The Gran Chaco, an immense region in the interior of the continent, said to be 2,500,000 square miles in extent, is, without doubt, the darkest part of "The Darkest Land." From time immemorial this has been given up to the Indians; or, rather, they have proved so warlike that the white man has not dared to enter the vast plain. The Chaco contains a population of perhaps 3,000,000 of aborigines. These are divided into many tribes, and speak numerous languages. From the military outposts of Argentina at the south, to the Fort of Olimpo, 450 miles north, the country is left entirely to the savage. The former are built to keep back the Tobas from venturing south, and the latter is a Paraguayan fort on the Brazilian frontier. Here about one hundred soldiers are quartered and some fifty women banished, for the Paraguayan Government sends its female convicts there. [Footnote: The women are not provided with even the barest necessities of life. Here they are landed and, perforce, fasten themselves like leeches on the licentious soldiery. I speak from personal knowledge, for I have visited the "hell" of Paraguay.] Between these forts and Bolivia, on the west, I have been privileged to visit eight different tribes of Indians, all of them alike degraded and sunken in the extreme; savage and wild as man, though originally made in the image of God, can be.

The Chaco is a great unknown land. The north, described by Mr. Minchin, Bolivian Government Explorer, as "a barren zone - an almost uninterrupted extent of low, thorny scrub, with great scarcity of water," and the centre and south, as I have seen in exploring journeys, great plains covered with millions of palm trees, through which the astonished traveller can ride for weeks without seeing any limit. In the dry season the land is baked by the intense heat of the tropical sun, and cracked into deep fissures. In the rainy season it is an endless marsh - a veritable dead man's land. During a 200-mile ride, 180 lay through water with the sun almost vertical. All this country in past ages must have been the bed of a great salt sea.

As I have said, the Chaco is peculiarly Indian territory, into which the white man steps at his peril. I accepted a commission, however, to examine and report on certain parts of it, so I left the civilized haunts of men and set foot on the forbidden ground.

My first introduction to the savages in Chaco territory was at their village of Teepmuckthlawhykethy (The Place Where the Cows Arrived). They were busy devouring a dead cow and a newly-born calf, and I saw their naked bodies through such dense clouds of mosquitos that in one clap of the hands I could kill twenty or thirty. This Indian toldo consists of three large wigwams, in which live about eighty of the most degraded aborigines to be found on earth. When they learned I was not one of the Christians from across the river, and that I came well introduced, they asked: Did I come across the big water in a dug-out? Was it a day's journey? Would I give them some of "the stuff that resembles the eggs of the ant?" (their name for rice).

I was permitted to occupy a palm hut without a roof, but I slept under a tiger's skin, and that kept off dew and rain. They reserved the right to come and go in it as they pleased. The women, with naked babies astride their hips, the usual way of carrying them, were particularly annoying. A little girl, however, perhaps ten years old, named Supupnik (Sawdust), made friends with me, and that friendship lasted during all my stay with them. Her face was always grotesquely painted, but she was a sweet child.

These Indians are of normal stature, and are always erect and stately, perhaps because all burdens are borne by straps on the forehead. The expression of the savage is peculiar, for he pulls out all the hair on his face, even the eyelashes and eyebrows, and seems to think the omission of that act would be a terrible breach of cleanliness. These same individuals will, however, frequently be seen with their whole body so coated with dirt that it could easily be scraped off with a knife in cakes, as the housewife would scrape a burnt loaf! The first use to which the women put the little round tin looking-glasses, which I used for barter, was to admire their pretty (?) faces; but the men, with a sober look, would search for the detested hair on lip or chin. That I was so lost to decency as to suffer a moustache to cover my lip was to them a constant puzzle and wonder, for in every other respect the universal opinion was that I was a civilized kind of "thing." I write thing advisedly, for the white man is to them an inferior creation - not a person.

In place of a beard or moustache, the inhabitant of the Chaco prefers to paint his face, and sometimes he makes quite an artistic design.

These wild inhabitants of Central South America generally wear a skin around the loins, or a string of ostrich feathers. Some tribes, as, for example, the Chamacocos, dispense with either. The height of fashion is to wear strings of tigers' teeth, deer's hoofs, birds' bills, etc., around the neck. Strings of feathers or wool are twisted around ankles and wrists, while the thickly matted hair is adorned with plumes, standing upright.

The men insert round pieces of wood in the lobe of the ear. Boys of tender age have a sharp thorn pushed through the ear, where more civilized nations wear earrings. This hole is gradually enlarged until manhood, when a round piece, two inches in diameter and one and a half inches thick, can be worn, not depending from the ear, but in the gristle of it. The cartilage is thus so distended that only a narrow rim remains around the ornament, and this may often be seen broken out. Sometimes three or four rattles from the tail of the rattlesnake also hang from the ear on to the shoulder.

