On the second day of the return trip, we had a remarkable experience. Probably not more than two hundred yards from the tambo where we had spent the night, we heard the noise, as we thought, of a tapir, but nothing could surpass our astonishment when we saw a human being. Who could it be that dared alone to disturb the solitude of the virgin forest, and who went along in these dreary woods humming a melody?

It was a young Indian who approached us cautiously when Jerome spoke in a tongue I did not understand, and evidently told him that we were friends on the way back to our homes by the river. He was an unusually fine specimen of a savage, well built, beautifully proportioned, and with a flawless skin like polished bronze. His clothing was limited to a bark girdle, and a feather head-dress not unlike that worn by some North American Indians.

He was armed with bow and arrows and a blow-gun; and he had a small rubber pouch filled with a brownish substance, the remarkable wourahli poison. He explained to Jerome that his tribe lived in theirmaloca, or tribal house, about 24 hours' march from this place, and that he had been chasing a tapir all day, but had lost its track, and was now returning to his home. He pointed in a north-western direction with his blow-gun, signifying thereby the general route he was going to follow in order to reach his destination. We sat down on the ground and looked at each other for quite a while, and thus I had my first chance of studying a blow-gun and the poisoned arrows, outside a museum, and in a place where it was part of a man's life. At the time I did not know that I was to have a little later a more thorough opportunity of examining this weapon. I asked the Indian, Jerome acting as interpreter, to demonstrate the use of the gun, to which he consented with a grin. We soon heard the chattering of monkeys in the tree-tops, and deftly inserting one of the thin poisoned arrows in the ten-foot tube he pointed the weapon at a swiftly moving body among the branches, and filling his lungs with air, let go. With a slight noise, hardly perceptible, the arrow flew out and pierced the left thigh of a little monkey. Quick as lightning he inserted another arrow and caught one of the other monkeys as it was taking a tremendous leap through the air to a lower branch. The arrow struck this one in the shoulder, but it was a glancing shot and the shaft dropped to the ground. In the meantime the Indian ran after the first monkey and carried it up to me. It seemed fast asleep, suffering no agony whatever; and after five or six minutes its heart ceased beating. The other monkey landed on the branch it was aiming for in its leap, but after a short while it seemed uneasy and sniffed at everything. Finally, its hold on the branch relaxed, it dropped to the ground and was dead in a few minutes. It was a marvellous thing to behold these animals wounded but slightly, the last one only scratched, and yet dying after a few minutes as if they were falling asleep. It was then explained to me that the meat was still good to eat and that the presence of poison would not affect the consumer's stomach in the least; in fact, most of the game these Indians get is procured in this manner. I was lucky enough to secure a snap-shot of this man in the act of using his blow-gun. It proved to be the last photograph I took in the Brazilian jungles. Accidents and sickness subsequently set in, and the fight for life became too hard and all-absorbing even to think of photographing. He left us after an hour's conversation, and we resumed our journey homewards.

We had a slight advantage in retracing our former path. Although the reedy undergrowth had already choked it, we were travelling over ground that we knew, and it was also no longer necessary to delay for the building of tambos; we used the old ones again.

Jerome had complained for some time of a numbness in his fingers and toes, and also of an increasing weakness of the heart that made every step a torment. The Chief and I tried our best to cheer him up, although I felt certain that the brave fellow himself knew what dreadful disease had laid its spell upon him. However, we kept on walking without any words that might tend to lower our already depressed spirits.

But our march was no longer the animated travel it had been on the way out; we talked like automatons rather than like human, thinking beings. Suffering, hunger, and drugs had dulled our senses. Only the will to escape somehow, the instinct of self-preservation, was fully awake in us. A sweep of the machete to cut a barrier bushrope or climber, one foot placed before the other, meant that much nearer to home and safety. Such was now the simple operation of our stupefied and tired brains, brains that could not hold one complex thought to its end; too tired - tired!

At nightfall we stumbled into our old tambo No. 7. There was no thought of securing food, no possibility of getting any; we had been too tired to even attempt to shoot game during the day. The two monkeys which the Indian had killed with his blow-gun were the only food we had and these we now broiled over the camp-fire and devoured fiercely. After this meal, none too good, we slung our hammocks with difficulty and dropped in. Jerome's numbness increased during the night. We were up and on the trail again with the dawn.

