iron roofs
to the upper stories of the town. During this ascent the whole city
spreads out below, all the panorama of Valparaiso and its semicircular
bay, the latter speckled with hundreds of steamers, “wind-jammers,” and
small craft, each far enough from the others to be ready to dash
unhampered into the safety of the open sea when the wild southwest gales
sweep in upon them. The Chileans formed some time ago the courageous
project of having an English company protect this great open roadstead
with a huge breakwater; but thousands of mammoth concrete blocks have so
far been dropped into the seemingly bottomless harbor, leaving no
visible trace, and now there are floated out hollow concrete structures
of 150-foot dimensions. Once on top there are other street-cars, and
more climbing to do, if one wishes to go anywhere in particular, though
nothing as steep as the face of the cliff itself. Here may be seen Viña
del Mar, a broad expanse of the Pacific, the aërial best residences of
Valparaiso, and a picturesque tangle of poorer houses stringing away up
the backs of the many verdureless ridges into the arid, uninhabited

The earth, like the sea, casts up on its beaches much human driftwood.
Valparaiso is no exception to this rule, and here may be found
wanderers, beachcombers, and roustabouts of all nationalities. Primitive
landing facilities give its rascally boatmen the whip-hand over arriving
or departing travelers. Many languages are spoken, English not the least
important among them. Along the docks the _roto_ stevedore works
barefoot and bare-legged even in the winter season; over all the town
rests a pall of aggressive, rather conscienceless commerce which offsets
its scenic beauties. The Chilean is not a particularly pleasant fellow
at best; down at his principal seaport he is even below the average in
this respect. Impudent and grasping, unpleasantly blasé from his contact
with the lower strata of the outside world—but all this one forgets in
watching the red sun sink into the Pacific from the impériale of a
street-car winding close along the edge of the sea, or when the lights
of the town, piled into the lower sky, fade away as the traveler turns
inland and climbs back up into the Andes.

From the squalid Alameda Station of Santiago another express sped
southward through rows of those slender Lombardy poplars that are a
feature of any landscape of lower Chile. The broad central valley,
distinct from the arid northern section and growing more and more
fertile from the capital southward, with ever more frequent streams
pouring down from the range on the east to add to its productiveness,
stretches almost floor-flat for more than five hundred miles to where
the narrow country breaks up into islands. In this autumn season
vineyards and cornfields stood sear and shriveled. The slightly rolling
country had an indistinct brown tint under a gray, yet illuminated sky,
the valley reaching from the all but invisible Pacific hills to the
jagged, snow-capped Andean wall, like an irregular dull-white line
painted along the canvas of the sky some little distance above the
horizon. San Bernardo, a summer colony, was now a large cluster of
closed houses surrounded by brown vineyards touched here and there with
a deep red, as of poison ivy. A few bushy trees, some still green, the
rest yellow, were half-visible on the left; now and then an evergreen
grove broke the prevailing color with the verdant emerald of firs,
shading away through all the tints of green to late-autumn saffron, a
hazy world spreading away on either hand and rising beyond to the
Cordillera lying dim-white under a new fall of snow.

Paralleling the railroad were good highways, sometimes with high banks,
more often lined with hedges, which added a suggestion of England to the
general atmosphere of California in November. Along these roads were
many ox-carts, the drivers walking ahead and punching back over their
shoulders at the animals with sharp goads. There was color in the
ponchos, often in the other clothing of the lower classes here,
especially among the _huasos_, as the _gaucho_ is known in Chile, and
this color seemed to be in exact ratio to the Indian blood, not of the
individual, but of a given locality. Dust was everywhere. We passed
numerous large corrals bearing the sign “Ferias Rejionales,” some with
cattle in them, all surrounded by an elevated promenade from which
prospective buyers could examine the stock. Horses and cattle shipped
north in freight trains all had pasted on their rumps a paper bearing
their destination. Towns were frequent and sometimes large, and there
was much freight as well as passenger traffic, no doubt because Chile is
like Egypt in that there is but one route up and down the country, here
following the elevated central valley between the Andes and the sea.

At every station of any size groups of women and girls offered for sale
fruit, bread, sweetmeats, and the like. They were particularly well
stocked with grapes; native apples were plentiful, Chile being the only
land in South America which grows them; not a few sold the pretty red
_copihüe_, the national flower of Chile, a long bell-shaped blossom
growing on a climbing plant of deep roots. The movements of these women
were lively and vivacious compared with those of the higher Andes of
more northern west-coast countries. Each wore a white dressing-gown over
many layers of dark clothes, and most of them were decorated with
earrings or necklaces of the red-and-black beans called _guayruros_ with
which I had grown familiar in tropical Bolivia. These berries are
supposed to bring luck, or at least a man, and the Chilean woman of the
ignorant class will sell her only possession for a few of them. Apple
and cherry orchards flanked the track here and there, many of them
bordered by blackberry hedges stripped now of their fruit. Rather drab
farmhouses, hung with withered rose vines, alternated with curiously
un-American wheat or straw stacks. Gradually cultivation and villages
decreased, and an Arizona-like country wormed its way into the plain in
arid patches. Here grapes were still offered for sale, but one might
easily have mistaken them for raisins.

We passed several branch lines leading off toward the Pacific, and a few
shorter ones climbing a little way up the flanks of the Andes. I dropped
off at the fourth of these junctions, in Talca, a large town with far
too many churches and the concomitant squalor, poverty, and ignorance.
The plaster was beginning to peel off in places from the adobe façade of
the big, ostensibly cut-stone building facing the central plaza. Here,
as in all Chile, one was struck again by society’s waste of its
resources,—robust men in the prime of life scurrying about with baskets
of fruit or newspapers for sale, much potential energy frittering away
its time for want of occupation. “Los Boi Escouts” of Talca were
announcing a benefit performance that evening, but as this did not
promise sufficient interest to make up for spending a night in so dismal
a place, I went on to the considerable town of Chillan. Here it had been
raining and the unpaved streets were full of miniature ponds through
which I picked my way to a hotel where I paid three dollars for a
bed—and not much of a bed at that.

In stories I had heard Chile was noted for its low prices. If ever it
had that particular charm it has now disappeared, at least for the
traveler. The hard little apples sold at the stations cost as much as
good ones in New York; diminutive loaves of bread were nearly as high as
a whole loaf at home. Establishments masquerading under the name of
“hotels” are plentiful: if there were one-fourth as many clean, honest,
and well conducted it would be a decided improvement. To pay an average
of twenty pesos a day in the squalor of most Chilean hotels would be
mishap enough; the doctoring to which one’s bill is invariably subjected
makes the experience all the more painful. Though the daily rate
purports to cover all service, morning coffee and rolls are always
charged for as an extra. So also is fruit, at twenty times what it sells
for in the market around the corner. Baths, which are so slow in being
prepared as to wear out the patience of most foreign guests, cost
several pesos each time they are ordered, whether they are taken or not.
The crowning trick is to make out the bill by separate items, if one has
had the audacity to ask for the daily rate in advance, thus doubling it;
or, if one protests against this system, the next one is to contend that
the day begins at a certain fixed hour, which is always on the opposite
side of the clock from that at which the traveler arrives, and that the
first and last meal each constitute a full day, with the result that the
man who is continually traveling pays for sixty days a month in hotels
even though he spends some half of his time on trains.

It was wet and sloppy and all the world was drowned in a dense fog when
I set off again at dawn. Everyone who owned them wore heavy overcoats
and neck-scarfs, keeping even their noses covered. One would have
fancied a demand that trains be heated would be in order in such a
climate, but if the lack of artificial heat is at times unpleasant it is
healthful, and the traveler in South America is likely to return with a
prejudice against it. At San Rosendo I caught a branch line along the
shining Bio-Bio, the largest river of Chile, and followed it
northwestward to the coast, the sun at last breaking through and
suddenly flooding all the scene as the train took to rounding many
rolling hills covered with scrub growth. The _huaso_ was everywhere busy
with his fall plowing, his ox-drawn wooden implement as primitive as
those of Peru, except for its iron point. Here there was considerable
eucalyptus, the foster child of the Andean tree world, though the poplar
was more in evidence and the weeping willow frequent.

I spent a day in Concepción, third city of Chile, a brisk and mildly
pretty town scattered over a hillside, center of a large grain district
with coal fields near, hence the site of many factories, flour-mills,
even sugar refineries, which import their crude product from Peru.
Though it is the scene of considerable modern industry, and has the
usual two-story, be-skirted tramcars, brilliant ponchos and gaunt oxen
dragging clumsy, creaking carts are to be seen in its main streets. A
splendid view of the town may be had from the Cerro Caracol, crowning
point of a long ridge of rolling hills of reddish soil, yet covered with
grass, so rare in South America, and much of it with a thick fir forest.
A “snail” roadway winds upward, and immediately at the climber’s feet
spreads out the entire city, flat and low for the most part, with the
plethora of bulking churches common to all Chilean towns. There are many
Germans in Concepción, south of which they grow ever more numerous.
Along the Avenue Pedro de Valdivia, squeezed between the river and the
hills in the outskirts, live scores of men of this nationality who came
out less than half a century ago as simple clerks and who now have
sumptuous mansions and large estates—_quintas_ they are called in
Chile—a single row of them eighteen blocks long on this one avenue
boasting such names as “Thuringia” and “Die Lorelei” and the top-heavy
architecture which goes with them. In Arauco province, a bit to the
south, with a private railroad running into Concepción, are some of the
few coal mines in South America, Chile being virtually the only country
on that continent not entirely dependent on Newcastle or Australia for
this sinew of industry. It seems to be a soft surface coal, mainly
productive of smoke, great clouds of which frequently wipe out the
beauties of the landscape in this vicinity.

Talcahuano, six miles farther northwest, is on Concepción Bay, national
naval rendezvous and the best harbor in Chile, being seven miles across
and bottled up by the island Quiriquina. The town, thrown around the
inner bay like a wrap about a throat, with pretty residential hills
climbing up close behind the modest central plaza, the outskirts
scattered far and wide over a rolling, verdant country, has considerable
shipping, but the Pacific is seen from it only through the rifts of
islands and promontories. Forty years ago American whalers often entered
this harbor, and some of the wealthy families of the vicinity to-day are
descended from the deserting sailors they left behind.

In Talcahuano I found an American consul who had been there for decades,
evidently long since forgotten by the authorities at home. Of the many
tales he had to tell the most picturesque were those of his early days
as a guano digger on the west coast, but he was more filled with the
alleged rascality of the Germans in Chile. There were in Concepción, he
asserted, forty German business houses as against four English and no
American—or perhaps I should say “North American,” for the Chilean grows
more enraged than any of his neighbors at our assumption of a term to
which he considers himself equally entitled. The consul was greatly
grieved to see the Germans steadily taking away the little trade
Americans once had, driving out even our stoves and agricultural
machinery from what had formerly been a United States stronghold. But
the Germans were more apt to make things to fit local tastes, or the
customer seldom had any fixed notion of what he wanted and fell easy
prey to the clever and unscrupulous German salesman. The consul had
recently discovered a German house secretly sending to the Fatherland a
binder and a reaper which it had imported from New York, evidently
because direct importation would have called official attention to the
plan of copying the machines for the South American trade. He had
recently bought what purported to be a reputable implement made in the
United States and known by the trademark “Eureka.” It worked badly,
however, and the parts broke so easily, that he finally examined it more
closely and found that it was really a “Hureka,” made in Germany. Though
Americans and English are hard to assimilate, clannish, little inclined
to take Chilean wives, the Germans marry freely with the natives and
gain much commercial and political advantage from such alliances. The
Chilean-born children of Germans are legally Chileans, but at heart,
according to the consul, they are still Germans. The Teutons have driven
the natives out of all important business, except in the case of wealthy
landowners, and these usually live in Paris and intrust their holdings
to a German or other foreign manager. Our forsaken representative was
also highly incensed at “the nonsense of American business men running
down to South America in droves, making themselves laughing-stocks among
the natives by their geographical ignorance, their manners and public
drinking, and only stirring up the Germans to greater underground

Though all Chile below Santiago is noted for its agriculture, its
fertility increases with every degree southward. South Chile, which may
be reckoned as beginning at the Bio-Bio River, where the vineyards end,
is an almost virgin land, only a fraction of which is as yet under the
plow. The Bio-Bio marks the point below which the Spaniards were never
able to make a permanent conquest, for the region below it was the home
of the most valiant Indians of South America, a race much more like our
own untamable red-skins than the slinking tribes farther to the north.
The river was finally agreed upon as the southern limits of Spain’s
authority, and such it remained until that had wholly disappeared from
the American continent. After the independence of Chile the republican
government confirmed the valiant Mapuches, as the Araucanians call
themselves, in their claim to regard the Bio-Bio as a frontier. It was
not until forty years ago, when at last the white man’s fire-water had
done what the Spaniards were never able to do, that the Araucanians were
at last pushed back into limited reservations and Araucania formally
taken under the rule of Santiago. The land was divided up among white
settlers, and when the Indians objected the central government “sent out
soldiers to shoot down the rebels, following just the same policy as you
did in the United States,” as a Chilean told me in a naïve,
matter-of-fact way.

The “first-class” coach in which I crossed the Bio-Bio, not so long
before a proud product of St. Louis, was a rattling old wreck, the floor
so sloppy and wet one needed rubbers, its window panes either broken or
missing entirely, some of them pasted over with paper, the seats more
worn and dirty than those on a backwoods branch line in the United
States. As the weather had grown steadily colder from Talca southward,
everyone on board was wrapped and overcoated beyond recognition. We
moved slowly through a woodless, brown, rolling country almost invisible
for the rain. In the early afternoon the train crept cautiously across a
bridge far up above a small but powerful stream, amid green hills of
plump, indistinct outline. The reason for the caution soon appeared.
Just north of the city of Victoria we were suddenly routed out into a
cold rain flung against us by a roaring wind like the spray from an
angry sea, and found ourselves at the edge of a mighty chasm. At the
bottom, in and about the stream which raged through it far below, lay
the wreckage of a freight train that had dropped with the bridge a month
before, killing the crew. Across this chasm swung a narrow,
wire-suspended foot-bridge a furlong in length, which swayed drunkenly
back and forth as the stream of wet and shivering passengers, a few
women and aged, infirm men among them, crept fearfully across it,
followed by all the boys and ragamuffins of the vicinity carrying the
hand baggage—no white-collar Chilean of course, would carry his own even
in case of wreck. We were bedraggled indeed when we climbed out of the
mud and rain into another train, and another good hour was lost in
transferring the mails and the heavier, fare-paying baggage before we
were off again.

I found Temuco, up to the present generation the capital of the land
from which the sturdy Araucanians were at length dispossessed, the most
interesting town in Chile. It was more nearly like the cities of the
Andean highlands, with something Mexican about it also, thanks to its
mixture of dirt, poverty, and the “picturesqueness” of which the tourist
rants. The Mapuche Indians are thick-set, the women especially so,
broad-faced, with a reddish tinge showing through a light copper skin,
due perhaps to the colder climate of their temperate homeland. Some of
the women were comfortably fat; they wore their coarse hair in two
braids, a band of colored cloth or silver coins about their round heads,
this sometimes securing a gay head-kerchief flying in the wind. The
mantos about their shoulders were usually a dull red, their skirts a
true “hobble,” being a simple strip of cloth wrapped tightly around the
waist and tucked in, with the raw edge down one leg. Their feet were
bare, chubby, and by no means clean, though more nearly so than those of
the typical Andean Indian. The children ran about bare-legged for all
the wintry air. The older Indians of both sexes had rather dissipated
features, as if the white man’s fire-water were still doing its work
among them. The men wore a mildly gay short poncho, some still
home-woven, most of them made in Germany, flannel drawers, a black or
near-black skirt brought together between the legs, shapeless felt hats,
and black leather boots of light material. The more poverty-stricken
wore a rude moccasin and any head-gear available, even the cast off
stiff straw hats of the summer-time _futres_ of Temuco; and May is not
the month for straw hats in southern Chile. The nearest Indian
settlement is but half an hour’s ride from Temuco, and some of the
Indian women rode into town on horses decorated with as many trappings
and large silver ornaments as themselves; others carried baskets on
their backs, with the leather band supporting it drawn tightly across
chest or forehead. Babies were not carried on the mothers’ backs, that
custom having disappeared where I turned eastward from the Andes across
tropical Bolivia.

The modern Araucanian’s land is secured to him, and an official of the
Chilean Government, known as “Protector of the Indians,” sees to it that
the acreage he owns to-day is not alienated. But the tribe is dying,
like all Indians in contact with European civilization, and the time is
not many generations distant when the rest of his land will go to the
white man. To all appearances the Araucanian has lost most of the
warlike courage for which his ancestors were famous, though he has by no
means degenerated to the cringing creature one finds in Quito or Cuzco.
As in those cities, shopkeepers are obliged to learn the tongue of their
most numerous customers, and Araucanian was heard on every hand, among
whites as well as Indians. Some of the latter could speak nothing else,
though now and then a familiar Spanish word broke out of the jumble of
sound. The Mapuches had some of the superstition of the Quichuas and
Aymarás toward the “little magic box with one eye,” and for the first
time in months I was forced to resort to simple trickery to catch my
chosen pictures.

Rain was almost incessant in Temuco, and the mud so deep that the
better-to-do used _suecos_, wooden clogs on which were nailed imitation
patent-leather uppers in any of the little shops devoted to that
industry. The next most familiar sight was that of oxen pulling solid
wooden wheeled wagons, straining laboriously through the sloughs called
streets until one fancied the animals, with the yoke across their brows
all day, must end each night with a raging headache.

Below Temuco the train crossed several considerable rivers. Long
stretches of stumps and scattered wooden shacks suggested the days of
Lincoln and Daniel Boone. Much rough lumber was piled at the flooded
stations, which served ugly frontier hamlets tucked away among rolling
hills once thick wooded and still so in places. Curiously enough this
more southern section of Chile is an older country, in the settler’s
sense, than that about Temuco. Seventy years ago, long before it was
able to force the stronghold of the central valley of Araucania, the
Chilean Government made an entry far to the south, catching the Indians
in the rear and settling with foreign immigrants wide areas of what are
now the provinces of Valdivia and Llanquihüe. The town of Valdivia and
several other strategic points, chiefly on the coast, where the
Spaniards had erected forts and established small precarious
settlements, were moribund when Santiago turned its attention to the
region in the middle of the last century. The coming of European
colonists has given the district new life and considerable prosperity.

The methods of Chile in settling this wilderness of the south were
simple. An agent in Germany sought colonists; an agent in Chile was sent
to Valdivia to receive them when they landed. The first-comers were
placed on the Isla de la Teja, where they would be secure against
possible attack by the Indians on the mainland. There are still a number
of German factories on that island, the inevitable brewery among them.
When the colonial agent was forced to look farther to the unknown south
for more land, he found nothing but matted forest. A trusted renegade
Indian named Pichi-Juan was given thirty _pesos fuertes_ (in those days
nearly fifteen dollars) to burn this primeval woodland. Smoke clouds,
visible from Valdivia, rose for three months, and at the end of that
time a strip forty-five miles long and fifteen wide, from Chan-Chan to
the Andes, was ready for the colonists.

All the way to Valdivia the product of the saw was in evidence,—rivers
of planks, seas of squared logs. New little towns, built entirely of
wood, and visibly growing, dotted the line of the railroad; in small
clearings, about shacks as rough as those of our Tennessee mountains,
the soil that had been turned up was rich black loam; the scattered
inhabitants had the hardy, self-sufficient, hopeful air of all
frontiersmen. Then great damp forests, strangely like those of the far
north, grew almost continuous on either hand. I stood for half the
afternoon on the back platform of our wreck of a first-class car,
watching the cold, wet world race away into the north, and the temperate
zone night, so different from that of the tropics, settle slowly down.

In the darkness we came to a little station called Valdivia, but it was
merely the landing-place for the small steamer to the town of that name,
which lay twelve miles up the river. It is named for Pedro de Valdivia,
a companion of Pizarro in Peru and afterward conqueror of Chile—with
reservations; for he had no such luck against the Araucanians as against
the docile Quichuas farther north and finally lost his life in his
efforts to subdue them. But Valdivia is Spanish only in name; in nearly
all else it is extremely Germanic, so different from the typical South
American town that one seems suddenly transported to another continent.
Well built, two stories high, new and clean, without a suggestion of
luxury, yet comfortable as a town of the north temperate zone, it might
easily have been mistaken for one in the newer sections of Washington or
Oregon. Most remarkable of all, at least to a man who had been traveling
for years in lands of adobe, brick, or stone, it was made entirely of

Saw-mill whistles awoke me at dawn. The sun, after a long struggle with
the dense clouds rising from the unseen sea not far to the west, won the
day, and every living thing was visibly grateful for its benign
countenance, for continual rain is the customary lot of this part of
Chile at this season. For once the weather was fine—except underfoot.
The streets and roads of Valdivia were literally impassable, with the
exception of those that were laid with plank floors, planks which would
have been worth almost their weight in silver in most of the continent.
Heavy rains bring thick forests, however, and here wood served every
possible purpose. Wooden fences were everywhere, wooden sidewalks
drummed under my heels with an almost forgotten sound; houses were
covered with a rough species of clapboarding; even the few buildings
that seemed at a distance to be of stone turned out to be made of wood
tinned over, the roofs covered with lumber rather than shingles, either
because Valdivia does not know how to make the latter or because boards
are cheaper than labor. The unfloored streets were incredible sloughs of
mud. One was named the Calle Intrépido, and the man would have been
intrepid indeed who ventured out into it. A few aged hacks, smeared with
mud to their wooden roofs, plied along the few principal streets between
the Germanized plaza and the rather wide river which the town faces. To
enter almost any shop was to be suddenly transported to the little towns
of the Harz or the Black Forest, though the shopkeeper was likely to
address a stranger in Spanish, usually with more or less foreign accent.

Isolated for a considerable period after their first arrival in southern
Chile, the Germans began to move northward as the Chileans moved south,
and the hostile Indians were squeezed between them. With the advent of
the railroad, which reached Temuco a short generation ago and Valdivia
some time later, the Chileanizing of the immigrants and the territory
advanced rapidly, and even before the World War direct relations between
these settlers of Teutonic blood and the Fatherland seem to have been
rare. Yet the harsh German speech echoes everywhere through the trains
and hotels of South Chile to-day, though the German-Chilean speaks
Spanish as well as he does the tongue of his grandfather colonist,
exercises all the rights of Chilean citizenship, and frequently marries
into Chilean families. His ways are somewhat enigmatical, sometimes
ludicrous, to the Latin-sired native, however, and for all his industry,
he is to a certain degree the butt of the older society. What we know as
an “Irish bull” is called in Chile a _cuento alemán_—a “German yarn.”

Below Valdivia lies a great potato-growing country, occupying the site
of the burned forest, now a rich, rolling agricultural section.
Blackberries were thick along the railroad. The centers of this uncouth,
wood-built, prosperous region are the large German towns of La Unión and
Osorno, towns in which German was the language of the schools and almost
all the local officials bore Teutonic names. From Temuco southward the
railroad had been running out like a dying stream, with ever decreasing
traffic. I left Osorno by the daily freight, which dragged behind it one
passenger car with two long upholstered seats along its sides serving
also as a caboose and densely packed with well-dressed men entirely
European in origin. Several young men were plainly of German parentage,
yet they spoke Castilian together, and one such pair was wondering how
they could escape the year of compulsory military service in Chile,
“since our fathers came out here largely to avoid such slavery.” Rail
fences, rude cabins in rough little clearings, rolling hills scratched
over with wooden plows, countrymen in ever thicker ponchos and with but
rare traces of Indian blood, burned woods covered with charred stumps
and grazing cattle, lined the way on this journey. The railroad, here
only a few months old, faded to a little grass-grown track. Then the
land opened out, flattening away to the edge of Lake Llanquihüe, and I
came to the end of railroading and mainland in Chile.

Puerto Montt, more than a thousand kilometers south of Santiago, and
capital of the province of Llanquihüe, below which Chile breaks up into
islands terminating in Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn, was founded by
Germans in the middle of the last century. It is a quiet hamlet of three
or four thousand inhabitants, built of planks or wooden bricks, in a
style reminiscent of Switzerland or Westphalia, on the edge of an
immense harbor which hopes some day to serve as a station of a partly
overland route between Australia and Europe. The commerce of the region
is almost wholly in German hands, there being but two Chilean merchants,
while the native population is miserable and poverty-stricken.
Barefooted women, ragged gamins, not a few beggars, are to be seen in
the streets, and there are far too many shopkeepers in proportion to
producers. Here, too, may be seen women on horseback, wearing heavy
ponchos and wide brimmed felt hats which give them a suggestion of
misplaced “cow girls.” A short steamer trip from the town lies the large
island of Chiloé, said to be the original home of the potato and still
producing it in great quantities. Many of the neat, well-managed farms
of Chiloé are owned by Boers who refused to endure British rule after
the South African War, though a majority of the Chilotes are of old
Spanish stock with a considerable strain of Indian blood.

I had come more and more to regret that I had not reached this wet and
shivering corner of the world in the brilliant summer-time of Christmas
and New Year’s. The regret was all the keener because it was coupled
with the necessity of altering long-laid plans and retracing my steps,
always an abhorrence. From Puerto Montt I might in summer have crossed
the two Chilean lakes of Llanquihüe and Esmeraldas, Laguna Fría in the
Argentine, and finally famous Nahuel-Haupi, and, with ten days’ tramping
across the pampas, have come back to Buenos Aires by Neuquen and the
“Great Southern.” But at this season such a journey was impossible and,
having no taste for polar explorations, I let Puerto Montt, in a
latitude similar to that of Boston, stand as my “farthest south,” and
turned tail and fled back into the warmer north.

At Temuco I wired ahead for a berth on the night train to Santiago. The
precaution was hardly necessary. At the end of the train waiting in San
Rosendo were two brand new cars stencilled “Pullman Company, Chicago,”
which had not yet had time to go to rack and ruin. There were but few
passengers in the first of them; in the second I found myself entirely
alone. The conductor bowed low over my pass with, “Will you have a berth
or a stateroom?” The porter was a ragged _roto_ such as might have been
picked up at any station, but he lost no time in making up my private
parlor. Just how much the huge yearly deficit of the government railways
of Chile is due to the hauling back and forth of empty first-class cars,
and the ease with which general passes are granted, is of course a
question for financiers rather than a random wanderer. Before I turned
in, I impressed upon the melancholy porter the necessity of calling me
in time to get off at Rancagua, station for a famous American copper
mine up the mountainside to the eastward. He was vociferous in his
advice to me to “lose care.”

Unfortunately I did so. By and by I was disturbed by a thumping on my
door that finally brought me back to consciousness. I sprang up and—and
heard the irresponsible half-Indian masquerading as porter say in a
mellifluous voice:

“You wished to get off at Rancagua, señor? Well, you must hurry, for I
overslept and we are just pulling out of there.” No doubt, being a
Chilean _roto_, it had never occurred to him that his “gringo” charge
had taken off his clothes to sleep. By the time I might have had them on
again we were miles beyond, and I had gone back to bed. From Santiago I
hurried back to the Argentine so fast that I paid in cash the
breath-taking fare between my two railroad passes. I was just in time;
for the very next train was forced to back down to Los Andes again, and
the transandean pass remained snowed in until the following September.

                               CHAPTER VI
                         HEALTHY LITTLE URUGUAY

One cold June evening, with more than a hundred days and eight hundred
miles of travel in Chile and the Argentine behind me, I took final leave
of Buenos Aires—not without regret, for all its ostentatious
artificialities. Or it may be that my sorrow was at parting from the
good friends with whom I had been wont to gather toward sunset in the
café across from the consulate for a “cocktail San Martin,” one of whom
now volunteered to see me as far as Montevideo just across the river—a
hundred and twenty miles away. Out the Paseo de Colón the Dársena Sud
was ablaze with the lights of the several competing steamers, equal to
the best on our Great Lakes, which nightly cross the mouth of the Plata.
For the two cities are closely related. In summer _Porteños_ flee to
Montevideo’s beaches; in winter the white lights of Buenos Aires attract
many Uruguayans; the year round business men hurry back and forth.
Aboard the _Viena_ of the Mihanovich Line I watched the South American
metropolis shrink to a thin row of lights strewn unbrokenly for many
miles along the edge of the horizon, like illuminated needle-points
where sea and sky had been sewed together. Wide and shallow, exposed
here to all the raging winds from the south, the Paraná Guazú (“River
like a Sea”) often shows itself worthy of its aboriginal name in this
winter season. I did not wake, however, until the red sun was rising
over Montevideo and her Cerro and we were gliding up to a capacious

It was fitting that my sight-seeing should begin with the little rocky
hill surmounted by an old Spanish fortress which is the first and last
landmark of the traveling Uruguayan. To the Cerro, barely five hundred
feet high, yet standing conspicuously above all the rest of the
surrounding world, Montevideo owes both its name and its situation. When
the Portuguese navigator Magalhães, whom we call Magellan, sailed up
what he hoped might prove a passageway from the Atlantic to the Pacific,
a sailor on lookout, catching sight of this little eminence, cried out,
“Monte vid’ eu! I see a hill!” On it was built the first fort against
the Charrúa Indians, and its value both as a place of refuge and as a
stone quarry made it natural that the chief town of the region should
have grown up about it. The part the Cerro has since played in Uruguayan
history is out of all keeping with its insignificant size; the poems
that have been written about it are as legion as the legends which hover
over it. It holds chief place in the national coat-of-arms and in the
hearts of homesick sons of Uruguay. Never in all the rebellions and
revolutions since its discovery has the Cerro been taken by force of
arms; never will the people of Montevideo tire of telling haughty
_Porteños_ that Buenos Aires has nothing like it.

From its summit all Montevideo may be seen in picturesque detail and
far-spread entirety, the point where the Plata, deep brown to the last,
for all its sea-like width, meets the Atlantic and flows away with it
over the horizon, then, swinging round the circle, the faintly
undulating plains, broken here and there by low purplish hillocks, of
the “Purple Land.” It is a pity that the Cerro, certainly not
impregnable as a fortress, has not been made a place of residence, or,
better still, transformed into such a park as Santa Lucía of Santiago.
The fashionable section of Montevideo, however, has moved in the other
direction, leaving the famous hill, with its garrison-sheltering old
Spanish fort and its lighthouse, to squatters’ shanties, rubbish heaps,
and capering goats, not to mention the insistent odors of a neighboring
_saladero_ where cattle are reduced to salt beef.

In many ways the Uruguayan capital is the most attractive city of South
America; as a place to live in, contrasted with a place in which to make
a living, it is superior to many American cities. There is a peculiar
quality of restfulness about it unknown to its large and excited rival
across the Plata, something distinctive which easily makes up for the
handicap of being so near a world metropolis as to be overshadowed by
it. For another thing, it is nearer the mouth of the river, making it a
true ocean port and the most nearly a seaside resort of any national
capital in Spanish-America. Built on a series of rocky knolls, roughly
suggesting the fingers of a rude hand, the charm of its location is
enhanced by undulations that recall by contrast the deadly flatness of
Buenos Aires. The old town, all that existed two generations ago, is
crowded compactly together in true Spanish fashion on what might be
called the forefinger, though it had unlimited space to spread landward.
On this rocky peninsula the cross streets are narrow and fall into the
sea at either end, for here it is but eight or ten short blocks from the
Plata to the Atlantic. On one side is an improved harbor with steamers
of many nationalities, on the other is a bay lined with splendid
beaches. Like that of its great neighbor, the harbor of Montevideo
requires frequent dredging, and its problem is quite the contrary of
that in Valparaiso and other bottomless west-coast ports.

[Illustration: Countrymen of southern Chile in May to September garb]

[Illustration: A woman of the Araucanians, the aborigines of southern

[Illustration: A monument in the cemetery of Montevideo]

[Illustration: A gentleman of Montevideo depicts in stone his grief at
the loss of his life’s companion]

Along with its seascape, this situation gives the city a very
exhilarating air, especially in the winter season. Then it is often
penetratingly cold, and frequently so windy that not only the most
securely fastened hat but the hair beneath it threatens to abandon the
wearer. On the day of my landing a windstorm caused several deaths and
much property damage. Among other things it took the sheet-iron roof off
a building in which four fishermen had taken refuge and as these ran
away the roof followed and fell upon them. In the third story of the
frame hotel that housed me I often woke from a dream of being rocked in
a ship at sea, and Punta Brava in a far corner of Montevideo’s suburbs
was rightly named indeed on windy days. Fierce thunderstorms also marked
my stay in the capital, some of them accompanied by the mightiest of
flashes and crashes, during which water fell in such torrents that one
could scarcely see across a narrow street—tropical storms they might
have been called, had it not kept right on raining long after it had
done raging.

Uruguay claims 1,400,000 inhabitants, of whom all but the million are
said to live in the capital, though the lack of a definite census makes
guessing a popular pastime. But the city is much larger in extent than
this number would imply. One can ride for hours on the lines of its two
excellent tramway companies without once leaving town. Even in the older
sections Montevideo is substantially and handsomely built, with many
good modern monuments. Only a few old landmarks are left, such as the
purely Spanish cathedral on the Plaza de la Constitución, for Uruguay
seems to consider her first demand for independence in 1808 the
beginning of her history and makes no effort to preserve the memories of
her colonial or pre-colombian days. For all that, the capital has
retained a considerable atmosphere of old Spain, a distinctly
seventeenth-century echo, along with her South American style of
up-to-datedness. The best houses along the fine avenues are generally in
colonial style, an almost Moorish one-story building, with lofty
ceilings and space-devouring patios. Especially in the roomy suburbs do
the dwellings stop abruptly at one story, so abruptly sometimes as to
suggest that ruin, or at least a laborer’s strike, has suddenly befallen
the owner. The real reason is probably because it would be hard to marry
off one’s daughters if their “dragons” had to begin their wooing by
shouting up to the second or third floor windows.

Iron-work grilles are universal, and many house-doors have brass-lined
peepholes through which the resident can see whether the man knocking is
worth admitting. Gardens with subtropical plants are numerous and
promenades under palm-trees by no means unusual. Especially along the
edge of the sea there are over-ornate _quintas_, alternating with
washerwoman shanties; but there is little oppressive poverty in
Montevideo, and at the same time little of the conspicuous plutocracy so
familiar across the river, a lack of contrast which adds, perhaps, to
the monotony of many a street vista. Poor _ranchos_ are by no means rare
in the farther outskirts, but these are open-air and almost clean slums
compared with the congested sections of our own large cities. Out beyond
the older town are park improvements on an extensive scale. The Prado,
with its great Rose Gardens, said to include hundreds of varieties,
though but few were in bloom among the dead leaves of June, is worth
coming far to see. Here real hills break the monotony of the landward
vista and make artificial, over-polished Palermo with its deadly
flatness seem disagreeable by contrast. The tale goes that a group of
wealthy _Porteños_ once set on foot a movement to buy one of Uruguay’s
hills, carry it across the river, and set it up in one of their own
plazas. No doubt they could have reimbursed themselves by charging
admission and rights of ascension, but like many ambitious
Latin-American plans this one died prematurely.

In general Uruguayans are well-dressed, and comfortably well-to-do, if
one may judge from appearances; compared with _roto_ Chile the capital
is immaculate. “Beachcombers” are rare in this only important port of
the country and beggars are seldom seen, though there is a plague of
petty vendors. It had been like landing on a hostile shore to make our
way through the amazingly impudent mob of hoarse-voiced cabmen,
newsboys, hotel touts, lottery-ticket vendors, vagrants, pickpockets,
useless policemen, and idle citizens into the tranquil waters of a
Sunday morning in the Uruguayan capital; but this common waterfront
experience did not last long. There is something extremely pleasant
about most of the modest, unpretentious _Fluvenses_, as the people of
Montevideo call themselves, a term we might translate as “rivereens.”
They have, as a rule, a natural politeness, a frank and open simplicity
all but unknown across the river, a leisurely, contemplative philosophy
that will not be broken down even by the material prosperity of a
country that is making perhaps the most intelligent use of its situation
and resources of all the republics of Latin-America. It is said that the
Uruguayan came mainly from the Basque provinces and the Canary Islands,
while the _argentino_ is chiefly of southern Spanish origin; that the
former brought with him and still retains a sturdier, less facile, but
more dependable, more thoroughgoing character. Those of wide commercial
experience in the continent say that the Uruguayan is the most honest
man south of Panama; every foreign resident I questioned rated Uruguay
as the most lovable country in South America—and as a rule foreign
residents do not see the best side first. Personally, I found the
Uruguayan more sincere, less selfish, somewhat more solid and at the
same time more of an impulsive idealist than his materialistic neighbors
across the Plata. His country is far enough south to escape the
indolence of the tropics, far enough north to make life itself seem of
equal importance with making a living. With every natural advantage of
the Argentine, except the doubtful one of size, and a more frugal and
industrious population not greatly modified by recent immigration,
Uruguay is still peopled by a kind of colonial Spaniard, somewhat
improved by the breezy, generous quality of his New World domain.

To those who approach it from the south, where they are almost unknown,
negroes are noticeable in Montevideo and become more so as one proceeds
northward through the country. No doubt they drift down from Brazil and,
finding the wide Plata an obstacle, seldom reach its southern shores.
Yet they are so few, and slavery is so slightly connected with them in
the Uruguayan mind, that there is scarcely a “color-line.” The daughter
of a former Uruguayan minister to Washington told me she had always
informed inquiring Americans that there were no negroes in Uruguay, and
had only discovered her error upon her return with a sharpened color
sense. In Uruguay people are often called by nicknames of color, ample
proof that there is no sensitiveness about the hue of the skin. These
popular terms, usually preceded by the affectionate “Ché” of
southeastern South America, run all the gamut of tints,—“Hola, Ché
morocha.” “Diga, Ché trigueña!” “Cómo va, Ché negrito?” It is a common
experience of visiting Anglo-Saxons to hear themselves addressed by
familiar persons as “Ché rubio,” literally “red-head,” as a
complimentary distinction from the universally black-haired natives. The
latter, particularly the women, are almost always of plump form and
comely face, whatever their color, with few of the cadaverous types so
numerous in the north temperate zone. Uruguayan women, by the way, are
perhaps a trifle more Moorish in their family life than those of Buenos
Aires, but they are not wholly unaware of the “advanced” atmosphere of
their environment.

Buenos Aires has long had the reputation of being the most expensive
city on earth, probably because it is large enough to be famous, for
certainly its neighbor Montevideo is still less of a poor man’s
paradise. For one thing, the difference in basic coins favors the
Uruguayan profiteer. Many things which cost an Argentine peso in Buenos
Aires cost an Uruguayan peso, or two and a half times as much, in
Montevideo. It is highly to the credit of Uruguay, and a constant source
of pride to her citizens, that her dollar is the only one in the world
normally worth more than our own; but it is painful for the visitor to
be forced to purchase at so high a price pesos that will seldom buy what
a quarter should. In hotel charges, public conveyances, laundries,
lottery-tickets, and other necessities of life the Uruguayan dollar
seems to go little farther than that of the Argentine, and certainly it
has nothing like the purchasing power of our own. Not only are there
substantial coins in circulation, instead of more or less ragged scraps
of paper redeemable only in the imagination, or coins so debased that
only a careless speaker would refer to them as silver, but any gold coin
is legal tender in Uruguay. Throw down an English sovereign in the
smallest shop in the most isolated corner of the republic and it is
instantly accepted at a fixed value. An American $10 gold piece passed
without argument as $9.66 Uruguayan, though our dollar bill was rated at
only ninety _centésimos_ before the war. I chanced to be in a _pulpería_
far out in the interior of Uruguay when the shopkeeper asked the large
estate owner of the vicinity to take a hundred pesos to the capital for
him. By and by the _pulpero_ returned from a back room with a small
handful of gold and a bit of paper on which he had figured out the sum
he wished to send. He handed the _estanciero_ several English
sovereigns, some German 20-mark pieces, a Brazilian gold coin, an
American half-eagle, two French napoleons, and the rest of the sum in
Uruguayan paper, silver, and nickel. There was no argument whatever as
to the “exchange” on the foreign coins; each had its fixed value
anywhere in Uruguay. It was something like what a universal coinage will
be when the world grows honest and intelligent enough to establish
one—though of course our bankers would not allow any such system to
become universal, even did the perversity of human nature make it
possible. This ready exchange, and the possibility of turning Uruguayan
paper into gold upon demand, are among the reasons which make the
Uruguayan dollar normally the most valuable in the world.

Down on one of its beaches the city of Montevideo runs a sumptuous hotel
and an official Monte Carlo. Here it brings ambassadors and
“distinguished visitors” for afternoon tea or formal banquets, gives
balls, keeps an immense staff of liveried menials at public expense the
year round, and during the season takes money away from the wealthy
“sports” from across the river with an efficiency not exceeded anywhere
along the Riviera. More than one passing observer has found this an
excellent means of taxing the rich for the benefit of the poor, since
the profits of the Casino go into the municipal treasury. As much can
scarcely be said for the lottery run by the federal government, with its
incessant appeal to the gambling instincts of all classes of the
population. The tickets assert that “the lottery is run for the Hospital
de Caridad and its profits are destined for exclusively beneficent
ends,” but the statement rings as hollow as many similar attempts on the
part of Latin-America to coax itself to believe that there is something
good in an essentially vicious institution.

Music and drama flourish during the winter in Montevideo; uncounted
cinemas perpetrate their piffle in and out of season. An excellent
Italian dramatic company, headed by the emotional actress Lyda Borelli,
sometimes, and probably not unjustly, called the successor of Duse, was
playing at the “Solis” during my visit—and bringing out in pitiless
contrast the insufferable barnstormers usually seen on the South
American stage. The opera season is in August, when that half of stars
and troupe who do not cross to Santiago de Chile are on their way back
from Buenos Aires to New York or Europe. Orchestra seats are then at
least $12 each and boxes from $80 up, but as one _must_ have a box for
the season or be rated a social nonentity, there are sad rumors of
_Fluvense_ families scrimping all the rest of the year in order to buy
their opera tickets. Naturally this makes them somewhat exacting and
capable of giving an unpleasant reception to singers tired out at the
end of a long season. Caruso himself has been roundly hissed in
Montevideo. Plays and the opera begin at twenty-one o’clock. As in Italy
and Brazil, and more recently in the Argentine, the law requires the use
of the excellent twenty-four-hour system in all public buildings, and
many a private timepiece has followed suit. The decree was new and
throughout the city were many pasted-over signs such as:

                  Museum open from 12 to _16_ o’clock.

Somewhere in South America I met a Dane who contended that a small
country, like a man of modest wealth, is better off than a great nation.
Uruguay bears out the statement. We have been accustomed to speak of the
“A.B.C.” countries of South America as having the only stable and
progressive governments in that continent. Only its slight size, as
compared with its gigantic neighbors, has caused Uruguay to be
overlooked in the formation of that list. As its near neighbor and
relative, Paraguay, is perhaps at the bottom of the scale
governmentally, so Uruguay, by its national spirit, its energetic
character, and its advanced legislation is probably at the top, more
nearly fulfilling the requirements of an independent state than any
other nation south of the United States. Certainly it is superior to
both Chile and Brazil in everything but size, and it is doubtful whether
even the Argentine is governed with more intelligence and general
honesty. Once as troublesome a state as any in Latin-America, Uruguay
has settled down and developed her natural resources until she is noted
for her financial stability, and revolutions are memories of earlier
generations. Were she a large country, instead of being merely a choice
morsel of land smaller than some counties of Texas, there is little
doubt that she would stand at least as high as any of her neighbors—or
would size, always an obstacle to good government in Latin-America,
bring her down from her high level?

Uruguay has not always been a small country, nor for that matter a
country at all. In the olden days the _Banda Oriental_, or “Eastern
Bank,” of the River Uruguay was a province of the viceroyalty of Buenos
Aires. To this day the official name of the country is “La República
Oriental del Uruguay,” and the people still call themselves “Orientals.”
In 1800 the whole “Eastern Bank” had but 40,000 inhabitants, of whom
15,000 lived in Montevideo. When Napoleon overran Spain and the
viceroyalty of Buenos Aires revolted, the _Banda Oriental_ remained
loyal, thus opening the first breach between the two sections of the
colony. Not long afterward the “grito de libertad” sounded in the
interior of the province, and the man who was destined to become the
national hero of Uruguay, the “First Oriental,” the “Protector of the
Oriental Provinces,” soon took the head of the revolt.

José Gervasio Artigas was a mere _estanciero_ of the “Eastern Bank”
until he took up soldiering, some time before the “cry of liberty.” In
1811 he left the Spanish army and fled to Buenos Aires, but soon became
an advocate of complete Uruguayan independence, a patriot or a traitor,
according to the side of the Plata on which the speaker lives. Having
won their freedom from Spain, the _argentinos_ were finally defeated by
the “Oriental” general, Rivera, and Artigas became ruler not only of the
present Uruguay but of the now Argentine provinces of Entre Rios,
Corrientes, Santa Fé, and Córdoba, these having formed the “Federal
League” in opposition to the Buenos Aires Directory. To read Uruguayan
school-books, “the Tucumán congress was secretly working to establish a
monarchy on the Plata, and our five provinces sent no delegates.” One by
one, however, the other provinces returned to the new mother country,
only the “Eastern Bank” persisting in its isolation and demand for
complete autonomy. Meanwhile Artigas was in exile—and at one time was
offered a pension by the United States—but finally, in 1825, a band of
“Orientals” besieged Montevideo and Uruguay declared her full

The Uruguayan flag remains the same as that of the Argentine, with a
golden sun superimposed. The revolutions of 1863 and 1870, each two
years long, are the only serious disturbances that have occurred in the
“República Oriental” since its independence, and with those exceptions
the country has steadily advanced in health and prosperity. Its
government is more centralized than our own, more like that of the
Argentine, the congress being elected by popular vote in the
departments, but the executives of the latter being appointed by the
federal government. _Argentinos_ speak of Uruguay with a kind of forced
condescension, as of a member of the family temporarily estranged from
the rest, or as a land of no great importance yet one worthy of again
being a province of what they consider the greatest country on the
globe, and they pretend at least to think that the great development of
the Argentine will in time inevitably bring back to the fold this one
lost lamb. But the “Orientals” consider their government superior and
show no tendency to make the change.

Uruguay’s reputation as perhaps the most progressive republic in South
America is largely based on her advanced legislation, most of it
fathered by a recent president. Under his guidance stern minimum wage
and maximum hour laws have been enacted, and many doctrines of the
milder radicals have been put into modified practice. The legislators
forbade bull-fights, cock-fights, and prize-fights in one breath.
Uruguay is the only country in South America with a divorce law, and the
church has been shorn of the militant power it still has in most of
Spanish-America. Montevideo bids fair to become the Reno of the
continent, as well as its only summer-resort capital. Dissatisfied
husbands or wives move over from Buenos Aires; Spanish and Italian
actors look forward to their Uruguayan engagement as an opportunity to
air their conjugal grievances—though they are not “aired” in the
American yellow-journal sense, for here divorce is strictly an affair
between the parties concerned and the judge and lawyers, rarely being so
much as mentioned even in the back pages of a provincial newspaper.
Priests are comparatively rare sights in the _Banda Oriental_; religious
festivals and public processions have been abolished, and the influence
of the church on the government reduced to a minimum. Montevideo is the
seat of an archbishop, but he exists only on paper, for the party in
power is not friendly to the clergy and the papal appointment must be
confirmed by congress. There are, to be sure, many crude superstitions
left, especially among the poorer classes and in the rural districts,
but they give Rome no such income as it derives from similar sources in
the rest of the continent. Several Protestant churches have been built
in Montevideo, and all faiths enjoy a freedom that would seem astounding
on the West Coast. Indeed, comparative indifference to sect lines makes
it an ordinary experience for Protestant ministers traveling in rural
districts to be asked by persons professing themselves devout Catholics
to baptize their children. “For one thing,” as one such rustic put it,
“it is cheaper than when the priest does it.” It may seem a matter of
slight importance to those who have never known the suffering inflicted
by the infernal din of hand-beaten clappers against disguised kettles in
the church towers of the Andes that on the evening of my first day in
Uruguay real church bells, of a musical tone I had almost forgotten,
were ringing in a way that must have been genuine music to the
ocean-battered old windjammer just creeping into the harbor. Far off in
the autumn twilight the sound was still carried softly to my ears by the
wind before which gray clouds were scurrying like a battalion in broken
ranks of defeat, toward the western sky, stained blood-red by the
already dead sun.

Politically the Uruguayans are _blancos_ or _colorados_, “whites” or
“reds.” It is a splendid distinction. For one thing, the parties can
print their arguments and their lists of candidates in posters of their
own color and even the stranger has no difficulty in deciding which side
is speaking. Townsmen can announce their political affiliation by
wearing a red or a white cravat, or a bit of ribbon in their lapels;
countrymen, by the color of their neckerchiefs. There is contrast enough
between the two colors to obscure the lack of any other real difference
between the two parties. In theory the “reds” are “advanced” and the
“whites” more conservative. Evidently there are no neutrals in Uruguayan
politics; everyone is either “red” or “white” from the cradle, not
because Uruguayans take a greater interest in political matters than
average republican societies, but because it is bad form, and lonesome,
to be outside the ranks; and men who do not vote are fined. How an
Uruguayan becomes attached to this or that party is a mystery; almost
none of them can give any real reason for their affiliation. Evidently,
like “Topsy,” they are “jes’ born” in their natural colors.

It is now fifteen years since the “reds” came to power on the heels of
Uruguay’s last revolution. Possession is nine points, even in so
progressive a corner of Latin-America, and the “whites” have been the
“outs” from that day to this. Yet one often hears _blancos_ speak of
“when we start our new revolution,” for it seems to be taken for granted
that the “whites” will come back some day with bullets, and virtually
every man in the country is prepared to fight on short notice for one
side or the other. Roughly speaking, “big business,” large estate
owners, and the church, in other words the predatory classes, are
“whites,” though neckcloths of that color are by no means rare on the
peons and _gauchos_ of the more backward country districts. The leader
of the “reds,” now a private citizen merely because the constitution
does not permit the same man to be president twice in succession, has
often been described as “a mixture of idealist and predatory
politician,” but he knows the secret of imposing his will upon the
government and is generally credited with most of Uruguay’s progressive
legislation. For all his efforts and many real results, however, there
is still much that is rotten in the Republic of Uruguay. The most
advanced laws are of doubtful use when they are administered by the
bandits in office who still flourish throughout the rural districts. In
contrast with the brave modern theories of government is the practice in
such things as permitting scores of the lowest forms of brothels to
flourish in the very heart of the capital. I cannot recall a more
disgusting public sight in the western hemisphere than the long rows of
female wrecks in scant attire who solicit at the doors of several
streets radiating from the Anglican church, while veritable mobs of men
and youths march back and forth to “look ’em over,” amid laughter,
ribald witticisms, and worse.

Contrary to the usual custom in South America, there is no military
conscription in Uruguay; recruits are enticed by posters covered with
glowing promises. Yet for all the “advanced” principles of equality
reputed to reign in the little republic, its army is largely made up of
the poorer and more ignorant element of the population. It is not a
dangerous military force, but it is very useful to the party in power
not only in preserving law and order but for discouraging “white”
revolutions. Whether or not only “reds” are recruited, or whether those
placed on the government payroll automatically become “reds,” whether
indeed youths in the political-ridden interior do not have redness
thrust upon them, is a question not to be determined during a brief
visit. As to the “national navy” of Uruguay, it consists, if my
semi-official informant is trustworthy, of one gunboat, two cruisers,
four steamers, and a transport, all of which, when they are not absent
on one of the frequent “official missions” that make life in the
Uruguayan navy just one festival after another, may be seen anchored in
the harbor of Montevideo, their eyes turned rather toward the “whites”
on shore than toward foreign foes.

I traveled fifteen hundred miles on the network of the _Ferrocarril
Central_ of Uruguay. This and the equally British “Midland” reach all
towns of importance in the republic, though they still by no means cover
it thoroughly. Railway travel in South America is seldom as luxurious as
in the United States, but in the dwarf republic both cars and service
are, on the whole, excellent; the trains are so much more comfortable
than many of the towns through which they run that it is not strange
that scores of the inhabitants come down to sit in them as long as they
remain. There are few accidents, the trains are seldom late, though not
particularly swift, and while fares are high there are frequent
low-priced excursions, announced on handbills as in our own land. The
English-made cars are on a modified American plan, some of the
first-class coaches having leather-upholstered divans as large as beds,
even second-class boasting little tables between the seats for those who
care to lunch or play cards. Between the two classes at opposite ends of
the train there is usually a compartment with kitchen stove and pantry
that serves as a combination café and dining-car, a generous dinner
costing a _peso_, wine, or “cork rights” from those who bring their
liquor with them, extra. Sleeping-cars, journeying on both lines in
order to find distance enough for an all-night trip, run from Montevideo
to Paysandú and Salto, on the shores of the River Uruguay bounding on
the west the republic of the “Eastern Bank.” Compared with Chile,
railroading in Uruguay is palatial and immaculate, though even here the
only heating arrangements for bitter June days are doormats between the
seats, and the only really serious criticism to be made is against the
bad habit, common throughout South America, of starting the trains at
some unearthly hour in the morning.

I took the shortest line first and, rambling at moderate speed across a
somewhat rolling country more fertile in appearance than the Argentine,
brought up at Minas. A broad stone highway, here and there disintegrated
by the heavy rains, led the mile or more from the station to the town,
an overgrown village in a lap of low rocky hills monotonously like any
other Uruguayan or Argentine town of its size, with a two-towered church
and a few rows of one-story buildings toeing wide, bottomless streets.
As in the Argentine, there are no cities in Uruguay that compare with
the capital; the present department capitals were originally forts
against the Indians and the Portuguese around which people gathered for
protection, and few of them have cause to grow to importance.

The second journey carried me into the northwestern corner of the
country. As far as Las Piedras, a suburban town twenty miles from the
capital, there are a score of daily trains in either direction.
Street-cars come here also, the place being noted for a granite monument
topped by a golden winged Victory commemorating a battle for
independence in 1811, from the terrace of which Montevideo’s
fortress-crowned Cerro still stands conspicuously above all the rest of
the visible world. Then this chief “Oriental” landmark disappears and to
the comparative cosmopolitanism of the federal district succeeds the
bucolic calm of the _campaña_, as the pampa is called in Uruguay. The
absence of trees alone gives this a mournful aspect. The “Oriental” has
tried half-heartedly to make up for the natural lack of woods by
planting imported eucalyptus and poplar, at least about his country
dwellings, but nowhere do these reach the dignity of a forest. Uruguay
has less excuse for poor roads than the Argentine, for if it has as much
rain and even heavier soil, it has an abundance of stone, rare in the
land across the Plata. Yet though several stone highways leave the
capital with the best of intentions, they soon degenerate into sloughs
seldom navigable in the wet winter season. Most Uruguayan roads are
merely strips of open _campaña_, the legal twenty-two meters wide,
flanked by wire fences, or occasionally by cactus hedges. Estates a few
miles off the railroads have no chance of getting produce to market
during a large portion of the year; yet the prosperity of the country
depends almost entirely on the exporting of foodstuffs.

Fertile rolling _lomas_, with now and then a solitary _ombú_ spreading
its arms to the wind on the summit, made up most of the landscape, a
scene not greatly different from, yet infinitely more pleasing than, the
dead flatness of Argentine pampas. The _ombú_ is the national tree of
Uruguay, of majestic size and always standing in striking isolation on
the crest of a _loma_, because, according to the poet, it loves to
overlook and laugh at the silly world, though the botanist explains that
it is planted by birds dropping single seeds in their flight and reaches
maturity only on hillocks out of reach of stagnant water. Beyond Mal
Abrigo, rightly named “Bad Shelter,” granite rocks thrust themselves
here and there through the soil; for long stretches coarse brown
_espartillo_ grass covered the country like a blanket. This and the
abundant thistles often ruin the black loam underneath, but the average
“Oriental” _estanciero_ abhors agriculture, preferring to give his
rather indolent attention to cattle and sheep, for he considers planting
fit only for Indians, peons, and immigrant _chacreros_. Nor is the lot
of these Basque, Spanish, or Italian small farmers always happy, even
though they hold their plots of earth on fairly generous terms, for
locusts have been known to destroy a year’s labor in a few hours. There
were a few riding gang-plows, however, drawn by eight or ten oxen, and
many primitive wooden plows behind a pair or two of them. Sleek cattle,
and horses of better stock than the average in South America, grazed
along the hollows and hillsides; now and then an ostrich of the pampas,
occasionally a whole flock of them, legged it away across the rolling
_campaña_. Though most of the country people lived in thatched huts made
of the rich loam soil, sometimes laid together with a clapboard effect
and oozing streaks of mud at this season, both sexes were well and
cleanly dressed.

The railroad wound around every _loma_, refusing to take more than the
slightest grades. Now and then we climbed ever so little up the flanks
of such a knoll and discovered to vast depths of haze-blue horizon a
plump, rolling country of purplish hue, dotted with dark little clumps
of eucalyptus, from each of which peered a low farmhouse and
occasionally a Cervantes windmill for the grinding of grain. There were
many such _estancia_ houses, yet they were all far apart in the
immensity of the little Republic of the Eastern Bank. Why most stations
were so far from the towns they served, in this level country, was a
mystery. The towns themselves varied but slightly in appearance,—a
scattered collection of one-story buildings, in most cases covered with
a stucco that had at some time been painted or whitewashed, a
_pulpería_, or general store, sacred chiefly to the dispensing of strong
drink, and, radiating from it, wide roads plowed into knee-deep sloughs
of black earth. A few sulkies and huge two-wheeled carts, an occasional
country wagon with four immense wheels, from which produce was leisurely
being loaded into freight-cars set aside by the local switch engine—to
wit, a yoke of oxen—some real estate and auction signs offering the
chance of a life-time, completed the background of the picture. In the
foreground the inevitable gang of shouting, mud-bespattered hackmen was
almost lost in the throng of wind-and-sun-browned men in bloomer-like
trousers. Peons smoked their eternal cigarettes; _gauchos_ shod in low
_alpargatas_ or high, soft, wrinkled leather boots, a white or a red
kerchief floating about their necks, the short, stocky riding whip known
as a _rebenque_ hanging from a wrist, lounged about the door of the
_pulpería_, to posts before which were tied trail-spattered horses
saddled with several layers of sheepskins. An incredibly motley
collection of dogs; a majestic policeman in full uniform and helmet
above his voluminous _bombachas_, looking essentially peaceful for all
the sword dangling at his side; a few men and youths, bare-legged to the
knee, wading about with cheerful faces, as if the rainy season were at
worst a temporary inconvenience more than offset by the long months of
fine weather, added their picturesque bit to the gathering. Every
movement and gesture showed these people to be of quicker intelligence
than the dwellers in the high Andes. Few women were seen either on
trains or at stations, except at the smaller towns, where there were
sometimes groups of them, wholly white with few exceptions, but wearing
earrings worthy the daughters of African chieftains. At each halt the
station-master in his best clothes, looking busier and more important
than a prime minister on coronation day, stood watch in hand, the
bell-rope in the other, waiting for the time-table to catch up with us;
the town notables looked on, half-anxiously, half-benignly, as if they
considered themselves very indulgent in allowing the train to run
through their bailiwick and felt deeply the responsibility involved;
boys of assorted sizes, barefoot and shod, wormed their way in and out
of the throng staring at everything with wondering eyes; a few comely
girls sauntered about to see and be seen, and friends and relatives took
the hundredth last embrace amid much chatter and mutual thumping of
backs. Then all at once the station-master gives the bell three sharp
taps, as much as to say, “I mean it, and I am not a man to be trifled
with,” and as the train gets slowly under way some town hero grasps the
opportunity to show his fearlessness by catching it on the fly, and
dropping off again half a car-length beyond with a triumphant, sheepish
grin on his sun-browned countenance.

Two days later the sun, rising huge and red over my left shoulder,
painted a brilliant pink the rounded _lomas_ flanking the Y-shaped line
to Treinta y Tres (also written “33”) and to Melo, far to the northeast
of Montevideo, then spread a pale crimson tint over all the gently
rolling world. Fluffy lambs turned tail and fled as we approached, the
watchdog, true to his calling even unto death, charging the train
against all odds and putting it to ignominious flight. Here and there
lay a whitening skeleton, the animal’s skull sometimes stuck up
conspicuously on the top of a fence-post. There is no unsettled
_despoblado_ in Uruguay, no deserts or haunts of wild Indians, but there
is still much land put to little or no use and not a few remains of the
destruction wrought during the civil war that ended in 1852. Rare,
indeed, is the standing structure in the rural districts that was not
built since that time.

At a small station we were joined by a youth of twenty, pure Caucasian
of race, of the class corresponding to our “hired man.” His long, wavy,
jet-black, carefully oiled hair contrasted strangely with his
complexion, very white under the tan; his eyes were light-brown, as was
also the labial eyebrow he now and then affectionately stroked. He wore
a raven black suit, the coat short and tight-fitting, the trousers, or
_bombachas_, huge as grainsacks, disappearing in great folds into
calfskin half-boots. A black felt hat of the squared shape once popular
at our colleges was held in place by a narrow black ribbon tied
coquettishly under his chin. The bit of his speckless shirt that could
be seen was light green; above it was a rubber collar and a
cream-colored cravat adorned with a “gold” scarfpin; on the third finger
of his left hand he wore a plain gold band; about his neck floated a
huge, snow-white, near-silk kerchief, and a foreign gold coin hung from
the long gilded watch-chain looped ostentatiously all the way across his
chest. About his waist he wore a leather belt six inches wide, with
several buttoned pockets or compartments in which he kept money,
tickets, tobacco, and other small possessions, and from the back of
which, barely out of sight, hung his revolver. A poncho of faint
pink-white, as specklessly clean as all the rest of his garments, and
thrown with studied _abandon_ over one shoulder, completed his outfit.

He rode first-class, and having produced his ticket with a millionaire
gesture meant to overawe the modest _guarda_ whose duty it was to gather
it, he strode into the dining-car with great ostentation and called for
a drink. With the same air of unbounded wealth he paid his reckoning,
flung a generous tip to the waiter, who probably got more in a week than
this at best low-salaried farm-hand in a month, and strutted back to his
seat. It was evident that he was not traveling far, or he would have
sneaked into the second-class coach in his old clothes. At each station
he got off to parade haughtily up and down the platform, casting peacock
glances at the dark-tinted _criolla_ girls who embroidered it. I
approached him at one such stop and asked permission to take his
picture. He refused in very decided and startled terms. I felt that his
“no” was not final, however, and scarcely a mile more lay behind us
before he came wandering up with a companion and sat down beside me. Why
did I want his picture? Would it cost anything? How many copies of it
would I give him? Well, if it was true, as I claimed, that they could
not be finished on the spot—and why not?—I could of course send them to
him? Gradually he reached the opposite extreme of begging me to take his
picture. His companion having suggested that it might be published
“_allá en Europa_,” he kept his delight down to becoming _gaucho_
dignity with difficulty, and before we descended to take the picture at
the station where he left the train, after a short and evidently his
only railway journey in months, he was assuring me that I might publish
it “over there in Europe, in ‘Fray Mocho’ of Buenos Aires” (which the
raucous-voiced trainboy incessantly offered for sale) “or anywhere
else.” Only when the train had gone on without him did I discover that
he was a _blanco_ fleeing from arrest in his own department for the
killing of a rural official in some political squabble, a fact that
seemed to be common knowledge among my fellow-passengers and which must
have made a bit startling my sudden request to photograph him.

The Cerro lighthouse was still flashing through the dense black night
when, late in June, on the shortest day of the year, I took the
tri-weekly train for Brazil. By the time the edge of darkness was tinted
pink by a cloudless day which gradually spread upward from the horizon,
we were already halting at country stations where thickly wrapped
rustics who had driven miles in their bulky two-wheeled carts, a lantern
set on either side of them in a sort of wooden niche raised aloft on a
stick, were unloading battered cans of milk. Durazno, a good-sized
department capital strewn over a low knoll and terminating in a church,
was so flooded by the River Yi at its feet that its parks, alameda, and
“futbol” field were completely under water and many poor _ranchos_ stood
immersed to their ears. The names of the stations were often
suggestive,—Carda, Sarandí, Molles, all named for indigenous trees, so
striking is one of them in this almost treeless landscape. From Rio
Negro, another of the department capitals which pass in close succession
on this line, the “Midland” railway paralleled our own for a dozen miles
before striking off over the brown lomas toward Paysandú. Well on in the
afternoon the smoothly rolling country broke up into the little rocky
gorge of a small stream lined with bushy trees. It was probably not five
hundred feet anywhere from the bottom of the brook to the top of the
rock-faced hill, but this was such unusual scenery to “Orientals” that I
had been hearing since hours before of the extraordinary beauty of this
natural phenomenon, and all prepared to drink their fill of it from the
windows of the train. It was named Valle Eden, but times seem to have
changed in that ideal spot, for a policeman in mammoth _bombachas_ stood
on the station platform, and of Eve there was not so much as a fig-leaf
to be seen.

I had ridden the sun clear around his short winter half-circle when I
descended at Tacuarembó. The town had a hint of tropical ways,—women
going languidly down to the little sandy river with bundles of clothing
on their heads, the streets running out into grassy lanes scattered with
carelessly built ranchos. Features, which had grown more and more Indian
all day along the way and in the second-class coaches, here sometimes
suggested more aboriginal than Caucasian blood. Here, too, there had
been much rain, and the very bricks had sprouted green on the humid,
unsunned south ends of the houses. The shortness of the days was
emphasized by the discovery that I was back in candle-land again, where
there was nothing to do in the evening but stroll the streets or go to

[Illustration: A rural railway station in Uruguay]

[Illustration: The fertile Uruguayan plains in the Cerro Chato (Flat
Hills) district]

[Illustration: “Pirirín” and his cowboys at an _estancia_ round-up in
northern Uruguay]

[Illustration: Freighting across the gently rolling plains of the
“Purple Land”]

I had been reading the Uruguayan epic “Tabaré” for hours next morning,
and possessing my soul in such patience as one acquires in
Latin-America, when I learned by chance that a _mucamo_, as they call a
_mozo_ in Uruguay, had been waiting in the hotel patio below and asking
for me every few minutes since the night before, the servants having
been too indolent to bring me word. With the better part of a day lost I
rode away on a stout, gray-white horse of rocking-chair canter. The
muddy or flooded road curved and turned and rose and fell, always
seeking the moderate height of the succeeding ridges and here and there
crossing gently rounded _cuchillas_. The _mucamo_ on his piebald was
outwardly a most unprepossessing creature, but he was a helpful, cheery
fellow, in great contrast to the usual surly workman of southern South
America, and though only sixteen and scarcely able to read, he was by no
means dull-witted. Apparently there was not a bird, a flower, or an
animal which he did not know intimately, and he was supernaturally quick
in catching sight or sound of them. The _hornero_, a little brown bird
that makes its ovenlike nest on fence-posts, the branches of trees, and
the crosspieces of telegraph-poles, was there in force; the _cotorra_, a
species of noisy paroqueet, was almost as numerous. The _chingolo_,
resembling a sparrow, sits on the backs of grazing cattle and lives on
the _garrapatas_, or ticks, that burrow into the animal’s hide. The
_bien-te-veo_ (“I spy you”), a yellow bird with a whistling call
suggesting that of a happy child playing hide-and-seek, frequently
glided past; the startled cry of the _teru-teru_ rose as we advanced,
disturbing it. The latter is called the “sentinel bird” and is so
certain to give warning of anything approaching that even soldiers have
found it a useful ally. Dark-gray with white wings and a slight crest,
it resembles a lapwing with a cry not unlike that of our “killdeer.” The
_bien-te-veo_ and the _teru-teru_ live in perfect immunity because of a
local superstition similar to the one sailors have for the albatross.
The woodpecker of Uruguay is called _carpintero_, because he works in
wood; the _viuda_ (widow), a little white bird with a black head, is so
called, my companion explained to me in all innocence, because she
produces her brood regularly each year without ever being seen with a
male. A little dark-brown bird called the _barranquero_ builds nests
like the homes of our ancient cliff-dwellers, in the sides of
_barrancas_, or sand-banks. Among the many small birds, songsters,
screamers, and disciples of silence, which eddied about us, one of the
most conspicuous was the _cardenal_, gray with white under the wings,
its whole head covered with a bright-red liberty cap. A large bird
resembling the stork my companion called “Juan Grande”; others call it
the _chajá_, because of the jeering half-laugh it is always uttering. It
lives on the edges of swamps, though it cannot swim. A big brown
_carancho_, a hawk-like bird living on carrion, circled above us with
the ordinary South American scavenger buzzard, here called simply
_cuervo_, or crow. There is good shooting of a local partridge in
Uruguay, the open season being from April to September. At plowing time
the gulls come in great numbers to feast on the fat grubs. The dainty
crested Uruguayan sparrow has all but been driven out by the English
variety, introduced, if the local legend can be believed, by an
immigrant who let a cageful of them fly rather than pay duty on them.

Thus we rode hour after hour over the rolling _lomas_ and _cuchillas_.
The ground was here and there speckled with _macachines_, daisy-like
little flowers of a wild plant that produces a species of tiny sweet
potato. The _mucamo_ had never heard of the Castilian tongue; what he
spoke was the “lingua oriental.” It was, to be sure, by no means pure
Spanish, but a Spaniard would have had no difficulty in understanding

At the door of an estancia house with all the comforts reasonably to be
expected in so isolated a location I was met by “Pirirín,” son of a
former minister to London and Washington, and brother of a well-known
Uruguayan writer. His English was as fluent as my own, with just a trace
of something to show that it was not his native tongue. An old woman at
once brought us _mate_, and we sucked alternately at the protruding tube
each time she refilled the gourd with hot water. The sun soon set across
the rich loam country, which was here and there being turned up by
plodding oxen, and threw into relief the three _cerros chatos_,
flat-topped hills that give the region its nickname and which suggest
that the level of the country was once much higher before it was washed
away into the sea by heavy rains that even now gave earth and sky such
striking colors.

The wealth and prosperity of the native _estanciero_ of Uruguay is
rarely indicated by the size or dignity of his _estancia_ house. As in
the Argentine and Chile, many estates are owned by men living in the
capital, if not in Europe, each in charge of a _gerente_, or
overseer-manager. Small as Uruguay is—by South American standards it
seems tiny, even though it is almost as large as New England—many of its
estancias are immense, especially in these northern departments. There
has been much chatter by politicians about limiting the size of estates
and setting up immigrants in the place of absentee owners, but so far it
has chiefly ended in political chatter. The average Uruguayan estancia
house is not particularly well adapted to the climate, at least during
the winter months. A little clump of poplars or eucalyptus, occasionally
a solitary _ombú_, invariably marks the site of the main dwelling. Not a
few men of comparative wealth pig it out on their own immense estates,
scorning modern improvements, cut off by impassable roads from markets
and all the outside world several months a year, refusing to subscribe
to the rural telephone, depending for their news on private postmen
hired by groups of their fellows. A few estate owners, especially those
who have lived abroad, demand moderate comfort, whether for themselves
or their managers, though even “Pirirín” was content with more primitive
conditions than many a small American farmer would endure.

It is quickly evident and freely admitted that the average estancia in
Uruguay is loose of morals. _Estancieros_ frankly state that it is
better if the cook is old and unattractive. It seems to be the rule
rather than the exception, for _estancia_ washerwomen and others of
their class to present the estate with a score of children by members of
the owning family and perhaps by several of the peons as well. Among
this class marriage is unpopular and generally considered superfluous.
There is much noise about Uruguay’s “advanced” theories of social
improvement, yet the law forces, and _costumbre_ expects, no help from
the father in the support of his illegitimate children. If he chooses to
acknowledge them and aid in their up-bringing, he is credited with an
unusually charitable disposition. The woman, on her side, takes her
condition as a matter of course. She will admit with perfect equanimity
that she is not certain just who is father of this child or that and
pointing out one of a half dozen playing about the _estancia_ backyard
she will say laughingly, yet with a hint of seriousness and pride, “Ah,
sí, _el_ tiene papá;” that is, he is one of her children whose father
has recognized him. Yet these women are as punctilious in general
courtesy and the outward forms of behavior as their proud _patrón_ or
the hidalgo-mannered peons.

Next day “Pirirín” and I rode away in the Sunday morning sunshine across
the immense estate, the _teru-terus_ screaming a warning ahead of us
wherever we went. In and about a _bañado_, a swamp full of razor-edged
wild grass that cut the fingers at the slightest touch, we saw specimens
of the three principal indigenous animals of Uruguay,—the _carpincho_,
_nutria_, and _mulita_. The first, large as an Irish terrier, is
grayish-brown in color, with an unattractive face sloping back from nose
to ears, squirrel-like teeth, and legs suggestive of the kangaroo.
Amphibious and sometimes called the river hog, he looks like a cross
between a pig and a rabbit, or as if he had wished to be a deer but had
found the undertaking so difficult that he had given it up and taken to
the water and to rooting instead. On the edges of Uruguayan streams
there are many happy little families of the beaver-like nutria, an
aquatic animal large as a cat, with long thick fur and a rat-like tail.
Playful as a young rabbit, the nutria is quick of hearing and swift of
action, taking to the water at once when disturbed and leaving only its
nostrils above the surface; yet when cornered it is savage, as many a
dog has learned to his sorrow. When the _pulperos_, or country
shopkeepers, of Uruguay found that nutria skins brought a high price
from the furriers of Europe and the United States they set the
countrymen to killing them off regardless of age, sex, or season,
ruining many of the skins by their clumsy handling and all but
exterminating the species. The _mulita_, also called _tatu_, is a timid,
helpless little animal of the iguana family, half-lizard, half-turtle,
with a scaly, shield-like covering that suggests medieval armor, and
which, dug out of its hole and roasted over a fagot-fire, furnishes a
repast fit for kings.

The flora was also striking, for all the absence of forests and large
growths. The _sina-sina_ is a small tree with dozens of trunks growing
from the same root, willow-like leaves, and large thorns that clutch and
tear at anything that ventures within reach of it. A waterside bush
called the _curupí_ contains a poison that the Charrúa Indians formerly
used for tipping their arrows. The _sarandí_, a bush growing on the
banks of streams with its feet always in the water; the _madreselva_, or
honeysuckle; the _chilca_, a thinly scattered bush scarcely two feet
high, and the _guayacán_, a bushy plant with beautiful white flowers in
season, were the most common landscape decorations. Thousands of
_macachines_ covered the ground, white flowers with now and then a touch
of yellow or velvety dark-red.

