CHAPTER IX. EXPEDITION TO THE SUN-WORSHIPPERS.

[Footnote: An account of this expedition was requested by and sent to the Royal Geographical Society of London, Eng.]

I took passage on the "Urano," a steamer of 1,500 tons, for Concepcion, 200 miles north of Asuncion.

On the second day of our journey the people on board celebrated a church feast, and the pilot, in his anxiety to do it well, got helplessly drunk. The result was that during that night I was thrown out of the top berth I occupied by a terrific thud. The steamer had run on the sandbank of an uninhabited island, and there she stuck fast - immovable. We were landed on the shore, and there had further time for reflection on the mutability of things. In the white sand there were distinct footprints of a large jaguar and cub, probably come to prey on the lazy alligators that were lying on the beach; and I caught sight of a large spotted serpent, which glided into the low jungle where the tiger also doubtless was in hiding.

After three days' detention here, a Brazilian packet took us off. On stepping aboard, I saw what I thought to be two black pigs lying on the deck. I assure the reader that it was some seconds before I discovered that one was not a pig, but a man!

At sunset it is the custom on these river boats for all to have a bath. The females go to one side of the ship, and the males to the other; buckets are lowered, and in turn they throw water over each other. After supper, in the stillness of the evening, dancing is the order, and bare feet keep time to the twang of the guitar.

We occasionally caught sight of savages on the west bank of the river, and the captain informed me that he had once brought up a bag of beans to give them. The beans had been poisoned, in order that the miserable creatures might be swept off the earth!

We landed at Concepcion, and I walked ashore. I found the only British subject living there was a university graduate, but - a prodigal son Owing to his habit of constant drinking, the authorities of the town compelled him to work. As I passed up the street I saw him mending a road of the "far country" There I procured five horses, a stock of beads, knives, etc, for barter, and made ready for my land journey into the far interior. The storekeeper, hearing of my plans, strongly urged me not to attempt the journey, and soon all the village talked. Vague rumors of the unknown savages of the interior had been heard, and it was said the expedition could only end in disaster, especially as I was not even going to get the blessing of the Pai before starting. I was fortunate, however, in securing the companionship of an excellent man who bore the suggestive name of "Old Stabbed Arm"; and Dona Dolores (Mrs. Sorrows), true to her name, whom I engaged to make me about twenty pounds of chipa, said she would intercede with her saint for me. Loading the pack-horse with chipa, beads, looking-glasses, knives, etc., Old Stabbed Arm and I mounted our horses, and, each taking a spare one by the halter, drove the pack-saddle mare in front, leaving the tenderhearted Mrs. Sorrows weeping behind. The roads are simply paths through deep red sand, into which the horses sank up to their knees; and they are so uneven that one side is frequently two feet higher than the other, so we could travel only very slowly. From time to time we had to push our way into the dense forest on either side, in order to give space for a string of bullock carts to go past. These vehicles are eighteen or twenty feet long, but have only two wheels. They are drawn by ten or twelve oxen, which are urged on by goads fastened to a bamboo, twenty feet long, suspended from the roof of the cart, which is thatched with reeds. The goads are artistically trimmed with feathers of parrots and macaws, or with bright ribbons. These are of all colors, but those around the sharp nail at the end are further painted with red blood every time the goad is used.

The carts, rolling and straining like ships in foul weather, can be heard a mile off, owing to the humming screech of the wheels, which are never greased, but on the contrary have powdered charcoal put in them to increase the noise. Without this music (?) the bullocks do not work so well. How the poor animals could manage to draw the load was often a mystery to me, Sections of the road were partly destroyed by landslides and heavy rains, but down the slippery banks of rivers, through the beds of torrents or up the steep inclines they somehow managed to haul the unwieldy vehicle. Strings of loaded donkeys or mules, with jingling bells, also crawled past, and I noticed with a smile that even the animals in this idolatrous land cannot get on without the Virgin, for they have tiny statuettes of her standing between their ears to keep them from danger. Near the town the rivers and streams are bridged over with tree trunks placed longitudinally, and the crevices are filled in with boughs and sods. Some of them are so unsafe and have such gaping holes that I frequently dismounted and led my horse over.

The tropical scenery was superb. Thousands of orange trees growing by the roadside, filled with luscious fruit on the lower branches, and on the top with the incomparable orange blossoms, afforded delight to the eye, and notwithstanding the heat, kept us cool, for as we rode we could pluck and eat. Tree ferns twenty and thirty feet high waved their feathery fronds in the gentle breeze, and wild pineapples growing at our feet loaded the air with fragrance.

