We were three weeks at tambo No. 9 before the sharp tooth of necessity began to rouse us to the precarious situation. Occasionally a lucky shot would bring down a mutum or a couple of monkeys and, on one occasion, a female tapir. Thus feasting to repletion, we failed to notice that the lucky strikes came at longer intervals; that the animals were deserting our part of the forest. During these three weeks we were not wholly idle. The Chief had the men out every day making excursions in the neighbourhood to locate the caoutchouc trees. As soon as a tree was found, they set to work bleeding the base of it to let the milky sap ooze out on the ground where it would collect in a small pool. Then they would fell the tree and cut rings in the bark at regular intervals so that the milk could flow out. In a few days when the milk had coagulated, forming large patches of caoutchouc, they would return for it. The pieces were washed in the creek and then tied into large bundles ready for transporting.

In all they located more than 800 caoutchouc trees. At this time too I made my remarkable discovery of gold deposits in the creek. It seems to me now like the plot of some old morality play, for while we were searching eagerly for the thing that we considered the ultimate goal of human desires - wealth, the final master, Death, was closing his net upon us day by day. Our food supply was nearly gone.

While strolling along the shores of the creek in search of game, I noticed irregular clumps or nodules of clay which had accumulated in large quantities in the bed of the stream, especially where branches and logs had caused whirlpools and eddies to form. They had the appearance of pebbles or stones, and were so heavy in proportion to their size that my curiosity was aroused, and throwing one of them on the bank I split it open with my machete. My weakened heart then commenced to beat violently, for what I saw looked like gold.

I took the two pieces to my working table near our tambo, and examining the dirty-yellow heart with my magnifying glass, I found the following: A central mass about one cubic inch in size, containing a quantity of yellowish grains measuring, say, one thirty-second of an inch in diameter, slightly adhering to each other, but separating upon pressure of the finger, and around this a thick layer of hard clay or mud of somewhat irregular shape. It immediately struck me that the yellow substance might be gold, though I could not account for the presence of it in the centre of the clay-balls.

I carefully scraped the granules out of the clay, and washing them clean, placed them on a sheet of paper to dry in the sun. By this time the attention of the other men had been attracted to what I was doing, and it seemed to amuse the brave fellows immensely to watch my painstaking efforts with the yellow stuff. I produced some fine scales I had for weighing chemicals for my photographic work, and suspended these above a gourd filled with water. Then I went down to the creek and collected more of the clay-balls and scraped the mud of one away from the solid centre of what I took to be grains of gold. A fine thread I next wound around the gold ball and this was tied to one end of the balance. After an equilibrium had been established, I found that the weight of the gold was 660 grains. Next I raised the gourd until the water reached the suspended ball, causing the opposite pan of the scales to go down. To again establish equilibrium, I had to add 35 grains. With this figure I divided the actual weight of the gold, which gave me 18.9, and this I remembered was close to the specific gravity of pure gold.

Still a little in doubt, I broke the bulb of one of my clinical thermometers and, placing the small quantity of mercury thus obtained in the bottom of a tray, I threw a few of the grains into it, and found that they immediately united, forming a dirty-grey amalgam. I was now sure the substance was gold and in less than five hours I collected enough to fill five photographic 5 x 7 plate-boxes, the only empty receptacles I could lay my hands on. I could have filled a barrel, for the creek was thick with the clay-balls as far as I could see; but I had a continuous fever and this, with the exhaustion from semi-starvation, caused me to be indifferent to this great wealth. In fact, I would have gladly given all the gold in the creek for One square meal. If the difficulties in reaching this infernal region were not so great, I have no doubt that a few men could soon make themselves millionaires.

The deadly fever came among us after a few days. It struck a young man called Brabo first; the next day I fell sick with another serious attack of swamp-fever, and we both took to our hammocks. For five days and nights I was delirious most of the time, listening to the mysterious noises of the forest and seeing in my dreams visions of juicy steaks, great loaves of bread, and cups of creamy coffee. In those five days the only food in the camp was howling monkey, the jerked beef and the dried farinha having given out much to my satisfaction, as I became so heartily disgusted with this unpalatable food that I preferred to starve rather than eat it again. At first I felt the lack of food keenly, but later the pain of hunger was dulled, and only a warm, drugged sensation pervaded my system. Starvation has its small mercies.