The gauchos of the estate had been ordered to _rodear_, to round up a
large herd of cattle, and soon we came upon them riding round and round
several hundred on the crest of a hillock. On the backs of some of the
animals _chingolos_ still sat serenely picking away at the _garrapatas_
or the flesh left bare by them. The latter are the chief pest of an
otherwise almost perfect ranching country, for thousands of these
aggressive ticks burrow into the hide of the animals and suck their
blood so incessantly that great numbers of cattle die of anemia or
fever. All but the more backward estates now have a big trough-like bath
through which the cattle are driven several times a year as a protection
against _garrapatas_, but even so it is one peon’s sole duty to ride
over the estate each day to _curear_, or skin the animals that have
died, carry the skin home, and stake it out in the sun to dry.

[Illustration: A _gaucho_ of Uruguay]

[Illustration: A rural Uruguayan in full Sunday regalia]

[Illustration: An ox-driver of southern Brazil, smeared with the
blood-red mud of his native heath]

More than two hours of riding brought us to the _almacén_ or _pulpería_,
the general store that is to be found on or near every large _estancia_
in Uruguay. As the day was Sunday scores of gauchos with that
half-bashful, laconic, yet self-reliant air common to their class,
ranging all the way from half-Indian to pure white in race, with here
and there the African features bequeathed by some Brazilian who had
wandered over the nearby border, silently rode up on their shaggy ponies
one after another out of the treeless immensity and, throwing the reins
of the animal over a fence-post beside many others drowsing in the sun,
stalked noiselessly into the dense shade of the acacia and eucalyptus
trees about the _pulpería_, then into the store itself. Most of them
were in full regalia of _recado_, _pellones_, shapeless felt hat, shaggy
whiskers and poncho. With few exceptions the “Oriental” gaucho still
clings to _bombachas_ or _chiripá_, the ballooning folds of which
disappear in moccasin-like alpargatas, or into the wrinkled calfskin
boots still called _botas de potro_, though the custom that gave them
their name has long since become too expensive to be continued. These
“colt boots” were formerly obtained by killing a colt, unless one could
be found already dead, removing the skin from two legs without cutting
it open, thrusting the gaucho foot into it, and letting it shape itself
to its new wearer. A short leather whip hanging from his leather-brown
wrist, a poncho with a long fringe, immense spurs so cruel that the
ready wit of the pampa has dubbed them “_nazarinas_,” a gay waistcoat,
and last of all a flowing neckcloth, the last word of dandyism in “camp”
life, complete his personal wardrobe. It is against the law to carry
arms in Uruguay, yet every gaucho or peon has his _cuchillo_ in his
belt, or carries a revolver if he considers himself above the knife
stage. Every horseman, too, must have his _recado_, that complication of
gear so astonishing to the foreigner, so efficient in use, with which
the rural South American loads down his mount. An ox-hide covers the
horse from withers to crupper, to keep his sweat from the rider’s gear;
a saddle similar to that used on pack animals, high-peaked fore and aft,
is set astride this, and both hide and saddle are cinched to the horse
by a strong girth fastened by thongs passed through a ringbolt. On the
bridle, saddle, and whip is brightly shining silver, over the
saddle-quilts and blankets are piled one above the other, the top cover
being a saddlecloth of decorated black sheepskin or a hairy _pellón_ of
soft, cool, tough leather, and outside all this is passed a very broad
girth of fine tough webbing to hold it in place. With his _recado_ and
poncho the experienced gaucho has bedding, coverings, sun-awning,
shelter from the heaviest rain, and all the protection needed to keep
him safe and sound on his pampa wanderings.

As they entered the _pulpería_ the newcomers greeted every
fellow-gaucho, though some two score were already gathered, with that
limp handshake peculiar to the rural districts of South America, rarely
speaking more than two or three words, and these so low as to be barely
audible, apparently because of the presence of “Pirirín” and myself. The
rules of caste were amazing in a country supposed to be far advanced in
democracy. Though the gaucho, in common with most of the human family,
considers himself the equal, if not the superior, of any man on earth,
he retains many of the manners of colonial days. “Pirirín” and I, as
lords of the visible universe and representatives of the wealth and
knowledge of the great outside world, had entered the _pulpería_ by the
family door and were given the choicest seats—on the best American
oil-boxes available—behind the counter. The sophisticated-rustic
_pulpero_ greeted us each with a handshake, somewhat weak, to be sure,
because that is the only way his class ever shakes hands, but raising
his hat each time, while we did not so much as touch ours. To have done
so would have been to lower both the _pulpero’s_ and the by-standing
gauchos’ opinion of us. Then he turned and greeted his gaucho customers
with an air nicely balanced between the friendly and the superior,
offering each of them a finger end, they raising their hats and he not
so much as touching his.

Yet these slender, wiry countrymen, carrying themselves like
self-reliant freemen, with a natural ease of bearing and a courtesy in
which simplicity and punctilio are nicely blended, take the stranger
entirely on his merits and give and expect the same courtesy as the
wealthy _estanciero_. If the newcomer shows a friendly spirit, his title
soon advances from “Señor”—or “Mister,” in honor of his foreign origin,
be he French, Spanish, Italian, English, or American—to the use of his
first name, and he will be known as “Don Carlos,” “Don Enrique,” or
whatever it may be, to the end of his stay. Later, if he is well liked,
he may even be addressed as “Ché,” that curious term of familiarity and
affection universally used among friends in Uruguay. It is not a Spanish
word, but seems to have been borrowed from the Guaraní tongue, in which
it means “mine,” and probably by extension “my friend.” To be called
“Ché” by the Uruguayan gaucho is proof of being accepted as a full and
friendly equal.

In theory the _pulpero_ establishes himself out on the campaña only to
sell tobacco, _mate_, strong drink, and tinned goods from abroad; in
practice these country storekeepers have other and far more important
sources of income. They are usurers, speculators in land and stock,
above all exploiters of the gaucho’s gambling instinct. Thanks perhaps
to the greater or less amount of Spanish blood in his veins he will
accept a wager on anything, be it only on the weather, on a child’s
toys, on which way a cow will run, on how far away a bird will alight,
or on whether _sol ó número_ (“sun or number,” corresponding to our
“heads or tails”) will fall uppermost at the flipping of a coin. This
makes him easy prey to the _pulpero_, who is usually a Spaniard, Basque,
Italian, or “Turk,” and an unconscionable rogue without any other ideal
than the amassing of a fortune, yet who somehow grows rich at the
expense of the peons and gauchos, instead of meeting the violent death
from the quick-tempered _hijo del país_ who despises yet fears him.

The gauchos were originally called “gauderios,” that is, lazy,
good-for-nothing rascals. To-day that word is an exaggeration, for they
have a certain merit of industry and simple honesty. There is
considerable vendetta among them, gambling rows and love affairs
especially, much of which goes unpunished, particularly if the
perpetrator is a “red” and his victim a “white.” Punishment for
fence-cutting or sheep-stealing is surer: as in our own West in earlier
days the loss of a man is largely his own affair, while the loss of a
flock of sheep or a drove of cattle is serious. To make matters worse,
the country _comisarios_, or policemen, are often subsidized by certain
_estancieros_ to the disadvantage of others, and the _juez de paz_ is
quite likely to be a rogue, in either of which cases the friends of
“justice” usually get off and their enemies get punished.

According to “Pirirín,” the average gaucho is an incorrigible wanderer.
Paid but ten or fifteen pesos a month “and found,” and satisfied with
quarters which most workmen in civilized lands would refuse with scorn,
he is given to capricious changes of abode and is likely to throw a leg
over his faithful horse at the least provocation. Among these incurable
pampa wanderers there are not a few “poor whites,” often with
considerable Anglo-Saxon blood in their veins, its origin lost in their
Spanicized names. Hospitality is the first of the virtues of the
_estanciero_, and any genial horseback tramp who turns up may remain on
the _estancia_ unmolested for a day, a week, or a month, as the spirit
moves him. There was a suggestion of our own cowboys among the group
that finally overflowed the _pulpería_, though the gauchos were less
given to noisy horseplay and had far more dignity and courtesy. Some of
them could read without having to spell out the words, and while
“Orientals” in the mass are not a nation of readers and there is
considerable illiteracy, these countrymen were much more in touch with
the world’s affairs than the same class in the countries of the West

The gaucho may still occasionally be heard thrumming a guitar and
wailing his sad, Moorish, genuinely Oriental songs, invariably
sentimental and deeply melancholy, with never a comic touch, like a
lineal descendant of the wandering troubadour of the Middle Ages or the
street-singers of the Mohammedan East. When he is not making music or
love, he is sucking _mate_ and talking horses. He has more than a score
of words for his equine companion, running through every gamut of color,
behavior, and pace. His obsession for this topic of conversation is
natural, for he has an instinctive horror of going on foot and the horse
is to the resident of the pampas what the ship is to the sailor; without
it he is hopelessly stranded. Yet his interest is entirely of a
utilitarian nature. He is racially incapable of any such affection for
his mount as causes other races to spare it unnecessary suffering; if he
coddles it at all it is merely for the selfish motive of his own safety
or convenience. Among the picturesque types of the campaña and the pampa
is the _domador_, the professional horse-breaker. His customary fee is
five pesos a head, “with living,” and his methods are true to his
Spanish blood. Instead of being broken early, the colts are allowed to
run wild until they are four or five years old; then a drove of them is
rounded up in a corral and the victims suddenly lassooed one by one and
thrown to the ground. With half a dozen peons pulling on the rope about
his neck until he is all but strangled, his legs are tied and a halter
is put on and attached to a tree, where the animal is left to strain
until he is exhausted, often hurting himself more or less permanently.
Then his tongue and lower jaw are fastened in a painful noose that
forces him to follow the peon, who rides away, jerking at the rope.
Finally, when the weary and frightened animal is trembling in every
limb, the brave domador mounts him and, with a horseman on either side
to protect him, and pulling savagely at the colt’s sore mouth, the
_potro_ is galloped until he is completely worn out. It used to be
beneath gaucho dignity to ride a mare, and to this day no
self-respecting _domador_ of the old school will consent to tame one.
Sometimes the female of the species draws carts, with her colt running
alongside, but on the larger _estancias_ she is allowed to roam at large
all her days.

In the evening, with the gauchos departed and the _pulpería_ officially
closed to the public, we added our bonfire to the sixteen others in
honor of St. Peter and St. Paul, which we could count around the
horizon, and gathered about the table with the _pulpero’s_ family to
play “lottery,” a two-cent gambling card game. It was long after
midnight when “Pirirín” shook off the combined fascination of this and
the _pulpero’s_ amenable daughter. From my cot behind the _pulpería_
counter I saw the day dawn rosy red, but clouds and a south wind
promised rain before my companion roused himself. We got into an _araña_
(spider), a two-wheeled cart which did somewhat resemble that
web-weaving insect, and rocked and bumped away across the untracked
campaña behind two half-wild young horses. Never was there a let-up from
howling at and lashing the reeking animals all the rest of the morning,
an English education not having cured “Pirirín” of the thoughtless
cruelty bequeathed by his Spanish blood. Through gullies in which we
were showered with mud, up and down hill at top speed we raced, until
the trembling horses were so weary that we were forced to hitch on in
front of them the one the _mucamo_ was riding. In Tacuarembó this owner,
or at least prospective owner, of thousands of acres and cattle went to
the cheapest hotel and slept on an ancient and broken cot in the same
room with two rough and dirty plowmen, while I caught the evening train
for the Brazilian border.

                              CHAPTER VII
                           BUMPING UP TO RIO

Upon the thirty-first parallel of south latitude, three hundred and
sixty miles north of Montevideo, there is a town of divided allegiance,
situated in both the smallest and the largest countries of South
America. When the traveler descends from the “Uruguay Central” he finds
it is named for Colonel Rivera, the Custer of Uruguay, who made the last
stand against the Charrúa Indians and was killed by them in 1832. But as
he goes strolling along the main street, gazing idly into the shop
windows, he notes all at once that the signs in them have changed in
words and prices, that even the street has an entirely different name,
for instead of the Calle Principal it has become the Rua Sete de
Setembro, and suddenly he awakens to the fact that instead of taking a
stroll in the town of Rivera, in the República Oriental del Uruguay, as
he fancied, he has wandered into Santa Anna do Livramento in the state
of Rio Grande do Sul in the United States of Brazil.

There is no getting away from the saints even when the tongue and
nationality and even the color of the population changes, for the
Portuguese adventurers who settled the mighty paunch of South America
were quite as eager for celestial blessings on their more or less
nefarious enterprises as were their fellow scamps and contemporaries,
the Spanish conquistadores. But the stray traveler in question is sure
to find that another atmosphere has suddenly grown up about him.
Barracks swarming with muscular black soldiers, wearing long cloaks, in
spite of the semi-tropical weather, as nearly wrong side out as
possible, in order to display the brilliant red with which they are
lined, give a belligerent aspect to this warmer and mightier land.
Negroes and piccaninnies and the unpainted makeshift shacks that
commonly go with them are scattered over all the landscape; oxen with
the yokes on their necks rather than in front of their horns testify to
the change from Spanish custom; instead of the pretty little plaza with
its well-kept promenades, its comfortable benches, and its well-tended
flower plots that forms the center of Rivera or any other
Spanish-American town that has the slightest personal pride, there is a
_praça_, muddy, untended, seatless, and unadorned. The sun, too, has
begun to bite again in a way unfamiliar in the countries in southern and
temperate South America.

Rivera and Santa Anna do Livramento are physically a single town. The
international boundary runs through the center of a football field in
which boys in Brazil pursue a ball set in motion in Uruguay, and climbs
up over a knoll on the top of which sits a stone boundary post, the two
countries rolling away together over plump hills densely green in color,
except where the enamel of nature has been chipped off to disclose a
reddish sandy soil. Surely Brazil, stretching for thirty-seven degrees
of latitude from Uruguay to the Guianas, a distance as far as from Key
West to the top of Labrador, with a width of nearly as many degrees of
longitude from Pernambuco to the Andes and covering more space than the
continental United States, is large enough so that its inhabitants need
not have crowded their huts to the very edge of the boundary line in
this fashion, as if they were fleeing from oppressive rulers, or were
determined that little Uruguay shall not thrust her authority an inch
farther north.

I went over into Brazil early in the day, it being barely three blocks
from my “Gran Hotel Nuevo,” which was neither grand, new, nor, strictly
speaking, a hotel. But when the sockless manager-owner of the main
hostelry of Sant’ Anna asked me two thousand something or other for the
privilege of lying on a hilly cot not unlike a dog’s nest in a musty
hole already occupied by several other guests, I concluded to remain in
Uruguay as long as possible. In Montevideo a cablegram had advised me to
make myself known to the Brazilian railway officials at the frontier and
learn something to my advantage. I could not shake off a vague
uneasiness at entering with slight funds a country of which I had heard
many a disagreeable tale and where I expected to undergo the unpleasant
experience of not understanding the language. Yet when at length I found
the station-master of the “Compagnie Auxiliaire,” in a red cap but, I
was relieved to note, a white skin, we talked for some time of the
general pass with sleeping-car accommodations which the discerning
general manager of the railways of southern Brazil seemed bent on
thrusting upon me, before I realized that he was speaking Portuguese and
I Spanish, and understanding each other perfectly.

It is 2058 miles by rail from Montevideo to Rio de Janeiro, and the cost
of this overland trip to the average traveler with a trunk or two and a
moderate appetite would be about $150. One may leave the Uruguayan
capital on Monday, for instance, by one of the three weekly trains, and
arrive in the Brazilian capital on the following Saturday, spending only
one night motionless on the way—if one is contented to be a mere tourist
rather than a traveler and is not overburdened with baggage. For this
must be carried the mile or more over the frontier, at which it is
examined by a band of stupid and discourteous negroes, who seem to
delight in putting as many obstacles as possible in the way of the
well-to-do traveler. Not being included in that category, my own day’s
halt in Rivera was entirely by choice; but for those more in haste than
curious for a glimpse of Brazilian life it is cheaper, faster, and more
comfortable to make the journey by sea.

The daily train northward leaves Santa Anna at 7:35, which is seven by
Uruguayan time, and I was dragged out of bed at an unearthly hour for
midwinter June to find the world weighed down under a dense,
bone-soaking blanket of fog. The street lamps of both countries, judging
daylight by the calendar rather than by the facts, kept going out just
half a block ahead of me as I stumbled through the impenetrable gloom,
the streets by no means improving at the frontier. I might have crossed
this without formality had I not chosen to wake the negro guard from a
sound sleep in his kiosk and insist upon his doing his duty. One would
fancy that an official stationed five feet from a Spanish-speaking
country would pick up a few words of that language, yet these
customhouse negroes professed not to understand a word of Spanish, no
matter how much it sounded like their native Portuguese. At length, with
a growl for having been disturbed, the swarthy guardian waved a hand at
me in a bored, tropical way, drew his resplendent cloak about him again,
and stretched out once more on his wooden bench.

It was a long mile of slippery mud and warm humidity to the station,
where black night still reigned and where yet another African official
came to _revisar_ my baggage, for much contraband passes this frontier
in both directions. Finally something resembling daybreak forced its
reluctant way through the gray mass that hung over and crept into
everything, and our narrow-gauge half-freight took to bumping
uncertainly northward. What a change from the clean, comfortable,
equal-to-anywhere trains of Uruguay! Even our “primeiro,” with its two
seats on one side of the aisle and one on the other, was as untidy,
unmended, slovenly as the government railways of Chile, and every mile
forward seemed to bring one that much nearer the heart of happy-go-lucky

[Illustration: The parasol pine trees of southern Brazil]

[Illustration: Dinner time at a railway construction camp in Rio Grande
do Sul]

[Illustration: A horse ran for seven miles along the track in front of
us and made our train half an hour late]

[Illustration: A cowboy of southern Brazil]

I wrapped myself in all the garments I possessed, regretting that I
owned no overcoat, as we shivered jerkily onward across a wild, shaggy,
mist-heavy country inhabited only by cattle and with no stopping-place
all the morning, except Rosario, entitled to consider itself a town. I
fell to reading a Porto Alegre newspaper of a day or two before, for as
I could usually guess the meaning of the spoken tongue, so I could read
Portuguese, like a man skating over thin ice—as long as I kept swiftly
going all was well, but if I stopped to examine a word closely, I was
lost. Brazilians would have you believe that Portuguese is a purer form
of the tongue from which Spanish is descended; Spanish-speaking South
Americans assert that Portuguese is a degenerate dialect of their own
noble language and even go so far as to refer to it privately as “lingua
de macacos,” of which phrase the last word is the Portuguese term for
monkey. Thanks to my long familiarity with their tongue I found myself
siding with the Castilian branch of the family.

On the printed page it was hard to treat this new tongue with due
seriousness. I found myself unable to shake off the impression that the
writer had never learned to spell, or at least had not been able to
force his learning upon the printer. The stuff looked as if the latter
had “pied” the form, and then had not had time to find all the letters
again or have the proof corrected. Thus cattle, instead of being
_ganado_, as it should be, was merely _gado_; _general_ had shrunk to
_geral_, and to make matters worse still more letters were dropped in
forming the plural, so that such monstrosities as _geraes_ and
_automobeis_ shrieked at the reader in every line. Fancy calling tea
_chá_; think of writing _esmola_ when you mean _limosna_! It suggested
dialect invented by a small Spanish boy so angry he “wouldn’t play any
more,” and who had taken to horribly mispronouncing and absurdly
misspelling the tongue of himself and his playmates, yet who had not
originality enough to form a really new language. And what a treacherous
language! The short, simple, everyday words were the very ones most apt
to be entirely different; thus _dos_ was no longer “two” but “of the”;
“two” was now _dois_ in the masculine and _duas_ in the feminine, and
there was still a _dous_—the plural form, I suppose. A _trapiche_ was no
longer a primitive sugarmill, but a warehouse; a cigar had become a mere
_charuto_. The Portuguese seemed to avoid the letter “l” as zealously as
do the Japanese, replacing it by “r”—_la plaza_ had been deformed into
_a praça_, _el plato_ had become _o prato_. Where they were not doubling
the “n,” contrary to all rules of Castilian spelling, they were leaving
it out entirely, and one was asked to admire the silvery rays of _a
lua_! A man had been brought before a judge because he had seen fit to
_espancar_ his wife, yet the context showed that it was no case of the
application of the corrective slipper. I was reading along as smoothly
and calmly as in English when all at once the headline “Esposição
International de Borrachas em Londres” struck my eye. Válgame Diós! An
International Exposition of Drunken Women! Seven thousand miles away,
too! And why in London, rather than in Glasgow? That particular headline
would have cost me much mental anguish had I not had the foresight in
Montevideo to buy a “Portuguez-Hespanhol” pocket vocabulary. And what,
of all things, should _borracha_ be, in this absurd, mispronounced
dialect, but _rubber_, and no drunken woman at all, thus depriving the
article at once of all interest!

The chief trouble with written Portuguese is that it has never been
operated on for appendicitis. Parts that have long since ceased to
function have not been cut off, as in the close-cropped Spanish, and
such words as _simples_, _fructa_, and the like retain their useless
unpronounced letters until the written word is almost as absurdly unlike
the spoken one as in English. Yet the tongue of Brazil has at least the
advantage that it is in some ways easier to pronounce than Spanish. The
guttural Castilian j, for example, over which the foreign tongue almost
invariably stumbles, is missing, and while few Americans can say _jefe_
in the Spanish fashion they can all give it the Portuguese sound
“shefe”; and if _mejor_ taxes the Anglo-Saxon palate, _melhor_ is
perfectly easy. Moreover, life is a constant holiday in Portuguese.
_Domingo_ and _sabbado_ are days of rest under any name; but it seems
unwise to mislead a naturally indolent people into thinking that every
day is a “feast day” by calling Monday “second festival,” Tuesday “third
festival” and so on, forcing the stranger to do some finger and toe
counting to find that _quarta-feira_, or “fourth festival,” was none
other than this very Wednesday so foggily hanging about us. To hear the
kinky-haired trainman tell me in a long series of mispronunciations that
if I chose to let this one go on without me I could get another train at
“twenty:thirty-two on fifth feast-day” required some nimble mental
exertion to figure out that the lunatic was trying to say 8:32 P. M. on

The line out of Santa Anna is really a branch of the long and important
one from Uruguayana on the Uruguay River, dividing Brazil from the
Argentine, to the large “lagoon towns” of Pelotas and Rio Grande on the
Atlantic. About noon we tumbled out of our rattling conveyance at
Cacequy and took another train, on the line to Porto Alegre, capital of
the enormous “estado gaucho,” or “cowboy state,” southernmost of Brazil
and larger than all Uruguay. It rambled in and about low hills, with an
excellent grazing country spread out to the horizon on every hand, and
at four—beg pardon, sixteen o’clock—set us down at the considerable town
of Santa Maria on a knoll among wooded hills, the junction where those
bound for the capital of the state must take leave of those on their way
to the capital of the republic. I was privileged to occupy room No. 1 in
the chief hotel of the town, which was no doubt a high honor. But as it
chanced to be between the front door of the building and the cobbled
entrance corridor, with either window or door opening directly on crowds
of impudent newsboys, lottery vendors, and servants, it was not unlike
being between the devil—or at least a swarm of his progeny—and the deep
sea. Indeed, it quickly became evident that Brazilian hotels of the
interior would prove no better than those in the three southern
countries of South America, where the traveler is expected to pay a
fortune for the privilege of tossing out the night on a hilly cot and
where the meals never vary an iota,—beginning unfailingly with
_fiambre_, or thin slices of cold meat, and hurrying through several
dishes of hot meat, down to the inevitable _dulce de membrillo_, a hard
quince jelly which is the sad ending of all meals at the lower end of
South America. Nowhere does the Latin-American’s lack of initiative show
more clearly than in the kitchen. To increase my gloom, the French
proprietress, whose every glance caused my thin pocketbook to writhe
with fear, manipulated the items so cleverly that, though placards on
the walls announced the rate as seven _milreis_ a day, and I was there
only from sunset until a little after sunrise, she handed me a bill for
13,500 _reis_!

Luckily I had already weathered the first shock of the traveler who
comes rudely in contact with the Brazilian money system, but I paid
miser-faced old madame in a daze, and retired to a quiet corner to
figure up the exact extent of the disaster that had befallen me. On due
reflection it proved to be not quite so overwhelming as it had sounded.
Even when they are reduced to real money Brazilian prices are not mild,
but they are by no means so utterly insane as they sound. The monetary
unit is the _real_, in theory only, for no such coin exists, and in
practice only the plural _reis_ is used, the real unit being the
_milreis_, one thousand _reis_. For years the _milreis_ had remained at
the fixed value of fifteen to the English pound. In larger
transactions—and most transactions are large in Brazil—the unit is the
_conto_, one million _reis_, about $325. Gold is never seen in
circulation. Between the _milreis_ and the _conto_ there are paper
notes, usually printed in New York; silver coins from five hundred to
two thousand _reis_, and nickel pieces of four, two, and one hundred
complete the list in common circulation. Lastly, lest the unwarned
stranger be led astray by appearances, the Brazilian places his dollar
sign after the _milreis_ and before the _reis_, so that 3$250 means the
normal equivalent of an American dollar, and the man who pays $500 for a
newspaper or a small glass of iced cane-juice does not feel that he has
been unusually extravagant—at least if he has lived long enough in
Brazil to get the local point of view.

A pair of German peasants sat in a corner of the second-class coach when
we pulled out of Santa Maria. Theirs were the same honest, wrinkled,
hard-working, unimaginative faces one sees in rural Germany. The woman,
with a kerchief over her head and her bare feet thrust into low
slippers, was as devoid of feminine coquettishness as of desire for
adornment, a picture of the plodding, toilsome helpmate of the
thoroughly Teuton farmer at her side. Yet I found that they had never
been outside the southernmost state of Brazil, though they spoke German
with far more ease than they did Portuguese, and their appearance would
not have attracted the slightest attention in the very heart of Germany.

The three fertile southern states of Brazil are on an elevated plateau
that makes them excellent cereal and fruit regions well suited as a
permanent habitation of the white race. All that portion of Brazil below
Rio de Janeiro is of comparatively recent settlement. During the
colonial period Portuguese energy was directed almost exclusively to the
semi-tropical and tropical regions of the north, to Bahia and
Pernambuco, where rich tobacco and sugar plantations could be worked
with slave labor, or to the gold and diamond lands of the interior, with
their special attractions to impatient fortune hunters. The splendid
pasture lands of the temperate zone were scorned by these eager
adventurers; maps printed as late as 1865 bear across all these southern
provinces the words “unknown and inhabited by wild Indians.”

The Germans, to be sure, had begun to appear before that. Barely had the
exiled emperor of Portugal settled down in 1808, to rule his immense
overseas domain when he set about filling in its waste spaces by an
immigration policy that is to this day continued by the states
themselves. Not only Dom João but his successors, the two Dom Pedros,
turned to Switzerland and Germany for the hardy settlers needed to tame
this south-temperate wilderness. The first official German colony in
Brazil was founded in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and for
twenty-five years Teutonic settlers were established at many different
points, chiefly in the three southernmost states, in some cases as far
north as Minas Geraes. But in 1859 the German government forbade
emigration to Brazil. The original settlers are therefore long since
dead and the present inhabitants are of the third or fourth generation,
born in Brazil, and with little more than a traditional feeling for the
Fatherland. Yet it is a peculiarity of South American civilization that
it does not impose itself upon European immigration to any such degree
as does that of the United States. Ask the man whose father, or even
grandfather, emigrated from Germany to Brazil what his nationality is
and he is almost certain to reply, without any consciousness of the
strangeness of his answer, “Ich bin Deutsch.” If the German has remained
a German in Brazil, it is perhaps as much the fault of the Brazilian
environment as by his own choice. There are cities in the southern
states of Brazil so German that men and women born in them speak not a
word of Portuguese. This is particularly frequent in the district about
Porto Alegre and in the “lagoon country” between there and the Uruguayan
boundary. Joinville, in Santa Catharina, named for a German prince who
married the daughter of an emperor of Brazil, is so German that the
Portuguese tongue attracts attention in the streets, as it does in
several other of the thirteen colonies founded before the ban was placed
on German emigration. Even the inhabitants who speak Portuguese do so
with difficulty and with a strong Teutonic accent. The school teachers
of these former colonies are subsidized German pastors; the German
element is so strong as often to elect a German state president—the
states of Brazil have presidents rather than governors. For several
years all office holders in Santa Catharina, with the exception of the
Federal Court, appointed in Rio, were Germans, and the anomaly of
Brazilian government reports written by men who scarcely knew the
language of the country in which they ruled was by no means unusual.

It is estimated that there are now about a million descendants of
Germans in the three or four southern states of Brazil, a territory
approximately as large as our “solid south” east of the Mississippi.
Their adopted country was liberal to the early settlers, allotting 175
acres of land to each immigrant, though this has been much reduced in
individual cases by speculative abuses. Not until 1896 was the German
edict against migration to Brazil removed, and by that time the southern
states had attracted new settlers, particularly from Italy. The state of
São Paulo, for instance, has built up her great coffee industry and
factory production chiefly on Italian immigration. The Germans are said
always to seek the lower lands and the river bottoms, raising especially
pigs and vegetables, while the Italians plant the high ridges farther
back from the sea with corn and grapes, with the result that such towns
as Garabaldi and Novo Hamburgo, Blumenau and Angelina, are but a
cannon-shot apart.

Where the great Lagoa dos Patos opens to the sea at the town of Rio
Grande, on sandy, onion-growing flats that follow two hundred miles of
shifting sand dunes from Imbituba southward, is a hot, often sand-beaten
point once ruled by powerful British firms. It is nearly a hundred miles
up this “inland sea” to the capital of the state, with 200,000
inhabitants, which with the large town of Pelotas is the great port of
embarkation of the _xarque_, as the _tasajo_, or thick dried beef, of
the Argentine is called in Brazil. One by one the German traders crowded
out their competitors in this region; with the docile population of the
“lagoon cities” racially friendly to them they established a virtual
German monopoly of German commercial and financial houses in coöperation
with German shipping. Where the German ruled there was no room for any
other European or American, not even for Brazilian industry, and in each
of these coastal cities of southern Brazil a great German firm was
supreme dictator before the World War, which was not the least of the
many causes of that war. What advantages these uncrowned rulers of their
million unsophisticated and often unconscious subjects might have taken
in establishing themselves and their Fatherland more firmly in Brazil if
the world conflict had ended differently is of course now a purely
academic question.

The lines of southern Brazil could scarcely be made a real railroad in
the American sense without complete rebuilding, for they constantly
squirm and twist and wind their way over the lightly rolling country,
seeking always the higher levels and never by any chance running for a
yard straight forward. One of the trainmen asserted that if a cow got in
the way of the surveyors who laid out the line, they moved the transit
rather than exert themselves to go and drive her away. Less facetious
officials explained that the engines are so weak that anything steeper
than a one per cent. grade was avoided in the building, and that this
was done on contract by Brazilians and by the mile. From the car-windows
we had frequent views of the engineer and the fireman in their cab; we
darted from side to side so often that, it would have been easy to
imagine the little engine in terror of the many wide-horned cattle
scattered over the rolling landscape. The brakes were frequently called
upon to keep us from running over the time-table; stations or crossings
were so rare that the whistle was uncomfortably startling; at the rare
places where we did officially stop an extended argument usually arose
between the station master in his red cap and the trainmen in their blue
ones as to when it would be fitting and advisable to jolt onward.

Beyond the large town of Passo Fundo appeared, first singly, then in
roomy clusters, the splendid _pinheiro araucarai_, the slender yet
sturdy Brazilian pine-tree, erect and entirely free from branches to the
very top, from which these suddenly spread thickly out at right angles
to the trunk. The parasol-pine makes excellent lumber, being lighter yet
stronger than our northern pine, but above all it beautifies the
landscape. The rare small clumps of it in the hollows became more and
more numerous until, at Erechim, we found ourselves in an entire forest
of parasol-pines, with an atmosphere strikingly like our northern lumber
woods. The weather had grown so warm that in the middle of the day it
was uncomfortable to sit in the unshaded car window, and creepers and
lianas were beginning to appear in the semi-tropical forests, silent but
for the song of the tree-toad.

I descended at the station of Erebango to spend the “Fourth” with a
fellow-countryman in charge of the construction of a branch railway
through the Jewish “Colonia Quatro Irmãos.” At the station was gathered
a group of Semitic immigrants just arrived from Europe, still in the
same heavy garb and wool caps in which they had left their wintry home.
We boarded the constructor’s “motor gallego,” a hand-car pumped by four
lusty Galicians, and struck out in company with the Jewish manager of
the colony. Each Jew was given upon arrival a piece of land and some
stock, the latter to be paid for after he got his start. For an hour we
pumped our way through semi-tropical forest, here and there broken by
clearings scattered with light-colored wooden houses, to come out upon a
more open rolling country suggestive of Uruguay but with clumps of the
beautiful parasol-pine in the hollows. Then I was furnished a horse and
rode away over the ridges, visiting a score of Jewish families. It being
Saturday, they were dressed in their Sabbath best, some of them, who had
lived in the United States, as overdressed as Irish “hired girls” going
to mass. Men, women, and children were gathered in large groups drinking
_schnaps_, and several of the men, in low-crowned derbies, grew
confidential and told me they wished they were back in “Heshter
Schtreet.” I spoke German to their Yiddish, as I did Spanish to my
peon’s Portuguese, and not only carried on conversation easily but
several times acted as interpreter. The little unpainted houses were
tolerably clean, with cheap lace curtains; and schoolhouses were being
built. But though some of them had been here for months, there was
little evidence of any work being done by the colonists themselves. One
got the impression that they preferred to live on the charity of the
association and its wealthy European sponsors rather than indulge in
physical exertion under the semi-tropical sun, and one wondered if it
was possible to make a farmer out of the Jew, whether the colonists were
not merely waiting for a town to grow up, that they might go and sell
things to one another. The railway company of southern Brazil, which is
British-American, as well as the Brazilian Government, is favoring such
immigration, but a casual glimpse of the colony did not suggest that
this was the best means of bringing the fertile waste places of the
republic into productive activity.

The tri-weekly train picked me up two days later, the privacy of my
narrow-gauge _dormitorio_ being again unbroken. Hour after hour we
rambled on in leisurely tropical fashion. The water tanks were not at
the stations but wherever streams gave a supply, thereby increasing the
number of stops. Once a horse got on the track and ran for seven miles
ahead of the tooting little engine, refusing to leave the rails even
when the fireman got off and threw imported coal at it while the train
crept on after him. To have run into the animal would probably have
spilled our toy locomotive down the embankment of red earth. Finally a
group of Polish men and women gathered on the track ahead and forced the
weary beast to take to the _matta_, the jungled wilderness that shut us
in. At another stop the station-master, a pale blond who spoke German
but who sold tickets like a Latin-American, would not give the engineer
the signal to start until he had sent a boy to drive his ducks out from
under the engine where they were lolling in the shade. The number of
curs prowling about the stations made it easy to believe a joker’s
assertion that the dogs know the train schedule and line up along the
track in proper time and place for their tri-weekly banquet from the
dining-car. Here was the most costly part of the line, built by American
engineers, many bridges and viaducts lifting it across deep wooded
gullies with wonderful vistas of tree-tops, the dark green of the
_pinheiro_ still predominating in the sky-line.

At Marcellino Ramos a big bridge carried us across the River Uruguay,
which not only rises in Brazil but forms the boundary between its two
southernmost states. Through trains had been operated on this line for
less than a year. Before that the overland traveler from Montevideo to
Rio had to stop six times overnight on the way and had often to be poled
across dangerous rivers. Then one crossed the Uruguay at Marcellino
Ramos in the darkness on a crazy launch operated by a crazier Brazilian
who let go the steering-wheel to roll cigarettes and who generally
succeeded in drowning some of the baggage, if not the passengers. The
launch landed its cargo at the foot of a steep muddy slope more than a
hundred feet high, at the top of which travelers fought for the
privilege of paying a fortune for a plank to lie on and for such stuff
as the predatory keeper of what he miscalled a hotel saw fit to provide
for stifling their appetites.

Here we left the enormous “_gaucho_ state” behind and struck off across
the narrow state of Santa Catharina, through which we followed the
placid Rio do Peixe, or Fish River, for a hundred and sixty-five miles,
passing several waterfalls. The wooded _serra_ of Santa Catharina rose
slightly into the sky, and on all sides the world was thickly clothed
with jungle, though there were occasional small clearings with clusters
of crude new shanties. In places the palm grew close beside the
parasol-pine. Groups of ponies under clumsy native saddles were tied to
posts or wooden rails before the _armazem_ inside which their owners
were drinking away their Sunday. Blonds predominated at the rare
stations, tow-heads covered by kerchiefs peered from every doorway of
the houses, with their concave shingled roofs. Most of them seemed to be
Poles, and as all the way from Santa Maria northward the soil had been a
rich dark-red, domestic animals, children, and the garments of the
peasants themselves were dyed in that hue. Some of the dwellings were
like the plans of old Nuremburg brought to the tropics and set down in
the midst of the wilderness. There is a great difference between living
conditions in this region, where land is rarely more than five dollars
an acre, and Illinois, for example, with its schools, roads, and
community interests, yet settlers found much the same pioneer conditions
as this in Illinois when land was five dollars an acre there, and in
addition winters of snow and ice.

In my sleeper, which had not had another passenger since it began its
journey at the Uruguayan boundary, the porter seemed to be hurt that
anyone should intrude upon his privacy. But if there was room to spare
in my car, the second-class coaches were sufficiently packed to make up
for it. Brazilian railway rules require that persons without shoes or
coats shall not ride first-class, hence it may have been something more
than price that made the wooden-benched cars so popular. Even the
first-class passenger-list had grown more and more shady and there was
something absorbing in the sight of pure white waiters serving and
kow-towing to mulattoes and part-Indians in the swaying dining-car. To
strangers, or at least to “gringos,” the waiters always brought the
change in 200-reis nickel pieces and in silver milreis, which look
almost exactly alike, carefully laid face down on the plate in the hope
that a natural error would increase their tips.

I was aware of our being frequently stalled on some slight grade during
the night, yet when I finally awoke, to a cold clear sunrise, we had
crossed the River Iguassú into the state of Paraná, with an
intertropical vegetation and many _serrarías_, or sawmills. Nearly all
the morning we passed what I at first took to be small wild orange
trees, some ten feet high and set in rows and trimmed, with very dark
green leaves not unlike those of the elm in shape. Toward noon I learned
that this was the _herva matte_, known to us as “Paraguayan tea,” and
the most important product of the states of Santa Catharina and Paraná,
as cattle are of Rio Grande do Sul and coffee of São Paulo. The
gathering season was now at hand, but had not begun because the woods
were full of revolutionists, an argument between the two _matte_-growing
states having given a good excuse to several hundred bandits whom the
pusillanimous central government showed no ability to cope with during
all my stay in Brazil.

The _herva matte_ is an evergreen shrub of the holly family, averaging
twelve feet in height, which has its habitat exclusively in the
temperate regions of eastern South America at an elevation of from
fifteen hundred to three thousand feet. In Paraná alone it is
distributed over 150,000 square kilometers, and it is found in six other
states, as well as in Paraguay and northeastern Argentine. It grows
wild, and the only cultivation it needs is the cutting away of the
jungle about it. Each bush produces annually some two hundred pounds of
leaves and branch-ends, which are reduced to about half that amount in
the “factory.” Here the sacks of dried leaves and sticks that come in
from the _sertão_ go through a stamping-mill that beats them almost to a
powder, after which the product is wrapped in hundred-pound lots in wet,
hairy cowhides that shrink as they dry until the bundle is stone-hard.
Great numbers of these deceptive looking bales may be seen at the
warehouses and stations in the _matte_ states.

The descendants of the conquistadores acquired the _matte_ habit from
the Guaraní Indians, and it has become not merely an antidote for an
excessive meat diet but a social custom all the way from the
coffee-fields of Brazil to Patagonia. In former years _herva matte_ was
called “Jesuits’ tea,” for the same reason that quinine was introduced
to Europe as “Jesuits’ bark,” because the disciples of Loyola first
taught the Indian to gather it for trade purposes. About it has grown up
a complete system of etiquette and throughout all rural southeastern
South America the _matte_ bowl is the cup of greeting and of farewell;
not to offer it to a visitor, even a total stranger, upon his arrival,
is as serious an offense as for the visitor to refuse it. The bowl is a
dry, hollow gourd about the size and shape of a large pear, into the
open top of which is thrust a reed or a metal _bombilla_. Through this
each person sucks the somewhat bitter brew as the gourd passes from hand
to hand around the circle, amid aimless gossip in keeping with the
mañana temperament of the drinkers, every third or fourth person handing
it back to the servant—who is not infrequently the taciturn woman of the
house herself—silently waiting with a patience possible only among
Latin-Americans or real Orientals to proceed to the kitchen and refill
the gourd with boiling water. _Matte_ is cheaper than tea, for though
more leaves are needed for an infusion, they can be several times
re-steeped without loss in flavor and strength. Narcotic in its
influence, it has none of the after-effects of tea or coffee, but has on
the contrary many medicinal properties, being a blood purifier, tonic,
laxative, febrifuge, and stimulant to the digestive organs. The per
capita consumption of _matte_ in the state of Paraná is ten pounds a
year, vast quantities being exported; but, strangely enough, it has
never made its way outside South America, though foreigners who have
lived there come to demand it as loudly as the natives.

The stations were usually mere stops at the foot of knolls on which were
larger or smaller clearings and a few paintless new shanties among the
scanty trees and charred logs that marked the beginning of man’s
hand-to-hand struggle with the rampant wilderness. Line after line of
the dark green parasol-pine-trees lay one behind the other to where they
grew blue-black on the far horizon. The increasing density of the jungle
was but one of many signs that we were gradually approaching the real
tropics. Each night the sun sank blood-red into the boundless _sertão_,
the symmetrical pine-trees standing out against the still faintly
blushing sky after all else had turned black, the moon a silver blotch
through the rising mist, out of which the sunrise broke each morning and
spread swiftly across the still trackless wilderness.

One afternoon there appeared along a densely green tree-topped ridge in
the midst of rolling half-prairie the reddish-white town of Ponta
Grossa. Here the railway broke its rule and carried the train up to the
place, instead of leaving the climbing to the passengers themselves.
Vast brown vistas opened up as we rose to the level of the town,
picturesque with those brick-and-mud buildings and tile roofs which
appear so quickly wherever forest and lumber die out. Somewhere I had
acquired a letter of introduction to a merchant in Ponta Grossa. I found
him a lady-like little old man with evidences of some Indian ancestry,
who had traveled in Europe and was in close touch with the affairs of
the outside world, courteous and cultured, yet who still clung to the
Moorish-Iberian custom of considering his home a harem. For though I
should much rather have had a glimpse of Brazilian family life, he
permitted me to dine at the hotel and then insisted on spending
thousands of _reis_ for a carriage in which to drive me about town. No
Turkish seraglio is more jealous of its privacy than the average
Brazilian household; the brief explanation that “there are women there”
is considered ample excuse for any apparent lack of hospitality to men.
When we had visited the sawmills, the _matte_ “factory,” and the
waterworks-to-be of Ponta Grossa, my outdoor host insisted on driving me
down to the train, asserting that the scant half-mile was too far to
walk, and saw me off even to the extent of buying a platform ticket and
dismissing me with an embrace and a basket of tangerines from his own

This time I had taken the branch line that runs a hundred and twenty
miles eastward to Curityba, capital of the state of Paraná, with an
elevation of nearly three thousand feet. It had all the earmarks of an
up-to-date city,—electric-lights and clanging street-cars, automobiles
and uniformed policemen, a large brewery to emphasize the German
element, though other Europeans were more conspicuous. Shops and offices
opened late, the dusting being barely commenced by nine, while schools,
as everywhere in Brazil, began at ten-thirty, a splendid training in
indolence for after life. It is often asserted that the predominance of
the white race is some day assured in southern Brazil, that all the
country below São Paulo bids fair to become a land of blonds. It will
scarcely be a pure white race, however, though the mixture that is
constantly going on makes it difficult to guess what the final amalgam
will be. Curityba certainly had no color-line prejudices. Here a
coal-black negro girl and a rosy-cheeked young Swedish woman lolled in a
doorway gossiping and laughing together like bosom companions; a Pole
with a negro wife showed off his mulatto children as if he were proud of
their quaint mahogany complexions; tow-headed Polish brides on the arm
of jet-black grooms stared proudly out upon the passer-by from the
windows of photograph galleries. Attractive blond girls of twenty
strolled the streets in bare legs and slippers as nonchalantly as the
slovenly race among whom they had been thrown; women from eastern
Europe, their heads covered with kerchiefs and driving little wagonettes
filled with country produce, halted to pass the time of day with African
street loafers; once I passed a girls’ school in which a teacher who was
almost an albino had an arm thrown affectionately about another who
would have been invisible against a blackboard.

Nearly half of Brazil consists of an immense plateau between two and
three thousand feet above sea-level, falling abruptly into the Atlantic
and gradually flattening away northwestward into the great Amazon basin.
Though it is somewhat larger than the United States without its
dependencies, Brazil has almost no mountains except an insignificant
range along the coast, and almost no lakes. Many of its rivers rise very
near the Atlantic, but instead of breaking through the low coast range
they flow inland, those in the southern part of the country finally
emptying into the Plata and those beyond the divide into the Amazon.

The branch line to Curityba descends from this plateau to Paranaguá on
the coast, the first-class coach bringing up the rear of a daily
afternoon train as mixed as the passengers it carried. We creaked
laboriously through heavy forests toward a fantastic mountain sky-line
far to the east, some of the vistas as striking as if we had been
approaching the Andes. Headlong streams and panoramas of tangled hills
awakened the vagabond spirit within and tempted me to cast aside ease
and respectability and plunge into the wilderness out of sight and sound
of jangling civilization. For a time we followed a rivulet, our little
wood-burning Baldwin spitting showers of sparks and cinders back upon
us; then all at once there opened out down a great gorge the first vista
since I had crossed the Andes from Chile of what might unhesitatingly be
called scenery. Far below lay a vast, rolling, heavily wooded, almost
mountainous world, little white towns here and there contrasting with
the distance-blue of the greenness, while farther off faintly seen
lagoons were backed by other densely blue-black hills.

Suddenly the stream we had been following dropped headlong down a great
face of rock at a speed we dared not follow, breaking itself into white
cascades that repeated themselves a score of times before it disappeared
in the chartless wilderness. The train crawled cautiously along the edge
of precipices, circling slowly in vast curves in and out of the wooded
mountain that grew ever higher above us. Through tunnels and
rock-cuttings, across viaducts and lofty iron bridges, around
constricted loops where the train seemed to be pursuing its own tail,
like a frolicsome puppy, along stone-faced bottomless precipices we
pursued our descent, with the infinite caution of extremely old people.
A softness crept into the breeze; the feminine breath of the tropics
caressed our cheeks; the intense respiration of the jungle took to
droning in our ears. The vast, blue, wooded world far below, with its
white towns, its mirroring lagoons, its mysterious hazy recesses,
gradually yet imperceptibly climbed to meet us, while the breakneck
cliffs grew up beside us into sheer walls that seemed utterly
unscalable. It surely needed a man of vision to stare up at that
precipitous mountainside and decide that he could climb it with a

The short but decided descent of three thousand feet ended at length in
the somber, velvety valleys of Paranaguá, and the train calmed down from
its nervous tension into a mood more in keeping with the indolent,
tropical-wooded, sea-level world. It had suddenly become stickily warm.
Clothing that had often felt too thin on the plateau above grew
incredibly heavy, and as final proof that we had entered the real
tropics there fell upon us a sudden languid indifference to progress,
and we loitered about each station doing nothing for an unconscionable
length of time. Old women and boys, dressed in a few odd scraps of
garments wandered about with baskets of oranges, tangerines, and
bananas, but acted as if it were not of the slightest importance to them
whether the stuff was sold or not, as the baby did not need a new pair
of shoes anyway and it would be much less of a bore if school did not
keep at all. What a different philosophy of life the tropics bring even
to the man from temperate climes, and how quickly! Up on the plateau I
had become almost gloomy over a hole that had begun to appear in the
sole of a shoe; down here it seemed of so slight importance that all
memory of it quickly drifted out of my mind. There came a sunset like a
dozen pots of assorted paints kicked over by a mule, and dense, humid,
tropical night settled swiftly down upon us like an impenetrable pall.

Paranaguá, a typical tropical seaport, is not on the sea at all but on
the narrow neck of one of those many lagoons stretching along the coast
of southern Brazil. For some time I wandered about town, barely able to
see the next footstep before me in the clinging, crape-like darkness. I
had a letter to a once well-known New York newspaper correspondent who
had reformed and gone to raising bananas, but he was not in town, and
though I talked with him by telephone I did not deliver the missive. For
it would have required twenty-four hours of travel by launch, canoe, and
ox-cart to reach the plantation where he was holding open house for the
vice president of the state and other solemnities, my evening clothes
had long since been misplaced and ... and anyway what’s the use of doing
anything in the tropics? It is so much easier to let things drift along
until it is too late. Finally, in the back room of a café, I ran across
several American residents engaged in the universal tropical pastime of
mixing whiskey with soda water. One of them headed the electric light
and bathtub syndicate of Paranaguá, neither of which improvements on
primitive society seemed to require his exclusive attention, for he had
time to cultivate genuine hospitality. Much talk, whiskey, soda, and
local beer had been consumed, however, before I managed to get in a hint
containing the word food. The Americans led me to the thoroughly
tropical establishment of a “Turk” who had once graced the United States
with his presence and who had there learned to concoct real ham and
eggs—with the slight exception of not soaking the salt out of the ham
and of frying the eggs to a frazzle. Here the consumption of words
continued until it was discovered that all the hotels, which were
unspeakable places anyway, had closed, and that I would do much better
to put up with the hospitable bathtub man. We waded through the dense
humid night, not to mention many acres of loose sand and veritable
streams of dew, to the outskirts of the sand-and-woods scattered town,
where I was soon introduced to an enormous double bed in the plantation
house of slave days which my fellow-countryman was guarding for the
absentee owner.

Seen by daylight, Paranaguá has a very ancient stone customhouse, now a
barracks and once a Jesuit monastery, with the customary tradition of an
underground passage from it to an island a few miles out in the shallow
lagoon. There was one statue in town, a bronze bust among magnificent
royal palm-trees of “our dear Professor Sulano, who taught us all we
know and died in 1904, erected by his grateful pupils.” My own memory is
treacherous, but will some bright pupil kindly name the American cities
which have busts of the high school principal in front of the municipal
group? Dugout canoes full of oranges were drawn up on the beach, and
fish of every imaginable size, shape, and variety were offered for sale.
The population was of that mongrel sort that I was due to find
throughout Brazil wherever European colonists have not appeared in any
great number. It was not until ten that the sun had drunk up the vast
banks of cheese-thick mists that hang often over this corner of the
world, and then the humidity remained to help the despotic red sun that
burst upon us emphasize the advantage of a bathing-suit over customary
garb. Yet even the American residents insisted on wearing full Broadway
dress of heavy black suits with vests, topped with derbies! To appear in
less, they explained, would be to disgrace their native land and to lose
all dignity in the eyes of the natives, though such garb was probably
one of the reasons why they seemed so lifeless and could under no
provocation be enticed into the crushing sunshine.

By mid-afternoon the train began to wind itself back up to the Brazilian
plateau, the air taking on a refreshing coolness the moment we began to
climb. Next morning, when I was pulled out of bed in Curityba in time to
catch the 5:30 train back to the main line, on which a broken nap in an
uncomfortable seat was chiefly dreams about icebergs, I would have given
anything within reason for one of those scorned hours in Paranaguá. At
every station where we stopped for more than an instant all passengers
tumbled off to partake of coffee. For a woman or man of the vicinity was
sure to have a table in the shade of the station, with many little white
cups that were filled with thick black coffee as the travelers deluged
upon them. The Brazilian who is not permitted to drop off at least once
an hour and drink from one to four such cups at a _tostão_ (a hundred
reis) each, and rush back to the train again as the warning bell rings,
would feel that he was being cheated of his birthright.

My next stop was at a houseless siding just south of the boundary line
of São Paulo state. Here is the “Fazenda Morongava,” where the railway
and its attendant corporation runs a model ranch in charge of a Texas
Scotchman, a central point of the ten million acres it owns in Brazil
and Bolivia. An official telegram had ordered the conductor to set me
down there, when I discovered that the private car hitched on behind us
was filled with guests of the company, and was due to be sidetracked at
the same spot. It was after midnight that I awoke to hear the porter
carrying out his instructions to tell the switchman to show me up to the
_fazenda_ buildings, more than a mile away over rocky hills—and to note
with dismay that my newly appointed guide had a wooden leg! But a huge
form loomed up out of the brightly moonlighted night and I was soon
rolling away over the hills with a Colorado cattleman in a two-wheeled
gig toward a huge farmhouse built half a century ago in slave times and
now surrounded by several other and more modern buildings.

The private-car party was already scattered over the landscape from
breakfast-room to champion-pig sty when I awoke, to be at once invited
to wage battle with a genuine American breakfast ranging all the way
from honest-to-goodness bacon, made on the _fazenda_, but unknown in
Brazil at large, down to hot cakes. Unfortunately I had so long before
lost both the habit and the opportunity of battling with American
breakfasts that I was quickly floored, in spite of being cheered on by
the genuine American housewife in charge. But my lack of endurance was
fully made up for by the last of the private-car party to leave the
table, a man who had been sent down by a Chicago packing-house to start
a similar establishment in São Paulo. In all my travels I have never met
his equal at mixing the flesh of “hawgs” with eggs and hot biscuits and
butter and coffee and hot cakes, whether the feat be considered from the
point of view of quantity or speed. During his championship exhibition
he bemoaned the fact that, though he was barely forty, he had suffered
greatly in walking up the hill from the car that morning, and for the
life of him he could not understand how he had become so fat, since as a
farm boy twenty years before he had been “lean as a rail.”

In addition to this exhibit our “house party” included a French chairman
of the board of directors of the railways of southern Brazil, who had
run over for nine days to learn all about them before going to Persia on
a similar mission. Besides his staff, several uncatalogued hangers-on,
and the family of the manager, there was the American ranch personnel,
ranging from the fat and jolly _fazenda_ doctor who drove constantly
about the estate in a sulky behind racing mules, to a score of boss
cowboys who shocked the Europeans and Brazilians by addressing everyone,
be he manager, packing-house expert, or chairman of the board of
directors, in exactly the same manner,—“What, ain’t you fellers been
down to the barn yet? Y’ ought ’a shake a leg an’ see them there new
heifers we jes’ got in.” Now and then we caught a fleeting glimpse of
the real servant body, the native laborers, cattle herders, and gauchos,
who “knew their place” in the European-Brazilian sense and whom the
manager had cured of the time-honored custom of alternating three
working days a week with four days of drunken festivity by “firing” on a
moment’s notice and establishing the fixed rule that “if there’s to be
any dhrinkin’ on this ranch, I’ll do it myself.” The peons and native
cowboys were paid from fifty to a hundred thousand reis a month, and
“found,” and with local prohibition in force and gambling scowled
upon—to their mind inexplicable “gringo” idiosyncrasies—they were often
hard put to it to get rid of their money.

Not being overwhelmingly interested in “hawgs,” I accepted the
invitation of a boss cowboy and rode nearly all day among the hillside
pastures. The degenerate tropical animal under it was not exactly my
idea of the noun equus, but the Texas saddle was all a saddle should be,
and a great improvement on others I had bestridden in South America. The
cattle included crosses between native cows and zebu bulls, which had
turned out lanky and of poor butcher’s quality, though they withstood
the heat and ticks better than pedigree stock. We saw several fleet
deer, visited a great canyon with a waterfall, the striking of which on
a ledge of rock hundreds of feet below gave an intermittent sound like
that of a compound engine puffing up a stiff grade, and had a native
dinner, at an isolated American cowboy’s shack, of rice, black beans,
and _farinha_ (a coarse meal made of ground mandioca, used to stiffen
soups or eaten dry all over Brazil), topped off by coffee and hot
biscuits. Magnificent panoramas rolling away into blue distances opened
out as we jogged up and down over the great folds of earth. Though it
was midwinter, it was so only in name, and the climate could scarcely
have been improved upon. The hottest that had ever been recorded here
was 84 degrees, and 70 was the lowest of a winter day, while the fresh
cool nights required a blanket the year round.

The Americans, from the manager down, were agreed that all the land of
southern Brazil was of excellent fertility. It was better where there
was timber, but the _campo_, which the natives will not try to cultivate
because it does not yield immediate results, will also produce in
abundance almost any temperate or semi-tropical crop, if it is worked a
year or two to let the air into it and is sufficiently manured to offset
the two per cent. of iron which makes the soil so red. Not the least of
the advantages over the floor-flat pampas, from the grazier’s point of
view, was the rolling character of the ground. With hollows and ravines
there were no floods, yet always water, so that the cattle did not wear
themselves out in the dry season by wandering in search of it. Thousands
of head of stock were born, raised, and driven to slaughter in the same
hollow, the country being often not even wire-fenced. All were
enthusiastic over southern Brazil as a land of promise for white
colonists with youth, health, a little patience, who were willing to
earn their living from the soil instead of “sponging” on others, after
the fashion of the natives; and all considered the Argentine
overestimated, just now in the limelight, but with no such great future
before it as southern Brazil.

I continued my journey in the private-car of my fellow-guests, which was
picked up by the tri-weekly train some time during the second night.
When the sun again rose above the horizon, we found ourselves in the
richest and most famous state of Brazil, the coffee-growing land of São
Paulo. Our coach had been hooked on directly behind the engine, ahead of
the baggage-car, so that we had to get off to reach the
dining-car—whereby hangs a tale. The “hawg” man and I reached there
together, without his interpreter, whose place I had to take and explain
at great length why any man, least of all one whose façade quaked as he
walked, could not be satisfied with small cakes and coffee, like
reasonable human beings, instead of demanding eggs and _toucinho_—which
means bacon in a Portuguese dictionary but salt pork in a Brazilian
mind—and getting into a rage because there was none of the latter on
board and commanding a large steak in its place. Then, as if that were
not trouble enough, my famished ward proved himself a poor traveler in
Brazil by complaining vociferously just because one poor little fly got
cooked with his eggs. It may have been my fault, too; for I had not yet
grown accustomed to the Spanish letter “l” becoming an “r” in
Portuguese, and no doubt, speaking with a Castilian accent, I
inadvertently ordered flied eggs.

Sorocaba was the largest town of the day’s journey, and with it the
cruder rural section, the rude wooden houses of new colonists, and the
parasol pine-trees largely disappeared, while palms increased. Nowhere
from Montevideo northward had I seen an acre of sterile land, though
certainly not one-tenth of what I had seen was under cultivation. On a
pole before each house now was a white banner with the likeness of a
saint, which had hung there since St. Peter’s Day a fortnight before.
The railroad made a complete circle around São Roque in its deep lap of
hills, and gradually, in mid-afternoon, there grew up a constant
succession of villages. We passed groups of unquestionably city people,
and presently São Paulo itself burst upon us, far away and strewn up
along, over, and about a dry and treeless ridge. Then it disappeared
again for quite a time, while the villages changed to urban scenes,
streets began to take on names, electric-cars to spin along beside us,
endless lines of light-colored houses of concrete with red-tile roofs
appeared, and at last we came to a halt in a great glass-vaulted modern
station in the second city of Brazil—second, that is, in population, for
it is first in energy and industry, capital of the most progressive
state of the union and the first real city on the main line north of

Swinging my trunk under one arm, I set out to find a lodging in keeping
with my sadly depleted pocketbook. The first part of that task was in no
way difficult. Of all the cities of the earth, as far as I know it,
perhaps only Paris has more hotels, _pensões_, and lodging-houses per
capita than São Paulo. There seemed to be at least one for every
half-dozen possible guests. In all but the best of them there were two
or more beds in each room, as if they some day expected to have a
veritable flood of clients; but this prospective congestion mattered
little, for they rarely had anyone to share the room, though they
doubled the bill if one asked to have a room alone. When it came to
considering these accommodations on the score of cost, however, the task
of a man with a flattened pocketbook was serious, for the prices in the
poorest “doss-house” were appalling. Democracy and popular education,
even their pale reflections, seem to bring with them the cult of the
white collar, which grows more fervent as one approaches the equator;
hence scores of muscular Spanish and Portuguese immigrants had opened
hotels in São Paulo who should have been out planting corn or hoeing
coffee. Competition is not always a benefit. The hotels of São Paulo
were atrocious in price and poor in quality precisely because there was
so much competition, scores of hotel-keepers, each with runners, touts,
and a host of hangers-on, trying to make a fortune in six months out of
the three or four guests a week which fate sent them, that they might
return to end their days at ease in the land of their birth. For it was
not the native _Paulistas_ who ran the countless hostelries of all
classes, but easy-fortune seekers from overseas.

[Illustration: The admirable Municipal Theater of São Paulo]

[Illustration: Santos, the Brazilian coffee port]

[Illustration: A glimpse of the Rio sky-line from across the bay in

[Illustration: The slums of Rio de Janeiro are on the tops of her rock

The English writer Southey, who wrote a six-volume history of Brazil,
complained of the “tremendous ascents” and the thinness of the air on
the plateau of São Paulo—with its elevation of nearly 2,500 feet!
Certainly the man who has rambled about the Andes feels only gratitude
for that altitude, which lifts him above the sweltering heat of the
coastlands. Even to the casual observer, however, there seems no other
fitting reason for founding a city at this particular spot, and one is
quickly driven to printed authority to account for such taste. In 1554
the Jesuit, José de Anchietta, had gone to the town of Piratinanga to
establish a school, but being dissatisfied with that village, he ordered
its inhabitants, in the dogmatic Jesuit manner of those good old days,
to remove to a site on the Tieté. Now the Tieté is scarcely a brook,
rising on the Brazilian plateau near the Atlantic and flowing away
across country to the Paraná, finally to join the Plata and pour its
scanty waters into the South Atlantic. There are a dozen real rivers to
the north and south of this insignificant stream and a hundred sites
that would have seemed better suited to the good padre’s purpose, but
the Jesuit insisted and at length the people of Piratinanga obeyed his
command; and because the town that was destined to grow to be the
industrial capital and the railway center of Brazil was founded on June
25, it was named St. Paul in honor of that day’s saint.

One must get some little way out of São Paulo to appreciate its
situation clearly. Built on plump low hills in a rolling, treeless
country, rather dry and reddish of soil, the nature of the ground gives
splendid views of the town from many points of vantage, and in tramping
about its environs one finds every now and then the reddish,
light-colored city spread out in almost its entirety below or above him.
In a general sense the city and the region about it would be called
flat, yet in detail it is by no means so. The character of its site
gives São Paulo an intricate network of streets, with viaducts over
great gullies and street-cars passing above and under one another. The
great Viaducto do Chá stands so high above the great ravine through the
center of town that it is a favorite place of threatened suicide among
lovesick youths.

Its unexpected position as capital and metropolis of the world’s
greatest coffee-producing state has given this once bucolic country town
so extraordinary a growth that the Cidade of the nineteenth century is
now merely the central tangle of streets in the heart of town. From this
nucleus run splendid avenues lined with a bushy species of shade-trees,
and residence sections with dwellings of coffee kings, ranging all the
way from sumptuous comfort to magnificent and palatial eyesores, spread
away across town in various directions. São Paulo has more than half a
million inhabitants, a municipal theater for opera, drama, and concerts
scarcely second to any in the western hemisphere, and an up-and-coming
manner which quickly establishes its claim to equality with modern
cities of the temperate zone. The “Light and Power Company” runs an
excellent service of open street-cars and gives the city a nightly
brilliancy that is not often reached in cities of its size. Its
immaculate policemen carry speckless white clubs, thrust into leather
scabbards except when directing traffic. No one has ever known them to
strike a man with a club, but they are at least awe-inspiring
representatives of law and order.

The extraordinary activity of São Paulo is plainly due to its European
immigrants,—Portuguese, Spanish, especially Italian. Whether it is
because they come from the northern part of the peninsula, where sterner
characters grow, or that they feel peculiarly at home in the Brazilian
environment, the Italians of São Paulo stand noticeably high in the
community. Many of the important business houses, some of the
professions, and much of the wealth is in their hands; among the rather
insignificant-looking hybrid Brazilians they are conspicuous for their
better physique and greater energy. Modern and energetic though it is,
however, São Paulo swarms with non-producers. At the stations crowds of
able-bodied _carregadores_, paying a high municipal license and waiting
most of the day in vain for an errand, try to recoup themselves by
demanding a thousand reis or more for carrying the traveler’s bag across
the street. The city has so many shops and hawkers and peddlers that one
might easily fancy it in a densely populated country, rather than in one
where land is everywhere suffering for cultivation. Countless little
liquor shops are run by grasping individuals without initiative, anyone
with cash or credit enough to buy a dozen bottles of liquor seeming to
choose this high road to opulence. Vendors of tickets for both the
national and state lotteries make day and night hideous with their
uproar and crowd the principal streets with their booths; hordes of
silk-clad, bejeweled French and Jewish adventuresses roll luxuriantly to
and fro every afternoon in their automobiles.

The principal place of meeting for the rank and file is the _Jardim da
Luz_, a “popular” park retreat of the German beer-garden style, well
crowded of an evening, especially when a municipal or military band
plays. Here, too, vendors of strong and weak drink are ubiquitous, their
tables in the open air, their prices posted on the trees, yet demanding
500 reis for a glass of sweetened water, with the waiter still to be
satisfied. Everyone moves with an almost tropical leisure, though there
are evenings in this July midwinter when autumn garments are not out of
place and not a few young fops affect overcoats. Yet São Paulo is, on
the whole, a less showy town than one expects. Foreigners are so usual
in any gathering that one attracts little notice. Though perhaps a
majority of such a “popular” crowd is of the physically insignificant,
negroid mixture common to much of Brazil, in the strolling throng may be
seen every nationality from tow-headed Norwegian girls—about whom there
are suggestions of the effects of a tropical climate and environment in
slackening social morals among any race—to a Japanese out on the edge of
the night, with a far-away-across-the-Pacific look in his
cynical-inscrutable eyes out of all keeping with his commonplace
“European” garb.

Every stroll beyond the city limits well repaid the dusty exertion.
Evidently the year’s shipment of rain, like so many carelessly billed
supplies from the North, had been carried past its destination, for the
region about São Paulo was deadly dry at a season when it should have
been verdant, and the newspapers reported the churches of Buenos Aires
filled day and night with people praying that the celestial waterworks
might be shut off. The cloud effects on the Brazilian plateau are so
striking that São Paulo was perhaps more beautiful on a gray day than on
a bright one when the glare brought out something of squalor. Out at
Ypiranga on the bank of a tiny stream, where Emperor Pedro I gave the
“cry of independence” that eventually shook Brazil free from Portugal,
there is a remarkably good museum full of a wealth of historical
material,—mementoes of the aboriginal inhabitants, splendid collections
of the fauna of Brazil, hundreds of _borboletas_, or butterflies, of
which the country has an incredible variety in size and color,
innumerable species of _beija-flores_ (“kiss-flowers,” or
humming-birds), many _pica-paos_ (“pick-sticks,” which are none other
than woodpeckers); strange specimens of the vulture family known as João
Velho (“Old John”).

Or the five-mile tramp out to Penha is no waste of time. The road passes
through many market gardens of black soil in the bottomlands. Along the
way are Italian husbandmen with wide heavy mattocks, Sicilian
stocking-caps like the chorus of “Cavalleria Rusticana” on their heads,
Egyptian water-dips on poles with American oil-cans as buckets, Gallego
ox-carts with solid wooden wheels and axles that shriek along the
highway, much cabbage and lettuce, a few potatoes, grapes, baskets of
strawberries almost the year round. Pack-mules and the raucous cry of
muleteers plodding soft-footed in the dust behind them, one person to
each milk-can of a gallon or two, carrying it on his head to town, there
to sell it by the cupful—no wonder milk costs its weight in silver—and
much more may be seen spread out across the reddish landscape bounded by
the low rolling hills, light-wooded in places and distance-blue in
color, of the coast range. The town of Penha is pitched on the summit of
a knoll with a striking view of São Paulo, five miles away, and a shrine
to which the pious flock in great numbers. Inside the otherwise
uninteresting church is an ornate Virgin who is credited with miraculous
cures, and her chamber overflows with evidences of gratitude from her
devotees,—hundreds of pictures by native “artists,” atrocious
photographs of accidents posed for after they had taken place, that the
miraculously rescued victim might carry out the promise made in the heat
of fear to the Virgin, the latter always represented somewhere in the
upper right-hand corner of the picture in the act of saving the devotee
from appalling sudden death in the very nick of time. Here a fat man is
being snatched from beneath the wheels of a heavy truck, there a baby is
shown safely deposited on the fender of a street-car, or a countryman
falling from his horse is landing upright with divine assistance. Far
more numerous than these pictorial atrocities, however, are the wax
imitations of all parts of the body. A sign on the wall announced that
“only things that are decent may be shown in the miracle room,” but
words have not the same meanings in different climes and races, and
little was left to the imagination, though no doubt the rule cuts down
appreciably the material evidences of cures. How widespread is
superstition and the fostering of it even in the progressive state of
São Paulo is shown by the fact that a month fills the room to
overflowing. During the few minutes I was there a man brought a wax
foot, a buxom young woman a breast, and a mulatto crone a hand which no
doubt was meant to represent one of her own, though it was snow-white
except where she had painted a red streak across the back to indicate
the portion she wished, or had already had, cured. But the Virgin of
Penha draws no color-line, for her own complexion is by no means
strictly Caucasian, and her quadroon swarthiness no doubt gives the
average of her devotees a comfortable feeling of racial propinquity.

Most famous, perhaps, of all the sights in and about São Paulo is the
“Instituto Butantan,” known among the English-speaking residents as the
“snake farm.” A mile walk out beyond the Pinheiros car-line brings one
to this important and well-conducted establishment, first started by
private initiative but now receiving government aid. On the crest of a
knoll are several concrete buildings and about them scores of
snake-houses, half-spherical cement structures some four feet high
inclosed in sections by low walls and moats, where thousands of snakes
lie basking in the sun. By Brazilian law any public carrier must
transport free of charge from its place of capture to the “snake farm”
of São Paulo any new species of snake discovered. There are one hundred
and eighty known species of reptile in Brazil—the Portuguese word for
snake, by the way, is _cobra_—of which ten are known to be venomous; in
other words when a snake appears even in Brazil there is only one chance
in eighteen that his bite is harmful, and the odds are eighteen to one
that he is just a harmless fellow who wants to cuddle up in your lap for
company. But the venomous ones are venomous indeed. There is the deadly
_cascavel_, or rattlesnake, the _jararaca_, worst of all the _jararaca
de rabo branco_, the _jararaca_ with a white tail. Aside from its mere
museum or “zoo” function, the “Instituto Butantan” has two very
practical purposes. Three serums are made here for snakebites and sent
to all parts of the republic, remedies that have saved the life of many
a _sertanejo_ dwelling in wilderness isolation back in the _sertões_ of
Brazil, where an ignorant pill-peddler, who calls himself “_doutor_,”
but whose training as a physician is largely imaginary, sometimes
appears not more than once or twice a year. The venomous snakes are
required to furnish their own antidote. A uniformed negro attendant
springs over the low wall and moat into an inclosure of dangerous
snakes, pins one to the ground with a sort of iron cane, picks it up by
the throat with his bare hands, and forces it to spit its yellowish
venom into a piece of cheesecloth drawn tight over the opening of a
glass receptacle. Healthy young mules are inoculated with this, and the
serum produced in much the same way as smallpox vaccine.

The second purpose of the institute is to breed and distribute the
_mussurama_. This is a native black snake sometimes reaching eight feet
in length, entirely harmless to man but which feeds exclusively on other
snakes, venomous ones by preference. Within the moats that inclose this
species are many others which only repeated assurance would convince the
novice are not dangerous. The non-venomous snakes are in general larger
than the others, and may also be distinguished by the lack of any
special tail, being, as it were, all of one piece. If the employees of
the institute, from the scientists in charge of serum-making to the
negro snake-herders, are to be believed, there are other differences:
the harmless snakes lay eggs, while the others produce their young
alive; the former must be fed, and the latter have never been caught
taking nourishment since the institute was started. Some of the harmless
_cobras_ attain considerable size, though by no means any such as they
do in popular jungle tales. The largest in captivity at São Paulo was a
species of constrictor about sixteen feet long and as large around as a
rain-pipe. They vary widely, too, in habits. The _sucurý_ is huge,
clumsy, and sluggish; a large brown snake in the same inclosure was
almost lightning-like in its movements, snapping at the flap of the
attendant’s trousers and returning to the attack with incredible
swiftness as often as the latter threw him away with his crooked iron
stick. Like so many really harmless creatures he is evidently given his
vicious temper to make up for the lack of any real defense. This reptile
is said to follow for miles any creature that angers it, and though its
bite is harmless, only a man with long experience or iron nerve could
resist taking to his heels when this personification of speed and anger
dashes upon him with its great jaws wide open. All such species,
however, are mere souvenirs of the _sertão_, of no other use than to
keep company for the _mussurama_, great numbers of which are sent to the
snake-infested areas of Brazil as rapidly as they attain mature size.

On my second or third visit, after I had won his gratitude with my
kodak, the chief snake-herder arranged a special snake-eating contest.
Into a moated compound of _mussuramas_ he threw a _jararaca de rabo
branco_, the most deadly snake of Brazil. Far from pouncing upon the
newcomer, the black cannibals gave it no attention whatever. The
attendant stepped over the wall and introduced the visitor to his hosts
one by one. The first turned up his nose at it, which drew forth the
information that this one had eaten only a week before and was not yet
hungry. The second had not dined for at least a fortnight. No sooner had
the _jararaca_ been tossed near him than he sprang forward and wound
himself about the other so rapidly that the eye could not follow the
individual movements, kinking and knotting him in an intricate
entanglement in which only their difference in color distinguished one
slimy body from the other. The two snakes were almost of a size, about
three feet long. The _jararaca_ writhed in agony, opened his huge mouth
with its two ugly looking fangs on the upper jaw, and struck hard into
the black body of his opponent, the yellow venom running down over his
scales. The only response of the oppressor was to increase the
entanglement until the head of the _jararaca_ was confined in a coil, as
his own was protected within the folds of his own body.

