The Wanderers - Adventures in the Wilds of Trinidad and Orinoco
by W.H.G. Kingston
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Such was the account Uncle Paul gave me. Why these Guaranis had attacked us, it was hard to say, except that they had observed, when watching our movements, some persons of an enemy's tribe in our company. Kallolo and Maco belonged, they told us, to the Acawoios, a tribe living towards the head waters of the Essequibo. They are superior in domestic virtues to any other tribe, though warlike, and ready to defend their country as bravely as any people. Their women are virtuous, good housewives, and attentive to their husbands and male relatives, both in sickness and old age; while the men, in return, pay them more respect than do any other savage people. The young mother is never allowed to work, or to prepare food for her husband, in order that she may attend to her child. They are cleanly, hospitable, and generous, and passionately fond of their children. They seldom talk above a whisper among themselves, or get drunk or quarrel; nay, more, an angry look is never discernible among them. They use tobacco, but do not chew or smoke it; simply keeping it between the lips, for appeasing hunger and keeping their teeth clean. Altogether, a more orderly and peaceably-disposed people can scarcely be found anywhere.

Such was the account which Kallolo gave of his nation. Allowances must, of course, be made; but still, from the specimens we saw, I am inclined to think that it was in the main correct.

Uncle Paul was unwilling to delay any longer, and asked Maco if he was ready to proceed. As Kallolo and Polo agreed to assist him, he replied that he would do his best to get along, though he still felt very weak. "We will wait a little longer, then," said Uncle Paul; and we resumed our resting-place on the roots of the tree. Of such enormous size were they, that we could all find accommodation without any danger of slipping off. I got into a hollow of the roots, where I could rest with perfect ease with my legs stretched out; and Uncle Paul found a place of similar character close by me. He would, I believe, have given the final order to proceed much sooner, but, overcome with fatigue, he fell, as I did, fast asleep.

I was awakened by hearing Kallolo's voice crying out, "They are coming!—they are coming! We must go on!" Opening my eyes, I saw that it was already daylight. Uncle Paul immediately started up. I was struck by his perfect presence of mind, though an instant before he had been fast asleep. He, as it were, in a moment gathered his wits about him, and inquired from what direction the savages were coming, and how far off they were.

Kallolo pointed to the east. "They cannot be here for three or four minutes, at least," he answered.

"Then, my friends, we will continue our course. We shall soon be at a distance from them. They have shown that they have no inclination to follow us in the water."

As Uncle Paul spoke, I looked around, and found that Tim and Sambo were not with us. They had gone to a little distance in the wood, to gather some fruit which they had seen hanging temptingly within their reach.

"I have called them, and they are coming back," said Kallolo. "It will not be wise to wait for them."

Uncle Paul agreed with him, and ordered him to lead the way. We lost no time in slipping into the water. Kallolo did as he was directed, and led the way; Uncle Paul followed; I went close astern of him; and the Indians came next. We had not gone far when, looking round, to my satisfaction I saw Tim leaping off the root into the water, with Sambo close to him. They both struck out with all their might, and were soon up to us. Several times I turned my head, fully expecting to see the savages. On we swam, however; and still they did not appear. It then occurred to me that they might be making their way, as they had before done, either among the branches of the trees, or low down, amid the underwood and over the fallen logs; and I could not help feeling that every instant they would appear close to us, and attempt to stop our progress. Had we possessed firearms, and the means of preserving them fit for service, we might easily have kept the savages at bay, or have driven them back; but now, notwithstanding all our boasted civilisation, we were completely on a level with them, and were utterly unable to defend ourselves should they choose to attack us. Uncle Paul possibly thought just as I did; but not wishing to increase our fear by showing any himself, he continued to cheer us up.

I felt greatly strengthened by our long rest, and much better able to proceed than I was at first; as, I believe, were the rest of the party. I heard Tim joking with Sambo. "Arrah now, sure, I am altogether turned into a big fish with this long swim, and it will be a hard matter to take to walking again on the dry earth!" he exclaimed. "How do you feel, Sambo?"