In the afternoon we descended a hill to find ourselves confronted by a swamp of unusual extent. The Chief was in the lead as we crossed the swamp and we lost him from our sight for a few minutes. While crossing this wide, slimy-bottomed place, I noticed a peculiar movement in the water near me, and soon made out the slender bodies of swamp-snakes as they whipped past among the branches and reeds. These snakes are called by the Brazilians jararacas and are very poisonous; however, I had no fear for myself as I wore heavy buffalo-hide boots, but the men walked barefooted, and were in great danger. I cried out a warning to Jerome, who took care to thrash about him. We supposed that we had passed this snake-hole without mishap when we rejoined the Chief on "terra firma." He was leaning over, as we approached him, and he turned a face to us that was stricken with fear. He pointed to the instep of his right foot and there on the skin were two tiny spots, marked by the fangs of the snake. Without a word we sank to the ground beside him in despair. The unfortunate man, with dilated eyes fixed upon the ground, crouched waiting for the coming of the pain that would indicate that the poison was working its deadly course, and that the end was near if something was not done immediately.

Losing no more time, I cried to Jerome to pour out some gunpowder while I sucked the wound. While doing this I fumbled in the spacious pockets of my khaki hunting-coat and secured the bistoury with which I made a deep incision in the flesh over the wound, causing the blood to flow freely. In the meantime, Jerome had filled a measure with black powder and this was now emptied into the bleeding wound and a burning match applied at once. The object of this was to cauterise the wound, a method that has been used with success in the outskirts of the world where poisonous reptiles abound and where proper antidotes cannot be had.

The Chief stood the ordeal without a murmur, never flinching even at the explosion of the gunpowder. Jerome and I made him as comfortable as possible, and sat sadly by his side watching him suffer and die by inches.

It is no easy thing to see a man meet death, but under these circumstances it was particularly distressing. The Chief had been a man of a strong constitution particularly adapted to the health-racking work of a rubber-hunter. He it was who with his forest-wisdom had planned all our moves, and had mapped our course through the blind forest, where a man could be lost as easily as on the open sea. He had proved himself a good leader, save for the fatal mistake in delaying our return, over-anxious as he was to render his employer, Coronel da Silva, full and faithful service. He was extremely capable, kind, and human, and a good friend to us all.

We had looked to him for advice in all our needs. He knew the language of the wild beasts of the forest, he knew a way out of everything, and at home he was a most devoted father. Now, this splendid fellow, the sole reliance, in this vast and intricate maze, of Jerome and myself, succumbed before our eyes to one of the dangers of the merciless wilderness. He was beyond all hope. Nothing in our power could to any extent add to the prolongation of his life which slowly ebbed away. About four o'clock in the afternoon his respirations grew difficult, and a few moments later he drew his last painful breath. He died three hours after being bitten by the jararaca. For the second time during that ill-fated journey I went to work digging a grave with my machete, Jerome lending me whatever assistance he could in his enfeebled state. My own condition was such that I had to rest and recover my breath with every few stabs of the machete.

We completed that day's journey late in the afternoon, arriving at tambo No. 6 after taking almost an hour for the last half mile. Jerome could now scarcely stand without my assistance. There was no longer any attempt to disguise the nature of his sickness. He had beri-beri, and that meant in our situation not the slightest chance of recovery. Even with the best of care and nursing his case would be hopeless, for in these regions the disease is absolutely fatal.

We built a fire and managed to get our hammocks fastened in some fashion, but there was not a scrap of food to be had. The heart-leaves from a young palm were chewed in a mood of hopeless desperation.

The next morning it was a task of several minutes for me to get out of the hammock and on my feet. Jerome made several painful efforts and, finally, solved his problem by dropping to the ground. He could not rise until I came to his assistance. Then we two tottering wrecks attempted to carry our heavy loads, but Jerome could not make it; he cast from him everything he owned, even the smallest personal belongings so dear to his simple, pure soul. It was heartrending to see this young man, who in health would have been able to handle three or four of his own size, now reduced to such a pitiful state.

And in my own case, the fever which I had fought off by constant use of the hypodermic needle, now swept over me with renewed violence. The drug did not have the same effect as when I was new to the ravages of the fever.

