The social life of the town is in about the same stage of development as it must have been during the Stone Age. When darkness falls over the village, as it does at six o'clock all the year round, life practically stops, and a few hours afterwards everyone is in his hammock.

There is one resort where the town-sports come to spend their evenings, the so-called Recreio Popular. Its principal patrons are seringueiros, or rubber-workers, who have large rolls of money that they are anxious to spend with the least possible effort, and generally get their desire over the gaming boards. The place is furnished with a billiard table and a gramophone with three badly worn records. The billiard table is in constant use by a certain element up to midnight, and so are the three eternal records of the gramophone. It will take me years surrounded by the comforts of civilisation to get those three frightful tunes out of my head, and I do not see how they could fail to drive even the hardened seringueiros to an early grave.

Another resort close by, where the native cachassa is sold, is patronised principally by negroes and half-breeds. Here they play the guitar, in combination with a home-made instrument resembling a mandolin, as accompaniment to a monotonous native song, which is kept up for hours. With the exception of these two places, the village does not furnish any life or local colour after nightfall, the natives spending their time around the mis-treated gramophones, which are found in almost every hut.

The men of the village, unlike the women, are not picturesque in appearance. The officials are well paid, so is everyone else, yet they never think of spending money to improve the looks of the village or even their own. Most of them are ragged. A few exhibit an inadequate elegance, dressed in white suits, derby hats, and very high collars. But in spite of the seeming poverty, there is not a seringueiro who could not at a moment's notice produce a handful of bills that would strike envy to the heart of many prosperous business men of civilisation. The amount will often run into millions of reis; a sum that may take away the breath of a stranger who does not know that one thousand of these Brazilian reis make but thirty cents in our money.

The people of the Amazon love to gamble. One night three merchants and a village official came to the hotel to play cards. They gathered around the dining-room table at eight o'clock, ordered a case of Pabst beer, which sells, by the way, at four dollars and sixty cents a bottle in American gold, and several boxes of our National Biscuit Company's products, and then began on a game, which resembles our poker. They played till midnight, when they took a recess of half an hour, during which large quantities of the warm beer and many crackers were consumed. Then, properly nourished, they resumed the game, which lasted until six o'clock the next morning. This was a fair example of the gambling that went on.

The stakes were high enough to do honours to the fashionable gamblers of New York, but there was never the slightest sign of excitement. At first I used to expect that surely the card table would bring forth all sorts of flashes of tropic temperament - even a shooting or stabbing affair. But the composure was always perfect. I have seen a loser pay, without so much as a regretful remark, the sum of three million and a half reis, which, though only $1050 in our money, is still a considerable sum for a labourer to lose.

Once a month a launch comes down from Iquitos in Peru, about five days' journey up the Amazon. This launch is sent out by Iquitos merchants, to supply the wants of settlers of the rubber estates on the various affluents. It is hard to estimate what suffering would result if these launches should be prevented from reaching their destinations, for the people are absolutely dependent upon them, the region being non-producing, as I have said, and the supplies very closely calculated. In Remate de Males, the superintendent, or the mayor of the town, generally owns a few head of cattle brought by steamer, and when these are consumed no meat can be had in the region but Swift's canned "Corned Beef."

Then there are the steamers from the outer world. During the rainy season, the Mauretania could get up to Remate de Males from the Atlantic Ocean without difficulty, though there is no heavy navigation on the upper Javary River. But steamers go up the Amazon proper several days' journey farther. You can at the present get a through steamer from Iquitos in Peru down the Amazon to New York.

These boats occasionally bring immigrants from the eastern portions of Brazil, where they have heard of the fortunes to be made in working the rubber, and who have come, just as our prospectors came into the West, hoping to take gold and their lives back with them. Besides passengers, these boats carry cattle and merchandise and transport the precious rubber back to Para and Manaos. They are welcomed enthusiastically. As soon as they are sighted, every man in town takes his Winchester down from the wall and runs into the street to empty the magazine as many times as he feels that he can afford in his exuberance of feeling at the prospect of getting mail from home and fresh food supplies.