These tribes of the Chaco were all vassals of the Inca at the advent of the Spaniards. They had been by them reclaimed from savagery, and taught many useful arts, one or two of which, such as the making of blankets and string, they still retain. The Inca used the ear ornaments of solid gold, but made in the form of a wheel. The nearest approach to this old custom is when the wooden ear-plug is painted thus, as are some in the author's possession.

I was fortunate in gaining the favor of the tribe living near the river, and because of certain favors conferred upon them, was adopted into the family. My face was painted, my head adorned with ostrich plumes, and I was given the name of Wanampangapthling ithma (Big Cactus Red Mouth). Because of this formal initiation, I was privileged to travel where I chose, but to the native Paraguayan or Argentine the Chaco is a forbidden land. The Indian describes himself as a man ; monkeys are little men; I was a thing; but the Paraguayans are Christians, and that is the lowest degree of all. The priests they see on the other side of the river are Yankilwana (neither man nor woman); and a Yankilwana, in his distinctive garb, could never tread this Indian soil. So abhorrent to them is the name of Christian, that the missionaries have been compelled to use another word to describe their converts, and they are called "Followers of Jesus." All the members of some large expeditions have been massacred just because they were Christians. Surely this is convincing corroboration of my remarks regarding the state of Roman Catholicism in those dark lands.

A few miserable-looking, diminutive sheep are kept by some tribes, and the blankets referred to are made from the wool, which is torn off the sheep with a sharp shell, or, if near the coast, with a knife. The blankets are woven by hand across two straight branches of tree, and they are sometimes colored in various shades. A bulbous root they know of dyes brown, the cochineal insect red, and the bark of a tree yellow. String is made from the fibre of the caraguatai plant, and snail shells are used to extract the fibre. This work is, of course, done by the women, as is also the making of the clay pots they use for cooking. The men only hunt.

All sleep on the ground, men, women, children and dogs, promiscuously. The wigwams are nothing more than a few branches stuck in the ground and tied at the top. The sides are left open. Very often even this most primitive of dwellings is dispensed with, and the degraded beings crawl under the shelter of the bushes. Furniture of any kind they are, of course, wit-out, and their destitution is only equalled by the African pigmy or the Australian black.

The Chaco is essentially a barren land, and the Indians' time seems almost fully taken up in procuring food. The men, with bows and arrows, hunt the deer, ostrich, fox, or wolf, while the women forage for roots and wild fruit.

One tribe in the north of the Chaco are cannibals, and they occasionally make war on their neighbors just to obtain food.

A good vegetable diet is the cabbage, which grows in the heart of certain palms, and weighs three or four pounds. To secure this the tree has perforce to be cut down. To the Indian without an axe this is no light task. The palm, as is well known, differs from other trees by its having the seat of life in the head, and not in the roots; so when the cabbage is taken out the tree dies.

Anything, everything, is eaten for food, and a roasted serpent or boiled fox is equally relished. During my stay among them I ceased to ask of what the mess was composed; each dish was worse than the former. Among the first dishes I had were mandioca root, a black carrion bird, goat's meat, and fox's head. The puma, otter, ant-bear, deer, armadillo, and ostrich are alike eaten, as is also the jaguar, a ferocious beast of immense size. I brought away from those regions some beautiful skins of this animal, the largest of which measures nearly nine feet from nose to tail.

In the sluggish, almost salt, streams, fish are numerous, and these are shot by the Indian with arrows, to which is attached a string of gut. Lakes and rivers are also filled with hideous-looking alligators of all sizes. These grow to the length of twelve or fifteen feet in these warm waters, and the tail is considered quite a delicacy. Besides these varied dishes, there is the electric eel; and, sunk in a yard depth of mud, is the lollock, of such interest to naturalists The lollock is a fish peculiar to the Chaco. Though growing to the length of three and four feet, it has only rudimentary eyes, and is, in consequence, quite blind; it is also unable to swim. The savage prods in the mud with a long notched lance, sometimes for hours, until he sticks the appetizing fish.

The steamy waters are so covered with aquatic plants that in some places I have been able to walk across a living bridge. Once, when out hunting, I came upon a beautiful forest glade, covered with a carpet of green. Thinking it a likely place for deer, I entered, when lo, I sank in a fotid lake of slime. Throwing my gun on to the bank, I had quite a difficulty to regain dry land.