At this point my recollections became almost inextricably confused. I know that at times I raved wildly as I staggered on, for occasionally I came to myself with strange phrases on my lips addressed to no one in particular. When these lucid moments brought coherent thought, it was the jungle, the endless, all-embracing, fearful jungle, that overwhelmed my mind. No shipwrecked mariner driven to madness by long tossing on a raft at sea ever conceived such hatred and horror of his surroundings as that which now came upon me for the fresh, perpetual, monotonous green of the interminable forest.

About noon the weight on my back became unbearable and I resolved to sacrifice my precious cargo. I threw away my camera, my unexposed plates, all utensils, and four of the boxes of gold dust. This left me with one box of gold, a few boxes of exposed plates (which I eventually succeeded in carrying all the way back to New York), and fifty-six bullets, the automatic revolver, and the machete. Last, but not least, I kept the hypodermic needle and a few more ampules.

We had walked scarcely a quarter of a mile when Jerome collapsed. The poor fellow declared that he was beaten; it was no use to fight any more; he begged me to hurry the inevitable and send a bullet through his brain. The prospect of another visitation of Death aroused me from my stupor. I got him to a dry spot and found some dry leaves and branches with which I started a fire. Jerome was beyond recognising me. He lay by the fire, drawing long, wheezing breaths, and his face was horribly distorted, like that of a man in a violent fit. He babbled incessantly to himself and occasionally stared at me and broke out into shrill, dreadful laughter, that made my flesh creep.

All this overwhelmed me and sapped the little energy I had left. I threw myself on the ground some little distance from the fire, not caring if I ever rose again.

How long it was before a penetrating, weird cry aroused me from this stupor, I do not know, but when I raised my head I saw that the forest was growing dark and the fire burning low. I saw too that Jerome was trying to get on his feet, his eyes bulging from their sockets, his face crimson in colour. He was on one knee, when the thread of life snapped, and he fell headlong into the fire. I saw this as through a hazy veil and almost instantly my senses left me again.

I have no clear knowledge of what happened after this. Throughout the rest of the night, my madness mercifully left me insensible to the full appreciation of the situation and my future prospects. It was night again before I was able to arouse myself from my collapse. The fire was out, the forest dark and still, except for the weird cry of the owl, the uncanny "Mother of the Moon." Poor Jerome lay quiet among the embers. I did not have the courage, even if I had had the strength, to pull the body away, for there could be nothing left of his face by now. I looked at him once more, shuddering, and because I could not walk, I crept on all fours through the brush, without any object in mind, - just kept moving - just crept on like a sick, worthless dog.

One definite incident of the night I remember quite distinctly. It occurred during one of those moments when my senses returned for a while; when I could realise where I was and how I got there. I was crawling through the thicket making small, miserable progress, my insensible face and hands torn and scratched by spines and thorns which I did not heed, when something bumped against my thigh; I clutched at it and my hand closed around the butt of my automatic pistol. The weapon came out of its holster unconsciously, but as I felt my finger rest in the curve of the trigger, I knew that some numbed and exhausted corner of my brain had prompted me to do this thing; indeed, as I weighed the matter with what coolness I could bring to bear, it did not seem particularly wicked. With the pistol in my hand and with the safety released, I believed that the rest would have been easy and even pleasant. What did I have in my favour? What prospect did I have of escaping the jungle? None whatever - none!

There was no shadow of hope for me, and I had long ago given up believing in miracles. For eight days I had scarcely had a mouthful to eat, excepting the broiled monkey at tambo No. 7, shot by the young Indian. The fever had me completely in its grasp. I was left alone more than one hundred miles from human beings in absolute wilderness. I measured cynically the tenaciousness of life, measured the thread that yet held me among the number of the living, and I realised now what the fight between life and death meant to a man brought to bay. I had not the slightest doubt in my mind that this was the last of me. Surely, no man could have been brought lower or to greater extremity and live; no man ever faced a more hopeless proposition. Yet I could or would not yield, but put the pistol back where it belonged.

All night long I crawled on and on and ever on, through the underbrush, with no sense of direction whatever, and still I am sure that I did not crawl in a circle but that I covered a considerable distance. For hours I moved along at the absolute mercy of any beast of the forest that might meet me.

The damp chill of the approaching morning usual in these regions came to me with a cooling touch and restored once more to some extent my sanity. My clothes were almost stripped from my body, and smeared with mud, my hands and face were torn and my knees were a mass of bruises.