CHAPTER IV. THE PRAIRIE AND ITS INHABITANTS.

The Pampas, or prairie lands of the Argentine, stretch to the south and west of Buenos Ayres, and cover some 800,000 square miles. On this vast level plain, watered by sluggish streams or shallow lakes, boundless as the ocean, seemingly limitless in extent, there is an exhilarating air and a rich herbage on which browse countless herds of cattle, horses, and flocks of sheep. The grass grows tall, and miles upon miles of rich scarlet, white, or yellow flowers mingle with or overtop it. Beds of thistles, in which the cattle completely hide themselves, stretch away for leagues and leagues, and present an almost unbroken sheet of purple flowers. So vast are these thistle- beds that a day's ride through them only leaves the traveller with the same purple forest stretching away to the horizon. The florist would be enchanted to see whole tracts of land covered by the Verbena Melindres, which appears, even long before you reach it, to be of a bright scarlet. There are also acres and acres of the many- flowered camomile and numberless other plants; while large tracts of low-lying land are covered with coarse pampa grass, affording shelter for numberless deer, and many varieties of ducks, cranes, flamingoes, swans and turkeys. Wood there is none, with the exception of a solitary tree here and there at great distances, generally marking the site of some cattle establishment OP estancia. An ombu, or cluster of blue gums, is certain to be planted there.

On this prairie, man, notwithstanding the fact that he is the "lord of creation," is decidedly in the minority. Millions of four-footed animals roam the plains, but he may be counted by hundreds. Let us turn to him, however, in his isolated home, for the Gaucho has been described as one of the most interesting races on the face of the earth. A descendant of the old conquerors, who, leaving their fair ones in the Spanish peninsula, took unto them as wives the unclothed women of the new world, he inherits the color and habits of the one with the vices and dignity of the other. Living the wild, free life of the Indian, and retaining the language of Spain; the finest horseman of the world, and perhaps the worst assassin; the most open- handed and hospitable, yet the accomplished purloiner of his neighbor's cattle; imitating the Spaniard in the beautifully-chased silver trappings of his horse, and the untutored Indian in his miserable adobe hovel; spending his whole wealth in heavy gold or silver bell-shaped stirrups, bridle, or spurs (the rowel of the latter sometimes having a diameter of six inches), and leaving his home destitute of the veriest necessities of life - such is the Gaucho. A horn or shell from the river's bed makes his spoon, gourds provide him with his plates and dishes; but his knife, with gold or silver handle and sheath, is almost a little fortune in itself. Content in his dwelling to sit on a bullock's skull, on horseback his saddle must be mounted in silver. His own beard and hair he seldom trims, but his horse's mane and tail must be assiduously tended. The baked-mud floor of his abode is littered with filth and dirt, while he raves at a speck of mud on his embroidered silk saddle-cloth.

The Gaucho is a strange contradiction. He has blushed at my good but plain-looking saddle, yet courteously asked me to take a skull seat. He may possess five hundred horses, but you search his kitchen in vain for a plate. If you please him he will present you with his best horse, waving away your thanks. If you displease him, his long knife will just as readily find its way to your heart, for he kills his enemies with as little compunction as he kills the ostrich. "The Gaucho, with his proud and dissolute air, is the most unique of all South American characters. He is courageous and cruel, active and tireless. Never more at ease than when on the wildest horse; on the ground, out of his element. His politeness is excessive, his nature fierce." The children do not, like ours, play with toys, but delight the parents' hearts by teasing a cat or dog. These they will stick with a thorn or pointed bone to hear them yell, or, later on, lasso and half choke them. "They will put out their eyes, and such like childish games, innocent little darlings that they are." Cold-blooded torture is their delight, and they will cheer at the sight of blood.