In my journeyings here and there I employed one or another of the braves to accompany me. All they could eat and some little present was the pay. No sooner was the gift in their hand, however, after supper, than they would put it back in mine and say, "Give me some more food?" I was at first accompanied by Yantiwau (The Wolf Rider). Armed with a bow and arrows, he was a good hunter for me, and a faithful servant, but his custom of spitting on my knife and spoon to clean them I did not like. When my supplies were getting low, and I went to the river for a wash, he would say: "There's no kiltanithliacack (soap) - only clupup (sand)." Yantiwau was interested in pictures; he would gaze with wondering eyes at photos, or views of other lands, but he looked at them the wrong side up, as they all invariably do. While possessed of a profound respect for me in some ways, he thought me very lacking in common knowledge. While I was unable to procure game, through not seeing any, he could call the bird to him in a "ducky, ducky, come and be killed" kind of way; and my tongue was parched when he would scent water. This was sometimes very easy to smell, however, for it was almost impossible to drink out of a waterhole without holding the nose and straining the liquid through my closed teeth. Chaco water at best is very brackish, and on drying off the ground a white coat of salt is left.

My Indian's first and last thought was of his stomach. While capable of passing two or three days without eating, and feeling no pangs of hunger, yet, when food was to hand, he gorged himself, and could put away an incredible amount. Truly, his make-up was a constant wonder to me. Riding through the "hungry belt" I would be famishing, but to my question: "Are you hungry?" he would answer, "No." After a toilsome journey, and no supper at the end: "Would you like to eat?" "No." But let an ostrich or a deer come in sight, and he could not live another minute without food! Another proof to Yantiwau of my incapacity was the fact that when my matches were all used I could not light the fire. He, by rubbing a blunt-pointed hard stick in a groove of soft wood, could cause such a friction that the dust would speedily ignite, and set fire to the dry twigs which he was so clever in collecting. Although such a simple process to the Indian, I never met a white man who could use the firesticks with effect.

Sitting by the camp-fire in the stillness of evening, my guide would draw attention to a shooting star. "Look! That is a bad witch doctor," he would say. "Did you notice he went to the west? Well, the Toothlis live there. He has gone for vengeance!"

The wide palm plains are almost uninhabited; I have journeyed eighty miles without sighting human being or wigwam. In the rainy season the trees stand out of a sea-like expanse of steaming water, and one may wade through this for twenty miles without finding a dry place for bivouac. Ant hills, ten and fifteen feet high, with dome-shaped roofs, dot the wild waste like pigmy houses, and sometimes they are the only dry land found to rest on. The horses flounder through the mire, or sink up to the belly in slime, while clouds of flies make the life of man and beast a living death. Keys rust in the pocket, and boots mildew in a day. At other seasons, as I know by painful experience, the hard-baked ground is cracked up into fissures, and not a drop of water is to be found in a three days' journey. The miserable savages either sit in utter dejection on logs of wood or tree roots, viewing the watery expanse, or roam the country in search of yingmin (water).

Whereas the Caingwas may be described as inoffensive Indians, the inhabitants of the Chaco are savages, hostile to the white man, who only here and there, with their permission, has settled on the river bank. Generally a people of fine physique and iron constitution, free from disease of any kind, they are swept into eternity in an incredibly short space of time if civilized diseases are introduced. Even the milder ones, such as measles, decimate a whole tribe; and I have known communities swept away as autumn leaves in a strong breeze with the grippe. I was informed that the hospital authorities at Asuncion gave them the cast-off fever clothing of their patients during an epidemic to sweep them off the face of the earth!

The Indians have been ill-treated from the beginning. Darwin relates that, in their eagerness to exterminate the red men, the Argentine troops have pursued them for three days without food. On the frontier they are killed in hundreds; by submitting to the white man they die in thousands. Latin civilization is more terrible to them than war. Sad to state, their only hope is to fight, and this the savage affirms he will do for ever and ever.

Francia, the Dictator of Paraguay, ordered every Indian found - man, woman or child - to be put to death! Lopez, a later ruler, took sport in hunting Indians like deer. We are told that on one occasion he was so successful as to kill forty-eight! The children he captured and sold into slavery at fifteen and twenty dollars each. The white settler considers himself very brave if he kills the savage with a rifle sighted at five hundred yards, while well out of range of the Indians' arrows, and I have known them shot just "for fun"! The Indians retaliate by cutting off the heels of their white captives, or leaving them, in statu naturae, bound with thongs on an anthill; and a more terrible death could not be devised by even the inquisitor, Torquemada, of everlasting execration. The Indian is hard and cruel, indifferent to pain in himself or others. A serpent may sting a comrade, and he takes no notice; but let one find food and there is a general scamper to the spot. The Chaco savage is barbarous in the extreme. The slain enemies are often eaten, and the bones burnt and scattered over their food. The children of enemies are traded off to other tribes for more food.