For more than twenty minutes after his first sudden movements the
_mussurama_ scarcely moved a scale. I began to think he had gone to
sleep again. Then gradually, imperceptibly, almost as slowly as the
minute-hand of a clock moves, he withdrew his own head from the coil
that had protected it, looked cautiously about to see whether danger
threatened, then moving one muscle at a time, with the patience of a
professional wrestler, he worked his frog-mouth sidewise slowly along
the body of the _jararaca_ until he reached the neck. Pulling the head
carefully out of its confining coil, he crushed it flat by slow pressure
of his powerful mouth. Only then did he appear satisfied and at ease.
Disentangling himself, he began to swallow the _jararaca_ head first,
working his way along it in successive bites at about the speed with
which a lady might put on the finger of a new glove, now and then
wriggling his body to increase its capacity. Once he stopped, rolled a
bit, and took a long breath, then went steadily on until the white tail
of the _jararaca_, looking for a moment like a long tongue of his own,
disappeared entirely, perhaps four minutes from the time the swallowing
had begun, and the snake that was left where two had been before crawled
lazily away to his cement house for a fortnight’s sleep.

I remained for some time in São Paulo not only because it proved to be a
city worth exploring, but because I had come to the end of my railroad
passes, and unless I could discover a new source of supply I faced the
painful and unusual experience of having to pay my fare. To tell the
truth, so weary had I become of train riding and respectability that I
found myself planning to slip into my oldest clothes, pick up a
fellow-beachcomber, and take to the road for the three hundred and
twenty miles left to Rio. But short samples convinced me that such a
walk would not prove entirely a pleasure jaunt and railway passes
evidently do not grow on São Paulo bushes. I was forced, therefore, to
fall back on my own slender funds. There is frequent and comfortable
service from São Paulo to Rio four times a day in twelve hours by day or
night on the government railway, but a more pleasant as well as cheaper
route appeared to be that by way of Santos and an ocean steamer;
moreover, it seemed more fitting to enter the far-famed harbor of the
Brazilian capital by the harbor’s mouth than to sneak in at the back
door by the government railway.

An excellent express of the British “São Paulo Railway Company” left the
industrial capital at eight in the morning and raced thirty of the fifty
miles to Santos across level country in less than an hour. Then we
halted at Alto da Serra for the inevitable coffee and a new engine. This
was small and inclosed within a sort of car with glass-protected
observation platform, for almost the only work required of it was to
hook us, two cars at a time, to a cable running on large upright wheels
between the rails, two small trains counterbalancing each other at
opposite ends of the cable making little motive power necessary. Just
beyond was the _abertura_, the “opening” or jumping-off place, where the
world suddenly spread out far below, some of it visible, some hidden by
vast banks of mist slowly melting under the torrid sun. The cable let us
down more than two thousand feet in a very few miles, the descending and
ascending trains passing each other automatically on a switch halfway
down. The road was so swift that the buildings along the way seemed
sharply tilted uphill, but though the valley was densely wooded with
scrub growth, it was only a narrow one, so that while the engineering
feat may be as remarkable, the scenery was by no means equal to the
descent to Paranaguá. It took as long to lower us to Piassagüera in its
banana-fields, only eight miles without stops, as it had to cover the
thirty miles with several halts from São Paulo to the opening of the
range. This road, over which virtually all the coffee grown in Brazil
starts to the outside world, is reputed to be one of the richest
concessions on earth, though its charter restricts its net profits to a
certain percentage of the invested capital, the rest going to the
government. The company has always had great difficulty in devising ways
and means to spend its surplus earnings and keep them from falling into
the public coffers. It is rumored that all the switch-lamps are
silver-plated. The latest plan of the harassed directors is to electrify
the road, but to the casual observer this would seem exceedingly unwise,
for heavy coffee trains coasting down the hill might store up
electricity enough to run the entire road, and with no more coal to buy
at the breath-taking price of that commodity in Brazil the problem of
spending their surplus would become hopeless.

Santos is even older than São Paulo, having been founded by Thomé de
Souza two years earlier. Not so long ago it was a pesthole, noted
especially for its yellow fever. Those unpleasant days are forever gone,
though it is still not a health resort and many of its people prefer to
live in São Paulo and come down daily on business. If it was not always
raining in torrents during my stay there, at least it was overhung by a
soggy, humid heat that had nothing in common with the cool, clear
atmosphere of São Paulo. Such air as arises in Santos drags its way
sluggishly through the streets, and there was a heavy, blue-mood
temperament about the place quite unlike the larger city up the hill.

This languid, gloomy mood pervaded even the club in which a group of
Americans sit all day long, day after day, “mopping up booze,”
exchanging the chips that pass in the night, and buying coffee. The last
is their appointed task, but it is a light one. Every now and then a
dealer or a native messenger comes in with a name, a price, and one or
two other hieroglyphics scratched on a slip of paper; one of the buyers
lays aside his cards long enough to “o.k.” it, and the deed is done.
Santos exports a million dollars’ worth of produce to the United States
each year, “about one hundred per cent. of which is coffee.” When one
compares the retail price of this commodity in the American market with
what the planters of São Paulo state get for it, the wonder arises as to
where the difference goes. Some of it, of course, goes to the
world-weary men who spend their days exchanging chips at the club in
Santos; transportation takes its full share; a high ad valorem export
tax goes to the federal government; a similar impost of five francs a
sack goes to the State of São Paulo; the municipalities through which it
passes do not allow themselves to be forgotten; the European builders of
the port improvements exact their generous pound of flesh; and “official
charges” thrust out a curved palm at every step, so that whoever drinks
coffee helps generously to support the plethora of mulatto politicians
of Brazil. Yet even then the State of São Paulo is not satisfied with
the price paid for its principal product and in order that this may fall
no lower prohibitive taxes now make it impossible to lay out new coffee
plantations within the state.

In all the business section of Santos there are pungently scented
warehouses in which coffee is picked over by hand by women and children
whose knowledge of sanitary principles is embryonic; while down at the
wharves the coffee-porters give the town a picturesque touch. Long lines
of European laborers, dressed in undershirt, cotton trousers, a cloth
belt, and a tight skull-cap, all more or less ragged, discolored and
soaked with sweat, trot from train to warehouse or from warehouse to
ship, each with a sack of coffee set up on his neck, moving with a jerk
of the hips and keeping the rest of the body quite rigid. Their manners
are gayer than one might expect of men constantly bearing such burdens.
The law requires that each sack weigh exactly sixty kilograms, about 132
pounds, that the state may levy its tax without difficulty; and the men
are paid sixty reis for every sack they carry. In the slave days of
thirty years and more ago this coffee-carrying was done by African
chattels, trotting in unison to the time of their melancholy-boisterous
native melodies. Now there is not a drop of African blood among the
carriers, though there were not a few haughty negroes in uniform sitting
in the shade superintending the job and down on a tiny cruiser nearby
all the sailors were of that race. The Portuguese have driven out the
negro carriers by their greater strength and diligence, but they in turn
are being superseded by modern improvements.

“Brazil is no good any more,” grumbled a sweat-soaked son of Lisbon with
whom I spoke. “It is forbidden now to carry two sacks at a time, and
these great carrier-belts they are putting in, as well as the
auto-trucks, are robbing us of our livelihood.”

Santos has now grown almost wholly around a steep, rocky hill that was
once on its outskirts, spreading in wide, right-angled streets lined by
pretentious light-colored dwellings to the seashore, with several large
bathing-season hotels and many fine beaches along the scalloped coast.
Up at the top of this hill in the center of the flat modern town is an
ancient place of pilgrimage known as the “Santuario de Nossa Senhora de
Monte Serrat,” overflowing, like that of Penha, with wax imitations of
cures. Prices were distressingly high in Santos. Bananas, which overload
the landscape about the town, cost 600 reis each in any restaurant; and
all else was in proportion. No doubt milk must be sold at 32 cents a
quart in a town where the milkmen drive about in luxurious go-carts,
dressed as if on their way to a wedding. But such things are painful to
the wanderer who has already begun to doubt his ability to pay his way
home from the next port, particularly when he finds that for once there
is no steamer bound thither for several days, and that the fare for the
overnight sea-trip is half as much as that to Europe.

It was too late to change my plans and make the journey to Rio by rail,
however, and I made the best of the delay by joining a Sunday excursion
to Guarajá, a beach with a Ritz-Carlton hotel that was being “boomed” a
few miles out through the wilderness. A little steamer carried us from
the Santos docks to a station across the harbor, from which a tiny steam
railroad runs off through the jungle. The benches were hard, the toy
engine incessantly spat smoke, cinders, and fire back upon us, and a
woman of the laboring class was jammed into close, popular-excursion
contact with me throughout the journey. But the beach of Guarajá was
fine and hard, and the day brilliant and clear. Chalets, bandstands, and
all the Palm Beach paraphernalia recalled the season of six to eight
weeks during which coffee kings and their mistresses hold high revel and
yield the promoters a good year’s profit on their investment. Natives,
both men and women, had here and there rolled up their trousers or the
feminine counterpart and gone wading, but evidently it was not
considered the proper season to swim, for all the heat of midwinter
July, or else the community had the customary South American fear of
“wetting the body all over.” Gringos may always take their own risks,
however, and by dint of long inquiry I found I could get an ill-fitting
bathing-suit and the key to a bathhouse, all for a mere 2000 reis, and I
went in alone.

It was the first time I had been in or upon the sea since entering South
America way up on the gulf of Panama more than two years before. I
plunged in and was soon diving under the combers and enjoying myself
hugely, when I suddenly found that I could not touch bottom, and that
the more I tried the less I touched. This would not have mattered had I
not realized by some indefinable sense that I was not only in an ebbing
tide but that I was caught in an undertow which was dragging me swiftly
seaward. The buildings and the excursionists on the shore were growing
slowly but steadily smaller. I waved an arm above the water and
attracted the attention of a group of men, but it was evident by their
indecisive actions that they were “Spigs” and that no help would come
from that quarter, though they might be of use in testifying before the
coroner’s jury. Among the Sunday crowd on the shore and the hotel
veranda arose more stir than I had yet caused anywhere in Brazil, and
the bathhouse attendant who had taken the 2000 reis away from me rushed
down to the spray’s edge frantically waving his arms. For the next
twenty minutes or so I had visions of navigating the high seas without a
ship, but as I did not confine myself during that time to smiling at the
vision, but took to performing superhuman feats of swimming, I was
suddenly surprised, not to say relieved, to feel my feet strike sand,
and what might have been a coroner’s inquest turned out to be nothing
but a lesson for the foolhardy. When I returned to dress, the attendant
said that he had forgotten to tell me that certain parts of this beach
had a very dangerous undertow. Posthumous information was to be expected
of a Brazilian; but when the American of Santos who had suggested my
spending the Sunday at Guarajá replied to my mention of the entirely
personal incident, while we were lunching at the Sportsman Café next
day—at his expense—with “Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you that is the most
dangerous beach in South America, hardly a Sunday passes without someone
drowning there,” I could not but thank him fervently for his kind

The steamer of the Spanish line owned by the Jesuits spent most of
Tuesday in “leaving within five minutes,” during which the passengers
all but succumbed to uproar, congestion, and perspiration. I found
myself packed into a tiny two-berth cabin with two other travelers whom
I should not naturally have chosen as companions; nowhere was there a
spot clean and large enough on which to sit down. Once a _refresco_, a
glass of sickly sweetened water, was served to us as a special favor
just before we choked to death, and finally about five in the afternoon
we let go the wharf, made a nearly complete circle with the “river” on
which Santos is located, and dipping our flag to its last fort, were
soon out on the high seas, the roll of which I had almost forgotten.

                              CHAPTER VIII
                       AT LARGE IN RIO DE JANEIRO

I awoke at dawn just as we were entering the harbor of Rio de Janeiro.
On the extreme points of land on either side crouched two old-fashioned
fortresses; back of one of them, scarcely a stone’s throw away, rose the
sheer rock of the “Sugar Loaf,” like a gigantic upright thumb, and a
moment later I saw the sun rise red over a great tumble of peaks along
the shore, among which I recognized the “Hunchback” stooping broodingly
over the almost invisible city. A haze hid all of this, except for a
long line of little houses, like children’s blocks, along the foot of
great cliffs. Then bit by bit, as the sun sponged up the mists, the
scene spread and took on detail, until it became perhaps the sublimest
spectacle of nature my eyes had yet fallen upon in all the circuit of
the earth, a sight not only incomparable but one that obliterated the
disappointment inherent in all long-imagined and often-heralded scenes.

The vast bay, of irregular shape and everywhere dotted with islands, was
walled on every side by a tumultuous labyrinth of mountains, some sheer
rounded masses of bare rock and precipitous cliffs on which nature had
not been able to get the slightest foothold, the majority a chaotic maze
of ridges, peaks, and fantastic headlands covered with the densest
vegetation, terminating in lofty Tijuca and with a dim, dark-blue
background of the range called “the Organs.” The city itself, of many
striking colors reflected in the blue-green sea along which it stretched
in endless public gardens and esplanades skirting the water front, was
strewn in and among these hills as if it had been poured out in a fluid
form and left to run into the crevices and crannies, the scum, in the
form of makeshift shanties, rising to the tops of the _morros_ which
everywhere bulked above the general level, the more important of them
crowned by picturesque old castles that stood out sharp-cut against the
green background.

But if nature is peerless in Rio, one quickly discovers that man is
still the same troublesome little shrimp he is everywhere. We crawled at
a snail’s pace past a rocky islet covered with royal palms and a
turreted castle, past seven large Brazilian battleships, among them the
_Minas Geraes_ that had recently mutinied and bombarded the capital, and
finally came to anchor well out in the bay. When our baggage had been
rummaged by a flock of negroid officials quite as if we had arrived from
a foreign country, we were privileged to pay foul-tongued and clamoring
boatmen several thousand reis each to row us the few hundred yards to
the shore. Rio has ample wharves, but passing vessels avoid the use of
them whenever possible, lest the European exploiters pocket whatever
profit the ships pick up on the high seas.

I wandered the crowded and blazing streets for some time before I
decided to try my luck at the “Pensão Americana” in the Rua Larga, or
Wide Street. Here, for six thousand reis a day, I was permitted to
occupy a breathless little inside den and to eat whatever I found edible
among the native dishes set before us on a free-for-all table at noon
and evening. I was back in rice-land again, that inexcusable substitute
for food, the only thing on the menu of which there was anything like
abundance, being served at every meal and on every possible pretext.
This and the _feijão_, the small black bean of Rio Grande do Sul, with
now and then a bit of _xarque_, dried or salted beef, added to give it
distinction, makes up the bulk of any native Brazilian repast in such
rendezvous of starvation as the “Pensão Americana.” The only drink
furnished was water, and one soon learns to avoid that in tropical
Brazil. One dining-room wall was decorated with large glaring
advertisements of beer and shoes, on the other was an enormous and gaily
colored chromo of the Last Supper, at which the fare was as scanty as
our own. The general parlor in the front of the second story and opening
upon the wide street might have been passable as a lounging-place had
not noisy, undisciplined brats been constantly running about it and the
snarly, quarrelsome air of cheap boarding-houses the world over
everywhere pervaded it. The entire establishment was an unceasing
bedlam. Women shrieking as only Latin-American women can gave no respite
from dawn to midnight; most of them kept pet parrots—or toucans, which
are several times worse—and occasionally an entire flock of parrakeets.
My bed proved to be of solid boards with an imitation mattress two
inches thick. The gas is turned off in Rio at ten in the evening, and we
had no electricity. I could not read for lack of light, I could not
sleep because of the sweltering heat inside my cubbyhole, stagnant as
only an interior dungeon in the tropics can be, and the uproar beyond
the half-inch partitions, which in no way deadened the nightly domestic
activities of the families about me. When I did at length doze off
toward dawn it was only to dream madly.

The evening’s determination to move, even if I must sleep in the
streets, was strengthened by the rumpus that awoke me at daylight and by
the thimbleful of black coffee that constituted the only breakfast
served until eleven. I struck out none too hopefully to re-canvass the
town. A white cardboard swinging at the end of a string from a balcony
window, I soon discovered, meant that a room was for rent, but though
these were numerous they were all unfurnished. Those who rented
furnished quarters were expected to eat in the same house, and 6000 was
evidently the rock-bottom price for board and room anywhere in Rio. For
that sum I could get real food and a tolerable room in a hotel kept by a
German in the Rua do Acre in the heart of the downtown section, and it
mattered little that the pungent smell of raw coffee struck one full in
the face in passing the open doors of the warehouses in the Rua São
Bento and the adjoining streets leading to it.

The Rua do Acre opens out upon the wharves at the beginning of the broad
Avenida Central, gashed from sea to sea straight through the heart of
the business section of Rio. Both in history and appearance this new
main downtown artery of the Brazilian capital is similar to the Avenida
de Mayo in Buenos Aires, which, though it does not rival it in length,
it outdoes in some respects, particularly in the picturesqueness of the
types that pass along it. Old Rio was crowded together in medieval
congestion on the principal point of land jutting into the harbor, and
in time this portion became so densely populated with business and so
inadequate under modern traffic conditions that nothing but surgery
could save it. The major operation of cutting this broad avenue through
the compact old town was intrusted to the Baron of Rio Branco, and it
still officially bears his name. Early in the present century his plans
were carried out at the expense of much cost and destruction, and in
place of a labyrinth of narrow unsavory streets and aged unsanitary
buildings there appeared in an incredibly short space of time a
passageway a hundred meters wide and more than two thousand meters long
running with geometrical precision from the inner harbor to the Monroe
Palace on the edge of the Beira Mar, with the “Sugar Loaf” set exactly
at the end of the vista.

There are many things of interest in downtown Rio, but of them all
perhaps the Avenida Rio Branco is the most enticing. Stroll where one
will on either side of it, to the Arsenal, the Ministries, the palace
where the last emperor of the western hemisphere had his official
residence up to little more than thirty years ago, to the heavy and not
particularly striking cathedral, one is sure to drift unconsciously back
and take again to wandering aimlessly along in the human stream that
surges as incessantly through the Avenida as if the populace were still
enjoying the novelty of moving freely where their ancestors could not
pass. The only other street in old Rio that has anything like the same
fascination is the narrow Rua Ouvidor, as it is still known in popular
speech, though the city fathers long since decreed that it shall be
called the Rua Moreira Cesar. This is to Rio what the Calle Florida is
to Buenos Aires, not merely a populous street but a popular institution.
Along it are the most brilliant shops, in it may be seen the most
exclusive residents of Rio greeting one another with the elaborate and
leisurely formality of their class. Level paved from wall to wall, it is
in reality a broad sidewalk, for here wheeled vehicles may not enter at
any hour whatever. Yet even the enticing windows and the now and then
attractive shoppers of the Rua Ouvidor do not often keep the stroller
long from wandering once more out into the Avenida.

For all its width it is not easy to walk along the Avenida. What might
be called “sidewalk manners” are atrocious throughout South America; in
Rio they are at their worst. This is not because the _Fluminenses_—for
these, too, call themselves “rivereens,” though they are far from any
real river—are especially inconsiderate, but because they are tropical
idlers with no fixed habit of mind, and instead of picking a
straightforward course down the broad avenue they wander back and forth
across one’s path in all sorts of erratic diagonals. The pace of life
slows down noticeably in twelve degrees of latitude, and street crowds
are not only slower but much more stagnant in Rio than in Buenos Aires.
In time the direct and hurrying northerner comes to realize that the
Avenida is not designed to be merely a passageway from somewhere to
somewhere else. It _is_ somewhere itself, a lounging-place, a locality
in which to show off at one’s best, a splendid site for café chairs and
tables. By late afternoon it is often so blocked that passage along it
is a constant struggle; in the evening clumps of seated coffee sippers
and groups of gossiping men fill the broad sidewalks almost to

[Illustration: An employee of the “Snake Farm” of São Paulo]

[Illustration: Residents of Rio’s hilltop slums, in a chosen pose]

[Illustration: The heart of Rio, with its Municipal Theater, the
National Library, the old Portuguese aqueduct, and, on the left, a
shack-built hilltop]

These sidewalks of the Avenida were evidently laid with the connivance
of shoemakers. Most of them are mosaics of black and white broken stone
in striking designs and fantastic patterns, here geometrical, there in
the form of flowers, with horsey figures before the Jockey Club,
nautical things before the Naval Club, all of striking effect when seen,
for instance, from the upper windows of the _Jornal do Commercio_
building, but particularly deadly on shoe leather. An architect might
have much to say of the score of splendid structures that flank the
avenue. Some are merely business houses; farther seaward, beyond two
great hotels, are clustered the sumptuous Municipal Theater, the School
of Fine Arts, and the National Library; set a little back from the
street are the Supreme Tribunal and the Municipal Council until the
Avenida breaks out at length into the Beira Mar beside the Palacio
Monröe in its little park. This last marble and granite edifice was
carried back from our St. Louis Exposition and set up chiefly as a
show-place and an ultra-formal gathering-hall, but the Chamber of
Deputies has been meeting there since their old firetrap on the Praça da
República took to falling about their ears. Beyond it lie the blue
waters of the oval bay, across which, always in full view from anywhere
on the avenue, stands the _Pão d’Assucar_, like a rearing monolith, the
thread-like cable that now and then carries a car to or from its summit
plainly visible in the clear tropical sunshine.

However, it is not these more formal things but rather the continual
interweaving of curious and motley types, the air of unworried tropical
indolence that pervades the throng, the brilliance of the night lights
that draw the idler again and again to the chief artery of downtown Rio.
Particularly after the hour of siesta does the capital exchange the
extreme négligée of the household for its most resplendent garb and
sally forth to stroll the Avenida, the women with curiously
expressionless faces, as if they would prove themselves deaf to the
audibly flattering male groups that grow larger and larger until by
sunset the sidewalks become a great salon rather than places of
locomotion. Foreigners and those who have lost the spirit of Rio and
must hurry may take a taxi. These pour so continually past, day and
night, that to cross the Avenida is a perilous undertaking at any hour,
for the personal politeness of the _Fluminense_ does not extend to his
automobiles, and the chances of being run down, particularly by empty
machines cruising for fares, are excellent. Nor is it worth while for
the lone pedestrian to protest, for the odds are against him. Both
private automobiles and those for hire carry two chauffeurs, usually in
white uniforms, less often unquestionably of that complexion, their
faces studies in haughtiness as they gaze down upon the plebeian
foot-going multitude. The extra man is known colloquially as the
“secretary,” and the custom is said to have arisen from the fact that
before the law required meters taxis charged all the traffic would bear
and it often took two men to collect from recalcitrant customers. But
its persistence suggests that there are other reasons, among them the
Brazilian love of sinecures, the terror which solitary labor causes to
the tropical temperament, the pleasure of having a congenial friend
always hanging about, the excess of population over jobs, the real
chauffeur’s need of someone to crank his car, light his cigarette, and
keep an eye on the police, most of all, perhaps, the Brazilian love of
_fazendo fita_. Literally _fazendo fita_ means “making a film,” but by
extension it has come to signify posing for the moving-picture camera,
hence, in the slang of Rio, “showing off.” It is a rare Brazilian who is
not given to acting for the movies in this sense. Watch a traffic
policeman, in his resplendent uniform and white gloves, and you will
find that he is much more seriously bent on displaying his manly form
and graceful deportment to a supposedly admiring audience than on
keeping his street corner clear. Go up to any man with a gold cable
swung across his chest and ask gently, “O s’nhor tem a hora?” and he is
almost as apt as not to reply with a mumbled, “Ah-er-I cannot tell you
the time,” meanwhile grasping first one end of the chain, then the
other, as if he were striving to convince even himself that he has a
watch somewhere attached to it.

It was midwinter in Rio, yet plump, sun-browned youths rolled in the
surf each morning below the wall of her chief driveway and lolled in the
shade of the open-air cafés along it. Even in July the lower levels of
the city can be unpleasantly hot, which makes it all the more remarkable
that it gives such an impression of energy during its business hours.
From the wharves to the edges of the mainly residential sections the
place pulsates with perspiring activity, though on closer inspection one
suspects that the _Fluminense_ is more energetic at play than in
productive labor. Whatever his exertions, however, he divides them into
short sections separated by the partaking of coffee. All along the
Avenida, in every downtown street of importance, there is not a block
without its coffee-house, a cool room filled with marble-topped tables
on a damp, sawdusted floor, into which one steps from the heated street,
silently turns upright one of the score of tiny cups on the table before
one, fills it half full of sugar, raps on the table with the head of
one’s “stick” until a silent waiter comes and fills what is left of the
cup with black coffee, which one slowly sips and, dropping a _tostão_, a
nickel 100-reis piece, beside the empty _tasa_, wanders on down the
street—to repeat the process within the next few blocks.

But with sunset, at least during what Rio likes to refer to as winter,
the temperature grows delightful, and it is from then on until a new day
warms again that one gets the full tropical fragrance, the un-northern
_dolce far niente_ that makes the Brazilian capital so enticing to the
wandering stranger. The newcomer soon learns to stay up most of the
night and enjoy the best part of the day. Not even Paris was ever more
brilliantly lighted than downtown Rio—cynics whisper that the city
fathers have a close personal interest in public lighting—not even
Parisian boulevards are more scented than the Avenida and its adjacent
streets with the pungent odor of mercenary love. Far into the night the
Avenida pulsates; long after the theaters and countless cinemas, and the
opera in its season, have ended, the surge of humanity continues,
punctuated at all too frequent intervals by that most distinctive sound
of the night life of Rio,—bass-voiced newsboys singsonging their
papers—“A Rua!” “A Noite!”—in the distressingly German guttural peculiar
to the native tongue as spoken in the Brazilian capital.

Larger in extent than Paris, broken everywhere by savage, rocky, wooded
_morros_—virgin-jungled hills rising in the very heart of town and
which, peeled of their thick scalp of vegetation, prove to be of solid
granite—stretching away in great green mounds and ranges standing high
into the peerless tropical sky, Rio was as entrancing as Buenos Aires is
commonplace. The level parts of the city were flat indeed, flat as if
the sea had washed in its débris until it had filled all the spaces
between the rocky island hills, and then completely flooded those
valleys with houses. Nor did the building stop there. Seeping everywhere
into the interstices of its hills, the town was here and there chopped
back into them, or, if the _morros_ set sheer rock faces against the
intrusion, it climbed upon and over them, until its many-colored houses
lay heaped into the sky or spilled down great gorges and valleys beyond.
Then always, from whatever point of vantage one saw it, the scene was
backed by its peerless sky-line,—the Pico de Gavea with its square head,
like a topsail or the conventional symbol for a workingman’s cap; the
“Sleeping Giant,” showing nature’s most fantastic carving;
hollow-chested Corcovado, the “Hunchback,” peering amusedly down upon
puny man playing ant in and out among the tumbled rocks below; the
admirable “Sugar Loaf,” keeping eternal watch over the entrance to the
bay, the ridges and wooded summits of Tijuca backed far off by the
“Organ” range, protruding like broken columns above the distant horizon.
“Vedete Napoli e poi mori” might with many times more justice be said of

It was always a wonder to me how the citizens of the Brazilian capital
succeeded in keeping within doors long enough to do their daily tasks.
Day or night its peerless scenery and glorious climate were inviting one
to come out and play, to forget the commonplace things of life. A local
editor complained that the people of Rio do not read in the street-cars,
“as our neighbors do in the United States, but spend their time gazing
about them and thus lose much opportunity for culture.” Probably he had
never been in New York or Chicago, or he would have realized that
sometimes people read during their urban travels to keep their minds off
the “scenery.” In Rio nature and all outdoors are so much more splendid
than any printed page that reading seems a sacrilege. Though I rode
along the Beira Mar a dozen times a day, I never succeeded in
withholding my eyes from the scene about me; never was I able to miss a
chance to gaze across the bay to Nictheroy, or up at the silhouettes of
Corcovado and Tijuca; like a great painting it grew upon one with every

I passed frequently along this most marvelous boulevard in the western
hemisphere, Beira Mar, the “Edge of the Sea,” stretching for miles along
the harbor’s edge so close that the ocean spills over upon it on days
when it is _brava_. Between the shady Passeio Publico behind the Monroe
Palace and the heroic statue of Cabral on the green Largo da Gloria, the
foothills crowd in so closely that there is room for only one street to
pass, and right of way is naturally given to the chief pride of the
city. Here converge the pleasure seeking traffic and the business bent,
to split again presently on the rocky Morro da Gloria, crowned by its
quaint little medieval church, the one stream to hurry away through the
Rua do Cattete, the other to follow with more leisure the serpentine
Beira Mar. This, lined by splendid trees and pretentious residences on
the land side, outflanks another rocky hill that would cut it off by
passing between walls of man-scarred granite behind it, skirts another
arm of the turquoise-green harbor, with a closer view of the gigantic
“Sugar Loaf,” and then bursts out through a long tunnel upon the ocean
front where marvelous beaches and a succession of boulevards continue
for miles through what is rapidly developing into the finest residential
section of the Brazilian capital.

The Beira Mar is the show-place of Rio and of Brazil. It is sometimes as
if one were asked to admire a costume without seeing more than the lace
along the bottom, the eagerness of its people to impress the visitor
with the undoubted splendor of this glorious seaside driveway. Yet there
are many other strips and corners of the city that are well-nigh as
sumptuous or as picturesque; the difficulty is to hunt them out among
the _morros_ and foothills that everywhere divide the capital into
almost isolated districts. Walking is all very well, but perspiration
flows quickly and copiously in Rio, and a perpetually drenched shirt is
not entirely conducive to pleasure; and the city is so incredibly
extensive that even tramway exploration becomes serious to the man with
a weak financial constitution. There are two street-car systems and they
operate what is perhaps the best surface system in the world; but it is
also the most expensive. Take a street-car ride from one end of Rio to
another and back and you have spent, thanks to the “zone system”
imported from Europe, the equivalent of half a dollar; and as there are
lines out through all the score or more of gaps between the hills and
_morros_, I quickly made the discovery that if I attempted to explore
all the city, even by street-car, I should probably have the privilege
of swimming home.

What was my joy, therefore, to learn that the superintendent of the
“Botanical Garden Line,” which covers all the more beautiful half of
Rio, came from the town in which I had spent much of my boyhood. I had
long wanted the experience of being a street-car conductor or motorman,
and made application at once. My fellow-townsman hesitated to give me
any such place of responsibility unless I would agree to stay for some
time, but he was quite ready to appoint me a _fiscal segreto_ of the
system under his charge, at the most munificent salary I had ever drawn
in my life—six thousand a day! That was exactly enough to pay for my
room and board in the German hotel of the Rua do Acre; still it was
decidedly better to be paid for riding about town than to have to pay
for that privilege, and with my living and transportation assured until
I sailed my chief problems were solved.

The “Botanical Garden Line” begins at the principal hotel on the Avenida
Central, about which every car loops before setting forth again on its
journey to some part of that section of Rio most worth seeing. I was
furnished a book of free tickets and had only to take a back seat on any
of these cars and, while reading a newspaper or seeing the scenery as
inconspicuously as possible, casually notice whether the conductor
showed an inclination to forget to ring up fares or to break any other
of the strict rules of the company. My tickets were good only for the
oceanside half of town, for though they were under the same North
American ownership the two car systems did not connect, and anyone
traveling all the way through town must walk a block from the hotel loop
to the cars of the business section. This, however, was more compact and
less interesting to the casual visitor than the region in which I had
been given free transportation.

I was frequently seen thereafter boarding a “bonde da Light” at the
Avenida hotel, or alighting from one after a long journey seaward. The
company was officially known as the “Light and Power,” whence the
abbreviation of ownership; and as the first electric street-cars
introduced into Brazil were financed by bonds that were offered for sale
to the Brazilians with much advertising, and there was no other term for
them in the national vocabulary, the street-cars that finally came were
dubbed “bonds,” and so they remain to this day, except that, as the
Brazilian, like all Latins, cannot pronounce a word sharply cut off in a
consonant, he usually calls them “bondes,” in two syllables.

The “bondes” of Rio are as excellent as those to be found anywhere on
the globe, particularly on the more aristocratic “Botanical Garden
Line.” Naturally, when a street-car company can get a quarter for a ride
across town it can afford to maintain the best of service. The cars are
all open, there are five persons, and five only, to a seat, smoking is
allowed on all but the first three benches, and the law forbids those
not properly dressed to ride in the first-class cars, there being
second-class trailers for workmen and the collarless at certain hours of
the day, on which those carrying bundles larger than a portfolio are
also obliged to travel. Street-cars, like every other enterprise in
Brazil, carry a heavy incubus of official “deadheads” and politicians.
Soldiers, sailors, gasmen, mailmen, customhouse employees, street
lighters, policemen, and a dozen other types in uniform ride free by
crowding upon the back platform. They are not allowed seats, as are the
swarms of politicians with elaborately engraved yearly passes—which they
consider it beneath their dignity to be asked to show; but with those
exceptions there are no “standees.” Law, custom, natural politeness and
the lack of haste of the Brazilian are all against permitting a person
to crowd into a filled car, no matter what the provocation. Laws are not
always obeyed to the letter in the liberty-license atmosphere of South
America’s most recent convert to republicanism, but during all my stay
in Brazil I never saw a passenger attempt to board a full street-car.

I am compelled to admit that the street-car conductors of Rio are
superior to our own in courtesy and their equal in attending strictly to
business, and that the “Light” probably gets as large a percentage of
its fares as does the average line in the United States. In spite of my
duty as secret inspector I was utterly unable to find any serious fault
with them, thanks perhaps to long and strict American discipline, for
there was a great difference between their staid, careful manner and the
annoying tomfoolery of the more youthful collectors on the native-owned
motor-busses along the Avenida and out the Beira Mar. Part of this
result, perhaps, was accomplished by a regular system of increase in
wages and a gold star on the sleeve for each five years as inducements
to longevity in the service. The Brazilian is noted for his inability to
protest against exploitation, but he is very touchy as to the manner in
which he is asked to pay, which is perhaps the reason the conductors of
Rio never say “fares, please,” but only rattle suggestively the coins in
their pockets as they swing from pillar to post along the car. Nor have
we ever reached the level of masculine daintiness of the Brazilian
capital, where young dandies carry little mesh purses worthy of a
chorus-girl, from which they affectedly pick out their street-car fare,
dropping the coins from well above the recipient palm in order to avoid
personal contact with the vulgarly calloused hand of labor.

Most of the lines of the “Botanical Garden” system are so long that
three or four round trips a day was all I could, or was expected to,
make; moreover, I was instructed not to return by the same car that
carried me out between Rio’s hills to the end of the line, lest I betray
my calling. Thus I was forced to visit every nook and corner of half the
capital in the natural discharge of my duties. The Botanical Gardens for
which the system was named, lay far out on the edge of the salty Lagoa
Rodrigo de Freitas, a marvelous collection of tropical and semi-tropical
flora. Yet this was made almost inconspicuous by its setting, for all
Rio is a marvelous botanical garden. Greater wealth of vegetation has
been granted no other city of the world, so far as I know it. Date
palms, cocoanut-palms, a multitude of other varieties, each more
beautiful than the other, grew in profusion down to the very edge of the
sea, all to be in turn outdone by the peerless royal palm. They call it
the “imperial palm” in Brazil, because João VI of Portugal, first
European emperor to cross the sea to reign in his American domain, to
which he fled before the conquering Napoleon, caused this monarch of
trees to be brought from the West Indies, and decreed that all seeds
that could not be used by the royal family should be burned, lest they
fall into the hands of the common people. Slaves stole the surplus
turned over to them for destruction, however, and sold them to any who
cared to buy, so that to-day the imperial palm is the crowning glory of
nature along all the coast of Brazil. In Rio it is never absent from the
picture. It grows in the courtyards of _cortiços_, those one-story
tenement blocks of the Brazilian capital, and in the patios of decaying
mansions of former Portuguese grandees; it stretches in long double rows
up many a street and private driveway; it shades the humblest hovels and
the most pompous villas of the newly rich with that perfection of
impartiality which only nature attains; it thrusts itself forth from
between the rocks along the seashore wherever waves or wind have carried
a bit of sustaining soil; it clusters in deeply shaded valleys and
climbs to the summits of the encircling mountains, there to stand out in
regal isolation above the tangle of tropical creepers and impenetrable
jungle that is constantly threatening to invade the tiny kingdom of puny
man below. This great city-dwelling forest is one of the chief charms of
the Brazilian capital. It seems to grasp the city in its powerful
embrace, now affectionately, as if its only purpose were to beautify it,
sometimes, as if bent on thrusting man back into the sea from whence he
came, insinuating itself into every open space, spreading along every
street like the files of a conquering army, invading the parks and the
interior courts of houses, where marble pavements in mosaics of bright
colors gleam amid great masses of jungle flowers, gigantic cool ferns,
and fragrant orange-trees, overtopped by the majestically rustling
imperial palm. It is illegal to cut down a tree within the limits of
Rio, and the forest makes the most of its immunity by crowding the heels
of the human creatures who soft-heartedly spare it; trees, shrubs,
bushes, lianas, creepers, a veritable tidal wave of forest and jungle
sweeps from the edge of the sea to the summits of the encircling hills,
like multitudes gone to demand of the sun the renewal of their strength
and energy.

My job took me out through older avenues lined with portentous dwellings
dating back to colonial days; it dropped me with time to spare beside
little _praças_, slumbering in the sunshine beneath rustling fronds,
that carried the mind back to old Portugal, or at the foot of streets
which ran up narrowing valleys until they encountered sheer impassable
wooded hillsides; it left me at the beginning of rows of houses of every
conceivable color, shape, and situation, which twisted their way up
gullies or draped themselves over the lower flanks of the hills, some
seeming ready to fall at the first gust of wind, some tucked immovably
into evergreen tropical settings, the loftiest overtopped only by the
imperial palms or by the mountains in the far background. So swift are
many of these byways of Rio that a street-lamp in the next block is
sometimes well above the moon; so closely are nature and man crowded
together that there is absolute primeval wilderness within half an
hour’s walk of the Avenida central, and one may come upon clusters of
jungle cabins lost in the bucolic calm of the virgin _matta_ almost in
the heart of the city limits.

Some of our lines passed through long dark tunnels bored in the granite
hills, to reach one or another of those pretty, seaside towns that make
up the outskirts of Rio. One ran the full length of Copacabana with its
mile upon mile of peerless beach directly facing the Atlantic a short
square back of the main street; still others hurried on and on through
suburbs that scarcely realized they were part of the city. There was
Ipanema, for instance, where the track was lined more often than not
with uninhabited cactus desert, the car breaking out every little while
from behind a hill upon the welcome perpetual sea breeze, or passing
scattered shanties bearing such pathetically amusing names as “Casa Paz
e Amor,” or “A Felicidade da Viuvinha,” with a goat and a few hens
scratching in the beach sand before them. The Ipanema line was
particularly attractive, for it ran so far out that I could take a dip
in the sea between inspecting trips without going to the expense of
acquiring a bathing-suit.

Many a visitor to Brazil has returned home convinced that her capital
has no slums. It is an error natural to those who do not stay long or
climb high enough. The traveler who subsidizes the exertions of a pair
of chauffeurs or who scuffs his soles along the mosaics of the Avenida
Rio Branco, justly admiring the Theatro Municipal for all its imitation
of the Paris Opéra, admitting that the Escola de Bellas Artes and the
Bibliotheca Nacional are worthy of their setting, and that the Beira Mar
and the seascape beyond are unrivaled, often leaves without so much as
suspecting that there is a seamy side to this entrancing picture, that
he who has seen Rio only on the level knows but half of it. Indeed, even
the leisurely wanderer who covers the entire network of tram-lines
within the city has by no means completed his sight-seeing; to do so he
must frequently strike out afoot and climb.

For the slums of Rio are on the tops of her _morros_, those rock
hills which, each bearing its own musically cadenced name, rise
everywhere above the general level. The _Carioca_—the inhabitant
of Rio is more apt to call himself by this name than by the more
formal term _Fluminense_—hates physical exertion such as the
climbing of hills, and the flat places of the city are in high
demand for residential as well as business sites. A few sumptuous
villas clamber a little way up them within automobile reach, but
the upper flanks and summits of the _morros_ are left to the
discards of fortune. Here the poorer classes congregate, to build
their shacks and huts of anything available,—fragments of dry
goods boxes, flattened out oil cans, the leaf base of the royal
palm—every shape and description of thrown-together hovels,
inhabited by washerwomen, street hawkers, petty merchants, dock
laborers, minor criminals, victims of misfortune, and habitual
loafers. Barely two blocks back of the justly admired Municipal
Theater there rises such a hill, so densely crowded with makeshift
dwellings that only men of moderate girth can pass comfortably
along the dirt paths between them; it would take a persistent
walker weeks to investigate all the other congested hilltop towns
within the city. There the stroller from below finds himself in
quite another world than the Avenida at his feet, a world whose
inhabitants stare half-surprised, half-resentfully at the man with
even a near-white collar, yet many of whom have such a view from
the doors of their decrepit shanties and such a sea breeze through
the cracks in their patchwork walls as the most fortune-favored of
other lands may well envy.

These scores of _morros_ rising above Rio’s well-to-do level are of many
shapes, some only a little less abrupt and striking than the “Sugar
Loaf” at the harbor’s entrance, others great rounded knolls over which
the town has spread like fantastic unbroken jungle, those in the older
part of town terminating in feudal looking castles or former monasteries
turned to modern republican use, some of them so high that the sounds of
the traffic and the trafficking below are drowned out by the hilarity of
negro boys rolling about the dusty shade in old frock coats and what
were once spotless afternoon trousers, gleaned from the discard of the
city beneath. There are white people living on the summits of the
_morros_,—recent immigrants, ne’er-do-wells of the type known as “white
trash” in our South—but easily four out of every five of the hilltop
inhabitants are of the African race, and he who thinks the negro is the
equal of the white man under equality of opportunity should climb these
slum-ridden hills and see how persistently the blacks have risen to the
top in Rio, though there is so slight a prejudice against the negro in
Brazil that his failure to gain an eminence in society similar to his
physical elevation must be just his own fault. It is chiefly from her
hilltops, too, that come what Rio calls her _gente de tamanco_, wearers
of the wooden-clog soles with canvas slipper tops which are the habitual
footwear of the poorer sockless _Cariocas_. The falsetto scrape of
_tamancos_ on the cement pavements is the most characteristic sound of
the Brazilian capital, as native to it as its perpetual sea breeze and
its sky-piercing _palmeiras imperiaes_.

It was dusty on the _morros_ at the time of my “slumming,” for Rio was
suffering from what the authoritative “oldest inhabitant” called the
worst drought in forty years, and long lines of the hilltop inhabitants
were constantly laboring upward with former oil cans full of water on
their heads. The shortage of water had grown so serious that even down
on the level the supply was shut off from dark until daylight; the ponds
in the Praça da República and similar parks were so low that the wild
animals living there in a natural state of freedom were in danger of
choking to death. But hardships are familiar to the people of the
hilltops, and there was an air of cheerfulness, almost of hilarity,
about the long row of public spigots on the Largo da Carioca behind the
Avenida Hotel at the end of the old Portuguese aqueduct, to which the
_morro_ dwellers descended for their water, as slaves once carried from
the same spot the supply for all the city.

The unavoidable excursion for all visitors to Rio is, of course, the
ascent of the “Sugar Loaf.” For centuries after the discovery of Brazil
and the founding by Mem da Sá of the village of São Sebastião at the
mouth of the putative “River of January” this enormous granite thumb,
its sides so sheer that they give no foothold even to aggressive
tropical vegetation, was considered unscalable. But in time this, like
so many of mankind’s impressions, was proved false and by the middle of
the last century it had evidently become a favorite feat to salute the
city from the summit of the Pão d’Assucar. At any rate, in running
through an old file of the _Jornal do Commercio_ at the National Library
I found in a number dated “Corte e Nitherohy, December 8, 1877,” among
many appeals to “His Gracious Majesty in the shadow of whose throne we
all take refuge,” the following item:

  This morning the American Senhores—here followed four American
  names—set out at 5 A.M. and climbed to the top of our Pão d’Assucar,
  arriving at 7:11. This climbing of the Sugar Loaf is getting so
  frequent that before long no doubt someone will be asking for a
  concession for a line of bonds to that locality.

The writer, of course, considered this the height of sarcasm, and a
clever thought improved by its connection with the burning question of
the hour, for in the same issue there was a notice that more street-car
bonds were about to be offered for sale, and the sheet was strewn with
complaints against the “Botanical Garden Rail Road, which is not living
up to the concession which His Gracious Majesty was pleased to grant it
in 1856, but is oppressing the people of this Court for the benefit of a
heartless corporation.” Yet if that particular scribe were permitted to
peer out for a moment from the after world of newspaper writers he would
find that his bon mot has entirely lost its sting, for that is exactly
what someone has done, and to-day there is a line of “bonds” to the top
of the “Sugar Loaf.”

Traveling out to the end of the Beira Mar, continuing on around the
harbor instead of dashing through one of the tunnels leading out upon
the open Atlantic, one comes to a station beyond the Ministry of
Agriculture—set on this rocky neck of land, no doubt, so that the
ministers may have a constant sea breeze and catch no scent of the
tilling of soil. On the way the massive Pão d’Assucar, here suggestive
rather of a loaf of French bread stood on end, grows more and more
gigantic, the long span of cable to the summit swinging across the sky
like a cobweb, and the timid have often been known to turn back at this
point rather than risk their lives in the aërial journey before them.
There are many of these striking forms of granite monoliths along the
coast of Brazil, though of them all Rio’s “Sugar Loaf” is probably the
most dramatic. The cable tram had been in operation about a year, the
company being Brazilian and the machinery German. At the station
visitors are sold tickets at once—after which they are incessantly
pestered by hangers-on of the company to buy beer and the like at the
station café until a car is ready for the journey. The conveyance is
similar to a small closed tramcar, with wire-grated windows, the end
ones open, a locked door, and benches on two sides, except that instead
of having wheels beneath there are rollers above, which run on two
cables of about two inches in diameter. Sliding smoothly upward at
nearly a 45-degree angle, the first car carried us to the top of a rock
hill called the Penedo da Urca, 220 meters high, where we were let out
to walk a few hundred yards—and given ample opportunity to quiet our
nerves with beer and sandwiches. From this another car swung us across
the bottomless wooded chasm between the two peaks on a cable that sagged
considerably of its own weight and set us down on the bald rock top of
the Pão d’Assucar, 1250 feet above the sea.

At this late afternoon hour the “Sugar Loaf” casts its own shadow far
out across the entrance to the harbor. The city is apt to be a bit hazy,
the sun, or the moon, often just red blotches in the dusty air in time
of drought, but its hills and the countless islands of the bay seem
solid rocks with woolly wigs of forest and jungle. The ferry crawling
across the bay to Nictheroy, ocean-going steamers creeping in and out of
the harbor, leave their paths sharp cut and clear behind them as the
trail of a comet shooting across the sky. Almost directly below, the
Morro Cara de Cão (“Dog’s Face”) stretches upward in a futile effort to
rival the giant above. On its projecting nose the Fortaleza São João
faces that of Santa Cruz, inaccessible on the Nictheroy side opposite,
midway between them is a little island bearing the Fortaleza da Lage,
and still farther in, completing the quartet of watchdogs that guard the
entrance to Brazil’s chief harbor, lies the fortified island of
Villegaignon, named for the Frenchman who once installed his forces here
and disputed possession of the bay with Mem da Sá. One can look as
directly down into every activity of São João Fortress as from an
airplane, the roll of drums rising half-muffled to the ears as tiny ants
of soldiers, drilling in squads, take minutes to march across the
two-inch parade ground. As the sun goes down behind the bandage of
clouds along the lower horizon, the scene clears somewhat of its bluish
dust-and-heat haze and discloses the myriad details of the vast
spreading city, strewn in and out among its _morros_ until it resembles
some fantastic and gigantic spider. Evening descends with indescribable
softness, the world fading away out of sight through a gamut of all
known shades of color, the wash of the sea on a score of sandy beaches
and on the bases of rocky islands and hills coming up like hushed
celestial music. Then a light springs out of the void, another and
another, quickly yet so gradually as to seem part of nature’s processes,
until at length all the city and its suburban beach towns, the very
warships in the harbor, are outlined in twinkling lights—for each and
all of them do distinctly twinkle—like sparkling gems of some
fantastically shaped garment of dark-blue stuff, of which nothing else
is seen but the dim jagged silhouette of the mountain background, whence
blows the caressing air of evening.... But only the foolhardy would
attempt to paint such scenes in words; like all the regal beauties of
Rio they reveal themselves only to those who come to look upon them in

Yet there are many who regard the view from the Corcovado as still more
striking. The “Hunchback,” rising a thousand feet higher than the “Sugar
Loaf,” leaning over the city as if it were half-amused, half-disgusted
by the activities of the tiny beings below, is more easily accessible. A
little independent tram-line runs out along the top of the old
Portuguese aqueduct bringing water to the Largo da Carioca, crossing
high above a great gully filled with town and metropolitan bustle,
winding away among wooded hills strewn with costly residences, to Aguas
Ferreas; or one may walk there by any of several routes lined by old
mansions and scattered shops and, if courage is equal to physical
exertion in the tropics, climb in a leisurely three hours to the summit.
But a rackrail train leaves Aguas Ferreas at two each afternoon, and he
who can more easily endure the cackling of tourists may spare himself
the ascent afoot. A powerful electric engine thrusts the car up the
mountainside before it, by a route so steep that the city below seems
tilted sharply away from the sea. Much of the way is through dense,
jungled forest, that militant tropical Brazilian forest which comes down
to the very gates of Rio and pursues the flabby-muscled urban population
into the very downtown streets of the capital. Sometimes the road is cut
through solid rock, at others it glides through long tunnels of
vegetation, to emerge all at once in the clear blue sky a few steps from
a sight that is not likely to be forgotten in one brief life-time.

From the cement platform that has been built out to the edge of the
summit one might look down from daylight until dark without seeing all
the details of the city at his feet, the tumult of jungled hills about
him, the bay with its countless islands of every possible shape, all
spread out as upon some huge relief map made with infinite care upon a
flat, turquoise-blue surface from which everything protrudes in
sharp-cut outline. Nictheroy, several miles away across the bay, seems
close at hand, the “Sugar Loaf” is just one of many insignificant rocks
bulking forth from the mirroring blue surface below, and the roar of the
beaches comes faintly up from all sides.... But the funiculaire company
is apparently jealous of their view, or of its competition with other
things demanding attention, for the visitors are soon hurried down
again—as far as a hotel and café built in the woods by the thoughtful
corporation, where one may follow the old Portuguese aqueduct for miles
through thick damp forest, if one has the energy and strategy necessary
to escape the ubiquitous purveyors of beer and sandwiches.

Perhaps the finest experience of all—for there are so many vantage
points about Rio that the visitor is constantly advancing his
superlatives—is the ascent of Tijuca, highest of all the summits within
the city limits, more than a thousand feet above the Corcovado and 3300
above the sea, its top not infrequently lost in the clouds. This may be
reached from front or rear, as a single hurried trip of three or four
hours or as the climax of one of those many all-day walks that may be
taken within the bounds of Rio without once treading city pavements; and
its charm is enhanced by its freedom from exploiting companies or too
easy accessibility.

A prolongation of a principal boulevard lifts one quickly into the
hills, or one may strike out from the end of the Gavea car-line upon an
automobile road that winds and climbs for nearly fifteen miles along the
cliffs above the sea, always within the city limits yet amid scenes as
unlike the familiar Rio as the Amazon jungle. Here and there are tiny
thatched cabins all but hidden beneath the giant leaves of the banana,
pitched away up 45-degree hillsides, climbing as high as their energy
endures, the huts inhabited by shade-lolling negroes as free from care
for the morrow as the gently waving royal palm trees far above them. Now
and then one passes a rambling old house of colonial days, perhaps a
mere _tapera_ now, one of those abandoned mansions fallen completely
into ruin after the abolition of slavery, of which there are many in the
fifty-mile periphery of Rio. Then for long spaces there is nothing but
the tumultuous hills heavily clothed with dense, humid green forest
piled up on every side, the square, laborer’s-cap summit of Gavea, the
Roman nose of its lofty neighbor, and other fantastic headlands in ever
bluer distance, with the ultra-blue sea breaking in white lines of foam
far below and stretching to the limitless horizon. The ascent is often
abrupt, sometimes passing a tropical lagoon with waving bamboo along its
edges, perpendicular walls here and there rising to summits as smooth as
an upturned kettle, sheer slopes of rock, so clear of vegetation as to
be almost glassy in appearance, standing forth into the sky as far as
the eye can follow, while everywhere the imperial palms wave their
plumage, now high above, now on a level with the eye, their cement-like
trunks stretching down to be lost in the jungle of some sharply V-shaped

But the more ordinary way to Tijuca is to take the Alta Boa-Vista car
out one of the many fingers of Rio, past the formerly independent town
in which once lived José d’Alencar, Brazil’s most prolific novelist, to
a sleepy suburban hamlet well up the mountainside and of the same name
as the peak above. Most travelers call that the ascent of Tijuca, or at
least are content with a climb, by automobile preferably, a few hundred
feet higher to a charming little waterfall almost hidden in tropical
verdure. But the real excursion begins where the automobile road and the
average tourist leave off. For two hours one marches steadily upward
through cool dense tropical forest, its trees ranging from tiny to
immense giant ferns, bamboos, and palms lining all the way. The trail
grows steeper and more zigzag, winding round and round the peak until it
breaks forth at last frankly in steps cut in the living rock and climbs,
between two immense chains that serve as handrails, straight up to the
summit, a bare spot like a tonsure or an incipient baldness in the
otherwise unbroken vegetation.

Here is a view in some ways superior even to that from the Corcovado,
for one sees not only all Rio, no portion of it hidden by the range
beneath, but the whole seven hundred square miles of the most extensive
federal district on earth, and mile upon mile away up country, over
chaotic masses of hills, through the villages along the “Central” and
“Leopoldina” railways, to the haze-blue mountains of Petropolis and the
“Organ” range. Every island in Guanabara Bay, from huge Gobernador in
the center of the picture to the tiniest rock sustaining a palm-tree,
all Nictheroy and its woolly and rumpled district beyond, stand out in
plain sight; and on the other side of hills that seem high when seen
from the city but which from here are mere lumps on the surface of the
earth, are beaches without number, the soft, tropical Atlantic spreading
away to where sea and sky melt imperceptibly together.

                               CHAPTER IX
                        BRAZIL, PAST AND PRESENT

The Spaniard Pinzón had already sighted what is to-day Brazil when, in
1500, Pedro Alves Cabral, whom Portugal had sent out to get her share of
this new world, accidentally discovered land at some point on the
present Brazilian coast. He named it “Vera Cruz,” which not long
afterward was changed to “Santa Cruz.” But neither name endured, for the
only importance of the country during the first century and more after
its discovery was its exportation of the fire-colored wood of a bright
red tree which found favor in the old world for decorative purposes.
This the Arabs called “bakkam,” or “burning wood,” a term which became
in Latin _bresilium_, in French _braise_, and in Spanish and Portuguese
_brazil_, and gradually the “land of the _brazil_ tree” came to be known
simply as Brazil.

The first white settler in Brazil of whom there is any authentic record
was Diogo Alvarez Correa, a Portuguese sailor whose ship was wrecked
near the present site of Bahia. His companions are said to have been
killed by the aborigines, but Diogo won their interest or fear by means
of a long implement he carried which belched fire at a magic word from
its owner and brought death upon anyone at whom he pointed it. The
Indians named this extraordinary being “Caramurú,” which in their
language meant something like “producer of lightning” or “sudden death,”
and welcomed him into their tribe. Diogo made the most of his
opportunities and had already established a considerable colony of
half-breed children when he passed on to new explorations in another
world. His good work was continued by fitting successors, since, to put
it in the simple words of a Brazilian historian, “the first arrivals
found no difficulty in procuring companions among the Indian women, as
the latter had a peculiar ambition to possess children by a race of men
whom they _at first_ deemed demigods.” Thus the landing-place of
“Caramurú” came in time to be the capital of all Brazil.

Meanwhile João Ramalho had established the village of Piratinanga,
destined afterward to move its site and become São Paulo, and de Souza
began the present Santos by building the fort of São Vicente, while in
the north Olinda and Recife were showing the rivalry which has
culminated in the city now called Pernambuco. In 1516 Solis drifted into
a harbor which he named “River of January,” evidently so incensed at its
lack of length or at the heat of Brazil’s most torrid month as to refuse
to give it one of the customary saints’ names. His mistake was not
discovered until de Souza explored the bay sixteen years later and found
it no river at all. The French soon began to make settlements along the
coast and Durand de Villegaignon of the French navy, sent out by
Coligny, took possession of the island in Rio harbor which still bears
his name; but the Portuguese Mem da Sá at length drove him out and
clinched the expulsion by founding a fortress and thatched village on
the mainland, which he named, in honor of the day’s saint, “São
Sebastião.” Soon this became a worthy rival of Bahia and Olinda and by
the end of the sixteenth century it was recognized as the capital of the
southern part of Portugal’s possessions in the new world.

For a time these promised to remain less extensive than they finally
became. The French founded a settlement called St. Louis on the island
of Maranhão off the north coast of Brazil and gave evidence of a desire
to conquer more territory. In 1624 the Dutch formed a “West India
Company” and took the capital, Bahia, which was recovered by the
Spaniards two years later, both Portugal and Brazil being under Spanish
dominion for sixty years at that period. In 1630 the Dutch took
Pernambuco and all Brazil north of the River São Francisco, and had high
hopes of annexing the entire country. By 1661 luck had turned, however,
and a treaty gave the enormous tract now known as Brazil to Portugal for
the payment of eight million florins to the Dutch and allowing them free
commerce in everything except the principal export, the fiery _brazil_
wood. At the end of the seventeenth century this valuable product was
cast in the shade by the discovery of gold in the interior of the

When the Conde da Cunha was sent out by Pombal as viceroy in 1763 he was
instructed to move his capital from Bahia to São Sebastião on the “River
of January,” the latter having become more important because of its
proximity to the mines of Minas Geraes and to the River Plata, where
fighting with the Spaniards was frequent. About the same time the coffee
berry was introduced into the hitherto unimportant state of São Paulo,
noted until then chiefly for the energy and ferocity of the
cattle-raising _Paulistas_ in the stealing and enslaving of Indians from
the adjacent Spanish colonies. Great numbers of negro slaves had been
introduced into the country, particularly in that paunch-like portion of
it jutting farthest out into the Atlantic toward Africa and where the
planting of sugar-cane made a large supply of labor necessary. Soon
after the coming of da Cunha the further introduction of negroes into
Portuguese territory was forbidden, but the decree was never seriously
enforced, and the natural increase of the bondsmen, abetted by such
customs as freeing any female slave who produced six children, caused in
time the preponderance of African blood.

When Rio de Janeiro was made the national capital of Brazil in 1763 it
had some thirty thousand inhabitants. Nor did it increase greatly during
the half century that followed. Its chief growth and development dates
from the arrival of the court in 1808. João VI of Portugal, driven out
of his own land by Napoleon, fled on a British ship “with all the
valuables he could lay hands on,” after the way of kings, and landed in
Bahia, soon afterward moving on to Rio and setting up his court under
the title of “King of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarve.” He opened the
country to foreign commerce, imported the royal palm, and carried out
certain reforms in the formerly colonial government. The way having been
cleared for him, he returned to Portugal in 1821, leaving his son behind
as regent. On September 7th of the following year this son declared
Brazil independent and proclaimed himself emperor under the title of
Pedro I. He was soon succeeded, however, by his infant son, Pedro II,
whose reign of half a century was punctuated by a three years’ war
against Rosas, the tyrant of the Argentine, and by the war of 1864 in
which Brazil joined the Argentine and Uruguay against the despot Lopez
of Paraguay. This second conflict cost the country thousands of men and
£63,000,000 in money—which, by the way, has not yet been paid—but it
established the free navigation of the Paraguay River and put Rio de
Janeiro into communication with the great wilderness province of Matto

During the reign of Pedro II there had been much criticism of the
country’s anachronistic custom of negro slavery. This culminated in 1888
in a decree of emancipation signed by the Princess Isabel, who was
acting as regent during her father’s illness. By this time the Frenchman
Comte had won many Brazilian disciples for his “positivist” philosophy,
and certain other factions were showing a growing enmity to the
monarchy. These elements and the leading planters, disgruntled at the
loss of their slaves even though they were reimbursed for them from the
public funds, formed a republican party. Finally the church, according
to a native writer, “seeing which side was going to win, withdrew her
weight from the crown and threw it into the other side of the balance,”
and on November 15th, 1889, Brazil was declared a republic.

Like the abolition of slavery the year before, the change was entirely
without bloodshed. The ostensible leader of the revolt was “Deodoro the
tarimbeiro” (_tarimba_ being the cot of a private soldier), a bluff old
military commander who had the army behind him; but the real head of the
movement was Benjamin Constant Botelho de Magalhães, who owed his given
name to his father’s admiration for a certain French writer. Constant
was a Positivist, as were several others of the leading republicans, and
many hints of Comte’s religion, if it may be so called, crept into the
new government. To a Positivist was given the task of designing a new
national flag, so that the banner of republican Brazil is not merely
green, Comte’s chosen color, but bears the words, from the Positivist
motto, “Ordem e Progresso”—to which the northern visitor feels
frequently impelled to add, “e Paciencia.” Unnecessary violence,
however, is contrary to the Positivist creed, and the former opponents
of the new régime did not suffer the fate so frequent in South American
revolutions. Harmless old Dom Pedro II was put aboard a ship in the
harbor with his family, his retainers, and his personal possessions, and
“the bird of the sea opened its white wings and flew away to the
continent whence kings and emperors came.”

The Brazilian constitution of 1891 is an almost exact copy of that of
the United States, and under it and the half dozen presidents who have
succeeded Deodoro, Brazil has prospered as well as could perhaps be
expected of a tropical and temperamental, young and gigantic country.
Barely a year after the adoption of the constitution a revolution broke
out in the southernmost state and the Republic of Brazil came near dying
in its infancy. But with the ending of civil war and the beginning of
reconstruction under Moraes, this setback was regained, and the frequent
threats of secession of both the north and the south have thus far come
to naught. During this same term a boundary dispute between the
Argentine and Brazil was arbitrated by the United States, and in 1898
the present frontier between French Guiana and the state of Pará was
established, leaving Brazil as nearly at peace with her neighbors as is
reasonable in South America. Her credit abroad was helped by the burning
of her old paper money; under an energetic _Paulista_ president railroad
construction was greatly increased at the beginning of the present
century; Rio was largely torn down and rebuilt, and the vast country was
knitted more closely together. To-day an “unofficial compilation”
credits Brazil with 30,553,509 inhabitants, and though the skeptical may
be inclined to question that final 9, there is no doubt that it is
second only to the United States in population in the western
hemisphere, with Mexico a lagging third and the Argentine a badly
outdistanced fourth. The population of the Federal District, which
includes little more than the capital, is estimated at 1,130,080, “based
on a count of houses and crediting each residence with ten inhabitants”;
which is perhaps a fair enough guess, for Brazilian families are seldom
small—and it would of course be hot and uncomfortable work, as well as
an intrusion upon “personal liberty,” really to take a census in Brazil
or its capital.

As late as 1850, according to an old chronicle, “the habits of the rich
of Rio de Janeiro were distressing and those of the lower orders
abominably filthy. Monks swarmed in every street and were at once
sluggards and libertines. The ladies of that time usually lolled about
the house barefoot and bare-legged, listening to the gossip and scandal
gathered by their favorite body-women.” Even at the beginning of the
present century Rio was far from being what it is to-day. The narrow
cobbled streets were worse than unclean, dawdling mule-cars constituted
the only urban transportation, and yellow fever victims were often so
numerous that there were not coffins enough to go round. Those obliged
to come to Rio made their wills and got absolution for their sins before
undertaking the journey. In 1889, when the monarchy was overthrown, it
was seriously contemplated moving the capital away from Rio because of
the constant scourge of “Yellow Jack.” In fact, the constitution fixes
the capital of the republic in its geographical center at a selected
spot in the wilderness of the state of Goyaz, and a syndicate offered to
build everything from a new presidential palace to the necessary
railroads, if given a ninety-year concession and monopoly; but like so
many well-reasoned schemes this one ran foul of many unreasonable but
immovable facts and has never advanced beyond the theory stage.

Once a hotbed of the most deadly tropical diseases, Rio was sanitated by
a native doctor at the cost of years of incessant labor that would have
disheartened any ordinary man, until to-day it is as free from yellow
fever and its kindred forms of sudden death as New York and has as low a
death rate as any large city in the tropics. The doctor began his
struggle in 1903, by act of congress, organizing a sanitary police
charged with clearing away all stagnant water within the city limits,
whether in streets, parks, gardens, rain-pipes, gutters, sewers, or—most
astonishing of all in a Latin-American country—even inside private
houses. This policy, together with the building of new docks and avenues
in the congested lower city, and the tearing down of many infected old
houses, virtually did away with the breeding-places of the deadly
stegomyia mosquito. Deaths from yellow fever dropped from thousands to
hundreds in one year, to tens in the next, and to none long before the
end of the decade. To this day the sanitary police strictly enforce
their regulations, though the man who framed them has gone to repeat his
work in the states bordering on the Amazon, and no dwelling can be
rented or reoccupied, be it a negro hovel or a palace, until the owner
has an official certificate of disinfection.

Among the thirty million people imputed to the country, even in the
fraction thereof credited to Rio, there is every possible combination of
African and Caucasian blood, with but slight trace of the aboriginal
Indian and only a sprinkling of other races. Brazil is indeed a true
melting-pot, far more so than the United States, for it mixes not merely
all the European nationalities entrusted to it, but crosses with perfect
nonchalance the most diametrically opposite races. In theory at least,
in most outward manifestations, the Brazilians are one great family,
with virtual equality of opportunity, quite irrespective of color or
previous condition of servitude. The haziness of the color-line in
Brazil is little short of astounding to an American; one cannot but
wonder at the lack of color prejudice. Negroes were held as slaves
throughout the republic up to little more than thirty years ago;
thousands if not millions of former slaves are still alive, and the
tendency of humanity to look down upon those forced to do manual labor
is certainly as strong in Brazil as anywhere on earth. In England,
France, or Germany there is little color prejudice because the stigma of
forced manual labor was never attached to any particular color of skin,
and because the population has not come frequently enough in contact
with the African race to feel the disrespect for it which is the basis
of our own color-line. But neither of these motives are lacking in
Brazil. Is color prejudice so slight there because the Spaniard and the
Portuguese, mixed with the Moors, often by force, during their conquest
of the Iberian peninsula, have lost the color _feeling_, at least for
centuries? One has only to see a young Portuguese immigrant to Brazil
openly fondling a black girl amid the ribald laughter of his companions
quite as our own young rowdies dally with girls of their own class at
summer picnics or ward-healers’ dances to understand the widespread
mixture of races in South America. Though the actual importation of
African slaves into Brazil ceased some eighty years ago, and immigration
since then has been almost entirely from Europe, it has been chiefly
from the more ignorant and backward countries of southern Europe, where
the color-line is at most embryonic. The Portuguese man and the negro
woman get along very well domestically in Brazil; even the Portuguese
woman joins forces with a black man without feeling that she has in any
way lowered herself or her race. The number of young half-breeds
sprawling about the poorer houses of the immigrant sections or standing
in the doorways of Portuguese shops in the serene nudity of bronze
figures shows how general is this point of view.

There are other causes for this lack of racial friction in Brazil.
Slavery seems to have been less harsh and cruel than in the United
States. With but slight color prejudice or feeling even among the
Portuguese who formed the great majority of the owning class, the
relation of the Brazilian slave to his master was more in the nature of
a hired servant. The slaves belonged to the same church, they observed
the same feast days, there were cases where they even married into the
master’s family. There was a species of local autonomy in the matter of
slavery, slaves being held in any province where it was locally legal
and profitable; nor must we lose sight of the fact that there was no
statehood problem to agitate and increase the differences of opinion on
the subject, no fear that each new territory admitted to the union would
disturb the political balance of power in the federal capital. Thus when
the question of abolition arose it did not divide the country into two
sharply defined camps, with the resultant generations of enmity that it
bred in our own land.

Not long after our Civil War the agitation for the freeing of the slaves
began in Brazil. There, strangely enough, it came from the north, the
more tropical section of the country, partly no doubt because the
Amazonian regions, settled long after the sugar-growing lands of
Pernambuco and Bahia where intensive labor was needed, found white
immigration and their part-Indian population sufficient for their
immediate needs. At length a bill was passed by congress and signed by
the Princess Isabel making free any child thenceforth born of a slave,
and paving the way to the law of 1888 abolishing slavery entirely. The
latter was “premature” according to some Brazilians even of to-day, who
point to the many ruined plantations within fifty miles of Rio as proof
of their contention; it was undoubtedly one of the motives of the
revolution which drove monarchy from the western hemisphere in the
following year. But the fact that what cost us four years of savage
warfare was accomplished in Brazil almost by common consent, without the
shedding of a drop of blood, left the “color question” far less acute
than in the United States. There is a saying in Brazil that slavery was
buried under flowers, and as a result there is no hatred either between
sections of the country or between the races that inhabit it; with no
deep national or sectional wounds to heal a fraternal relationship
quickly grew up, so that to-day blacks and whites celebrate Emancipation
Day together in much the same spirit which we do our Fourth of July.

In popular intercourse the color of a man’s skin is of little more
importance in Brazil than the color of his hair. Indeed, it is
commonplace to hear people referring to their varying tints in much the
same amused and friendly spirit in which our débutantes might speak of a
sunburn, and there is no offense whatever in nicknames of color. The
Brazilian, in fact, does not recognize a negro when he sees one. Ask him
how many of the thirty millions are of that race and he will probably
reply, “Oh, eight hundred thousand to a million.” From his point of view
that is true. There is no all-inclusive word “negro” or “nigger” in the
Brazilian language. To use the term _negro_ or _preto_ is merely to say
“black,” and it may be that there are not more than a million full
blacks in Brazil. But there are many millions with more or less African
blood in their veins, for whom the native language has a score of
designations all nicely graded according to the tint of the complexion.
There is a difference between the full negro and the mulatto in Brazil
which does not exist in the United States; like the Eurasian of India
the latter considers himself more closely allied to the whites, and acts
accordingly. Thus it is impossible to put the question to a Brazilian as
it can be put to an American. After traveling in every state of Brazil,
however, I have no hesitancy in asserting that two-thirds of the
population would have to ride in “Jim Crow” cars in our southern states.

The question of the mixture of races is unusually interesting in Brazil,
especially as many Brazilians seriously believe that their freedom of
interbreeding is producing a new type of humanity, under the combined
influences of climate, immigration, and the fusion of many stocks by no
means all Caucasian, that can endure the heat of the tropics and at the
same time retain some of the energy and initiative of the temperate
zones. All sentiment or repugnance aside, it is possible that the
catholic cross-breeding sanctioned by the Iberian creed may prove
economically more profitable to tropical America than the Anglo-Saxon’s
instinctive aversion to fusion with the colored races. Yet humanly, it
seems to the outsider, the results are not so promising; it looks less
as if Brazil were solving the color question than as if color were
dissolving Brazil. The citizen produced by the intermixture of
Portuguese with negroes is not visibly an improvement on the parent
stocks. The mulattoes or quadroons are often brighter, quicker of
intelligence, than either the ox-like Portuguese or the full-blooded
Africans; but it is widely agreed, even in Brazil, that they have
neither the moral nor physical stamina, that they take on most of the
faults, and retain few of the virtues of their ancestors.

In Rio de Janeiro evidence of this general interbreeding confronts the
visitor at every step, in all classes of society, far more so than in
São Paulo and the other southern states, where the flowing tide of
Italian and other European immigration has given Caucasian blood the
ascendency. Even at his best the average Brazilian is not prepossessing
in appearance; in Rio’s most élite gatherings a fine face is a rarity;
in her street crowds even a passable one is sufficient motive for an
exclamation. Every shade of color, of negroid type and features are
indiscriminately mixed together, while poor and insignificant physique,
bad teeth, and kindred signs of degeneracy are almost universal. There
is something disagreeable about mingling with the throng in Brazil;
surrounded on all sides by miscegenation, the visitor develops a
subconscious fear that his own blood will inadvertently get a negro
strain in it. But by the time he has been a month or two in the country,
especially if this has been preceded by a year or more in the rest of
South America, he scarcely notices the under-sizedness, the lack of
robustness, the patent weakness of character in a Brazilian crowd. He
needs an occasional shock of contrast to bring his sense of comparison
back to normal. The insignificance of the prevailing type is quickly
thrown into clear relief when a pair of burly clear-skinned Scandinavian
seamen from one of the ships down at the docks come shouldering their
way through a native crowd averaging a head shorter than they.

Yet the equality of mankind irrespective of color is probably in a way
as good for the white man in Brazil as it is advantageous to the negro.
It saves him from presuming on his own importance simply because he
happens to be white, as not infrequently occurs in our own land. Perhaps
it is because the Brazilian negro does not himself consciously draw the
color-line, because he is instinctively courteous, gives one half the
sidewalk like a _cavalheiro_, yet does not obsequiously shrink before a
white man, that he arouses less dislike—or whatever it is—than the
American negro; or it may simply be that one’s feelings change with
one’s environment.

Yet at bottom there is a real color-line in Brazil, though the casual
visitor may never discover it. Evidence of it must be pieced together
out of hints that turn up from time to time. Azevedo’s novel “O Mulato,”
the reader finds, hinges on the secret color prejudices of north Brazil.
One runs across a paragraph tucked away in a back corner of a newspaper:

                         DISAGREEABLE INCIDENT

                  It is reported that the intelligent
                  and cultured son of a state senator
                  of Bahia was refused admission to
                  our national military academy for
                  the mere motive that he is black.

I have more than once had a Brazilian of that pale darkness of
complexion common to those who have lived for generations in the tropics
draw back a sleeve to convince me that the color of his hands and face
is climatic rather than racial, at the same time asserting almost in a
whisper that the “aristocratic old families” of Brazil are just as proud
of their Caucasian blood, and fully as determined that it shall not be
sullied with African, as are “os Americanos do Norte.” But positive
proof that there is no illegitimate strain in their veins is so rare,
and pure-blooded families are so greatly in the majority, that they
usually keep their color prejudices to themselves. It does not pay to
express such sentiments openly in a land largely in the hands of
negroes, or at least of those of negro blood, where the government
averages the mulatto tint, where the army which accomplished the change
from monarchy to republic is still powerful and overwhelmingly African
in its enlisted personnel.