To describe the dress of this descendant of Adam I feel myself incapable. A shirt and a big slouch hat seem to be the only articles of attire like ours. Coat, trousers or shoes he does not wear. Instead of the first mentioned, he uses the poncho, a long, broad blanket, with a slit in the centre to admit his head. For trousers he wears very wide white drawers, richly embroidered with broad needlework and stiffly starched. Over these he puts a black chiripa, which really I cannot describe other than as similar to the napkins the mother provides for her child. Below this black and white leg covering come the long boots, made from one piece of seamless hide. These boots are nothing more than the skin from the hind legs of an animal - generally a full-grown horse. The bend of the horse's leg makes the boot's heel. Naturally the toes protrude, and this is not sewn up, for the Gaucho never puts more than his big toe in the stirrup, which, like the bit in his horse's mouth, must be of solid silver. A dandy will beautifully scallop these rawhide boots around the tops and toes, and keep them soft with an occasional application of grease. No heel is ever attached. Around the man's waist, holding up his drawers and chiripa, is wound a long colored belt, with tasseled ends left hanging over his boot, down the right side; and over that he invariably wears a broad skin belt, clasped at the front with silver and adorned all around with gold or silver coins. In this the long knife is carried.

What shall I say of the domestic life of these people? Unfortunately, marriage is practically unknown among them. The father gives his son a few cattle, and the young man, after building himself a house, conducts thither his chosen one. Unhappily, constancy in either man or woman is a rare virtue.

Of the superstitious side of the Gancho race I might speak much. In the saints the female especially implicitly believes. These, her deities, are all-powerful, and to them she appeals for the satisfaction of her every desire. Saint Clementina's help is sought by the girl when her lover betrays her. Another saint will aid her in poisoning him. If the wife thinks her husband long in bringing the evening meal, she has informed me, a word with Saint Anthony is sufficient, and she hears the sound of his horse's hoofs. Saint Anthony seems to be useful on many occasions of distress. One evening I called at a rancho made of dry thistle-stalks bound together with hide and thatched with reeds, Finding the inmates very hospitable, I stayed there two or three hours to rest. Coming out of the house again, I found to my dismay that during our animated gossip my horse had broken loose and left me. Now the loss of a horse is too trivial a matter to interest Anthony the saint, but a horse having saddle and bridle attached to him makes it quite a different matter, for these often cost ten times the price of the horse. One of the saint's especial duties is to find a lost saddled horse, if the owner or interested one only promises to burn a candle in his honor. The night was very dark, and no sign of the animal was to be seen. Mine host laid his ear to the ground and listened, then, leaping on his horse, he galloped into the darkness, from whence he brought my lost animal. I did not learn until afterwards that Mrs. Jesus, for such was the woman's name, had sought the help of Saint Anthony on my behalf. I am sure she lost her previous good opinion of me when I thanked her husband but did not offer a special colored candle to her saint.

Among these strange people I commenced a school, and had the joy of teaching numbers of them to read the Spanish Bible. Boys and girls came long distances on horseback, and, although some of them had perhaps never seen a book before, I found them exceedingly quick to learn. In four or five months the older ones were able to read any ordinary chapter. In arithmetic they were inconceivably dull, and after three months' tuition some of them could not count ten.

I have said the saints are greatly honored among these people. My Christmas cards generally found their way to adorn their altars. Every house has its favorite, and some of these are regarded as especially clever in curing sickness. It being a very unhealthful, low-lying district where my school was, I contracted malarial fever, and went to bed very sick. Every day some of the children would come to enquire after me, but Celestino, one of the larger boys, came one morning with a very special message from his mother. This communication was to the effect that they did not wish the school- teacher to die, he being "rather a nice kind of a man and well liked." Because of this she would be pleased to let me have her favorite saint. This image I could stand at the head of my bed, and its very presence would cure me. When I refused this offer and smiled at its absurdity, the boy thought me very strange. To be so wise in some respects, and yet so ignorant as to refuse such a chance, was to him incomprehensible. The saints, I found, are there often lent out to friends that they may exercise their healing powers, or rented out to strangers at so much a day, When they are not thus on duty, but in a quiet corner of the hut, they get lonely. The woman will then go for a visit, taking her saint with her, either in her arms or tied to the saddle. This image she will place with the saint her host owns, and they will talk together and teach one another. A saint is supposed to know only its own particular work, although one named Santa Rita is said to be a worker of impossibilities. Some of them are only very rudely carved images, dressed in tawdry finery. I have sometimes thought that a Parisian doll of modern make, able to open and close its eyes, etc., would in their esteem be even competent to raise the dead! [Footnote: Writing of Spanish American Romanism, Everybody's Magazine says: "To the student of human nature, which means the study of evil as well as good, this religious body is of absorbing interest. One would look to find these enthusiasts righteous and virtuous in their daily life; but, apart from the annual week of penance, their religion influences them not at all, and on the whole the members of the Brotherhood constitute a desperate class, dangerous to society."]