The Chaco Indian is a born warrior. Sad to say, his only hope is to fight against the Latin paleface.

Most of us have at times been able to detect a peculiar aroma in the negro. The keen-scented savage detects that something in us, and we "smell" to them. Even I, Big Cactus Red Mouth, was not declared free from a subtle odor, although I washed so often that they wondered my skin did not come off. They never wash, and in damp weather the dirt peels from them in cakes. Of course they don't smell!

When a man or woman is, through age, no longer capable of looking after the needs of the body, a shallow grave is dug, the aged one doubled up until the knees are pressed into the hollow cheeks, and the back is broken. This terrible work done, the undesired one is dragged by one leg to the open tomb. Sometimes the face and whole body is so mangled, by being pulled through thorns and over uneven ground, that it is not recognizable, and the nose has at times been actually torn off. While sometimes still alive, the body is covered up with mother earth. Frequently the grave is so shallow that the matted hair may be seen coming out at the top. The burial is generally made near a wood, and, if passible, under the holy wood tree, which, in their judgment, has great influence with evil spirits. Wild beasts, attracted by the odor of the corpse, soon dig up the remains, and before next day it is frequently devoured.

An ordinary burial service may be thus described: A deep cut is first made in the stomach of the departed one. Into this incision a stone, some bone ash, and a bird's claw are introduced. The body is then placed over the grave on two sticks, a muttering incantation is said by the witch doctor, and the sticks are roughly knocked from under the body, so as to permit it to fall in a sitting posture. A bow and arrows, and some food and cooking utensils, are dropped into the grave. All shooting stars, according to the Indian belief, are flying stones; hence the custom of placing a stone in the stomach of the dead. It is supposed to be able to mount heavenward, and, assuming its true character, become the avenging adversary, and destroy the one who caused the death - always a bad witch doctor. The bird's claw scratches out the enemy's heart, and the ashes annihilate the spirit. One of the missionaries in the Lengua tribe stated that he assisted at the burial of a woman where the corpse fell head foremost into the grave, the feet remaining up. Four times the attempt to drop her in right was made, with similar results, and finally the husband deliberately broke his dead wife's neck, and bent the head on to the back; then he broke her limbs across his knee, and so the ghastly burial was at last completed! Truly, "the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty." Let the one whose idea is to "leave the pagan in his innocency" visit these savages, and, if he lives to tell it, his ideas will have undergone a great change. They are lost! and millions have not yet heard of the "Son of Man," who "came to seek and to save that which was lost."

At the death of any member, the toldo in which he lived is burnt, all his possessions are destroyed, and the people go into mourning. The hair of both sexes is cut short or pulled out, and each one has the face blackened with a vegetable dye, which, from experience, I know hardly ever wears off again. As I have said, everything the man owned in life is burnt and the village is deserted; all move right away to get out of the presence of the death-giving spirit. To me the toldo would not only seem abandoned, but the people gone without leaving a trace of their path; but not so to Wolf Rider, my guide. By the position of the half-burnt wood of the fire, he could tell the direction they had taken, and the number gone - although each steps in the other's footprints - whether they were stopping to hunt on the way, and much more he would never tell me. Some of the missionaries have spent ten years in the Chaco, but cannot get the savage to teach them this lesson of signs.

In some tribes the aged ones are just "left to die" sitting under a palm-leaf mat. All the members of the tribe move away and leave them thus. Many are the terrible things my eyes have witnessed, but surely the most pathetic was the sight of an old woman sitting under the mat. I was one day riding alone, but had with me two horses, when I caught sight of the palm-leaf erection and the solitary figure sitting under it. Getting down from my horse, I approached the woman and offered to take her to a place of safety, promising to feed her and permit her to live as long as she chose. Would she come with me? I begged and entreated, but the poor woman would not so much as lift her eyes to mine. The law of her tribe had said she must die, and the laws are to them unalterable. Most reluctantly, I left her to be eaten later on by the wild beasts.

Terrible as this custom is, other tribes kill and eat their aged parents "as a mark of respect." Another tribe will not permit one member to go into the spirit world alone, so they hang another one, in order that there may be two to enter together.

Whereas the Caingwas are a religious people, even attributing their custom of piercing the lip to divine commandment, the Chaco aborigines have no god and no religion. Missionaries in the solitary station I have referred to, after ten years' probing, have been unable to find any approach to worship in their darkened minda. "The miserable wretches who inhabit that vast wilderness are so low in the scale of reasoning beings that one might doubt whether or not they have human souls." [Footnote: Washburn's "History of Paraguay."] These "lost sheep" have no word to express God, and have no idols. "The poverty of the Indian dialects of the Chaco is scarcely surpassed by that of the dumb brutes."