The constitution and the law-making and executive bodies of Brazil are
similar to those of the United States, more so, in fact, than in any
other country of South America. Here, too, there are states rather than
provinces; those states are largely autonomous, even less closely
federated than our own and vastly less so than the provinces of
Spanish-America, which are governed mainly from the national capitals.
In so far as any real one exists, the division between the two main
political parties in Brazil is the line separating those who wish a more
centralized government from those who wish the present semi-freedom of
the states to continue, if not to be increased. It is the contention of
the latter that state autonomy permits a fuller development of
independent activity, which in the end is of advantage to the entire
federation. The other side points to the frequent threats of
secession—now of Rio Grande do Sul because it feels it is neglected and
exploited by the central government, now of industrial São Paulo,
prosperous Pernambuco, or self-sufficient Amazonia as a protest against
supporting and being hampered by the throng of official loafers in the
federal capital, now of the north from the south for mere
incompatability of temperament—as proof that the existing loose bonds
are perilous to the future of the republic. As in all Latin-America,
however, political parties are much more a matter of personalities, of
rallying about some particular leader rather than about a given set of
principles, and except in minor details there is no visible difference
between the two principal divisions. To put it more concisely, in the
words of a frank politician: “Party lines? Well, you see Brazil is like
a great banquet table, heaped with all manner of food and delicacies.
There is not room for everyone at it, so those of us who are seated are
on one side, and those who are constantly trying to crowd into our
places form the other party.”

An American long resident in Brazil asserted that the future of the
country is in the hands of the _fazendeiros_ of the interior,
industrious, tenacious, totally different from the city dwellers, a law
unto themselves, original because they have no precedents. However true
this may be, one soon realizes that Rio is mainly a port and a point of
distribution, living on the “rake-off” from the business passing through
its hands, and that such productive activity as exists is chiefly due to
foreign residents. The “upper class” Brazilian at least has inherited
his Portuguese forefather’s distaste for work and his preference for a
government sinecure; thanks perhaps to the climate, he is even more
strongly of that inclination than his ancestors. Almost every native of
social pretensions one meets in Rio is on the government payroll, and
the city swarms with clerks and bureaucrats. The centuries during which
the mineral wealth of Brazil poured into the public coffers of Portugal,
and from them into the pockets of politicians and court favorites, bred
the notion, still widely prevalent in all Latin-America, that “the
government” is a great reservoir of supply for those who know how to tap
it, rather than a servant of the general population. To the latter, on
the contrary, it is something in the nature of a powerful foreign enemy,
with which the average citizen has nothing to do if he can possibly
avoid it, except to trick or rob it when he gets a chance, yet which he
expects to do miracles unaided, as if it were some kind of god—mixed
with devil.

It has often been said that the Argentine, Uruguay, and to a certain
extent Chile are more progressive than the rest of South America because
they are ruled by whites. In her highest offices Brazil, too, usually
has men of Caucasian race; but the great mass of citizens being more or
less African—though two years’ residence suffices for voting rights—the
country is really under a mulatto government. Even immigration is at
present unable to better this matter, because white newcomers are
numerically and linguistically so weak that they have little say in the
government and their efforts merely make the country richer and give the
worthless native more chance to engage in politics. Swarms of part-negro
parasites, what might be called the sterile class, are incessantly on
the trail of the producer, constantly preying on productive industry,
and supernaturally clever in devising schemes to appropriate the lion’s
share of their earnings. It seems to be a fixed policy of Brazilian
government to lie low until a head raises itself industriously above the
horizon—then “swat” it! Its motto evidently is, “The moment you find a
golden egg, hunt up the goose and choke it to death.” Brazilian taxes
make those of other lands seem mere financial pin-pricks. To begin with,
there is a “protective” tariff so intricate that it requires an expert
_despachante_ to deal with it, and so high that those are rare imports
that do not at least double their prices at the customhouse. Then there
is the omnipresent “consumption impost.” Scarcely a thing can be offered
for sale until it has a federal revenue stamp affixed to it. If you buy
a hat you find a document pasted inside showing that the government has
already levied 2$000 upon the sale; a 4$000 umbrella has a $500 stamp
wound round the top of the rod; every pair of shoes has a stamp stuck on
the inside of one of the heels—for some reason they have not yet thought
of selling each shoe separately. Almost nothing is without its revenue
stamp; and, be it noted, the stamp must be affixed _before_ the goods
are offered for sale, so that a merchant may have hundreds of dollars
tied up in revenue stamps on his shelves for years, even if he does not
lose their value entirely by the articles proving unsalable. There is a
“consumption” tax on every box of matches, over the cork of every
bottled beverage, be it imported wine or local mineral or soda-water.
Tooth-paste is considered a luxury, as by most legislators, and pays a
high impost accordingly; there is a stamp on every receipt or bank
check, on every lottery, railway, steamer, or theater ticket, on every
birth, marriage, or burial certificate; there are taxes until your head
aches and your pocketbook writhes with agony, _impostos_ until only the
foolish would think of trying to save money, since it is sure to be
taken away as soon as the government hears of it. A cynical editor
complained that there is no tax on revolutions and that “French women”
are allowed to go unstamped.

But this is only the beginning—and these things, by the way, are no
aftermath of the World War, but were in force long before the
war-impoverished world at large had thought of them. State and municipal
taxes are as ubiquitous, and iniquitous, as those of the federal
government. Among the few ways in which the Brazilians who overthrew the
monarchy did not copy the American constitution was in not decreeing
free trade between the states, with the result that politicians who
cannot fatten on federal imposts may feed on state import and export
duties. Many a state taxes everything taken in or out of it; at least
one even taxes the citizens who go outside the state to work. The beans
of Rio Grande do Sul, where they are sometimes a drug on the market,
cannot be sent to hungry states because the growers cannot pay the high
export and import taxes between them and their market. Many a Brazilian
city imports its potatoes from Portugal, at luxury prices, while pigs
are feeding on those grown just beyond a nearby state boundary. If you
buy a bottle of beer or mineral water, you will probably find a federal,
a state, and a municipal tax-stamp on it. Every merchant down to the
last street-hawker, every newsboy or lottery-vendor, wears or otherwise
displays a license to do business.

The politicians are constantly on the lookout for some new form of
taxation, but as they have the same scarcity of original ideas in this
matter as in others, the ancestry of most of their schemes can be traced
back to Europe or North America. Thus they copied the “protective”
tariff of the United States, though there are few native industries to
“protect,” not only because it was an easy way to raise revenue but
because it gave many openings for political henchmen. They were just
beginning to hear of the income tax at the time of my visit and to plan
legislation accordingly. The more sources of easy money of this kind the
government discovers, the worse it seems to be for the country, not only
in cramping existing industry but by drawing more of the population away
from production into the sterile ranks of the seekers after government
sinecures. Thanks partly to Iberian custom, partly to the power of the
second greatest class of non-producers—absentee owners of big
estates—there is little or no land or real estate tax, except in the
cities, and in consequence many squatters and few clear titles. But this
is about the only form of financial oppression the swarthy rulers have
overlooked, and now and then they show outcroppings of originality that
resemble genius. When the outbreak of war in Europe sharpened their wits
they had the happy thought, among others of like nature, of charging
duty on foreign newspapers arriving by mail and of recharging full
foreign postage on prepaid letters from abroad that were forwarded from
one town to another within the republic, or even within the same state.
Postal Union rules to the contrary notwithstanding. Brazil once ran a
post office savings bank, but after taking in millions from the poorer
class of the community this suspended payment, and to-day a government
bank-book with 5,000$000 credited in it cannot be sold for two-fifths
that amount. During the war one could buy a postal order in any city of
Brazil, but if the addressee attempted to cash it he was informed that
there was no money on hand for such purposes. More than that, if your
correspondent returned the unpayable order to you, your own post office
would laugh at the idea of giving you back the money. Furthermore, if
you received a postal order payable, say, in São Paulo, and presented it
at the same time that you bought another order on the issuing office,
the tar-brushed clerk would calmly rake in your money with one hand and
thrust your order back with the other with the information that the post
office had no funds on hand to pay it.

If all or even a large proportion of the income from this hydra-headed
revenue system reached the public coffers and passed out from them in
proper channels of public improvement, there would be less cause for
complaint on the part of the taxpayers. But not only is a great amount
of it diverted to the pockets of politicians and their sycophants, even
before it becomes a part of the public funds, by such simple expedients
as bribery of those whose duty it is to collect them, but the outlets
from the public coffers are many and devious, not a few ending in
unexplored swamps and morasses. Nor does this well-known and widely
commented-upon state of affairs arouse to action the despoiled majority.
Bursts of popular indignation take other forms in Brazil. Everyone seems
to endure robbery unprotestingly and await his chance to recoup in
similar manner. Were all Brazilians honest, it would work out to about
the same division of property in the end—and save them much mental
exertion. We have no lack of political corruption in the United States,
but here at least it is sometimes unearthed and punished. In Brazil the
political grafter is immune, both because Portuguese training has made
his machinations seem a matter of course and because the “outs” do not
propose to establish a troublesome precedent by auditing the actions of
those temporarily in power.

The Brazilians are inclined to be spendthrifts individually and
nationally. Both the public and the private attitude is suggestive of
the prodigal son of an indulgent father of unlimited wealth. Fortunes
made quickly and easily in slave times have in most instances long since
been squandered; the families who more recently grew rich from cattle,
sugar, or coffee have in many cases already gambled and rioted their
wealth away. Neither the individual nor the nation is content to live
within its income. The politicians periodically coax a loan from foreign
capitalists, spend it in riotous living, and when the interest comes due
seek to place a “refunding loan,” to borrow money to pay the interest on
the money they have borrowed. Financially Brazil had reached a critical
stage before the beginning of the World War, not only the federal
government owing a colossal foreign debt, but nearly every state and
municipality staggering into bankruptcy. The government had issued
enormous quantities of paper money bearing the statement “The National
Treasury promises to pay the bearer 10$”—or some other sum; yet take a
ragged, illegible bill to the treasury and you would probably be told,
“Well, you have the 10$ there, haven’t you?” and thus the paper
continued in circulation until it wore out and disappeared and the
government issued more at the total cost of the cheap material and the
printing. Soon after the outbreak of the war all foreign banks in Brazil
refused to lend the government any more money, whereupon the politicians
authorized the issue of 150,000,000$000 in gold; that is, as it was
explained later on in tiny type on them, notes _payable_ in gold, though
everyone in Brazil knew that even those already outstanding could not be
redeemed. A saving clause at the end of the decree read, “If when these
notes come due the government has not the gold on hand to pay them, then
it may redeem them in paper.” Such was the mulatto government’s idea of
“meeting the present world’s crisis.”

Of a piece with their other schemes are the federal and at least two
state lotteries supported by the population mainly for the advantage of
the politicians. There are persons who contend that a lottery supplies a
harmless outlet for a natural craving for excitement, at a moderate cost
to the individual and with a benefit to the state that operates it. With
the Latin-American the intoxication of the lottery is said to take the
place of alcoholic intoxication in the Anglo-Saxon. All this may be more
or less true, but at least the state loses much activity of its
day-dreaming citizens, while the bureaucracy and the politicians are
fattening on the profits. Lottery drawings succeed one another with
feverish frequency in Brazil—the powers that be see to that, whatever
other duties they may be forced to neglect. The streets of every large
city swarm with ragged urchins and brazen-voiced touts who press tickets
upon the passer-by at every turn, each guaranteeing that his is the
winning number. Every block in the business section has its _cambistas_
lying in wait in their ticket-decorated shops; besides the veritable
pest of street vendors pursuing their victims into the most secret
corners, there are _cambios_ all over the country and perambulating
ticket-hawkers canvassing even the rural districts. Everyone “plays the
lottery.” The young lady on her way home from church stops to buy a
ticket, or at least a “piece” of ticket, as innocently as she would a
ribbon; school children enter their classrooms loudly discussing the
merits of the various numbers they have chosen; the number of persons
losing sleep, or going to sleep on the job, figuring up what they will
do with the hundred thousand reis they are always sure of winning is
beyond computation. The lottery cannot but add to the natural tendency
of the Latin-American to put it off until to-morrow, for if it is not
done to-day perhaps he will win the grand prize this evening and never
have to do it at all. Brazil had long been struggling to get a loan from
Europe, but when the war gave capitalists a chance to lend their money
nearer home at higher rates and with better security the Brazilians were
naturally left out in the cold. Editors complained that when France
offered government bonds her citizens rushed forward and subscribed the
amount several times over in one day, while Brazil could not get any
response whatever from her own people. Yet not a scrivener among them
noted that if the Brazilian government could get at a fair rate of
interest on a legitimate investment a fraction of the enormous sums her
people pay into the state and national lotteries every week there would
have been no need to go abroad seeking a “refunding loan.”

Brazil won her political independence a century ago, but economically
she is more dependent on the outside world to-day than in 1822. In
colonial times wheat was grown in all the half dozen southernmost
states; now the big flour-mills of Rio are fed entirely from the
Argentine. Brazil is so dependent on her imports, so self-insufficient,
importing even the food products she could so easily grow or the most
insignificant manufactured articles which she could readily produce,
even though she almost wholly lacks coal deposits, that any disturbance
of shipping throws her into a panic. Natives refuse to develop the
resources of the country, out of indolence, lack of confidence or
initiative, or because they prefer to squander their capital in fast
living; yet when the “gringo” comes in and starts an industry the native
either steps up with a title to the property showing that he inherited
it direct from Adam, or, if he cannot take it away from the newcomer in
that way, he taxes all the profits into his own pockets. The war forced
Brazil to develop some of her own resources, to produce for herself many
of the things she had always bought from abroad on credit; it compelled
a considerable agricultural development and reduced the number of
shopkeepers. Yet the country has already slumped back again into the old
rut, and to-day, as before the war, her imports are nearly three times
her exports and she is keeping her nose above water only by such
stop-gaps as “refunding loans.”

By no means all Brazilians are pleased with the change from a monarchy
to a republic. There is still a large and influential monarchical party,
composed partly of the wealthier class and those who have always
remained monarchists, partly of citizens who have become disgusted with
the squabbling and graft of mulatto democracy, or who, on economic and
political grounds, have grown dissatisfied with the republican régime
and are convinced that the salvation of Brazil lies in the restoration
of the old form of government. It is rare and usually a mistake,
however, to back water in life, and the imitative faculty of the
Brazilian makes it all the more unlikely that the former régime will
return, unless a failure of democracy the world over makes it à la mode
to bring about such a change.

There was, of course, corruption under the monarchy, but one need not
inquire long in Rio to find a man ready to admit that the pall of
mulatto politicians and bureaucrats which hangs over republican Brazil
is more burdensome than ever were the grasping Portuguese courtiers of a
century ago. At least the latter were limited in number and had
occasionally a _cavalheiro_ pride that sometimes resembled decency, and
old Pedro II in particular, whose habit it was to keep a little personal
note-book in which to jot down any lapse from honesty by a public
official and to startle the man and his sponsors by bringing up the
matter when it came time to reappoint him, is generally admitted to have
ruled honestly and generously. But though the revolution of 1889 was in
reality only another detail of the world-wide movement of the last
century or two for bringing the ruling power down from a select and
wealthy class to the uncultured masses, the triumphant proletariat does
not appear to have greatly gained by the change. It is natural that the
masses, like the foreign firms struggling to keep their heads above
water in the form of innumerable taxes and the constant hampering of
meddlesome officials, should begin to wonder whether Brazil is not
mainly suffering from too much government, whether after all there is
not something, perhaps, in the contention of anarchists that the best
thing to do with over-corpulent governments is to take them out into the
woods and shoot them through the head, as something more burdensome than

  One brilliant November day, perorates a Brazilian editor, a few
  hundred soldiers, enthused by a lucid patriot, destroyed the last
  American throne amid rousing cries of “Long live the Republic!” And
  from city to city, from hamlet to hamlet, these words rang through
  all Brazil. But now, barely a generation later, our armed force is
  mainly used to suppress personal liberties, the tendency being
  constantly toward dictatorships; education of the people is given
  much less attention than is demanded in a democracy, and we are
  overrun with a devouring swarm of politicians who have lost all
  idealism and who scarcely occupy themselves with anything but their
  personal interests, unscrupulously exploiting the public coffers.

The tendency toward dictatorships and the use of autocratic power to
cover corruption and aid partizanship was visible even to the naked eye
of the casual visitor. At the time I reached Brazil it was ruled over,
ostensibly at least, by a nephew of Deodoro, the first president. Never,
perhaps, had an administration been so cordially hated. “Dudú,” as the
populace called the president, that being his eighteen-year-old wife’s
pet name for him, was hated not only for himself but as a tool of the
“odious gaucho” senator from Rio Grande do Sul, chief of the “P. R. C.”
or Republican Conservative Party, and for some years the national boss
of Brazil. When “Dudú” became president, the popular idol and fiery
orator, Ruy Barbosa, only survivor of those who overthrew the monarchy,
senator also and leader of the “P. R. L.” or Republican Liberal Party,
had been the opposing candidate and, according at least to the Liberal
newspapers, had been elected by an overwhelming popular vote. To be
elected, however, does not always mean to take office in Latin-America,
and the combined machinations of the “odious gaucho” and the army, in
which “Dudú” was a field marshal, had reversed the verdict.

To hold his own against the popular clamor the Marshal had used methods
taken from his own military profession, terminating finally in the
declaration of a “state of siege” in the federal capital and that of the
state of Rio de Janeiro, Nictheroy across the bay, and in the state of
Ceará in the far north. On the surface this did not mean any noted
suppression in the freedom of life. But if one happened to be a
political opponent of the party in power, or a newspaper publisher, the
sense of oppression was distinct. Under the sheltering wings of martial
law no articles could be published until they had been submitted to a
government censor, whose strictness made impossible the slightest
adverse criticism of the powers that were. The suspension of the right
of habeas corpus made it possible for “Dudú” to have scores of men
thrown into dungeons out on the islands in Guanabara Bay merely because
he or some of his followers did not like their political complexions. If
the friends or families of the victims happened to find out what had
become of them and got a writ of habeas corpus from the Supreme
Court—according to the constitution a mandatory order of release—the
government answered, “We are in a state of siege and the constitution is
not working.” It would be hard to compute the full advantage of this
little ruse to the ruling politicians, and the grafting that went on
under cover of such protection may easily be imagined. When the decree
was finally revoked, on the eve of a new administration, the suppressed
news that flooded the papers was little less astounding than the swarms
of political prisoners whom government launches brought back to the
capital after months of imprisonment without any charge ever having been
preferred against them.

Outwardly, of course, the forms of republican government were regularly
carried out during all this period. Several times I dropped into the
Monroe Palace to watch the House of Deputies meet, report no quorum, and
adjourn. Once I went to the Senate, looking down upon that august body
from a miserable little stuffy gallery resembling that of a cheap
theater, where “any person decently dressed and not armed” had the
constitutional right of admittance—unless the state of siege was invoked
against him. Brazil’s most famous orator, late unsuccessful candidate
for the presidency and the idol of the _povo_, or collarless masses, was
whining through some childish jokes and puns on the alleged bad grammar
of a bill destined to establish a new public holiday—as if Brazil did
not already have enough of them, with her sixty-five days a year on
which “commercial obligations do not mature.” It was evident, too, that
the speaker had by no means gotten over his peevishness at not becoming
president, for his speech was turgid with personalities and full of
innuendos against “Dudú” and his fellow scoundrels. To see the leisurely
air with which the senate enjoyed this pastime one might have supposed
that no more serious duties faced the wearers of the toga.

Brazil is the only republic in South America that has trial by jury,
hence her courts much more nearly resemble our own than they do those of
Spanish-America. I attended a trial for murder one afternoon. Whatever
other faults they may have, the courts of Brazil cannot be charged with
unduly drawing out a trial, once it is begun. The judge called names
from a panel of jurors, and as each man stepped forward the _promotor_,
or prosecuting attorney, and the lawyer for the defense looked him up
and down much as a tailor might a client and said “_Recuso_” (I refuse)
or “_Aceito_” (I accept) without so much as speaking to the man or
giving any reasons for their action. Evidently they were expected to
guess his acceptability as a juror from his outward appearance. Those
accepted took their seats, and in less than ten minutes the jury of
seven was chosen and the trial had begun. There are juries of three
sizes in Brazil, always with an odd number of members, and these do not
need to reach a unanimous decision. A simple majority is decisive,
though the larger the majority for conviction the heavier the penalty
for the crime. Brazilian jurors get no pay, but they are fined if they
fail to answer to their names when called.

A paper was passed among the seven jurors, each of whom wrote his name
on it; but they took no oath, except that a clerk handed rapidly around
among them a glass frame inside which was the sentence in large letters,
“I promise to do my duty well and faithfully,” and on this each laid his
right hand in silence. There are so many Positivists, free thinkers,
fetish worshippers, Mohammedans, and other non-Christian sects in Brazil
that the Bible and “so-help-me-God” oath would be even more out of place
than in our own metropolis. Then the clerk of the court, who had neither
eyes, voice, nor physique, but was a mere living skeleton humped over a
pair of trebly-thick glasses, moaned for nearly an hour through the
entire proceedings in a lower court the year before. The prisoner was a
youthful _Carioca_, of white race and of the small shopkeeper or hawker
type. Throughout the trial everyone addressed him in a gentle, kindly
manner. He stated that he was twenty-one, but had only been twenty when
arrested, which the _promotor_ whispered to me was merely a ruse to get
the benefit of being a minor. More than a year before he had shot a man
of his own age in a downtown street, with premeditation, he naïvely
admitted. According to the degree of murder proved he might be sentenced
to twelve, twenty, or thirty years. There is no death penalty in Brazil,
nor will the Brazilian government extradite a refugee who may be
punished with more than thirty years’ imprisonment in the land from
which he fled, unless that country agrees not to execute him or exceed
that limit of punishment.

At length the _promotor_, who might easily have passed for an American
lawyer in any of our courtrooms—until he opened his mouth—began an
address in the thinnest, weakest, most worn-out voice imaginable—a
common weakness among Brazilians and especially _Cariocas_, thanks
perhaps to the climate—mumbling something about a “villainous
premeditated crime” several times before he took his seat. During the
next few hours he and the attorney for the defense, the latter in a wire
cage across the room, quarreled back and forth, rather good-naturedly as
far as outward appearances went, the judge very rarely interfering. It
was hotter in the courtroom than in any possible place of punishment to
which the accused might be sent, in this life or the next, and the
entire throng, from the judge to the last negro loafer in the far
corner, was constantly mopping its face. Not a woman was included in the
gathering. After the first formalities were over the trial moved forward
in almost uncanny American fashion, but with what in our own land would
have seemed dizzy speed, for it was finished, with the verdict given and
a sentence of six years imposed, by one o’clock the next morning.

Brazilian judges are reputed not often to be open to actual
bribery, but to be overrun with sentimentalism, nepotism, that
do-anything-for-a-friend or for a friend’s friend, that lack of moral
courage necessary to act with full justice when a personal element is
involved, which is a crying weakness in all Latin-American countries.
Striking evidences of this were frequently coming to the attention, more
often in the interior than in Rio itself. A politician in a city farther
north, for instance, killed a man of little standing, and went at once
to report the matter to his bosom friend, the circuit judge. “All
right,” the judge was reported to have replied. “Your sentence is one
day’s imprisonment—in my house,” and when a warrant for the assassin’s
arrest finally reached him, the judge marked it “Judgment given and
sentence served,” and sent it to be filed in the archives. Aside from
this weakness, the courts of Brazil seem to be fair; if anything they
are too lenient. Not a few Brazilians contend that the jury system is
not suited to the temperament of the nation, because it requires a
sterner attitude toward human frailty than they can attain. In fact, the
extreme leniency of juries is but another manifestation of the
liberty-license point of view of Brazil, the same weakness that spares
the rod and spoils the child. There were almost daily examples of this
attitude of irresponsibility, emotionalism, undue compassion, as if the
jurors considered a thief or an assassin at worst a poor unfortunate and
were thinking that the day may quite likely come when they will find
themselves in the same boat. A baker of a certain large city asked a
member of the Chamber of Deputies, to whom he had been supplying bread
for months without any suggestion of payment, to settle his bill. Being
of foreign birth, the baker may not have known that openly to dun a
Brazilian is so great an insult as to be dangerous. The deputy shot him
through the heart, and the jury found it “justifiable homicide.” A
_Carioca_ boy of fifteen, who had been in jail for a year charged with
murder, was tried during my stay in the capital. The whole trial took
place between one and twelve P. M., and the accused was found guilty of
“imprudence” and sentenced to fifteen days in prison. A well-known
citizen of Rio was assassinated on January 5 under revolting
circumstances. The case finally came to trial on the afternoon of
December 29; the court took a recess from seven to eight for dinner; at
11:20 the jury retired, and at 12:20 there was brought in a verdict
sentencing the accused to ten years’ imprisonment. Innumerable examples
might be cited, all showing extraordinary sloth in bringing criminals to
trial, lightning speed in dealing with them when at last they are
arraigned, and a mistaken soft-heartedness in punishing them. On the
other hand, the state may, and sometimes does, appeal a case and convict
a man acquitted by an earlier verdict.

                               CHAPTER X

The mixture of races gives Rio a society very different from that of
Buenos Aires; its elements are more distinct, more complex, more
primitive, much less European. Probably it is the African blood in his
veins even more than his Latin ancestry which gives the _Carioca_ the
emotionalism and the unexpected violences that often carry the
individual or the population to excesses. The Brazilian character may be
said to consist of Latin sensibility tinged with the African traits of
superstition, fatalism, slovenliness, indiscipline, a certain
happy-go-lucky cheerfulness, and an almost total lack of initiative; and
to these the country owes most of its social and economic afflictions.
It would be unreasonable to expect high things of it. The Portuguese
were the cheapest race in western Europe, who won their place in history
simply because they happen to live on the sea, and in the New World they
mixed indiscriminately and in a purely animal way with the lowest form
of humanity. The negro gave the Portuguese more imagination and a better
adaptability to the tropics, perhaps an increase of cheerfulness; but
with these came other qualities that do not make for improvement. Though
he is often quick of intelligence, the _Brazileiro_ seldom shows
continuity of effort or any other sturdiness of character; he is
exceedingly susceptible to flattery and highly incensed at any mention
of the faults which he himself sometimes recognizes. Weather appears to
make a difference in man’s disposition, and the climate of Rio does not
seem to breed what we call “crankiness.” Outwardly the _Carioca_ is
usually good-humored and obliging, with less gruffness than the
_Porteño_. Yet it is evidently not best for a man to be too greatly
favored by nature; not only does it make him more indolent, but he seems
on the whole to be less happy than in countries where the struggle for
livelihood demands continuous and gruelling labor. Though individually
and superficially they may be cheerful, the general air of a group of
Brazilians is melancholy; as a character in a native novel of standing
puts it, “they always seem to be discussing a funeral”—“or pornographic
secrets,” adds another. There are more suicides per capita in Rio than
in almost any other city in the world, and the finer the weather the
more there seem to be reported each morning.

That the Brazilian is superficially courteous and in his way kindly
there is no doubt; yet few traces of these qualities are to be found far
beneath the surface. Even if he protests, he does so in soft language;
_palavras grossieras_ under any provocation are considered exceedingly
bad form in any but the lowest classes. Yet there is a distinct
suggestion of decadence in this very softness of speech, and one comes
to long occasionally for the vigor and manliness of the doubled fist. As
fathers the Brazilians have few equals, in all truth, for almost no
other race on earth shows more indiscriminate diligence in peopling it.
But it is an excellency of quantity rather than of quality. They are
good husbands in the Brazilian sense, so long as the woman is content to
remain at home and raise children while her lord and master is
cultivating similar gardens elsewhere. Divorces are practically unknown
because the general sentiment of the country is still Catholic, for all
the prevalence of other theologies and philosophies, because the
Brazilians have something of the French point of view that the family is
primarily a business partnership not to be broken up for such light
reasons as lack of love or illicit intercourse, and because the country
has no divorce law. Married sons often live with their parents because
they are too proud or too lazy to go out and work—though there is a
strong family affection among all Latin-Americans, in the long run the
principal result of this particular custom is bad for the race. That the
rod is spared, often to the detriment of the child, especially of the
boys, there is no doubt; one finds proofs of it every hour of the day in
Brazil. The average Brazilian is an excellent illustration of the fact
that mankind must be disciplined, that even children cannot always be
ruled by love any more than they can be fed only on sweets, and the
sparing of the rod has had a very large and by no means always
beneficial effect on the male adults.

Indeed, there is far too much liberty, too much laissez faire—or _deixa
fazer_, to use the native tongue—in Brazil, as in Spanish and Portuguese
life everywhere. No one in the country seems to recognize that liberty
may easily slop over into license, that the liberty of one may go so far
as to interfere with and even wholly annul that of many others. No doubt
democratic liberty should allow street-hawkers to howl the night as well
as the day hideous, or let a merry soul pound a tuneless piano until
three in the morning. To the newly republicanized Brazilians a law
forbidding the interspersing of brothels through every residential
district would no doubt be “a despotic interference with our sacred
constitutional rights as citizens and equals,” as it would be to compel
the hundreds of boys selling newspapers in the streets of Rio to learn
some trade or calling, that later they may find some better way to earn
a living than by hawking or thieving. But it is the Brazilian, as it is
generally the South American, way never to correct anyone or anything
unless it is absolutely unavoidable, until a confirmed democrat comes to
wonder whether the human race must always have kings or dictators to
rule over it rather than ever learning to rule itself. Then one recalls
that Brazil has been a democracy, even nominally, only since 1889, and
it is not so strange that she has not yet come to see that there may be
a seamy side even to liberty.

Though they are constantly asking for credit abroad, either collectively
or as individuals, Brazilians trust one another even more rarely than do
the average of Latin-Americans. Everywhere are little hints of lack of
confidence. The cash system is widely prevalent, which does not merely
mean paying the moment the work is done, but often before it will be
undertaken, lest the client change his mind or prove insolvent. Thus one
pays a dentist before he fills a tooth, the doctor before he will remove
an appendix, and a photographer before he will undertake to print one’s
films. The mail boxes of Rio are automatic, for instance; the mailman
must shove a locked bag under them before they will disgorge their
contents, and both box and bag lock themselves as he pulls the latter
out again, so that he never sees a letter, much less gets his sticky
fingers on it. A judge of Rio stated publicly, when a jury let off a
palpable offender, that ninety-five per cent. of the fires in Brazil
were set by the owners or their hired agents in order to get the
insurance, but that “there are so many artists at this crime who
exercise their profession with such admirable perfection that few are
ever convicted, however convinced the judge and the public may be of
their guilt.” His Honor was, of course, incensed at a specific failure
to convict, and perhaps exaggerated somewhat, but there are evidences
that he had not greatly overstepped the truth.

There is no more futile occupation on earth than trying to save money in
Rio de Janeiro. It melts away like ice under an equatorial sun; in fact,
money is of such slight value in Brazil that it seems foolish to try to
keep it. Do so and you are more likely than not to find that it has
grown even more worthless next morning in exchange for those things of
real value which man needs; that you have saved the cash only to lose
the credit. Prices were decidedly higher in Rio than in Buenos Aires, or
even in Montevideo. A small glass of not very good beer cost 800 reis; a
green cocoanut, that finest of tropical thirst-quenchers, growing in
superabundance along all the 5000-mile coast-line of Brazil, was
considered a bargain at the equivalent of a quarter—and a tip to the man
who opened it. The smallest bottle of native mineral water of
unquestionable antecedents cost at least a milreis, and thirst lurks on
every corner in sun-blazing Rio. Ordinary water? Certainly; if one cares
to flirt with the undertaker. Everything else was in proportion to this
most necessary source of expense. In the _Seccos e Molhados_, “Drys and
Wets,” as Brazil calls her grocery or provision shops, potatoes sold at
six hundred and more reis a kilogram; butter imported from Denmark into
this enormous country of splendid grazing lands was a luxury far beyond
the reach of any but the affluent. With the smallest coin in circulation
worth more than three cents, it was not to be expected that prices would
be cut fine. Moreover, there is the tendency of _fazendo fita_. A
Brazilian is ashamed to admit that his money is limited. He has the
reputation, and prides himself on it, of being a “good spender,” but
this is not so much due to his scorn for money as compared with the
better things that money will buy as it is to the fear of being thought
less well-off than his fellows. Commerce is largely carried on in
public, and the purchaser is thereby forced to pay more for dread of
being seen making a fuss. He is afraid to ask the price of a thing
before buying, or to protest against exorbitance, lest the by-standers
think money matters to him—the ally of the tip-seeker the world over. À
la carte restaurants in Rio almost invariably leave the price-space on
their menus blank and bring a check bearing only the sum total, knowing
that the average client will not have the hardihood to ask for a bill of
particulars. Even a Brazilian workman never protests against commercial
exploitation, never refuses to take a thing after he has asked for it,
but pays whatever is demanded as if it were a pleasure to do so.

Even in the matter of prices a community gets about what it demands, and
this national lack of protest has lifted the cost of living in Brazilian
cities into the realm of the absurd. Prices of almost anything are out
of all reason; the people seem to have formed the habit of paying high
to cover the heavy import and other duties and the grafting of their
officials, and to expect everything to be marked up in the same
proportion. It seems to be more or less a matter of pride with them that
they pay more than other people. Third-class fare from Portugal to Rio
was 55$000; the return trip on the same ships cost 105$000. The attitude
of the entire population seems to be graft and let graft pay through the
nose because you can make someone else do likewise. The average
Brazilian does not look as hard at a 32-cent milreis as most Americans
do at a dime, or Europeans at a copper. Rio is one place where Americans
can realize how the European, earning his money with more difficulty
than we do, feels when he first comes into contact with our prices.

Numerous proofs may be found that the Brazilian is rather an imitator
than an initiator. He seldom has a worthwhile idea of his own, but he is
supernaturally quick to grasp those of anyone else. A year or more
before my arrival a Portuguese opened a _caldo de canna_ shop in
aristocratic Rua Ouvidor. He set up a small cane-press, stood a bundle
of choice sugarcanes at the door, laid in a supply of ice, and waited
for customers. They soon came, for nowhere does a novelty take more
quickly than in Rio. Picking out their own cane as they entered, the
clients caused it to be run through the press, the juice straining down
through chopped ice, with the result that for a _tostão_ they had a
pleasant and refreshing drink. Within a fortnight of the establishment
of this entirely new industry fifteen other persons, all Brazilians, had
opened _caldo de canna_ shops in the three short blocks of that narrow,
vehicle-less shopping street, buying out the former occupants at any
price—with the inevitable result that within a month the entire clan,
including the originator, were bankrupt. To-day, when the stroller is
thirsty yet has no desire to consume alcohol, he can get a glass of iced
cane-juice only in a few shops which make this a side-line of their
regular business. This is one of hundreds of similar incidents in the
commercial life of Rio, and suggestive in general of Brazilian business

A Brazilian proverb has it that “A cauda do demonio e de rendas” (the
devil’s tail is made of lace). Whatever the scientific exactness of that
assertion, there is no doubt that the _Brazileiro_ is early, often, and
usually successfully tempted by what are sometimes vulgarly called
“skirts.” The same may be said of all Latin-America, but in Brazil the
undisguised prevalence of irregular polygamy probably reaches its
zenith. Rigid, yet provocative, seclusion of the women, thanks to
Moorish influence, the former teaching of the Jesuits, to the instinct
for self-preservation of the women themselves, is perhaps as much the
cause of this condition as the natural polygamous tendency of the males.
Being an accepted convention of society that freedom of social
intercourse between men and women is certain to lead to more intimate
relations at the first opportunity, the women of the better class are
inclosed within an impregnable wall of Oriental seclusion, and their
contact with men is almost wholly confined to those of their own family
circle. Even the French find Brazilian family life unreasonably
circumspect. Under such conditions there can, of course, be little
social or intellectual activity, little real human intercourse, and it
is not surprising that the eager and romantic young men who find it
impossible to meet girls of their own class without a cynical chaperon
hanging constantly at their heels should fall easy prey to the darker
skinned and more accessible members of the sex, or to the imported
demimondaines who flourish in all the larger cities.

Naturally fecund, and of strong maternal instincts, the Brazilian woman
unquestioningly accepts the tenet that her place is strictly in the
home. Marriage does not bring her any appreciable increase in freedom
over her closely chaperoned days of virginity. But while she is expected
to conduct herself so circumspectly that not a breath of scandal shall
ever sully the honor of her fidalgo lord and master, the husband loses
none of his bachelor liberty. The average _Carioca_ can, and, above the
laboring class at least, usually does, keep a mistress, and not only
loses nothing of public esteem, but little of that of his own women. In
fact, the politician, the man of big business, of wealth, or of social
pretensions, is somewhat looked down upon if he does not maintain an
extra household or two; failure to do so is a fit subject for jesting
among his friends and acquaintances. The subsidized companions of this
class are almost always European, usually French, and preferably blond;
rarely are they native born, for the white and better class Brazilians
guard their daughters too closely to make possible any irregular
approach, and to take a “woman of color” would seem to the wealthy
Brazilian like buying poor native perfume when he can get, and all his
friends use, the best French product.

But it is not so much the existence of this state of affairs as the
perfect frankness with which it is admitted and carried on that astounds
the Anglo-Saxon stranger in Brazil. Even the French have never attained
the openness and lack of hypocrisy in the sex relationship which has
been reached by the Brazilian. Not merely does unattached youth sow its
wild oats with perfect indifference to public knowledge; heads of old
and respected families cultivate the same crop with intensive,
experienced care, quite as openly. The Brazilian who would be ready to
challenge to a duel the stranger who spoke to one of the women of his
family often brings them to social events, to the races, to a patriotic
celebration, and, after installing them in a place of vantage, goes to
sit with his overdressed French mistress, as like as not within plain
sight of his family, apparently without incurring any censure or even
protest from his wife and children and certainly none from society.

The means of acquiring a mistress of proper antecedents are varied. The
wealthy and traveled Brazilian brings her home with him from Paris, or
entrusts the commission to his friends. There is no difficulty whatever
about it, no inquisitive federal authorities, no inquiring protective
societies, “not even duty to pay, though that is our chief import,” as a
cynical editor put it. If neither of these means are available, and the
postal service is incapable of bringing him a prize, the seeker after
companionship may advertise in the public prints. Even the staid old
_Jornal do Commercio_, modeled on and in many ways resembling the
_London Times_, does not hesitate to run dozens of such “want ads” every
day of the year:

                       A WELL-CONDUCTED GENTLEMAN

                  Educated and serious, but with few
                  social relations in the city, wishes
                  to meet a pretty and like-minded
                  girl, in order to protect her
                  secretly. Letters to this newspaper
                  under the name “Xip.”


                  A serious youth, married,
                  independent, in the flower of his
                  years, without children, wishes to
                  make an arrangement with a girl or
                  widow of good appearance who will
                  accept a monthly pe

                        ADVANTAGEOUS OPPORTUNITY

                  A distinguished youth who is not
                  ugly, who dresses well and has a
                  permanent income, wishes to meet a
                  pretty girl of poor family who is in
                  need of protection, demanding merely
                  that she be not more than twenty
                  years old, that she be white, or at
                  least light-gray (_parda_), in
                  color, elegant, of good education,
                  and _sympathica_. He guarantees a
                  good standard of living, and it
                  might be that in the future he would
                  even marry her, a thing which he
                  cannot do now because the laws of
                  the country forbid it. It will be
                  better to send photographs. Letters
                  to João da Silveira at Poste

Nearly all advertisers emphasize their seriousness and demand it in
return, and the word “protection” appears in almost every notice. Nor is
the weaker sex backward in appealing for protectors:


                  A girl of fine manners and
                  bringing-up, aged 18, elegant,
                  serious, and well educated, will
                  accept the protection of a
                  _cavalheiro_ of the same qualities,
                  with wealth.


                  needs the urgent assistance of a
                  gentleman of position, distinction,
                  and good resources, who will furnish
                  a house for her and give her a
                  monthly pension of 500$000. Letters
                  to “Velda” in care of this

Naturally those of less individual lack of morals do not overlook the
opportunity of bringing themselves to notice in these columns, often
expressing themselves in French rather than Portuguese, not for the sake
of secrecy but because those who read French are more apt to belong to
the wealthier and better-conducted class to which the imported
aristocrats of the easy life appeal:

                            JEUNE PARISIENNE

                  arrivant d’Europe, chez Madame
                  Margot, Rua D. José de Barros, n.

                         MLLES. AIDA and CARMEN

                  advise their friends and comrades
                  that they have removed from 97
                  Ypiranga street to 42 Maio, where
                  they have established themselves.
                  Telephone 4,406.

                           YOUNG FRENCH GIRL

                  18 years, fresh and gay, arriving
                  from Reims, wishes to make the
                  acquaintance of several gentlemen
                  curious to talk over news of the war
                  and Prussian behaviour. Letters to
                  Mlle. H—— B—— in care of this

In addition to all these more or less individual appeals, there is, of
course, a plethora of “_mulheres da vida_”—“women of the life,” as they
are called in Brazil, “who,” complains a lone pulchritudinous editorial
voice, “are gradually invading all the arteries of the city.” This class
has almost completely usurped the first half mile or more of dwellings
along the Beira Mar, facing the bay and one of the most gorgeous views
in the western hemisphere; yet the citizens of Rio think no more of
protesting against this invasion than of striving to hinder the usurpers
from drumming up trade from dusk until daylight by repeated trips along
the first section of the “Botanical Garden Line.” I am not of those who
believe implicitly in our American custom of playing ostrich and
concealing our heads in the sand of Mrs. Grundy’s garden, but there is
such a thing as overdoing frankness, of making temptation too
accessible, of chloroforming public opinion out of its legitimate
consciousness; and the ways of Rio and the average Brazilian city do not
indicate that perfect candor is any improvement over our own secretive
and hypocritical treatment of the same subject.

There are other and more amusing things to be found among the “want ads”
of Rio newspapers. Beggars frequently run appeals for assistance:

                            POOR BLIND WOMAN

                  Francisca de Barros of Ceará, blind
                  in both eyes, crippled in one hand,
                  ill, and without resources, begs an
                  alms of all good charitable souls,
                  whom the good God will recompense.
                  It may be sent in care of this

                        BY THE WOUNDS OF CHRIST!

                  A lady who is ill and unable to
                  work, with a medical certificate to
                  prove it, a tubercular daughter, and
                  without resources to sustain
                  herself, suffering from the greatest
                  necessities, comes to beg of
                  charitable persons, by the Sacred
                  Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus
                  Christ, an alms for her sustenance,
                  which God will recompense to all.
                  Rua Senhor de Mattosinhos 43.

If all such beggars were actually ailing or incapacitated, it would be
less surprising to find respectable newspapers running their
advertisements. But it has often been amply demonstrated that many of
them are the most brazen frauds. The editors of the same sheets which
run these alms-seeking petitions admit editorially that “Mendicants of
the aristocratic variety, who live well, eat well, and except at work
dress well, may be found in any street of the city going from door to
door, imperiously clapping their hands to call the attention of the
residents.” At a fixed stop of all “Botanical Garden” cars a young woman
of slight African taint and rumpled garments, with several children
quite evidently borrowed for the occasion and frequently changed,
canvassed every car, always with profitable results; yet at her home in
the outskirts of Ipanema she dressed and lived like an heiress. There
are deserving cases, or at least unfortunate ones, among Rio’s indigent
army, but the church and Iberian custom have trained the _Cariocas_ to
accept begging as natural, inevitable, and in no way reprehensible, and
the medieval conception of charity, that the bestowing of largess on
able-bodied loafers is to lay up favor in heaven, causes the giver to
lose little thought on the worthiness of the case so long as the
heavenly bookkeepers duly record his action.

The announcements of “Spiritualist Somnambulists,” who can “diagnose the
future in time to permit applicants to change theirs before it is too
late,” are legion. One man ran permanently this long-winded assertion:

                              CURE BY GOD

                  The undersigned offers to cure
                  anyone of any ailment, cases that
                  are despaired of preferred, by the
                  laying on of hands, from eight in
                  the morning to eight at night, by a
                  special power given him by the
                  Almighty, and by prayer to the
                  invisible divine beings, the only
                  requirement being that those who
                  present themselves shall not be
                  under the care of nor taking any
                  medicine prescribed by, a physician,
                  and that they have faith in the
                  brilliant future of the divinely
                  gifted undersigned.

Apparently he had no connection with the disciples of a similar panacea
in our own country.

The more customary “want ads” of our own land, of persons seeking or
sought for work, are given a curious twist in Brazil for lack of the
succinct word “wanted,” which is replaced by _aluga_, really meaning
“rents.” Thus: “Aluga-se uma menina—there rents itself a girl to do

[Illustration: A news-stand on the mosaic sidewalk of the Avenida Rio

[Illustration: A hawker of Rio, with his license and his distinctive

[Illustration: The brush-and-broom man on his daily round through the
Brazilian capital]

Not the least curious of the contents of Rio newspapers are the illicit
gambling advertisements. The state and federal lotteries are legal and
may advertise as freely as the _cambistas_ who sell the tickets on the
streets may howl day and night hideous with spurious promises of easy
fortune, but these official games reduce competition as much as possible
by legal enactments. Some twenty years ago the director of the Rio Zoo
began putting up daily on the gate a picture of one of the animals
inside, in order to attract visitors to the establishment. A bright
individual recognized this as a brilliant opportunity to start a new
gambling scheme. He took the director into his confidence, gradually
drew crowds to the gate, and the illicit lottery that resulted
flourishes to this day. It is called “O Bicho,” a word meaning literally
“worm,” but which in Brazilian slang applies to all animals, reptiles,
birds, and even vermin. Twenty-five different “bichos” are used in the
underground lottery of Rio, and every day the newspapers carry the
notice: “O Bicho—For to-morrow ...,” followed merely by tiny pictures
of, perhaps, a snake, a rabbit, and a bear. The game is against the law,
yet even the chief of police plays it, and newspapers cannot be enjoined
from publishing the announcements, because no jury has ever been
officially convinced that they are not merely enigmas for amusing

Two points of superiority Brazilian newspapers have over our own—they
are not besmeared with the alleged “funny pages” of paint-pot
cartoonists, nor do they “feature” divorce cases or any other form of
marital misdemeanor, possibly because domestic infidelity is too
commonplace to be “news.” On the other hand, they pander to that
ultra-morbid streak in the Brazilian temperament which African blood
seems to give it. Large front-page photographs of the victims of suicide
or revolting crimes are the joy of _Carioca_ editors and readers, the
“action of the crime” being posed for in all its gruesome details by
models if pictures of the real characters are not available.

Speaking of crimes, there is a good police system in Rio, with several
excellent departments and a detective bureau that makes use of the
latest European science in the detection and capture of criminals. The
prevalence of warnings against “batadores de carteiras,” or pickpockets,
is a thermometer of the criminal element. This class is so numerous as
to have a thieves’ slang of its own, called “caló” by those who use it,
or, in the pamphlet vocabulary published by the police department,
“_Giria dos Gatunos Cariocas_.” Many of the expressions in this criminal
dialect of Rio would be Greek even to the man whose native tongue is
Portuguese, though a few of them are localisms in more general use. Not
a few of the words in the pamphlet grew familiar to my ear before I left
Brazil. I learned that “Noah’s Ark” is a pawnshop; to “perform an
autopsy” is to go through the pockets of a person fallen in the street;
“to strike thirty-one” is to die; a “bond” (in the legitimate language a
street-car) is a group of persons; to travel “by Italian bond” is to go
on foot; a policeman is a “button” or a “cloud”; a mounted policeman is
“a four-footed cardinal,” and “convent” means the Penitentiary. To “give
charity” is to kill a person while robbing him; to “disinfect the zone”
is to disappear from a given haunt; a patrol-wagon is either a “merry
widow” or a “chicken coop”; a “nose” is a person (“He came with three
noses”), the real nose being a “smoke-box.” A “soft” is a mattress; a
lawyer, a “talking-machine”; “synagogue” stands for head, and “Big Papa”
means the President of Brazil. Naturally money has many pseudonyms among
the class that is always seeking to lay illegal hands upon it, among
them “wind,” “light,” and “arame” (literally, brass or wire). The
expression “falta arame” (brass is lacking) is widespread. A ragged
youth frequently sidles up to the passer-by, rubbing his stomach and
asserting, “Falta arame pa’ matar o bicho” (literally, “money is lacking
to kill the worm”); what he really means to say is that he needs money
to stop the gnawings of hunger.

It is a common human trait for those somewhat loose in their morals to
be doubly stern in outward manners. The Brazilian, even of the more
haughty class, is inclined to be lax at home, though in public outward
appearance is everything to him. One showy suit of clothes for street
and social wear seems to leave the average _Carioca_ willing to spend
the rest of his life in his underclothes. It is no unusual experience
when calling upon a man to be asked on some pretext to wait until he has
put on his outer garments; while among the women the wrapper habit
extends from the highest to the lowest ranks of society. The tropical
heat partly accounts for this sartorial laxity, but in many ways it
typifies the national habit of mind. At home the Brazilian, particularly
of the fair sex, can sit for hours in that utterly blank-minded idleness
of the Oriental; only when they come out to stroll the Avenida or the
Ouvidor late in the afternoon do most of the women put on real clothes
and dress their hair. Among the humbler class, the negroes and poor
whites of the _morros_ and the narrow valleys between them, or of the
one-story tenement houses known as _cortiços_, there is but slight sense
of privacy and much of the family dishabillé and domestic activities are
freely exhibited to the public gaze.

Outside his home circle, however, the Brazilian is more than exacting in
such matters. In public a man must not only be fully dressed, but is
somewhat looked down upon if he indulges in any of those lighter garbs
of the “Palm Beach” variety that seem so in keeping with the Brazilian
climate. Especially if he is a politician, a business man, a member of
high society, or has a desire to attain to any of these categories, must
he wear a heavy dark suit and under no circumstances leave off his
waistcoat. To be without a coat is a criminal offense in many cities; in
the smallest village that has any personal pride, even among many people
living in the wilderness of the _sertão_, it is atrociously bad form.
The man riding with a negro functionary in the far interior of the
country must cling to his coat if he would not make his companion an
enemy for life. One of our recent presidents still has a low rating in
certain parts of interior Brazil because he entered a mud village of
unwashed, illiterate, largely illegitimate mulattoes in his
shirt-sleeves. When several of his party landed in Bahia they were met
by a courteous policeman and told either to go back to the ship and get
their coats or buy new ones in the shops. Yet in that very city hundreds
of men habitually wear no shirt or other garment under an often
wide-open coat. More remarkable still, while a man in his shirt-sleeves
is denied admittance to some of the most sorry establishments, it is
entirely comme il faut for him to come down to the early morning meal in
the best hotels in his pajamas. The negro captain of a little steamer
far up in Matto Grosso sent word to an American prospector of my
acquaintance, who appeared on deck in the latest model of soft shirt,
with belt and cravat, that he must not leave his cabin without his coat,
yet the majority of the native passengers were lounging about in
carelessly buttoned pajamas and kimonos, sockless slippers, the women
with their hair down their backs. During my first days in the country a
Brazilian aviator made the first non-stop flight from São Paulo to Rio,
breaking all South American records for speed and distance. The
newspapers shouted with glee at this splendid feat by a “son of the
country,” yet one and all commented in caustic editorials on his
shocking bad taste in leaving his coat behind and landing at Rio in his
shirt sleeves. The street-cars of Rio and every other city of size have
at least two classes. The fares are not greatly different, but unless a
man is wearing coat, collar, necktie, real shoes—not _tamancos_, or any
other form of sandal—_and socks_, he must ride second-class. Nor may he
carry with him in the higher form of public conveyance anything larger
than a portfolio.

Rio gives the impression of being overcrowded. With emancipation the
ex-slaves flocked into town in quest of an easier livelihood than that
on the plantations, and immigration streams clog here. The swarms of
beggars, criminals, prostitutes, hawkers, adult newsboys, two drivers
for each automobile, the crowds frequently seen struggling for jobs, to
say nothing of the plethora of government functionaries, suggest an
oversupply of human beings. More than once in strolling along the
wharves I came upon a hundred men fighting for work where twenty were
needed to coal or stevedore a ship, often standing up to their knees in
sea-water along the Caes Pharoux battling for a seat in the tender
waiting to carry the score to their labors. Nor were they “bums” either,
but muscular, honest workmen, nearly all of the Caucasian race; while
just across the way indolent mulatto government employees lolled in the
shade of the customhouse as if they had settled down for life and need
never again exert themselves. A “pull” with the foreman who chooses the
workmen for a given job is usually essential to being taken on, and he
naturally expects his “rake-off.” One day a riot broke out among these
wharf laborers; two “fiscals” of the stevedores’ union were killed by
members who claimed they had been discriminated against; and the
newspapers treated the matter as if it were a frequent occurrence.

Not the least picturesque of the many strange types of Rio are her
street vendors, who pass all day long in almost constant procession. The
Brazilian woman is not fond of shopping, or at least of going to market.
She has the Moorish custom of keeping to the house; she feels most
comfortable in négligé, and public appearance requires elaborate full
dress; nor does the blazing sunshine invite to unnecessary exertion.
This tendency to stay home, and the excess of men over jobs, has given
rise to innumerable street-hawkers, who go from door to door, selling
both the necessities and the luxuries of life. In the early morning,
often before sunrise in the winter months of July or August, one is
often awakened by a cry of “_Verdura! Verdureiro!_” and looks out to see
the “vegetable-man” jogging along under a load of green-stuff that would
break an ordinary man’s back. Then barely has one dropped off again
before there comes a bellow of “_Vassoura! Vassoureiro!
’asooooreeeeiro!_” from the brush-and-broom man, who marches by all but
lost under an arsenal of potential cleanliness, with a side-line of
baskets and woven baby-chairs to complete his concealment. Meanwhile
from down the street comes the increasing wail of “_’llinha! Gallinha
Gorda!_ (Chicken! Fat Chicken!),” and past the iron grilled window
shuffles a barefoot man with two large baskets at the ends of a pole
over his shoulder, or on the back of a horse or mule, offering
housewives their day’s roast or broiler. In Rio people always buy their
chickens on the hoof and avoid the risks of cold storage. Then comes the
“_Peixe! Camarão!_” man, whom we might call the fish-and-shrimp seller,
pausing here and there to cut up a fish on one of the round board covers
of his two flat baskets. He disappears earlier in the day than the
others, however, for seafood exposed after nine or ten in the morning to
the unshaded heat of Rio is likely to make a greater appeal to the
purchaser’s olfactory than to his optic nerves.

Not all hawkers cry their wares. Some have, instead, their own special
noise-makers. The cake-and-sweetmeat man, with his large glass-sided
showcase on top of his head, strides along, blowing a whistle that looks
like half a dozen cartridge shells of varying size stuck together, or
like the conventional Pan’s Pipes, and the shrilly musical sound these
emit causes every child within hearing to canvass its pockets, parents,
or friends for a _tostão_. When a customer appears the cake-man squats
from under his load, depositing it on the pair of crossed sicks in the
shape of a saw-horse that he carries under one arm, and the bargaining
begins. The tin-man goes by, carrying a great stack of pots and pans and
calling attention to his existence by shaking a frying-pan fitted with a
clapper. The scissors-grinder stops every few yards to bring every nerve
to the top of the teeth by running an iron hoop over his emery-wheel, in
the hope of attracting trade. The man who sells plants and flowers comes
along, incessantly and regularly beating with a light stick the side of
the blooming box on his head. The seller of _azucarillas_, the ephemeral
sweets of Spain, is as familiar a figure as in the Iberian peninsula;
the “ice cream” merchant marches about with what looks like an oxygen or
gas cylinder on his back, playing a steel triangle to call attention to
his little gambling wheel, guaranteed to teach children to gamble early
in life by taking a chance on his effervescent delicacies. A few vendors
have a limited district, with grouped customers, especially the
bread-man who, with his great basket on his head and the stool to hold
it under one arm, has only to station himself in the _pateo_, or
courtyard, of a _cortiço_ to be surrounded by a clamoring throng,
children snatching the long loaves faster than their parents can buy
them and rushing excitedly into their one- or two-room homes with the
bread hugged tightly against their soiled chests. But the majority tramp
all day long, some treading the hot cobbles in bare feet, some wearing
the noiseless _alpargatas_ of Spain and Portugal, many scraping along
the cement pavements in wooden _tamancos_, invading every nook and
corner of the city and punctuating the whole day long with their cries
and signals. With rare exceptions they are Portuguese or Spanish—it
would be beneath the dignity of a native Brazilian to carry things about
in the hot sunshine; but the clothing trade is almost entirely in the
hands of “Turks,” as South America calls the Syrian, who peddles his
wares in every corner of the great republic in which the human race
sprouts. In Rio this perambulating clothing-shop announces himself by
slapping together two lath-like sticks, making a noise similar to, yet
entirely distinct from, that of the plant-and-flowers man. From daylight
until dark he plods, to wander back to his noisome little den when night
settles down without a slap left in his arm. During his first year or
two he carries his goods on his back, and looks at a distance like a
walking department store. But by the second year he has usually scrimped
enough to buy an elaborately decorated chest of drawers and to hire a
youthful or newly-arrived fellow-countryman to carry it, while he
wanders along with nothing to do but slap his sticks together and engage
in the long-winded bargaining which is unavoidable in any financial
dealing with the Brazilian housewives peeping out through their window
gratings. But the “Turk” is a more clever bargainer than the best of
them, and within three or four years he is almost certain to have
advanced to the ownership of a little pushcart and by the end of five
years it is a strange mishap if he has not set up a shop, become a local
nabob, and driven native competitors entirely out of his district.

This does not by any means exhaust the list of vendors who add their
noises to the general hubbub of Rio. No one who has spent a week there
could forget the _cambistas_, the lottery-ticket sellers of all ages and
both sexes who invade the inmost privacy with their raucous howls, or
the never-ending cries of newsboys, some of whom spread their wares on
the mosaic sidewalks of the Avenida Central, while others race in and
out of the narrow streets on either side of it. Nor should one overlook,
even if it were possible, the creaking of enormous carts, their two
wheels twelve feet or more in diameter, with which an immense log or a
granite boulder is transported through the streets to the accompaniment
of hoarse-voiced cursing of the mule-driver in charge.

If one grows weary of wandering Rio’s sun-bathed and colorful avenues
and _ruas_, there are indoor places worth seeing. The National Library,
for instance, is a magnificent building, at least in its material and
inanimate aspects. The human element is somewhat less perfect. The
president himself could not take a book out of the library; everyone
knows he would be sure to keep it or hock it. Being scribbled by hand,
the card catalogue is by no means easily legible; it is set so near the
floor that the reader of American height all but breaks his back in
reaching it, and there are so many authors of the same name that to hunt
up a given one is a serious task. Then there is a splendid Brazilian
system, evidently imported from Portugal or some still less respectable
region, under which directories, biographies, and the like are always
arranged in alphabetical order according to the _first_ name.

Let us suppose that the only Brazilian opera of any importance, “O
Guaraní,” is soon to be given in the Municipal Theater, and that you
wish to know something about the man who wrote it. The announcement
mentions that his name is Gomes. You enter the sumptuous hall of the
library, hat in hand, wait for the negro attendant and his white bosom
companion to stop gossiping and give you a hat check, then you climb to
the next floor and, doubled up like a jackknife, claw through the
catalogue until you get the serial number of a biographical dictionary
in many volumes, containing the life story of the “Most Illustrious
Brazilians”—of whom there seem to be millions. Having filled out a
“bulletin” explaining which book you wish to consult, giving author,
title, the date, the “number of the set,” the “indication of the
catalogue,” your own name, address, and other detailed personal
information back to the fourth generation, you enter the sumptuous
reading-room. Or, more exactly, you wait patiently at the door thereof
until you are handed a _senha_, a slip of paper which gives you the
right to enter and—if you can still produce it—to exit. That in hand,
you choose a seat and write the number of it on the “bulletin,” hand
this to the gossiping tar-brushed attendant, and go and sit down. The
attendant finishes his gossip, looks at the slip, and carefully puts it
under a book on his desk. By and by he ends another gossip, picks up the
book, is astonished to find a slip under it, reads it carefully, and
puts it under another book on another part of the desk. Meanwhile you
cannot go to look up the books you might want to read at some future
date, because you cannot leave the reading-room without giving up your
senha with the attendant’s “o.k.” on it. You cannot bring along a book
of your own to read meantime, because any Brazilian knows that you would
bring some worthless pamphlet and manage to exchange it for a valuable
library volume. There is nothing to do but sleep, or study the
scattering of fellow-sufferers in the reading-room, where you are sure
to be struck by the absence of women. An old maid did enter the library
one day while I was there, but she was stared at so steadily that
neither she nor the men in the room did any reading.

Finally, if this happens to be your lucky day, it may occur to the
attendant to put your book-slip into the automatic tube at his elbow and
send it off to the stacks. When the employees at that end of the tube
get through discussing politics or the lottery and send the book back by
automatic carrier, along with the “bulletin” signed by the man who
“executed the request,” a negro attendant wanders over to your seat with
it. Then you quickly discover that though the huge volume is devoted to
everything from “Gl” to “Gy” there is not a single Gomes in it. This
rather surprises you, since Gomes is as widespread in Brazil as Smith in
the United States or Cohen in New York, and at least one of that name
must have been illustrious at least in the Brazilian sense. But by this
time it is four-thirty, and the library takes a recess at five—that is,
everyone is ejected and the doors locked by that hour—so you give it up.

Next day you discover quite by accident, your eyes having fallen upon a
frieze at the “Theatro Phenix,” that the musician’s name was _Carlos_
Gomes. As soon as the library opens—at ten in theory and about ten-forty
in fact—you hasten back and go through the same tape-wound misery again
to get the fourth volume of illustrious Brazilians, and wallow for hours
through pages upon pages of “Carlos” without finding a single one of
them answering to the name of Gomes. Days afterward, when the opera has
come and gone, a _Carioca_ acquaintance casually remarks that the man
who wrote it was _Antonio_ Carlos Gomes, but that he never used the
first name! Back to the library to flounder once more in the ubiquitous
red tape, and late that evening you grasp the “A” volume of illustrious
Brazilians and finally at nine-thirty—Eureka! “Antonio Carlos Gomes,
Paulista, musician, born in Campinas, and ...” and just then you are
“put into the eye of the street,” for the library closes at ten and no
Brazilian official is so absurd as to let the closing hour catch him
still in the act of closing. Wandering homeward or out along the Avenida
you muse on how convenient it would be if strangers in our Congressional
Library had to look up the 28th president of the United States under the
name “Thomas.”

Though at least two-thirds of the people of Brazil do not read or
write—more than half because they cannot and the rest because they have
no occasion or no desire to do so—Brazilians of the small “upper” class
are more cultured in the narrow, bookish sense of the word than the
average American of similar rating. “Everyone” knows everyone else in
this restricted little circle in Rio, and they retain many of the
old-fashioned opinions and manners of the days when the capital was
called “the court” and was overrun by the locust swarm of courtiers from
the old world. Embracing is still the knightly form of greeting between
males in this higher _Fluminense_ society, where it is the custom for a
man to kiss a lady’s hand—or glove—upon being presented, and in which
young men often give their fathers similar marks of recognition in
returning from or departing on a journey of any length. Many of this
caste are still monarchists, at least at heart, though they usually find
it to their advantage outwardly to acquiesce in, or even to show
enthusiasm for, the new form of government.

I attended several “social functions” in Rio—always from a discreet
distance, “_a mocidade_,” which is the same foppish muster of youthful
“intellectuals” that is known as “_la juventud_” in Spanish-America or
“la jeunesse dorée” in France, was trying to establish a “Little
Theater” for the exclusive use of the élite, “with a view to
rehabilitating our histrionic art, so debilitated to-day.” Now and then
they perpetrated amateur plays which fortunately were not exposed to the
scorn of the general public. One afternoon they arranged a “literary
program” for the purpose of raising a monument to Arthur Azevedo,
Brazilian dramatist and writer of clever but salacious short stories. It
began at four in the handsome new “Theatro Phenix,” usually sacred to
the “movies,” and actually got started shortly before five. Being
primarily a social event, there were only four of us up in the gallery.
On the stage below, two young men in ultra-correct afternoon dress,
creased to the minute, displayed themselves to a select female audience
in recitations from Arthur’s stories (edited) and plays, with
extravagant and unnatural gestures. A self-confident lady who was just
recovering from being young, moaned through half a mile of something in
French—what this had to do with the glory of Arthur I did not catch,
high up under the eaves, unless it was meant to show how well the élite
of Rio have copied Parisian manners—and finally there was given a
one-act play by the same monumental author, which might have been very
funny had the acoustics of the house permitted us gallery slaves to
catch more than the reflected mirth of the audience. Through it all a
dozen of “our greatest literary geniuses” pranced about the stage before
the admiring audience on one excuse or another, while two photographers
toiled assiduously taking flashlights from all possible angles of the
correctly creased afternoon trousers.

Still another day found me at a soirée musicale in the old “Theatro
Lyrico,” back of its newer and more aristocratic municipal successor.
This rather breathless old barn was the principal theater of Brazil
under the monarchy, and still retains unchanged the imperial loge, a
whole furnished apartment in Louis Philippe style. There was only a
slight negro strain in the audience, but the orchestra of fifty pieces
ran the whole gamut of human complexions. The recital by a pianist still
in her teens easily made up for all the tedium I had undergone in
attending other “social functions” in the Brazilian capital. As
Senhorita Guiomar Novaes has since won high praise in our own land and
in Europe, I am pleased to find in my notes on that day’s performance
the prophecy, “Here at least is one Brazilian who will prove of world

One of the points that distinguish Brazil from Spanish-America is its
divergencies of religion. Here, too, the church got in on the ground
floor. As early as 1590 the Benedictine monks founded a monastery on the
summit of the Morro São Bento; soon afterward the Capucines established
themselves on top of the Morro do Castello, and in general the churchmen
showed great predilection for the high places of Rio, perhaps to get
that much farther away from the wicked world. For centuries Rome ruled
Brazil with her customary profitable sternness. Scarcely two centuries
ago Protestants attempting to spread their propaganda in the country
were roughly treated, and priests publicly burned in the _praças_ of
Bahia and other cities the Bibles and tracts offered by American and
other colporteurs. To this day and in the cathedral of Rio itself one
may find evidences of medieval fanaticism—women of the poorer class
making the circuit of the church on their knees, or kissing everything
in sight, including floor, walls, and all the wounds of a life-size
plaster-of-Paris crucifix under a thin shroud. A few of the hilltops,
too, are still sacred to the cloistered life, but the church has lost
much of its monopoly and is much less militant and omnipresent than on
the West Coast. It is the custom of Brazilian men, even in street-cars
or trains going full speed, to raise their hats, often in unison, when
they pass a funeral or a cemetery; but the same reverence in passing a
church door is by no means so general, and is usually confined to the
part-negro portion of the population. Indeed, it is almost unusual to
meet a priest, monk, or nun in the streets of Rio, and politically the
church is almost an outcast.

Yet the capital pulsates with many religions. The transplanted faiths
of the many races that make up the modern _Carioca_ are so numerous
that, if we may believe a native writer, “every street has a different
temple and every man a different belief.” There are several sects of
African fetish worshippers, Methodists, Maronites, Baptists,
Physiolatras, Presbyterians, Satanists or worshippers of the devil,
Congregationalists, “Drinkers of Blood,” “Brothers,” Adventists, Jews,
followers of the “black mass,” Swedenborg disciples of the New
Jerusalem, exorcists, literary pagans, _sacerdotistas_ of the future,
descendants of the Queen of Sheba, worshipers of the sea, and
defenders of many other exotic dogmas, not to mention a large building
back of the Avenida Central occupied by the “A.C.M.” (_Associação
Christão de Moços_), in other words, the Y.M.C.A. As far away as the
Uruguayan border I had heard an unfrocked priest lecture on one of the
newer faiths of Brazil and was astonished to hear the loud and general
applause whenever he made a thrust at the fanaticism or immorality of
South American priesthood. Up in the Andes he would have proceeded
along that tack in public for about two minutes before having a
pressing engagement with the undertaker. In Santa Maria my
astonishment was as great when I passed an imposing Protestant stone
church on one of the principal streets and heard the minister—speaking
his Portuguese with a thick German accent—openly preaching his
particular doctrine to a large Brazilian congregation. Freedom of
worship reigned indeed; in that morning’s newspaper there was a
complaint from a town not far away that it could get no mail from
Friday until Monday, because its postmaster was an “_Adventista do 7º

The cult of the sea is found chiefly among the colonies of fishermen
scattered about Guanabara Bay. Some of these will under no circumstances
leave the sea or its beaches. Their children swim at two and go fishing
with the adults at ten. The moon enters considerably into their
fanaticism, and their veneration for and fear of the “Mother of Water”
is inferior only to their dread of the police, before whom, or in the
presence of non-conformists, they pretend to be strict Catholics.
One-fifth of all the spiritualist propaganda in the world is published
in Brazil, according to a native who made an investigation of the
question. This superstition is so widespread that men high in government
and business circles have been known to refuse to take a street car
which the rabble has left empty because “it is full of bad spirits.”
Synagogues are numerous in Rio, for there is a large Jewish colony,
running through all the gamut of society as well as of commerce, and
widely varying in orthodoxy and religious rites. There are rich Jews in
business along the Avenida who spend their winters “playing the markets”
and their summers up in Petropolis. In the less showy streets live
swarms of poor Armenian, Moroccan, Russian, Austrian, Turkish, French,
English, German, Arabian, and even African Jews, all engaged in their
customary occupation of buying and selling something or other. About the
Praça Tiradentes and in its radiating _ruas_ seethe Jewish women of the
streets and their male companions and exploiters, the _caftenes_, from
all the ghettoes of Europe.

There are said to be more than eighty thousand Syrians in Brazil, of
whom by no means all wander through the streets slapping together a pair
of sticks. Down about the Rua da Alfandega and the lower point of the
city “Turks” own important business houses; in the colony are clever
craftsmen and even a few doctors, politicians, and journalists. More
than half the Brazilian Syrians are Maronite Christians from the
Lebanon; the rest are orthodox Mohammedans of somewhat lower social
strata, who earn their primitive livelihood as _carregadores_, carriers
of mankind’s material burdens, as shop-servants, and as petty peddlers.
Though many of these “Turks” find the difference in language a great
barrier to their native loquacity as bargainers, their qualities are
near enough those of the Brazilians to cause them to fit quickly into
their environment.

Mohammedanism is not confined to the Syrians in the religious medley
that characterizes the capital of Brazil. Thousands of former slaves are
more or less followers of the Prophet of Medina, though barely aware of
it themselves. The negroes shipped out to Brazil in the olden days were
from many little nations scattered through the far interior of Africa;
hence their religions were as varied as their tongues. But just as the
general language of that continent, the _cubá_, suffices for simple
conversation throughout Africa or among the blacks of Rio, so the negro
religions practiced in the Brazilian capital may be roughly divided into
two general classes. The _alufás_ are more or less Mohammedan, with a
background of African superstitions; the _orixás_ are a still more
primitive sect upon which the influence of the prophet was never
brought. Outwardly, of course, nearly all the blacks are good Catholics,
but their saints and gods have been crossed with those of the church
until it is a wise negro who knows an African from a Catholic deity.
Then, too, the unadulterated fetish worship imported with the slaves
still persists, and Obeah and voodoo practices sometimes give evidence
of their existence. According to a reputable native writer there are in
the everyday crowd that surges through the Avenida, medicine men,
magicians, voodoo chiefs, _feiticeiros_ who will agree to mix a love
philter or to bring misfortune upon an enemy by mumbling an incantation
over a concoction of rat tails, cat’s head, finger and toe nails, and
the innocent passer-by would never dream what absurd African rites are
taking place behind more than one commonplace façade. There are “holy
men” living in the very heart of Rio surrounded by a swarm of
servant-women with whom they live in polygamy as in the wilds of the
black continent, yet many of whom dress for public appearance quite like
their Christian fellow-countrymen, play “bicho,” and die leaving to
their heirs many contos of reis. Negro Brazilians who know French and
even English, who have been educated abroad and have in some cases
become senators, or presidents of states, “men to whom I lift my hat and
with whom I shake hands,” in the words of the native investigator, still
cling secretly to the old African superstitions. There are rich
Brazilians who send their sons to Africa to study the religions of their
forefathers, and traffic between Rio, Bahia and Pernambuco and several
West African ports is heavy.

Most conspicuous of the non-Catholic sects of Brazil, thanks less to
their numbers than to their political power and high intelligence, are
the Positivists. Auguste Comte, a Parisian mathematician who spent part
of his life in an insane asylum and the rest in penning voluminous
explanations of a “positive philosophy” which even the mathematical mind
seems to find difficulty in comprehending, suffered the customary fate
of the prophet in his own country. “Paris,” according to his Brazilian
disciples, “was not prepared for so advanced a doctrine.” In most other
countries he won only scattered followers—George Eliot and her lover
were among them—but in Brazil his doctrine not only survives but seems
likely to increase its standing before it goes the way of other ’isms.
Positivist propaganda began in Brazil during our Civil War, but was some
time in getting a footing. Finally the “Littréists” Miguel Lemos and
Teixeira Mendes became converts, the former becoming the head of the
sect in Brazil and the latter—now his successor—his chief lieutenant.
But it was Benjamin Constant Botelho de Magalhães who raised Positivism
to a political force, first teaching it more or less secretly in the
Military School and combining with it the demand for a republican form
of government until, in 1889, the sect joined with the army in
overthrowing the monarchy. The Brazilian Positivists credit themselves
with establishing the republic, separating the church from the state,
reforming the teaching and criminal codes, and many lesser

Strictly speaking Positivism does not pretend to be a religion but
merely a “philosophy of life.” Yet it bears many reminders of the
Puritanical and reforming sects so numerous in our own land. Positivists
advocated the abolition of slaves; they are opposed to the lottery; they
demanded an easier form of civil marriage in the hope of cutting down
illegitimate unions—in other words, they combine religion and morals,
which are so completely divorced in the ruling church of South America.
They are popularly reputed to be opposed to the use of coffee or tobacco
and to take that “blue law” view of life into which our Puritan virus
shows frequent tendencies to degenerate, but this they claim to be mere
ridicule or counter-propaganda of their enemies.

I arranged by a “want ad” to exchange English for Portuguese lessons
with a well-educated native of Rio, who turned out to be a government
functionary and a Positivist. Possibly the most striking thing about him
was his almost Protestant moral code, contrasted with his genuinely
Brazilian tolerance in practice. He saw nothing reprehensible in
cheating the public out of more than half the time and effort which they
paid him to deliver; he asserted that he and Brazilians in general
believed their wives certain to betray them if given the opportunity,
and refused to credit my statement that the average American husband
does not consider eternal vigilance the price of his domestic honor. Yet
often in the same breath he pronounced some Positivist precept that
would fit snugly into the code of our sternest sects.

