Blue, glossy green, and velvet black, 
    They coiled and swam; and every track 
    Was a flash of golden fire.

Tuesday, September 5th. - We got under way at 6 a.m., and soon bade adieu to Rio, where we have spent so many happy days, and to our friends on board H.M.S. 'Volage' and 'Ready,' with whom we interchanged salutes in passing. It was a dull wet morning, and we could not see much of the beauties we were leaving behind us. The peak of Tijuca and the summit of the Corcovado were scarcely visible, and the Sugarloaf and Gavia looked cold and grey in the early mist. It was not long before we were rolling on the bar, and then tumbling about in very uncomfortable fashion in the rough sea outside. One by one we all disappeared below, where most of us remained during the greater part of the day. As for me, I went to bed for good at six o'clock in the evening, but was called up again at ten, to see some large bonitos playing about the bows of the yacht. It was really worth the trouble of getting up and climbing quite into the bows of the vessel to watch them, as they gambolled and frisked about, brightly illumined by the phosphorescence of the water, now swimming together steadily in pairs or fours, now starting in sudden pursuit of one of their number, who would make an independent rush forward in advance of his companions.

Saturday, September 9th. - The last three days have been showery, with squalls which have freshened to a gale, and we are now scudding along, under all storm canvas, followed by crowds of cape-pigeons and cape-hens, and a few albatrosses. Towards this evening, however, the wind fell light, and we got up steam, in order to be prepared for any emergency, as a calm is frequently succeeded on this coast by apampero, and we are now approaching a lee shore.

Sunday, September 10th. - Tom has been on deck nearly all night. The shore is very low and difficult to distinguish, and the lights are badly kept. If the lighthouse-keeper happens to have plenty of oil, and is not out shooting or fishing, he lights his lamp; otherwise, he omits to perform this rather important part of his duties. The lighthouses can therefore hardly be said to be of much use. About 5 a.m. Kindred rushed down into our cabin, and woke Tom, calling out, 'Land to leeward, sir!' and then rushed up on deck again. The first glimmer of dawn had enabled him to see that we were running straight on to the low sandy shore, about three miles off, a very strong current having set us ten miles out of our course. The yacht's head was accordingly at once put round, and steaming seaward we soon left all danger behind. The sun rose brilliantly, and the weather during the day was very fine. Morning service was impossible, owing to the necessity for a constant observation of the land; but, after making the lighthouse on Santa Maria, we had prayers at 4.30 p.m., with the hymn, 'For those at Sea.' In the night we made the light on Flores, burning brightly, and before morning those in the harbour of Monte Video.

Monday, September 11th. - After making the Flores light we proceeded slowly, and dropped our anchor in the outer roads of Monte Video at 4 a.m. At seven o'clock we got it up again, and by eight were anchored close to the shore. We found that our arrival was expected, and the health-officers' boat was soon alongside. Next came an officer from the United States' man-of-war 'Frolic,' with polite messages and offers of service; and then a steam-launch belonging to the Pacific Company, and another from the Consul, Major Monro, with piles of letters and newspapers for us.

Monte Video, as seen from the water, is not an imposing-looking place. On the opposite side of the entrance to the harbour rises a hill, called the Cerro, 450 feet high, from which the town derives its name, and further inland, on the town side, is another eminence, 200 feet high, called the Cerrito. With these exceptions the surrounding country looks perfectly flat, without even a tree to break the monotony.

Soon after breakfast we went ashore - in more senses of the word than one; for they have commenced to build a mole for the protection of small vessels, which, in its unfinished state, is not yet visible above the water. The consequence was that, at a distance of about half a mile from the landing-steps, we rowed straight on to the submerged stonework, but fortunately got off again very quickly, without having sustained any damage. On landing, we found ourselves opposite the Custom House, a fine building, with which we afterwards made a closer acquaintance.