These wretched tribes have perfect community of goods; what is secured by one belongs equally to all. A piece of cloth is either torn up and distributed, or worn in turns by each one. The shirt which I gave my guide, Yantiwau, for much arduous toil, was worn by one and another alternately. Much as the savage at first desires to possess some garment, it does not take long for him to tire of it. All agree with Mark Twain, that "the human skin is the most comfortable of all costumes," and, clothed in the sunlight, the human form divine is not unlovely.

Sometimes the Indians of the interior take skins, etc., to the Paraguayan towns across the river. Not knowing the use of money, their little trading is done by barter. Their knowledge of value is so crude that on one occasion they refused a two-dollar axe for an article, but gladly accepted a ten-cent knife. The Chaco Indian, however, is seldom seen in civilization. His home is in the interior of an unknown country, which he wanders over in wild freedom. While the Caingwas are homekeeping, these savages are nomadic, and could not settle down. The land is either burnt up or inundated, so they do not plant, but live only by the chase. So bold and daring are they that a man, armed only with a lance, will attack a savage jaguar; or, diving under an alligator, he will stab it with a sharpened bone. The same man will run in abject terror if he thinks he hears spirits.

Though not religious, the savages are exceedingly superstitious, afraid of ghosts and evil spirits, and the fear of these spectral visitants pursues them through life. During a storm they vigorously shake their blankets and mutter incantations to keep away supernatural visitors.

All diseases are caused by evil spirits, or the moon; and a comet brings the measles. The help of the witch doctor has to be sought on all occasions, for his special work is to drive away the evil spirit that has taken possession of a sick one. This he does by rattling a hollow calabash containing stones. That important person will perform his mystic hocus pocus over the sick or dying, and charm away the spirits from a neighborhood. I have known an Indian, when in great pain through having eaten too much, send for the old fakir, who, after examination of the patient and great show of learning, declared that the suffering one had two tigers in his stomach. A very common remedy is the somewhat scientific operation of bleeding a patient, but the manner is certainly uncommon - the witch doctor sucks out the blood. One I was acquainted with, among the Lengua tribe, professed to suck three cats out of a man's stomach. His professional name was thereafter "Father of Kittens." The doctor's position is not one to be envied, however, for if three consecutive patients die, he must follow them down the dark trail!

These medicine-men are experts in poisons, and their enemies have a way of dying suddenly. It cannot be denied that the Indians have a very real knowledge of the healing virtues of many plants. The writer has marvelled at the cures he has seen, and was not slow to add some of their methods to his medical knowledge. Not a few who have been healed, since the writer's return to civilization, owe their new life to the knowledge there learned.

Infanticide is practised in every tribe, and in my extensive wanderings among eight toldos, I never met a family with more than two children. The rest are killed! A child is born, and the mother immediately knocks it on the head with a club! After covering the baby with a layer of earth, the woman goes about as if nothing had occurred. One chief of the Lengua tribe, that I met, had himself killed nineteen children. An ironwood club is kept in each toldo for this gruesome work. Frequently a live child is buried with a dead parent; but I had better leave much of their doings in the inkpot.

When a girl enters the matrimonial market, at about the age of twelve or thirteen, her face is specially colored with a yellow paint, made from the flower of the date palm, and the aspirant to her hand brings a bundle of firewood, neatly tied up, which he places beside her earthen bed at early morning. As the rising sun gilds the eastern sky, the girl awakes out of her sleep, rubs her eyes, - and sees the sticks. Well does she know the meaning of it, and a glad light flashes in her dark eyes as she cries out, "Who brought the sticks?" All men, women and children, take up the cry, and soon the whole encampment resounds with, "Who brought the sticks?" The medicine-man, who sleeps apart from the "common herd" under an incense-tree, hears the din, and, quickly donning his head-dress, hurries down to the scene. With an authoritative voice, which even the chief himself does not use, he demands, "Who brought the sticks?" until a young brave steps forward in front of him and replies, "Father of Kittens, I brought the sticks." This young man is then commanded to stand apart, the girl is hunted out, and together they wait while the witch-doctor X-rays them through and through. After this close scrutiny, they are asked: "Do you want this man?" "Do you want this girl?" To which they reply, "Yes, Father of Kittens, I do." Then, with great show of power, the medicine-man says, "Go!" and off the newly-married pair start, to live together until death (in the form of burial) does them part.

It may be a great surprise to the reader to learn that these savages are exceedingly moral. Infidelity between man and wife is punished with death, but in all my travels I only heard of one such case. A man marries only one wife, and although any expression of love between them is never seen, they yet seem to think of one another in a tender way, and it is especially noticeable that the parents are kind to their children.