In cases of sickness very simple remedies are used, and not a few utterly nonsensical. To cure pains in the stomach they tie around them the skin of the comadreka, a small, vile-smelling animal. This they told me was a sovereign remedy. If the sufferer be a babe, a cross made on its stomach is sufficient to perfectly cure it. I have seen seven pieces of the root of the white lily, which there grows wild, tied around the neck of an infant in order that its teeth might come with greater promptitude and less pain. A string of dog's teeth serves the same purpose. To cure a bad wound, the priest will be called in that he may write around the sore some Latin prayer backwards. Headache is easily cured by tying around the head the cast-off skin of a snake. Two puppies are killed and bound one on each side of a broken limb. If a charm is worn around the neck no poison can be harmful. For a sore throat it is sufficient to expectorate in the fire three times, making a cross. Lockjaw is effectually stopped by tying around the sufferer's jaws the strings from a virgin's skirt; and they say also that powdered excrement of a dog, taken in a glass of water, cures the smallpox patient,

As Mrs. Jesus sent her boy to my school, so Mrs. Flower sent her girl. The latter was perhaps the most deluded woman I have met. Her every act was bad in itself or characterized by superstitious devotion. She was one of the Church's favorite worshippers, and while I was in the neighborhood she sold her cows and horses and presented the priest at the nearest town with a large and expensive silver cross - the emblem of suffering purity. Near her lived a person for whom she had an especial aversion, but that enemy she got rid of in surely the strangest of ways, which she described to me. Catching a snake, and holding it so that its poison might not reach her, she passed a threaded needle through both its eyes. When this was done she let it go again, alive, and, carefully guarding the needle, approached the person from behind and made a cross with the thread. The undesired one disappeared, having probably heard of the enchantment, and being equally superstitious, or - the charm worked!

Mrs. Flower was a most repulsive-looking creature. Her skin was exactly the color of an old copper coin. She did not resemble any flower I have seen in either hemisphere. Far was she from being a rose, but she certainly possessed the thorn. Her love for the saints was most marked, and I have known her promise St. Roque that she would walk six miles carrying his image if he would only grant her a certain prayer. This petition he granted, and off she trudged with her divine (?) load. Those acquainted with dwellers on the prairie know that this was indeed a great task, horses being so cheap and riding so universal. Mrs. Flower was unaccustomed to walk even the shortest distance. I myself can bear witness to the fact that even strong men find it hard to walk a mile after spending years in equestrian travel. The native tells you that God formed your legs so that you might be able to sit on a horse rather than to walk with them. A favorite expression with them is, "I was born on horseback."

Stone not being found on the pampas, these people generally build their houses of square sods, with a roof of plaited grasses - sometimes I have observed these beautifully woven together. Two or more holes, according to the size of the house, are left to serve for door and window. Wood cannot be obtained, glass has not been introduced, so the holes are left as open spaces, across which, when the pampa wind blows, a hide is stretched. No hole is left in the roof for the smoke of the fire to escape, for this to the native is no inconvenience whatever. When I have been compelled to fly with racking cough and splitting head, he has calmly asked the reason. Never could I bear the blinding smoke that issues from his fire of sheep or cow dung burning on the earthen floor, though he heeds it not as, sitting on a bullock's skull, he ravenously eats his evening meal.