There was the graceful pepper tree, luxuriant hanging lichens, or bamboos forty feet high, which riveted the attention and made one think what a beautiful world God has made. Many of the shrubs and plants afford dyes of the richest hues, Azara found four hundred new species of the feathered tribe in the gorgeous woods and coppices of Paraguay, and all, with the melancholy caw, caw of the toucans overhead, spoke of a tropical land. Parrots chattered in the trees, and sometimes a serpent glided across the red sand road. Unfortunately, flies were so numerous and so tormenting that, even with the help of a green branch, we could not keep off the swarms, and around the horses' eyes were dozens of them. Several menacing hornets also troubled us. They are there so fierce that they can easily sting a man or a horse to death!

As night fell we came to an open glade, and there beside a clear, gurgling brook staked out our horses and camped for the night. Building a large fire of brushwood, we ate our supper, and then lay down on our saddlecloths, the firmament of God with its galaxy of stars as our covering overhead.

By next evening we reached the village of Pegwaomi. On the way we had passed a house here and there, and had seen children ten or twelve years of age sucking sticks of sugar-cane, but content with no other clothing than their rosary, or an image of the Virgin round their necks, like those the mules wear. Pegwaomi, I saw, was quite a village, its pretty houses nestling among orange and lime trees, with luscious bananas in the background. There was no Pai in Pegwaomi, so I was able to hold a service in an open shed, with a roof but no walls. The chief man of the village gave me permission to use this novel building, and twenty-three people came to hear the stranger speak. After the service a poor woman was very desirous of confessing her sins to me, and she thought I was a strange preacher when I told her of One in heaven to whom she should confess.

"Paraguay, from its first settlement, never departed from 'the age of faith' Neither doubt nor free-thinking in regard to spiritual affairs ever perplexed the people, but in all religious matters they accepted the words of the fathers as the unquestionable truth. Unfortunately, the priests were, with scarcely an exception, lazy and profligate; yet the people were so superstitious and credulous that they feared to disobey them, or reserve anything which they might be required to confess." [Footnote: Washburn's "History of Paraguay."]

In the front gardens of many of the rustic houses I noticed a wooden cross draped with broad white lace. The dead are always interred in the family garden, and these marked the site of the graves. When the people can afford it, a priest is brought to perform the sad rite of burial, but the Paraguayan Pai is proverbially drunken and lazy. Once after a church feast, which was largely given up to drinking, the priest fell over on the floor in a state of intoxication. "While he thus lay drunk, a boy crawled through the door to ask his blessing, whereupon the priest swore horribly and waved him off, 'Not to-day, not to-day those farces! I am drunk, very drunk!'" Such an one has been described by Pollock: "He was a man who stole the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in; in holy guise transacted villainies that ordinary mortals durst not meddle with."

Lest it might be thought that I am strongly prejudiced, I give this extract from a responsible historian of that unhappy land: "The simple-minded and superstitious Paraguayans reverenced a Pai, or father, as the immediate representative of God. They blindly and implicitly followed the instructions given to them, and did whatever was required at his hands. Many of the licentious brotherhood took advantage of this superstitious confidence placed in them by the people to an extent which, in a moral country, would not only shock every feeling of our nature to relate, but would, in the individual instances, appear to be incredible, and, in the aggregate, be counted as slanderous on humanity."

During my stay in Pagwaomi, a dance was held on the sward outside one of the houses, and the national whirl, the sarandiy, gave pleasure to all. The females wove flowers in their hair, and made garlands of them to adorn their waists. Others had caught fire-flies, which nestled in the wavy tresses and lit up the semi-darkness with a soft light, like so many green stars. Love whisperings, in the musical Guarani, were heard by willing ears, and eyelight was thus added to starlight. As the dancers flitted here and there in their white garments, or came out from the shade of the orange trees, they looked ethereal, like the inhabitants of another world one sees at times in romantic dreams, for this village is surely a hundred years behind the moon.

From this scene of innocent happiness I was taken to more than one sick-bed, for it soon became known that I carried medicines.