One evening I rode into an encampment of savages who were celebrating a feast. About fifty specially-decked-out Indians were standing in a circle, and one of the number had a large and very noisy rattle, with which he kept time to the chant of Ha ha ha ha ha! u u u u u! o o o oo! au au au au au! The lurid lights of the fires burning all around lit up this truly savage scene. The witch-doctor, the old fakir named "Father of Kittens," came to me and looked me through and through with his piercing eyes. I was given the rattle, and, although very tired, had to keep up a constant din, while my wild companions bent their bodies in strange contortions. In the centre of the ring was a woman with a lighted pipe in her hand. She passed this from one to another and pushed it into the mouth of each one, who had "a draw." My turn came, and lo! the pipe was thrust between my teeth, and the din went on: Ha ha! u u! o o! au au! This feast lasted three nights and two days, but the music was not varied, and neither man nor woman seemed to sleep or rest. Food was cooking at the different fires, attended by the women, but my share was only a roasted fox's head! The animal was laid on the wood, with skin, head and legs still attached, and the whole was burnt black. I was very hungry, and ate my portion thankfully. Christopher North said: "There's a deal of fine confused feeding about a sheep's head," and so I found with the fox's. Truly, as the Indian says, "hunger is a very big man."

At these feasts a drum, made by stretching a serpent's skin over one of their clay pots, is loudly beaten, and the thigh-bone of an ostrich, with key-holes burned in, is a common musical instrument. From thealgarroba bean an intoxicating drink is made, called ang- min, and then yells, hellish sounds and murderous blows inspire terror in the paleface guest. "It is impossible to conceive anything more wild and savage than the scene of their bivouac. Some drink till they are intoxicated, others swallow the steaming blood of slaughtered animals for their supper, and then, sick from drunkenness, they cast it up again, and are besmeared with gore and filth."

After the feast was over I held a service, and told how sin was injected into us by the evil spirit, but that all are invited to the heavenly feast. My address was listened to in perfect silence, and the nodding heads showed that some, at least, understood it. When I finished speaking, a poor woman, thinking she must offer something, gave me her baby - a naked little creature that had never been washed in its life. I took it up and kissed it, and the poor woman smiled. Yes, a savage woman can smile.

As already stated, many different tribes of Indians dwell in the Chaco, and each have their different customs. In the Suhin tribe the rite of burial may be thus described. "The digger of the grave and the performer of the ceremony was the chief, who is also a witch- doctor, and I was told that he was about to destroy the witch-doctor who had caused the man's death. A fire was lit, and whilst the digging was in progress a stone and two pieces of iron were being heated. Two bones of a horse, a large bird's nest built of sticks, and various twigs were collected. The skin of a jaguar's head, a tooth, and the pads of the same animal were laid out. A piece of wax and a stone were also heated; and in a heap lay a hide, some skins for bedding, and a quantity of sheep's wool. The grave being finished, the ceremony began by a wooden arrow being notched in the middle and waxed, then plunged into the right breast of the corpse, when it was snapped in two at the notch, and the remaining half was flung into the air, accompanied with a vengeful cry, in the direction of the Toothli tribe, one of whose doctors, it was supposed, had caused the man's death. Short pointed sticks, apparently to represent arrows, were also daubed with wax, two being plunged into the throat and one into the left breast, the cry again accompanying each insertion. One of the jaguar's pads was next taken, and the head of the corpse torn by the claws, the growl of the animal being imitated during the process. An incision was next made in the cheek, and the tooth inserted; then the head and face were daubed with the heated wax. The use of the wax is evidently to signify the desire that both arrows and animal may stick to the man if he be attacked by either. The arrows were plunged, one into the right breast downwards, and another below the ribs, on the same side, but in an upward direction, a third being driven into the right thigh. They also spoke about breaking one of the arms, but did not do so. An incision being made in the abdomen, the heated stone was then placed within the body. They place most reliance upon the work of the stone. The ceremony is known by the name of 'Mataimang' stone, and all the other things are said to assist it. Meteorites, when seen to pass along the sky, are regarded with awe; they are believed to be these stones in passage. The body was placed in the grave with the head to the west, the jaguar's head and pads being first placed under it. A bunch of grass, tied together, was placed upon the body; then the bird's nest was burned upon it. The bones were next thrown in, and over all the various articles before mentioned were placed. These were to accompany the soul in its passage to the west. In this act the idea of a future state is more distinctly seen than ever it has been seen amongst the Lenguas, who burn all a man's possessions at his death. The ceremony finished, the grave was covered in, logs and twigs being carelessly thrown on the top, apparently simply to indicate the existence of a grave. The thing which struck me most was the intense spirit of vengeance shown."

