Thus I lived among these kind and hospitable people for five months until one day my lust for further excitement broke out again, induced by a seemingly commonplace notice posted outside the door of the storeroom. It read: "The men - Marques, Freitas, Anisette, Magellaes, Jerome, and Brabo - are to make themselves ready to hunt caoutchouc in the eastern virgin forest." Puzzled as to the meaning of this, I consulted the Chief and was informed that Coronel da Silva was about to equip and send out a small expedition into the forests, far beyond the explored territory, to locate new caoutchouc trees, which were to be cut and the rubber or caoutchouc collected, whereupon the expedition was to return to headquarters with these samples and a report on the number of trees observed. This greatly interested me, and I asked the Chief, Marques, whose wife I had operated upon previously, if I could accompany him on this trip. He consented unwillingly, saying that it was very dangerous and that the same number of men that went out never came back. However, this was too rare a chance to let pass, and I made my preparations to accompany the expedition on this journey into regions where even the native caucheros had never before been.

On a Monday morning we all assembled at the Floresta headquarters, where Coronel da Silva bade us good-bye, and at the same time once more warned me against venturing on this trip, but I was determined and could not be persuaded to give it up.

The expedition consisted of the six men, above mentioned, all, except the Chief, Marques, unmarried. After leaving the main building we went down to the store-room where we chose the necessary articles of food - enough to last us for three or four weeks. Our staples were to be dried pirarucu, the largest fish of the Amazon, some dried or "jerked" beef, and a large quantity of the farinha, the eternal woody and unpalatable meal that figures on every Brazilian's table. Besides these, we carried sugar, coffee, rice, and several bottles of "Painkiller" from Fulton Street, N.Y. Hammocks and cooking utensils completed our outfit. I took with me a large plate camera, photographic plates and paper, chemicals, scales and weights; also a magnifying glass, a primitive surgical outfit, and a hypodermic needle with several dozen prepared "ampules." My men were armed with the usual .44 Winchesters and some ancient muzzle-loaders, while I had my 9mm. automatic Luger pistol. When we were fully packed, each man carried a load weighing eighty-five pounds, strapped by means of bark strips to the shoulders, with his rifle in his left hand and a machete to clear the path in his right.

Thus equipped, we left headquarters, not knowing how or when we would see it again, while the natives fired a farewell salute, wishing us God-speed.

After a few hours by canoe, up the Itecoahy, we left the river and turned our faces inland. Our way now led through dense forest, but for four hours we travelled in a region familiar to the rubber-workers, and we were able to follow pathways used by them in their daily work.

Let no one think that a jungle trail is broad and easy. As I stumbled along the tortuous, uneven path, in the sweltering mid-day heat, pestered by legions of piums or sand-flies and the omnipresent mosquitoes, climbing, fallen trees that impeded us at every turn, I thought that I had reached the climax of discomfort. Little could I know that during the time to come I was to look back upon this day as one of easy, delightful promenading.

The four hours' march brought us to an open place, apparently a clearing, where the estrada suddenly seemed to stop. Exhausted, I threw myself on the moist ground while the Chief explained our position. He said that we were now at the end of the cut estrada and that beyond this we would have no path to follow, though he had somewhat explored the region farther on the year previous, during a similar expedition. We found that the undergrowth had been renewed to such an extent that his old track was indistinguishable, and we had to hew our every step. When we resumed the march I received a more thorough understanding of what the word jungle really means. Ahead of us was one solid and apparently impenetrable wall of vegetation, but my men attacked it systematically with their heavy machetes. Slowly we advanced, but I wondered that we made any progress at all. The skill of these sons of the forest in cutting a pathway with their long knives became a constant wonder to me. Where an inexperienced person would have lost himself, looking for a round-about easy course, these men moved straight ahead, hewing and hacking right and left, the play of the swift blades seemingly dissolving all obstacles in their path. Some idea of the density of the growth can be gathered from the fact that if a man moved off he became instantly invisible although he might be only a yard or two away.

Late in the afternoon we reached a small hut or tambo built on the former trip by the Chief. It was nothing but a roof on poles, but it was a welcome sight to us as it meant rest and food. We were tired and hungry and were glad to find a small creek close by where we could refresh ourselves, taking care to keep out of the reach of the alligators and water-snakes swimming close to the weeds by the shore. For our supper we gave the dried pirarucu flesh a boil and soaked some farinha in water, eating this tasteless repast with as much gusto as we would if it had been roast beef. Let me here recommend this diet for any gourmet whose appetite has been impaired, and he will soon be able to enjoy a stew of shoe-leather. One of the men, a good-natured athlete, Jerome by name, was sent out after fresh meat, and brought back a weird little animal resembling a fox (cuti). We decided to test it as a stew, but, lacking salt, we found the dried pirarucu preferable.