"I verry like a fish too, Massa Tim," answered the black. "But still I hope to turn into man again."

I felt much as Sambo said he did, and certainly should have been well content to find myself safe on shore, and in a comfortable abode—a luxury we were not likely to enjoy for many a day to come.

As on the previous day, with the bright sun shining down upon us, I felt my spirits rise, and the dangers I had so dreaded in the dark appeared of a less terrific character. After all, should the savages come up with us, as Maco and his brother had escaped from them, so might we. Perhaps, too, they might not be quite so savage as we had supposed, and might have been prompted by curiosity, rather than from any hostile feelings, to pursue us. Still, of course, it would be prudent to keep out of their way. Uncle Paul thought so too, and told me to pass the word to those astern, that we must be prepared to swim on till we could come up with Marian and my father and Arthur. On, therefore, we went. It was swim, swim, swim, hour after hour. Of course, had we not had the gourds to support us, it would have been impossible to continue on so long as we did. Resting on them, there was no great difficulty, as we could drive ourselves on with our feet, while we merely guided our course with our arms. Still, even though thus supported, and without any actual danger of sinking, we at length again grew weary; and, in addition, we began to feel the pangs of hunger.

Tim was the first to cry out. "Arrah, Master Guy! couldn't you just speak to Mr Paul, and tell him we are starving? If it's all the same to him, we will just put ashore on one of the big trunks and stow away a little food in our insides; for though it's something like the life of fishes we are leading, we cannot eat, as they do, in the water."

I told Uncle Paul what Tim said; and we accordingly once more climbed on to a convenient resting-place, where food was served out to all hands.



We had been resting for some time, and now felt able to keep on swimming for many miles without stopping. We were in tolerable spirits, having every reason to believe that we should see no more of the savages. We hoped, too, that the next would be our last stage, and that at the end of it we should find Marian, with my father and Arthur, safe on the raft. Uncle Paul then proposed to construct an additional raft to carry the whole party.

We had finished our meal, when Kallolo exclaimed, with an expression of grief on his countenance, "Oh! where is Quacko? Cruel, indeed, have I been to leave him behind; but my thoughts were so engaged with the dangers which threatened us, that for the moment I forgot all about him. I must go back and find the affectionate ape. Even though he may obtain subsistence in the forest, he will pine and die when he finds himself deserted by his friends."

"Stay, stay, my friend," said Uncle Paul. "Much as I esteem your regard for the poor ape, and his extraordinary attachment to you, I would not have you risk your safety by attempting to recover him. The lives of all the party are of far more importance than that of the ape; and for your own sake as well as ours I must prohibit your going."

Kallolo looked very unhappy on hearing this. "I shall run little or no risk, Senor Paul," he answered; "and, besides, Maco and Polo are as able to guide you as I am. I cannot bear the thought of losing my friend through my own negligence."

Of course, it will be understood that I am merely translating what the Indian said, or rather giving the meaning of his words.

Still, Uncle Paul was firm. "I cannot reconcile it to my conscience to allow you to go; and I should be unable to forgive myself should any accident happen to you," he answered.

I also felt very sorry that Quacko was lost; but the anxiety about our own safety accounted fully for our having forgotten him.

"Sure, now, I have been after forgetting Ara!" exclaimed Tim. "I left the poor bird on a branch fast asleep when those bastes of Indians sent us off into the water in such a hurry, and never a bit did I think of her till now. I am just as bad as you are, Kallolo; for, sure, hadn't I charge of the bird, till she flew out of my thoughts altogether?"

"At all events, here she comes back to us again!" I exclaimed.

At that moment Ara was seen approaching with rapid flight; and in an instant afterwards she perched on Tim's shoulder, and looking into his face, seemed, by the peculiar sounds she made, to be chiding him for his desertion. When he offered her some fruit, she declined to take it; evidently, however, not from anger, but because she had had an ample breakfast on something more to her taste which she had found on the way.