I accompanied my student-tutor one Sunday morning to the principal
weekly service at the Positivist _Apostulado_, or “Temple of Humanity”
in the Rua Benjamin Constant. It is an imposing building in the style of
a Greek temple, said to be copied from the Panthéon of Paris. On the
façade is the Positivist motto in large bronze letters:

                          O Amor por Principio
                          E a Ordem por Baze
                          O Progresso por Fim.

Inside, the almost luxurious edifice, “sea-green in color, as if one
were bathed in hope, and with the high ceiling essential to lofty
thoughts,” still somewhat resembles a Catholic church. Around the walls
of the nave are fourteen “chapels” containing as many busts, each
representing one of the “saints” of Positivism and an abstract idea.
They are Moses—Initial Theocracy; Homer—Ancient Poetry;
Aristotle—Ancient Philosophy; Archimedes—Science; Cæsar—Military
Civilization; St. Paul—Catholicism; Charlemagne—Feudal Civilization;
Guttenberg—Modern Invention; Dante—Modern Epic; Shakespeare—Drama;
Descartes—Modern Philosophy; Frederick the Great—Modern Politics;
Bichat—Modern Science, and lastly, Eloïse, or Feminine Sanctification.
It would be easy, of course, to quarrel with the Positivists on several
of their choices as world leaders, were they of a quarrelsome
disposition. These personages also give their names to the fourteen
months of the Positivist calendar, which begins with the French
Revolution. Among the decorations are the “flags of the five
nations”—Brazil, China, Turkey, Chile and Haiti! Only two South American
countries are represented because “these are unfortunately the only ones
in which the Positivist faith as yet counts fervid adepts.” China wins
place as the “most vast nation of the Orient;” Turkey as the “most
cultured people of the East” (!), and Haiti is admitted “in honor of the
greatest of negroes, Toussaint L’Ouverture,” whose portrait is the only
non-Caucasian face among the many about the walls. There are of men of
all ages and nations, whom the Positivists consider of world
importance,—Camões, Lavoisier, Cervantes, St. Gall, Cromwell, and many
others, the only American among them being an atrocious chromo print of
Washington. Higher still, in decorative letters and the simplified
spelling of Positivist Portuguese, are scattered the words,—Space,
Industry, Architecture, Painting, Earth, Music, Poetry, Politics,
Proletariat, Priesthood, Monotheism, Astrology, Family, Humanity,
Patriotism, Fetishism, Polytheism, Woman, Morality, Sociology, Biology,
Soil, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Logic. Above what, for want of a
better name, might be called the altar or the main chapel, runs the

      “Vergine Madre Amen te plus quam me nec me nisi propter te.”

No Catholic church was ever more crowded with images than the “Temple of
Humanity.” In fact, the more closely one looked the more did certain
forms and beliefs of Catholicism peer through the outward modern mantle
of Positivism, as if either the founder or his disciples had not been
able to divest themselves entirely of their inherited faith. The most
Catholic _beata_ in South America could scarcely have shown greater
reverence for the sacred pictures, graven images, and “relics of the
faith” with which the temple was crowded. Above the “pulpit” was a bust
of Comte on a column, its upper portion covered with green cloth
embroidered with white silk “by one of our young female proselytes.”
Portraits of Comte and his mistress, Clothilde de Vaux—both painted in
China and depicting them with almond eyes—hung in the main chapel, where
there were also paintings of each of them on the death bed. Pictures of
the Bastille, of Dante and Beatrice, of the Sistine Madonna surmounted
by a cross, “because she was an ardent Catholic,” were among the many
which a roving eye gradually discovered. Most astonishing of all was the
likeness of “Humanity,” a virgin figure with the features of Clothilde
de Vaux, dressed as a bride, with a green band at her waist and holding
in her arms a pretty boy who grasped a handful of daisies and pansies,
the Positivist flowers, and gazed up into the woman’s face, the whole
patently inspired by the Catholic madonnas which it closely resembled.
In the background were the Panthéon and Père Lachaise cemetery, where
Comte is buried.

Like all religions, the new creed already tended to harden into set
forms, the failure to carry out which was evidently a more grievous sin
than the disobeying of the general principles of the order. Their
veneration of pictures of the dead was almost medieval; the railing of
the tomb of Clothilde had been brought from Paris and as much fuss was
made over it as ever devout peasants did over the shin-bone of a saint;
“first sacraments” were administered in the temple; “the faithful” were
urged to visit the “sacred places of Positivism;” they had a substitute
for crossing oneself, “a sacred formula of our faith in which it is
customary for all believers to stand up out of respect for Our Master.”
There was even a hint of Mohammedanism, a mark in the cement floor of
the porch under the pillars indicating the direction of Paris—the
thought of Paris as a sacred city was a trifle startling—“toward which
all Positivistic Temples should have their principal axes.”

[Illustration: The sweetmeat seller announces himself with a distinctive

[Illustration: The opening of the “Kinetophone” in Brazil]

[Illustration: The ruins of an old plantation house on the way to
Petropolis, backed by the pilgrimage church of Penha]

In the basement of the temple was a printing plant from which issues a
constant stream of Positivist pamphlets, books, biographies of Benjamin
Constant, and similar forms of propaganda. Here, too, is the original
flag of republican Brazil, painted in crude colors on pasteboard by
order of Teixeira Mendes. The story of its designing is not without
interest. Having been assigned the task by the leaders of the
revolution, the present head of the Positivists of Brazil determined to
keep the general form of the existing national banner. João VI had given
the kingdom a coat-of-arms set in a golden sphere on a blue background.
Mendes changed the blue to green, basic color of the Positivist banner
and meant also to symbolize the tropical vegetation of the land, as the
yellow sphere does the gold in its soil. Then he called in an
astronomer, and taking the twenty principal stars of the southern
firmament at noon of November 15, 1889, to represent the twenty states
of Brazil, he placed nineteen below the equator-like band across the
golden sphere, and one above it to indicate that part of the country
north of the equator, or of the Amazon. The sphere was inclined on the
horizon according to the latitude of Rio, the tobacco and coffee on the
old royal coat-of-arms were removed, as “mere commercial things not fit
for a place on the national banner,” and along the equatorial band was
run a line from the Positivist motto.

The women of the congregation sat on a platform in front of the “altar”
rail, the men down in the body of the “church.” Women should love
Positivism, according to its disciples, for it dignifies, venerates, and
raises them to their due elevation. The “3rd of Guttenberg” on which the
temple was dedicated is also the “Feast of Woman” day, on which
Positivists celebrate the “transformation of the cult of the Catholic
Virgin into the cult of Humanity.” Teixeira Mendes, long the head of the
sect in Brazil, sat in the “pulpit” beneath the bust of Comte and
“preached,” if his un-sermon-like remarks uttered in a weak, thin voice
barely heard through an immense white mustache may be so called. His
diminutive form was covered by a dark robe, with a green cord about the
neck and embroidered with the Positivist flowers. The “sermon”
emphasized the Positivist conception of the “virgin mother” as combining
the two great qualities of the feminine type,—purity and tenderness.
Like many other religions, this modern creed clings to the legend of a
virgin mother. As the gathering marched out to the tune of the
“Marseillaise,” I asked my cicerone to explain the frequent recurrence
of the “virgin mother” motif in temple and sermon. He replied that it
was the Positivist belief that humanity would gradually be educated up
to the point where “woman will be able to reproduce alone, without the
necessity of ‘sin’ with man!”

                               CHAPTER XI
                            STRANDED IN RIO

I had long expected far-famed Rio to be the climax and end of my South
American wanderings. Portuguese civilization had never aroused any great
interest within me; a glimpse of Brazil, with possibly a glance at
Venezuela on my way home, to complete my acquaintance with the former
Spanish colonies, seemed a fitting conclusion of a journey that had
already stretched out into almost three years. When I had “fiscalized”
the “Botanical Garden” street-car line for nearly a fortnight,
therefore, and seen the chief sights of the Brazilian capital, I began
to think of looking into the question of getting back to the United

Contrary to my earlier expectations, it would not be necessary to sign
on as a sailor or stoke my way across the equator. With my unanticipated
salary of six thousand a day and by dint of long experience in
sidestepping high prices, I had succeeded in clinging to the equivalent
of a hundred dollars from my consular earnings, as a reserve fund for
this last emergency. With that munificent sum on hand, I might even
scorn the long-familiar steerage and treat myself to a second-class
passage on any of the steamers sailing frequently from Rio to New York.

Unfortunately I had not been keeping my ear to the ground. Years of
care-free wandering in those sections of the earth where life is simple
and in which man learns to depend chiefly on himself had caused me to
overlook certain characteristics of the more complicated world I was
rejoining. There even a vagabond is only to a limited degree a free
agent. The reserve fund I had unexpectedly saved from the maw of
Brazilian profiteers was in paper milreis and as one had been able for
more than a decade to turn 300$000 into twenty English gold sovereigns
at will, I had neglected to do so at once. On the bright “winter”
morning of Saturday, the first of August, I strolled out of my modest
hotel and along the Avenida Central with my habitual air of a care-free
man of unlimited leisure—almost instantly to recognize that there was
something strange in the wind. Before the offices of the _Jornal do
Commercio_ and the _Jornal do Brazil_ were gathered seething crowds,
eagerly spelling out the voluminous bulletins in their windows. I paused
to read with them. Some one, it seemed, had kicked over the balance of
power in Europe and France and Russia had decided to try to give Germany
the trouncing for which she had so long been spoiling.

The news came to me out of a tropically clear sky. I did recall having
glanced at a brief newspaper paragraph somewhere during my journey
northward from Uruguay, to the effect that some prince of Austria and
his consort had been killed at a Serbian town of which I had never
heard; but I had known other assassinations of Europeans of high degree
to blow over without a war resulting. Squabbling was always going on in
the Balkans anyway. Pessimists had it that there was going to be a long
and a real war; in common with all other wise men of the period I smiled
condescendingly at the silly notion.

Yet here were very decided rumors of war. Maps were already appearing in
the windows of newspaper offices, with scores of black and red-headed
pins on them to show the advance of the various armies. The flurry might
not amount to much, but it was high time I turned my paper milreis into
real money, bought my ticket, and got out of this temperamental country
before something serious really did happen. I strolled on and dropped
into one of the countless “exchange” booths that flourish in and about
the Avenida Central. Handing out my three hundred thousand reis I
requested the man inside to hand me back twenty gold sovereigns. He
looked at me scornfully, pointed to a small paragraph in the newspaper
under my elbow, and went on painting a sign on a piece of cardboard.
Perusing these I learned the astounding news that the milreis, which had
been rated fifteen to the English sovereign as far back as men with
average memories could recall, had dropped overnight to _twenty-three_
to the pound! In other words of the same profane nature, my hundred
dollars had dwindled in a few hours, merely on the strength of a bit of
news from squabbling Europe, to about seventy. I refused to be “done” in
that fashion. It was merely the old familiar trick of bankers who were
taking advantage of a temporary scare to rob the garden variety of
mankind of our hard-won earnings. In a day or so honesty, or at least
competition, would prevail, and my three hundred milreis would be worth
more nearly their honest value again. I re-pocketed them and decided to
wait until the exchange moderated—and two days later my seventy dollars
was worth less than sixty!

It may seem ridiculous that a man with three hundred thousand in his
pocket should worry—at least to those who do not know Brazil, her
currency, her prices, and her profiteers. But I began to feel uneasy.
Not merely was the money I had by superhuman efforts saved to carry me
home calmly melting away in my pocket without even being touched, but
before long touching became unavoidable. In less time than would have
seemed possible a third of my miserable bills had disappeared. Even if I
got away at once, I should have to go straight home without stopping at
Venezuela, and if I did not hurry I should not get home at all. I raced
to the steamship offices—only to get a new shock. Not only had the value
of my money been cut in two, and a third of it used up, but the price of
steamship tickets had suddenly and mysteriously doubled, and only
English gold was accepted. If I could have jumped upon a steamer that
day, I could still have paid for a third-class passage. But there was no
boat due for three days, and there were good chances that this would be
several days late!

The air was full of war-bred excitement. Before it was announced that
England had declared war, the British cruiser that had been lying in the
harbor for nearly a week with her fires up was out stopping and
searching all traffic along the coast. Several ships flying the German
flag were anxiously awaiting orders in the bay, little realizing that
their last voyage under that banner was over. Another German vessel
forcibly put ashore fifty Russian steerage passengers who had embarked
in Buenos Aires with all their savings, generously giving them back
one-third the money they had paid for passage to Europe. Detachments of
rifle-bearing Brazilian policemen patrolled the wharves to preserve
order between the various nationalities. The German consul general had
ordered all Germans on the reserve list in Brazil to report to the
nearest consulate prepared to sail for home. German reservists poured
into the capital from the southern states until it was only by climbing
over a score or so of them that I could reach my room, into which two of
them had been thrust. A standing client of the hotel, a business man of
some standing and education, presumed upon our slight acquaintance to
insist one evening that I walk out with him. As we stood before the
bulletin-blinded window of the _Jornal do Brazil_ with its pin-spotted
map of Europe, my companion gloated loudly over each piece of news:

“In two veeks ve are in Parees! I go mineself to-morrow morning to offer
me to der gonsul. Oh, py Gott, ven only Eng-lant stop noytral, ven only
Eng-lant stop noytral!”

Unfortunately, from the German point of view, England did not “stop
noytral,” and a few days later the German reservists began drifting back
to the _fazendas_ and _chacaras_ from which they had been called.

A twelve-day holiday was declared by the government, so that even those
who had money in the banks were as badly off as I, and as the value of
the milreis went steadily downward, prices went skyrocketing. Day after
day I invaded every steamship office in Rio, without distinction as to
race, color, or customary rascality. I took captive every ship’s captain
who ventured ashore, offering to do anything for my passage from
shoveling coal to parading the poop with his wife’s pet poodle. Nothing
doing! Even if a ship did now and then lift anchor and sneak away in the
general direction of the United States, there were crowds of would-be
passengers with vastly more influence, and far more mesmerism over the
root of evil, than I, who were quite as willing to do anything within
the pale of respectability to reach “God’s country.” I might, of course,
have cabled home for passage money. There were one or two persons in my
native land who probably had both the wealth and the confidence required
to answer properly to such an appeal. But I had long since made it a
point of honor that when I got myself in a hole I should get out again
without screaming for a rope.

Psychologists as well as mere world roustabouts will probably admit that
the more nearly penniless a man is the more ready is he to “take a
chance.” His condition cannot be worse, and it may suddenly become much
better. A vagabond evidently is subject to the same laws as more
respectable members of society. At any rate, with only a few milreis
left, I grew bold and instead of squeezing the last loaf of bread out of
them, I squandered them for lottery tickets. On the following Saturday
there was to be a “drawing extraordinary,” with the first prize nothing
less than a hundred million reis! With that amount I might even buy a
steamer for the trip home; besides, I had long wished to know how it
feels to be a multimillionaire. Even in real money and at normal
exchange a hundred million reis reached the respectable sum of $325,000,
and though Brazilian shin-plasters had dropped to half their pre-war
value, though every “piece” of ticket must pay a commission to the
vendor and must bear the ubiquitous “consumption” tax in the form of a
stamp, though the government takes five per cent. of all winnings and
loads down the lucky ticket-holder with so many other stamps, taxes, and
grafts that it requires a lawyer to dig him from under them, there would
still remain the price of the bridal suite on any steamer plying the
east coast of South America.

A crowd of mainly collarless and rather vacant-faced men and women, who
for many years had been chasing that will o’ the wisp called the winning
number by buying a “piece” of ticket whenever possible, were already
gathered in and about the frontless shop down behind the main
post-office of Rio when I reached it. No small number of them were
plainly so carried away by visions of what they were going to do with
their winnings that they had played hooky and jeopardized their real
source of income. Even I felt the subtle breath of hope, fed mainly on
ardent desire, that swept through the sour-scented throng as the
formalities began. Five little girls in spotless white, but of several
shades of color—as if the officials in charge had sought to have every
complexion of their clients represented—stood behind as many whirligigs
fitted with the figures from 0 to 9. Every twenty seconds the girls gave
these a simultaneous whirl, and when they stopped the number indicated
by the five figures visible to the audience was called out by an
official in the front row. Then another girl thrust a hand into a
globe-shaped urn and, with averted face, drew out a wooden marble on
which was engraved the conventional signs for a sum of money. That
represented the amount of the prize for the number just whirled, and,
like it, was called out and then written down three times on as many
printed slips by dozens of men and boys seated around the walls of the
room, some of them government officials, some representatives of the
various lottery agencies.

There are at least fifty prizes at each drawing, ranging all the way
from about the price of a ticket, the occasional winning of which keeps
the disgruntled clients from abandoning the game, up to the capital
prize. The deadly sameness of the process made the formality a soporific
which, combined with the tropical heat and the fetid breath of the
multitude, soon left me drowsily leaning against my compact neighbors.
Time and again some insignificant prize was announced and set down by
the scribes around the walls, until I began sleepily to wonder if the
hundred million ball had inadvertently been left out of the urn. When
the “_cem contos de reis_” was at last droned out by the wooden-voiced
announcer in the same bored, monotonous tone with which he had so often
mentioned the equivalent of a dollar, my thoughts were wool-gathering
and it was not until a flutter went through the crowd that I recognized
the significance of the announcement. I glanced at the ticket in my
hand, then at the number on the whirligigs. Protector of the Penniless!
They were the same—at least the first three numbers on them were! An
African-pated blockhead of unusual height blotted the last two of those
on the platform out of my field of vision. I shouldered him aside,
treading under foot a few immediate by-standers. The surge of pleasure
that was mounting my spine turned to angry disgust. The last two figures
were not even near enough my own to give me the “approximation” prize.
With my usual carelessness and stupidity I had bought the wrong ticket,
and the glamor of being a multimillionaire faded to the real but
familiar experience of being “dead broke” in a foreign land. My
disappointment was evidently widespread, for the tightly packed throng
began instantly to melt away like molasses from a broken jug, so that by
the time I reached the street there were hundreds of other glum-faced
individuals shuffling off in both directions. Only then did I realize
that the _cambio_ in which I had spent my last milreis was quite
fittingly named “_Sonho do Ouro_”—the “Golden Dream.”

But at least, if one must be stranded, there were few finer spots than
Rio to be stranded in. I returned to my sight-seeing duties on the
street-cars, and, by dint of outwitting the German proprietor of my
hotel that evening, managed to save enough of that day’s six thousand to
run an appeal next morning in the two principal newspapers of the
capital. In all frankness it should have been lachrymose, but I had long
since learned that a bold and boastful manner, with a facetious tinge,
is more likely to bring real results:

                  American Writer and Explorer,
                  university graduate, widely traveled
                  but still young, knowing fluently
                  Spanish, French, and German, and
                  understanding Portuguese and
                  Italian, being marooned here by the
                  present situation, will accept
                  temporarily any reasonable
                  employment, in Rio or the interior,
                  of sufficient interest to pass the

With no available means of moving on, I had time for anything—except to
be bored.

That very evening I came within an ace of getting employment without
even waiting for replies to my printed appeal—or at least I came as near
it as did the suitor who would have been accepted but for the slight
matter of the answer being “no” instead of “yes.” The first Brazilian
singer ever heard in grand opera in Brazil was announced to appear at
the Municipal Theater, and with that splendid sense of propriety for
which the Latin-American is noted he had chosen, or been chosen, to make
his début before his admiring fellow-countrymen as the hero of Puccini’s
“Girl of the Golden West.” The ticket speculators were out in full force
when I scuffed my way down the mosaic-paved Avenida, but their
machinations were naturally of little interest to a man who could not
rub two coppers together. What had won my attention was rather a rumor
that a group of stage cowboys was needed, and as my worst enemy could
not have failed to admit that I came more nearly looking that part than
anyone else wandering the streets of Rio, here was my opportunity to
behold at close range the Brazilian misconception of the American wild
west and its bloodthirsty denizens; besides, the two milreis paid to
“supers” looked good to me. A veritable mob of loafers, rowdies, and
_gatunos_ surged back and forth in the narrow street behind the theater,
sweeping down upon the fist-less old “master of supers” as often as he
ventured outside the stage door. Several times he fled in dismay, but at
length, when the opera was about to begin and the marshaling of cowboys
was imperative, he ventured forth with the air of a man who is taking
his life in his hands and began letting his selections be thrust upon
him. I footballed my way through the crowd that was swinging to and fro
with his every footstep and offered my services. My wide-brimmed felt
hat alone should have won me a place. The harried functionary glanced at
me, mumbled something to the effect that I did not in the least fit the
part, and finally retreated within the stage door, followed by a motley
collection of spindle-shanked _Carioca_ street loafers who would have
made an ideal background to a melodrama set in a tar-brushed

Hardly was my last milreis gone when exchange improved and Brazilian
money came halfway back to normal. The inevitable profiteer had already
grasped his opportunity, scattered groups of _populares_ took to mobbing
the shops that had most flagrantly boosted food prices, and though even
the courts did not function, because of the twelve-day holiday, the
government was finally compelled to take advantage of the state of siege
to punish a few of the most heartless offenders and publish a list of
prices which could not be exceeded without loss of license and possible
imprisonment. But the ways of the Brazilian are devious, and no great
improvement was accomplished. The semi-military police, their rifles
loaded with ball cartridges, patrolled not only those parts of town in
which the various European nationalities might meet, but wherever
disgruntled bands of the _povo_ were likely to gather. It would probably
not have been difficult to start a revolution in Brazil during those
eventful days.

Meanwhile, not an answer did I get to my stirring call for employment,
except an offer to become a combination door-keeper and office-boy,
which I did not consider interesting enough even to pass the time. It
was after three of a blazing afternoon that I rode out in my official
capacity to Ipanema, where I had found behind a mass of rocks a little
cove in which no bathing-suit was needed. There was a marvelous private
beach, and a rock-walled dressing-room where only a stray negro wench
might see me if she chose to look, but from which I could see the tips
of the Corcovado and the “Sugar Loaf,” and, across the turquoise bay,
silhouetted at this hour against the sun side of the sky, box-shaped
Gavea, hazy blue with distance.

I had ridden halfway back to town when I looked up from reading one of
Brazil’s epics and caught sight of the back of a head that looked
familiar. The hat above it and the coat below I had certainly never seen
before, and I could make out little of the face, but that little merely
increased my conviction. By the time we had passed the tunnel I decided
to make sure and, moving up close behind the man, I pronounced a name in
a mild voice that would probably not have attracted attention if it were
not the right one. The man turned around quickly, then thrust out a
hand. As I had suspected, he was Raymond Linton, not only a
fellow-countryman but a fellow-statesman, whom I had last seen in Buenos

A year before, Linton had acquired the Spanish-American concession for
Edison’s recently invented “Kinetophone,” or “talking moving-pictures,”
and, having played before all the uncrowned heads of Peru, Chile,
Uruguay, and the Argentine, was still operating two separate outfits of
this theatrical novelty in the last two of those countries. The
entertainment had taken so well in Spanish-America that he had purchased
the rights for Brazil also, and, having left Buenos Aires on the last
day of July, little suspecting what the world had in store for itself,
he was planning to start a third outfit in Rio de Janeiro.

“But I’m in tough luck,” said Linton, after our preliminary greetings
and immediate personal history had ended.

“How come?” I asked, rather idly, to tell the truth, for my thoughts
were still chiefly on my own predicament.

“You remember my B. A. manager?” he replied. “Splendid fellow and just
the man I needed to handle the proposition up here in Brazil as soon as
I get it started. But he is a Frenchman, and the day after I sailed he
was called home to join the army. So now I’ve got to rush back to B. A.
to keep that end going, and I have a brand new outfit, with special
films in Portuguese and a man fresh from the Edison plant, landing
to-day from the States. This man knows all the mechanical and electrical
part of the job to perfection, but he probably never heard of the
Portuguese language and couldn’t tell a Brazilian from an honest man. So
I am mighty hard up for someone to take charge up here, and I don’t know
where on earth I’ll find another fellow like the Frenchman.

“By Jove!” he went on a moment later, as the street-car swung out upon
the Beira Mar, “I wish you felt like staying down here six months or so
longer. I’d make you a proposition.”

“For instance?” I asked, merely out of idle curiosity. “I will not spend
another month in South America under any circumstances, but I may have
to in spite of myself.”

“If I could get a man who knows the South American from spats to
hair-oil as well as you should after three years down here,” went on
Linton with great earnestness, “I’d offer him a salary and a percentage,
guaranteeing that he would not get less than——” naming a considerably
larger sum than I had ever been paid as a respectable member of
society—“a month, with all his actual traveling expenses, first class,
all arrangements to be in U. S. currency, to take charge of the
Brazilian end of this business and play in every city of over fifteen
thousand population in the country—there are about fifty of them—and
cover the whole republic, coast and interior, from the Uruguayan border
clear up to where the Amazon begins to run down off the Andes. It would
mean about six months’ playing the principal towns, and after that the
man could take the thing around for another half year to the smaller
places, and by the time he got through he’d know Brazil better than
Edison knows electricity.”

“Mighty interesting proposition,” I remarked, as the street-car drew up
at its destination beside the Largo da Carioca, “and I hope you find the
man you need. I have a serious problem on my hands, too, and that is how
to get back to the U. S. A. early enough this fall to join in an
important coon hunt.”

For I did not for a moment seriously consider the offer as made to me,
or at least as acceptable. I had already been three times as long in
South America as I had expected to be when I first set out to explore
the traces of the old Inca highway between Quito and Cuzco. I was
decidedly “fed up” with “Spigs” and all their ways; too long a time
outside the United States atmosphere is not good for the mind one wishes
to keep American, just as too long a time in the tropics is injurious to
the body one would keep robust. Moreover, never having seriously tested
it, I was not at all certain I had the charlatanism indispensable to any
success in the realms of “practical business”—and there was still a
possibility that I might get aboard something or other northward bound.

Next day I took to pursuing ships and skippers with renewed energy. But
the town was swarming with stranded Americans willing and able to pay
any sum that could be mentioned in one breath for the privilege of
sleeping in a stokehole of anything bound for the United States. That
afternoon I dropped in on Linton at his hotel and entertained him with a
hypothetical question.

“Suppose,” I said in my most casual tone, “suppose such a man as you are
looking for would sign a contract for only six months, that he wanted
his salary to start at once, instead of the first of September, and that
on the day he signed he would need an advance of about five hundred
thousand—er—reis to get a proper movie-magnate silk hat and diamond
solitaire, what would be your private remarks when you reached the

“If he had your experience with South Americans, for instance,” came the
prompt reply, “I’d have the contract ready within half an hour.”

“Thanks for the compliment,” I replied. “I just wanted to know, from a
sociological point of view.”

Whereupon I set out once more and went over all the steamship offices
and captains’ favorite bar-rooms with a fine-toothed comb, only to be
more than ever convinced that my native land had lost all desire ever to
see me again. So, late that evening, having paused at the edge of the
impassable sea to shake a fist at the northern horizon, I stopped at
Linton’s hotel to sign the contract he had just drawn up. By its terms I
was to take full charge of the tour of the Kinetophone in Brazil,
playing the entire country, except the states south of São Paulo that I
had already seen, ending up on the Amazon six months later, and
receiving my first month’s salary at once—as soon as the banks opened.
Early next morning a messenger from the steamship-office I had most
often pestered brought me word that if I would report at once I could
sign on a ship sailing that evening for Pensacola, Florida; and later in
the day I was offered a chance to go to New Orleans as a deck-hand. But
then, it would have been a long walk from either of those ports to the
place I called home.

During the remaining half of August I did little but spend my first
month’s salary, chiefly among the tailors of Rio, at prices which made
the advertisements in the New York papers look enticing. Linton had
arranged his Buenos Aires business to run on without him until we could
give the customary special performance before the president of the
republic. This he hoped would be within a week, but he had reckoned
without Brazilian red tape. The “outfit” arrived the day after I signed
the contract,—eight large pieces of what looked like the baggage of a
barn-storming company, and Wayne Tuthill of Long Island and the Edison
factory. “Tut,” as it was natural he should be quickly dubbed, was a
tall, handsome, ingenuous lad of twenty-four, of that clean-cut,
clean-minded type of American youth which makes the libertine _juventud_
of South America stand out in such striking contrast. He had never
before been outside the United States—which I rated an asset—but had
been the unhesitating choice of the company when Linton wired for their
best practical electrician and operator who would accept a year’s

On the following day I bade farewell to my little inside room in the
German hotel down in the raw-coffee scented heart of Rio, and moved into
a new home with what their “want ad” in the _Jornal do Brasil_ described
as a “family of all respectability.” There were hundreds of private
families only too glad to patch out their income by taking in a “serious
cavalheiro” as a paying guest. My new quarters were on the Praia de
Botafogo, in the district out beyond the tiny _praça_ and statue of José
de Alencar. From my easy-chair I could look out across the bay at one
end of the harbor and, though a headland cut off the “Sugar Loaf,” I had
a splendid view of all the long, fantastic sky-line of Rio, now
silhouetted against the sun-lighted clouds, now standing out in the
brilliant sunshine as if barely a stone’s throw away. The room had a
southern exposure, too, which is important in Rio, especially toward the
end of August with summer coming on. True, there were a few drawbacks. I
had to take board as well as lodging, though I was by no means sure that
a glimpse into Brazilian family life would offset the heaviness of
Brazilian family food. There were good electric lights, but no carpets
or rugs, virtually unknown in Brazil, and not a suggestion either of
bookshelf or wastebasket, while the table was a tiny thing implying that
at most the occupant might have now and then to write a perfumed lover’s

Though it was some time before we got our show started, or even got the
outfit ashore, we were a busy trio. First and foremost there was the
Herculean problem of getting the thing through the customs. This was no
such simple matter as going down to the ugly little green _Alfandega_
building on the water front, opening the boxes, paying our duty, and
taking them away. Things are not done in that breathless manner in
Brazil. Knowing that it costs more to get a moving-picture film into
Brazil than to buy it in Europe or the United States, we were prepared
to be held up by the mulatto footpads masquerading as a government, if
only they would have it over with at once and let us go our way with
whatever we might have left. What we needed first of all, it seemed, was
a _despachante_, a native customs broker, familiar with all the ins and
outs of the laws on import duties—and an expert in circumventing them.
But could we not attend to this matter ourselves, seeing there were
three of us in the prime of life, two speaking Spanish and one more or
less Portuguese, and with nothing else whatever to do? We could not. We
must have the services of a regular _despachante_—just why, we learned
all in due season. The broker, however, did not rob us of occupation; in
fact, we were still permitted to do almost all the work. We spent
several hours one day hunting out our boxes amid an orderless jumble of
many ship-loads of warehoused merchandise and wrestling them out into
plain sight. The rest of the afternoon we wasted in coaxing the swarm of
supercilious officials who lolled about the place to examine them. They
paid us not the slightest attention, until our _despachante_ came to
vouch for our existence. Then one of them “examined” the eight boxes by
gingerly lifting half of the wooden cover of one of them, glancing at
the unopened inner tin casing, and ordering the covers nailed down
again. This, however, was only a preliminary formality, and while our
broker prepared for the next moves in their regular, deliberate order,
we contained ourselves in such patience as we possessed.

Meanwhile we learned many interesting details about Brazilian customs
laws and those who enforce them. Portland cement, we found, pays duty on
gross weight. More than half the barrels of such a shipment had been
broken in transit, or by the wharf stevedores who landed it, and all
vestige of cement had been lost. The customs men carefully gathered the
scattered barrel-staves together, weighed them, and charged the assignee
duty on them as cement! Regular merchants in Rio have a _despachante_,
we learned, who does all the customs business of his client at a fixed
rate of twelve milreis a box, large or small. If he succeeds in avoiding
any part of the duty due, the merchant pays him half that amount as a
reward. Thus there arrives a box of twenty pairs of shoes, on which the
duty would be sixty dollars. The _despachante_ arranges with some of his
friends in the customhouse to let the box in for twenty dollars, and the
assignee pays that amount in duty and gives the broker, in addition to
his customary twelve milreis, one half of the forty dollars saved. The
Brazilians have no word for bribery; they use the expression _comer_ (to
eat). A merchant who has been forced to pay full legal duty on a bill of
goods asks his _despachante_ anxiously, referring to the strict new
customs official who passed on it, “_Elle já come?_” To which, perhaps,
comes the sad answer, “_Não, ainda não come_” (He doesn’t eat—yet). A
few weeks later the merchant sends the honest man a few bottles of
perfumery or some equally welcome present. If he sends them back, he is
not yet “ripe.” But at length word goes round, “_Já come_” (Now he
eats), and the merchants whose goods pass through his hands heave a sigh
of relief.

“When your shipment arrives,” a foreigner long engaged in business in
Rio explained, “and the duty is large, say twenty or thirty contos, you
go to the customhouse yourself and say to the _conferente_, ‘I shall be
in my office from three to four to-morrow.’ Then you go away. The
_conferente_ is the official examiner; his assistant, who opens and
closes the boxes and does the other manual labor, is called his “fiel”
(faithful one). You cannot be a successful merchant in Rio without being
on friendly terms with your _conferente_ and his “fiel.” When his work
ends, at three, he drops in to see you before he goes home, and the
matter is fixed up to the satisfaction of both parties. If you try to
fight the system you are up against it. Only half the articles that come
into Brazil are on the tariff schedule, and if a _conferente_ has it in
for you he will decide that your declaration is made out wrong, no
matter how you make it out, and will fine you for trying to flimflam the
government—and a certain percentage of all fines go to the man who
discovers the ‘irregularity.’ Then before goods leave the customhouse
they must have the government consumption-tax stamps on them, and there
is another fine chance to ‘eat.’ The man who was at the head of the
stamp-selling down there for thirty-two years was recently retired on a
pension and written up in the papers as ‘a life-long and faithful
servant of the Republic’; yet ever since I have lived here he could be
‘fixed’ at from one fourth to one half the legal price of the stamps.
The young fellow who now has his job doesn’t ‘eat’ yet, so all the
merchants are cursing him, and his fellow-officials accuse him of
_fazendo fita_—of showing off. But word is going round now that he is
beginning to ‘eat’.”

Beautiful scenery evidently does not beautify character. The dishonest
officials cannot plead the excuse of necessity, for their legal income
is high. Inspectors get three contos, _conferentes_ eight hundred to a
thousand milreis a month, which surely is generous to men who work only
from eleven to three, with much “tolerance” as to absences during that
time and at least sixty-five legal holidays a year. “Tariff
legislation,” says an outspoken Brazilian publicist, “more than any
other one thing, has been the source of the corruption that has rotted
public service, and in the growth of the sinister privileges fostered by
the ‘protective’ system there is almost sole responsibility for the
widespread perversion of ideals.”

It took a full week to get our outfit through the customs, and it would
have taken longer had nature not gifted me with an impatience capable of
developing into profanity. Both our _despachante_ and the endless
gantlet of scornful officials which our case was forced to run were firm
believers in the efficacy of “amanhã”—which is our old friend “mañana”
of Spanish-America. How many sheets there were of laboriously
hand-written documents, signed every which way by scores of insufferable
loafers in the crowded _Alfandega_, in the intervals between smoking
cigarettes, gossiping with friends, scowling with a haughty air upon
whoever dared insist on attracting their attention, I have no means of
computing. Typewriting is illegal in government business in Brazil, as
in most of Latin-America; too many old fogies who know only how to
scratch with a pen would have to be dispensed with to make way for such
an innovation, and they are the backbone of political parties. In the
end Linton had to deposit $700, which it was solemnly promised would be
returned to him when the outfit was taken out of the country.
Officially, the American dollar is worth 3$120 in Brazil. I immediately
reduced the $700 to milreis at that rate, and Linton prepared to pay it.
But, we were informed, the government accepts its own money only at
4$120 to the dollar! More figuring resulted in the discovery that we
must entrust the Brazilian government with nearly three contos.
Thirty-five per cent. of this deposit must be in gold. I began to
compute this percentage by dividing by 4$120. The broker smiled at me as
at an amusing child. When the milreis is figured _back_ into gold, he
explained, the dollar must be taken at 2$120. In other words, a
Brazilian government official can demonstrate before your very eyes that
thirty-five per cent. of seven hundred dollars is $480!

On the day after our outfit had at last been admitted to practice in
Brazil, and the _despachante’s_ seemingly exorbitant demands had been
satisfied, one of us happened to be in his office when in dropped the
bewhiskered old fossil who had “examined” our stuff. He was cheery and
gay now, all dressed up, his sour and haughty official manner wholly
gone, and he greeted everyone in the office like old and esteemed
friends. After the first embrace or two he and the _despachante_ sat
down on opposite sides of the latter’s work table, their hands met once
under it, then the fossil rose and went away with a satisfied smile
scattered among his untrimmed whiskers and a hand lingering
affectionately about one pocket.

Our next task was to hire a lawyer to get the trademark “Kinetophone”
registered in Brazil in the name of the Edison Company. This matter is
of prime importance to anyone introducing a new invention into the land
of “amanhã.” It is not that the Brazilians are so inventive that they
can readily imitate new contrivances; on the contrary, their mechanical
genius is close to zero. But if he seldom invents or initiates, the
“Brazie” is not lazy in the sense of complete indolence. He has the
gambling instinct as well as the tropical desire to get through life as
easily as possible, and laborious trickery seems to him a lesser effort
than work. Being quick to appropriate the ideas of others, he is much
given to stealing trademarks.

To tell the truth, the Argentine is worse than Brazil in this respect.
There is a regular band of rascals in Buenos Aires who do nothing but
steal and register foreign trademarks, while in Rio the traffic is at
least unorganized. The laws of both countries give the first person to
deposit a trademark in the national archives the sole right to use it.
The mark may have belonged for half a century to an American or a
European company; it suffices for some _argentino_ or Brazilian to get
it registered in his own name to prevent the legitimate owner from using
it in that country without paying the thief blackmail. One of this
gentry reads in a newspaper or a catalogue of some new foreign invention
with a catchy name, rushes to register it as his own, and then lies in
wait for the real owner. Even a trademark of the French government
tobacco monopoly was stolen by an _argentino_ and France was forced to
pay him a handsome sum to get it back. Upon his arrival in Buenos Aires,
Linton had found the Kinetophone already registered. But as the native
whose eye had been attracted by the word had not understood what it
represented, he had registered it as the name of a _lechería_, or
milk-shop! Nevertheless Linton was compelled to pay him several hundred
pesos for the privilege of using the word in his advertising or even in
the theater, for the moment he put up a poster or ran a film and record
in which the word “kinetophone” appeared, he could have been arrested
and his outfit confiscated. It costs only 120$000, including lawyer’s
fees, to have a trademark registered in Brazil, yet Americans have been
blackmailed out of as much as 30,000$000 for neglecting to do so in

It turned out that the Kinetophone had been overlooked by Brazilian
tricksters, but we had to wait three days to make sure of this before we
dared publicly use the name. Meanwhile we had visited incognito the
fifty cinemas then running in Rio, with a view to classifying them for
future purposes; we had offered the “A. C. M.” a benefit performance
later for the privilege of trying out our apparatus in their hall, and
had set out in trio to make our first contract.

The chief moving-picture man of Brazil, with a string of cinemas in Rio
and São Paulo and connections elsewhere, was a Spanish ex-bootblack.
Like his colleagues and rivals, he informed us that it was not customary
in Brazil to pay a fixed sum for such a novelty as we had to offer, that
he “never risked a cent,” but that he would be willing to talk to us on
a percentage basis. Then we found that the ex-bootblack had Missouri
blood in his veins—perhaps because he had once driven mules—and that he
would not believe in the drawing powers of Edison’s new invention until
he had been shown. We had no misgivings as to our ability to show him,
so we went out along the Mangue Canal, with its mirrored double row of
royal palms on either bank, and rented for a day the old open-work
wooden “Theatro Polytheama,” where we gave the doubting Thomases of the
“movie” world, and a throng of newspaper men and “influential citizens,”
a convincing private exhibition.

Next day we signed a “fifty-fifty” contract with the ex-bootblack to
play for sixty days in his establishments in Rio, São Paulo and
vicinity. By that time it was already September 7th, the first of
Brazil’s two Independence Days, and “Tut” and I had taken up our abode
on the Praia do Flamengo in the district called Larangeiras, or
“Orange-trees.” It was nearer town than my former room; moreover, while
I am duly exhilarated by the beauties of nature, no amount of scenery
will make up for a constant diet of black beans and dry rice, surrounded
on four sides by a constantly caterwauling Brazilian family dressed in
soiled underwear or grease-spotted kimonos. As a matter of fact I lost
nothing even of scenery by the change. We had a marvelous view of the
“Sugar Loaf,” of all the great bay and its islands, of Nictheroy and the
hazy outline of farther Brazil beyond. With our feet on our own railing
we could see the steamers that might be bringing us news from home come
slipping in at the harbor’s mouth, or watch a blood-red sunset on the
cloud billows across the bay. We were four doors from the President’s
palace of Cattete, and in the morning we could stroll across the Beira
Mar in our bathing-suits to dive off the president’s private wharf and
swim out to the little warship he always kept ready for the day when
motives of health should force him to leave Brazil in a hurry. Men,
women and children, with a towel over their shoulders, were familiar
morning sights all along the Beira Mar—the women, of course, chiefly of
foreign origin, for no real Brazilian lady would ever dream of
bathing—at least in semi-public. Swimming was allowed along Rio’s
magnificent driveway until nine in the morning, and some bathers were to
be seen now and then at other hours, for, as the resplendent black
policeman on our corner told us, while he watched several of them pass.
“Oh, yes, they do bathe after nine, but it is against the law.”

Finally, at one o’clock on the afternoon of Monday, the fourteenth of
September, we gave the first public exhibition in Brazil of the
Kinetophone—and before midnight we had given eleven of them. We had
opened in the “Cinema Pathé” on the Avenida Central, in many ways the
proudest and most fashionable motion-picture house not only of that
sumptuous thoroughfare but of all Brazil; but our début was not attended
with the customary formality. For a week Linton had been cooling his
heels in the anteroom of the Cattete Palace, hoping to have the
honor—and incidentally the prestige and publicity—of giving the
president of the republic a private exhibition before disclosing the
virtues of the new invention to the general public. But those were busy
times in government circles, for, in addition to his manifold political
troubles, the president had recently acquired an eighteen-year-old wife,
so that at length we were forced to start without his blessing and the
customary send-off of important novelties in Latin-American countries.
By this time the World War was on in earnest and Brazil was loudly
complaining of “_A Crise_,” or hard times; yet when our first day at the
“Cinema Pathé” was ended, we found that the box-office had taken in
considerably more than three million—reis! Even in real money that was
better than a thousand dollars.

That very night Linton fled to Buenos Aires, leaving behind a document
making me the “Brazilian concessionary” of the Kinetophone, and the
weight of the whole enterprise fell abruptly on my shoulders. My first
duty was to get our share of the opening day’s receipts. High noon
having been agreed upon as the time to divide the previous day’s
earnings, I called at that hour upon the general manager for Rio of the
“Companhia Brazileira,” to get our half of the three million in
cash—Brazilian cash, unfortunately—and carried it to the British bank.
That was a daily formality thereafter, for while we had all due respect
for the Brazilian and his business methods, we adopted the same
viewpoint in dealing with him as the Scotchman who, asked for a
recommendation by a retiring clerk, wrote:

“This is to certify that Sandy McCabe has worked for me the past twelve
years. Regarding his honesty I can say nothing, as I never trusted him.”

The Kinetophone consists of a series of films projected from a booth
like an ordinary motion-picture film, and of a large electrically
operated phonograph, with six-minute records, set on the stage or behind
the screen and synchronized with the film by means of tiny stout black
cords running over pulleys attached to the walls or the ceiling of the
intervening room. As ours could not be thrown from the same projecting
machine as the voiceless films, the usual process was to set up our
special apparatus in the same booth with the other, if there was room,
cutting a second opening in the front of this to “shoot through;”
otherwise we required a special booth to be built for us alongside the
regular one. Our outfit consisted of fifteen films and their
corresponding phonograph records. First of all, on every program was an
explanation of the new invention and a demonstration of its power to
reproduce all kinds of sounds, a film specially made to order in
Portuguese, with the flag of Brazil, the president’s picture, and other
patriotism-stirring decorations in the background. The only other film
in the native tongue was a dialogue called the “Transformation of
Faust,” in which two Portuguese youths, who had somehow been enticed out
to the Edison factory, ranted for six minutes through a portion of
Goethe’s masterpiece. But there were extracts from five popular Italian
operas and three Spanish numbers, all of which took well with
Brazilians, and though the remainder were in English, they were musical
and comical enough to win interest irrespective of language.

The Kinetophone requires two operators, one in the booth and the other
at the phonograph. Thus I was not only manager, auditor and
“concessionary,” but obliged to run the stage end of the performance.
Fortunately we did not furnish the entire program, our part of the bill
consisting of the “Portuguese Lecture” and two other numbers, filling
one-third of the hour constituting a “section” and leaving the rest of
it to ordinary films or whatever form of entertainment the local manager
chose to supply. Every hour, therefore, from one in the afternoon to
eleven at night, seven days a week, I had to be on hand to put on the
first of our records, jump out to the edge of the audience and signal to
“Tut” in his special booth, spring back again and touch off the
phonograph at exactly the right instant, repeat this with the other two
records, thrust these back into their special trunk, lock it—and spend
the next forty minutes, other duties willing, as I saw fit. Never during
those eleven hours a day did I dare go far enough away from the theater
to get a real let-up from responsibility. The most I could do was to
snatch a lunch or stroll down to one end or the other of the Avenida, to
see the ships depart or, on windy days, to watch the sea pitching over
the sea-wall of the Beira Mar, wetting even the autobusses—and then
hurry back again for our part of the next “section.”

Besides running the films, “Tut” had to rewind them after each
performance, so that his leisure time was ten minutes less to the
“section” than mine. I soon found that he was not only a highly
efficient operator, but that he had just those qualities needed to make
a long companionship agreeable. Honest and genuine as gold coin in war
time, easy-going, optimistic, unexcitable, wholly ignorant of foreign
languages, temperaments, or customs, yet pleasant with all races and
conditions of men, he was an ideal team-mate, having large quantities of
that patience so much needed in tropical and Latin lands, and of which I
have so scanty a supply. Thanks to “Tut,” the Brazilians got better
Kinetophone performances than most Americans have heard. The novelty did
not take particularly well in the United States, though for no fault of
its inventor. The essential and all important thing with the Kinetophone
is perfect synchronization. If the character on the screen speaks or
sings exactly as he opens his mouth, the illusion is remarkable; let
there be the slightest interval between the sound and the lip movements
and the thing becomes ludicrous. When the invention was first shown in
the United States there was perfect synchronization, and a consequent
rush of orders for machines and operators. There being no supply of the
latter on hand, they had to be trained in a hurry. Many were ill
prepared for their duties, with the result that when they were hurriedly
sent out on the road they frequently gave distressing performances.
Gradually, therefore, the invention was withdrawn, with the promise to
perfect it further and make it “fool proof,” so that by the time Linton
had taken the concession for Brazil, “Tut,” the expert who had trained
others, was available and the new form of entertainment made a much
bigger “hit” in Brazil than in the land of its origin.

I had only one serious fault to find with “Tut,” one that added
materially to those of my managerial duties which had to do with keeping
on pleasant terms with the somewhat sour manager of the “Cinema Pathé.”
Less fond than I of strolling the downtown streets during our breathing
spells, “Tut” usually spent them with an American novel or magazine in
the unoccupied second-story anteroom of the theater. There the “Pathé”
had stored its extra chairs, and from them “Tut” was wont to choose a
seat, place it at the edge of the stone balustrade of the balcony, where
he could look down upon the crowd surging up and down the Avenida, and
pass his time in reading. But the chairs, as is usual in South America,
were of the frail variety, and “Tut,” a generous six feet in height and
by no means diaphanous in weight, had the customary American habit of
propping his feet on a level with his head—with the result that at more
or less regular intervals “crash!” would go a chair. On the day when the
manager, his eyes bloodshot with rage, requested me to visit the
second-story anteroom with him, during “Tut’s” absence, the wrecks of
eleven chairs were piled in one corner of it. After that I never had the
audacity to go up and investigate, but crashing sounds were still heard
during the half hour devoted to the silent films.

The “Companhia Brazileira” advertized extensively, and the Kinetophone
was well patronized from the start. Brazilians take readily to
novelties, especially if they can be made the fashion, and our audiences
of the second day included both priests and “women of the life,” which
is a sure sign of popular success in Brazil. As our doubled entrance fee
of two milreis was high for those times of depression, also perhaps
because the “Cinema Pathé” was considered a gathering place of the
élite, we entertained only the well dressed, or, perhaps I should say,
the overdressed. They were blasé, artificial audiences, never under any
circumstances applauding or giving any sign of approval; they always
gave me the impression of saying, “Oh, rather interesting, you know, as
a novelty, but I could do much better myself if I cared to take the time
from my love-making and risk soiling my spats and my long, slender,
do-nothing fingers.” But as they continued to bring us as our share of
the receipts more than a conto of reis a day, it was evident that they
found the performance pleasing.

The moving picture might be a real educating influence on the
imaginative and emotional Brazilians, were it not that those who
manipulate this business see fit to put their faith in an intellectual
bilge-water which gives chiefly false notions of life in the world
beyond their horizon. The same “Penny Dreadfuls” in film, concocted of
saccharine sentimentality, custard-pie “comedy,” and a goodly seasoning
of the criminal and the pornographic, that add to the weariness of life
elsewhere, are the rule in the Brazilian capital. Here even the élite,
or at least the well-dressed, flock to see them. This is partly due to
the lowly state of the legitimate stage in Brazil and the atrocious
performances given by nearly all the “actors” who seek their fortunes in
South America. Though some Latin-American playwrights, and a few of the
players, have done things worth while, the stage depends almost entirely
upon “talent” imported from Europe, entertainers of Spanish (or, for
Brazil, of Portuguese) origin, with the crudest notions of histrionic
art, or superannuated discards from the French or Italian stage, mixed
with youthful hopefuls who have crossed the Atlantic to try it on the
dog. These misplaced porters and chambermaids, mere lay figures dressed
to represent certain characters, romp about the stage in their natural
rôles, their eyes wandering in quest of friends in the audience, whom
they give semi-surreptitious greetings and seek to charm by “grandstand
plays,” making the while the mechanical motions they have been taught
and automatically repeating what they are told to say by the prompter.
It is strange that the often artistic Latin races will endure the
prompter, instead of insisting that actors learn their parts. It is a
rare experience to find a place in the house where one can hear the play
and not hear the prompter snarling the lines five words ahead, so that
any semi-intelligent person in the audience could repeat them after him
more effectually than do most of the louts behind the footlights. As is
the case with literature, the theater in South America is mainly
designed to appeal to the male. Respectable women are rarely seen at the
average playhouse, not merely avoiding the “casino” with its “specially
imported blond artistes” of not too adamantine morals, but even what
corresponds to our vaudeville, where the audience sits smoking with its
hat on and the boxes are graced by demimondaines. In fact, the stage and
respectability have no connecting link in the Latin-American mind. All
over South America, and especially in Brazil, “actress” is synonymous
with less complimentary terms; nor is it possible to convince a
Brazilian that such is not universally the case elsewhere. Rarely
anything better than stupid and salacious appeals to men, it is small
wonder that the living drama has been nearly ousted from South America
by the cinema, with its easily transportable, international form of

The motion-picture having come after all the business part of Rio was
built, there was no room to erect “movie palaces” which have elsewhere
followed in the train of Edison’s most prostituted invention. All the
cinemas along the Avenida Central are former shops, without much space
except in depth, and as the temperature quickly rises when such a place
is crowded, the screen often consists of a curtain across what used to
be the wide-open shop door, so that one on the sidewalk may peep in and
see the audience and even the orchestra, though he can see nothing of
the projected pictures within an inch of his nose. Alongside the “movie”
house proper another ex-shop of similar size is generally used as a
waiting-room. Here are luxurious upholstered seats, much better than
those facing the screen, and some such extraordinary attraction as a
“feminine orchestra specially contracted in Europe.” For the
waiting-room is of great importance in Rio. It takes the place in a way
of a central plaza and promenade where the two sexes can come and admire
one another, and it is often thronged immediately after the closing of
the door to the theater proper, by people who know quite well they must
sit there a full hour before the “section” ends. In fact, young fops
sometimes come in and remain an hour or two ogling the feminine charms
in the waiting-room and then go out again without so much as having
glanced at the show inside. In contrast, many cinemas have
“second-class” entrances, without waiting-room and with seats
uncomfortably near the screen, where the sockless and collarless are
admitted at reduced prices.

It does not require long contact with them to discover that Latin films
are best for Latins, for both audience and actors have a mutual language
of gestures and facial expressions. The lack of this makes American
films seem slow, labored, and stupid, not only to Latins, but to the
American who has been living for some time among them. It is a strange
paradox that the most _doing_ people on the earth are the slowest in
telling a story in pantomime or on the screen. What a French or an
Italian actress will convey in full, sharply and clearly, by a shrug of
her shoulders or a flip of her hand, the most advertised American “movie
star” will get across much more crudely and indistinctly only by
spending two or three minutes of pantomimic labor, assisted by two or
three long “titles.” The war quickly forced the “Companhia Brazileira,”
as it did most of its rivals, to use American films; but neither
impresarios nor their clients had anything but harsh words for the
“awkward stupidity” and the pretended Puritanic point of view of those
makeshift programs—with one exception, Brazilian audiences would sit up
all night watching our “wild west” films in which there was rough
riding. Curious little differences in customs and point of view come to
light in watching an American film through South American eyes. For
instance, there is probably not a motion-picture director in the United
States who knows that to permit a supposedly refined character in a film
to lick a postage stamp is to destroy all illusion in a Latin-American
audience. Down there not even the lowest of the educated class ever
dreams of sealing or stamping a letter in that fashion. An American film
depicting the misadventures of a “dude” or “sissy” was entirely lost
upon the Brazilian audiences, because to them the hero was exactly their
idea of what a man should be, and they plainly rated him the most
“cultured” American they had ever met. Bit by bit one discovers scores
of such slight and insignificant differences, which sum up to great
differences and become another stone in that stout barrier between the
Latin and the Anglo-Saxon divisions of the western hemisphere.

On Thursday came the customary mid-weekly change of bill, and we were
thankful for a new program after hearing the old one more than thirty
times. Also the “music,” which the cinema orchestra ground out
incessantly during every moment when we were not giving our part of the
show, changed, though hardly for the better. We were a godsend to the
musicians of that orchestra, especially to the player of the bass-viol.
Hitherto they had been required to play unbrokenly from one in the
afternoon until nearly midnight; our advent gave them ten or eleven
twenty-minute respites during that time. This they usually spent lolling
around the room behind the screen, about the phonograph and our trunks,
where they frequently fell asleep. Particularly the anemic quadroon who
manipulated the largest stringed instrument seemed never to catch up on
his sleep. Barely did our part of the program begin than he stretched
out in such comfort as he could find in the improvised green-room and
went soundly to sleep, so soundly that no noise under heaven could wake
him—save one. When it came time for them to return, his companions would
shout at him, jostle him, sometimes even yank him erect; nothing had the
slightest effect on his somnolence. But the instant the first strains of
their never-varying “music” were heard in the orchestra pit outside, the
sleeper would awake with a flash, make one spring through the door, and
be automatically scraping off his part with the others by the time they
had reached the second or third note.

Sunday is the big theater or “movie” day in Brazil, for then the
families of the “four hundred” turn out in full force. On our seventh
day they were standing knee-deep in the waiting-room most of the
afternoon and early evening. The congestion increased that part of my
duties which had to do with auditing, for the head of a family often
paused to shake hands effusively with the door-keeper, after which the
entire family poured boldly in, and it became my business to find out
whether there had been anything concealed in the effusive hand, and if
not, why the box-office had been so cavalierly slighted.

One afternoon the Senhor Presidente da Republica came to honor the
fourth performance of the day with his patronage, and to give us the
official blessing without which we had been forced to open. A corps of
policemen was sent first to hang about the door for nearly two
hours—giving passers-by the impression that the place had been
“pinched.” There followed a throng of generals, admirals, and
un-admirables in full uniform, who waited in line for “His Excellency.”
The president came at length in an open carriage, his girl wife beside
him, two haughty personalities in gold lace opposite them, and a company
of lancers on horseback trotting along the Avenida beside them. The
waiting line fawned upon the leathery-skinned chief of state, bowed over
the hand of his wife, then the whole throng surrounded the loving pair
and, pushing the humble door-keeper scornfully aside, swarmed into the
cinema without a suggestion of offering to pay the entrance fee. Luckily
the doors were not high enough to admit the lancers, who trotted away
with the red of their uniforms gleaming in the afternoon sunshine. It
was my first experience with the official “deadheads” of Brazil, but by
no means my last.

We quickly found, too, that the official gathering was bad for business.
Surely any American theater holding 510 persons would fill up when the
President of the Republic and his suite were gracing it with their
presence! Yet here there was only a scattering of paying audience as
long as the “deadheads” remained, which, thanks perhaps to a film
showing them in the recent Independence Day parade, was until they had
heard the entire program once and the Kinetophone twice. The president,
it seemed, was hated not only for his political iniquities, but the
élite looked down upon him for marrying a girl little more than
one-fourth his own age and letting her make the national presidency the
background for her social climbing; and to enter the theater while the
president and his retainers were there was to risk losing both one’s
political and social standing as a high class Brazilian.

It soon got on our nerves to know that we were the only persons, alive
or dead, in the whole expanse of Brazil who could operate the
Kinetophone, that if anything happened to either of us it meant a ruined
performance, our income cut off, and an unamused Rio élite. Let one of
us fail to be on the dot ten times a day and the thing would have been
ruined, for the _Carioca_ is nothing if not critical and of so little
patience that, had we missed a single performance, word would have gone
out at once that the “novelty” at the “Cinema Pathé” had failed. I
decided, therefore, during our second week to get and break in a native
assistant, and next morning the two principal dailies contained this
appealing announcement:

                  _Preciza-se de um operador de
                  cinema, jovem, sem familia, com ao
                  menos dois annos de experiencia,
                  sabendo bem a electricidade e algo
                  de inglez._

I intended to be particularly insistent on those points of youth,
“without family,” and “something of English,” but I soon found that we
would be lucky even to get the other and indispensable requirements of
cinema experience and a knowledge of electricity. In Buenos Aires mobs
had besieged Linton’s hotel in answer to a similar announcement; in New
York it would probably have brought out the police reserves. Yet hardly
half a dozen applicants turned up at the Praia do Flamengo after our
morning swim, languidly to inquire our desires. The first was a stupid
looking negro who did not seem to fulfill any of the requirements; the
second was a shifty-eyed mulatto with no physique—badly needed for the
one-night stands ahead; the third was quite visibly impossible. I
engaged the fourth man to appear. Carlos Oliva was about “Tut’s” age,
which did not hinder him from already having a wife and four children.
But then, so do all Brazilians, legitimately or otherwise. He was a
_Paulista_, that is, born in São Paulo, though of Italian parents, a
practiced mechanic and experienced operator of ordinary “movie” films,
and he looked intelligent. To be sure he spoke no English, but that vain
hope had died early and it became evident that “Tut” would have to learn
enough Portuguese to get along when it came time for me to go ahead of
the show to make bookings.

I had gradually been acquiring a better command of that tongue myself,
and now made use of it to draw up a formidable contract tying Carlos
hand and foot. Though I was forced to pay him the equivalent of a
hundred dollars a month and traveling expenses, I required him to stay
with the Kinetophone until the tour of Brazil was completed, not to
exceed one year. On every “second feast day” after the first month he
was to get four-fifths of his pay, the rest to remain in the hands of
the “Linton South American Company” until the tour was finished, when
the balance was to be paid him in a lump sum, together with his fare
back to Rio. If he left before that time, both the balance and the
transportation were forfeited, for we did not propose to spend weeks
training a man only to have him leave us at the first whim or better
offer—though the latter contingency was not likely. Lastly, he was not
to engage in any other occupation while with us, he could be discharged
upon a week’s notice if he proved unsatisfactory, with balance and fare
paid, and he was required never to show or explain to others the
workings of the Kinetophone, nor disclose knowledge of anything
connected with our company which he might learn directly or indirectly.
With all these clauses duly included and the document signed in
duplicate, I fancied even a Brazilian could find no means of leaving us
in the lurch. Little had I suspected, when I was tramping the streets of
Rio six weeks before, carrying all my worldly possessions wrapped in a
square yard of cloth, that I should soon be strutting down the Avenida
Central as one of her captains of industry, laying down the law to mere
mortals, and shouldering my way daily through her narrow downtown
streets to deposit a large sum of money.

About the time Carlos joined us I found myself in new and wholly
unexpected trouble—silver trouble. It scarcely seems possible that
anyone could protest at getting too much silver, but many strange things
happen in Brazil. There is no Brazilian gold, except in theory; and its
paper does not suffice for small transactions. One day the Rio manager
of the “Companhia Brazileira” met me at our usual noonday conference
with the announcement that he would have to pay me a part of our
percentage in silver. I saw no reason why he should not, other than the
trouble of carrying it a few blocks to the bank, and accepted 200$000 in
paper-wrapped rolls. But when I dropped these down before the receiver’s
window, he declined to accept them. I fancied the tropical heat had
suddenly affected his sanity, and went in to see one of the English
“clarks.” From him I learned that it was only too true; the banks of Rio
_do not_ accept silver! I had heard of South American bankers doing all
kinds of tricks, but I had never before known one to refuse money. I
tried several other banks of various nationalities with the same result;
they all accepted only silver enough to make up odd multiples of ten
milreis. The English manager of the British bank, who had lived so long
in Brazil that he had lost some of the incommunicativeness of his race,
took the trouble to explain the enigma to me. The year before, the agent
of a German firm had arranged with certain Brazilian officials to issue
a new coinage and the firm had flooded the country, about the capital,
with shining new silver 500, 1000, and 2000 reis pieces. But silver is
legal tender in Brazil only up to two milreis; therefore, when it
suddenly became plentiful, the banks could not accept any great amount
of it because they had no outlet and would have had to build new vaults
to hold the stuff. At the cinema door we naturally took in much _prata_,
so that even after making change a donkey-load of it remained to be
divided each noonday. I could not buy drafts with it on New York; the
government would not receive it—nor its own paper money in most
transactions, for that matter; being “made in Germany” it was hardly
worth melting up. The one rift in the silver clouds was that merchants
were so anxious for trade during this period of depression that they
would accept any kind of money in any amount if only people would buy.
We paid Carlos in silver and we spent silver ourselves whenever we had
to spend. What we could not get rid of in that way I could only sell at
a four per cent. loss, and as I was already paying 5$000 a dollar for
drafts, I finally took to dropping pounds of silver into our trunks.

But the worst was still to come. Commerce was suddenly swamped under a
flood of nickel! Its “refunding loan” having failed, Brazil was hard put
to it to find money for current expenses, and disgorged anything that
could be found lying about the federal treasury. If the government
refused to take its own silver and nickel, it did not by any means
refuse to pay it out. The lower and less influential officials were
paid, when at all, in rolls of silver, those without any political pull
whatever in nickel, and there were cases of being paid in _vintems_, the
obsolete copper coins of twenty reis each which may be seen in use only
among beggars and negro street hawkers. On government pay-days, ever
more rare now as time went on, one might see a government bookkeeper or
a school teacher come in to buy a long-needed bar of soap and a flashy
new shirt, lugging in both hands, like dumbbells, great lumps of
paper-wrapped silver, nickel, and even copper.

It was not until September 25 that I could risk letting Carlos run the
stage end of the show, even under my immediate supervision, but he
learned with reasonable speed and three days later I spent the afternoon
climbing Tijuca and turned up at the cinema after eight, much relieved
to find that nothing had gone awry. “Tut,” however, was forced to stick
close to his booth during all performances as long as we remained in

Then came the end of the month, the figuring up of accounts, and the
startling discovery that I was a millionaire! In a single week I had
earned more than I had spent since entering Brazil three months before,
and my salary and commission for the month, little more than half of
which we had been playing, summed up to 1,250,000 reis! What it would
have been under normal conditions, when Brazilians were able to maintain
to the full their reputation as “good spenders,” only the mathematically
minded can compute. Now that I had my first million, by all the rules of
Wall Street I should have had no difficulty in rapidly joining the
multimillionaire class. However, when I found that at the prevailing
rate of exchange my earnings amounted to barely three hundred dollars,
and when I added the knowledge that a five-cent handkerchief sold for
1$500, that it cost 600 reis to have a collar badly laundered, and that
rather a thin letter mailed to the United States required the equivalent
of twenty-five cents in stamps, I realized that I was in no immediate
danger of descending into the pitiable class of the idle rich.

                              CHAPTER XII
                          A SHOWMAN IN BRAZIL

Summer was beginning to seethe in earnest when, early on the first
morning of October, I sped from the Praia do Flamengo to the miserable
old station of the Central Railway of Brazil. Having a suitcase now and
lacking time to wait for the second-class trailer in which persons so
plebeian as to carry baggage may ride, the trip by taxi cost me—I mean
Linton—9$600 instead of 400 reis! Nor was that the only shock I got at
the station. On my journey northward from Uruguay, with my worldly
possessions in a bundle under one arm, the fact that the railroads of
Brazil have no free baggage allowance had scarcely caught my attention.
But now I was responsible for an outfit consisting of half a dozen large
trunks and an enormous phonograph horn in its special case, totaling
about a thousand pounds. Hence the seriousness of the discovery that for
the single day’s trip from Rio to São Paulo personal baggage paid 256
reis a kilogram and all other kinds 400! No wonder Brazilians drag into
the trains with them all manner of strange and awkward bundles, for
though any portable amount of hand-luggage is transported free of charge
in the passenger-cars, everything else must pay almost its weight in
human flesh. In fact, a fat man can travel more cheaply on Brazilian
railways than can his equally heavy trunk.

There are private, state, and federal railways in Brazil, and the
“Estrada de Ferro Central” belongs to the last category, being operated
by the national government. I had already seen public ownership of
railroads working—or failing to work—in Chile, however, and was
therefore not so surprised at some of the manifestations of the system
as a complete stranger might have been. One quickly learned that
government railways are operated primarily for the convenience of
trainmen and government officials, and that the public is privileged to
fight for any space that may be left after these have been accommodated.
Our cars were as sadly down at heel as any I had seen since leaving
Chile, yet in the station from which we departed stood an official train
of the “Administração e Inspecção” that was the last word in
transportable sumptuousness, its sides almost wholly of plate-glass and
its interior fitted with every luxury. In this, and others like it,
government railway managers and higher officials not only flit about at
will but carry a host of political friends and their relatives down to
the fourteenth cousinship. The “Central” shows a firm belief, too, in
the modern trade-union principle of never letting one man do what four
men might pretend to be doing, so that not only do useless higher
officials swarm but the actual railroad men are little less numerous
than the passengers.

Notwithstanding my rule never to go over the same ground twice when it
can possibly be avoided, I was returning to São Paulo because our
contract with the “Companhia Brazileira” specified that we present the
Kinetophone there during the month of October. The night train would
have been more comfortable and a bit swifter, but I had never been
overland between Brazil’s two largest cities; besides, I wished to have
things prepared for our _estrea_ when “Tut” and Carlos arrived next
morning. The day train covers the 310 miles in twelve hours—at least on
the time-table. For the first of them it was but one of a constant
procession of trains in both directions, not only the “Central” but the
private-owned and contrastingly efficient “Leopoldina” railway
maintaining incessant service to the suburbs. Then we took to climbing
from the coast to the great interior plateau, more or less following a
small river sprawling over rocks and boulders, passing many tunnels that
brought out the incompetence of the train gas-lamps, a low-wooded valley
sinking below us as we rose ever higher. Once out of this and above the
coastlands, we turned southwest across an almost flat plain. By no means
covered with the jungle of the imagination, it was dry and bushy,
sometimes wholly bare, occasionally somewhat grass-grown. Reddish trails
along which wandered mules and donkeys, and now and then one of the
humped sacred bulls of India between the thills of a heavy cart, climbed
away across scrub-covered, mist-touched foothills or low ridges here and
there punctuated with decapitated palm trees. The soft coal that Brazil
imports for her railroads abetted the dustiness of the season in making
the trip uncomfortable. Beyond Cruzeiro, already in the state of São
Paulo, huge dome-shaped ant-hills of hard, reddish earth began to litter
the brownish landscape. The low hills had been ruthlessly despoiled of
their natural adornment by the systematic incendiarism of man, who for
long stretches had made his destruction of the primeval forest absolute.
It struck a note of sadness, this devastation of the beauties of nature
for utilitarian purposes, without even the excuse of necessity, since
the forest had been destroyed merely to save the trouble of cultivating
more intensively and by more modern methods lands that had become weary
from overwork and lack of fertilizing nourishment—and because of the
native superstition that soil which does not produce forest will not
grow anything else. Long lack of rain had left the whole country
powder-dry and water-longing; even the palm-trees drooped as if tired
and thirsty. In folds of the earth clumps of bedraggled banana plants,
sometimes with a few choked coffee bushes beneath them, called attention
to primitive huts before which a black colonist, squatting aimlessly on
the ground, and his numerous brood offered to the sun’s caresses skins
which it cannot tan. It is a nonchalant life at best where the earth
gives a maximum of return for a minimum of exertion. Here and there a
bit of late spring plowing was going on, giving the ground a suggestion
of the same nudity as the happy-go-lucky inhabitants. Now and then, from
the summit of a ridge, we caught sight of an old plantation house with a
long series of walls behind which only a generation ago were herded
troops of negro slaves, and about it vast coffee-fields abandoned for
want of labor. Everywhere was an air of do-nothing poverty and
ruination, coupled with a fatalistic surrender to circumstances. The
unimportant towns along the way, little less thirsty and weary of life,
seemed to be inhabited only by non-producers, ranging from priests to
shopkeepers. At length the thick dust-and-heat haze of day turned purple
with evening, a heavy sun went down somewhere to the west, leaving a
great red blotch irregularly radiating on the horizon, the night grew
almost cold and, two hours behind time, we rumbled into the glass-domed
Luz station.

São Paulo was not what I had left it ten weeks before. Not only had the
drought made it dry and dusty and even more hazy than Rio, but the war
had brought its industry almost to a standstill. Swarms of workmen
without work competed with hungry boys for the chance to sell a few
newspapers. In the poorer section a serious epidemic of typhoid had
broken out; the hotels that had seemed numerous before, now, with only a
guest or two each, appeared trebly so; “actresses” who had always had a
native “friend” to help out, had taken to suicide because even the
_amigo_ could no longer pay their rent. The very _cafés concertos_ in
which rich _fazendeiros_ from the coffee-growing interior had been wont
to squander fortunes on blond charmers from across the sea were
succumbing one by one to the “brutal crisis.” Everywhere the city had a
sad air and many of those one met were too sad to speak; even the
weather was gloomy, in the face of approaching summer. The sun was
rarely seen; palm-trees shivered in a cold wind; disheveled banana
plants huddled together as if for mutual warmth. Professionally the
“industrial capital” looked unpromising indeed. The _Paulista_ had not
yet come to realize that the war was really the opportunity for a land
with such vast resources, so far barely touched by commercial
enterprise, to shake off borrowing and indolence and become one of the
wealthy and powerful nations of the earth.

Approached from the federal capital, São Paulo showed at a glance the
effect on the human race of even a slight difference in climate. Though
not appreciably farther from the equator than Rio, and barely half a
mile above sea-level, its atmosphere was wholly different. The negro
element is conspicuously less and seems to be decreasing, so that a
century hence, São Paulo will have perhaps no more of the African strain
than the Portuguese have now. The average citizen one saw in the
business streets, or in the palatial homes of coffee kings and captains
of industry—not to mention successful politicians—out along the Avenida
Paulista and in other flowery and fashionable suburbs had much less in
common with the motley _Carioca_ than with the people of southwestern

“Tut” and Carlos arrived at dawn with the outfit. I had been
disgruntled, though not greatly surprised, to find that our coming had
not been advertised, except with a small portrait of Edison in some of
the newspapers, the ex-bootblack being a true Latin-American in never
believing a promise until it has been fulfilled. This was contrary to
our contract and it would have caused us to lose not one, but several
days had I not obliged the distrustful Spaniard to let us open at one of
his theaters the following night and to plunge at once into advertising,
which I aided by a special performance to the press and “influential
citizens” at six that afternoon. As we were booked for a month in the
city, “Tut” and I took quarters—the scarcity of transients having
brought them within our means—in a palace overlooking the stately and
dignified Municipal Theater, from which we could look down upon the
band-concerts in the gardens below as from a balcony—unless they
coincided with our own performances. Carlos, being in his home town,
joined his increasing family in one of the sections chiefly devoted to
workmen of Italian antecedents.

The “Companhia Brazileira” operated eight cinemas throughout the city,
and these were in the habit of changing their programs nightly, instead
of twice a week. As we were to play in all of them, I set to work to
shift our numbers in such a way as to give us more than twenty-five
combinations of program with our fifteen films, both in the hope that
those who might already have heard one number would be attracted by the
other two and because Brazilians will not stand for _sopa requentada_
(reheated soup), as they call a repetition of program. Our work in São
Paulo was quite different from that in Rio. Here the cinemas ran only
two, or at most three, sessions, totalling less than four hours a night,
with matinées only on Sundays. One man could easily have done all that
the three of us were called upon to do in those days, had he been able
to split himself into triplets at the critical moments. Nor was our
income cut down as much as the difference between two or three and ten
performances a day would suggest, for the theaters were large, with
boxes, balconies and galleries, and the public was accustomed to take
its entertainment in common at reasonable hours. Theatrically, however,
the _Paulistas_ were quite like the _Cariocas_. Their favorite in the
“movies” was a Parisian comedian whose specialty is the
fall-into-a-coal-bin-in-evening-dress brand of humor, and it was
difficult to unseat this king. To be sure, São Paulo audiences did show
a few more signs of life than those in the national capital, an
occasional snigger at least; but on the other hand, unlike Rio, with its
pose for the exotic, they somewhat resented that our records were not
all in the native tongue. “Tut” suggested that we take them out and have
them translated.