If entertaining a stranger, he will press uncut joint after joint of his asado upon him. This asado is meat roasted over the fire on a spit; if beef, with the skin and hair still attached. Meat cooked in this way is a real delicacy. A favorite dish with them (I held a different opinion) is a half-formed calf, taken before its proper time of birth. The meat is often dipped in the ashes in lieu of salt. I have said the Gaucho has no chair. I might add that neither has he a table, for with his fingers and knife he eats the meat off the fire. Forks he is without, and a horn or shell spoon conveys the soup to his mouth direct from the copper pan. So universal is the use of the shell for this service that the native does not speak of it as caracol, the real word for shell, but calls it cuchara del agua, or water spoon. Of knives he possesses more than enough, and heavy, long, sharp-pointed ones they are. When his hunger is appeased the knife goes, not to the kitchen, but to his belt, where, when not in his hand, you may always see it. With that weapon he kills a sheep, cuts off the head of a serpent - seemingly, however, not doing it much harm, for it still wriggles - sticks his horse when in anger, and, alas, as I have said, sometimes stabs his fellow-man. Being so far isolated from the coast, he is necessarily entirely uneducated. The forward march of the outer world concerns him not; indeed he imagines that his native prairie stretches away to the end of the world. He will gaze with wonder on your watch, for his only mode of ascertaining the time is by the shadow the sun casts. As that luminary rises and sets, so he sleeps and wakes. His only bed is the sheepskin, which when riding he fastens over his saddle, and the latter article forms his pillow. His coverlet is the firmament of heaven, the Southern Cross and other constellations, unseen by dwellers in the Northern Hemisphere, seeming to keep watch over him; or in the colder season his poncho, which I have already described. Around his couch flit the fireflies, resembling so many stars of earth with their strangely radiant lights. The brightness of one, when held near the face of my watch, made light enough to enable me to ascertain the hour, even on the darkest night.

The Gaucho with his horse is at home anywhere. When on a journey he will stop for the evening meal beside the dry bones of some dead animal. With these and grass he will make a fire and cook the meat he carries hanging behind him on the saddle. I have known an animal killed and the meat cooked with its own bones, but this is not usual. Dry bones burn better, and thistle-stalks better still. He will then lie down on mother earth with the horse-cloth under him and the saddle for a pillow. When travelling with these men I have known them, without any comment, stretch themselves on the ground, even though the rain was falling, and soon be in dreamland. After having passed a wretched night myself, I have asked them, "How did you sleep?" "Muy Bien, Senor" (Very good, sir), has been the invariable answer. They would often growl much, however, over the wet saddle- cloths, for these soon cause a horse's back to become sore.

Here and there, but sometimes at long distances apart, there is a pulperia on the road. This is always designated by having a white flag flying on the end of a long bamboo. At these places cheap spirits of wine and very bad rum can be bought, along with tobacco, hard ship-biscuits (very often full of maggots, as I know only too well), and a few other more necessary things. I have observed in some of these wayside inns counters made of turf, built in blocks as bricks would be. Here the natives stop to drink long and deep, and stew their meagre brains in bad spirits. These draughts result in quarrels and sometimes in murder.

The Gaucho, like the Indian, cannot drink liquor without becoming maddened by it. He will then do things which in his sober moments he would not dream of. I was acquainted with a man who owned a horse of which he was very fond This animal bore him one evening to a pulperia some miles distant, and was left tied outside while he imbibed his fill inside. Coming out at length beastly intoxicated, he mounted his horse and proceeded homeward. Arriving at a fork in the path, the faithful horse took the one leading home, but the rider, thinking in his stupor that the other way was the right one, turned the horse's head. As the poor creature wanted to get home and have the saddle taken off, it turned again. This affront was too much for the Gaucho, who is a man of volcanic passions, so drawing his knife, he stabbed it in the neck, and they dropped to the ground together. When he realized that he had killed his favorite horse he cried like a child. I passed this dead animal several times afterwards and saw the vultures clean its bones. It served me as a witness to the results of ungoverned passion.