Notwithstanding such terrible savagery, however, the Indian has ideas of right and wrong that put Christian civilization to shame. The people are perfectly honest and truthful. I believe they cannot lie, and stealing is entirely unknown among them.

Many are the experiences I have had in the Chaco. Some of them haunt me still like ghostly shadows. The evening camp-fire, the glare of 
 which lit up and made more hideous still my savage followers, gorging themselves until covered with filth and gore. The times when, from sheer hunger, I have, like them, torn up bird or beast and eaten it raw. The draughts of water from the Indian hole containing the putrefying remains of some dead animal; my shirt dropping off in rags and no wash for three weeks. The journeys through miles of malarial swamps and pathless wilderness. The revolting food, and the want of food. Ah! the memory is a bad dream from which I must awake.

The other side, you say? Yes, there is another. A cloudless blue sky overhead. The gorgeous air-flowers, delicate and fragrant. Trees covered with a drapery of orchidaceae. The loveliest of flowers and shrubs. Birds of rainbow beauty, painted by the hand of God, as only He can. Flamingoes, parrots, humming-birds, butterflies of every size and hue. Arborescent ferns; cacti, thirty feet high, like huge candelabra. Creeping plants growing a hundred feet, and then passing from the top of one ever-vernal tree to another, forming a canopy for one from the sun's rays. Chattering monkeys. Deer, with more beautiful eyes than ever woman had since Eve fell. The balmy air wafting incense from the burning bush; and last, but oh, not least, the joy in seeing the degraded aborigine learning to love the "Light of the World"! Yes, there are delights; but "life is real, life is earnest," and a meal of algarroba beans (the husks of the prodigal son of Luke XV.) is not any more tempting if eaten under the shade of a waving palm of surpassing beauty.

The mission station previously referred to lies one hundred miles in from the river bank, three hundred miles north of Asuncion, among the Lengua Indians. As far as I am aware, no Paraguayan has ever visited there. The missionaries wish their influence to be the only one in training the Indian mind. The village bears the strange name of Waikthlatemialwa (The Place Where the Toads Arrived). At the invitation of the missionaries, I was privileged to go there and see their work. A trail leads in from the river bank, but it is so bad that bullock carts taking in provisions occupy ten and twelve days on the journey. Tamaswa (The Locust Eater), my guide, led me all during the first day out through a palm forest, and at night we slept on the hard ground. The Indian was a convert of the mission, and although painted, feathered and almost naked, seemed really an exemplary Christian. The missionaries labored for eleven years without gaining a single convert, but Tamaswa is not the only "follower of Jesus" now. During the day we shot a deer, and that evening, being very hungry, I ate perhaps two pounds of meat. Tamaswa finished the rest! True, it was only a small deer, but as I wish to retain my character for veracity, I dare not say how much it weighed. This meal concluded, we knelt on the ground. I read out of the old Book: "I go to prepare a place for you," and Locust Eater offered a simple prayer for protection, help and safety to the God who understands all languages.

My blanket was wet through and through with the green slime through which we had waded and splashed for hours, but we curled ourselves up under a beer barrel tree and tried to sleep. The howling jaguars and other beasts of prey in the jungle made this almost impossible. Several times I was awakened by my guide rising, and, by the light of a palm torch, searching for wood to replenish the dying fire, in the smoke of which we slept, as a help against the millions of mosquitos buzzing around. Towards morning a large beast of some kind leaped right over me, and I rose to rekindle the fire, which my guide had suffered to die out, and then I watched until day dawned. As all the deer was consumed, we started off without breakfast, but were fortunate later on in being able to shoot two wild turkeys.

That day we rode on through the endless forest of palms, and waded through a quagmire at least eight miles in extent, where the green slime reached up to the saddle-flaps. On that day we came to a sluggish stream, bearing the name of "Aptikpangmakthlaingwainkyapaimpangkya" (The Place Where the Pots Were Struck When They Were About to Feast). There a punt was moored, into which we placed our saddles, etc., and paddled across, while the horses swam the almost stagnant water. Saddling up on the other side, we had a journey of thirty miles to make before arriving at a waterhole, where we camped for the second night. I don't know what real nectar is, but that water was nectar to me, although the horses sniffed and at first refused to drink it.

At sunset on the third day we emerged from the palm forest and endless marshes, and by the evening of the fourth day the church, built of palm logs, loomed up on the horizon. Many of the Indians came out to meet us, and my arrival was the talk of the village. The people seemed happy, and the missionaries made me at home in their roughly-built log shanties. Next morning I found a gift had been brought me by the Indians. It was a beautiful feather headdress, but it had just been left on the step, the usual way they have of making presents. The Indian expects no thanks, and he gives none. The women received any present I handed them courteously but silently. The men would accept a looking-glass from me and immediately commence to search their face for any trace of "dirty hairs," probably brought to their mind by the sight of mine, but not even a grunt of satisfaction would be given. No Chaco language has a word for "thanks."