Though the “Companhia Brazileira” was required by the terms of our
contract to do all advertising, I decided to try my own hand at
flim-flamming the public. The usual posters, newspaper notices, and
banners were all very well, but I wanted something special, something
unusual, that could not fail to impress upon everyone that “the
Kinetophone, the wonderful talking-moving pictures, the marvel of the
age,” and so on, was in São Paulo for a very limited time indeed, “_só
trez dias_ (only three days)”—after which it would move to another
theater a few blocks away. Our enterprising partners were not so
conservative in advertising as they were lacking in new ideas. But
though they were always harping on the American genius for publicity and
insisting on their eagerness to be shown, they invariably backed water
when any unfamiliar scheme was physically laid before them, and this
dread of the unusual was so often in evidence during our tour of Brazil
that it is evidently a typical Brazilian characteristic. In São Paulo I
hired an Italian dwarf, who had been hanging about appealing for a job,
to parade the streets as a sandwich-man. That particular form of
advertising apparently had never been seen in Brazil. The company highly
approved of the scheme in outline, but refused to sponsor an
unprecedented innovation when the time came actually to carry it out. I
determined, therefore, to risk a few dollars of Linton’s money. Taking
two of our large cloth-mounted portraits of Edison as a background, I
had special sandwich-boards made on a design of my own—except that the
painter, frightened at any suggestion of novelty, reduced my idea to the
commonplace, and then told another man to complete the job. This he did
eventually, under my stern supervision, and I turned the innovation
loose on São Paulo. An hour later, I met my dwarf carrying the two
boards above his head in the form of a banner that had been the “last
cry” in Brazilian advertising for at least a decade! He had some maudlin
excuse to offer for not carrying out my orders and next day he left even
the banner loafing on a corner while he worked at a better job during
the best hours of Saturday, leaving me no choice but to turn him back
into the ranks of the disgruntled unemployed. Thanks to rain, the war,
and other drawbacks, we did so poor a business on several nights that
the ex-bootblack talked of breaking the contract, for though they expect
“um inglez” to live strictly up to his side of an agreement, on their
side a contract means nothing whatever to these people. To make things
worse the milreis dropped again to five to the dollar, yet money was so
scarce that we dared not raise our admission price. By moving every
three days to a new theater, however, we got fair-sized audiences and
did moderately well, though nothing like what we should have done before
the war.

All my other troubles as a theatrical potentate, however, were nothing
compared to my struggle against “deadheads.” Though our contract called
for “complete suppression of the free list during this engagement,” the
carrying out of that clause was quite another matter. Excuses for
entering a theater in Brazil without paying an admission fee are without
number. One might suppose that a Justice of the Supreme Court would be
ashamed to use his office to force his way into a “movie” house,
admittance to which cost barely the equivalent of a quarter. But many
men of that class not only usurped free admission, but usually took
their entire families with them—and the average Brazilian family can
fill many seats. It is the custom in Brazil for theaters to send annual
passes to all higher politicians. Thus the judge is given a richly
engraved yearly pass, which claims to be non-transferable and for his
personal use only. But he cannot, of course, be expected actually to
show it, like a _popular_, or a common fellow, or to have his right
questioned to bring with him such guests as he may choose. It is the
business of everyone connected with the theater to know the judge and
not put him to the annoyance and degradation of showing that pass, which
would be an insult comparable almost to dunning him for a debt. So he
thrusts the obsequious gateman haughtily aside and marches in with his
whole progeny—and a little later a barefoot negro boy appears with an
elaborately engraved annual pass which states that he is a Justice of
the Supreme Court, and he must be let in without question, lest one have
to answer next day to contempt of court!

We were incessantly pestered by official mendicants and well-to-do
beggars, by friends of the management or of the cinema employees, by
“influential people” in droves. Favor to a friend, a relative, an
acquaintance, the friend of a friend’s friend, to anyone with an
authoritative manner, and the lack of moral courage that goes with it,
is the curse of all Brazilian door-keepers. If a man had ever met a
person in any way connected with the institution, he expected to get the
glad hand and a smiling invitation to “go right in.” It was not so much
that they were trying to save money; the milreis admission fee was not
serious to the official and influential class; it was _fazendo fita_,
showing off by stalking past the cringing ticket-collector with an air
of daring him to challenge them. To march in with his whole decorated,
upholstered, and perfumed family gave a man the sense of being a person
of superior clay, for whom there are no barriers. This attitude ran the
full gamut of government officials. One of the standing privileges of a
newly appointed Minister of War is to go to the theater and ignore the
ticket collector; it is his visible and final proof of office. Negro
youths employed in the customhouse forced their way in without protest
because some form of trouble would be sure to follow any interference
with that class. My ears were constantly being importuned with, “Please,
senhor, may I go in? I am an ‘artist’ or a poet, or fourteenth cousin of
the _delegado_, or great-grandmother of the town dog-catcher, or a bag
of wind, or....” When mail arrived for me at our consulate the native
clerk was careful to keep that fact to himself if I called during the
day, so that he could bring it to me at night and use it as a ticket for
himself and his female hanger-on. In addition to all this, the
short-sighted managers think it necessary to give permanent passes to
many of the “influential families” in their neighborhood so that others
will see that the place is fashionable and will patronize it. As a
result, those who have money do not need to spend it, because they have
season tickets, and those whom they are expected to imbue with the
desire to go cannot do so because they do not have the money.

A woman of the comfortable class comes to the cinema with two, or even
three nearly full-grown children, and though she knows perfectly well
that they are expected to pay at least half-fare, she presents a single
ticket for herself and starts to drag the children in after her. If the
door-keeper has the courage to halt her, the woman, feigning great
indignation, says:

“Why do _they_ pay admission, little bits of children like that?”

“Yes, senhora,” replies the bowing manager, with far more courtesy than

“Oh dear,” sighs the woman, “I have just ten _tostões_ with me for my
own ticket and I’ll have to go way back home and get the rest”—whereupon
the manager hastens to say, “that’s perfectly all right, senhora, go
right in,” for he knows that if she turns homeward it will be in wrath
and he will lose even the “_dez tostões_” she has paid for her own
ticket. As often as she comes to the cinema the woman, and many like
her, works the same trick with a most serious and innocent face.

We had to admit free the chauffeurs of private automobiles in order to
keep the friendship and family influence of the patrons who came in
them. Sometimes it was evident that the cinema was making use of us
during our short engagement to win friends for themselves during the
rest of the season. One manager went so far as to try not to include us
in the program at all one Sunday afternoon, knowing he would fill the
house anyway with Edison’s portrait outside and not have to share the
receipts with us. Then anyone in any way connected with a newspaper,
from the office-boy down to the editor’s third mistress, must be let in
without question or the entertainment is forever blasted in that
community. A decent and unusually good show for Brazil opened near us
one evening. Being newly arrived from Europe, the manager gave two seats
each to the principal newspapers, instead of allowing anyone attached to
them to get in merely by mumbling that fact as they passed the
door-keeper. Next day, after highly praising a salacious and worthless
thing at another theater, the papers one and all announced that no
decent Brazilian families should be seen at this one, and the following
night the police closed the performance.

At the “Cinema High Life”—the mulatto boy operators had chalked the name
on the back brick wall of the stage so that they could remember how to
pronounce it, “Ai Laife,” in three syllables—which prided itself on
attracting “le monde chic” of São Paulo, I counted 215 “deadheads” one
night out of an audience of barely six hundred, and I missed a number
when duties took me away from the door. Moreover I did not count the
score or more in uniform, nor the friends of the stagehands who saw the
pictures from the rear.

I soon cut off some of this dead-heading, but it was at the expense of
much diligence and audacity, not to say diplomacy, for one cannot
manhandle the Brazilians as one can a more straightforward people,
without running the risk of being boycotted by the entire community. It
meant constant vigilance, too, for the crooked are notoriously more
energetic and cunning than the honest. In the beginning I lost
considerable sleep over this petty form of grafting, but one soon learns
in Brazil to take a new view of life, to smile and be “sympathico” and
fit in as well as possible with the society about him. It is the only
society he will find in any appreciable quantity as long as he remains
in the country, and he may as well make the best of it.

Once in a while, though by no means often enough to make up for the
“deadhead” losses, men went to the other extreme in _fazendo fita_. A
fop now and then came in alone and bought an entire box for himself; or
men well known in the community might come the first night with their
families, thrusting the door-keeper aside, and take seats in the
parquet, while the next night, when he came with his bejewelled
mistress, the same man would take the best box available, and pay for
it, less out of a sense of fairness than in order advantageously to
display his prize to his envious fellow-citizens.

However, in compensation for my troubles new honors were heaped upon me.
The Brazilian dearly loves an honorary title, and being unable to think
of any other that would fit a man of my undoubtedly important position
as “concessionary” for all Brazil of a great invention, they took to
calling me “doctor.” In time I grew accustomed to being introduced with
deep bows and the words, “Permita-me presental-lhe o Doutor Frawnck.” In
“movie” circles I let the error pass as unimportant, but when one day
even the American president of the college of São Paulo publicly
addressed me by that title, I protested.

“But you have a bachelor’s degree, haven’t you?” he asked, in some

“Yes, I believe so, if I haven’t lost it somewhere along the road,

“Then you are a doctor in Brazil,” he replied, “for the bachelor’s
degree carries with it that title in this country.”

“Dr.” Franck I remained, therefore, as long as I continued to manage the

With matinées only on Sundays, I found plenty of time for my favorite
sport of tramping the countryside. One afternoon I strolled at random
out beyond the low, dry, reddish cliffs at the edge of town and struck
off in the direction of São Caetano. Great banks of white clouds lay
piled into the sky on all sides, and the dead-dry, almost burning
stretch of rolling country was half-hidden under a haze of red dust. I
passed several suburban beer-halls, each with its “Giocce di Bocce,” or
Italian nine-pin earth court behind it, and wandered on along more red
roads, the light-colored houses scattered over the rolling country
showing up in front and disappearing behind me in the thick, dust-laden
atmosphere as in a fog. Gradually I came to realize that almost a
procession of men, women and children was bound in the same direction,
some tramping the dusty road on weary, blistered feet, others lolling at
their ease in carriages and automobiles. Not a few of the latter were
expensive private cars with chauffeurs in livery.

For nearly an hour I followed the same direction. Then all at once,
topping a slight ridge, I came upon all the concourse that had gone
before—automobiles, carriages, and pedestrians—gathered in a broad bare
space on the brow of a treeless, thirsty hill. Down below the throng was
a small tile-roofed hut with two bar fences so arranged before it that
only one person at a time of the crowd that was jammed up against it
could enter and bend over a sort of counter across the open door to talk
with a man inside. Each ended the interview by handing the man a ten, or
more, milreis note and passed out through a gap between fence and hut.
Though the entire assortment of Brazilian complexions was to be found in
the throng, many were full whites, blond European immigrants as well as
women in silks and diamonds, dandies in gloves, spats and canes—and
every mother’s son and daughter of them talked with bated breath while
they waited their turn to approach the counter. When this came, the men
reverently raised their hats, the women gave a species of curtsey and in
many cases kissed the man’s hand, then conversed with him for two or
three minutes in an undertone, which could not but have been heard by
those crowded nearest to the speaker. Then they paid the fee and passed
on, with as contrite and sanctified a look on their faces as if they had
just ended a private conference with St. Peter. Each carried away a
mammoth visiting card bearing the name Vicente Rodriguez Viera, and at
the exit a shaggy countryman halted each by thrusting forth photographs
of the man behind the counter, which each hastened to buy with a meek
and grateful countenance, as if by divine command.

Inside the hut was an electric push-button which, like the back door,
connected with a rambling lot of _fazenda_ buildings, and near at hand
was a large liquor emporium and two restaurants of a crude,
frontier-like variety. I was preparing to sample the attractions of the
latter when the man behind the counter suddenly rose and strolled toward
the farmhouse in the rear, leaving the perspiring crowd—automobiles,
diamonds and all—to await his sweet will about returning. He was a big
bulk of a countryman, plainly a _caboclo_, or copper-colored native
Brazilian of considerable Indian and probably some negro blood, with a
great bushy black beard. Dressed in an uncreased, broad-brimmed felt
hat, a heavy, dark suit, and black riding-boots, he wore also a colored
handkerchief knotted loosely about his neck, a conspicuous watch-chain
and charm across his slightly prominent abdomen, and huge brass rings on
seven of his fingers considerably enhancing his general air of cheap
vulgarity. His face was puffy under the eyes and had a “foxy” expression
that no one of a modicum of experience with the human race could have
mistaken for anything than what it was,—proof of cunning rascality.

As the fellow was returning to the hut I approached the vendor of
photographs and asked who the man was. His ally gave me a look of
mingled astonishment and disgust for my ignorance and explained that the
noble being was a _curandeiro_, or a “curer.”

“You mean a physician?” I suggested.

“No, senhor, not a doctor; a _curandeiro_.”

“Does he give medicine?”

“None whatever.”

“Does he cure by laying on hands?”

“Not at all. He merely gives them his card and they buy his picture.
After nine days they come back again, and three times in the next month,
and then once or twice a month, if they are still ailing, until they are
cured. He is a _caboclo legitimo_” (a dyed-in-the-wool Brazilian) “and
has been here eight years.”

The “curer” was taking in money at a rate that should have allowed him
to retire in much less time than that, but no doubt pride in his work
kept him at it. Formerly he had operated in São Paulo itself, but had
been banished outside the city limits. An elaborate enameled sign
announced that on Sundays and holidays he gave no cures, “no matter what
the provocation.” As he reëntered the hut, the whole throng uncovered or
curtseyed. A peculiar fact was that a large number of his clients seemed
to be in the most robust of health; no doubt in these cases his cures
were most effective. Several well-dressed little girls were forced in to
consult him, plainly against their wills and better judgment, for they
laughed at the silly fraud, and one of them shocked the sanctimonious
crowd by calling him “velho barbudo” (old bewhiskered). There is a
Brazilian saying that “E mais facil enganar a humanidade que
desenganal-a,” which might be freely translated, “It is easier to
squeeze the human head into an uncouth shape than to squeeze it back
again to normal.”

We found that the Kinetophone appealed less and less as we descended the
scale of wealth and education. In the workingman’s district of Barra
Funda, to which we went after a week down in Santos, we were escorted by
mobs of urchins until we felt like a country circus, but there was
little gain in playing to such audiences. In the slang of Brazil, “brass
was lacking,” and we gave matinées to scatterings of “deadheads” and
half-price children and evening performances to thin, apathetic houses.
The young toughs we would not let in free took revenge by mutilating our
cloth-mounted posters, the managers lost our newspaper cuts, and nearly
half our slight share of the receipts was paid in nickel! We were held
up, too, by one of the ubiquitous national holidays. The second of
November was the _Dia dos Finados_, a sort of Brazilian Memorial Day
sacred to weeping and the laying on of flowers—not to mention
flirting—in all the cemeteries, and not to be enlivened by mere
theatrical performances. Those of the undress variety “got away with it”
by announcing a “solemn program,” but when I protested against this
forced holiday, contrary to contract, the irreverent ex-bootblack grew
wrathy and insisted that on such a day our show was “too frivolous!”

But if the human audiences did not respond, we now and then got proof,
sometimes in disastrous form, that our entertainment was realistic. In
several of the barn-like theaters in the outskirts of São Paulo we were
obliged to “shoot from the back,” that is, the projecting machine was
set up at the rear of the stage and the pictures were thrown upon the
back of the curtain. One evening some friend of the stage hands brought
a terrier with him. Among the demonstrations of the “Portuguese Lecture”
with which we opened our part of the program was a collie that rushed
out barking upon the screen stage. Barely had he dashed into view this
time when the terrier sprang madly upon him and all but wrecked the
curtain and the performance.

It was not until the fourth of November that my real job began. Our
engagement with the “Companhia Brazileira” was drawing to a close at an
old theater out by the gas-works, and the hour had come for me to find
out whether I was a real “movie” magnate or merely a ticket-taker; for
the carrying out of a contract made by someone else is quite a different
thing from faring forth into the world and making contracts. I set out
for the interior of the State of São Paulo, therefore, with misgivings,
not only as to my own abilities but because only “Tut” and Carlos, who
did not yet speak the same language, were left to run the show.

I was bound for Campinas, third city of the state, but the town of
Jundiahy looked promising and I dropped off there. It was a straggling
coffee center of some sixteen thousand inhabitants, rather picturesquely
strewn over a rolling hillside, at the summit of which bulked a big
yellow building bearing the familiar name “Polytheama.” In the
electric-light plant next door I learned the name of the manager, but I
visited a dozen other buildings before I ran him down, only to find that
the real owner and contract-maker was the prefect and chief mogul of the
town. We found him surrounded by much ceremony and a score of cringing
fellow-citizens in his inner sanctum of the _prefeitura_. I introduced
myself with as brief formality as possible and told him that the
Kinetophone was to end its engagement in São Paulo a week later and that
it might be to his advantage, as well as to that of Jundiahy, to have it
stop there for the night of Friday, the thirteenth, on our way to
Campinas. He replied that he had made a special trip down to São Paulo
to see this new “marvel of the American wizard,” but that he had never
dreamed we might be induced to come to Jundiahy. He was highly
flattered, but could he and his modest little town really afford so
remarkable an entertainment? I offered to book the attraction for a
hundred and fifty dollars. He looked up the rate of exchange in the São
Paulo morning paper, smiled sadly over the figures he penciled on the
margin of it, and regretted that it was impossible to pay a fixed sum,
especially in such hard times.

I took leave of him and turned back toward the station. But I felt
almost superstitious at the thought of failing in my first attempt to
make a contract and yielded to the entreaties of the manager beside me
to return and seek some other basis of arrangement. The prefect showed
more pleasure than surprise at my return and offered to rent me the
“Polytheama” for one night at 80$, we to pay for orchestra, light,
license, employees, and all the rest. I declined. “Tut” could scarcely
be expected to handle so complicated a proposition to our advantage. It
then being my move, I dug down into my portfolio and brought forth a
contract which Linton by some stroke of luck or genius had made in a
small town of Chile, giving him seventy per cent. of the gross receipts.
I would gladly have accepted the “fifty-fifty” basis on which we were
then playing, rather than begin with a failure, but by judicious use of
the Chilean contract and my ever improving Portuguese I got the prefect
to offer us sixty per cent., and having asked and been refused the
privilege of charging to his account the cost of our transportation from
São Paulo, just in order not to seem too eager, I agreed. I drew up
duplicate contracts on the spot, left a reasonable amount of advertising
matter, and still had time to snatch a lunch before catching the next
train north.

It was mid-afternoon when I reached Campinas in its lap of rolling
coffee-clad hills, and the siesta hour was not yet over. I took a
_tigre_, a two-wheeled hack, to the center of town, and having installed
myself in a big bare front room of the principal hotel, began my
professional inquiries at once. The important theaters were the “Casino
Carlos Gomes” and the “Theatro Rink.” The former looked rather small and
dainty for our purposes; besides, it ranked as a municipal playhouse,
and I did not yet feel like going into politics on so lavish a scale.
The “Rink” was a great barn of a place of less aristocratic appearance,
and in the course of an hour I coaxed the negro boys attached to it to
rout out the manager. He was a plain, business-like young fellow with
almost American ideas of advertising and management, and we were soon
engaged in the preliminary matching of wits. I drew out clippings, old
programs, articles on the Kinetophone from American, Brazilian, and
Spanish-American papers as they were needed to clinch my arguments, and
as he grew interested we sat down at a table on the gloomy unlighted
stage where a Portuguese company was stuttering and ranting through the
comedy they were to perpetrate that night. The first two days we might
devote to Campinas were much more important than the one I had booked in
Jundiahy. For one thing they were Saturday and Sunday, and in addition
the latter was November 15th, Brazil’s Second Independence day. I
proposed that we play five nights at two hundred and fifty dollars a
night. The manager smoked half a cigarette pensively, then said that if
I had only come before the war he would readily have consented, but that
now it was impossible. I sprang the incredible Chilean contract on him.
No, he would only split even, and there we stuck for some time. He was
adaptable, however, and we finally came to an agreement. He was to
double the price of admission, advertise “three days only” with much
gusto, including a special street-car covered with banners and filled
with musicians to parade the streets, and give us half the total
receipts. On the less important days of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday he
was to give his customary subscription section without our assistance,
we to appear about nine, which is the fashionable hour in larger
Brazilian towns, with the price reduced to the normal one milreis—this
concession to be kept dark, of course, until the double-priced holidays
were over—and we to get sixty per cent. of the gross receipts during our

My misgivings had largely taken flight, for before sunset of my first
day “on the road,” in this new sense, I had contracted the principal
theaters in two important towns at better terms than Linton himself had
been able to get in Brazil, and had the show booked for two weeks ahead.
It took me all that evening to draw up the contracts with the “Rink,”
write the contents of them in English for “Tut” and in Portuguese for
Carlos, and explain to the manager our several advertising schemes, but
I went to bed at last as highly satisfied with myself as it is well for
frail humanity to be.

After so good a day’s work I decided to allow myself time to look
Campinas over, instead of departing at dawn. It is a place of
considerable importance, both as a coffee center and as the largest and
most prominent city in the interior of the State of São Paulo. Only a
few years before it had been a focus of yellow fever; now that scourge
had disappeared and sanitation seemed to have come to stay. Any city on
earth would point with pride to the rectangle of royal palms, here
growing unusually far inland, which surround the Largo Carlos Gomes.
That name is widespread throughout the city, for it was here that the
mulatto, Gomes, composer of the opera “O Guaraní” and generally rated
Brazil’s chief musician, was born. There is a statue of him, baton in
hand, bronze music-desk behind him, in a prominent little square in the
center of town—a fragile fellow of typical Brazilian lack of physique,
overweighed by the mass of unbarbered locks which seem to be the sign of
musicians irrespective of nationality. Campinas appears to have a
special trend toward music, for it is also the birthplace of the
pianist, Guiomar Novaes.

The train sped away through endless rows of coffee, stretching out of
sight over rolling horizons. The region seemed more fertile than that
about São Paulo city, with a redder soil, though this may only have been
because here it had recently rained. Unlike those elsewhere, the
Brazilian coffee bushes stood out on the bare hillsides entirely
unshaded, the fields often looking as if they had been combed with a
gigantic comb. Within an hour I stopped at Villa Americana, a small
country town with a plow factory, a cotton-and-ribbon-mill, and a
fertile landscape in every direction. It is the railway station for
large numbers of Americans, or ex-Americans, chiefly farmers, who are
scattered for many miles roundabout. I found the first of them opposite
the station, a doctor who had been practicing here for a quarter of a
century, and who stepped to the telephone to call upon one of the colony
to act as my cicerone. The youth of twenty who responded was, in dress,
looks, manners, and speech, a typical young American of our southern
states, but he was a native of Villa Americana, one of many children of
a white-haired but still agile man of aristocratic slenderness who lived
in the chief mansion of the town, beside a spireless brick Protestant
church which he had been mainly instrumental in building.

In 1867 bands of disgruntled Americans from our southern states
emigrated to Brazil and settled in the five provinces nearest the
federal capital, where they were later joined by others who had first
tried their luck in the Amazon regions. The father of my guide and
several brothers had come from Georgia with their father, who though he
had been a merchant at home and was seventy years old, had started anew
as a farmer. The present head of the family had served two years in the
Confederate army, and was still bitter over the sufferings of his family
during Sherman’s march to the sea. Virtually every American of the older
generation in this region had fought through the war as “Johnny Rebs,”
as they still jokingly called themselves, and had fled to Brazil soon
after the beginning of reconstruction days “to escape carpet-baggers,
free and insolent niggers, and because we fancied the Yanks were going
to eat us up; also so we could keep slaves again.” They still called
Americans of the North, particularly New Englanders, “them down East
Yanks,” and seemed hardly to recognize that the Civil War is over. Any
of them could quickly be wrought up into a heated discussion of slavery,
the character of Lincoln, and the other questions that sent the founders
of Villa Americana off in a huff to the hills of Brazil. The Americans
were the first to bring modern plows into the country, with the
resultant advantages in production when high prices prevailed. But the
majority spent their fortunes as they earned them, thinking these
conditions would last forever, and to-day they are little more
prosperous than their Brazilian neighbors. Though many owned slaves up
to 1888, there seems to be no bitterness against the men who brought
about emancipation in Brazil. They had, however, by no means lost their

Most of these transplanted Americans now admit that they would probably
have done better, at least economically, to have remained in the United
States, but none of them seemed to be thinking of returning. They retain
the good-heartedness and the unassuming hospitality of the southern
plantation in slave days, and with it all the old class distinctions of
the south. Such a family among them they spoke of as “belonging to the
overseer class,” others as “right low down trash.” On the whole, the
colony seems to have clung rather tenaciously to the American standards
of morality, though I heard mention of exceptions to this rule. It was
surprising how American the better class families, such as that of my
guide, had kept. Thanks to their own private schools, their vocabularies
were fully equal to those of the average educated American, though their
pronunciation had peculiar little idiosyncrasies, such as giving a
Portuguese value to the letters of words that have come into our
language since the Civil War. Even the men who were born in the United
States mixed many Brazilian words, particularly of the farm, with their
English. Their farm-hands they called “comrades,” though these were in
almost every case black and little more than peons, earning an average
of 2$500 a day, with a hut to live in and room to plant a garden about
it, if they chose, which few of them did. The older men spoke Portuguese
with the same ease with which they rolled and smoked cigarettes
Brazilian fashion, while the younger generation, of course, preferred
that tongue, except in a few houses where the parents had insisted on
English. Among the “low down trash,” most of the second generation was
said to know no English whatever. On the whole, the colony was another
demonstration of the fact that South America does not assimilate her
immigrants to any such extent as does the United States.

When we had eaten a genuine Southern dinner of fried chicken and all
that goes with it, the son “hitched up” and drove me out through
eucalyptus trees and whole hills of black-green coffee bushes to visit
another American family. There was a suggestion of our southern
mountaineers about this household, the women diffident, silent, and
keeping in the background, though the men had excellent English
vocabularies and the mountaineer’s self-reliance. Yet they were not
always quite sure of themselves and were leisurely of wit, with a manner
which proved that the intangible something known as American humor is
the result of environment rather than bred in the bone. The colony
introduced watermelons into Brazil, but the fruit is nearly all in
Italian hands now, great wagon-loads of them having passed us on their
way into town. When the Americans first arrived, they had planted much
cotton and sugar, but these crops have been almost wholly abandoned, and
they rarely raise more than enough coffee for their own use, giving
their attention chiefly to corn and beans.

It is a great misfortune to Brazil that nearly all her rivers run inland
to the Plata or the Amazon, for lack of this natural transportation has
undoubtedly retarded the development of the country, though it has
probably also abetted the development of railroads. Particularly in the
State of São Paulo there is perhaps as great a network of them as
anywhere in the western hemisphere outside the United States. No fewer
than five systems, better laid and equipped than the Brazilian average,
and with many branches, connect São Paulo city with the rest of the
state and with those to the north and south, while a few months after I
passed that way one of these opened direct rail communication to
Corumbá, far across the wilderness of Matto Grosso on the Paraguay
river. One of the results is that the coffee state is surprisingly well
developed, with many important towns, vastly more agriculture, and much
less forest than the imagination pictures.

As far as Rio Claro, a few hours north of Villa Americana, the railroad
service was excellent. Beyond that large, one-story, checkerboard,
monotonous town ran a wood-burning narrow-gauge, the tenders piled high
with cordwood. Though ours was a “limited” train, passing many stations
without officially stopping, the British “staff” system required the
engineer to exchange orders with every station master, and made it
necessary to slow down to a walk at every settlement. The farther we got
into the interior the more often were we entrusted to wood-burners, the
smaller became the trains, the closer the engines with their deluge of
smoke, sparks, and cinders, and the more we pitched and rolled along the
narrow tracks, which wound incessantly among low hills. The landscape
grew more and more wild, almost a wilderness in places, though no such
tropical jungle as I had imagined, with sometimes no real stop for an
hour or more.

São Carlos was a lively town of some 15,000 people in a hollow among
rolling hills, its houses separated by masses of green trees. There were
plenty of Fords at the station and swarms of _carregadores_,
baggage-carriers with license numbers on their caps—you couldn’t sell
your old shoes in Brazil unless you wore a license showing that the
politicians had given you permission to do so. Here one was struck again
by the fact that great competition does not necessarily mean low prices.
Considering themselves lucky to get a job or two a day, these carriers
growled at anything less than a milreis for the slightest exertion, and
expected enough for carrying a suitcase across the street to keep their
families for a week.

In the best room available at the best hotel I could scarcely turn
around without barking my shins, and the window opened so directly on
the sidewalk that the shoulder of every passer-by seemed to jostle me.
The weather was volatile as a Brazilian, with heavy downpours for ten
minutes alternating with ten minutes of sunshine. I waded down into the
valley through wide streets reeking in blood-red mud and up to the
“Theatro São Carlos,” the manager-owner of which I at length unearthed,
in spite of the prevarications of his negro servants. As usual he was
one of the pillars of the town, of that aristocratic flimsiness of the
man who has never done any real work for generations back, and his air
said plainly that he knew he could outwit any simpleton of a foreigner.
I set my first demands high, therefore, in order to give him the
satisfaction of feeling that he had driven a close bargain when he at
length agreed to as much as I had expected and ten per cent. more than I
would have accepted under compulsion. I got his name signed to duplicate
contracts while he was still under the influence of my hypnotic eye and
was giving him instructions, in the guise of information, on advertising
and the arrangement of programs, when he remarked casually:

“Of course Edison himself comes with the show? Our people will be as
anxious to see him as to get acquainted with his new invention, of which
I have heard such splendid reports.”

“Why—er—it may be that he will not be able to get here,” I stammered.
“You see, he has several little things on hand; besides, he is a married
man and—and——”

How excellent my Portuguese and my winning salesman manner had become
was proved by the fact that in the end I did not have to abrogate the
contract for two days at the “Theatro São Carlos.”

[Illustration: At a suburban cinema of São Paulo the colored youth
charged with the advertising painted his own portrait of Edison. He may
be made out leaning affectionately on the right shoulder of his

[Illustration: The central praça of Campinas]

[Illustration: Catalão and the plains of Goyaz, from the ruined church
above the town]

[Illustration: Amparo, like many another town of São Paulo, is
surrounded on all sides by coffee plantations]

The town of Araraquara proved to be of about the same size and activity
as São Carlos, and especially well off in public buildings somewhat out
of proportion with its general appearance. Clustered in the center,
about the large, red-earth praça, was the church, an old sheet-iron
playhouse, an ambitious Municipal Theater, closed as usual, a large and
well-arranged cinema bearing the unescapable name “Polytheama,” and,
across the street in a red lot of its own, an ambitious new two-story
building labeled in English the “Araraquara College.” I took a turn
through several of the wide, irregular, red-smeared streets to make sure
that the place was worth playing, then found that the man I sought was
also manager of the largest store in town, next door to his playhouse.
He proved to be a short, unshaven young Italian who had not been long in
Brazil, which accounted for his being so good-hearted and easy-going
that I had no difficulty in taking sixty-five per cent. away from him
for Saturday and Sunday night performances. I might have had as large a
share of the special Sunday children’s matinée, but as what had become a
custom required him to distribute candy and toys to the children, I took
pity on him and split that part even.

One of my fellow-countrymen was head of the college. His most noticeable
characteristics were as a smoker of corn-husk wrapped cigarettes and as
an authority on the history of Brazil. He had long been a teacher and
would have preferred to spend his summer vacations in the land of his
forefathers; but these came in December and January, when it is cold in
the United States, and it would take nearly the two months to reach and
return from there, while he could cross to Lisbon in twelve days and
spend most of his vacation comfortably tramping about southern Europe.
His Brazilian wife and two bilingual daughters were almost American in
point of view, though by no means in appearance. The boys of Brazil, the
head master asserted, are more tractable than American boys, also more
superficial, learning more easily but forgetting much more quickly—a
statement frequently heard from American educators throughout South
America. That they were tractable was quickly evident, for when a native
teacher sent to show me over the establishment called a boy away from a
football game—rugby is popular even with workmen on coffee estates in
São Paulo State—he trotted meekly off to do an errand without a hint of
resentment. There were half a dozen American boys in the school, all
Brazilian born of men from our South, and not merely had they taken on
many of the characteristics of their companions, but they had washed-out
complexions and no suggestion of that “scrappiness” familiar on our own
playgrounds. This pastiness of skin is general among the sons of
northerners born in Brazil and quite different from the color of the
blonde descendants of Portuguese in whom the Goth crops out.

Morally the head master had been thoroughly Brazilianized. He had grown
tolerant of the many little things which are not quite as they should
be, having lost the familiar American longing to reform the world and
fallen into many of the lesser vices and easy-going customs of Brazil.
He had, however, introduced coëducation into his school, against the
advice of the natives, because he believed it necessary to proper sex
development, and now the families that had been most strongly against it
sent their children to the college. In the afternoon we drove by
automobile to the professor’s fruit-farm, which a former slave was paid
75$ a month to keep in order. Two of his piccaninnies followed us around
like pet raccoons, constantly holding plates of fruit within our reach,
and the atmosphere of the place was much what it must have been in our
South before the war when the “mastah” visited one of his plantations.
On our return we met an American farmer from far out in the country. He
had come to Brazil twenty years before, when already an adult, but he
spoke English with considerable difficulty and a distinct accent, though
his Portuguese was by no means perfect.

Beyond the River Mogy Guassú, the first I had crossed since leaving São
Paulo, I changed from the “Paulista” railway system to the winding and
narrow-gauge “Mogyana.” We passed many fields of charred stumps,
suggesting how _matta_ was cleared for the planting of coffee. The rare
towns were monotonously alike, dull-white walls and red-tile roofs of
the same shade as the soil, which turned all light-colored animals,
including the children who played in it and the men who worked in it, a
pinkish hue. This red soil is the terror of housewives in São Paulo
State, especially in the dry season, when it sifts thickly over
everything and clings tenaciously to every exposed surface. Soon we were
completely surrounded by coffee fields, _sertões_ of coffee, a world
absolutely shut in by coffee bushes, which actually brushed the sides of
the train and stretched away, endless and straight and unerring as the
files of a well-trained army, up and down over hill and dale, with never
the slightest break in alignment, into the dense-blue horizon for mile
after swift mile.

One plantation through which we traveled for more than an hour has
2,500,000 bushes; an English corporation owns an unbroken sixteen
kilometers of coffee trees, crisscrossed by a private railway. Down in
the hollow of each _fazenda_, or section of plantation, were long rows
of whitewashed, tile-roofed huts, all run together into one or two
buildings, sometimes with a church attached. These were the homes of the
_colonos_, or coffee workmen, once negro slaves, now chiefly Italians,
though I caught glimpses of a number of Japanese, the women still in
their native dress and carrying their babies on their backs by bands
across the breast. Some years ago a few ship-loads of Japanese were sent
to Brazil, landing in Santos, and most of them came so directly into the
back country, and are so nearly segregated there, that even their racial
tendency for imitation has not caused them to throw off home customs.
Here and there, too, were groups of European immigrants still in the
costumes of their homelands in the year, in some cases distant, when
they left them. Italian colonization succeeded negro slavery closely in
São Paulo State, which owes its prosperity and its leadership in the
world’s coffee production mainly to these newcomers. In addition to
their living quarters and modest wages, the _colonos_ are usually given
a piece of ground on which to plant corn, black beans, and mandioca for
their own use, and sometimes permission to graze a few head of stock.
One of the chief troubles of the coffee _fazendeiro_, however, is the
tendency of Italian _colonos_ to abandon the sun-drenched fields as soon
as they get a bit of money together and go to town to engage in some
minor form of business.

Coffee blossoms and berries are often found on the same bush at the same
time, and there are seven grades of the product, according to the time
in which it is picked. The regular harvest is from May to July or
August. Then the ground under the bushes is carefully swept, if it is
smooth, or is spread with cloth, and the berries are scraped from the
branches with one motion of the hand, sparing as many leaves as
possible, after which all is swept together and sent to great drying
platforms that look not unlike concrete tennis courts. The _colonos_
labor on the piece-work system, each family being responsible for a
given number of plants and the picking being paid by the liter. The
berries are planted some eight feet apart in both directions, making
straight rows from four angles. It is better to set out young plants
from a nursery, but this is too slow a process for large plantations.
Some of the land was formerly treeless campo, but a large part, and the
most fertile, has been cleared of dense _matta_ in the crude and
wasteful way of pioneer communities, leaving only here and there a
majestic tropical tree topping a ridge. The plant begins to produce in
about four years, and has been known to continue to the age of a hundred
and thirty, growing up from the stump as often as it is cut down. An
ordinarily good tree will produce twenty-five quarts of berries, which
in their maturity considerably resemble small cherries, the two coffee
beans inside requiring continual attention before they are finally dried
and sorted and disappear in sixty-kilogram sacks in the direction of
Santos and the outside world.

The plants were brought to Brazil from French Guiana long ago, and
coffee-growing was a paying business in the State of São Paulo “until
the government heard of it.” The number of non-producers who get a
finger into the coffee cup before it reaches the actual consumer is
beyond belief. Taxes begin with so much per thousand “feet” of plants,
and continue incessantly until the product reaches the retail market.
Transportation from the field to Santos is ordinarily two or three times
as much as from Santos to New York, and a sack for which the grower
received ten dollars the grocer in the United States has been known to
sell for forty-five, even in the days before the World War produced so
many experts in profiteering. It is often asserted that the coffee
_fazendeiro_ makes more profit out of renting the bottom lands, where
the danger of frost makes the planting of coffee inadvisable, as
_chacaras_, or small market gardens, or from the catch crops that can be
planted between the rows after picking-time, than from his many times
more acres of coffee-trees. Throttling taxes are his greatest trial, and
the prophecy is frequently heard that this growing habit of Brazilian
government will eventually ruin the great coffee industry of São Paulo.

At sunset we coasted down into Riberão Preto, fourth city of the state,
in the bottom of a great shallow bowl of earth lined uninterruptedly
with coffee bushes as far as the eye could reach. In the pink glow of
evening a _carregador_ put me and my baggage into a carriage before I
had time to express any personal desires on the subject, and I was
driven through the Saturday night activities of a lively, rather
frontier-like town to the chief hotel. What the other half dozen in town
must have been I dread to imagine, for this resembled nothing so much as
a dingy, careless, unadorned, lack-comfort style of barn, suggesting
that I was getting back again into the real South America, away from the
fringe of near-civilization on the coast. It was seething with
travelers, salesmen, an Italian theatrical company, servants, dogs, and
innumerable caged parrots, and I was assigned another of those
intolerable ground-floor rooms opening directly on the street that are
unescapable in the one-story towns of interior Brazil. Nor had I had
time to test the one comfort of such establishments, the shower bath,
when a jangling bell demanded that all guests come to supper at once, on
penalty of going without it entirely.

It would be difficult to speak kindly of Brazilian hotels. As in
Spanish-America, nothing but black coffee is to be had until _almoço_,
or “breakfast,” between ten and eleven, which is followed about sunset
by _jantar_. Both these meals are heavy, lacking in everything but
quantity, and made up almost entirely of meat. This _carne verde_
(“green” meat), having just been killed and so called to distinguish it
from _xarque_ or _carne secca_, the salted or sun-dried variety familiar
in the rural districts, is cooked in several different ways, all of
which leave it hopelessly tough. Whether in hotels or railway-station
restaurants, the menu is unvarying, and eight or ten huge plates of meat
are slapped down in the middle of a long, noisy, public table, where
each guest grasps what he can before his neighbors make way with it. To
save time or trouble all dishes are served at once, and are habitually
cold before they reach the ultimate consumer. There is a great paucity
of vegetables, even potatoes being considered a luxury and rarely
reaching the interior of the country. Instead, there stands on every
table a glass jar of what looks like coarse yellow salt, but which
proves to be _farinha_, flour made of the mandioca or _yuca_ that is
served boiled in the Andean countries, and which is used throughout
Brazil to thicken soups, or eaten dry.

The hotel proprietor usually gives his attention exclusively to the bar,
which he claims to be the only paying part of his establishment. By
night a servant sleeps just inside the front door, leaving room between
it and his cot for the belated guest to squeeze through; in the daytime
the _pateo_ is an uproar of unguided servants and ill-bred children. If
you ask to have your bread brushed off after the waiter has dropped it
on the floor you are henceforth known as “that curious gringo”; if you
prefer your coffee or soup made without having an unwashed cook
frequently dip in her spoon to taste the progress and toss the residue
back into the pot, there is just one way to get it—by bringing your own
cook with you. In your room the mirror is certain to be placed at about
the height of the average American’s belt buckle, so that to shave
requires either kneeling on the floor or sitting on something, usually
not to be found, about the size of a soapbox. Hot water being unknown,
shaving becomes an ordeal equal to trying to shut out the sight of a
mulatto across the table inhaling a mammoth all-meat meal with such boa
constrictor ease that he needs only to give the tail of an occasional
extra large mouthful an affectionate pat with his knife as it goes down.

Whatever he lacks in other ways the typical Brazilian hotel-keeper makes
up for in prices. He is rarely a native, and you can scarcely expect a
European to come over and set up hotels in the wilderness of South
America out of mere love for his fellow-man. Usually his only interest
is to make as much as possible as soon as possible and hurry back to his
native land. Not merely are the rates high, but it is the almost
invariable custom to manipulate the items in such a way that a stay of
twenty-four hours becomes at least two days. Personally, I early adopted
the habit of handing the proprietor the amount called for by his posted
daily rate and assuring him that I would look on with great interest
while he collected more than that; but the native Brazilian has the
notion that he loses caste if he protests at any price charged him, so
that the foreigner’s refusal to be fleeced is sure to make him
conspicuous, even if it does not cause his fellow-guests to rate him a
freak and a nuisance.

Nearly every street of Riberão Preto runs out into red earth, a
tenacious soil that is tracked along the sidewalks and into every shop
and dwelling, until the whole town takes on a reddish tinge. Near the
center of town, at the lowest spot of the hollow in which it is built,
there is a perpetual frog chorus, and from the outskirts coffee-fields
stretch up out of the great shallow bowl and away over endless horizons.
The Italian company announced its début on the evening after my arrival
by shooting off fireworks, one advertising scheme that had not occurred
to me. There were so many cinemas in town that I had to spend real money
to visit several of them before I was competent to decide which one
would best answer our purposes. All those of importance, it turned out,
from the municipal “Theatro Carlos Gomes,” covering a whole block in the
center of town, down through the inevitable “Polytheama” to the
loose-mannered “Casino,” flowing with liquor and aging French
adventuresses, were in the hands of a hard-headed Spaniard of long
Brazilian experience, so that I considered myself fortunate to get his
name at the bottom of a contract giving us fifty-five per cent. of the
gross receipts during a six-day engagement.

                              CHAPTER XIII

We steamed for hours out of the vast coffee-lined basin of Riberão Preto
on the train which left at dawn and took all day to get to the next town
of any size. Coffee-fields at length gave way to brush-covered campo and
grazing cattle, the train winding in great curves around slight hills,
like water seeking an outlet or a lost person wholly undecided which way
to go. Early in the afternoon we crossed the Rio Grande into the State
of Minas Geraes, which at once showed itself less developed, more dry
and sandy, with an increasing number of wooded valleys and ridges. There
was some coffee here, too, but cared for in a half-hearted way compared
with the great plantations of São Paulo. We passed a large gang of
Japanese workmen, and many zebus or humped cattle, both in the fields
and working as oxen. The ride was not only too dirty and dusty to be
pleasant, but sparks from our wood-fired engine poured in at the open
windows until, for all my dodging and brushing, a dozen holes were
burned in my still comparatively new movie-magnate garb. One station
stood 3400 feet above sea-level, and we all but shook ourselves and the
cars to pieces as we rattled down again into Uberaba, at an elevation of
2500, just as day was escaping over beyond the mountains.

The place was smaller and less progressive than I had imagined, with
certainly not more than ten thousand inhabitants, instead of the 25,000
credited to it by the “Handbook of Brazil.” I was not over-anxious to
make a contract with the one pathetic little cinema in town, at least
until I had seen what lay beyond and decided whether it would be worth
while to come this far inland. The manager, a clerk in the local
drugstore, was more than eager to present so extraordinary an attraction
to his fellow-townsmen, but fares and baggage rates would have cut
deeply into our profits and I refused to sign without a guarantee of a
conto for two days’ performances. He offered 800$ and would undoubtedly
have given almost any percentage, but I held out for the million reis
until we finally parted good friends but not business associates.

Somehow I had always thought of Minas Geraes as rocky, arid, dry, and
cold, something like upper Peru; the mere name “General Mines” had a
hard and chilly sound to it. But long before noon in Uberaba, high as it
was, I was reminded that it is well north of Rio and almost tropical.
There was an old air about the town, partly because the humidity causes
grass, bushes, and even trees to grow on and about the churches and
other loose-jointed buildings of stone and porous bricks, but also
because Minas is a much older state than São Paulo, overrun by miners
long before the agricultural riches of its neighbor were scratched.

We were off again at one behind the same old narrow-gauge wood burner,
through a rolling, bushy country, and scattered with huge ant-hills,
mildly similar to the Bolivian Chaco. The only real town along the way
was Uberabinha, squatting in the bottom of a sandy and shallow valley,
inhabited by barefoot and red-earth smeared people whose only place of
entertainment seemed to be the double-towered church bulking above the
general hut level. Night was falling when we pulled into Araguary at the
end of the “Mogyana” railway. The tidal wave of baggage-carriers and
hotel touts was only less in size than those farther south, but for once
I escaped them entirely by putting my valise on the head of a negro boy
and wading through the mud with him to a _pensão_ run by an old woman.
The room was really a mud cave, the mattress filled with corn-husks, and
I was reduced to candle-light for the first time in Brazil. But the
special chicken supper was a great relief from the avalanche of meat,
surrounded by wolfing natives, that would have been my lot at a hotel,
and, best of all, the _pensão_ was just across the way from the first
station of the “Goyaz Railway,” on which I was to depart at dawn.

It was pitch dark, with frequent heavy showers, when I set out to wander
incognito through the town. The weak electric-lights along its
mud-and-grass streets and praças suggested fireflies or
will-o’-the-wisps flitting about through the thick, black night. There
was, to be sure, a dentist, who was also owner, editor and printer of
the local paper, and the town undertaker—and the tombstones behind the
lips of many of the inhabitants hinted that he mixed the three

I came more or less near requiring his services in his least popular
capacity. As we were drawing into the station the mob of porters and
hackmen had given me their special attention, one negro in particular
thrusting his uninviting face through the car-window and pawing me with
his long unwashed hands in that half-affectionate, half-wheedling way of
his class and profession throughout Brazil, at the same time offering
his undesired services some seventy-five times at the top of his voice.
When I could endure him no longer, I rapped him over the knuckles with
the handle of my umbrella. Now a blow, however light and for whatever
provocation, is a shocking indignity in Brazil, only to be properly
wiped out in blood. I was not long, therefore, in recognizing the fellow
again when, during my stroll about town, he suddenly bobbed up
noiselessly out of the night and, after bawling a mouthful of vile
language after me, slipped away again with the information that he would
fix me yet. I gave him no more attention than one usually does a
half-drunken negro in tropical lands, and had entirely forgotten the
incident when I boarded another tottering little train next morning. All
at once a sound caused me to look up from my reading in the first-class
car I was sharing with one other passenger, to see the same negro
advancing swiftly down the aisle toward me, grasping a long and
sinister-looking knife. It was my luck to be unarmed for the first time
in Brazil that I had needed a weapon, having left my revolver with “Tut”
as a protection for the money he might take in. Even my umbrella, which
would not have been wholly useless in a hand-to-hand encounter, was in
the rack above me, and to rise and grasp it might suggest fear. I sat
where I was, therefore, with my feet drawn up on the opposite seat,
where they could shoot out quickly if danger became really imminent, and
stared at the fellow with the unwinking eye of the professional
lion-tamer. Whether it was this or his lack of any other intention than
to retrieve his reputation among his fellows and salve his injured
feelings by a threatening gesture, he confined himself to flourishing
the knife, advancing several times with rolling eyes almost to within
reach of my feet, and then backing away again. Finally he retreated
toward the door with an expression ludicrously like that of a whipped
animal, while I rose and walked leisurely down upon him with the same
fixed stare until he stepped to the ground. During it all neither train
nor local authorities made any attempt to come to my assistance, and I
carried away the impression that I should not have gotten out of
Araguary in a hurry had circumstances forced me to shoot a man of the
same color as the majority of the population.

We tossed and creaked along all the morning to cover the seventy miles
of the little bankrupt line that penetrates the south-westernmost corner
of the great interior State of Goyaz. The bustling modern civilization
of São Paulo and the coast had gradually petered out to nothing more
than two telegraph wires jumping from pole to crooked pole across a more
or less rolling wilderness of bushy forest, _pura matta_, as the
Brazilians call uncleared country, in a voice almost of terror. Here and
there were vast, heavily wooded basins around the edge of which we
slowly circled, fighting wood-burner sparks with one eye while taking in
the slight scenery with the other. There was a bit of coffee-growing and
a bit of lumber was being cut, but as a whole the region was completely
undeveloped and unexploited. A flaming purple tree here and there broke
the rolling, bushy, brown monotony. The scant population was a sort of
semi-wild outcast of civilization, wedded to dirt and inconvenience,
living in open-work pole houses covered with aged thatched roofs that
resembled dilapidated and sun-faded straw hats. The men wore wide belts,
with many silver, or imitation silver, ornaments and with half a dozen
leather compartments in them for their money and other small
possessions. In a pocket of their thin cotton coats even our local
fellow-passengers carried the dried covering of an ear of corn, and when
they wished to smoke, which was almost incessantly, they pulled off a
corn-husk, shaped it with a knife, rolled it up and put it behind an
ear, cut off a bit of tobacco from a twist plug, crushed it between
their palms, and rolled a corn-husk cigarette.

At eight we rumbled across the River Paranahyba into the State of Goyaz.
At the same time we crossed the nineteenth parallel of latitude, and the
climate should have been warm and humid; but as all this vast tableland
averages 2500 feet above sea-level, it had distinctly the atmosphere of
the temperate zones. There were a few cattle, less well-bred than those
of Minas. At Goyandira, a few scattered huts beside a small stream, we
were given time to gorge the customary Brazilian meal on a table already
crowded with dishes when we arrived, and at eleven we drew up at
Catalão, last outpost of civilization in this direction, and a
personified End of the Railroad.

It was evident at a glance that I need not consider Catalão from a
business standpoint. Though from a distance it had looked like quite a
town, it was merely a village of a scanty thousand inhabitants scattered
along a small creek, with mangos trodden underfoot, its houses built of
mud plastered on sticks and then whitewashed. Compared even with the
_Mineiros_ over the nearby state border, the _Goyanos_ were
backwoodsmen; beside the energetic, up-to-date _Paulistas_ they had the
vacant expression of ruminating cattle. About the town an almost
treeless world, rather dry for lack of rain, stretched endlessly away in
every direction. When the midday heat had somewhat abated—for there was
nothing cold about Catalão, for all its altitude—I climbed to a barren
hillock topped by an old ruined church in which scores of black rooks
had built their nests and from which bushy and rolling Goyaz spread away
like a lightly broken sea. The view was so vast that one could see the
curve of the earth, the blue haze ever thickening until it grew almost
opaque on a horizon so distant that it seemed raised well above the
general level. The line of this was quite distinct for its entire sweep,
yet it joined almost imperceptibly a sky heaped and piled with irregular
masses of white clouds that cast their broken, fantastic shadows
everywhere across the spreading plains, yet did not conceal overhead the
sky of mother-of-pearl tint. Below, the village, like a capricious waif
that has come here far from nowhere out of mere spite or unsociability,
made itself as comfortable as possible in its shallow hollow among
dark-green masses of mango-trees. Roads, just born rather than made,
straggled out of it in all directions, soon to be lost in the green and
haze-blue immensity, as if man had dared venture only a little way out
into the unpeopled universe, vast and trackless as the sea. A few
venturesome _fazenda_ houses peered forth from their mango groves a mile
or two from the town, but these did not noticeably break the uninhabited
and virgin world, the _sertão_ or _matta_, which mere mention of “the
plains of Goyaz” calls up in the imagination. It was a distinct pleasure
to be again entirely beyond the hubbub of cities, beyond the reach even
of the ubiquitous trolley, with the world below deadly silent but for
the occasional far distant, yet piercing scream of an ox-cart creeping
imperceptibly along one of the languid, haphazard, straggling trails
that appeared from somewhere out in the wilderness. They sounded like
factory whistles, these distant _carros de boi_, with their solid wooden
wheels and total innocence of grease on their turning axles, the scream
of which—_chiar_, the Brazilians call it, aping the sound—ceased at
length abruptly before the principal shop, run by a “Turk,” where the
eight or ten oxen, steered by a driver who prodded them in the neck with
a goad lying over his shoulder without so much as glancing back, and
whom they followed unerringly, fell into the spirit of the scene, the
silence broken now only by the occasional sharp, vexed note of a worried
rook and the somnolent humming of flies. The End of the Railroad means
far away and quiet, indeed, in these seething modern days. Before long
we may not be able to find it at all; yet one feels at times impelled to
come to such ends of the road and climb to a high place overlooking the
world, there to sit and unravel the tangled threads of life into some
semblance of order again before descending to plunge once more headlong
into the fray.

The worst of coming 710 miles up-country from Santos—and the time it had
taken made it seem ten times that—was that I must spend as long, without
even the reward of new sights and experiences, to come down again. The
same glorified way-freight carried us southward in the morning, and for
once it was crowded. Not only were there all my fellow-guests at the
run-down hovel owned by a “Turk” who had lived so long in Brazil that he
seemed to prefer Portuguese to his native Arabic, all of whom had spent
the night playing some noisy form of poker, but a new fork of the
railroad was being opened that day to Roncador (“Snorer,” it would be in
English), and everyone in Catalão who owned shoes had been invited to
ride out and help inaugurate. In consequence our tiny two-car train was
so densely packed with well-meaning but unpleasing mortals of all ages,
sexes, sizes and colors that we mere ticket-holders were crowded out of
seats and forced to stand on the swaying platforms as far as the
junction of Goyandyra. There we had to go without “breakfast,” because
the inaugurators assaulted the limited table supplies in such force that
passengers could not get within grabbing distance. It was perhaps as
well, for hunger is slight suffering compared with watching at close
range the contortions of such a throng stoking away whole knife-lengths
of those viands which they did not spill on the earth floor.

Below Uberaba the “Mogyana” branches, giving me new territory all the
way back to Campinas. Most of it looked unpromising for our purposes,
until nightfall brought me to Franca, only three hours north of Riberão
Preto and the terminus of a daily express. Here were two cinemas, side
by side on the central praça. I drifted into one of them and handed my
card to the owner-manager. When the crowd at last gave us a chance to
talk it over, I set my remarks to the tune of “Oh, this is an
unimportant, far-away little place and I don’t believe we will bother
with it.” The result was that I soon had the man all but on his knees to
have us come. He offered to rent the theater for ten per cent. of the
total receipts, and when I declined the trouble of staging the affair
ourselves, he begged me to let him do everything and take as our share
seventy per cent. of the proceeds. At last I had equalled that fabulous
Chilean contract! Indeed, had I been born with a mean disposition I
fancy I could have made that pillar of Franca do anything, short of
presenting me with his playhouse, to keep me outside the doors of his
hated rival.

I was gone again at sunrise and know naught of Franca, except what may
be seen at night and one added bit of information. It has a match
factory in which a huge stock of an article that the region still
imports from the outside world is locked up by government order because
the owners cannot raise the seven contos in twenty-reis stamps needed to
decorate the boxes before they can be placed on the market. Only once
during that day’s journey did I halt. At Cascavel, fittingly named
Rattlesnake, I took a branch line into the cool, grassy uplands of the
“Brazilian Switzerland” and spent the night in Poços de Caldas. This is
far-famed throughout the country as a watering-place at a goodly
elevation for Brazil, with sulphurous hot springs much frequented by
well-to-do natives during the season. But that was over; the
barracks-like hotel with its monasterial cells of rooms had only a
scattering of guests, and there was no visible reason why the
Kinetophone should journey to a spot that had fallen upon such lean
days. Half a day south I might have taken a direct line from Mogy Mirim
to Rio, but it was eleven days since I had heard our artists sing or
learned how things were faring with my two companions without a tongue
between them. I hurried on, therefore, to Campinas in time to be refused
admittance to our first performance at the “Rink”—until the youthful
manager, catching sight of me, thrust the door-keeper aside with
extended hand.

I found “Tut” and Carlos conversing freely together in a language that
was not Portuguese and certainly was not English. In Jundiahy they had
carried out my first contract so well in the face of rainy weather,
toboggan streets of uncobbled red mud, and a reputation as a “poor show
town,” as to win high praise, while even here in such a metropolis as
Campinas they showed every evidence of being able to give their
performance, watch the doors and at least count the “deadheads,” and
collect our share of the money without my assistance. The manager of the
“Rink” had lived up to his promise in the matter of advertising, and had
sent a street-car carrying a band and entirely covered with posters and
the likeness of Edison over every trolley-line in town. Yet our
audiences were not all they should have been on Brazil’s second
Independence Day, whether by reason of the possibility of a political
upheaval at the change of the national administration, that musical
Campinas was too “high-brow” for what Edison had to offer, or, as we
suspected, because city, state and nation were beginning to feel
seriously the pinch of the “brutal hard times.”

On the morning after our Campinas engagement the show and I again parted
company. While the former sped away up the broad-gauge “Paulista” to São
Carlos and points beyond, I took the slow and narrow “Mogyana” back the
way I had come, intending to catch the noon train westward from Mogy
Mirim toward Rio. But the pleading of a compatriot slightly altered my
plans. In Campinas we had made the acquaintance of a man from New York
and Jerusalem who was misusing his racial talents in strenuous efforts
to refute, in the interests of an American insurance company, the
Brazilian argument of “But why should I have my life insured and leave
my wife a lot of money to spend on some other man when I die?” Ideas,
specially those with a $ attached, sprouted overnight in the fertile
brain of my misplaced fellow-countryman, and bright and early that
Thursday morning he came running down to the station with a new one. He
had suddenly seen a chance to retrieve recent bad fortune by hiring the
Kinetophone outright at the conto for two nights which I had set as the
fixed price for small towns and taking it out to his old stamping-ground
of Amparo, where he proposed to enlist the services of his bosom
companions, the priests, nuns, and other Biblical influences of the
town, into selling tickets beforehand on the church-festival plan. I am
always ready to let a man make money, especially if he makes some for me
at the same time, so we dropped off at Jaguary and took the branch to

It was an unusually pleasing little town for Brazil, with all its
streets paved in stone blocks, several pretty little parks, and spread
along so narrow a valley that one could fancy the beans from its
coffee-clad hills rolling right down into the central praça ready for
roasting. But, like all the State of São Paulo, Amparo had unwisely put
all its eggs in one basket—the coffee basket—and whereas ten milreis an
_arroba_ is considered by coffee-growers only a fair price, Brazil’s
chief export was then selling for 3$500! Hence the town was “muito
ruim,” cold, stony dead from the theatrical point of view, and, though
there was a nice little theater with cozy seats and plenty of boxes for
the “excellentissimas familias,” the impresario had lost his nerve
completely. When my friend and guide gently mentioned 600$ a night as
the bargain of a life-time, the manager all but swallowed his neck, then
recovered sufficiently to say that a Portuguese company of the type most
beloved in Brazil had given a first-night the week before, after an
uproar of advertising, and had taken in just 25$! I immediately lost all
desire to bring the Kinetophone to Amparo, though my friend from
Manhattan and the Holy Land, with the admirable buoyancy of his race,
went up to the convent school to talk it over with the mother superior,
and saw his efforts crowned with success—to the extent of an invitation
to dinner.

From Mogy Mirim a shaky little train carried me westward through more
wilderness than coffee, past the lively little town of Itapira roofing a
slight hill, to a helter-skelter village called Sapucahy, where it
unloaded us on a platform, bag, baggage, and bathrobes, and backed away.
As frail a train backed in from the other direction and loaded us up
again, all the Brazilian travelers paying _carregadores_ to set their
bags down from the windows and up again, and after more than an hour of
fuss and frustration we creaked on. The yellow creek of Sapucahy, it
transpired, was the boundary between São Paulo, where the “Mogyana’s”
concession ended, and the State of Minas Geraes, where we had been taken
in charge by the “Rede Sul Mineira,” a branch of the “Brazilian Federal

The land was somewhat swampy now, more wild and unsettled, with parasol
pine-trees beside slender, undeveloped palms with thin tufts of
disheveled foliage. The town of Ouro Fino (“Fine Gold”) was a small,
off-the-main-line sort of place, but here the daily train got in at five
at night and did not leave until five in the morning, so whatever we
might make would be money in pocket. After supper I set out on the steep
hillside up which the town is built and down which run red mud streets,
and at length found at his club—_the_ club, in fact—the manager of the
local theater, a tar-brushed youth of aristocratic manners, or at least
gestures, who naturally accepted and signed without argument the
contract I handed him. Upon my return to the hotel I found the
dingy-looking room I had left an hour before gay with speckless white
bedclothes and fancy mosquito canopy, evidently in honor of the large
theatrical troupe which rumor already had it would soon be following in
my wake. Our train stood all night just outside my window, giving me,
perhaps, too great a feeling of security, for I was all but left behind.
It was already pulling out toward a faint crack in the darkness when I
scrambled on board, breakfastless and not fully dressed, and with the
privilege of paying a fifty per cent. fine on my ticket for not having
bought it at the station.

Long piles of wood for the locomotives stood along the way through a
wilderness inhabited by “poor white trash” in rags smeared with red
earth, who crowded to the doors of their thatched huts as we passed. For
some time we followed the Sapucahy, swollen red with floods that gave a
picturesque appearance to the hilly village of Itajubá on its banks.
This was a friendly little town where everyone spoke to strangers, after
the pleasant manner of back-country districts, but though it has an
important engineering school, it is little more than a grass-grown
hamlet, with a populous cemetery conveniently situated on a hill close
above it, so that all the inhabitants can drink to their ancestors.
Itajubá was just then the object of a general interest out of all
keeping with its size. Just next door to the “Cinema Edison” in which I
arranged for our appearance was the modest home of the new president of
Brazil. There he had lived most of his life—even since his election on
March first, though he was “Dudú’s” vice-president and required by the
constitution to preside over the senate—and he had left less than a week
before for his inauguration.

The train next set me down at Caxambú, another of the watering-places on
the irregular line across southwestern Minas, where the rolling country
from the Plata northward begins to break up almost into mountains and
produces a stratum of hot and cold mineral springs. Huge hotels
accommodate those who come to “take the waters” in Caxambú, as in Poços
de Caidas not far distant, and a mineral water that sells all over
Brazil at a milreis or more a small bottle is here as free as the air.
The largely negro and barefoot local population comes in a constant
stream, carrying every species of receptacle, to a low spot in the
center of town in which the water bubbles up incessantly, and where all
manner of paupers and loafers sit under the feathery plumes of waving
bamboos, drinking in turn out of a broken bottle.

[Illustration: Itajubá, state of Minas Geraes, the home of a former
Brazilian president]

[Illustration: Ouro Preto, former capital of Minas Geraes]

[Illustration: The walls of many a residence in the new capital, Bello
Horizonte, are decorated with paintings]

The same ancient, dirty, German-made cars that had bounced me into
Caxambú bounced me out again in the afternoon, and all the rest of the
day I bumped along at the tail end of a way-freight that seemed
constantly on the point of falling to pieces as it thundered in and out
of the hills on a warped and unrepaired old track. To the north the
earth lay piled high into the heavens, for Minas has some real
mountains. Swift tropical darkness fell, and we went banging on into the
night, our old wood-burner leaving a trail of fireworks behind us that
gave it the suggestion of some fire-spitting dragon of medieval legend,
and yanking us at last into Cruceiro. Next morning I took the direct
line from São Paulo to Rio, and it was pleasant indeed to ride once more
on a broad-gauge, roomy, coal-burning train. Rain had given the country
an aspect quite different from that of two months before, but nothing
could disguise the lesser industry and progress toward civilization in
the State of Rio de Janeiro than in that of São Paulo. Rezende, the
first town over the boundary, proved to be a village posing as a city, a
ragged, barefoot place, overrun with dust and squalor, with ambitionless
loafers and negro good-for-nothings. Professionally, too, it was a
shock; far from finding it worthy of a Kinetophone performance, we could
not have given a dog-fight there to advantage.

The slightly fertile country began at length to tip downward and we
descended through long tunnels between vast opening vistas cut off at
some distance by a great blanket of fog coming up from the sea. At Belem
there was already an atmosphere of Rio, still some thirty miles away,
with frequent towns and suburban service from there on, though we halted
only at Cascadura and drew up at length in the familiar scent and hubbub
of the capital. _Carregadores_ snatched my belongings without so much as
“by your leave” and bundled me into a taxi—which reminds me that inside
my unlocked valise, that had been tossed about and left lying in all
manner of places since leaving Campinas, there were a million and a half
reis of our earnings in Brazilian bills. One’s possessions are so much
safer under such circumstances in South America than in the United
States that what would seem criminal carelessness in the north becomes a
common habit.

It was like getting home again to hear the newsboys bawling “_A Rua!_”
“_A Noite!_” “_Ultimas Noticias!_” in the guttural throat-growl peculiar
to Rio, to be accosted by the same old lottery-ticket vendors, the same
street-car conductors, to see the same “women of the life” strolling the
Avenida and riding invitingly back and forth on the first section of the
“Botanical Garden Line.” There was almost a monotony of familiar faces,
so accustomed had I been for years to always seeing new and strange
ones. The “Sugar Loaf,” hump-shouldered Corcovado, topsail Gavea, lofty
Tijuca, and all the rest still looked serenely down upon the human ants’
nests at their feet with the immutability of nature’s masterpieces.

Yet Rio was different than I had first known it. Had I left it for good
and all when I had expected, I should have had a better impression, but
a false one; I should have known only the winter Rio, which is
magnificent and has little in common with Rio of the summer-time.
Statisticians assure us that, thanks to the trade winds and its greater
proximity to the ocean, Brazil’s metropolis falls several degrees short
of Buenos Aires in the most infernal months of the year, but it is
doubtful whether anyone except the thermometer recognizes the advantage.
In late November it lay sweltering under a lead-heavy blanket of heat
that drenched one at the slightest exertion, mental, moral, or physical.
No sooner did one put on a collar than it melted about the neck—and not
only is a fresh white collar indispensable in Rio, but they cost sixty
cents each and twelve cents a washing, and rarely outlive more than four
journeys to the beat-’em-on-a-rock style of Brazilian laundries.

There was less evidence, however, than I expected of the rioting that
had marked the change of administration a few days before,—a few broken
windows between the office of _O Paiz_, chief journalistic supporter of
“Dudú,” and our first Brazilian playhouse, a bullet-mark in a stone or
brick wall here and there to recall the battling hordes that had surged
up and down the Avenida. The trouble had started on the eve of the
inauguration of the man from Itajubá. Among “Dudú’s” Machiavellian bag
of tricks was a company of government bouncers and strong-arm men under
command of a ruffian known as Lieutenant Pulcherio. On Saturday night,
in the last hours of the detested régime, the lieutenant and his
fellow-officers were discussing their glorious past over a quiet
whiskey-and-soda in the Hotel Avenida bar when a group of the
_populares_ they had so long oppressed stopped to mention what they
thought of them. The political protegees replied to this vile affront to
their noble caste by firing on and attacking with swords the mainly
weaponless _populares_, and among other gallant deeds worthy of their
past killed a negro newsboy of twelve. The _povo_, however, for once
vulgarly resisted their noble superiors by laying hands on bricks and
cobblestones and weltering back and forth across the Largo da Carioca
and the Avenida, managing in the process to prepare the beloved
Lieutenant Pulcherio for funeral.

Early the next morning the opposition newspapers were already pouring
out their pent-up spleen on the head of the outgoing president,
resurrecting censored articles and deluging the disappearing
administration with vituperation. The names they called the “odious
gaucho” were scarcely fit to print; those applied to “Dudú” sometimes
had the genius of intense exasperation. There were columns of such
gentle remarks as:

                  The four years now terminating mark
                  the blackest, the most nefast page
                  in our history, the most painful
                  calamity with which Providence has
                  flagellated us since Brazil was
                  Brazil. During the administration of
                  the analphabetic sergeant who got
                  possession of the chief power by
                  knavery and the imposition of the
                  barracks, justice was disrespected
                  and reviled, immorality created
                  rights of citizenship, robbery and
                  corruption ruled unrestrained. There
                  has not been a day since the
                  inauguration of this unpleasant
                  mediocrity, degenerate nephew of our
                  great Deodoro, that the President of
                  the Republic and his auxiliaries did
                  not go back on their plighted word,
                  in which there was not registered a
                  new political infamy, in which we
                  did not hear of a new crime or a new
                  immorality. Praise God, this
                  terrible four years of darkness is

The inauguration took place in the early afternoon of Sunday, the
fifteenth of November, anniversary of the day on which the republic was
declared. In Brazil this ceremony is as simple as the swearing in of a
juror. The incoming president takes the oath privately, signs his name,
bids farewell to his predecessor, and the thing is done. On this
occasion things moved even more swiftly. The instant the other had taken
his place, “Dudú” sprang into an automobile, even forgetting in his
haste to embrace the new president, according to time-honored Brazilian
custom—of thirty years’ standing—and fled to the protection of
Petropolis and his youthful consort. He had good precedent for his
eagerness; other retiring presidents of Brazil have done likewise. When
Campos Salles left the presidency in 1902 he was stoned by the populace,
yet all Brazilians agree that he was by no means as corrupt or poor a
president as the “unpleasant mediocrity” who was just then fleeing.

It quickly began to be apparent, however, that perhaps “these terrible
four years of darkness” were not entirely ended. The new president was
considered an honest and, within Brazilian limits, a democratic man, but
he was evidently not quite strong enough to throw off the domination of
the national boss, the “odious gaucho” senator from Rio Grande do Sul.
It was partly due to this feeling of disappointment, partly to the
increased wrath caused by publication of censored articles left over
from “Dudú’s” reign, reciting unbelievable official thievery and
corruption, and to the release of great bands of political prisoners
from dungeons in the islands of the bay, where they had been sent
without trial or even accusation, that serious riots again broke out
soon after my return to the capital. This time the fuss was started by
students from the schools of medicine, law, and the like, who decided to
“bury” the ex-president. Something like burning in effigy, this was
considered a great insult not only to the former executive in person but
to the army which he, as a field marshal, represented. The army general
in command of the police brigade of the federal district went out to
stop the outrage. The students were already parading the streets with a
gaudily gilded “coffin” and using the offensive nicknames of “Dudú” and
“Rainha Mãe,” when the brigade was set in motion. Before it could
accomplish its purpose, orders came from the newly appointed minister of
justice to let the students go on with their _brincadeira_ (child’s
play), whereupon the general in command rode back to the ministry and
resigned—knowing he was to be dismissed next day anyway. Meanwhile the
students had been joined by an immense mob of _populares_, mainly
barefooted out-of-works and men of the porter, street-sweeper and hawker
type, who marched back and forth through the business section and at
length broke out in attacks on “Dudú” sympathizers or beneficiaries,
which resulted in several deaths. When night fell a regiment of cavalry,
another of infantry, and all the police of the federal district were
protecting the palace of Cattete and that of Gaunabara, in which the new
president had chosen to make his home. Nictheroy, across the bay, also
was seething; even São Paulo threatened to join the revolt, to avenge
the insult of having been offered the most unimportant post in the
cabinet, with oily words about being the “agricultural state par
excellence.” But the new government, like the old, had too firm an ally
in the army for a revolution, with no other support than the weaponless
_populares_, to be successful. Gradually the rioting died away, though
by no means the criticism of the new administration, and Brazil settled
down to another four years not unlike those that had just been so
fittingly brought to a close, but which were to be marked a few months
later by the assassination of the “odious gaucho.”

Though they were empty, I did not feel like again taking our old rooms
out on the Praia do Flamengo. They seemed hot and stuffy; the very
waters of the bay felt tepid; even the president’s palace of Cattete
next door had been abandoned in favor of the newer and more sumptuous
one of Guanabara. I hunted Leme and Copacabana over in vain for quarters
overlooking one of those peerless beaches where the air from the open
ocean might make life endurable, but the houses along the shore belong
to the well-to-do, who do not have to take roomers even in “brutal hard
times.” During my search I accidentally dropped into the Cinema
Copacabana, a pleasant little place in one of the most prosperous
sections of town. The slow-witted Portuguese who announced himself the
owner and manager soon proved to be merely the hen-pecked consort of the
real director. But the place promised well, if properly managed, and I
finally signed it for five days—and fled to Petropolis for Thanksgiving.

Out at the Praia Formosa—which is no more a beach than it is beautiful—I
found a mob of drenched and wilted people fighting about a tiny,
discolored hole in the station wall, of the height of the average man’s
knees, for the privilege of buying tickets to the “summer capital.” For
though there were many daily trains, even when train schedules were
being reduced all over Brazil because of the war-created difficulty of
importing coal, there were thousands of regular commuters and few places
left for the poorer _Cariocas_ who scraped together enough for a
round-trip ticket or two during the season. Most of the commuters had
their permanent seats, with their names and their business or rank
posted on the backs of them, and the mere traveler had to wander through
several cars before he could find a place, like a stranger seeking a pew
in a fashionable church.

The Leopoldina Railway between Rio and Petropolis is the oldest in
Brazil, having been opened to the foot of the range in 1854 so that
Emperor Pedro II could flee from hot weather and yellow fever in the
summer months. We raced without interruption across a low, jungled plain
until the mountains grew up impassable above us. Formerly this region
was well cultivated, but man was unequal to the grim struggle with
nature, especially after the emancipation of the only race that could
cope with the swampy, matted jungle, and to-day the ruins of many a
plantation house lie buried beneath the invading bush, while the few
hovels with their little fenced gardens look like islands in the tangled
wilderness. Yet we sped through many suburban villages shaded with
palm-trees and adorned with immense tumbled rocks. On top of one of
these, high above the surrounding landscape, sat the two-spired church
of Penha, a famous place of pilgrimage. A few peasants were plowing and
loading cut grass upon carts drawn by zebu-sired oxen. Puffs of white
clouds, like exploded shells, hung here and there above the brilliant
horizon. The three-cows advertisement of a well-known malted milk
company suddenly loomed up against the background of jungle, its
Portuguese words making it doubly fantastic in this exotic setting. Here
and there we passed section gangs poling themselves homeward in their
unpumpable hand-cars with long bamboo staffs, like Dutch canal boats.