Will the reader accompany me? Enter then - a windowless mud hut See, lying on sheepskins and burning with fever, a young woman-almost a girl-wailing "Che raciy!>" (I am sick!) Notice the intense eagerness of her eyes as she gazes into mine when I commence to minister to her. Watch her submit to my necessarily painful treatment with child-like faith. Then, before we quietly steal out again, listen to her low-breathed "Acuerame" (Already I feel better).

In a larger house, a hundred yards away, an earthenware lamp, with cotton wick dipping in raw castor oil, sheds fitful gleams on a dying woman. The trail of sin is only too evident, even in thoughtless Pegwaomi. The tinselled saints are on the altar at the foot of the bed, and on the woman's breast, tightly clutched, is a crucifix, but Mrs. Encarnacion has never heard of the Incarnate One whom she is soon to meet. Perhaps, if Christians are awake by that time, her grandchildren may hear the "story."

In that rustic cottage, half covered with jasmine, and shaded by a royal palm, a child lies very sick. Listen to its low, weak moaning as we cross the threshold. The mother has procured a piece of tape, the length of which, she says, is the exact measure of the head of Saint Blas. This she has repeatedly put around her babe's head as an unfailing cure. Somehow the charm does not work and the woman is sorely perplexed. While we helplessly look on the infant dies! Outside, the moon soared high, throwing a silver veil over the grim pathos of it all; but in the breast of the writer was a surging dissatisfaction and - anger, at his fellow - Christians in the homeland, who in their thoughtless selfishness will not reach out a helping hand to the perishing of other lands.

Would the ever-present Spirit, who wrote "Be ye angry" not understand? Would the Master of patience and forbearance, who Himself showed righteous anger, enter into it? Is the Great God, who sees these sheep left without a shepherd, Himself angry? Surely it is well to ask?

"Oh, heavy lies the weight of ill on many hearts, And comforters are needed sore of Christlike touch."

In this village I made inquiries for another servant and guide, and was directed to "Timoteo, the very man." Liking his looks, and being able to come to satisfactory terms, I engaged him as my second helper. Timoteo had a sister called Salvadora (Saviour). She pounded corn in a mortar with a hardwood pestle, and made me another baking of chipa, with which we further burdened the pack-horse, and away we started again, with affectionate farewells and tears, towards the unknown.

Next day we were joined by a traveller who was escaping to the interior. He plainly declared himself as a murderer, and told us he had shot one of the doctors in Asuncion. Through being well connected, he had, after three weeks' detention in prison, been liberated, as he boasted to us, con todo buen nombre y fama (with good name and report). The relatives of the murdered man, however, did not agree with this verdict, and sought his life. During the day we shot an iguana, and after a meal from its fat tail our new acquaintance, finding the pace too slow for his hasty flight, left us, and I was not sorry. We met a string of bullock carts, each drawn by six animals and having a spare one behind. The lumbering wagons were on their way from the Paraguayan mate fields, and had a load of over two thousand pounds each. Jolting over huge tree-trunks, or anon sinking in a swamp, followed by swarms of gad-flies, the patient animals wended their way.

Here and there one may see by the roadside a large wooden cross, with a rudely carved wooden rooster on the top, while below it are the nails, scourge, hammer, pincers and spear of gruesome crucifixion memory. At other places there are smaller shrines with a statuette of the Virgin inside, and candles invariably burning, provided by the generous wayfarers. It is interesting to note that the old Indians had, at the advent of the Spaniards, cairns of stones along their paths, and the pious Indian would contribute a stone when he passed as an offering to Pachacamac, who would keep away the evil spirits. That custom is still kept up by the Christian (?) Paraguayan, with the difference that now it is given to the Virgin. My guide would get down from his horse when we arrived at these altars, and contribute a stone to the ever-growing heap. If a specially bright one is offered, he told me it was more gratifying to the goddess. Feeling that we were very likely to meet with many evil spirits, Timoteo carefully sought for bright stones. The people are very religious, yet with it all are terribly depraved! The truth is seldom spoken, and my guide was, unfortunately, no exception to the rule. As we left the haunts of men, and difficulties thickened, he would often entreat the help of Holy Mary, but in the same breath would lie and curse!