Only a few minutes had passed, when I saw Maco and Kallolo looking anxiously through the trees to the eastward, and talking together, having caught sight of some object moving through the forest. From the few words I overheard, they were expressing their fears that the savages had again found us out. Suddenly their countenances brightened; and immediately afterwards we observed Quacko swinging himself amid the pendent vines, and running along the branches, making his way rapidly towards us! He sprang into Kallolo's arms, and began to chatter eagerly, as if he had had a great deal to communicate. Whether he was telling the native about the savages, or complaining that he had been deserted, and begging that it might not happen again, I could not ascertain, nor did Kallolo think fit to enlighten us; but he looked truly delighted at having got back his friend.

Uncle Paul now gave the signal to start. Maco and Sambo led the way, as they had only lately passed down the channel, and were better acquainted with it than Kallolo, who brought up the rear. As before, my sensations were those of a person swimming in a dream. I felt myself floating through the smooth, dark waters, and striking out with my arms and legs, and moving onwards. I saw my uncle ahead; and the green trees, with their vast stems and intricate tracery of sepos and vines, with numberless parasites hanging from them of every variety of fantastic form, on either side of me; and the bright blue sky overhead; and birds of gorgeous plumage, uttering strange notes, flying backwards and forwards. Here and there, tall trunks had fallen prostrate, or were inclining at various angles, and suspended by a network of sepos to the boughs of their neighbours,—some actually crossing the stream and forming bridges from side to side. Occasionally, troops of monkeys came gambolling along among the branches, peering down upon us with curious eyes, skipping and frolicking about, and chattering and screeching as if angrily demanding what business we had to intrude on their retreats. Now we passed among cylindrical trunks, rising like columns out of the deep water. Then there came a splash of fruit falling around us, announcing that birds were feeding overhead; and looking up, we discovered flocks of parakeets, or bright blue chatterers, or pompadours having delicate white wings and claret-coloured plumage. Again, with a whir a trogon on the wing would seize some fruit, or a clumsy toucan would make the branches shake as he alighted above our heads. We saw several species of trogons, and frequently caught sight of that curious black umbrella-bird which I have before described. Clumps of the light and exquisitely graceful assai palm shot up everywhere. Here and there the drooping bamboos dipped their feathery branches into the water, frequently covered to their very tops with purple convolvuli; yellow bignonias carried their golden clusters to the very summit of the more lofty trees; while white flowering myrtles and orange-coloured mallows bordered the channel. Crabs of every variety of colour and size sat on decaying logs watching for their prey. No sooner, however, did we attempt to seize them than they made off with nimble feet.

I saw all these sights and many more, and yet, as I have said, I gazed on them as in a dream, while with my companions I floated on and on through the silent water. When the sun's rays struck down on the surface of the river, it appeared bright and clear, and our eyes could frequently penetrate to the very bottom even where it was too deep to allow us to wade; but in other places, where overhung by the thick foliage, or after the sun had sunk behind the tall trees, it was as black as ink; and I could not help feeling a sensation of dread lest some ravenous monster was lurking beneath, ready to seize us as we passed by. I refrained from expressing my fears, as they did not appear to be entertained by the rest of the party. Perhaps they too felt as I did, but thought it better to say nothing about the matter, as the journey had to be performed, and there was no other way of accomplishing it.

We began to feel anxious at not having come up with our friends ahead, and were eagerly looking out for them. Sambo assured us that we were not far from the spot where he had left the raft. As he and Tim swam faster than any of us—except Kallolo, who, carrying the monkey, was somewhat impeded in his progress—Uncle Paul directed them to push on ahead to tell our friends that we were coming. Maco and Polo would probably have been employed for the service; but the former, on account of his wounds, could only just manage to keep up with us; and the latter was required to remain, that he might render him assistance should it become necessary.

Evening was approaching, and I began to feel that I should be unable much longer to continue this sort of work, and wished more earnestly than ever that I were once more safe on the raft. I suspect that Uncle Paul felt much as I did, though with that courage which distinguished him he made no complaint, but continued striking out as if it were his usual mode of progression. Not unfrequently thoughts as to what might have been the fate of those I loved more than any others on earth would occur to me, especially when I felt exhausted by my exertions; but I endeavoured to banish them from my mind, and answered Uncle Paul's inquiries with as hearty an "All right" as I could utter.