There is, among the Lenguas, an old tradition to the effect that for generations they have been expecting the arrival of some strangers who would live among them and teach them about the spirit-world. These long-looked-for teachers were called The Imlah. The tradition says that when the Imlah arrive, all the Indians must obey their teaching, and take care that the said Imlah do not again leave their country, for if so they, the Indians, would disappear from the land. When Mr. Grubb and his helpers first landed, they were immediately asked, "Are you the Imlah?" and to this question they, of course, answered yes. Was it not because of this tradition that the Indian who later shot Mr. Grubb with a poisoned arrow was himself put to death by the tribe?

About twenty boys attend the school established at Waikthlatemialwa, and strange names some of them bear; let Haikuk (Little Dead One) serve as an example. It is truly a cheering sight to see this sign of a brighter day. When these boys return to their distant toldos to tell "the news" to their dark-minded parents, the most wonderful of all to relate is "Liklamo ithnik nata abwathwuk enthlit God; hingyahamok hiknata apkyapasa apkyitka abwanthlabanko. Aptakmilkischik sat ankuk appaiwa ingyitsipe sata netin thlamokthloho abyiam." [Footnote: John 3:16]

Well might the wondering mother of "Dark Cloud" call her next-born "Samai" (The Dawn of Day).

The Indian counts by his hands and feet. Five would be one hand, two hands ten, two hands and a foot fifteen, and a specially clever savage could even count "my two hands and my two feet." Now Mr. Hunt is changing that: five is thalmemik, ten sohok-emek, fifteen sohokthlama-eminik, and twenty sohok-emankuk.

When a boy in school desires to say eighteen, he must first of all take a good deep breath, for sohok-emek-wakthla-mok-eminick-antanthlama is no short word. This literally means: "finished my hands - pass to my other foot three."

At the school I saw the skin of a water-snake twenty-six feet nine inches long, but a book of pictures I had interested the boys far more.

The mission workers have each a name given to them by the Indians, and some of them are more than strange. Apkilwankakme (The Man Who Forgot His Face) used to be called Nason when he moved in high English circles; now he is ragged and torn-looking; but the old Book my mother used to read says: "He that loseth his life for My sake shall find it." Some of us have yet to learn that if we would rememberHis face it is necessary for us to forget our own. If the unbeliever in mission work were to go to Waik-thlatemialwa, he would come away a converted man. The former witch-doctor, who for long made "havoc," but has since been born again, would tell him that during a recent famine he talked to the Unseen Spirit, and said: "Give us food, God!" and that, when only away a very short while, his arrows killed three ostriches and a deer. He would see Mrs. Mopilinkilana walking about, clothed and in her right mind. Who is she? The murderess of her four children - the woman who could see the skull of her own boy kicking about the toldo for days, and watch it finally cracked up and eaten by the dogs. Can such as she be changed? The Scripture says: "Every one that believeth."

The Lengua language contains no word for God, worship, praise, sacrifice, sin, holiness, reward, punishment or duty, but their meanings are now being made clear.

The church at Waikthlatemialwa has no colored glass windows - old canvas bags take their place. The reverent worshippers assemble morning and evening, in all the pride of their paint and feathers, but there is no hideous idol inside; nay! they worship the invisible One, whom they can see even with closely shut eyes. To watch the men and women, with erect bearing, and each walking in the other's footsteps, enter the church, is a sight well worth the seeing. They bow themselves, not before some fetish, as one might suppose, but to the One whom, having not seen, some of them are learning to love.

One of the missionaries translated my simple address to the dusky congregation, who listened with wondering awe to the ever-new story of Jesus. As the Lengua language contains no word for God, the Indians have adopted our English word, and both that name and Jesus came out in striking distinctness during the service, and in the fervent prayer of the old ex-witch-doctor which followed. With the familiar hymn, "There is a green hill far away," the meeting concluded. The women with nervous air silently retired, but the men saluted me, and some even went so far as to shake hands - with the left hand. Would that similar stations were established all over this neglected land! While churches and mission buildings crowd each other in the home lands, the Chaco, with an estimated population of three millions, must be content with this one ray of light in the dense night.

On that far-off "green hill" we shall meet some even from the Lengua tribe. Christ said: "I am the door; by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." But oh, "Painted Face," you spoke truth; the white "thing"is selfish, and keeps this wondrous knowledge to himself.