Sighting a miserable hut, we called to inquire for meat. The master of the house, I discovered, was a leper, and I further learned, on asking if I might water my horses, that the nearest water was three miles away. The man and wife and their large family certainly looked as though water was a luxury too costly to use on the skin. The leper was most hospitable, however; he killed a sheep for us, and we sat down to a feast of mutton. After this we pushed on to water the horses. By sunset we arrived at a cattle ranch near the river Ipane, and there we stayed for the night. At supper all dipped in the same stew-pan, and afterwards rinsed out the mouth with large draughts of water, which they squirted back on the brick floor of the dining- room. The men then smoked cigarettes of tobacco rolled in corn leaves, and the women smoked their six-inch-long cigars. Finding that two of the men understood Spanish, I read some simple parts of scripture to them by the light of a dripping grease lamp. They listened in silence, and wondered at the strange new story. The mosquitoes were so troublesome that a large platform, twenty feet high, had been erected, and after reading all the inmates of the house, with us, ascended the ladder leading to the top. There the mosquitoes did not disturb us, so we slept peacefully on our aerial roost between the fire-flies of the earth and the stars of heaven.

Next day we came to a solitary house, where I noticed strings of meat hung in the sun to dry. This is left, like so many stockings and handkerchiefs, hanging there until it is hard as wood; it will then keep for an indefinite time. There we got a good dinner of fresh beef, and about ten pounds of the dried meat (charqui) to take away with us. At this place I bought two more horses, and we each got a large bullock's horn in which to carry water, swinging from the saddle-tree. I was not sorry to leave this house, for, tearing up the offal around the building, I counted as many as sixty black vultures. Their king, a dirty white bird with crimson neck covered with gore and filth, had already gorged himself with all the blood he could get. "All his sooty subjects stand apart at a respectful distance, whetting their appetites and regaling their nostrils, but never dreaming of an approach to the carcass till their master has sunk into a state of repletion. When the kingly bird, by falling on his side, closing his eyes, and stretching on the ground his unclenched talons, gives notice to his surrounding and expectant subjects that their lord and master has gone to rest, up they hop to the carcass, which in a few minutes is stripped of everything eatable." Here we left the high-road, which is cut through to Punta Pona on the Brazilian frontier, and struck off to the west. Over the grassy plains we made good progress, and by evening were thirty miles farther on our journey. But when we had to cut the path before us through the forest, ten or twelve miles was a good day's work. When the growth was very dense, the morning and evening camps were perhaps only separated by a league. Anon we struggled through a swamp, or the horses stuck fast in a bog, and the carapatas feasted on our blood. "What are carapatas?" you ask. They are leeches, bugs, mosquitos, gad-flies, etc., all compounded into one venomous insect! These voracious green ticks, the size of a bug, are indeed a terrible scourge. They fasten on the body in scores, and when pulled away, either the piece of flesh comes with them or the head of the carapata is torn off. It was easy to pick a hundred of these bugs off the body at night, but it was not easy to sleep after the ordeal! The poor horses, brushing through the branches on which the ticks wait for their prey, were sometimes half covered with them!

As we continued our journey, a house was a rare sight, and soon we came to "the end of Christianity," as Timoteo said, and all civilization was left behind. The sandy road became a track, and then we could no longer follow the path, for there was none to follow. Timoteo had traversed those regions before in search of the mate plant, however, and with my compass I kept the general direction.

After about ten days' travel, during which time we had many reminders that the flesh-pots had been left behind, "Che cane o" (I am tired) was frequently heard. Game was exceedingly scarce, and it was possible to travel for days without sighting any animal or ostrich. We passed no houses, and saw no human beings. For two days we subsisted on hard Indian corn. Water was scarce, and for a week we were unable to wash. Jiggers got into our feet when sleeping on the ground, and these caused great pain and annoyance. Someone has described a jigger as "a cross between Satan and a woodtick." The little insects lay their eggs between the skin and flesh. When the young hatch out, they begin feeding on the blood, and quickly grow half an inch long and cause an intense itching. My feet were swollen so much that I could not get on my riding-boots, and, consequently, my lower limbs were more exposed than ever. If not soon cut out, the flesh around them begins to rot, and mortification sometimes ensues.

On some of the savannas we were able to kill deer and ostrich, but they generally were very scarce. Our fare was varied; sometimes we feaisted on parrot pie or vultures eggs; again we lay down on the hard, stony ground supperless. At such times I would be compelled to rise from time to time and tighten up my belt, until I must have resembled one of the ladies of fashion, so far as the waist was concerned. Again we came to marshy ground, filled with royal duck, teal, water-hens, snipe, etc, and forgot the pangs of past hunger. At such places we would fill our horns and drink the putrid water, or take off our shirts and wash them and our bodies. Mud had to serve for soap. Our washing, spread out on the reeds, would soon dry, and off we would start for another stage.