There is a large and very good hotel here, l'Hotel Oriental. It is a handsome building outside, and the interior is full of marble courts, stone corridors, and lofty rooms, deliciously cool in the hottest weather. Having procured a carriage, Tom and I and the children drove through the streets, which are wide and handsome, though badly paved, and so full of holes that it is a wonder how the springs of a carriage can last a week. The houses seem built chiefly in the Italian style of architecture, with fine stucco fronts, and in many cases marble floors and facings, while the courtyards, seen through the grilles, blazed with flowers. All the lower windows were strongly barred, a precaution by no means unnecessary against the effects of the revolutions, which are of such frequent occurrence in this country. To enable the inhabitants the better to enjoy the sea-breeze, the tops of the houses are all flat, which gives the town, from a distance, somewhat of an eastern appearance. There are a great many Italian immigrants here, and most of the building and plastering work is done by them.

The Paseo del Molino is the best part of the town, where all the rich merchants reside in quintas, surrounded by pretty gardens. They are very fantastic in their ideas of architectural style, and appear to bestow their patronage impartially, not to say indiscriminately, upon Gothic cathedrals, Alhambra palaces, Swiss cottages, Italian villas, and Turkish mosques. Except for this variety, the suburb has somewhat the appearance of the outskirts of many of the towns on the Riviera, with the same sub-tropical surroundings. These are, however, hard times on the River Plate, and more than half the quintas are deserted and falling into ruins. On our way back, by the Union Road, we met a great many of the native bullock-carts going home from market. These huge conveyances are covered with hides, and are drawn by teams of from two to twelve bullocks, yoked in pairs, and driven by a man on horseback, who carries a sharp-pointed goad, with which he prods the animals all round, at intervals. Dressed in a full white linen shirt and trousers, with his bright poncho and curious saddle-gear, he forms no unimportant figure in the picturesque scene. In the large market-place there are hundreds of these carts, with their owners encamped around them.

When we at last arrived on board the yacht again, at three o'clock, we found that the miseries of coaling were not yet over, and that there had been numerous visitors from the shore. Everything on deck looked black, while below all was pitch dark and airless, every opening and crevice having been closed and covered with tarpaulin, to keep out the coal dust. It took seven hours to complete the work, instead of two, as was hoped and promised, so our chance of starting to-day is over. This seemed the more disappointing, because, had we foreseen the delay, we might have made other arrangements for seeing more on shore.

Tuesday, September 12th. - The anchor was up, and we were already beginning to steam away when I came on deck this morning, just in time to see the first faint streaks of dawn appearing in the grey sky. The River Plate here is over a hundred miles wide, and its banks are very flat; so there was nothing to be seen, except the two little hills of Cerro and Cerrito and the town of Monte Video, fast vanishing in the distance. The channels are badly buoyed, and there are shoals and wrecks on all sides. The lightships are simply old hulks, with no special marks by which to distinguish them; and as they themselves look exactly like wrecks, they are not of much assistance in the navigation, which is very confusing, and sometimes perilous. Once we very nearly ran aground, but discovered just in time that the vessel we were steering for with confidence was only a wreck, on a dangerous shoal, and that the lightship itself was further ahead. The yacht was immediately put about, and we just skirted the bank in turning.

The weather improved during the day, and a fine sunset was followed by a clear starlight night. At 10.30 p.m. we dropped our anchor outside all the other vessels in the roads at Buenos Ayres, eight miles from the shore. The lightship only carried an ordinary riding light, like any other vessel, so that it was almost impossible, unless you knew the port very well, to go in closer to the land at night.

Wednesday, September 13th. - Daylight did not enable us to distinguish the town, for the river here is wide and the banks are low, and we were lying a long way from the shore, outside a great many fine-looking ships, at anchor in the roads. About nine o'clock a German captain, in a large whale-boat, came alongside and told us we were nearly eight miles from Buenos Ayres. Tom arranged with him to take us ashore; and accordingly we soon started. The water was smooth and there was a nice breeze, and we sailed gallantly along for about two hours, until we reached the town. After anchoring, we transshipped ourselves into a small boat, in which we were rowed to some steps, at the end of the long rickety mole, where we landed. Some of the planks of the pier were missing, leaving great holes, big enough to fall through, and others were so loose that when you stepped upon one end of them the other flew up almost into your face.