The first-class seats, cane-covered in respect for the climate, were
divided by an extra arm in the middle, obviating personal contact, which
is the way train seats should be, no matter what fat men or honeymooning
couples may prefer. Many of my fellow-travelers were as much worth
watching as the scenes along the way. Here a man as black as a
beachcomber’s hopes of signing on in Singapore leaned back in pompous
full-dress in his placarded seat, acting like the millionaire president
of some great corporation as he pored over the contents of his elaborate
leather portfolio. I would have given the price of a Brazilian meal to
have seen the couple across the aisle from me suddenly transported to
one of our “Jim Crow” states. He was a self-important mountain of a man,
as white as you or I; she, just as self-important, dressed in rich
plumes and Paris fashions, hideous with diamonds and other glittering
pebbles, was about one-third negro. One poor woman farther on had only
ten fingers, two ears, and as many wrists—her skirts covered her ankles,
strangely enough—on which to wear her jewelry, though she had made the
most of her meager opportunities by putting three or four rings on each
finger. Still farther along an old woman in mourning had bits of black
cloth sewed over her earrings. A nice jet nose ring about two inches in
diameter would have been so much more original, and as becoming, and
would have made conspicuous one’s poignant grief even to those who might
miss so commonplace an adornment as earrings.

There came a stretch of swamp and uninhabited lowland, thick with
bulrushes, then heavily wooded hills grew up before us and we came to a
halt at the edge of the plain. A little engine, built like a kangaroo,
took charge of two of our cars and shoved them up the steep mountainside
on a rackrail track. Now we were buried in narrow cuttings, now gazing
upon magnificent panoramas that opened out through dense woods. There
overhung the line many tremendous boulders, on one of which, large as a
house, some wag had written in red paint, “_Va com esta_” (Take this
along with you). The vegetation presently became sodden wet; the
incessant singing of the jungle, scarcely noticed until it stopped, died
away and vast views opened out on what we had left behind. Flooded with
the rays of a full moon, the far-off range of mountains cut a jagged
line across the sky. It grew cooler every minute; the air became
clearer, and as the oppression of wilting heat wore away a drowsiness
came upon us. At Alto da Serra, some 2500 feet above but barely a mile
farther on than the station at the foot of the range, civilization began
again, with all its pleasant and unpleasant concomitants.

Petropolis, fashionable resort of the wealthy _Cariocas_, national
legislators and foreign diplomats, lies snugly ensconced among the cool
hills, a charming assemblage of villas peering forth from tropical
gardens. The former emperor for which it is named made the town to order
by importing three thousand German and Swiss settlers in 1845, as
examples of cleanliness and industry to his own people. Formerly the
entire government came here during the summer months, but when the
mosquito and his playmate, yellow fever, were routed, most of the native
officials went back to the city, though the diplomats remain, pleasantly
cut off from the rough world of practical politics, which seems far away
indeed, instead of merely an hour and a half distant by Brazil’s best
train service. There is a suggestion of a German watering-place about
Petropolis, with its bizarre little residences, its trim streets lined
by bamboo hedges, its roses, hydrangeas and honeysuckle, its
“kiss-flowers” gathering honey from the fuchsia-trees. The Teutonic type
has persisted in spite of interbreeding and comparative isolation from
the fatherland in a strong Brazilian environment, and up to the
beginning of the war there were still German schools in Petropolis. A
spotless room in one of its quiet summer hostelries is a relief after
months of Brazilian hotel squalor and uproar; or, if one’s income is
limited, there are cheap and pleasant rooms to be had with the German

But Petropolis is tropical enough to be unpleasantly warm on a summer
noonday, and among her honeysuckle are horrid hairy spiders as large as
belt-buckles, with perhaps a deadly bite. Like Rio, the town spreads up
many narrowing valleys, fresh green Cascatinha with its weaving-mill
beside a rivulet sliding down a sloping rock and breaking in little
cascades at the bottom, or the restful tree-lined banks of canals
meandering away through the wooded hills. Through the gap by which the
railway creeps up to the plateau may be dimly made out all the Carioca
range and, faintly, the well-known form of the Pão d’Assucar. There is a
vast panorama of Guanabara Bay and all its islands, but Rio is only
hazily suggested, and nearer views of it are much more striking. Another
world on quite another plane spreads out below, careless, happy-go-lucky
negro huts straggling up the wooded valleys as high as they can easily
climb, the soothing sound of mountain brooks, playfully taking little
rocky tumbles here and there without much hurt, joining the birds in
making a kind of sylvan music.

Pedro II still sits out here in a little palm-topped square under the
filtered sunlight or the summer moon, his book closed over a finger, the
tails of his Prince Albert falling on either side of his armchair, his
congress gaiters fitting the ease of his posture, gazing benignly forth
from his great black shovel beard with the studious, half-dreamy look of
the man who hated action. He is by no means our preconceived notion of
an emperor, but a dreamy, easy-going, democratic aristocrat who seems
eminently in his place here in this quiet village far from the rumble of
the world and the heat and labors of the day below. Small wonder he was
the last emperor of this turbulent, pushing western hemisphere. “A great
Brazilian,” they had called him in celebrating his birthday a few days
before, “who gave happiness to his people during almost half a century.”

“Dudú,” looking most comfortable and contented with life, was driving
about the quiet streets of Petropolis with his girl wife behind a pair
of prancing iron-gray horses and a liveried driver frozen in stone. As
in all towns where kings and presidents are regular residents, no one
paid him the slightest attention, though the same pair would no doubt at
that moment have brought the business, and perhaps the peace, of Rio to
a standstill.

There was a nice little up-to-date cinema just outside my window that
would have been an ideal place for us to have made several hundred
dollars—if only we had come to Brazil when the world was still going
round. For the moment it was inhabited by a Portuguese barn-storming
company, and the manager had not only lost heart over the “brutal
crisis,” but had so extraordinarily good an opinion of himself and his
establishment that nothing would induce him to offer us more than forty
per cent. I would not have made a contract at that rate with St. Peter
for a series of performances on the Golden Stairs, and as the only other
cinema in town was small and unimportant, and run by an Italian too
artless to do business with to advantage, there was nothing left but to
fold up my arguments and say good-day.

I came down to Rio to see the show come in, but got a scare instead, for
it did not appear, and we were due to open in Copacabana the following
night. They turned up that evening, however, with a tale to tell. When
they reached Ouro Fino for the Saturday engagement, they found that
bandits had torn up the railway between there and Itajubá, evidently out
of spite against the new president. “Tut” had been equal to the
occasion, however, for though they could not fulfill the Itajubá
contract—the only one we ever failed to carry out—they did not lose the
date, but played a second time in Ouro Fino to a good Sunday house. Then
they had returned to São Paulo, catching the night train and paying a
fortune of 400$ to get themselves and the outfit back to Rio in time,
though nothing like what they would have had to pay had not the
baggage-man mistaken them for “artists” and the trunks for their
wardrobe and stage costumes. Otherwise all had gone smoothly with them,
except for one flattering error on the part of a charming young society
lady of Franca. That town had been placarded, as usual, with our large
three-sheet posters of Edison, and it was natural that “Tut’s” six feet
and more of height should have drawn the attention of the susceptible
sex as he sauntered about the streets. That evening the young lady in
question was heard remarking to her escort, “Isn’t it strange that
Senhor Edison looks so old in his pictures when he is really so young
and handsome?”

During our stay in it, the American flag was somewhat overworked in
Copacabana, there being one over our cinema door and another in a sand
lot a block away in which a battered and paintless one-ring American
circus had recently opened. Not often, I wager, have American showmen
directly competed so far from home. We soon made friends with the animal
trainer, whose ten years of knocking about Brazil had brought out into
sharper relief his native Iowa dialect and point of view. Among his
collection of moth-eaten animals in rusty old cages were two of savage
disposition. The hyena had several times bitten him, but “Frank,” the
tiger, which sprang at anyone who came within ten feet of the cage, was
the only one really to be feared.

“Once,” said the exiled Iowan, holding up the ring finger of his left
hand, which was curled up in a half-circle, “I was doing my act at a
burg up in Minas when ‘Frank’ made a swipe at me with one paw. Lucky she
didn’t get all her claws in, or it would have been good-by hand, but she
happened to get just one claw into the inside of this finger at the
base. She pulled, and I was so scared I guess I pulled too, and she
peeled the whole inside of the finger off the bone—tendons, nerves,
veins and all. I hid that hand behind me so the audience couldn’t see
the blood, or ‘Frank’ smell it, whelted her a few, and finished the act.
I couldn’t go out, for the animals would have followed me into the
audience; I had to finish the act and let them go out the regular way,
like they’ve been trained. Then I wrapped up my hand in a towel and
hiked over to a drug store and he threw a whole bottle of iodine into
it, and then they called in one of these here native doctors and he
chopped around in it and did it up in pasteboard, which of course bent,
so that he had to chop into it every day or so and near killed me, and
finally it twisted into this shape and stayed there. And that guy had
the nerve to charge me a hundred and fifty mil! After the first dressing
I went over to a bar and had a whole glass of rye whiskey and then about
a quart of this nigger rum they call _cachaza_ on top of it—but hell, I
didn’t feel it any more’n milk, and for four nights I never got a wink
of sleep. I was afraid to drink anything for fear of making it worse,
but finally I says, ‘Oh, to hell with it! I’m going to have a sleep,’
and I went out and got drunk—God, I never got so drunk before in my
life! And then I went home and slept a whole night and a day. But it
sure does make a man sick at his stomach to get caught by an animal.”

“Tut” and I had taken a room—my seventh residence in Rio—out at the end
of the tunnel in Leme—so called because a rock shaped like a _leme_, or
rudder, juts out into the ocean at the end of the beach. By this time
Christmas was drawing near and shops were everywhere offering
“_brinquedos á granel_” (playthings by the bushel), and the rains had
come on in earnest. Rio was suffering so severely from the “brutal
crisis” that people in the cinema business had lost their nerve
completely, and it began to look as if the show would catch up with me
before I could make a new contract. For several days I dashed about in
pouring rain before I finally succeeded in running to earth in the bosom
of his own family—which is very bad business form in Brazil—a man with a
string of theaters in Rio, Nictheroy, and the two largest towns of Minas
Geraes. I quickly got his name signed to a sixteen-day contract and,
relieved of the fear of having the show run over me, settled down to
take life easy again.

                              CHAPTER XIV
                       WANDERING IN MINAS GERAES

On December 13th our alarm-clock having gone astray and being evidently
unreplaceable in Brazil, where time means so little, I sat up all night
in order to rout “Tut” out at four and send him off to the station,
following him next day up on the cool and comfortable plateau to the
second town of Minas Geraes. Juiz de Fora lies in a deep lap of wooded
hills, with a conspicuous monument and statue of “Christo Redemptor” on
a little parked hilltop high above yet close to the city, and revealing
its site from afar off. Fir trees, masses of roses of all colors, and
other flora of the temperate zone add to stretches of densely green
grass, so unlike the gravel or paved squares almost universal in South
America, in making the town a pleasant place of sojourn. The country
round about is very rolling and without a suggestion of the tropics, but
its coffee is unfortunately small, poor, and ill-tended, grown
completely over in places with weeds and creepers; and as the town
depends almost entirely on this product, it had a squeeze-penny mood
that was not natural to Brazil. Like many another Brazilian town, its
name is of simple origin. A _juiz de fora_, or “outside judge,” went
about the country on a regular circuit in colonial days, holding court
in various places, of which the present town was the most distant, not
from Rio, which had no official standing in the olden times, but from
the ancient capital of Minas Geraes, Ouro Preto.

It was toward Ouro Preto that I continued a day or two later, pausing in
one town to make a contract with the local saloon-keeper, in another to
find a cinema about the size of a box-car tight closed and the owner off
traveling; in a third that turned out to be a mud village without
electricity, even had I been willing to risk dragging our outfit through
the atrocious streets to its toy theater. It was in the last that I
boarded the northbound train an hour before it arrived, which is not
what the Chileans call a “German tale,” but an everyday fact. For there
the government railway, which comes that far with a gauge even wider
than our own, suddenly changes to a meter in width, and I had already
grown weary of sitting in the train I was waiting for when it rolled in
and, transferring its contents to its narrower self, rambled on across
the cool plateau.

Besides our cloth-mounted three-sheets, I had had printed several
thousand posters and window-cards, and the towns of Brazil blossomed
with Edison behind me. Then there were great bundles of _avulsos_, or
handbills, of many colors, to be strewn among the eager populace when
the show actually arrived. Except for the printer’s errors, which were
legion, these new masterly appeals were all my own handiwork, as were
the articles on the life of Edison which sprang up in the newspapers
along my route, for I had at last almost tamed the mis-jointed
Portuguese language. By the time our tour was finished Brazil would
certainly have known the story of Edison far better than he knows it
himself, had he not already been the best-known American in South
America—with the possible exception of Franklin, whom thousands took to
be his contemporary, often asking if the two great inventors sometimes
worked together and were on good terms socially, or whether they raged
with jealousy over each other’s achievements.

There were many tunnels on the way to Ouro Preto, and much winding among
deep-green hills, the soil still reddish, but showing little
cultivation. All this region is at least 3000 feet above sea-level,
where corn feels more at home than bananas or even coffee. Herds of
cream-colored cattle of part zebu ancestry roamed the broken, grassy
countryside. It was a dull, showery day, and the wet green trees clung
to the hillsides like the plumage of birds, while everywhere the palms
stood with disheveled hair. We made several stops on the branch line
eastward from Burnier, just why I do not know, and at length halted at
an isolated building with the information that we had reached Ouro

On the train I had chanced to mention my business to one of several
local celebrities in heavy overcoats, who quickly shouted the
information to all within hearing, so that when I disembarked the negro
hotel runners were already calling me “Doctor Franck.” One of them piled
my baggage on his head and we set out on foot into the night, for Ouro
Preto, I quickly discovered, is so steep that vehicles have never become
acclimated there. As we panted upward past great sheer-cut bluffs,
scattered lights gradually disclosed the town, piled and tumbled far
above and below us, the round cobblestones of its precipitous streets
worn so icy smooth by many generations of bare and shod feet that my own
showed a continuous desire to lag behind me. In a hotel as old as Vasco
da Gama, and about as dilapidated, I was shown with ceremonial courtesy
into an enormous front room with a “matrimonial” bed wider than the
street outside, the springs of which I quickly discovered to be solid
planks. Recalling my courteous colored companion, I gave him five
minutes in which to find me a real bed. We wandered much longer than
that through a labyrinth of rooms and anterooms—the latter all with
narrow bedsteads, suggesting the old slave days when each traveler
brought with him a servant to sleep outside his door—before we found a
_cama de arame_, or “bed of wire,” in another vast chamber, with a
window looking out across what seemed to be a bottomless gorge to
patches of small, window-shaped lights climbing high into the sky.

I went out for a stroll, climbing cobbled streets so sheer that a
foot-slip would have landed me in quite another part of town, passing
buildings so old and quaint and medieval that in spite of the modern
lights Edison has bequeathed the place I expected some old Portuguese
viceroy in his cloak and sword and plumed hat to step out of any dark
passageway followed by his slaves and retainers and preceded by his
link-boys. I had all but forgotten the “feel” of old South American
mountain towns, with their something peculiarly their own, and could
easily have fancied myself back in the Andes again. Indeed, I was only
beginning to realize the charm of those old Andean pueblos, barely
guessed when one is physically lost in their squalor, yet fascinating
from a distance of time and space, every twist and turn and descent and
rise of their streets a lurking mystery, like a winding mountain road,
cool and silent—especially silent, in the absence of all wheeled

Ouro Preto means “black gold.” The hills and young mountains lying in
tumbled heaps about the town are honeycombed with abandoned mines, as
the town itself is said to be with secret subterranean passageways. Not
even Ayacucho in the Andes is so overrun with churches. Only an accurate
man could throw a stone without hitting one, most of them of light
colored rock, beautified with age, bulking far above the few little old
houses apportioned to each, both by their size and by their places of
vantage on some eminence or mountain nose. Evidently whenever they
killed a slave or committed some particularly dastardly crime the old
Portuguese adventurers salved their consciences or quieted their
superstitions by building a church. Between them the little old houses
straggle in double rows far up every steep valley that has room for
them, here connected by very old stone bridges over narrow, yet deep,
gorge streams, with time-crumbled stone benches along them, there
refusing to follow when the cobbled street suddenly lets go and falls
headlong with many a racking twist into another abyss.

In general, the old capital of the mining province is built along both
sides of a small swift stream, which spills down through town with a
musical sound, picking up some of its garbage on the way. Old colonial
ruins, built in the leisurely, plentiful, massive fashion of long ago,
still bear coats-of-arms and cut-stone Portuguese emblems, some
half-hidden behind masses of white roses or climbing flowers. Old
fountains of variegated colors, very broken, much weather- and
time-faded, still have tiny streams trickling forth from the stone
mouths of human heads or strange creatures unknown to natural history;
scores of quaint old balconies, mysterious corners, and queer porticos
jut out over streets or abysses. There was evidently no building plan
except that imposed by nature. Each householder built on his few feet of
space at any height and slope he chose, so that although the buildings
nearly all cling close together for mutual support, they present most
fantastic combinations, each with its red-tile roof faded from bright to
drab according to its age and situation.

In the main praça up at the top of the town, which is rectangular and
square-cobbled and singularly quiet, is a statue of “Tiradentes” high up
on a slim granite pedestal, his hair wild, his shirt open, his wrists
weighted down with chains. This nickname of “Pull Teeth” was given a
sergeant who, way back in 1792, started the first revolution for
Brazilian independence, but who was captured, executed, and his head
hung up in an iron cage in this same praça. There is a School of Mines,
the principal if not the only one in Brazil, in an old viceregal palace
that was later the seat of the state government until that honor was
taken away from Ouro Preto. The Indians of Minas could not or would not
be enslaved, and the workmen required in the mines were brought from
Africa early and often. I do not recall a mountain town anywhere with so
large a percentage of African blood, though it is not now, of course,
pure African, for the old Portuguese settlers were not slow to dilute it
with their own, and with the exception of a very few of the proud old
families of Minas, who have overridden their environment and kept their
veins free from the taint of slaves, there are not many of full white
race. In the morning the inhabitants straggle home from the outdoor
butcher-shop, carrying strips of raw meat by a grass string run through
them; in the later afternoon the frequent clash of jogging horse-shoes
on the irregular cobblestones calls attention to some young blood come
prancing by the window of his desire, peering out from her window-ledge
over the otherwise silent and almost deserted street.

As to my own job, I did not even have to go out to look for contracts,
for as I sat reading the newspapers and recovering from a Brazilian
lunch, there came slinking in upon me the local pharmacist and owner of
the “Cinema Brazil.” He had heard that I had come, and why, and as he
was eager to outdo his one rival in town, he—ah—er—he, too, had come. If
we played in Ouro Preto it meant four important days—Christmas, followed
by a Saturday and Sunday, and a Monday also, for the trains did not run
on that day. The only entertainment in town, my visitor rambled on, in
his eagerness to attract us, was that provided by two old Italian “women
of the life,” who offered a song and dance nightly at the other cinema.
At a town eight kilometers away there were many “Englishmen” employed in
the gold mines, who would be delighted to come in and see their
fellow-countryman Edison—what, he was not coming himself?—well then, his
invention. No doubt _Senhor Edisón_ did not think poor old Ouro Preto
worth visiting, now that it was no longer the capital, but it had many
wonders even for a great inventor, if one really knew where to look for
them. By this time I had handed him our printed contract, through which
he carefully spelled his way, while I read several columns of newspaper.
Then he brought me back to Brazil with, “Ah yes, very good,
only—er—sixty per cent. is a very large percentage and——” At which point
I broke in with “Why, I ought to charge you eighty per cent. for being
way off here on a branch line, in a town without even wheeled vehicles!”
Whereupon he shuddered and begged me to figure to myself that he had not
said a word and, reaching for the contract, he signed it on the dotted

Rain was pouring and the night was still black when I followed my
baggage down the steep cobbled road to the station. There I discovered,
in a sudden flash of genius, why all Brazilian trains start at daylight
and stop at dark; it is not because they are afraid to go home in the
dark, but so that the languid employees will not have to light the
car-lamps. Even the government night expresses rarely have more than a
firefly of a gas-lamp or a couple of flickering oil-wicks in the end of
each coach. Brazilians are not a nation of readers, and do not demand
decent lights, though there is nothing to prove they would get them if
they did. The print-loving stranger is often warned that it is dangerous
to the health to read during, or just before, or until long after meals,
which may be true, but the Brazilians themselves are living proof that
it is still worse never to read at all. In most stations there are
waiting-rooms only for women, and not a spot for the mere male to sit on
unless he boards the train itself, which is also the favorite
lounging-place of scores of the local population who have no intention
of traveling on it. Here an affectionate crowd was embracing and
fondling one another after the Brazilian fashion and gradually filling a
tightly closed car in which it was not easy to breathe. It is really
foolish, too, to ride first-class on the trains of the interior, for it
means little more than paying double price, when the single is bad
enough, for the privilege of sitting in a cane seat at one end of a car,
instead of in a wooden one at the other. However, a few kind words may
unhesitatingly be said for the railways of Brazil. One may leave all he
possesses in a train seat and not only will no one touch it, but his
fellow-travelers will stand for hours rather than disturb the smallest
parcel left to hold a place. Nor is the baggage-smasher indigenous to
Brazil. Several pieces of our outfit were delicate, yet during a year’s
travel by every known means of conveyance except aëroplane through
nearly every state of Brazil, it was never seriously injured—though on
its return to my beloved native land it was badly damaged between New
York and the Edison factory, an hour away.

[Illustration: Diamantina spills down into the stream in which are found
some of its gold and diamonds]

[Illustration: A hydraulic diamond-cutting establishment of Diamantina]

[Illustration: In the diamond field of Brazil]

[Illustration: Diamond diggers do not resemble those who wear them]

Beyond the old town of Sabará, where the first of the gold that was to
make Minas Geraes famous and Portugal wealthy was discovered in 1698, we
turned westward and a few moments later sighted through bedraggled
palm-trees the glaring new town of Bello Horizonte. No doubt it was to
escape the labor of propelling themselves about the precipitous streets
of Ouro Preto that led the calfless legislators of Minas Geraes to
dethrone the time-honored old capital at the beginning of the present
century and move the government to a hitherto uninhabited spot, justly
called “Beautiful Horizon.” The site chosen on which to build to order
this new capital is a broad shallow lap of rolling country, a bare,
treeless landscape which abets the light-colored new buildings in
producing a constant uncomfortable glare. It is strange that they did
not choose a place with water, a lake or at least a river, which may be
found even in the lofty State of Minas. As it is, there is only an
insignificant creek creeping through town and an artificial pond in the
center of an unfinished park in which the water is so red that even the
swans paddling disconsolately about in it have a reddish hue. The
designers have all the details of a complete city in mind; the
difficulty is to carry out their well laid plans and produce one. For
Bello Horizonte is visible proof that it takes more than houses,
streets, and inhabitants to make a city. Its public buildings are large
and plentiful. Whitewashed houses with bright new red-tile roofs lie
scattered far and wide over the rolling landscape. Wide park streets
with electric tramways stretch out in every direction in a wheel-shaped
system evidently copied from Washington. But the broad avenues are still
unpaved, unpacked stretches of red mud, resembling newly plowed potato
patches, and one soon recognizes that they run nowhere, that they are an
exotic, forced growth which men are still chopping farther back into the
red flesh of the virgin, scrub-grown hills. A few have stretches of
broad cement sidewalks lined with trees, but they are trees still in
their swaddling clothes of protecting frames, or at best are half-grown
and unfamiliar with their duty of giving shade and beauty and
restfulness. Such grass as exists grows in scattered tufts over bare
earth, in no way resembling sod. Though the houses are new, many of them
are set in the beginnings of walled bush and flower gardens, with steep
outside stairways leading to the real residence in the second story and
having fanciful paintings of such scenes as Rio’s Beira Mar on the walls
under the porches. They have an alien, unsatisfying appearance which
suggests that it is better to let even towns grow up of themselves than
to force them by hothouse methods. There are, of course, some advantages
in a city, especially in a capital, built to order, but though
modernity’s gain over medievalism is in some ways shown, Bello Horizonte
lacks not only the charm of old Ouro Preto but even the air and spirit
of a city. The whole place feels like a house one has moved into while
it is still building over his head.

While they were about it, one wonders they did not build in stone,
instead of adobe bricks and plaster. The impression that everything is
built only for a temporary halt, by people who, like Arabian nomads,
expect to move on again to-morrow, pervades all modern America, in sharp
contrast to Europe and the ancient American Indian civilizations. But at
least there are as yet no slums, unless one counts as such the large
clusters of small new houses that were almost huts scattered through the
several shallow valleys spreading out from the town. It is curious how a
city draws houses about it like a magnet even when there seems to be
nothing for the inhabitants to do but take in one another’s washing—or
do one another’s governing. Though it offers free sites to any industry
that will establish itself there, only the scream of a single small
weaving mill is heard in Bello Horizonte. The city produces nothing
except government for the state, and the man who comes into personal
contact with that soon realizes that it “costs expensive” and is none
too good governing at that. More fuss is made over the state president
than over our own national executive. Negro soldiers in khaki and bright
red caps guard his “palace” and great high-walled garden, parading back
and forth day and night before all government buildings with fixed
bayonets, not because there is any real danger—except to the unwary
pedestrian who might run into the pointed blade of some sleepy guard—but
because all Latin-America loves to make a show of deadly weapons even in
time of peace. The population had the bland, sophisticated air of people
already trained to city life elsewhere, like transplanted flora from
other gardens of varied kind and situation. Strangers attract far less
attention than in even larger interior towns, because here all are more
or less strangers and the inhabitants have not lived long enough
together to form that sort of closed corporation of old established
towns, which not only makes a new and unfamiliar face an object of
curiosity, but arouses a kind of distrust and annoyance among the native

The show reached Bello Horizonte before me and had done a good Saturday
and Sunday business, but “Tut” reported that all records for “deadheads”
were being broken. The manager was a bullet-headed mulatto—whose name,
by the way, was Americo Vespuccio—and who did not have the moral courage
needed to cope with the swarms of official beggars which infest a state
capital. When the doors opened on Monday night I was lolling incognito
nearby. The ticket-taker was a mulatto girl of about fourteen who thrust
out her hand whenever anyone walked in, taking the ticket if there
happened to be one to take, but paying no attention to the fact that as
often as not there was none. Not only were there many people with
monthly passes and permanent free tickets, but the negro management,
being afraid of anyone with authority, real or pretended, had given
everyone capable of manufacturing a shadow of excuse the conviction that
he had the right to enter without payment. In the first few minutes I
saw seventy persons enter without tickets, exclusive of the house
employees and men in uniform. Then I burst into the manager’s office and
informed him that he was going to pay us our percentage for every person
who had not, and did not thereafter, pay an admission fee. He turned an
ashy gray and begged me to take full charge at the door. I discharged
the mulatto girl on the spot, made a ticket-box of my hand-grip by
cutting a slot in it—hitherto ticket-takers had stuffed the tickets into
their pockets or any other convenient receptacle—and proceeded to shock
the good people of “Beautiful Horizon.”

An elaborately dressed man in a frock coat, accompanied by two women
glittering with diamonds, pushed haughtily past.

“Your ticket, senhor?” I smiled, in my most ceremonial Portuguese.

“I never pay admission,” the man replied haughtily.

“And why don’t you?” I retorted, which wholly unprecedented question so
dazed him that without a word he went back to the wicket and bought
three tickets. The same incident was repeated dozens of times that

Another favorite trick was for a man to enter with one or two women and
purchase tickets only for them.

“Where is yours, senhor?”

“_Eu volto_” (I am coming back) was the unvarying reply, by which the
speaker meant to imply that he was merely going to escort the ladies to
their seats and come right out again, but in almost every case he
remained an hour or more until the “Kinetophone” number had been run and
came slinking out with the air of having kept eyes and ears tight closed
during the performance.

No doubt many of the well-dressed, haughty individuals I sent to the
box-office were state senators and the like, but what of it? We were
paying heavily to support them, paying every time we moved from one town
to another, every time we gave a performance, every time we left or
entered a state, in addition to what we had paid to enter the country,
every time we drew a check, or put up a poster, or inserted an
advertisement, and even in my most charitable mood I could not see why
we should give free entertainment to any government official who was not
there in line of duty.

During the second section a chinless, pomaded popinjay in full evening
dress, with an own-the-earth air, pushed scornfully past when I asked
for his ticket. I stepped in his way, repeated my question, and finally
laid a hand lightly on his arm, whereupon the manager, frightened to a
kind of grayish pink, came running forward to assure me “It’s all

“But who is he?” I insisted.

“I’ll tell you later,” whispered the trembling mulatto.

The chinless individual, who turned out to be the _delegado_,
corresponding to our chief of police, remained only a few minutes, all
the while plainly boiling with rage. As he came out he stopped before
me—the rush having ceased I was seated—and in a voice and manner that no
doubt scared ordinary people to death, he growled:

“Before you ever grasp anyone by the arm again you want to know who he

“Senhor,” I replied, without rising, which is a shocking insult even to
the most petty Brazilian official, “I want to know who everyone is, and
any man who is a cavalheiro will tell who he is under such circumstances
in any civilized country, and until I know who he is I’ll catch him by
the arm or by any other part of the anatomy that is handy.”

He went out, fuming at the nostrils, leaving me wondering if he would
send a subordinate to place me under arrest, but abuse of authority had
become so rampant that I would have been willing to explore the interior
of a Brazilian prison to bring the matter to a head. When the
performance was ended I cornered the manager in his office and forced
him to pay us our share for every “deadhead” I had counted, and though
he and his equally dusky assistant hastened to assure me that my demands
were wholly justified and that they did not stop officials and ladies
“because they did not have the courage of Americans,” there was
something in their manner that told me they would have taken supreme
delight in knifing me in the back. That evening I turned my papers,
valuables, and revolver over to “Tut,” in order to be prepared for the
probable next move of the _delegado_. But he must have suffered a change
of heart, for thereafter even soldiers and policemen in uniform had
orders to pay admission unless they were on duty and wearing their
sidearms to prove it. Thenceforward every resident of Bello Horizonte
who entered the “Cinema Commercio” either handed in a ticket or gave
proof of his right to free admission, whether he was president, senator
or state dog-catcher. When we had broken all records for the time and
place, I ran the second section of the show myself, just to keep in
practice against the day when I must become a motion picture operator,
and went to bed leaving orders to be called at dawn. By this time “Tut”
spoke considerable Portuguese—though, having learned it mainly from
Carlos, he had many of the errors of grammar and pronunciation of
Brazil’s laboring class—so that I left on my next advance trip with less

Nowadays you can go to famous old Diamantina by rail. The world is
building so many railways that there will soon be no place left for
those who prefer travel to train-riding. I had little hope that the
diamond town would prove worth the time and expense necessary to bring
the Kinetophone to it, but I had a personal desire to see it, and also,
though I could not get exact information on the subject, the map
suggested that I might be able to cross on muleback from Diamantina to
Victoria and thereby save myself a long and roundabout trip.

The rain had let up at last, though sullenly, like a despot forced out
of power. All that day there came the frequent cry of “_chiero de panno
queimado!_” (smell of burned cloth), whereupon everyone jumped up and
shook himself—everyone, that is, except the advance-agent of the
Kinetophone, who had ridden behind Brazilian wood-burners often enough
to know how to dress for the occasion. Our “express” not only stopped
but was sidetracked at every station, and every time it gave a sign of
coming to a halt the passengers sprang up as one man, crying “_A tomar
café!_” and poured out upon the platform, to return growling if even a
dog-kennel of a station miles from nowhere was not prepared to serve
them their incessant beverage. “Tut” used to say that the Brazilians
drank so much coffee that their minds went to dregs. It is a curious
paradox, too, that the Brazilian, often an unprincipled rogue in
business, never dreams of cheating the coffee-man out of his _tostão_,
even if he has to exert himself to hunt him up and pay it before
scrambling aboard again as the warning-bell rings.

Beyond Sete Lagoas the country began to flatten out, with patches of
corn in new clearings, then more and more heavy brush and only the
red-earth railway cutting and a wire fence on either side. Curvello, the
largest town of the day, was almost a city, but so largely made up of
negro huts that it probably would not have paid us to make it a
professional visit. The traveler never ceases to wonder how all Brazil
came to swarm so with negroes; all the ships of Christendom could not
have brought so many from Africa, and the original slaves must have
multiplied like guinea-pigs. In the afternoon I got reckless and bought
an apple, which only cost me a milreis—but then, it was a very small
apple. Far up here in the interior prices seemed to be easing off a bit,
but this was largely offset by the lack of small change. In contrast to
Rio, there was almost no silver or nickel, which made an excellent
excuse for plundering the traveler of a few _tostões_ every time he
approached a ticket-window, and forcing him to accept dirty old bills
often patched together out of six or seven pieces that were completely

It would have been sunset, had there been one, by the time we pulled
into Curralinho, whence a branch line carries a two-car train three
times a week to Diamantina. I believe I was the only first-class
traveler with a ticket next day, one having a kilometer-book and the
rest government passes or uniforms. There was not a woman on board,
though one man with a government pass had with him a boy of seven who,
the conductor weakly declared, should pay half fare; but he did not
insist and let the matter slide in the customary Brazilian way. No
wonder the Belgian syndicate which built this line and another starting
toward Diamantina from Victoria hovers on the verge of bankruptcy,
though my own ticket cost 14$800, plus 1$600 for the federal government
and 1$600 for the State of Minas, or $5.80 for ninety-five miles of
uncomfortable travel.

Except in spots the country was almost _sertão_, a bushy wilderness with
here and there long piles of wood for the engines. We crossed the Rio
das Velhas, flowing northward and inland, carrying red earth in solution
and pieces it had torn away from the forests through which it had
commandeered passage. There were some cattle and here and there a patch
of bananas in a hollow with a hut or two, but the rest was a desolation
of black rock, which proved to be white inside where the railroad
builders had broken into it. Rare patches of corn were the only visible
cultivation; between scattered collections of miserable adobe huts there
appeared to be no travel; the listless part-negroes lolling their lives
contentedly away in their kennels seemed to raise nothing but children
and, not being cannibals, it was a mystery what they lived on. Slowly
and painfully we climbed to the top of a great ridge, a wild country of
barren rocks heaped up into hills that were almost mountains, drear and
treeless as the landscape of Cerro de Pasco. No wonder the men who
wandered up here seeking their fortunes thought the bright pebbles they
picked up worth keeping, if only to break the melancholy monotony.

Beyond a miserable collection of huts where those of robust nerves ate
“breakfast,” we passed the highest railway point in Brazil, 4,600 feet
above sea-level, whence vast reaches of dreary country, broken as a
frozen sea, spread to the horizon in all directions. The last station
before Diamantina looked like a town in Judea, so ugly was the
desolation that surrounded it, and across this one gazed as vainly for
the city which the map proclaimed near at hand as one may stare for a
glimpse of La Paz from the plains of Bolivia high above it.

Ten years before, one traveled on muleback all the way from Sabará to
reach the heart of Brazil’s diamond-bearing territory, and only this
same year had the inaugural train reached Diamantina, amid hilarious
rejoicing of its population. In the few months that had passed since,
the inhabitants had not lost the sense of wonder which the tri-weekly
arrival of the puffing monster on wheels gave them, and though it was
Christmas Day, nearly the whole town had climbed to the station to greet
us. For climb they must. A youth of decided African lineage took my bag
and we stepped over the edge of the uninhabited plateau, to find a town
heaped up directly below us, all visible roads and trails pitching
swiftly down into it. The medieval streets were rough-paved in misshapen
cobbles, with a kind of sidewalk of naturally flat stones running down
the center. The town was labyrinthian, its narrow blocks of every
possible form between the narrower streets, built to fit the lay of the
land, spilling down on the farther side into a deep valley and backed on
all sides by a rough and savage landscape of blackish hue as far as the
eye could see. It was as picturesque as Ouro Preto, which it seemed to
equal in age, though it had been somewhat less elaborately built than
the old state capital, and its churches were fewer, smaller, and more
insignificant. The fact that here also there were no vehicles may be one
of the reasons why the population seemed so healthy and active—climbing
to the station alone proved that—in spite of their decidedly
preponderating negro blood.

The railroad had not yet brought them long enough into contact with the
outside world to spoil the simple people of Diamantina. They seemed to
live together like a great affectionate family, soft-mannered and little
given to quarreling, even the street boys treating one another like
French diplomats. No doubt it was their negro blood, perhaps also the
adventurous happy-go-lucky, take-a-chance character natural to a mining
community, that gave them their considerable gaiety. There was no
evidence of anything but kindliness and good-feeling among the barefoot
women who stopped to gossip with water-jars set jauntily on their
heads—real jars, too, for Diamantina is so far away from the world that
American oil tins have not yet come to usurp the place of picturesque
native pottery. As final high praise, my hotel host asserted that the
town is so different from the rest of Brazil that a man can occasionally
visit a family with unmarried daughters without bringing them into
disrepute among public gossips. It is, indeed, a Brazilian Utopia!

I was Diamantina’s star guest during my stay, having the main room in
the main hotel looking out on the main praça. The latter was small and
three-cornered, paved with cobbles back in the days of Shakespeare, and
had in its center a bust of a native of Diamantina who was Minister of
Viaçao when President Peçanha was coaxed into signing the decree giving
the Belgians the concession for their railroad. But then, Brazil is the
land of busts, and the man who does not succeed in getting at least one
of himself tucked away in some praça is not much of a buster. My huge
front room, next to the homelike hotel parlor with many chairs and a
cane divan all dressed up in lace coats, was fully twenty feet square,
its immense French windows reaching to a floor made of great hand-cut
planks fastened by handmade spikes with heads an inch square—or in
diameter, according as the blacksmith happened to shape them—and so
glass-smooth and warped and twisted that in places one had to brace
one’s legs to keep from sliding downhill along it. The house seemed
older than the surrounding hills, but there is so much of the new and
crude in Brazil that the old cannot but be greatly relished. As a matter
of fact Diamantina does not deserve a public hostelry, for nearly all
its visitors have the South American habit of stopping with friends or
relatives, and for all its electric lights and spring beds, and moderate
charges, the hotel had only a couple of paying guests.

The adventurous _bandeirantes_ of São Paulo first penetrated this region
looking for gold. A considerable amount of it was found in the muddy
stream at the foot of the present town, and early in the seventeenth
century the adventurers founded the village of Tijuca, which took its
name from a nearby swamp. In olden times gold dust and tiny nuggets were
used as money throughout the region, and there were scales in every
shop. Gold seems to be found almost anywhere in the region, and
placer-mining is the natural occupation of all its inhabitants. When
electric-light poles were put up by a syndicate at Boa Vista, in order
to give Diamantina as light by night what the company uses as power
during the day, the children carried off the earth dug up from the holes
to wash out the gold. After a heavy rain tiny particles of gold are
picked up in the gutters of Diamantina and along the edge of the little
stream below it. So here at last is a place where you can really pick up
gold in the streets, yet the people are poorer and more ragged than
those who live by planting beans.

It was while searching for gold that the miners of Tijuca came across
many bright, half-transparent pebbles that were plainly of no use to
them, but the largest of which they gave to their children or used as
counters in their own card games. There were a bushel or more of them in
such use in the village and its vicinity when a new priest arrived from
Portugal. In his first game of cards the pious padre noticed the
peculiar poker chips that everyone produced by the handful. He let the
information leak out that he thought them very pretty, and would be
pleased to have them as keepsakes. They were quite worthless, of course,
to his new parishioners, and if his innocent sacerdotal eye was caught
by their transparent brightness, they saw no reason why they should not
humor his whim, and at the same time gain in favor with the Church, by
giving him such of the worthless little baubles as he did not win at
cards. Thus he gathered together half a bushel or more of the pebbles,
and suddenly disappeared in the general direction of Amsterdam, dropping
a hint in Rio on the way.

Word soon reached the Portuguese crown of this new form of riches in its
overseas possessions. It turned out that the range of hills from well
south of the present town of Diamantina to far up in Bahia, a tract of
more than four hundred square leagues, was diamond-bearing land. Indeed,
if one may believe local conviction, the finest diamonds in existence
come from Minas Geraes, and the world’s most famous black diamonds from
Bahia State a bit farther north.

Diamonds were first discovered in India and for centuries came only from
there. When they were found in Brazil, thousands of the stones were sold
as Indian diamonds not only because buyers were prejudiced, but because
the Portuguese government had forbidden private mining on penalty of
death, and the contrabandists were forced to reach their market by way
of India. The village of Tijuca became a flourishing center, far as it
was from the outside world, and for all the stern government régime set
over the region. In 1734 Portugal sent out an “Intendente Geral dos
Diamantes,” with absolute power to enforce the government monopoly. His
palace still exists in a garden near the top of the town, with the
remains of an artificial lake on which he kept a sailboat to show the
people of what came gradually to be known as Diamantina how he had
crossed the sea. The crown forbade individual mining and gave the job to
contractors, who worked six hundred slaves and paid 220–240$ yearly per
slave for the privilege, yet who made fortunes even though all large
diamonds and twenty per cent. of all finds went to the crown. Population
multiplied and Diamantina became a center of riches and luxury. Contrary
to the case in the rest of Brazil, many broken noblemen and men of
education came here to mend their fortunes, and the colony, and
eventually all the province of Minas Geraes, became a focus of
“civilization,” as that word was understood in those days,—much powdered
hair, knee-breeches, beauty patches, minuets—and swarms of miserable
slaves. It may be that the courtesy of the poor Africanized inhabitants
of to-day is but a hold-over from those times of elaborate etiquette.

Amazing tales are still told in Diamantina of its golden days. It was
evidently the custom of the government viceroys to imprison the
contractors as soon as they got rich and “roll” them penniless. One
official is reputed to have made every guest a present of a cluster of
diamonds. The _Grupo Escolar_, or school building, across the street
from my hotel was once the residence of a great diamond buyer, and when
the building was made into a school some years ago a score or more of
skeletons were found tumbled together in the bottom of a secret shaft.
This revived the legend that the buyer had a chair set on a trapdoor,
and when a man came in with a large “parcel” of contraband diamonds he
was asked to sit down and make himself at home while the buyer looked
over the stones—and brought up at the bottom of the shaft.

In 1771 the famous Pombal sent out the “green book,” with fifty-four
despotic articles that nearly depopulated the district, but in 1800 the
régime softened, and finally, in 1832, the government monopoly was
abolished. Since then mining has been more or less intermittent.
Diamonds reached their highest price during the war with Paraguay, at
the end of which, in 1867, the stones were found in South Africa, a blow
from which the industry in Brazil has never recovered. For while it is
claimed in Diamantina that Brazilian diamonds average much higher than
those from the Cape, the African mines now produce at least eighty per
cent. of the world’s supply and with more modern methods and widespread
propaganda completely control the market. Abolition was the final straw,
and in five years exportations of diamonds from Diamantina dropped from
2,500 to 300 annually.

Unlike those of South Africa, the diamonds of Brazil are found on or
near the surface. In a few places quartz is broken open in the search,
but in general they are taken loose in the gravel of the alluvial
deposits by the simpler process of placer mining. The fact that enormous
tracts of territory were worked over by the Portuguese does not mean
that they took out fabulous amounts, according to modern local
authorities, because they had to feed their slaves anyway and it was to
their advantage to keep them working, even if the finds were few.
To-day, though there are some syndicates and large companies, most of
them are completely paralyzed and such work as is done is mainly by
individual natives. The company troubles seem to be due to lack of a
good mining law—natives may wash for diamonds anywhere, even on company
claims—the insecurity of titles, the prohibitive cost of transportation
for machinery, high tariffs, low rate of exchange, the constant war of
South Africans against South American diamonds, and finally the
“salting” of mines by fake promoters, coupled with carelessness of
foreign stockholders in sending out experts to examine the ground before
accepting even an honest promoter’s word for it. Thus fortunes have been
lost in the Brazilian diamond fields, notwithstanding the fact that
diamonds continue to be steadily picked up in them.

The largest diamond ever found in Brazil was the “Star of the South,”
found at Agua Suja (Dirty Water), on the line to Catalão. This weighed
about the same as the famous Kohinoor diamond,—300 carats. The stones
are usually found in the beds of rivers, larger near the source, and
smaller farther down, for they wear off in traveling, and in sand,
earth, and common gravel, usually with gold. Rough diamonds generally
have no brilliancy, looking merely like white, half-transparent pebbles,
though any child of Diamantina is said to be able to recognize one at a
glance. There is really nothing more prosaic than diamond gathering, and
the resemblance is slight between those who hunt for and those who wear
them. None of the improved methods of South Africa have been introduced
into Brazil, not even the hand screen or the “grease board,” and the
negroes still use the _batea_, or wooden bowl in the shape of a hand
basin, in washing for both diamonds and gold. When he has chosen his
spot beside some stream the negro sets up a _baca_, a kind of topless
soapbox with one end knocked out, about six inches above the surface of
the water and fills it with gravel. Then with the _batea_ he scoops up
water and throws it with a peculiar flip on the gravel, washing it from
side to side until the loose stuff runs off and leaves only the pebbles.
These are then spread out and gone over carefully by hand, the diamonds
being readily detected by the experienced eye, particularly since,
unlike the other stones, they cannot be wet and for that reason stand
out brilliantly from the rest. In fact, in Spanish and Portuguese they
are as often called _brillantes_ as _diamantes_. With the war and the
sudden drop in the diamond market that came with it the people of
Diamantina largely left off hunting for diamonds and began the more
paying occupations of planting corn and gathering firewood.

On the Sunday afternoon following Christmas, the rain having at last
ceased, I went out for a walk. An hour’s climb, in which I did not
suffer from heat, brought me to a cross on the culminating point of the
great mass of gray-black rock of ragged formation across the valley and
small stream in which many a diamond has been picked up and much gold
washed. Here is a full view of the town, stacked up on the green and
fertile side of the long valley and spilling like coagulated grease down
into it, scattered groups of eucalyptus trees and its general greenness
in great contrast to the rockiness of all the rest of the vast and
jagged encircling landscape. The gothic church of Coração de Jesus and
the tree-girdled seminary stand somewhat above the rest of the orderless
heap, and one realizes that the railroad does indeed come in at the top
of the town, for its station is so high that here it cannot be seen
above the edge of the plateau on which it sits. Diamantina is a great
trading post of the interior, and down in the center of town there is a
species of Arab khan, a roof on posts where shaggy sun-, rain-, and
road-marked muleteers with long, ugly _facas_ in their belts pile their
saddle-blankets and goods and cook over campfires. The old, old highway
unravels down across the broken rocky hills, descends into the valley,
stops a while at the khan, and having gathered its forces together once
more into a compact trail, marches across and out of the valley again
and away over the bleak horizon.

It was in the middle of this public trail that I came upon two negroes
in quest of gold washed down by the recent rains. While one dug up
wooden bowls of earth and gravel, the other stood knee-deep in a muddy,
dammed-up pool and, filling his _batea_ with the earth brought by the
other and letting water into it, whirled it about until the heavy matter
went to the bottom. Then he scraped off by hand the top layer,
continuing the process until within ten minutes he had left about a
quart of heavy black earth. This he dumped with more of the same in a
white sand-nest he had made on the bank of the little stream crossing
the trail. Like most of his fellow-townsmen he was talkative and ready
to explain his affairs to a stranger. He had washed for gold after a
rain ever since he was a boy, getting from two to four milreis worth
every time, and where there is gold there are sure to be diamonds,
especially the “chapeu de palha” (“straw hat”), which he explained to be
a very flat diamond making much show with little weight. Though both he
and his companion were shoeless and had been from infancy, ragged,
illiterate and half toothless, they were far from ignorant on some
points, especially of words used in the diamond industry, which they
spoke with a curious negro mispronunciation mixed with slang.

In riding about the vicinity on other days I came upon several gangs of
a score of negroes each, bare-legged and ragged, hoeing at an average
wage of eighty cents a day in banks of red earth through which a rainy
season stream had been turned. This they keep up as long as the rains
last, rarely seeing a diamond, which wash along through the artificial
gorge with the other gravel and come to rest on a sandy flat place
beyond. Then the men are set to “batting the _baca_,” until the sand is
washed away and the diamonds recovered by the same crude methods used in
the first days of the colony. One question almost sure to be asked by
the layman is how workmen are kept from stealing the diamonds. Theft, it
is explained, is by no means so easy to accomplish as would appear at
first glance. In the first place, it takes on the average a cartload of
sand and gravel to yield a one-quarter carat diamond. By the time the
negro has washed a load down to about two bushels an overseer has an eye
on him and watches him until the process is finished. It is rare for a
diamond to appear suddenly on the surface during the preliminary
washing, when the negro might snatch it, and even if he did he would
have a hard time selling it. If ever a native of Diamantina has stolen a
diamond, even as a boy, he is blackballed in the community for the rest
of his life. It is a long way to anywhere else, even since the advent of
the railroad, so that thieving of the town’s chief product is extremely
unusual. Men from far off up country come in with thousands of dollars’
worth of diamonds or black carbons on a pack mule, which lags far behind
with its negro driver. Everyone along the way knows what it carries, yet
for decades no driver has run away nor anyone “framed” a holdup.

In town, gold and precious stones are handled with a casual carelessness
only equalled by the Bank of England. A local jewelry shop, famous in
the trade the world over, looks like a miserable little tinker’s den,
where a dozen men and boys, all with more or less African blood, work at
dirty old worn and smoked benches. About them is a wilderness of junk
where cigarette butts, gold nuggets, old iron tools, gold wire, and
worthless odds and ends lie scattered and tumbled together with diamonds
of all sizes, cut and uncut, old tin tobacco-boxes containing fortunes
in diamonds and precious stones of several species wrapped in dirty bits
of paper. Gold coins of the former Empire as well as new British
sovereigns waiting to be melted up for local use can scarcely be
distinguished from the dusty rubbish on the tables; drawers filled with
the ragged money of to-day stand half-open; a tiny show-window—recently
put in as a concession to modern ideas—has a six-carat diamond stuck
against the glass with several smaller ones about it, day and night; a
can that originally held soap but now full of emeralds, amethysts,
topazes, and half a dozen other precious stones found in the region was
kicking about the floor. Yet there was no sign of lock or key, except
that used to fasten the outer door at night. The owner only came now and
then during the day, and amid this disordered jumble of wealth his dozen
workmen and boys toiled from seven in the morning until sometimes nine
at night at ludicrous wages without a loss ever having been reported.

Down in the valley near the town there is a native diamond-cutting
establishment, a capacious old barn of a building with the immense
rough-hewn beams of olden times and two long double rows of “wheels” run
by water-power on which the stones are “cut.” Strictly speaking, a
diamond is not “cut” at all; it is ground—_lapidar_ or “stoning” they
call it in Brazil. Disks of the best grade steel, about a foot in
diameter, move round and round at a moderate rate of speed. Rough
diamonds are first chipped off by hand to the general shape desired;
then they are set into a bed of lead and solder so that one facet may be
ground down, after which they are removed at a forge, resoldered, and
ground on another facet. The “wheels” must be polished down and filed in
slight ridges every two or three weeks, a task that takes about one day,
and they are rented at 12$ a month to the individual _lapidarios_, both
men and women, largely of negro blood, who work for themselves, either
“cutting” diamonds for others or speculating with such as they can buy
themselves. A day is the average time consumed here in “cutting” a
one-carat diamond, at a cost of about 7$, the chips and diamond dust
left over bringing the ordinary income up to 65$ a week.

Diamond buyers of all nationalities journey to Diamantina, and the town
expressed surprise and often incredulity to hear that I had not come to
purchase a few “parcels” for speculation. “Everyone” buys diamonds, yet
no one pays the state export tax on them, if one may believe local
opinion. This would have to be paid if the stones were sent out legally
by express, but when a buyer has collected a “parcel”—in Portuguese it
is _partida_—he finds some man bound for Rio and says to him, “If it
isn’t too much trouble just hand this little package to —— and Co.,”
thereby defrauding both the railroad and the politicians. The men who
deal in diamonds in the place of their origin no more wear them than do
the men who dig them. Old buyers who have handled the precious stones
all their lives are not only plainly dressed but have none of the
tendency toward personal adornment so widespread among Brazilians. Two
American diamond-men I met had huge blacksmith hands on which a ring
would have looked absurd, and the only diamonds one sees in Diamantina
are those offered for sale in “parcels” or show-windows, or those worn
by an occasional tenderfoot.

Newcomers have sometimes been deceived by this state of affairs. A few
years ago there arrived in Diamantina a German with a conviction of his
own wisdom and superiority over common mortals, who, with an air
implying that the thought had never occurred to anyone else, let it leak
out that he was buying diamonds. An old negro wandered up to the hotel
in an aged shirt and trousers, a ragged hat, and bare feet, and
shuffling in a halting, diffident way into the German’s room, told him
that he did not know what the two diamonds he carried wrapped in a scrap
of paper were worth, but that he would sell them cheap. The German paid
him about half the market price for them and asked him if he had any
more, adding with a wink that any transactions they might make would be
kept a secret. The poor old negro said he thought he could find a few
more about his hut or in the river or among his friends, and for a month
or six weeks he continued to slouch into the hotel, until he had sold
the wise German about a pint of diamonds for a mere song of fourteen or
fifteen _contos_, say $5,000. Then the Teuton, highly pleased with
himself, packed up and took the down train from Curvello, smuggling his
untold riches out of the state without paying the export duty—and
discovered when he reached Rio that every one of the fine diamonds the
poor ignorant old negro had sold him so cheaply were what are known in
the trade as “fourths,” or worse, full of knots and gnarls as a
century-old olive tree and worth at most some 50c a carat for cutting
glass. A bit later, the poor innocent old negro having occasion to go
down to the capital and talk with the senator whose political boss he
was in Diamantina, blew into Rio in the frock-coat and patent leathers
he wears when not doing business with gullible strangers, with a real
six-carat diamond dazzling from his little finger and two or three more
shouting from his shirt front and, meeting the worldly-wise German on
the Avenida, raised his fifty-dollar imported Panama hat with true
Brazilian courtesy, and invited him to come in and have a drink for old
times’ sake.

One evening my hospitable host of the hotel dragged me over to the
cinema he owned, where I found a crowded house come to see what to
Diamantina was a brand new romance of their own color, called “A Cabana
do Pae Thomaz,” in other words, “The Cabin of Uncle Tom.” It was all too
evident, however, that there was nothing to be gained by bringing our
show so far inland, for the negroes had little to spend and the railway
charges are naturally high to those who can find no excuse for not
paying them. Meanwhile I had opened negotiations for a journey on
horseback, or even on foot, across to the railhead of the line out of
Victoria, which would have brought me out well up the coast on my
journey north. A native _camarada_ familiar with the trail offered to
rent me a horse or a mule for the journey, with saddle and spurs, for 3$
a day. This seemed reasonable. It would make the trip across come to
about 20$? Yes, but it takes _two_ animals. Why’s that? You must have a
guide, or at least a man to bring back the horses. Ah, then that makes
6$ a day instead of 3$? Yes—ah—and then of course you must pay the man.
How much? Oh, 3$ a day, the same as the other animals. Ah, then that
makes 9$ a day, and seven days would be.... No, say ten days. But why
ten days? Because in this season that is the least you can depend on. In
other words the trip would cost me 90$, nine times ten? No, it would be
nine times twenty, or 180$. Eh, what twenty days? Why, the man and the
horses would have to come back, wouldn’t they? _Sacramento_, I suppose
so, unless I could chloroform them when I got there. So then 180$ would
cover _all_ the expenses? All, completely all—er—that is, of course, you
would have to feed the animals and the man on the trip, and it might be
much more than ten days, and—er.... And no doubt there would be a tip to
the man and the animals, and perhaps a third horse needed when he caught
sight of my valise, and of course the government officials here and
along the way would come in for their customary graft, and there would
be the stamp-tax on each horseshoe, unless they were mule-shoes, in
which case no doubt it would be doubled, and a tax on each bray the
“burros” might emit en route, and—whereupon I gave him a warm handshake
and bade him good night, saying I would think it over and wire him from
Bagdad in 1946, and thus eventually got him out of the room. In short, I
had come to understand at last why people travel by rail in Brazil, even
though their bones are racked on the warped and twisted roadbeds, their
movie-magnate garments turned into sieves by burning cinders from the
straining locomotives, and there is a tax on every corner of a railway

All Diamantina was down—I mean up—to see us off, just as they are at the
same early hour three times a week. The distance-blue piles of earth lay
heaped up into considerable hills where a clearer atmosphere disclosed
wider horizons, hung on all sides with fantastic heaps of clouds, that
increased the sense of being on the top of the world. On the several
days’ trip southward I met a strange man, a _juiz de dereito_, or
district judge, from Serro back in the hills, who refused to ride on a
government pass or to accept one for his son, whom he was taking to the
medical school in Rio, declaring that there was “much abuse” in such
matters by government officials! At Burnier, where we changed to the
broad gauge, I got a berth to the capital. Though the car was the
familiar American Pullman, the slovenly government employees had
discarded most of the small conveniences. The aisle was as carpetless as
the floors of Brazil, the berth net had long since been turned into a
hammock for the brakeman’s baby, the mattress was thin and hard as a
Brazilian wooden bed, and the sleep I did not get as we creaked and
jounced through the endless low hills explained why sleeping cars and
night trains are not more popular in the mammoth republic of South

When I returned from the washroom next morning, “Tut” stood dressing
beside the opposite berth. They had played in Palmyra the evening before
and managed to pack up in time to catch the night train. Carlos had had
his hat stolen in the preceding town and “Tut” had been bitten by a dog
while walking out to pay his respects to the English-speaking miners
near Ouro Preto; otherwise things had gone well—except for one other
personal mishap to “Tut.” While buying his ticket for the sleeper he
noted that the berths were divided into “_leitos inferiores_” and
“_leitos superiores_.” Now why should he take an inferior berth when he
had been working hard, and Linton paid the bill anyway? He took a _leito
superior_. Unfortunately, in the matter of berths, the Portuguese word
_superior_ means “upper”!

By seven the day was already brilliant and hot, for we were down off the
great plateau I was never to climb again, and the familiar suburbs of
Rio were rumbling past. I dropped off as we drew into the yards, knowing
from experience how long a process it is to get into the station, and
diving out through a hole in the railway wall, I hurried away up the Rua
Mattoso to the home of our theater contractor. He surprised me by saying
that times had grown so “brutally hard” in Rio, to say nothing of the
brutal heat of midsummer, that it would not be worth while to play there
at all, but that we could finish our sixteen days with him at his
theater in Nictheroy.

The ferry that carried us across the bay was crowded with newspaper men
and photographers, and the gunboat _Sergipe_ lay close off the state
capital with its guns trained on the public buildings. Inquiry disclosed
the fact that there was not a new mutiny, but that a revolution was
expected in Nictheroy during the day.

Nilo Peçanha, son of a former president of Brazil, had been elected
president of the State of Rio de Janeiro for the term to begin with the
new year; but, as so often happens in South America, the opposition
party still in power was determined to give the office to their own
defeated candidate. This was one Lieutenant Sodré, an army man of
similar caliber to the celebrated “Dudu” and having the same backing.
With the aid of the outgoing state president he had “acquired” arms and
ammunition from the federal stores in Nictheroy and was preparing to
take office by force, having picked up large numbers of _Carioca_ crooks
and gunmen and scattered them among the various cities of the state to
stifle opposition. Peçanha, on the other hand, had applied to the
Supreme Court for a habeas corpus, giving him the office that was being
stolen from him, and after considerable dodging and hesitation the
national president had decided to lend federal armed force to uphold the
Supreme Court decision in favor of Peçanha.

Mere orders from the federal government mean little in the life of a
Brazilian state, however, and Nictheroy was seething on the brink of
anarchy when we landed. Sodré, it seemed, had had himself sworn in as
president by the state assembly early that morning and had sent word to
that effect to the president of Brazil. He could not gain admission to
the state presidential palace, but with the support of the state police
and the outgoing authorities he did take over the presidential offices.
Then suddenly, some three hours later, a cry of “Viva Peçanha!” had
resounded through the police barracks, the policemen had taken it up
and, headed by two sergeants, threatened to kill the officers unless
they joined in also, and the entire state police force on which the
rebel had depended swung over to the other side, looted the stolen
ammunition, and took to rushing about town shouting and firing in the

This was the condition in which we found the state capital. The firemen
had joined the police, and auto-trucks crammed full of excited shouting
negroes and half-negroes in uniform were rushing about town at top
speed, all but overturning at every corner. The lower classes, having
likewise filled themselves with cheap _cachaza_, had joined the general
uproar of noise, irresponsibility, and probable violence, and the
streets were swarming with _populares_ shouting “Viva Peçanha!” “Viva o
Salvador do Povo!” and similar nonsense in maudlin drunken voices, while
Sodré sent hurriedly to the national president demanding “guarantees”
for his personal safety.

Residence in South America, however, teaches one that revolutions are by
no means so dangerous on the spot as they are in the armchairs of those
who are reading about them afar off, and we serenely continued our
preparations for the evening performance. Desultory shooting, street
brawls, and the surging of masses of drunken _populares_ continued
throughout the day and for several days thereafter, while the shouting,
shooting truckloads of police and firemen continued dizzily to round
corners, each time more nearly resembling the drunken brute into which
the tropical languor of negro militarism is apt to degenerate in times
of crisis or popular excitement. But it was, on the whole, a
good-natured rather than a blood-thirsting brute, and though what Brazil
calls “persons of most responsibility” kept out of sight, we common
mortals, including not a few women, walked about town attending to our
business as usual. Once a ragged, drunken mulatto _popular_ came into
the _leitería_ in which I was quenching my thirst with a glass of
ice-cold milk, walked bellowing and reeling past me and two men at
another table up to a little messenger-boy of fourteen, and ordered him
to shout “Viva Peçanha!” The proprietor dared not protest, for the
police were all drunk and the _povo_ more than likely to take the
ragamuffin’s part; but when the latter finally staggered out again the
shopkeeper raised his hands to heaven and demanded to know why the
fellow had picked on the boy and not, for instance, pointing at me, on
“_o senhor_ over there.”

The “Cinema Eden” was right on the waterfront, though the only paradise
in sight was the view of Rio piled up into massive banks of white clouds
across the emerald bay and the marvelous sunset and steel-blue dusk
which spread over its unique, nature-made sky-line as we opened our
doors. The near-revolution was still surging through the streets, though
a few sober soldiers of the regiment of federal troops that had been
landed were riding about town in street-cars, with ball-loaded muskets
ready for action. Peçanha had been sworn in that afternoon, surrounded
by a swarm of other perspiring politicians in wintry frock-coats and
silk hats, but the national president had concluded to avoid any
responsibility in the matter by calling a special session of congress to
decide between the rival candidates, instead of carrying out the
decision of the Supreme Court—“which,” perorated Ruy Barboso, “is what
our constitution orders and what is practiced in the United States,” two
equally convincing final arguments. Though we were the only theater open
the house was not crowded. “Persons of most responsibility” preferred to
remain at home, and the _populares_ were plainly in most cases without
the price of admission, even had the revolution not promised a more
exciting show outside. I took charge of the door in person, not at all
certain but that the _povo_ might try to force itself in en masse. Once,
during our part of the program, a mighty explosion shook the town like
an earthquake and shooting sounded under our very windows; but as the
stampede for the door started I barricaded the immense exit and “Tut”
went on calmly running an amusing film known as “College Days,” and
before it was ended the volatile audience had quieted down again. The
explosion, it turned out, was of a great deposit of powder on one of the
many islands in the bay, nearly twenty miles away.

Our receipts for the first section were so poor that we cut out the
second and went home for a moonlight dip in the sea just outside our
waterfront rooms in the charming residential district of Nictheroy. But
it was the last day of the year, with a crushing heat after the splendid
air of the plateau, and the soft wind that was now sweeping across the
bay drew me back for a last glimpse of Rio in the throes of New Year’s
Eve. The city lay a vast irregular heap of lights, here in dense
clusters, there strung out along the invisible lower hills, all cut
sharp off at the bottom by the endless row of them along the Beira Mar.
The Avenida was densely crowded, and getting more so. Newspapers had
erected booths covered with artificial flowers and colored lights,
several police, fire department, and military bands were scattered along
the great white avenue, and a constant, unbroken procession of
automobiles crept up one side and down the other, pretty girls perched
on the backs of the seats and on the furled covers, all filled with the
“respectable families” whose plump and physically attractive ladies are
rarely seen in the streets after dark on any other day in the year. I
was caught where the confetti fell thickest, but there was little
rowdyism and no unpleasant din, though paper ribbons spun across the
lighted sea of faces and perfumed water was squirted into them in that
good-natured and outwardly courteous way with which the Latin-American
softens the perpetration of his most hilarious, carnival-time tricks.

                               CHAPTER XV
                           NORTHWARD TO BAHIA

More than five months had passed since my first arrival in Rio when, in
the first days of the new year, I actually started on my homeward way
again. The train from Nictheroy northward left at dawn, after the
unfailing Brazilian habit, and I caught a last glimpse of sunrise over
Rio and its bay before they passed finally from my sight. The mountains
of the cool plateau lay blue-gray along the horizon all that day’s ride
through the singing jungle. The flat _littoral_ was considerably
inhabited, but chiefly with thatched mud-and-reed huts, contrasted only
now and then by a massive, dignified old _fazenda_-house standing, like
some poor but still proud aristocrat, on a commanding knoll above broad
reaches of flat corn, cane, or pasture lands, broken by frequent marshes
grown full of the omnipresent vegetation. At the stations negro boys
highly contented with life sold melons, bananas, mangos, red figs, the
acidulous, parrot-beaked _cajú_, and little native birds in tiny
home-made cages. The scream and groan of crude cane-carts in the fields
or along the dust-thick roads could sometimes be heard above the roar of
the train. Rain had been frequent here during the past weeks, but it had
ceased abruptly at Christmas and the implacable sun had already wiped
out all evidence of moisture. At Macahé we came down to the edge of the
sea again, stretching away emerald-blue and mirror-smooth to the end of
space, then turning inland once more across a sand-blown region, we
descended at Campos, 176 miles north of Nictheroy.

This second city of the State of Rio de Janeiro is an old and somewhat
dilapidated town well spread out on the _campo_, or sea-flat open
country, for which it is named, with a few aged church-towers peering on
tiptoe over the broad cane-fields that surround it. Scattered imperial
palms slightly shade it, and the widest river I had so far seen in
Brazil gives it a light-craft connection with the sea. Neither its mule
cars nor its medieval “Hotel Amazonas,” with a single _banho de chuva_,
or “rain bath,” are fit subjects for unbounded praise, but at least its
chief cinema manager cut short my professional labors by signing on the
dotted line as soon as it was pointed out to him. I left the contract
and instructions to “Tut” with the hotel runner, to be handed to the
tallest man who arrived by train the next Wednesday, and fled on into
the north by the same conveyance by which I had arrived the day before.

The difference between this British-owned line and the
government-operated “Central” was as wide as that between discipline and
license, yet even on this the ticket-offices were miserable little holes
in the wall, barely thigh-high; the sellers always opened as late, and
worked as slowly and stupidly as possible, and it was only by crouching
like an ape and fighting those struggling about the ticket-hole with
trickery, stealth, and bad manners that the traveler could get a chance
to buy the exorbitant-priced tickets and escape paying fifty per cent.
excess on the train. Kilometer-books are sold in Brazil, but they must
be taken to the ticket-window to be stamped and audited and registered
and signed each time the holder wishes to board a train, hence nothing
is to be gained by using them. The shadowy, saw-shaped range on our left
followed us all the blazing, sand-blown day, tantalizing us with
suggestions of cool upland valleys and meadows watered by clear, cold
streams. As the sun crawled round and peered in at my side of the car
the heat grew unendurable, in spite of the electric fans which recalled
the government lines by contrast, and the dust-filled air all but
refused to enter the nostrils. The insignificant stations were crowded
with the curious enjoying their chief daily diversion, but they were
silent and listless beneath the appalling heat.

In his “Voyage of the Beagle” Darwin speaks of seeing South American
ant-hills twelve feet high. I had set this down to the exuberance of
youth, but suddenly, not far north of Campos, we came upon great fields
of them, like eruptions on the face of nature, mounds eight, ten,
perhaps even twelve feet high, but here grass-grown, instead of
presenting the solid clay, cement-like surface familiar elsewhere. The
sandy condition of the soil evidently made it possible only to pile them
up in this oval form, so sharply contrasting with the usual sugar-loaf
shape of those made of clay. In mid-afternoon the flat, baking,
sea-level _littoral_ gave way to rolling, then hilly country, and we had
climbed to a height of several hundred meters when we passed from the
little State of Rio de Janeiro into the equally tiny one of Espirito
Santo, for here the great plateau of central Brazil forces its way clear
down to the edge of the sea. Time was when the State of Rio was
enormous, but bit by bit, during the eighteenth century, there was
lopped off from it the much larger states of São Paulo, Minas Geraes,
Goyaz, and finally Matto Grosso, until to-day the population within its
limits—which do not include the federal district and national capital—is
estimated at little more than one fifth that of the old mining province,
vastly less than that of São Paulo and Bahia, and with Rio Grande do Sul
and Pernambuco also outdistancing it.

Coffee-clad hills and a reddish soil gave Espirito Santo a slight
resemblance to São Paulo, though most of it was dense-green with heavy
timber, through which a howling wind-and-rain storm came raging toward
sunset. We halted for the night in Cachoeira do Itapemirim, so called
for the _cachoeira_, or rapids over a series of rocks in the Itapemirim,
the sound of which deadened our footfalls all the way from the station
to the “Hotel Toledo” on the tiny main square. It was little more than a
barefoot village in the bush, but the show would be forced to spend a
night there—nay, two nights, for it would arrive on Saturday—and I soon
added to my collection the signature of the “Turk” who, in addition to a
little cloth-shop and billiard-and-liquor-room, owned a miniature cinema
jutting far out over the rocky river.

Relieved of the feeling that the show was treading on my heels, I let
the morning train go on without me and settled down to make up the sleep
I was in arrears. Four or five hours slumber out of each twenty-four may
be all very well for an Edison, but commonplace mortals require more.
Not only was the hotel as quiet and bucolic as the town itself, but it
had “beds of wire”; both heat and mosquitoes were conspicuous by their
absence; the never-ceasing music of the _cachoeira_ was calming to the
nerves, and if I ever did wake up there were horses to hire for a jaunt
through the surrounding country. Moreover, the town and vicinity were
the scene of one of Brazil’s most famous novels, “Chanaan” by Graça
Aranha of the Brazilian Academy, and just then Minister to The
Hague—though the town itself was supremely ignorant of its celebrity the
world round in the dozen languages into which the tale has been
translated. Even the local editor had never heard of it, though he did
know the author, “because I am _obliged_ to know all Brazilian

The animal that was intrusted to me for a modest consideration next
afternoon could scarcely have been called a horse, though it resembled
even less any other known quadruped, as the wooden frame thinly covered
with leather and hung with two iron rings into which I could barely
insert the ends of my toes must perhaps be called a saddle for want of a
more exact term. By dint of reducing my right arm to paralysis I
succeeded in forcing the torpid brute up and down the few streets of the
village and out one of the roads that wander off as trails through the
plump, dense-wooded hills about it. But it would have been as speedy and
far more comfortable to have walked, or better still, perhaps, not to
have gone at all, for we were overtaken and imprisoned by one of those
raging storms for which this region seems famous. Immense banks of
snow-white clouds far off on the horizon completely encircled us when we
set out, yet so benign was their appearance that I scarcely noticed
them, except as a detail of the charming landscape, until suddenly they
swept in from all sides at express speed, getting blacker and ever
blacker, until the entire sky was wiped out and the sullen growls of
thunder grew to violent outbursts of anger that deafened the ears like
an artillery barrage, while the wind tore at the trees and bamboo groves
as if it would uproot not only them but the sheer stone “sugar-loaf”
near which the storm had found us. With the help of two negro boys on
muleback and the butt of my heavy native whip I urged the equine
caricature into a lame and ludicrous gallop and reached the edge of town
before I was wholly drenched, taking refuge in a half-finished building.
A negro boy sleeping on a narrow plank high above the still unboarded
floor said he was not ill; evidently he was just lying there to let the
day get by so that he could sleep through the night and then take a good
rest to-morrow. I could only get the head of the alleged horse under
shelter, but it was evident that he had stood out in many worse storms
than mere wind and rain; and there I squatted for three mortal hours,
chiding myself for not having put a bit of reading matter in my pocket.
I might have read the negro boy, I suppose, but he looked like a primer,
just such a crude and simple volume as makes up the whole human library
of Cachoeira do Itapemirim.

Another all-day train-ride of little more than a hundred miles brought
me to Victoria, capital of the State of Holy Ghost, or, more exactly, to
a little backwoods station on the opposite side of the long narrow arm
of the sea on which the capital is situated. So placid was this, and so
cool the weather after a heavy rain, that I had to taste it as we were
being rowed across before I could believe that we were down at sea-level
again. It was an easy-going, less aggressive capital than those farther
south, and its prices were so nearly reasonable that I grew bold and
marched into the new and showy four-story “Palace Hotel” on the
waterfront. The “brutal crisis” had dealt Victoria an almost deadly
blow. There was not a show in town, except a free cinema in the liquor
emporium of the little French electric tramway company that sends its
cars wandering along the waterfront for miles in both directions. On one
of these I gradually worked my way out to the home of the “colonel” who
owned the imposing theater—and found that he had passed me on the way
in. I hurried back to town—if that verb may be used in the same sentence
with Victoria’s street-car service—and found that the “colonel” had gone
out home again. But by sternly overcoming adverse fate and the
fatalistic indifference of those accustomed to hang around the theater I
finally had him hunted up, a heavy, middle-aged, over-courteous mulatto,
as was also his manager and, for that matter, almost every conspicuous
citizen in town. Having impressed upon them the extraordinary good
fortune that was soon to descend upon Victoria, I went home to dinner,
telling them to think it over. Their theater, like two former cinemas in
town, had been closed since the first month of the war; they had so
completely lost heart that they were not even having films shipped to
them any more, and felt that it would be impossible to get up a show. I
assured them that wherever the Kinetophone landed there must be a show,
and within half an hour had them worked up to such enthusiasm that
instead of accepting my suggestion that we play Monday and Tuesday and
sail for Bahia on Wednesday, they were imploring me to book for a solid

This having been done, the manager and I made polite and diplomatic
calls on the editors of Victoria’s two pitiful little dailies of four
foolscap pages each, more than half taken up with advertising and the
rest with large-type “news” consisting mainly of birthday greetings to
“our most influential citizens.” Neither of the apathetic
pseudo-journalists caught even a hint of the news value of Edison’s part
in the affair, but they did waste many words in giving a full account of
the “delightful courtesy” which “Dr. Franck,” and the distinguished and
much-titled fellow-citizen who brought him, had shown in visiting them.