On some occasions, marked with a red letter on the calendar, canoes may be seen coming down the Itecoahy River, decorated with leaves and burning candles galore. They are filled with enthusiasts who are setting off fireworks and shouting with delight. They are devotees of some up-river saint, who are taking this conventional way of paying the headquarters a visit.

The priest, who occupies himself with saving the hardened souls of the rubber-workers, is a worthy-looking man, who wears a dark-brown cassock, confined at the waist with a rope. He is considered the champion drinker of Remate de Males. The church is one of the neatest buildings in the town, though this may be because it is so small as to hold only about twenty-five people. It is devoid of any article of decoration, but outside is a white-washed wooden cross on whose foundation candles are burned, when there is illness in some family, or the local patron saint's influence is sought on such a problem as getting a job. The religion is, of course, Catholic, but, as in every case where isolation from the source occurs, the natives have grafted local influences into their faith, until the result is a Catholicism different from the one we know.

The administration of the town is in the hands of the superintendent, who is a Federal officer not elected by the villagers. His power is practically absolute as far as this community is concerned. Under him are a number of Government officials, all of whom are extremely well paid and whose duty seems to consist in being on hand promptly when the salaries are paid.

The chief of police is a man of very prepossessing appearance, but with a slightly discoloured nose. His appointment reminded me of that of Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B., in Pinafore, who was made "ruler of the Queen's navee" in spite of a very slight acquaintance with things nautical. Our chief of police had been chef d' orchestre of the military band of Manaos. They found there that his bibulous habits were causing his nose to blush more and more, so he was given the position of Chief of Police of Remate de Males. It must be admitted that in his new position he has gone on developing the virtue that secured it for him, so there is no telling how high he may rise.

The police force consists of one man, and a very versatile one, as will be seen, for he is also the rank and file of the military force. I saw this remarkable official only once. At that time he was in a sad condition from over-indulgence in alcoholic beverages. There are exact statistics of comparison available for the police and military forces. The former is just two-thirds of the latter in number. Expressed in the most easily understood terms, we can put it that our versatile friend has a chief to command him when a policeman, and a coronel and lieutenant when he is a soldier. Whether there is any graft in it or not, I do not know, but money is saved by the police-military force being one man with interchangeable uniforms, and the money must go into somebody's pocket. It might be thought that when the versatile one had to appear in both capacities at once, he might be at a loss. But not a bit of it. The landing of one of the down-river steamers offers such an occasion. As soon as the gangplank is out, the policeman goes aboard with the official papers. He is welcomed, receives his fee, and disappears. Not two minutes afterwards, the military force in full uniform is seen to emerge from the same hut into which the policeman went. He appears on the scene with entire unconcern, and the rough and ready diplomacy of Remate de Males has again triumphed.

One of the reasons for the flattering (!) name of the town, "Culmination of Evils," is the great mortality of the community, which it has as a part of the great Javary district. Its inhabitants suffer from all the functional diseases found in other parts of the world, and, in addition, maladies which are typical of the region. Among the most important of these are the paludismus, or malarial swamp-fever, the yellow-fever, popularly recognised as the black vomit, and last but not least the beri-beri, the mysterious disease which science does not yet fully understand. The paludismus is so common that it is looked upon as an unavoidable incident of the daily life. It is generally caused by the infectious bite of a mosquito, the Anopheles, which is characterised by its attacking with its body almost perpendicular to the surface it has selected. It is only the female mosquito that bites. There are always fever patients on the Amazon, and the Anopheles, stinging indiscriminately, transfers the malarial microbes from a fever patient to the blood of well persons. The latter are sure to be laid up within ten days with the sezoes, as the fever is called here, unless a heavy dose of quinine is taken in time to check it.