Our first business was to secure the services of a pilot, to take us up to Rosario. The best man on the river was sent for; but when he came he did not recommend our undertaking the voyage, as the water is very low at present, and we might get stuck on a sandbank, and be detained for some days, although no further harm would be likely to occur to us. We decided, therefore, as our time is precious, to give up the idea of making the expedition in the yacht, and to go in the ordinary river-boat instead.

Under the guidance of some gentlemen, we then went to the Central Railway Station to send off some telegrams, and thence to the River Plate Bank. The treasury contains 600,000_l. in British sovereigns, locked up in three strong safes, besides paper-money and securities to the amount of 2,000,000_l. It was the Rosario branch of this bank which was recently robbed of 15,000_l. by an armed government force; an unprecedented proceeding in the history of nations, and one that might have led to the interference of foreign powers.

There was time afterwards to go round and see something of the city, which, like many other South American towns, is built in square blocks, all the streets running exactly at right angles one to another. There is a fine plaza, or grand square, in which are situated the cathedral, theatre, &c., the centre being occupied by a garden, containing statues and fountains. The various banks, with their marble facings, Corinthian columns, and splendid halls, are magnificent buildings, and look more like palaces than places of business. Some of the private houses, too, seem very handsome. Outside they are all faced with marble, to a certain height from the ground, the interior, consisting of courtyard within courtyard, being rather like that of a Pompeian house.

We next went to the agricultural show, which, though not an imposing affair to our eyes, appeared really very creditable to those who had organised it. The horses and cattle looked small, but there were some good specimens of sheep - specially the rombonellis and negrettis, whose long fine wool was, however, only to be discovered by first turning aside a thick plaster of mud, beneath which it was concealed. We saw also some curious animals, natives of the country, such as vicunas, llamas, bizcachas, and various kinds of deer, a very mixed lot of poultry and dogs, and two magnificent Persian cats. Another department of the show was allotted to the commercial products of the country, animal, vegetable, and mineral; the whole forming a very interesting collection.

In re-embarking, the disagreeable process of this morning had to be repeated - rickety pier, rotten steps, and small boat included - before we reached the whale-boat, after which we had an eight miles' sail out to the yacht. It was a cold, dull night, and getting on board proved rather difficult work, owing to the rough sea.

Thursday, September 14th. - The pilot came on board at seven o'clock to take us in nearer the shore, but, after all, we found ourselves obliged to anchor again five miles off. No ship drawing more than ten feet can get inside the sand-banks, which makes it a wretched place to lie in, especially as the weather at this time of year is very uncertain. You may go ashore from your ship on a fine clear morning, and before you return a gale may have sprung up, accompanied by a frightful sea. Open boats are therefore quite unsafe, a state of things which has given rise to the existence of a class of fine boats, specially built for the service, which attend all the ships lying in the roads. They are half-decked, will sail in any weather, and can be easily managed by two men.

About ten o'clock we went ashore again in the whale-boat, which Tom had engaged to wait on us during our stay, and made the best of our way to a warehouse to look at some ponchos, which are the speciality of this part of South America. Everybody wears one, from the beggar to the highest official. The best kind of ponchos are very expensive, being made from a particular part of the finest hair of the vicuna, hand-woven by women, in the province of Catamarca. The genuine article is difficult to get, even here. In the shops the price usually varies from 30_l. to 80_l.; but we were shown some at a rather lower price - from 20_l. to 60_l. each. They are soft as silk, perfectly waterproof, and will wear, it is said, for ever. We met a fine-looking man in one of beautiful quality yesterday. He told us that it originally cost 30_l. in Catamarca, twenty years ago, and that he gave 20_l. for it, second-hand, ten years ago; and, with the exception of a few slight tears, it is now as good as ever. Before we came here, we were strongly advised, in case we should happen to go on a rough expedition up country, not to be tempted to take with us any good ponchos, as the Gauchos, or half-bred Indians of the Pampas, who are great connoisseurs of these articles, and can distinguish their quality at a glance, would not hesitate to cut our throats in order to obtain possession of them.