I became almost childishly interested in small things. There was a peculiar sound that came from the deep forest in the damp nights; I used to call it the "voice of the forest." To close one's eyes and listen was almost to imagine oneself near the murmuring crowd of a large city. It was the song of numerous frogs which inhabited a creek near our tambo. Then I would hear four musical notes uttered in a major key from the tree-tops close by, soon answered by another four in a similar pitch, and this musical and cheerful(!) conversation was continued all night long. The men told me that this was the note of a species of frog that lived in the trees.

One day the jungle took the first toll from us. Young Brabo was very low; I managed to stagger out of my hammock to give him a hypodermic injection, but he was too far gone for it to do him any good. He died in the early afternoon. We dug a grave with our machetes right behind our tambo. No stone marks this place; only a small wooden cross tied together with bark-strips shows where our comrade lies - a son of the forest whom the forest claimed again.

The arrival of Death in our camp showed us all how far we were in the grasp of actual, threatening danger. We stood about the grave in silence. These men, these Indians of the Amazon, were very human; somehow, I always considered them equals and not of an inferior race. We had worked together, eaten and slept and laughed together, and now together we faced the mystery of Death. The tie between us became closer; the fraternity of common flesh and blood bound us.

The next day I arose and was able to walk around, having injected my left arm with copious doses of quinine and arsenical acid. Borrowing thus false strength from drugs, I was able, to some extent, to roam around with my camera and secure photographs that I wanted to take home with me to the States.

I had constructed a table of stalks of the murumuru palm-leaves, and I had made a sun-dial by the aid of a compass and a stick, much to the delight of the men, who were now able to tell the hour of the day with precision. The next day I had another attack of fever and bled my arm freely with the bistoury, relieving myself of about sixteen ounces of blood. Shortly after nine o'clock in the morning I heard a shot which I recognised as being that of Jerome's muzzle-loader; soon afterward he made his appearance with a splendid specimen of a jet-black jaguar, killed by a shot behind the ear. He skinned it after first asking me if I wanted to get up and take a photograph of it, but I was too weak to do it and had to decline.

The Chief one day brought into camp a fine deer and a mutum bird, which relieved our hunger for a while. As we were preparing a luxurious meal, Jerome returned with two red howling monkeys, but we had all the meat we could take care of, and these monkeys were rejected and thrown away.

By this time the Chief informed us that enough caoutchouc trees had been located to justify our return to the Floresta headquarters with a satisfactory report - of course, excepting the death of poor Brabo. Furthermore it was decided that owing to the lack of provisions we should separate. He directed that the men Freitas, Magellaes, and Anisette should take a course at a right angle to the Itecoahy, so as to reach this river in a short time, where they were to procure a canoe and secure assistance for the rest of us. This, of course, was a chance, but under the circumstances every step was a chance. The Chief himself, Jerome, and I would retrace the route which we had lately travelled and reach Floresta that way. The evening before our departure I did not think myself strong enough to carry my load a single step, but the hypodermic needle, with quinine, which had now become my constant stand-by, lent me an artificial strength, and when the packing was done the next morning, I stood up with the rest and strapped the load on my shoulders.

We parted with the other three men before sunrise, with clasps of the hand that were never to be repeated, and so turned our faces toward the outer world. My only hope was to retain sufficient strength in my emaciated, fever-racked body to drag myself back to Floresta, and from there, in the course of time, get canoe or launch connection to the frontier down the river, and then wait for the steamer that would take me back to "God's Country," where I could eat proper food, and rest - rest.

The jungle no longer seemed beautiful or wonderful to me, but horrible - a place of terror and death.

In my drug-dazed sleep on that back-track, I started up in my hammock, bathed in a sweat of fear from a dream; I saw myself and my companions engulfed in a sea of poisonous green, caught by living creepers that dragged us down and held us in a deadly octopus embrace. The forest was something from which I fled; it was hideous, a trap, with its impenetrable wall of vegetation, its dark shadows, and moist, treacherous ground.

I longed for the open; struggled for it, as the swimmer struggles up for air to escape from the insidious sucking of the undertow.

Starving, weak from fever, oppressed by the thought of death, but lashed on by stimulants and the tenacity of life, I headed with my two comrades out of the world of the unknown, toward the world of men - to Life.