The excitement of the night was furnished by ants, which had built a nest in the tambo where we had swung our hammocks. The visitors swarmed up poles and down ropes and would not be denied entrance. Wads of cotton smeared with vaseline and bandaged around the fastenings of the hammock proved no obstacle. It was impossible to sleep; mosquitoes came to the assistance of the ants and managed to find their way through the mosquito-net. To complete the general "cheerfulness," the tree-tops were full of little spider-monkeys whispering mournfully throughout the dark and showery night.

The second day's march took us through the region which the Chief had explored the year before, and we spent the night in another tambo built on that occasion. Our progress, however, was made with increasing difficulty, as the land had become more hilly and broken and the forest, if possible, more dense and wild. We were now at a considerable distance from the river-front and in a region where the yearly inundation could never reach. This stage of the journey remains among the few pleasant memories of that terrible expedition, through what I may call the gastronomic revel with which it ended. Jerome had succeeded in bringing down with his muzzle-loader a mutum, a bird which in flavour and appearance reminds one of a turkey, while I was so lucky as to bag a nice fat deer (marsh-deer). This happened at tambo No. 2. We called each successive hut by its respective number. Here we had a great culinary feast, so great that during the following days I thought of this time with a sad "ils sont passe, ces jours de fete."

Now, guided by the position of the sun, we held a course due west, our ultimate destination being a far-off region where the Chief expected to find large areas covered with fine caoutchouc trees. The ground was hilly and interspersed with deeply cut creeks where we could see the ugly heads of the jararaca snakes pop up as if they were waiting for us. There was only one way of crossing these creeks; this was by felling a young tree across the stream for a bridge. A long slender stick was then cut and one end placed at the bottom of the creek, when each man seizing this in his right hand steadied himself over the tree to the other side of the deep treacherous water. It required steady nerve to walk this trunk, such as I did not possess, therefore I found it safer to hang from the levelled bole by my hands and travel across in that manner. Tambo No. 3 we constructed ourselves, as we did every other for the rest of the journey. We always selected a site near a creek that we were following, and cleared away the underbrush so as to leave an open area of about twenty-five feet square, always allowing one tree to remain for a corner. A framework of saplings tied together with strips of matamata bark was raised for a roof, and across this were laid gigantic leaves of the murumuru, twenty-five to thirty feet long. The hammocks were then strung beneath, and we managed to keep comparatively sheltered from the nightly rain that always occurs in these deep forests. After the frugal meal of pirarucu and dried farinha, or of some game we had picked up during the march, we would creep into our hammocks and smoke, while the men told hunting stories, or sang their monotonous, unmelodious tribal songs.

It must have been about two o'clock in the morning when I was awakened by a terrific roaring which fairly made the forest tremble. Sitting up and staring fearfully into the darkness, I heard the crashing of underbrush and trees close upon us. My first thought was of a hurricane, but in the confusion of my senses, stunned by the impact of sound, I had few clear impressions. My companions were calling one another. The noise grew louder, more terrifying. Suddenly the little world around me went to smash in one mad upheaval. The roof of the tambo collapsed and fell upon us. At the same instant I felt some huge body brush past me, hurling me sprawling to the ground. The noise was deafening, mingled with the shrieks and excited yellings of my men, but the object passed swiftly in the direction of the creek.

Some one now thought of striking a light to discover the extent of the damage. The tambo was a wreck; the hammocks were one tangled mass. Jerome, who had jumped from his hammock when he first heard the noise, followed the "hurricane" to the creek and soon solved the mystery of the storm that swept our little camp. He told us, it was a jaguar, which had sprung upon the back of a large tapir while the animal was feeding in the woods behind our tambo. The tapir started for the creek in the hope of knocking the jaguar off its back by rushing through the underbrush; not succeeding in this, its next hope was the water in the creek. It had chosen a straight course through our tambo.

The next day we were successful in killing two howling monkeys; these were greeted with loud yells of joy, as we had not been able to locate any game during the last twenty-four hours' march. This is easy to understand. We were much absorbed in cutting our way through the bushes and the game was scared away long before we could sight it.

After the ninth day of wearisome journeying, the Chief found signs of numerous caoutchouc trees, indicating a rich district, and it was accordingly decided that tambo No. 9 should be our last. We were now fully 150 miles from the Floresta headquarters and some 120 miles back in the absolutely unknown. That night the temperature went down to 41 deg. Fahrenheit, a remarkable drop so close to the equator and on such low ground, but it was undoubtedly due to the fact that the sun never penetrates the dark foliage of the surrounding dense forests where the swamps between the hills give off their damp exhalations.

Up to this point I had not feared the jungle more than I would have feared any other forest, but soon a dread commenced to take hold of me, now that I could see how a great danger crept closer and closer - danger of starvation and sickness. Our supplies were growing scant when we reached tambo No. 9, and yet we lingered, forgetful of the precarious position into which we had thrust ourselves, and the violated wilderness was preparing to take its revenge.

I suppose our carelessness in remaining was due in part to the exhausted state to which we had been reduced, and which made us all rejoice in the comfort of effortless days rather than face new exertions.