The material of which they are made is of the closest texture, and as the hair has never been dressed or dyed it retains all its natural oil and original colour, the latter varying from a very pretty yellow fawn to a pale cream-colour. The majority of the ponchos worn here are, however, made at Manchester, of a cheap and inferior material. They look exactly like the real thing at first sight, but are neither so light nor so warm, nor do they wear at all well. Occasionally they are made of silk, but more often of bright-coloured wool. In shape a poncho is simply a square shawl with a hole in the middle for the head of the wearer. On horseback the appearance is particularly picturesque, and it forms also a convenient cloak, which comes well over the saddle, before and behind, and leaves the arms, though covered, perfectly free.

The natives, as a rule, wear a second poncho, generally of a different colour, tucked into the waistband of their long full linen drawers (calzoncillos), so as to make a pair of short baggy over-trousers. A poor man is content with a shirt, drawers, and two ponchos. A rich man has many rows of fringe and frills of lace at the bottom of his calzoncillos, and wears a short coat, with silver buttons, and a gorgeous silver belt, covered with dollars. His horse-fittings and massive stirrups (to say nothing of his enormous spurs) will be of solid silver, and his arms inlaid with the same metal. He will sometimes give as much as from 10_l. to 20_l. for a pair of stirrups alone, and the rest of his dress and equipment is proportionately expensive. The cost of the silver articles is little more than the value of the metal itself, which is of very pure quality, and is only roughly worked by the Indians or Gauchos. But as Manchester provides the ponchos, so does Birmingham the saddlery and fittings, especially those in use in the neighbourhood of towns.

After inspecting the ponchos, we breakfasted with some friends, and about noon started in the train for Campana. The line passes at first through the streets of Buenos Ayres, and thence into the open country, beautifully green, and undulating like the waves of the sea. Near the town and the suburb of Belgrano are a great many peach-tree plantations, the fruit of which is used for fattening pigs while the wood serves for roasting them. There is also some scrubby brushwood, and a few large native trees; but these are soon left behind, and are succeeded by far-spreading rich pasture land, and occasional lagunes.

We saw for the first time the holes of the bizcachas, or prairie-dogs, outside which the little prairie-owls keep guard. There appeared to be always one, and generally two, of these birds, standing, like sentinels, at the entrance to each hole, with their wise-looking heads on one side, pictures of prudence and watchfulness. The bird and the beast are great friends, and are seldom to be found apart. We also passed several enormous flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, most of them quite unattended, though some were being driven by men on horseback. There were quantities of plovers, and a great many partridges, of two kinds, large and small, and the numerous lagunes were covered with and surrounded by water-fowl of all kinds - wild swans and ducks, snipe, white storks, grey herons, black cormorants, and scarlet flamingoes, the last-named standing at the edge of the water, catching fish, and occasionally diving below the surface. On the very top of some of the telegraph-posts were the nests of the oven-bird, looking like carved round blocks of wood, placed there for ornament. These nests are made of mud, and are perfectly spherical in form, the interior being divided into two quite distinct chambers.

Campana was reached by four o'clock, the train running straight on to the pier, alongside of which the two vessels were lying, with steam up. Passengers, baggage, and freight were immediately transferred from the train to the boats; and we soon found ourselves steaming along in the 'Uruguay,' between the willow-hung banks of the broad Parana. The country, though otherwise flat and uninteresting, looks very pretty just now, in its new spring coat of bright green.

We passed several small towns, amongst others, San Pedro and San Nicolas, which are quite important-looking places, with a good deal of shipping, and occasionally stopped to pick up passengers, who had come in boats and steam-launches from far-distant villages, situated on lagunes, which our steamer could not enter.

Just before arriving at each stopping-place, we had a race with the 'Proveedor,' and whenever she became visible at a bend in the river, half a ton more coal was immediately heaped on to our fires by the captain's order - a piece of reckless extravagance, for, do what they would, they could not make us gain five minutes. The competition is, however, very fierce, and I suppose the two companies will not be satisfied until they have ruined one another; whereas, if each would run a steamer on alternate days, they and the public would be equally benefited. The fares are exceedingly reasonable, being less than 3_l. for the whole journey from Buenos Ayres to Rosario, including all charges.