The unpeopled state of the country was a constant wonder to me; generations have disappeared without leaving a trace of their existence. Sometimes I stopped to admire the pure white water-lilies growing on stagnant black water, or the lovely Victoria Regia, the leaf of which is at times so large as to weigh ten pounds. The flowers have white petals, tinted with rose, and the centre is a deep violet. Their weight is between two and three pounds.

Wherever we camped we lit immense fires of brushwood, and generally slept peacefully, but with loaded rifle at arm's length.

A portion of land which I rode over while in that district must have been just a thin crust covering a mighty cave. The horses' footfalls made hollow sounds, and when the thin roof shook I half expected to be precipitated into unknown depths.

After many weeks of varied experiences we arrived at or near the land I was seeking. There, on the banks of a river, we struck camp, and from there I made short excursions in all directions in order to ascertain the approximate value of the old gentleman's estate. On the land we came upon an encampment of poor, half or wholly naked Caingwa Indians. By them we were kindly received, and found that, notwithstanding their extremely sunken condition and abject poverty, they seemed to have mandioca and bananas in abundance. In return for a few knives and beads, I was able to purchase quite a stock. Seeing that all the dishes, plates, and bottles they have grow in the form of gourds, they imagine all such things we use also grow. It was amusing to hear them ask for seeds of the glass medicine bottles I carried with me.

A drum, ingeniously made by stretching a serpent's skin over a large calabash, was monotonously beaten as our good-night lullaby when we stretched ourselves out on the grass.

The Caingwa men all had their lower lip pierced, and hanging down over the breast was a thin stick about ten inches long. Their faces were also painted in strange patterns.

Learning from their chief that the royal tribe to which they originally belonged lived away in the depths of the forest to the east, some moons distant, I became curious. After repeated enquiries I was told that a king ruled the people there, and that they daily worshipped the sun. Hearing of these sun-worshippers, I determined, if possible, to push on thither. The old chief himself offered to direct us if, in return, I would give him a shirt, a knife, and a number of white beads. The bargain was struck, and arrangements were made to start off at sunrise next day, My commission was not only to see the old gentleman's land, but to visit the surrounding Indians, with a view to missionary work being commenced among them.

The morning dawned clear and propitious, but the chief had decided not to go. On enquiring the reason for the change of mind, I discovered that his people had been telling him that I only wanted to get him into the forest in order to kill him, and that I would not give him the promised shirt and beads. I thought that it was much more likely for him to kill me than I him, and I set his mind at rest about the reward, for on the spot I gave him the coveted articles. On receipt of those luxuries his doubts of me fled, and I soon assured him that I had no intention whatever of taking his life. Towards noon we started off, and, winding our way through the Indian paths in single file, we again soon left behind us all signs of man, and saw nothing to mark that any had passed that way before.

That night, as we sat under a large silk-cotton tree silently eating supper off plates of palm leaves, the old chief suddenly threw down his meat, and, with a startled expression, said, "I hear spirits!" Never having heard such ethereal visitors myself, I smiled incredulously, whereupon the old savage glared at me, and, leaving his food upon the ground went away out of the firelight into the darkness. Afraid that he might take one of the horses and return to his people, I followed to soothe him, but his offended mood did not pass until, as he said, the spirits had gone.

On the third day scarcity of water began to be felt. We had been slowly ascending the rugged steeps of a mountain, and as the day wore on the thirst grew painful. That night both we and the horses had to be content with the dew-drops we sucked from the grass, and our dumb companions showed signs of great exhaustion. The Indian assured me that if we could push on we would, by next evening, come to a beautiful lake in the mountains: so, ere the sun rose next morning, we were in the saddle on our journey to the coveted water.

All that day we plodded along painfully, silently. Our lips were dried together, and our tongues swollen. Thirst hurts! The horses hung their heads and ears, and we were compelled to dismount and go afoot. The poor creatures were getting so thin that our weight seemed to crush them to the earth. The sun again set, darkness fell, and the lake was, for all I could see, a dream of the chief, our guide. At night, after repeating the sucking of the dew, we ate a little, drank the blood of an animal, and tried to sleep. The patient horses stood beside us with closed eyes and bowed heads, until the sight was more than I could bear. Fortunately, a very heavy dew fell, which greatly helped us, and two hours before sunrise next morning the loads were equally distributed on the backs of the seven horses and we started off once again through the mist for water! water! When the sun illuminated the heavens and lit up the rugged peaks of the strangely shaped mountains ahead of us, hope was revived. We sucked the fruit of the date palm, and in imagination bathed and wallowed in the water - beautiful water - we so soon expected to behold. The poor horses, however, not buoyed up with sweet hopes as we were, gave out, one after the other, and we were compelled to cruelly urge them on up the steep. With it all, I had to leave two of the weaker ones behind, purposing, if God should in kindness permit us to reach water, to return and save them.