The Gaucho does not, and would not under any consideration, ride a mare; consequently, for work she is practically valueless. Strain, who rode across the pampas, says: "In a single year ten million hides were exported." For one or two dollars each the buyer may purchase any number; indeed, of such little worth are the mares that they are very often killed for their hide, or to serve as food for swine. At one estancia I visited I was informed that one was killed each day for pig feed. The mare can be driven long distances, even a hundred miles a day, for several successive days, The Argentine army must surely be the most mobile of any in the world, for its soldiers, when on the march, get nothing but mare's flesh and the custom gives them great facility of movement. The horse has, more or less, its standard value, and costs four or five times the price of the mare.

Sometimes it happens that the native finds a colt which is positively untamable. On the cheek of such an animal the Gaucho will burn a cross and then allow it to go free, like the scape-goat mentioned in the book of Leviticus.

The native horse is rather small, but very wiry and wild. I was once compelled, through sickness, to make a journey of ninety-seven miles, being in the saddle for seventeen consecutive hours, and yet my poor horse was unable to get one mouthful of food on the journey, and the saddle was not taken off his back for a moment. He was very wild, yet one evening between five and eight o'clock, he bore me safely a distance of thirty-six miles, and returned the same distance with me on the following morning. He had not eaten or drunk anything during the night, for the locusts had devoured all pasturage and no rain had fallen for a space of five months.

The horse is not indigenous to America, although Darwin tells us that South America had a native horse, which lived and disappeared ages ago. Spanish history informs us that they were first landed in Buenos Ayres in 1537. We are further told that the Indians flew away in terror at the sight of a man on horseback, which they took to be one animal of a strange, two-headed shape. When the colony was for a time deserted these horses were suffered to run wild. Those animals so multiplied and spread over such a vast area that they were found, forty-three years later, even down to the Straits of Magellan, a distance of eleven hundred miles. With good pasture and a limitless expanse to roam over, they soon turned from the dozens to thousands, and may now be counted by millions. The Patagonian "foot" Indians quickly turned into "horse" Indians, for on those wide prairie lands a man without a horse is almost comparable to a man without legs. In former years, thousands of wild horses roamed over these extensive plains, but the struggle of mankind in the battle of life turned men's attention to them, and they were captured and branded by whomsoever had the power and cared to take the trouble. In the more isolated districts, there may still be found numbers which are born and die without ever feeling the touch of saddle or bridle. Far away from the crowded busses and perpetually moving hansoms of the city, they feel not the driver's whip nor the strain of the wagon, as, with tail trailing on the ground and head erect, they gallop in freedom of life. Happy they!

In all directions on the prairie ostriches are found. The natives catch them with boliadoras, an old Indian weapon, which is simply three round stones, incased in bags of hide, tied together by twisted ropes, also of hide. When the hunters have, by galloping from different directions, baffled the bird in his flight, they thunder down upon him, and, throwing the boliadoras round his legs, where they entangle, effectually stop his flight. I have seen this weapon thrown a distance of about eighty yards.

The ostrich is a bird with wonderful digestive powers, which I often have envied him; he eats grass or pebbles, insects or bones, as suits his varying fancy. If you drop your knife or any other article, he will stop to examine it, being most inquisitive, and, if possible, he will swallow it. The flesh of the ostrich is dry and tough, and its feathers are not to be compared in beauty with those of the African specimen. Generally a very harmless bird, he is truly formidable during breeding time. If one of the eggs is so much as touched he will break the whole number to shivers. Woe to the man whom he savagely attacks at such times; one kick of his great foot, with its sharp claws, is sufficient to open the body of man or horse. The Gaucho uses the skin from the neck of this bird as a tobacco pouch, and the eggs are considered a great delicacy. One is equal to about sixteen hen's eggs.

As all creation has its enemy, the ostrich finds his in the iguana, or lizard - an unsightly, scaly, long-tailed species of land crocodile. This animal, when full-grown, attains the length of five feet, and is of a dark green color. He, when he can procure them, feeds on the ostrich eggs, which I believe must be a very strengthening diet. The lizard, after fattening himself upon them during the six hotter months of the year, is enabled to retire to the recesses of his cave, where he tranquilly sleeps through the remaining six. The shell of the ostrich's egg is about the thickness of an antique china cup, but the iguana finds no difficulty in breaking it open with a slash of his tail This wily animal is more astute than the bird, which lays its eggs in the open spaces, for the lizard, with her claws, digs a hole in the ground, in which hers are dropped to the number of dozens. The lizard does not provide shells for her eggs, but only covers them with a thick, soft skin, and they, buried in the soil, eventually hatch themselves.