Friday, September 15th. - A violent storm of thunder and lightning, apparently just above our heads, woke us at six o'clock this morning. Torrents of rain followed, and continued to fall until we dropped our anchor at Rosario, at 8.45 a.m., just as we were in the middle of breakfast, in our cozy little stern cabin. Half an hour later we landed, though the rain still came down in sheets, but the steamer was now alongside the pier, and close carriages had been provided. A few minutes' drive through ill-paved streets brought us to the Hotel Universel, a handsome, spacious building, with marble courtyards, full of trees, plants, and flowers, into which all the sitting-rooms open. Above are galleries, round which the various bed-rooms are in like manner ranged. It all looked nice and cool, and suitable for hot weather, but it was certainly rather draughty and cheerless on such a cold, pouring wet day, and all our efforts to make our large room, in which there were four immense windows, at all comfortable, were vain.

Rosario, like Buenos Ayres, is built in squares. The streets are generally well paved with black and white marble, but the roadways are composed of little round stones, and are full of holes and inequalities, so that, in crossing the road after heavy rain, one steps from the trottoir into a very slough of despond. The universal tramway runs down the centre of every street.

After luncheon we made a fresh start for Carcarana by a special train, to which were attached two goods-vans, full of horses, and a carriage truck, containing a most comfortable American carriage, in shape not unlike a Victoria, only much lighter and with very high wheels. After a short journey through a rich, flat, grass country, we arrived at Roldan, the first colony of the Central Argentine Land Company. Here we all alighted, the horses were taken out of the vans, saddled, bridled, and harnessed, and the gentlemen rode and I drove round the colony, along what are generally roads, but to-day were sheets of water. We saw many colonists, of every grade, from those still occupying the one-roomed wooden cottages, originally supplied by the Land Company, standing in the midst of ill-cultivated fields, to those who had built for themselves good houses in the town, or nice cottages, with pretty gardens, surrounded by well-tilled lands.

The drive ended at the mill belonging to a retired officer of the British army, who has settled here with his wife and two dear little children. Here we had tea and a pleasant chat, and then returned to the train and proceeded to Carcarana, the next station on the line. Now, however, instead of the rich pasture lands and flourishing crops which we had hitherto seen on all sides, our road lay through a desolate-looking district, bearing too evident signs of the destructive power of the locust. People travelling with us tell us that, less than a week ago, the pasture here was as fresh and green as could be desired, and the various crops were a foot high; but that, in the short space of a few hours, the care and industry of the last ten months were rendered utterly vain and useless, and the poor colonists found their verdant fields converted into a barren waste by these rapacious insects.

Carcarana may be called the Richmond - one might almost say the Brighton - of Rosario. It stands on a river, the Carcaranal, to the banks of which an omnibus runs twice a day from the railway-station, during the season, to take people to bathe. Near the station is also an excellent little hotel, containing a large dining-room and a few bed-rooms, kept by two Frenchwomen; and here the Rosarians come out by train to dine and enjoy the fresh air. It was quite dark by the time we arrived, so that we could not see much of the flourishing little colony which has been formed here. We therefore paddled across the wet road to the inn, where, despite the somewhat rough surroundings, we enjoyed a capital dinner, cooked in the true French style. They are specially celebrated here for their asparagus, but the locusts had devoured all but a very few stalks, besides which they were held responsible, on the present occasion, for the absence of other vegetables and salad. Yesterday there was a grand wedding-party near here, the complete success of which was, we were told, somewhat marred by the fact, that for six hours, in the very middle of the day, it became absolutely necessary to light candles, owing to the dense clouds of locusts, about a league in extent, by which the air was darkened. Trains are even stopped by these insects occasionally; for they appear to like a hard road, and when they get on the line their bodies make the rails so greasy that the wheels of the engines will not bite. Moreover, they completely obscure the lights and signals, so that the men are afraid to proceed. The only remedy, therefore, is to go very slowly, preceded by a truck-load of sand, which is scattered freely over the rails in front of the engine. Horses will not always face a cloud of locusts, even to get to their stables, but turn round and stand doggedly still, until it has passed.

After dinner we once more stepped into our special train, in which we arrived at Rosario at about half-past nine o'clock, thoroughly tired out.