That afternoon the Indian chief, who, though an old man, had shown wonderful fortitude and endurance, and still led the way, shouted: " Eyoape! Eyoape!" (Come! Come!) We were near the lake. With new- born strength I left all and ran, broke through the brushwood of the shore, jumped into the lake, and found - nothing but hard earth! The lake was dried up! I dug my heel into the ground to see if below the surface there might be soft mud, but failing to find even that, I dropped over with the world dancing in distorted visions before my eyes. More I cannot relate.

How long I lay there I never knew. The Indian, I learned later, exploring a deep gully at the other side, found a putrid pool of slime, full of poisonous frogs and alive with insects. Some of this liquid he brought to me in his hands, and, after putting it in my mouth, had the satisfaction of seeing me revive. I dimly remember that my next act was to crawl towards the water-hole he guided me to. In this I lay and drank. I suppose it soaked into my system as rain in the earth after a drought. That stagnant pool was our salvation. The horses were brought up, and we drank, and drank again. Not until our thirst was slaked did we fully realize how the water stank! When the men were sufficiently refreshed they returned for the abandoned horses, which were found still alive. Had they scented water somewhere and drank? At the foot of the mountains, on the other side, we later discovered much better water, and there we camped, our horses revelling in the abundant pasturage.

After this rest we continued our journey, and next day came to the edge of a virgin forest. Through that, the chief said, we must cut our way, for the royal tribe never came out, and were never visited. Close to the edge of the forest was a deep precipice, at the bottom of which we could discern a silvery streak of clear water. From there we must procure the precious fluid for ourselves and horses. Taking our kettle and horns, we sought the best point to descend, and after considerable difficulty, clinging to the branches of the overhanging trees and the dense undergrowth, we reached the bottom. After slaking our thirst we ascended with filled horns and kettle to water the horses. As may be supposed, this was a tedious task, and the descent had to be made many times before the horses were satisfied. My hat served for watering pail.

Next morning the same process was repeated, and then the men, each with long machetes I had provided, set to work to cut a path through the forest, and Old Stabbed Arm went off in search of game. After a two hours' hunt, a fat ostrich fell before his rifle, and he returned to camp. We still had a little chipa, which had by this time become as hard as stone, but which I jealously guarded to use only in case of the greatest emergency. At times we had been very hungry, but my order was that it should not be touched.

Only the reader who has seen the virgin forest, with its interlacing lianas, thick as a man's leg - the thorns six inches long and sharp as needles - can form an idea of the task before us. As we penetrated farther and farther in the selva, the darkness became deeper and deeper. Giant trees reared their heads one hundred and fifty feet into the heavens, and beautiful palms, with slender trunks and delicate, feathery leaves, waved over us. The medicinal plants were represented by sarsaparilla and many others equally valuable. There was the cocoa palm, the date palm, and the cabbage palm, the latter of which furnished us good food, while the wine tree afforded an excellent and cooling drink. In parts all was covered with beautiful pendant air-flowers, gorgeous with all the colors of the rainbow. Monkeys chattered and parrots screamed, but otherwise there was a sombre stillness. The exhalations from the depth of rotting leaves and the decaying fallen wood rendered the steamy atmosphere most poisonous. Truly, the flora was magnificent, and the fauna, represented by the spotted jaguar, whose roar at times broke the awful quiet of the night, was equally grand.

As the chief, ignorant of hours and miles, could not tell me the extent of the forest, I determined to let him and Timoteo make their way through as best they could, crawling through the branches, to the Sun-Worshippers, and secure their help in cutting a way for the horses. After dividing the food I had, we separated. Timoteo and the Indian crept into the forest and were soon lost sight of, while Old Stabbed Arm and I, with the horses, retraced our steps, and reached the open land again. After an earnest conversation my companion shouldered his rifle and went off to hunt, and I was left with only the companionship of the grazing horses. I remained behind to water the animals, and protect our goods from any prowling savage who might chance to be in the neighborhood. My saddle-bed was spread under a large burning bush, or incense tree, and my self-imposed duty was to keep a fire burning in the open, that its smoke might be seen by day and its light by night.