When the Gaucho cannot obtain a better meal, the tail of the lizard is not considered such a despicable dish by him, for he is no epicure. When he has nothing he is also contented. His philosophy is: "Nunca tenga hambre cuando no hay que comer" (Never be hungry when no food is to be had).

The estancia, or catile ranch, is a feature of the Argentine prairie. Some of these establishments are very large, even up to one hundred square miles in extent. On them hundreds of thousands of cattle, sheep and horses are herded. "It is not improbable that there are more cattle in the pampas and llanos of South America than in all the rest of the world." [Footnote: Dr. Hartwig in "Argentina," 1910] An estancia is almost invariably called by the name of some saint, as are the different fields belonging to it. "Holy Mary field" and "Saint Joseph field" are common names. Notwithstanding the fact that there may be thousands of cows on a ranch, the visitor may be unable to get a drop of milk to drink. "Cows are not made to milk, but to eat," they say. Life on these establishments is rough and the fare generally very coarse. Even among the wealthy people I have visited you may sit down to dinner with nothing but meat put before you, without a bite of bread or any vegetables. All drink water out of an earthenware pitcher of peculiar shape, which is the centrepiece of the table.

Around the ranches of the people are many mice, which must be of a ferocious nature, for if one is caught in a trap it will be found next morning half, if not almost wholly, eaten by its own comrades. Well is it called "the cannibal mouse."

In times of drought the heat of the sun dries up all vegetation. The least spark of fire then suffices to create a mighty blaze, especially if accompanied by the pampero wind, which blows with irresistible force in its sweep over hundreds of miles of level ground. The fire, gathering strength as it goes, drives all before it, or wraps everything in its devouring flames. Casting a lurid light in the heavens, towards which rise volumes of smoke, it attracts the attention of the native, who lifts his starting eyes towards heaven in a speechless prayer to the Holy Virgin. Madly leaping on his fleetest horse, without saddle, and often without bridle, he wildly gallops down the wind, as the roaring, crackling fire gains upon him. In this mad race for life, men, horses, ostriches, deer, bullocks, etc., join, striving to excel each other in speed. Strange to say, the horse the native rides, cheered on by the touch of his master, is often the first to gain the lake or river, where, beneath its waters at least, refuge may be found. In their wild stampede, vast herds of cattle trample and fall on one another and are drowned. A more complete destruction could not overtake the unfortunate traveller than to be caught by this remorseless foe, for not even his ashes could be found by mourning friends. The ground thus burnt retains its heat for days. I have had occasion to cross blackened wastes a week after this most destructive force in nature had done its work, and my horse has frequently reared in the air at the touch of the hot soil on his hoofs.

The Gaucho has a strange method of fighting these fires. Several mares are killed and opened, and they, by means of lassos, are dragged over the burning grass.

The immensity of the pampas is so great that one may travel many miles without sighting a single tree or human habitation. The weary traveller finds his only shade from the sun's pitiless rays under the broad brim of his sombrero. At times, with ears forward and extended nostrils, the horse gazes intently at the rippling blue waters of the mirage, that most tantalizingly deceptive phenomenon of nature. May it never be the lot of my reader to be misled by the illusive mirage as I have been. How could I mistake vapor for clear, gurgling water? Yet, how many times was I here deceived! Visions of great lakes and broad rivers rose up before me, lapping emerald green shores, where I could cool my parched tongue and lave in their crystal depths; yet to-day those waters are as far off as ever, and exist only in my hopes of Paradise. Not until I stand by the "River of Life" shall I behold the reality.