The yellow fever mosquito, the Stygoma faciata, seems to prefer other down-river localities, but is frequent enough to cause anxiety. They call the yellow fever the black vomit, because of this unmistakable symptom of the disease, which, when once it sets in, always means a fatal termination. The beri-beri still remains a puzzling malady from which no recoveries have yet been reported, at least not on the Amazon. On certain rivers, in the Matto Grosso province of Brazil, or in Bolivian territory, the beri-beri patients have some chance of recovery. By immediately leaving the infested district they can descend the rivers until they reach a more favourable climate near the sea-coast, or they can go to more elevated regions. But here on the Amazon, where the only avenue of escape is the river itself, throughout its length a hot-bed of disease where no change of climate occurs, the time consumed in reaching the sea-coast is too long. The cause of this disease, and its cure, are unknown. It manifests itself through paralysis of the limbs, which begins at the finger-tips and gradually extends through the system until the heart-muscles become paralysed and death occurs.

The only precautionary measures available are doses of quinine and the use of the mosquito-net, or mosquitero. The latter's value as a preventive is problematical, however, for during each night one is bound to be bitten frequently, yes, hundreds of times, by the ever-present insects in spite of all.

But if we curse the mosquito, what are we to say of certain other pests that add to the miseries of life in that out-of-the-way corner of the globe, and are more persistent in their attentions than even the mosquito? In the first place, there are the ants. They are everywhere. They build their nests under the houses, in the tables, and in the cracks of the floors, and lie in ambush waiting the arrival of a victim, whom they attack from all sides. They fasten themselves on one and sometimes it takes hours of labour to extract them. Many are the breakfasts I have delayed on awaking and finding myself to be the object of their attention. It proved necessary to tie wads of cotton covered with vaseline to the fastenings of the hammock, to keep the intruders off. But they even got around this plan. As soon as the bodies of the first arrivals covered the vaseline, the rest of the troops marched across them in safety and gained access to the hammock, causing a quick evacuation on my part. Articles of food were completely destroyed by these carnivorous creatures, within a few minutes after I had placed them on the table.

I present here a list of the various species of ants known to the natives, together with the peculiarities by which they distinguish them. I collected the information from Indians on the Seringal "Floresta" on the Itecoahy River.

Aracara - the dreaded fire-ant whose sting is felt for hours.

Auhiqui - lives in the houses where it devours everything edible.

Chicitaya - its bite gives a transient fever.

Monyuarah - clears a large space in the forest for its nest.

Sauba - carries a green leaf over its head.

Tachee - a black ant whose bite gives a transient fever.

Tanajura - one inch long and edible when fried in lard.

Taxyrana - enters the houses like the auhiqui.

Termita - builds a typical cone-shaped nest in the dry part of the forests.

Tracoa - its bite gives no fever, but the effect is of long duration.

Tucandeira - black and an inch and a half long, with a bite not only painful but absolutely dangerous.

Tucushee - gives a transient fever.

Uca - builds large nests in the trees.

While convalescing from my first attack of swamp-fever, I had occasion to study a most remarkable species of spider which was a fellow lodger in the hut I then occupied. In size, the specimen was very respectable, being able to cover a circle of nearly six inches in diameter. This spider subsists on large insects and at times on the smaller varieties of birds, like finches, etc. Its scientific name is Mygale avicularia. The natives dread it for its poisonous bite and on account of its great size and hairy body. The first time I saw the one in my hut was when it was climbing the wall in close proximity to my hammock. I got up and tried to crush it with my fist, but the spider made a lightning-quick move and stopped about five or six inches from where I hit the wall.

Several times I repeated the attack without success, the spider always succeeding in moving before it could be touched. Somewhat out of temper, I procured a hammer of large size and continued the chase until I was exhausted. When my hand grew steady again, I took my automatic pistol, used for big game, and, taking a steady aim on the fat body of the spider, I fired. But with another of the remarkably quick movements the spider landed the usual safe distance from destruction. Then I gave it up. For all I know, that animal, I can scarcely call it an insect after using a big game pistol on it, is still occupying the hut. About nine months later I was telling Captain Barnett, of the R.M.S. Napo which picked me up on the Amazon on my way home, about my ill success in hunting the spider. "Lange," he asked, "why didn't you try for him with a frying-pan?"