Going exploring a little, I discovered a much better descent down the precipice, and water was more easily brought up. Indeed, I decided that, if a certain deep chasm were bridged over, it might be possible to get the horses themselves to descend by a winding way. With this object in view I felled saplings near the place, and in a few hours constructed a rough bridge, strong enough to bear a horse's weight. Whether the animals could smell the water flowing at the bottom, or were more agile than I had thought, I cannot tell, but they descended the almost perpendicular path most wonderfully, and soon were taking draughts of the precious liquid with great gusto. Leaving the horses to enjoy their drink, I ascended the stream for some distance, in order to discover, if possible, where the flow came from. Judge of my surprise when I found that the water ran out of a grotto, or cavern, in the face of the cliff-out of the unknown darkness into the sunlight! Walking up the bed of the stream, I entered the cave, and, striking a few matches, found it to be inhabited by hundreds of vampire bats, which were hanging from the sides and stalactites of the roof, like so many damp, black rags. On my entrance the unearthly creatures were disturbed, and many came flying in my face, so I made a quick exit. Several which I killed came floating down the stream with me; one that I measured proved to be twenty-two inches across the wings. My exploration had discovered the secret of the clots of blood we had been finding on the horses' necks every morning. The vampire-bats, in their nightly flights, had been sucking the life- blood of our poor, already starving animals! It is said these loathsome creatures - half beast, half bird - fan their victim to sleep while they drain out the red blood. Provided with palm torches, I again entered the cavern, but could not penetrate its depths; it seemed to go right into the bowels of the mountain. Exploring down stream was more successful, for large flamingoes and wild ducks and geese were found in plenty.

That night I carefully staked out the horses all around the camp-fire and lay down to think and sleep and dream. Old Stabbed Arm had not returned, and I was alone with nature. Several times I rose to see if the horses were securely tied, and to kill any bats I might find disturbing them. Rising in the grey dawn, I watered the horses, cooked a piece of ostrich meat, and started off on foot for a short distance to explore the country to the north, where I saw many indications that tapirs were numerous. My first sight of this peculiar animal of Paraguay I shall never forget. It resembles no other beast I have ever seen, but seems half elephant, with its muzzle like a short trunk. In size it is about six feet long and three and a half feet high. There were also ant-bears, peculiar animals, without teeth, but provided with a rough tongue to lick up the ants. The length of this animal is about four feet, but the thick tail is longer than the body. Whereas the tapir has a hog-like skin, the ant-bear has long, bristly hairs.

Returning to camp, judge of my surprise when I found it in possession of two savages of strange appearance. My first thought was that I had lost all, but, drawing nearer, I discovered that Timoteo and the chief were also there, squatting on the ground, devouring the remains of my breakfast. They had returned from the royal tribe, who had offered to cut a way from their side, and these two strangers were to assist us.

With this additional help we again penetrated the forest. The men cut with a will, and I drove the horses after them. Black, howling monkeys, with long beards and grave countenances, leapt among the trees. Red and blue macaws screeched overhead, and many a large serpent received its death-blow from our machetes. Sometimes we were fortunate enough to secure a bees' nest full of honey, or find luscious fruit. At times I stopped to admire a giant tree, eight or ten feet in diameter, or orchids of the most delicate hues, but the passage was hard and trying, and the stagnant air most difficult to breathe. The fallen tree-trunks, over which we had to step, or go around or under, were very numerous, and sometimes we landed in a bed, not of roses, but of thorns. Sloths and strange birds' nests hung from the trees, while the mosquitos and insects made life almost unendurable. We were covered with carapatas, bruised and torn, and almost eaten up alive with insects.

Under the spreading branches of one of the largest trees we came upon an abandoned Indian camp. This, I was told, had belonged to the "little men of the woods," hairy dwarfs, a few of whom inhabit the depths of the forest, and kill their game with blow-pipes. Of course we saw none of the poor creatures. Their scent is as keen as an animal's; they are agile as monkeys, and make off to hide in the hollow trunks of trees, or bury themselves in the decaying vegetation until danger is past. Poor pigmy! What place will he occupy in the life that is to be?