Victoria was one of the old settlements of the Portuguese crown when
what afterward came to be known as Brazil was given out in _capitanias_,
having been founded nearly four centuries ago on the island of São
Antonio. It may have 15,000 inhabitants in all the coves and corners of
rocks among which it is scattered, but it is essentially an unimportant,
if picturesque, village. The nucleus of the town is well inland along
the narrow, river-like little roadstead, with a yellow presidential
palace and some other buildings of size, but it is made up chiefly of
one-story buildings quickly running down to huts. There are a few coffee
houses that export, and a few stores that supply the interior, but for
the most part Victoria lives on government salaries—when conditions are
such that these can be paid. How backward it is may be guessed from the
fact that negro coffee-porters have not yet been driven out by whites,
and that it is the outpost of the reign of hammocks which covers all
northern Brazil, at least half the population seeming to spend their
days swinging back and forth inside the baked mud kennels they call
home. An ancient fort in ruins and the clustered sanctuary of Nossa
Senhora da Penha in a striking site on the summit of a stone hill, with
the usual collection of wax and pictured proofs of miracles that have
been wrought here since 1769, are the main sights of interest. For the
ocean is not visible until one has walked—or, if time is no object,
taken the tramway—for miles out through little groves of plump,
rosy-cheeked mangos and along the single street from which most of
Victoria sprawls and scrambles up the rocky, half-wooded hills along her
waterway to her huts perched among huge, blackish granite rocks. Then,
when the calm, boatless sea and the labyrinthian harbor entrance bursts
forth at last from the long, narrow, yellow beach out to which the cars
eventually stagger, there is not a glimpse left of the town itself,
hidden away among its wet-green hills.

“Tut,” Carlos, and the show arrived on time and were eventually coaxed
through the red tape that entangles any state capital and loaded into
the _canoa_, or mammoth log turned into a boat, of the German who
reigned in Victoria as the American Consul. This was gradually rowed,
not directly to the theater, but to the “American’s” wharf, where we
were forced to hire a wagon and lose an hour to cover the hundred yards
remaining. We were installed, however, in time to give the two sections
as advertised—though the managers were so skeptical of my solemn promise
that they would certainly have postponed the opening date had I not been
on the ground to forbid it—and were deluged by such a mob of
pleasure-seekers that we had to close the doors and hold hundreds of
them back until the second section.

Next day the agent of a local steamship line came to the theater and
measured all our trunks, arranging to send the whole outfit to Bahia the
following Monday for about one-tenth what train-travel had led us to
expect. For I had come at last to a break in the railroads up the east
coast of South America and was forced to take to the sea for the first
time since Hays and I had entered the continent at Cartagena, Colombia,
two and a half years before. On Wednesday “Tut” and I took our last
Victorian stroll—the negro boys along the way halting open-mouthed and
gazing up and down him to see where he was spliced—and in the afternoon
I boarded the _Maranhão_ of the Lloyd-Brazileiro and settled down in my
cabin. I had dropped into a Brazilian novel of colonial days and
completely forgotten the life of the harbor and the little capital that
was still crawling slowly on about us, when I was suddenly astonished to
see standing before me the owner and manager of the theater. Those two
stodgy, bashful, rather artless mulattoes had hired a boat and taken the
time and trouble to come out on board to bid me the good-by, which I, in
my American incivility, had completely forgotten. One after the other
they gave me the fraternal South American embrace of a handshake and an
affectionate patting on the back with the left hand, assuring me that
the show would be run with as great care and our percentage as honestly
computed as if I were there in person, that they would see to it that my
entire “company” boarded the Monday steamer, and bade me be sure to stop
and see them if ever I came that way again. The most steel-rimmed
color-line could not but be joggled by such Brazilian amiability.

On the second morning thereafter, with no other incident than being
halted and examined by British cruisers hidden among the Abrolhos
Islands in Brazilian waters, the _Maranhão_ slipped smoothly into the
immense Bay of All Saints, specks of white sails dotting its blue
immensity, distant land with low hills gradually spreading along all the
port horizon, and when I chanced to look up again the City of São
Salvador da Bahia was gazing down upon us from the ridge along which it
stretches for mile after hazy mile.

“Colonel” Ruben Pinheiro Guimarães was manager of the principal
playhouse in Bahia. The ancient “São João,” imperial theater when
Portuguese viceroys ruled Brazil, still kept much of its stateliness in
spite of being rather unkempt and disreputable after more than a century
of constant use. In situation it takes second place to no other in the
world, sitting out on the nose of the upper city, where to step off its
esplanade would be to fall hundreds of feet down to the business section
below, and gazing away across the bay to the utmost limits of the ocean
horizon. Ruben, a _Paulista_ of unbroken Portuguese ancestry, had the
reputation of being somewhat related in business matters to the eel
family; but there is a certain pleasure in flirting with possible fraud,
as with any other kind of danger. It was not until eight at night,
however, that I got his name signed to a “split-even” contract for
twenty-five days, fifteen of them in the theaters of Bahia and ten in
towns about the bay.

Unfortunately São Salvador da Bahia was not an ideal place to settle
down. For one thing, it had a new style in hotels. Elsewhere in Brazil
they had been questionable, here they were not in the least so, for not
one of them pretended to be anything but what it was,—full of frousy
females who had not even the virtue of being young or good-looking, hags
on the last rung of the ladder that leads from concubinage in Europe
through street-walking in Rio down to the gutter of pandering to the
chiefly African rouées of Bahia. Even as hotels they were the worst
imaginable, yet high-priced at that, and with adventurous women from
foreign parts assigned to every other room and constantly hanging out
the windows one had the edifying sensation of living in a brothel.

The hotel I was finally compelled to endure looked out across the
marvelous bay, upon the “São João,” and down the wide stone-paved street
leading from the upper to the lower town. Up this snorted huge
motor-trucks loaded with meat from the abattoirs, straining automobiles,
and an unending procession of those citizens of Bahia who found it
cheaper to walk than to squander the _tostão_ it costs to be lifted from
the lower to the upper level. Great quantities of freight also ascended
or descended on foot. A trunk or two, with perhaps a valise on top,
often came noiselessly marching up the steep street on negro heads;
bedsteads, bird-cages, bureaus and all other forms of furniture, fruit
in baskets or without, bunches of bananas laid flat on a frizzled pate,
chickens with their legs tied and panting in the roasting sun, every
known and nameable article that cannot cave in an African skull moved by
what is still the cheapest form of transportation in Bahia, even in this
century of steam and electricity.

The former capital and oldest city of Brazil takes its popular name—the
official and correct one is São Salvador—from the immense bay on which
it is situated—the bay which from anywhere in the upper town stretches
away in deepest indigo-blue, everywhere dotted with specks of white
sails, to the low ridges of hills, faint with distance, that all but
surround it. In some ways it has a finer setting than that of Rio,
though it is not so strikingly, so dramatically, beautiful, and the old
capital has the advantage over the new that almost constant trade winds
sweep across it. Bahia is built in two stories, that at sea-level being
at most a few blocks deep and often thinning down to a single row of
buildings. “O Commercio” the _Bahianos_ call this lower part, and it is
almost exclusively a business section, perhaps the only spot in South
America that resembles lower New York in being silent and uninhabited at
night, with only a few watchmen and belated pedestrians treading the
dimly gas-lighted streets.

The upper town is reached either by a hard climb up the stone-paved
roadway, by an American elevator of sixteen-person capacity, or by a
steeply inclined cable railway with single cars. Hotels, stores,
theaters, almost everything except the wharves, wholesale business, and
the main market-place, are on the upper level. Nearly every building
dates back to colonial days and many of the old houses are in splendid
situations, perched on the edge of the ridge at the very base of which
lies the immense bay. But they are taken up almost entirely by the
descendants of slaves, with the accumulated uncleanliness of
generations, and the white minority of Bahia has been driven to the
often less attractive suburbs. The upper and main part of the town is
built chiefly on two ridges, facing the sea and the bay respectively and
in many places falling sheer into them. On their tops the ridges are
thickly inhabited, and the streets crisscross in an effort to conform to
the irregular lay of the land, but every now and then they disappear
through wooded lanes into hilly virgin forests with innumerable huge
trees,—the mammoth _aguacate_, thickly hung with alligator-pears, the
intense green dome-shaped mango, most perfect shade-tree of the tropics,
and here and there palm-trees standing haughtily above all else—for the
rolling ridges are often broken with deep valleys in which negro huts

It would be beneath the dignity, as well as contrary to the languid
temperament, of Bahia to take a census, but at the popular Brazilian
pastime of guessing statistics the city professes to have about one
third of a million inhabitants; there is no question that it is the
third city in size in Brazil. Of that number certainly eight out of ten
are negroes, a majority of them full-blooded, with all the traits their
ancestors brought with them from the African bush, plus the faults of
their Portuguese-Brazilian neighbors. Except for the two or three élite
sections, such as that along the summit of the second ridge, there is
scarcely a corner of Bahia in which one cannot stroll an hour or more
and never see any but a black face—with the single exception that even
in the most African quarters the shops are almost invariably kept by
Portuguese, pasty-white of complexion, whether because of the sedentary
indoor lives they lead or because of the contrast to the sea of blacks
about them. One soon comes to know every white face in Bahia, even those
with Caucasian ancestry enough to be individually distinguishable, so
frequently does one notice them in the business streets, theaters,
street-cars, and more pretentious cafés.

More slaves were brought to the province of Bahia than to any other of
Brazil, not only because the planting of sugar and tobacco required much
labor but because this part of Portuguese America was earliest settled.
The original settlers from overseas were too proud to work; the negroes
they brought over to work for them were emancipated and also refused to
work, crowding into town to live on what they could pick up between
their incessant native dances and church festivals, so that we have the
edifying spectacle of an immense state, possessing unlimited natural
resources, virtually bankrupt. It is said that the old colonial life,
the old-time somnolence, Brazil as she was in the olden days, is still
best seen in Bahia. If so, I am glad that my Brazilian journey came at a
later date. Compared with the old capital, Rio seems little more than a
quadroon city, and few negroes among many whites is plainly better for
the negro than to be surrounded on all sides by bad examples of his own

The negroes are so numerous and so sluggish in their movements that
unless one would be jostled at every turn one can travel the streets
only by stepping out of their way. They lie on every corner and in every
gutter; they loll, blocking the streets, in every shaded spot, on every
threshold—wearing a few rags, yet often with a crude native cigar
protruding from their thick lips, irrespective of sex, for Bahia is
Brazil’s tobacco center and “fumo” is cheap—negroes, negroes everywhere,
until they swim in black specks before the eyes when one closes them. It
is another amusing example of the pseudo-civilization of South America
that in the upper town the police will stop any man in full comfortable
dress of summer who wears no coat, while negroes and even a few poor
whites parade anywhere in a ragged, unbuttoned jacket without the
suggestion of shirt or undershirt beneath it and barely enough
suggestion of trousers to save them from complete nudity.

The negroes of Bahia speak Portuguese much as those of our southern
states do English. In their mouths _noite_ becomes “noitche,” _muito_ is
“muitcho,” _senhor_ is “’nhor,” and “’nha” may mean either _senhora_ or
_senhoras_. How much of his Latin garrulousness the negro has caught
from living with that race and how much his ancestors brought him from
the Dark Continent is an interesting question. I do not believe the
native African chatters with such a flow of words and gestures as are to
be seen in any black gathering in Bahia. The cheerfulness and hilarious
gaiety for which the race is noted stands out clearly in the general
temperament of the old capital; while the _Carioca_ is the gloomiest and
most suicidal of Brazilians, the _Bahiano_ rarely shows either tendency.

Down in the swarming market-place in the lower town powerful negroes of
both sexes—the most splendid physical specimens in Brazil are the
blacks—lie languidly about, hoping to sell a few cents’ worth of
something,—pineapples, melons, mangos, sapotes, lemons, huge
alligator-pears at a cent each, the blushing _cajú_, the _jaca_, or
jack-fruit, which grows to watermelon size on the trunks of trees and
has a white meat so coarse that it is eaten only by negroes; bread-nuts
and bread-fruit, bananas, rosaries of what seem to be shelled but
unroasted peanuts, small oranges, green in color—for though there are
fine big seedless ones in Bahia this was not the season for them—and
every other known fruit of tropical America, except a few native only to
the Amazon region. Here one may have a _coco molle gelado_, in other
words, iced milk of green cocoanut, than which there is no better way of
quenching tropical thirst; here one may even find a man who, as a last
resort against starvation, will almost be willing to work, at least to
the extent of carrying away on his head anything less than a grand piano
or the heavier makes of automobiles. Many copper coins, virtually
unknown in the rest of Brazil, are used in the markets of
Bahia,—_vintems_ and double _vintems_, or twenty and forty-reis
pieces—and the negroes still make their computations in the old colonial
terms. In _Bahiano_ market dialect a _meia-pataca_ is 180 reis and a
_pataca_ twice that, though there are no actual coins of those
denominations. Nickel, in one hundred reis pieces and higher, is too
valuable for most negro transactions. As they say in Bahia, with a black
it is “_vintem pa’ cachaza, vintem pa’ farinha, e prompto!_” (a copper
for rum, a copper for mandioca meal, and enough!) He will not work again
until he must have more _cachaza_ and _farinha_. Whenever any real work
is required, such as the digging of sewers, paving of streets, or laying
of street car tracks, gangs of white Europeans have to be shipped in to
do it.

[Illustration: Victoria, capital of the state of Espiritu Sancto, is a
tiny edition of picturesque Rio]

[Illustration: Bahia from the top of the old “Theatro São João”]

[Illustration: Beggars of Bahia, backed by some of our advertisements]

[Illustration: A family of Bahia, and a familiar domestic chore]

Yet sometimes it is hard to blame the negro if he just lies in the shade
and a soft breeze and gazes away at the beautiful bay, indigo-blue by
day, shimmering with moonlight by night, ever fresh with the breezes
that lightly ruffle its ocean-like bosom, as if he were making up for
the loafing denied his enslaved fathers. After all, if Nature wished man
to exert himself, why does it produce such perfect weather and cause
bananas and jack-fruit to grow of themselves? The languid
picturesqueness of Bahia is best personified in the typical _Bahiana_,
black or near-black in color, wearing many bracelets and similar
ornaments of tin and wire, sometimes gilded, her immense hips heavy with
bulky skirts only a trifle less gay in color than her waist, shawl, and
turban, placidly smoking a big native cigar and carrying on her head a
small stool or a tiny table, legs-up like a helpless turtle, with
perhaps a closed umbrella lying flat on top of that, on her way to squat
on the one and lean on or raise the other in church or market. If she
has only a single banana with her, the _Bahiana_ will carry it on her
head rather than by hand. I have seen the ancient anecdote of the
negro-girl servant given a letter to post, who put it on her head and
laid a stone on top to keep it from blowing away, duplicated in the
streets of Bahia. Racial languor, however, gives way to passionate
activity when some black troubadour takes to thrumming his guitar and
singing _modinhas_ and _chorados_. These popular ballads of Brazil,
especially of Bahia and Pernambuco, mixtures of the _moda_ and _fado_ of
Portugal and of the tribal rites of savage Africa, are childish in
thought and monotonous of rhythm, weird, languishing, half-wild songs,
often improvised by the unlettered troubadours and accompanied by
sensual dances and strange African movements of the body into which the
whole negro throng gradually merges, discarding all remnants of their
second-hand civilization.

With such an electorate it is scarcely to be expected that Bahia should
swarm with honest politicians. Indeed, it is frankly admitted that
elections there are so corrupt that few bother to go to the polls and
take part in what the native papers refer to as “our electoral farce,”
knowing that the votes cast have nothing whatever to do with the result,
which the government in power fixes beforehand. Graft and misgovernment
are acknowledged to be worse than in Rio. Yet on the surface there is
the usual Latin-American polish. The scavengers of Bahia had not been
paid a cent in months, yet the municipality was building a “palace” in
which a single staircase cost 400,000$000! A year before my arrival a
delegation from the Boston Chamber of Commerce had landed at Bahia on a
water-edge tour of South America, were brought ashore in a magnificent
launch “at the city’s expense,” and treated with such tropical
generosity that their letters to home newspapers bubbled over with
praises of the wonderful hospitality of Bahia. Agostinho Manoel de
Jesus, owner of the launch in which they had landed, was still going
daily to the city treasury asking in vain for his money.

Bahia was said to be the only place left in Brazil where bubonic plague
and yellow fever still persisted. It could hardly be otherwise with rats
running up and down every pipe, with every opening, corner, or slightly
out of the way place covered with accumulated filth, and with sanitary
arrangements almost everywhere in the old town quite beyond the
descriptive powers of Boccaccio. In contrast, great placards and posters
everywhere, bearing the heading “Directoria Geral de Saude Pública”
(General Directory of Public Health) strive to carry out the bluff that
the town boasts a system of sanitation. Even the highest priced hotel
would be instantly condemned in any civilized city; the conditions in
which the vast majority of the population live are beyond any
imagination. During the preceding April thirty-five members of the
foreign colony, almost one third of it and including the English pastor,
had died of yellow fever, which was expected to begin again with the
rains. Yet my hotel furnished no mosquito net and I awoke each morning
bitten in a dozen places—and any Brazilian will tell you that only white
foreigners take yellow fever. In compensation only natives, and chiefly
negroes, die of the equally prevalent bubonic plague. The federal
government offered to send to Bahia the man who disinfected Rio, but the
state government haughtily replied that they were quite capable of
cleaning up the place themselves, and meanwhile sudden death continues
to flourish.

On my first Sunday in Bahia one of her innumerable _festas_ was at its
height, that of “Nosso Senhor do Bomfim,” a miracle-producing shrine of
great popularity among the negroes. On Saturday night the street cars in
that direction were so crowded that I could not even hang on. Bands of
negroes carrying Japanese lanterns, singing, beating drums, tamborines,
and tin cans, marched in almost constant procession past my window down
to the lower city and on out to Bomfim, a section of town three miles
away around the harbor, the electric-lighted façade of its miracle
church standing forth from the night like a monument to the ignorance,
squalor, and hunger of Bahia. From midnight on the throngs were even
thicker, frequently waking me with their maudlin din, for the festival
of Bomfim is especially an all-night affair, with much drinking and
worse. On Sunday afternoon I went out to the scene of the festivities.
There were thirty persons in the street-car, of whom two were white. On
the climb up the hill to the church the way was flanked by two unbroken
rows of beggars, lame, halt, blind, twisted, deformed, degenerate
monstrosities, idiots of all degrees and every percentage of African
blood, every imaginable horror in human form, and just plain nigger
loafers, all holding out their hands, or whatever they had left in place
of them, in constant appeal.

The church itself was so packed that I could only enter by climbing the
stairs to a small side-gallery and look down upon an unbroken sea of
black faces, wrapt up in what sounded like a medieval Catholic service
translated into African voodooism. Among the schemes concocted by the
swarming priests of Bahia is one that shows the suggestion of
originality. At the huge church and monastery of São Antonio the
faithful can buy, at a milreis each, special stamps designed by the
priests, with which to write to St. Anthony in Heaven, and be assured of
a direct answer from him—through his priestly agents on earth, of
course—on any subject.

“Lots of churches in Bahia,” I remarked conversationally to the white
_Bahiano_ beside whom I stood watching the riot of gambling, drinking,
and indecency about the home of “miracles.”

“Oh, not out here,” he apologized. “Here there is only Nosso Senhor do
Bomfim, and São Antonio,” and Sao This and Sao That, naming a dozen or
more as he pointed them out roundabout. “This is only a little corner
suburb of our great city, but in Bahia itself there _are_ churches.”

It is a popular saying in Bahia that there is one church for every day
in the year, an exaggeration probably, but there are scores of massive
old colonial ones, not to mention monasteries full of fat, loafing
monks, on all the best commanding heights and taking up perhaps half the
city’s space. While some are fallen in ruins and are melting away from
the physical impossibility of keeping up so many, even now this
ignorant, poverty-stricken city was building several more, the latest to
cost three thousand contos—though not thirty per cent of the
contributors can read. In contrast, the schools of Bahia are horrible
little dens over butcher-shops and saloons and brothels, with forty or
fifty children packed into rooms that would not be comfortable for ten,
without any arrangements whatever for their bodily requirements. Even at
that, if every school in the city were packed to suffocation from dawn
until dark, not one third the children of school age could attend them.
The public library in this capital of an enormous and potentially rich
state, in a town of one third of a million inhabitants, reported that
“632 books or works of reference were consulted during the year.” Yet
fear or superstition caused every newspaper in town to print long
editorials praising the “beautiful festa of Bomfim” and the honor it did
to “Him whom it honored,” while the drunken debauchery was still going

By the Wednesday after my arrival “Colonel” Ruben, who, whatever his
faults, knew the art of advertising, had the fronts of all street-cars
and every blank wall in town plastered with Kinetophone posters mostly
of his own concoction, announcing to his fellow-citizens that on _Quarta
Feria_—Fourth Festival, to wit: Thursday—would open the Greatest
Cinematographic Occurrence of the Ages; The Eighth Marvel! Surprising!
Stupendous!! Phenomenal!!! The Discovery of the Year. Man no longer
dies! Edison has immortalized him! And at Popular Prices!! Everyone to
the SAO JOAO!!! When a brilliant sun woke me before seven on that
epochal morning, there was no sign of a steamer in all the blue expanse
of All Saints’ Bay. I shaved and was just starting for the “rain bath,”
however, when I caught sight of one nearing harbor. I still had time to
dress, drink the thimbleful of black coffee they call a breakfast in
Brazil, and descend to the wharves before the craft tied up there, with
“Tut” and Carlos hanging over the rail. I brought them up to my hotel,
for as all those in Bahia were equally disreputable it was as well to be
together for mutual protection, but it took us until noon to unravel the
red tape necessary to get our trunks ashore, quite as if we had been
landing from a foreign country.

For all his reputation, “Colonel” Ruben was an engaging fellow, and
though I made it plain to him that I would not trust him out of my
sight, he took it good-naturedly and assured me he welcomed all the
“fiscalization” I could give him.

“I notice you don’t trust people to any great extent yourself,” I
smiled, thinking to let him down easy.

“Trust!” cried Ruben, with a serio-comic gesture, “I trust my own
teeth—and they bite my tongue!”

I took him at his word and, having designed a rubber stamp, made him
produce packets of the four kinds of tickets used, ran them through a
consecutive enumerator, and stamped them all. He who has never tried to
stamp 1500 tickets an hour by hand will not realize what a daily task I
had laid out for myself merely for the satisfaction of giving Ruben and
his satellites proper “fiscalization.” These stamped tickets I handed
each night to the ticket-seller and at least one and sometimes all three
of us stood at the door ready to protest if anyone entered without a
stamped ticket, as well as to see that all went into the locked box
beside the door-keeper. After the show all unsold tickets were turned
over to me, the treasurer gave me a copy of the official _borderaux_, or
statement of tickets sold and the amount of money taken in, I unlocked
the door-boxes and carried home their contents to check him up, and one
half the day’s receipts in ragged Brazilian cash went into my pocket
before I could be budged out of the “São João” office.

I unmasked one trickster at the very first performance. Being still
stranger enough to most of the “São João” force to pass incognito, I
wandered up the dingy back stairs to the _gallinheiro_ (chicken roost),
as “nigger heaven” is called in Brazil, and found that the negro at the
door was accepting money in lieu of tickets. It was not that the money
was not quite as good, if anything it was a trifle less flimsy, but
somehow it could not be forced into the ticket-box at the taker’s elbow.
He resigned from Ruben’s staff less than a minute later.

Long before the first session ended we had closed the inner doors and
the lobby was threatening to overflow. For the first time in Brazil I
had permitted other “special attractions” to be offered with our own;
that is, in addition to the ordinary films Ruben had engaged two stray
Italian females who howled through several spasms of what they and most
of the audience seemed to think was music. As they had been hired before
our contract was made, and their wages were nothing out of our pockets,
I could only reasonably demand that the Kinetophone remain the
head-liner. The blacks of Bahia, we soon discovered, have not yet
reached even the moving-picture stage of development, rum, dances, and
church festivals being their high-water mark in recreation, and not ten
per cent. of our paid audiences were negroes, in a town where fully
three fourths of the population is of that race. But our audiences were
large for all that, because the lighter minority came again and again to
see the chief novelty that had reached Bahia in several seasons. Even
this near-white class, however, was not conspicuous for its
prepossessing appearance, and the calm, steadfast, efficient face of
Edison, gazing out from our posters through these throngs of indolent,
ambitionless mortals, insignificant of physique and racially entangled,
gave a striking contrast, typical of the two continents of the New

Our first Sunday, in particular, was a busy day. It is the custom all
over Brazil for the “excellentissimas familias” to go to the “movies” on
Sunday afternoon or evening, and the habit is so fixed that they prefer
to pack in to the point of drowning in their own perspiration, even at
double prices, rather than see a better show on a week day. For managers
naturally take advantage of this fad and offer their poorest
attractions—just as Ruben withdrew his “imported artists” on this
day—knowing they will fill their houses anyway. If only we could have
taken Sunday with us, movable, transportable, and played on that day in
every town, we would have made as great a fortune as if the World War
had never cast the pall of a “brutal crisis” over Brazil.

By one in the afternoon I was at the theater door in impresario
full-dress and managerial smile, greeting the considerable crowd that
came to the matinée, and disrupting the plans of those who had hoped to
drag five or six children by in the shadow of their skirts or trousers.
Then, with scarcely time for a meat-laden Brazilian supper in our
disreputable hotel across the street, I came back to the most crowded
theater I had seen in months. By 7:30 we had already closed the inner
doors and the élite of Bahia continued to stack up in the lobby until
that, too, had overflowed long before the first session ended. We were
compelled to send policemen in to eject the first audience, and when the
house had been emptied and the gates opened again, it flooded full from
floor to “paradise” five stories up as quickly as a lock at Panama does
with water. Even then all could not crowd in, and we herded them up once
more in preparation for a third session, which, though not beginning
until after ten, was also packed. Nothing so warms the cockles of a
manager’s heart as to watch an unbroken sea of flushed and eager faces
following his entertainment. By this time I had met most of the high
society of Bahia, all her white and near-white “best families,” with now
and then some physically very attractive girls among them, having
marched at least once past my eagle eye. That night I carried off more
money than had fallen to our lot since our first days in Rio and São

Though silver was conspicuous by its scarcity in Bahia, there were other
troubles attached to the handling of money. Those familiar only with the
quick and convenient methods of American banks can have little
conception of the difficulties of banking in South America. No two banks
in any city in Brazil, for instance, would accept one another’s checks;
worse still, two branches of the same bank in neighboring cities would
not transfer funds of their depositors without all the formalities and
expense involved in such transactions between foreign countries. Where
there is no mutual confidence there can be no credit system, and instead
of giving or receiving a check, one must carry a roll of cash, like a
professional gambler or a manipulator of politicians. By the time I had
four contos laid away in a British bank, exchange had bounded skyward
again, and it would only have been to waste what little Linton was
making to buy drafts as that rate; yet the bank refused to transfer our
account to their own institution in Rio or Pernambuco, except at a high
commission. When the day came for us to move northward again I was
forced to draw out our earnings in ragged bills of tiny denominations
and carry them with me.

Of “deadheads” and official mendicants the “São João” had its full
share. Ruben sent ten tickets a day to police headquarters, but those
who came on duty gave these tickets to friends and bootblacks and negro
relatives, and thrust their way in on the strength of their uniform or
badge. We were overrun with grafters filling seats and using up programs
for which honest people would have been willing to pay money, while a
dozen of the best boxes were permanently allocated to state and
municipal officials and powerful politicians. When I protested to
“Colonel” Ruben, I learned another interesting little fact,—he was
forced to be kind to politicians because, thanks to his political pull,
he got this great four-tier theater, built by the government in viceroy
days and now belonging to the State of Bahia, rent free! As to the
police, he confided to me that he had to be lenient with them in order
that they might not be too harsh with him when he offered shows of the
“_sem roupa_” or undress variety.

For all the resentment of frustrated “deadheads” and the attitude of
Bahia’s newspapers, which at first gave five lines to Edison’s invention
and full pages to the religious debauch of Bomfim, the success of the
Kinetophone forced the five or six dailies to give our engagement
increasing attention. They were all rather pitiful sheets, and in a town
where at least three-fourths of the population never reads it would have
seemed highly advisable to have combined them into one good newspaper.
That of course would have been impossible, because of Latin-America’s
lack of team-work and mutual confidence, as well as the demand of each
political faction for its own organ of propaganda. One day there
appeared in the best of these sorry journals a long and learned article
by a Brazilian purist who, though flattering to the invention and the
inventor, asserted that it should be called “Cinephonio” rather than
“Kinetophone.” I was feeling in good Portuguese form by this time, and
having leisure enough to dig back through the layers of philology to
ancient Greece, I sent in an equally long and learned answer that
decidedly surprised editor, contributor, and reading public, accustomed
only to the type of American business man who is utterly ignorant of,
and wholly uninterested in, the native tongue. Comments on this
controversy and its astonishing dénouement drifted to my ears from our
throngs for more than a week afterward.

Such experiences as this emphasized the unwisdom of the habit of many
American firms of sending the same “drummer” to cover both Brazil and
Spanish-America. Brazilians have a rivalry toward Argentinos which
amounts to hatred; they consider the Castilian tongue particularly the
language of the Argentine and at least pretend to regard it as a
corruption of their own, of which they are unreasonably proud. Hence the
traveling-man who addresses them in Spanish is more apt to arouse
resentment than commercial interest. If he cannot speak Portuguese, he
will do better to stick to English, using an interpreter when necessary,
or take a chance on his French, which most educated Brazilians
understand more or less, rather than deliberately to incense them by
using the tongue of their rivals and implying its importance over their

We had now reached a latitude where it is doubly wise for the white man
to exercise regularly, and the daily walk that had always been a custom
I now made a stern requirement. Complaints against sluggish livers were
almost universal in the small foreign colony, but I noted that they
invariably went with large liquor bills and a scorn of pedestrianism,
even in its mildest forms. Personally, though it was unquestionably hot
and perspiration flowed at the least physical exertion, I found the
climate of Bahia agreeing splendidly with me, and a few miles of brisk
walking, followed by a refreshing “rain bath,” became a pleasure to
which to look forward. “Tut” could frequently be coaxed to go with me,
but his Brazilian training made Carlos prefer to loaf about the theater
and watch the rehearsing of dancing girls, in the face of my warning
that he was now in a different land than his cool and temperate São
Paulo. There were fine points to Carlos; one often caught a suggestion
that in some such stern environment as the United States he would have
turned out a man of parts, but the error of his parents in turning south
instead of north across the Atlantic made his struggle with environment
a pitched battle, with the odds against him.

There are endless wooded hills and valleys in Bahia, with old forts on
every projecting angle of the city, on both the bay and the ocean side,
which recall the days when São Salvador was the proud capital of Brazil,
unworried by the suspicion of a future rival. Out beyond the élite
section along the Rua Victoria, past the old church said to stand on the
very site in which the city was founded, a nose of land jutting out into
the sea and swept by unfailing breezes was shaded by an aged fort and
lighthouse that made its sloping greensward or quaint stone benches the
most ideal place in South America to spend an afternoon lolling over a
book. If one felt more energetic, there were amusing characters among
the curious wicker fish-traps down on the beach below. Often I walked
all morning long entirely within the city limits through dense
uninhabited jungle, following soft earth roads down through great
valleys with clusters of negro cabins, and shops of the equally
superstitious Portuguese with whom they trade, bearing such names as “Fé
em Deus,” “Esperanç aem Deus,” “Todo com Deus,” the householders lolling
in the shade beneath them and letting _Deus_ do the rest. Here the motto
seemed to be “God helps those who wave a flag with His name on it.” It
was almost a relief to run across such frankly cynical shop-names as “A
Protectora da Probeza” (The Protector of Poverty).

Bahia is built on a peninsula connected with the rest of the continent
by a narrow neck of land, and out this runs its railway line, soon to
split into three branches which wander away into the interior of the
state. My random wandering brought me out across this one morning and on
along the shore of an inner arm of the bay, here endlessly lined with
negro huts. I was quenching my tropical thirst with a juicy watermelon
when a negro stopped to ask if I did not know that I would die if I ate
watermelon in the middle of the day, and soon brought a crowd of excited
blacks chattering and gesticulating about me. South America is full of
such amusing superstitions, concerning the danger of eating certain
foods at certain times, or of eating simultaneously two that do not “fit
together.” An old dugout sailed me across the breezy neck of the inner
bay from Brandão to Itapagipe, sparing me a return tramp of five miles,
for at this point the electric cars pass frequently. There is a long
beach in this middle-class suburb of Itapagipe, and a little wharf at
which crude sailing boats from about the bay unload watermelons and
mangos, bananas and big luscious pineapples, the latter selling on the
spot for a mere _tostão_, or those with empty pockets may fish slightly
damaged ones out of the water for nothing. On such excursions one must
take care not to dress too carelessly, for there are, of course, two
classes in the Philadelphia-made street-cars of Bahia and little visible
sign to distinguish them, so that on almost every tour through the
first-class car the conductor is forced to order men without coats, or
collars, or socks, or real shoes, or a proper haircut to go back into
the other. On the other hand he, too, has his rebuffs, for almost anyone
wearing a frock-coat says haughtily, “I have a pass,” though never
offering to show it, and the conductor sneaks obsequiously on.

A favorite recreation of foreign residents and wealthy white natives of
Bahia is to visit the principal ships that anchor in the harbor. To many
this is the one touch of civilization superior to that at home, as the
trains in which the people come to sit for a few minutes are to the
inhabitants of interior villages. But most of them come for more
material purposes,—the foreign residents to imbibe “real booze” once
more, the élite among the natives to defraud the country’s revenues by
replenishing their wardrobes at the ship’s barber shop, buying boxes of
chocolate, scented soap, perfumes, lingerie, all the smaller luxuries
which can only be had at much higher price or not at all on shore,
“women of the life” on professional errands or merely to catch a breath
of their beloved Europe. There was a steam-laundry on the ships I
visited and had I thought of it in time I might have brought my soiled
“linen” on board, as did not a few residents, and had it back when the
boat returned from Buenos Aires. To entrust anything to the native
washerwomen of Brazil, particularly of Bahia, is to risk having it worn
for a week or more by the laundress’s husband or lover, and to insure
that it shall be beaten to a pulp in some mud-hole, dried among
goat-dung, and returned a fortnight or so later more torn and soiled
than when it departed.

About a week after we opened in Bahia, Ruben drifted around to my usual
station in the course of the evening and said that he would like to
lengthen our contract from twenty-five to ninety days. I declined at
once, at least on a fifty per cent. basis. He next offered to pay the
baggage haul in addition; then he promised to defray all our traveling
expenses, and to cover all the territory from Bahia to Pernambuco. I
promised to think this over.

Though I had not found Ruben “crooked as a bed-spring,” as some of his
former business associates described him, I knew that he had not been
designed with a T-square—and Ruben knew that I knew it. But he was a
good “mixer” and an excellent manipulator of politicians, which is a
great advantage in Brazil, and is acquired with great difficulty by a
foreigner, no matter how well he may learn the language. Besides, Ruben
had the most American ideas on advertising of any Brazilian I had ever
met and though, of course, he expected to make something out of us, it
was a question whether we would not get more ourselves while he was
making his profit than we could make alone. Sometimes a crook, well
watched, is a better business partner than an honest man, for he is
likely to take a chance and is rarely as slow to see an opportunity as
are more sincere individuals.

I did not, however, care to spend three months in that corner of the
world. I hoped, in fact, to be well up the Amazon by that time, and
after sleeping on it I agreed with the “colonel” on a sixty-day contract
at the terms he had offered. By this time my practice in Portuguese made
it easy to draw up an elaborate document of twelve articles that even a
corporation lawyer would have had difficulty in evading. In effect, it
made Ruben our advance agent, with the privilege of paying himself, and
left me merely my managerial duties. Indeed, this document and what had
led up to it so took the “colonel’s” eye that next day he informed me he
needed a man of my “pulse,” or American energy, and that as soon as I
got the Kinetophone back to the United States I must return and become
manager of the big new theater he was soon going to build on the
triangular vacant lot near the “São João”!

“Muito obrigado,” I replied, that being Brazilian for “much obliged.”

We were to play in Bahia and about the bay until carnival time, come
back to the “São João” for those festive days, and then turn northward.
On the morning of January 26 we tore down the show and loaded it into
the special baggage-tramcar Ruben had furnished, moving under guidance
of his part-Indian mulatto sub-manager out to the suburb of Rio
Vermelho. This was a sea-beach village of mainly well-to-do white
residents—though no one seemed to bathe, at least in the sea, in
Bahia—three miles from the center of town through densely wooded valleys
of mango and alligator-pear, jack-fruit and bread-fruit trees, all
heavily loaded with their products. We played to packed houses, with few
“deadheads,” for here Ruben had little fear either of politicians or
police. The cinema of A Barra, another seaside suburb to which we moved
three days later, was an outdoor place of sandy bottom, a sheet-iron
wall, and only a suggestion of roof, always comfortable with the trade
wind sweeping through it. There I could go to the show and look at the
brilliant moon at the same time, and our film-men could be heard talking
and singing blocks away.

Having performed the extraordinary feat of sleeping seventeen
consecutive nights in the same bed, I decided that I needed a change of
scene. Up at the head of the bay was a town called Santo Amaro da
Purificação, where Ruben had planned to take us; but a religious
festival having broken out there, he changed his mind, saying that
negroes celebrating church _festas_ do not spend money on cinemas. I
went over to see whether he was right, and incidentally to revel in the
“purification” attached to the town’s name.

One of the little steamers of the “Navegação Bahiana” that sail the bay,
leaving three times a week for most of the towns around it, departed at
high tide with a considerable crowd bound for the _festa_. It was hot
under the lee of the land, but once out on the blue water nothing could
have been more pleasant, at least in so far as weather was concerned. We
stopped at three towns on as many islands and passed many smaller ones
along the base of the bay shore, almost everywhere piled up in
hundred-foot cliffs. The soil, even on the smallest islands, was of that
deep-red color common to much of Brazil, and royal palms lifted their
proud heads over a reed-and-mud negro hut on many a little island. We
picked up _festa_-dressed passengers at several villages. Perhaps one
out of twenty of my fellow-travelers showed no traces of negro ancestry.
Bad teeth were universal among them, more unsightly still in the case of
those with a smile like a flash of a brass-shop window, who could afford
the ministrations of the wandering “dentists” that inflict interior

By and by the water turned from the dense clear-blue of the bay to a
grayish color. Several large time-blackened churches appeared on
commanding, breezy noses of land, with a few poor houses and miserable
huts tucked away in the hollows beneath them. We entered a small river
that wound in S-shape through a sort of marsh, passing a three-story
agricultural school that loomed up through the palm-tree jungle in
apparently utter isolation, and at sunset tied up at the end of a long
causeway across a swamp, where a dozen quaint little mule-cars were
waiting for us. The fare on these for a two-mile ride was a milreis,
which was bad enough, but the driver, singling me out as the only
foreigner and person of wealth among the _festa_-bound horde, and no
doubt short of cash for his own celebration, demanded that I pay double
fare, and was invited to go to the devil for his pains.

He was going there anyway, it turned out, for if the manager of the more
populous afterworld does not own Santo Amaro da Purificação it would be
hard to get anyone else to claim it. A long, thin, one-story town,
stretching out for a mile or more through low, soggy land, it is
inhabited almost entirely by animal-like blacks festooned in dirty rags.
Groups of loafing negroes filled every doorway, covered every shady
spot, occupied the narrow remnants of dilapidated sidewalks, doing
nothing for a living, not even taking in one another’s washing, and
living happily ever after for all that. A cross between a ditch and a
river flows—or rather, lies—through the length of the town, and in this
stagnant sewage the inhabitants not only attempt to swim when the whim
comes upon them, but dip up water for cooking purposes. To drink it
would evidently kill even a Brazilian negro, so in various parts of the
town there are public spigots shut in by iron fences, with an elaborate
“office” and a turnstile that can be passed only by paying a _vintem_
for a can of water. Along the noisome canal are a few distilleries,
dirty as the rest of the town, and a bit of sugar-cane is grown in the
vicinity, but on its edges Saint Amaro of the Purification breaks at
once into green rolling campo, which the swarming inhabitants are too
indolent to cultivate. Two automobiles had come to show off at the
_festa_, and were so rare a sight that whenever they appeared, jouncing
and bumping down one of the so-called streets, with a dozen of the town
notables clinging wide-eyed to the seats, all the children and most of
the adults took to pursuing them with shouts of “Oo ah-oo-tah-mave!”

The festival really did not begin until next day, but as often happens
in Latin-America, the people could not wait and were already celebrating
the _véspera_. About the _matrix_, or main church, surged immense
throngs of leprous, unwashed negroes, hilarious with the
drunken-religious orgy. Native rum flowed everywhere. There were
forty-two gambling tables running full blast, with crowds of children
from six to sixty—if anyone ever lives to that age in Santo
Amaro—throwing their money upon them, many so poor that they had only
coppers to hazard. Any negro boy who could get a table, mark a square of
cloth or cardboard with numbers or colors, and produce a tin can and
three dice or any kind of home-made roulette wheel, became forthwith the
proprietor of a gambling establishment. The town was lighted by
gas—except that most of this was now used to illuminate an “AVE MARIA”
in letters ten feet high on the façade of the church. Under this a band
blew itself almost brown in the face in honor of the tin Virgin inside
the musty old church, before which throngs of gaudily but raggedly
dressed negroes were bowing down, crossing themselves on the face,
mouth, navel, and finally the body, and displaying curious intermixtures
of Catholicism and African fetish worship.

All night long the hubbub lasted. My unknown Brazilian roommate in the
“Pensão Universal,” a human sty which had recently opened as a public
hostelry and would no doubt close again after the festival, had usurped
the bed by piling his junk upon it, and left me a crippled canvas cot. I
was awakened frequently by the cold coming up through this, though by no
means so often as by the amorous negro swains and wenches retiring from
the exciting festivities to adjoining rooms.

High noon found me struggling to get a railway-ticket back to Bahia. It
was no easy feat. Eventually we had to break into the inner office and
corner the befuddled agent, who replied to our excited demands with a
tropically phlegmatic, “But there is no hurry; the train will not
_really_ leave at twelve.” Subsequent events proved that he was a better
prophet than the printed time-table. We finally dragged away about two,
on a railroad built in 1881 and still retaining the same roadbed,
rolling-stock, swell-headed old engines and point of view, and rambled
along most of the afternoon, until we came to a derailed train and were
told to get out and walk. Luckily we were only a few miles from Agoa
Cumprida (Long Water), where this branch line is joined by one from up
the coast—and on the whole it might be a good thing to make travelers by
rail get off every little while and walk a few miles. As the first long
cove of the beautiful bay came into view I dropped off and was sailed
across the neck of water in one of the ferry dugouts to Itapagipe, where
one engagement at the “Theatro Popular” was proving popular indeed.

Three days later all of us, including Ruben in person, took a side-wheel
steamer across the bay to São Felix, planning to spend a week away from
the city. Across the deck from me sat a white woman with three chain
bracelets, one wrist watch, seven very large rings on four fingers of
the left hand, six more on the four fingers of the right hand, a gold
watch-chain some two yards long about her neck, enormous showy earrings,
a gold locket and pendant, and various other gaudy odds and ends. This
paragon of taste, it turned out, was one of our party. She was from
Montevideo and Ruben had brought her along to do a Spanish dance _sem
roupa_—no wonder she needed to be covered with jewelry—for the benefit
of the _matutos_, or “country gawks,” of the interior.

A couple of hours carried us across the main bay and we entered a narrow
inlet which soon swelled into another and smaller bay that gradually
narrowed down until we found ourselves in an immense river, the
Paraguassú, with low bushy sides and water well up to the branches of
the few trees at high tide. Villages, towns, and single old
_fazenda_-houses under their majestic royal palms appeared here and
there, at some of which we tied up. Others sent on board or took ashore
two or three of the plantation family in flimsy dugout logs paddled by
more or less naked negroes. Most of the towns had names ending in “gipe”
and lived on their exports of _fumo_ and _charutos_ (tobacco and
cigars), that weed, as well as fruit and cacao, growing abundantly back
in what looked like rather a barren and bushy land. The river narrowed,
winding through low hills, and at sunset we sighted the twin towns of
São Felix and Cachoeira, on opposite sides of the stream and connected
by a long railway-and-foot-bridge, at the foot of a series of rapids
over black jagged rocks that halt navigation and give the latter town
its name.

As usual bedlam broke loose between the chaotic-minded passengers and
the aggressive boatmen, _carregadores_, and touts fighting for business.
Though there was an abundance of men in ragged, baggy uniforms, no one
seemed to have any authority. One evil-eyed, half-baked looking fellow
who drew a razor in the midst of the turmoil turned out to be the
hotel-keeper who had been told to prepare rooms for “the entire
Kinetophone company,” and who did not propose to be outwitted by a
rival. We let them fight it out, put our light baggage into a ferry
“canoe” with Carlos and the undress “artist,” and sent them across the
river—our theater being in São Felix and the boat-landing in Cachoeira.
Then we walked a mile or more along the rough-and-tumble stone streets
of what appeared by the weak gas-lamps to be a town transported bodily
from the heart of the Andes, paid sixty reis at the bridge turnstile,
and brought up at the tiny “Cinema São Felix.” There Ruben and the
Italian owner broke into such garrulous greetings that it was after
eight before we finally dragged our guide and mentor away to the “hotel”
of the belligerent seeker-after-guests, who was now grieving over the
unexpected scantiness of our “company.”

Of the pseudo-meal foisted upon us after two hours of shouting,
swearing, and insisting, I will say nothing, and even less of the
boiler-factory din that seethed through the tiny pens divided by thin
wooden partitions reaching only halfway to the un-ceiled roof, except to
remark that, as soon as the show was installed next morning, “Tut” and I
might have been seen moving across the river to the “Hotel das Naçoes”
in Cachoeira. This second city of the State of Bahia—equal in size to
Texas—was only a languid backward village, without electric-lights,
without even a wheeled vehicle, unless one counts the tri-weekly
side-wheel steamer or the little railway that rattles up to Feira do
Sant’ Anna and straggles 165 miles west into the interior of the state.
There are several moderately large tobacco and cigar warehouses, but
almost the only sign of industry in either of the twin towns was our
advertising,—a deluge of posters and handbills, and a parade of
_taboletas_, or large movable street-signs, accompanied by negro boys
beating cymbals, drums, and tin pans. We charged double prices, because
the theater was too small to make anything less worthwhile—and we played
to 128 paying clients and a score of “deadheads”!

Next day the Italian cinema-man begged us with tears in his voice to cut
the entrance fee in two, and as some such drastic action seemed
necessary to save us from bankruptcy, I agreed—and that night we had 89
paid admissions! These interior towns are so sunk in sloth that they
seem to resent any attempt to shake them out of the somnolence of their
ancestors, out of that apathetic indifference to the advances of
civilization which makes them scorn even the few opportunities of a
life-time to see something new and important, to get some hint of the
world’s progress. Only the barbaric recreation of drunken church
festivals appeals to them.

I took advantage of the Sunday train to visit Feira do Sant’ Anna,
thirty miles up-country. This line was built back in the seventies, yet
the names of Hugh Wilson and other Americans still appear on various
bridges and viaducts. The train climbed for half an hour, and still we
could look down upon the twin towns close below, but once up on top of
the flat, rather dry and sandy, plateau it raced along at decent
Brazilian speed. The slender branches of the mandioca were numerous, and
here I saw my first tobacco-fields in Brazil. At one station a mile from
the town it served saddle-horses were waiting for the men and enormous,
bungling, two-wheeled mule-carts with wicker armchairs in them for the
women. It would have been dreadful if one of the white-collar class had
been forced to walk that mile along the smooth, dry, cool summer road.
For it was pleasant and breezy up here, though the elevation was not
great; even at summer midday one could walk comfortably in the sun
bareheaded—provided one could walk anywhere comfortably. My preconceived
notions of this region proved entirely false. I had expected dense
jungle and forest, and humid, leaden heat; on the contrary, it was not
only dry and cool, but almost bare of vegetation.

Feira do Sant’ Anna, so named for the great cattle-fairs that were held
here on St. Ann’s day, is less than a century old, a one-story town
sitting out unsheltered on a dry, sandy, plain. Two streets wider than
Broadway cross at right angles in the center of town, and are fully
paved with cobblestones and lined with small bushy shade trees. On
Monday market-days these are thronged with countrymen and women from a
hundred miles around. To-day a cockfight under a big tree on the
outskirts seemed to be the only activity. Two roosters without
artificial spurs, but with bloody heads and necks, entirely featherless
in spots, pecked at each other eternally, while bullet-headed negroes
and mulattoes stood around them betting—if they still had any
coppers—one owner or the other occasionally picking up his bird,
spraying a mouthful of rum-and-water on its head and neck, and setting
them at it again, until one fell from utter exhaustion and the other,
wabbling drunkenly on his bloody feet, uttered a feeble crow of victory.
Wells with good American force-pumps marked the town a rare one for
interior South America, where the inhabitants generally drink from some
nearby creek or mud-hole; but drought had left little at the bottoms
even of the wells, and this scant supply negro boys were delivering to
various parts of town in casks on mule or donkey-back, a blue enameled
government license on the forehead of each four-footed animal.

[Illustration: The site on which Bahia was founded]

[Illustration: Not much is left of the clothes that have gone through a
steam-laundry of Bahia]

[Illustration: Taking a jack-fruit to market]

When we got back to Bahia on February 10 a brand new hotel had been
opened on the space left between Ruben’s present theater and the
invisible one I had the opportunity of some day managing. It was a
five-story, flat-iron _placete_ on the height of the city, the highest
building in Bahia, or, indeed, in the state, and was the wonder of the
region. The only elevator in the paunch of South America, except the
outdoor one between the lower and higher city, ran all the way up it,
but when “Tut” and I entered, it refused at first to work, whereupon I
stepped out again to get something I had forgotten.

“Oh, don’t be afraid!” cried the servant, himself ashy with fear, who
was attempting to manipulate it, “it won’t fall.”

On the fifth floor, spoken of with a catch of the breath in Bahia, we
had a pleasant little room with a vast outlook over city and ocean—and
as it was starting in to acquire a reputation, the place was strictly a
hotel and not a brothel. Materially it was a great relief from what we
had been enduring for weeks past, and the unwonted sensation of living
in well-nigh civilized surroundings again was welcome, but a hotel,
after all, takes its tone from its guests and servants, and these being
_Bahianos_, it was doubtful whether so expensive an establishment would
be able to keep its head above water. Speaking of water, the
shower-baths were extra, as usual in Brazil, but when I confided to the
manager that I would move out again next day, he hastened to assure me
that no one would notice when I bathed.

Street-cars and walls were again flaunting Kinetophone advertisements
inviting everyone to come and see the “marvel of the age.” But it was
“reheated soup” in Bahia now, and out at Itapagipe, where we had played
three nights to crowded houses only a week before, the Latin enthusiasm
had effervesced and we had only a straggling audience. If only we had
had some new numbers, say a couple of Caruso! The second night was
worse, with our share only 36$, and the owner refused to give a show at
all on the next and last night, saying the few days before carnival were
the worst in the year in the theatrical business, as everyone with a
_tostão_ was keeping it to buy masks, confetti, and scented water.

Carnival costumes and the silly soprano speech that goes with them were
already beginning to appear in the streets, and by noon on Sunday
negroes and half-negroes in fantastic make-up were everywhere. Most of
the “São João” employees were drunk or excited or parading the streets
by the time we opened for the matinée, and as I could watch the door as
well from there, I sat down behind the wicket and became ticket-seller.
Few ticket-offices in the world can compare with that of the old “São
João” in situation, under the deep colonial porch, open to all the trade
winds of the blue Atlantic, golden-bathed by day and silver-lighted by
night, lying a few hundred feet below and stretching away unbrokenly to
the coast of Africa.

Masked figures came, asking for tickets in the falsetto they hoped would
disguise their voices, as well as the usual haughty, tar-brushed class
in the full dress of public appearance. I quickly acquired the
professional ticket-seller’s “snappy” language and could toss out a
handful of change or a concise bit of information quite as scornfully as
the most experienced station-agent in my native land. Not a great many
spectators entered that afternoon, however, for which I did not blame
them. Why pay to go inside a musty old theater when the brilliant summer
day outside is full of free entertainments? Only two weeks before there
had been a similar celebration, but there is a constant string of this
expensive tomfoolery the year round in Bahia. The amount spent on
trolley-car and automobile floats alone would have built a good
school-house, to say nothing of the bands of music, costumes, and
playthings. Scores of automobiles filled with fantastically garbed men
and girls crawled through the streets, while thousands afoot were
arrayed in wild and generally ugly and orderless fantasy, with masks or
head-pieces equal to Bottom the Weaver. It was evident that the paraders
were mainly from the lower classes and had little originality of ideas
in designing costumes. Nearly everyone’s slight sense of humor prompted
him to pose as the opposite of what he was in real life; every negro who
could afford it wore a rosy-cheeked mask and white gloves; many of the
few whites had blacked up or donned negro masks, and perhaps half the
men were made up as women, while there was a perfect rage, particularly
among the part-negro girls, to appear in male attire, their hips
bursting through their otherwise loosely flapping nether garments.
“Ladies of the life” took advantage of the spirit of the day and sat
bare-legged in their balconies over the main streets, the police, of
course, never interfering, since correction or suppression are unusual
and unpopular in South America. We cancelled the third “section” that
night and joined the throng parading the streets amid cloud-bursts of
confetti, rivers of scented water, and maudlin uproar, and after looking
in at a popular ball that had many suggestions of a witch dance in the
heart of Africa I went home for my last night’s sleep in São Salvador da

                              CHAPTER XVI
                          EASTERNMOST AMERICA

The new contract with “Colonel” Ruben permitted me to absent myself from
the show and travel when and where I saw fit, he to pay my
transportation only by the most direct routes between the towns in which
the Kinetophone appeared. My faith in Ruben was always limited and my
preference for land over sea travel notorious, hence I decided to strike
off up-country a few days before the date set for us to sail for Maceió,
not only to indulge my incurable wanderlust but to prepare for any
sudden collapse of our sixty-day contract.

“Chemins de Fer Fédéraux de l’Est Bréslienne” seemed as top-heavy a name
for the narrow grass-grown track up the coast as the mammoth stacks made
the little old locomotives. Its tiny cars were designed for the use of
women rather than men, for the seats, instead of facing the open windows
and the world outside, stared into mirrors set in the car walls. We
ground away along the water, past Bomfim, topped by its white “miracle”
church, past Itapagipe beyond the widening water with its little sailing
dugout ferries, crept timidly across the long and aged wooden trestle
over this innermost arm of the bay, and at length lost Bahia to view
just a month from the moment I had first set eyes upon it.

There were a dozen stops at languid little cocoanut villages along the
fringe of the inner bay before the water gave way to dry and bushy
pasture-land at Agoa Cumprida. Most of the passengers changed there for
Santo Amaro, and for the rest of the journey we had more room than
company, which is usually an advantage in Brazil. Heaps of charcoal,
burned from the scrub trees that abound in this fairly fertile but dry
and little cultivated region, lay at most of the stations, at all of
which throngs of men, women, and boys strove to sell dusty fruit and
home-made cakes to the apathetic passengers. The dust lay thick upon us
also when we drew up at noon in Alagoinhas, eighty miles north. That
day’s train was bound up-country to Joazeiro on the São Francisco river,
and it would be twenty-four hours before I could continue along the

[Illustration: The favorite Sunday diversion of rural northern Brazil]

[Illustration: The waterworks in a Brazilian city of some 15,000

[Illustration: A Brazilian laundry]

[Illustration: Brazilian milkmen announcing their arrival]

Some chap with a tendency for exaggeration has said that the night has a
thousand eyes; but that is nothing compared to almost any interior
village of South America when a white stranger comes strolling through
it. To walk the length of a street of Alagoinhas was like trying to
stare down some mammoth, bovine, fixedly gaping face, until a sensitive
man could scarcely have refrained from screaming, “For Heaven’s sake go
and do something, or at least draw in your stupid faces!” Spattered over
a lap of broken country and half-hidden in cocoanut and palm groves, it
would be difficult to decide how many of the 15,000 inhabitants it
claims actually dwell in it, were it not their unfailing custom to line
up to be counted. There was not a street in town, which is well inland
and at a slight elevation, but merely wide sloughs of sand between the
monotonous rows of houses; yet I was astonished to find two large and
well-kept cinemas. This, it turned out, was due to a local feud. Two
brothers who owned the “Cinema Popular” had been bosom friends of the
richest man in town, until they, too, bought an automobile. This so
enraged the rich man that he attempted to get even by building another
“movie” house in the hope of putting the brothers out of business. So
far he had not succeeded, and was all the less likely to do so after I
had signed a contract with the brothers for five nights at the
“Popular.” Ruben might take the show to Maceió and Pernambuco as he had
promised, but I did not propose to be caught napping, and if he did, the
Alagoinhas contract would be good in June or July when the Kinetophone
returned without me.

Another car so loose-jointed that the walls constantly creaked and
swayed toiled all the afternoon and into the night to carry a scattering
of passengers to Barracão, another name for Nowhere. It consisted merely
of several huts and a tile-roofed building in which all passengers by
rail from Bahia to Aracajú, or vice versa, must spend the night. The
engine, whistling up about a cord of wood, awakened us long before
daylight and at least an hour earlier than was necessary, for I was
already sitting in our six o’clock train when the other pulled out
Bahia-ward at five. The same seat, the same conductor, and the same
swaying walls as the day before made one feel like a trans-Siberian
traveler, though the 278 miles the train worries through in two days is
scarcely a Siberian distance. The salt-tainted breath of the Atlantic
slashed us now and then in the faces as we rumbled along, for we were
not far inland now. It was gently rolling country, of gray rather than
red soil, producing next to nothing, with here and there some bananas
and mandioca, and long unbroken stretches of scrub jungle. The _tucú_, a
grape-like fruit growing on a palm tree and so thick of skin and large
of stone that there is only a bit of sweetish dampness between them, was
sold at the rare stations.

Soon we crossed an iron bridge and what might have been a river had it
tried harder, into the State of Sergipe, the smallest of Brazil. This
and the little larger State of Alagoas are sliced out of the respective
states of Bahia and Pernambuco down near the mouth of the São Francisco,
which divides them. It is not apparent why they need be separate
states—but then, a foreigner ignorant of local conditions no doubt
wonders in looking at a map of our own country why a little nubbin of
land down at the end of Connecticut must have its own name, capital, and
government, or why both those bits of territory should not join
Massachusetts. The state lines of Brazil follow largely the old colonial
divisions, some natural but more of them artificial, set by the Pope or
the King of Portugal. Of the twenty Brazilian states, nine or ten have
aboriginal Indian names. It is another evidence of the higher value of
time to the American that we have an abbreviation for each of our
states, while the Brazilian has none. North and South American
incompatability of temperament is perhaps nowhere more definitely
demonstrated than in the attitude of the two races toward time. Brevity,
conciseness, and promptitude rank almost as bad manners among
Latin-Americans, whose editorial writers often break forth in
dissertations on “punctuality, that virtue of kings and bad custom of
Anglo-Saxons. Enthusiasts for liberty, we cannot admit that a man shall
be the slave of his watch. Life proves that punctuality is an excellent
virtue for a machine, but a grave defect for a man.”

In the blazing afternoon we came down off the interior plateau, ever
lower to the northward, here reminiscent of southern Texas or northern
Mexico in its aridity, its scattered, thorny, scrub plant life, its
occasional adobe huts, to a flat sea-level _littoral_ that was almost
entirely a dreary waste of snow-white sand, rarely punctuated with
cactus and a few other waterless bushes. Aracajú, capital of the State
of Sergipe, is set in this nearly desert landscape. The large room with
a mosquito-net canopied bed in which I was soon installed in the “Hotel
International” was the best the town had to offer befriended strangers.
Like all the rest of Aracajú, it was on the ground floor, looking out on
a quiet garden of deep sand, and was as airy as the exhaust from a
hot-air furnace. I had already taken it when my eye fell upon a notice
to the effect that for lack of water guests would not be allowed to
bathe for three days. By shouting until the whole hotel force was
gathered about me, and offering to make them all candidates for hospital
treatment, I was conducted, as a special favor to another of those
half-mad “gringos,” into a special “rain bath” for ladies, and freed
myself at last from the soil of Bahia. Then, having induced the landlord
to change the wooden-floored bed for one “of wire,” though he could not
understand why anyone should consider this an improvement, I relaxed and
sallied forth to see what Aracajú had to offer.

Sergipe, it seems, was a part of Bahia until nearly the end of the
colonial period, when it proclaimed itself a sovereign state with the
capital at São Cristovam, a straggling town some twenty miles back along
the railway by which I had come. But that was a league from a harbor,
and the government at length moved to an Indian village on the edge of
this cucumber-shaped bay. _Ara_ is a Tupi Indian word for plenty, and
_cajú_ is the Brazilian name for a fruit that thrives in such
semi-desert regions as the _littoral_ of Sergipe. This is shaped like a
small plump pear, with a smooth silky skin of saffron or brilliant red
color, which grows upside down on a tree not unlike the apple in
appearance, and is particularly conspicuous for the fact that the seed,
shaped like a parrot’s beak, gray in color, and containing a nut that is
delicious when roasted, grows entirely outside the fruit itself,
protruding from its larger end. The meat is white, exceedingly acid, and
sure death alike to thirst and the dye-stuff of garments. There were
barely a dozen Indian fishermen’s huts at Aracajú when it became the
capital in 1855; hence it has an appearance of newness rather than age,
and only two churches—quite sufficient, to be sure, but a great contrast
to Bahia. There is nothing particularly individual about the place, its
“palaces,” houses, or people, who are sufficient for all the Lord meant
them to be in this world and very few of whom are going to the next, if
I may judge by the size of the congregation and the priestly remarks
thereon at early mass the morning after my arrival.

The predominating type of _aracajuano_ is the gray or brown _mestiço_,
and a mixed race is rarely prepossessing in appearance. There are few
full negroes, even fewer pure whites, but every known mixture of the
two, no small number of _mamelucos_, or crosses between Indians and
Europeans, and too many _bodes_ (literally male goats) as the offspring
of Indian and negro are clandestinely called. The cucumber-shaped bay is
really the River Sery-gipe, a name said to mean the abode of a kind of
shrimp which abounds here, and has a troublesome moving sandbar at its
mouth, with less than four meters depth at low tide, making Aracajú the
only Brazilian coast capital which transatlantic steamers cannot enter.
One may see the waves breaking on this bar from almost any point in
town, but the open sea is in view only from the top of the cathedral or
the crest of the highest sand-dunes. Half the coast of Sergipe is made
up of this snow-white sand, in dunes that move with the wind, immense
heaps of the purest white sand covering whole blocks and rising a
hundred feet or more high within two minutes’ stroll of the main hotel.
All but a very few of the streets are ankle-deep in sand, as are the
palm-trees. These few are paved with large flat rocks fitted together in
all manner of irregular patterns. The “bonds” were still operated by
mule-power. There is a pleasing central _praça_, facing the waterfront
and backed by a little garden with a vista of the cathedral through
royal palms, pleasing perhaps because its bit of green lawn is in such
welcome contrast to the glaring sandy brightness elsewhere, but marred
by the statue of some local hero who, according to this monument,
stepped out of somewhere wearing a frock-coat and waving a most properly
creased soft felt hat, crying, “I am going to die for my country!” If he
could see it now he might regret his heroism.

In full sunlight at midday I could have used my umbrella to advantage as
a parasol, if some miserable son of a Brazilian had not stolen it in
Victoria. But he who never walks in tropical sunshine will never enjoy
to the full sitting in the shade, and at least the nights were cool and
breezy. The only thing to grow profane over was that the steamer which
was to carry me to Maceió had not even left Bahia, “because everybody
there is busy with the carnival.” This meant at least three days
squatting among the sand heaps, and perhaps not reaching Maceió until
after the show did, since that was to travel by direct steamer. Worse
still, I had read all the Brazilian novels in my bag, and Aracajú was
not the kind of place to support a bookstore. There was nothing left but
walking, and that soon palls in a sun-glazed town closely surrounded on
all sides by shoe-filling sand-dunes.

This dreary and unproductive soil stretches from five to ten miles
inland for the whole length of the state, with a broad strip of stony,
rolling, clay soil back of that, on which sugar and cotton, tobacco and
_farinha_ are produced in moderate quantity, while the western half of
the state is _sertão_, in which graze scattered herds of cattle. There
is a large weaving-mill in the capital, said to be the best in Brazil,
but still capable of improvement. During my strolls I came upon the
slaughter-house one afternoon and found scores of children showing great
glee at the struggles of the cattle as the blood poured from their
throats until they dropped in their own gore. Such was evidently the
chief education to be had by youthful Aracajú. Here, as in the other
tobacco producing state, Bahia, most of the negro women smoked pipes.
The lazy scrape of _tamancos_ was suggestive not only of the indolence
but of the moral looseness of the place. Though one might have had the
companionship of comely mulatto and quadroon girls for less than the
asking, I sought in vain for a person of even the rudiments of
intelligence with whom to pass the time, and was forced to take refuge
in the state public library instead. Even this was no monument of
learning, though several _sergipanos_ have won Brazilian fame as men of
letters. The building itself lacked nothing in elaborateness, but the
books were those least needed and only half a dozen youths drifted in
daily to read the newspapers and the silly “comic” weeklies from Rio.
Here, however, I learned that “there are two kinds of climate in the
State of Sergipe—hot and humid on the coast and hot and dry in the
interior,” and that the bronze gentleman in the frock-coat and Parisian
hat in the main praça was a “politician, a poet, and a great orator” who
tried to start a revolution here in 1906 and was quite naturally shot
full of holes by federal soldiers. No one can blame him, however, for
wanting to start something in Aracajú; his foolishness lay in the fact
that he seemed to think it was possible.

A two-line cable or two a week, usually on trivial matters and more
likely than not denied a few days later, constituted Sergipe’s
connection with the outside world. No doubt I needed the experience to
realize how dreary life is in these miserable little capitals when one
cannot hurry on as soon as the first interest and novelty has worn off.
The total lack of inspiration, of good example, of anything approaching
an ideal, could not but have killed any originality or ambition, even
had one of these half-breed youths been born with one or the other.
There was no goal in life. Even I felt that in my few days there; how
must it have been with a person born there and suspecting no other life
on the globe? A man may advance under his own gasoline, but unless he
has someone to crank him up he is very apt to die about where he began.
Few of us are equipped with self-starters.

Such reflections as these made me wonder sometimes whether the moving
picture, for all its imperfections and dangers and false view of life,
for all the peculiar inanity and childishness inherent in its dramas, is
not doing as much as anything to give the masses of South America,
particularly of the interior, at least a knowledge of better personal
habits, even if not higher aspirations. Much as this remarkable
invention has been prostituted by cheap mortals, it is an incredible
boon to communities so far from civilization that they never get more of
the great outside world than the films bring them. If you lived in some
sleepy little village in a remote corner of South America, far from
theaters or any other living form of life and thought, you would find
the daily round exceedingly dull, you would passionately crave some
variety, some entertainment, even mildly intellectual, or not at all so,
something to take you for an hour out of the dreary village routine of a
life-time and bring you in touch, if ever so slightly and momentarily,
with the great moving outside world. Thus you would welcome with
considerable enthusiasm even a bad “movie”—unless generations of this
life had so sunk you in sloth that you resented any attempt to drag you
out of it.

But though the “Cinema Rio Branco,” otherwise the state-owned “Theatro
Carlos Gomes,” in the next block was free to me, I found that at best a
stupid way for a man from the outside world to spend his time. Some of
that on my hands I had whiled away by booking the Kinetophone for three
to seven days on its return trip to Rio, we—or rather, they, for by that
time I should be far distant—to wire the manager at least five days
before their arrival. Thus I proposed to make a string of contracts for
“Tut’s” return trip, and leave my duty doubly done when I doffed my
movie-magnate hat up on the Amazon.

One morning I was rowed across the river, or harbor, in a dugout and
tramped for hours in the sand-carpeted forest of cocoanut-palms on the
Ilha dos Coqueiros. It was market-day in the town, and boatloads of the
nuts were coming across to compete with other native products from
farther up the river. The wind was sighing through the cocoanut fronds,
and I discovered that there are windfalls among cocoanuts also, for
there were so many large green ones under the trees that I had only to
stop and drink as often as I got thirsty. Numbers of them rot around the
edge of the stem and fall, and if they are not soon picked up, the decay
penetrates the shell and the nut spills its milk in the sand, leaving
only the husk to be used as fuel or roofing. Even here one was reminded
of the human race. The high trees of aristocratic arrogance ordinarily
had only half a dozen nuts, while the sturdy, ugly, short and squatty
ones bore from fifty to a hundred in tight clusters at the hub from
which the leaves radiate in all directions. A group of inhabitants
scattered along the near side of the island lived in cocoanut
husk-and-leaf huts and produced, besides their staple, which grows
itself, mandioca, melons, and children, all equally weedy and
ill-tended. Everyone above the age of ten or twelve seemed to have his
dugout log, a paddle, a square sail, and a trailing-board, all guarded
in his hut when not in use, and a bright-eyed bronze boy of part Indian
ancestry sailed me back across the harbor in a snapping sea breeze.

The dugouts and fishermen’s sailboats that always stretch along the
waterfront of Aracajú had been augmented by a steamer, the long-awaited
_Ilheos_ of the “Companhia Bahiana de Navegação,” which had at last
drifted over the sandbar at the harbor’s mouth. I hastened to the
company’s office, only to be struck in the eye by a sign headed “23 á 6
horas,” in other words, it being then Saturday, the _Ilheos_ would not
sail until _Tuesday_ morning! By that time the Kinetophone would long
since have left Maceió, even if good “Colonel” Ruben did not run away
with the whole concern during my prolonged absence. If only the sea had
frozen over I could have walked it in far less time than there was still
to wait, for it was only 105 miles to Maceió. But it would have been
many times that in this sand, and there was no other way of covering the
only break in railway travel—except the one between Victoria and
Bahia—along the whole eastern coast of South America.

The trouble was, it turned out, that Aracajú had next day to inaugurate
a new bishop, the first “son of Sergipe” ever to rise to that honor, and
of course Monday would be needed to recover from the celebration. The
archbishop of Bahia, the bishop of Maceió, and a swarm of lesser wearers
of the black robe had come to add dignity to the occasion, and, when I
came to think of it, of course it was they who were holding up the
steamer. Eight on Sunday morning found me at the _egreja matrix_, or
mother church, mingling with many pious negroes ready to give the new
bishop a proper send-off. But the edifice was already filled to about
seven times its capacity with people chiefly of color, and I withdrew
hastily to windward and a park bench. By Monday afternoon recovery from
the inauguration set in, and I ventured to buy my steamer-ticket, took
my last wade in the sands of Aracajú, and went on board for the night.
The bishop of Alagoas had the next cabin to my own and we slept with our
heads against opposite sides of the same half-inch partition. But I
suppose it was because I had no little purple dunce-cap to wear over my
bald spot that the dusky ladies of Aracajú did not come, glistening with
jewels embedded in their well-fed forms, to kiss _me_ good-night—on the

We began to move at four in the morning, and I went out to watch by the
light of half a moon and the Southern Cross our exit from one of the
most difficult ports in South America. Barely had we crossed the bar
when our sea-going tug began to rock like a canoe, and not only the
bishop but even as old a seadog as I took no interest in the ten o’clock
“breakfast.” The _Ilheos_ claimed to have twin screws, but they must
have been turning in opposite directions, for we made far less speed
than the coast swells that rolled us about like an empty bottle. The
shore was made up almost entirely of dreary wastes of white sand,
sometimes in broad flat stretches, sometimes drifted up into dunes. At
times a suggestion of forest appeared far back of this, but there were
few if any signs of habitation.

About noon the water about us turned from deep blue to a muddy red, a
great streak of which thrust itself out into the ocean from the outlet
of the River São Francisco. We turned into this across a broad sandbar
and found it a mile or more wide, though frequently split up by islands,
long, flat, and green. This river, largest between the Plata and the
Amazon, rises far to the south, near the old capital of Minas Geraes,
and has about the same volume of water as the Hudson. Thatched villages
and small cities line its banks for hundreds of miles and side-wheel
river steamers mount it in two sections, to Pirapora, in Minas Geraes,
terminus of the “Central Railway of Brazil.” We stopped at several
villages near the mouth, then pushed on inland. The rolling had ceased
and the bishop was out now parading the deck behind a big black cigar.
The shores were sandy and nearly flat, with palm-trees, some sugar-cane,
and a considerable population of more or less negroes. At length the
town of Villa Nova, two centuries old for all its name, appeared on the
nose of a bluff, and beyond, on the right-hand or Alagoas bank, the city
of Penedo, not unlike a smaller Bahia in situation, with several bulking
old churches and here and there a majestic imperial palm-tree rising
above all else.

We dropped anchor before Villa Nova, with its several textile mills, and
were soon completely hemmed in by cargo barges, though not before I had
slipped across to Penedo, from which we were to sail at four in the
morning. Considering the time it had taken to get there, it was hard to
believe that this was only forty-five miles north of Aracajú! Before the
town lay one of the side-wheel river steamers, and many “chatties,”
barges, and sailboats, not to mention countless dugout canoes, which ply
the lower São Francisco to the falls of Paulo Affonso, two hundred miles
up and “greater than Niagara,” according to my fellow-passengers. Here
and there groups of women were dipping up water and washing garments, in
the same spots. All the dwellers along its shore drink the muddy São
Francisco, _nature_, or at best filtered through a porous stone. No one
is ever seen swimming in these parts, either in river or sea.

[Illustration: The mailboat leaves Aracajú for the towns across the bay]

[Illustration: Another Brazilian milkman]

[Illustration: Carnival costumes representing “A Crise,” or hard times]

[Illustration: A Brazilian piano van needs neither axle-grease nor

I was surprised to find a large number of white people in Penedo, though
mulattoes were in the majority. There was some Indian blood, shown
chiefly in high cheek-bones and wide faces, and as usual there was a big
jail full of happy singing negroes. Full-white brats rolling stark naked
in the mud suggested o