The inhabitant of these treeless, trackless solitudes, which, with their waving grass, remind one of the bosom of the ocean, develops a keen sight Where the stranger, after intently gazing, descries nothing, he will not only inform him that animals are in sight, but will, moreover, tell him what they are. I am blest with a very clear vision, but even when, after standing on my horse's back, I have made out nothing, the Gaucho could tell me that over there was a drove of cattle, a herd of deer, a troop of horses, or a house.

It is estimated that there are two hundred and forty millions of acres of wheat land in the Argentine, and of late years the prairie has developed into one of the largest wheat-producing countries in the world, and yet only one per cent, of its cultivable area is so far occupied.

The Gaucho is no farmer, and all his land is given up to cattle grazing, so chacras are worked generally by foreign settlers. The province of Entre Rios has been settled largely by Swiss and Italian farmers from the Piedmont Hills. Baron Hirsch has also planted a colony of Russian Jews there, and provided them with farm implements. Wheat, corn, and linseed are the principal crops, but sweet potatoes, tobacco, and fruit trees do well in this virgin ground, fertilized by the dead animals of centuries. The soil is rich, and two or three crops can often be harvested in a year.

No other part of the world has in recent years suffered from such a plague of locusts as the agricultural districts of Argentina. They come from the north in clouds that sometimes darken the sun. Some of the swarms have been estimated to be sixty miles long and from twelve to fifteen miles wide. Fields which in the morning stand high with waving corn, are by evening only comparable to ploughed or burnt lands. Even the roots are eaten up.

In 1907 the Argentine Government organized a bureau for the destruction of locusts, and in 1908 $4,500,000 was placed by Congress at the disposal of this commission. An organized service, embracing thousands of men, is in readiness at any moment to send a force to any place where danger is reported. Railway trains have been repeatedly stopped, and literally many tons of them have had to be taken off the track. A fine of $100 is imposed upon any settler failing to report the presence of locust swarms or hopper eggs on his land. Various means are adopted by the land-owner to save what he can from the voracious insects. Men, women and children mount their horses and drive flocks of sheep to and fro over the ground to kill them. A squatter with whom I stayed got his laborers to gallop a troop of mares furiously around his garden to keep them from settling there. All, however, seemed useless. About midsummer the locust lays its eggs under an inch or two of soil. Each female will drop from thirty to fifty eggs, all at the same time, in a mass resembling a head of wheat. As many as 50,000 eggs have been counted in a space less than three and a half feet square.

During my sojourn in Entre Rios, the province where this insect seems to come in greatest numbers, a law was passed that every man over the age of fourteen years, whether native or foreigner, rich or poor, was compelled to dig out and carry to Government depots, four pounds weight of locusts' eggs. It was supposed that this energetic measure would lessen their numbers. Many tons were collected and burnt, but, I assure the reader, no appreciable difference whatever was made in their legions. The young jumpers came, eating all before them, and their numbers seemed infinite. Men dug trenches, kindled fires, and burned millions of them. Ditches two yards wide and deep and two hundred feet long were completely filled up by these living waves. But all efforts were unavailing - the earth remained covered. A Waldensian acquaintance suffered for several years from this fearful plague. Some seasons he was not even able to get back so much as the seed he planted. If the locusts passed him, it so happened that thepampero wind blew with such terrific force that we have looked in vain even for the straw. The latter was actually torn up by the roots and whirled away, none knew whither. At other times large hailstones, for which the country is noted, have destroyed everything, or tens of thousands of green paroquets have done their destructive work. When a five-months' drought was parching everything, I have heard him reverently pray that God would spare him wheat sufficient to feed his family. This food God gave him, and he thankfully invited me to share it. I rejoice in being able to say that he afterwards became rich, and had his favorite saying, "Dios no me olvidae" (God will not forget me), abundantly verified.

Notwithstanding natural drawbacks, which every country has, Argentina can claim to have gone forward as no other country has during the last ten years. There are many estates worth more than a million dollars. Dr. W. A. Hirot, in "Argentina," says: "Argentina has more live stock than any other country of the world. Ten million hides have been exported in one year, and it is not improbable that there are more cattle in South America than there are in all the rest of the world combined." Belgium has 220 people occupying the space one person has in Argentina, so who can prophesy as to its future?