The day wore on. In some of the bends of the river dark shadows had already begun to fall on the water and to mount up the trunks of the trees. The channel, or igarape, as such passages are called in some parts of the country, became narrower than ever. No current was perceptible: the lilies and other beautiful water-plants, little bladderworts, and bright blue flowers with curious leaves and swollen stalks, floated unmoved on the surface, with occasionally large circular leaves and flowers of a gigantic size, which were new to all of us when we first entered this region.

Tim and Sambo had long ago got out of sight, and we hoped that ere this they had reached our friends. As we entered another bend of the channel, I caught sight of some figures in the far distance standing on one of those gigantic trunks I have so often mentioned. My first idea was that they were Indians, perhaps waiting to cut us off: and I asked Uncle Paul if he could see them.

"Yes, yes; I am thankful to say I do," he answered. "They are your father and Arthur and dear Marian; but why they are not on the raft I cannot tell."

The sight encouraged us, and, our strength restored, we struck out with renewed vigour. It was now literally a race among us all who should get there first. Uncle Paul beat me; and when I was still some distance off: I saw him scrambling up and shaking hands with all the party. Even Maco and Polo passed me, and I saw them make their way up the trunk of a tree which had fallen across the one on which the rest of the party were seated. As they reached the upper part, they eagerly looked up the channel. Anxious as I was to go ahead, I felt as if my arms and legs were so heavily weighted that I could only move them with a sensation I had sometimes experienced in my dreams when trying to overtake a person with whom I desired to communicate, or when pursued by some wild beast from which I was endeavouring to escape.

My father and Marian were standing up; Arthur was lying on the trunk of the tree; and Uncle Paul was sitting down with his feet just above the water. Suddenly he started up, and cried out, "Quick, quick, Guy; strike out for your life!" I did my best, for I knew he had good reason for bidding me haste. Just as I reached the bank, looking back for an instant, I saw a dark object rise to the surface, and presently a long pair of jaws, with formidable rows of teeth, opened slowly! I sprang up, knowing at once that it was an alligator, and though one of moderate size, large enough to have given an ugly bite, even if it could not snap off a limb or carry its victim down to the bottom. Uncle Paul stretched out his arms; and Arthur, who had not till then seen my danger, stooped down to assist me. I had scarcely time to receive my father's and Marian's embraces before I sank almost fainting by the side of Arthur on the trunk of the tree.

I saw, however, that they were still looking anxiously down the channel towards Kallolo, who had been some way behind me with Quacko on his back. They shouted to him, and pointed out the creature, whose wicked eye was turned towards the monkey; and he would very speedily have crunched him up in his jaws if he had not held tight hold of the Indian. Kallolo, nothing daunted, cast a glance at the amphibious animal, and instead of continuing his course, struck across the stream, drawing, as he did so, his long knife from his belt, ready to defend himself and his favourite should he be attacked. The shouts of my friends frightened the creature; which, instead of darting at Kallolo, as they expected it would, dived beneath the surface, probably to seek for shelter under the bank or to escape to a distance. Kallolo quickly gained a fallen stem, and made his way up to us.

"What has become of Tim and Sambo?" I asked faintly; for though too weak to stand, I had not lost consciousness.

"They have gone on ahead to the raft, which is only a little distance off," answered Arthur; "and we are now looking out for their return. So fatigued were your father and I, that, when we reached this convenient resting-place, we determined to remain here till your arrival. We have, indeed, cause to be thankful that we did not attempt to go further, now that we have seen the creatures which inhabit this part of the channel. Had we known it before, the fact would have tended to unnerve us."

"I am indeed thankful that I did not know it," said Marian; "for I should have been miserable with the thought that at any moment my father or Arthur might have been attacked by one of the monsters."

Kallolo took the matter very coolly. "If the cayman had come near me, he would have had to repent of his boldness," he observed. "My knife was ready for him, and I should have stuck it into his throat before he could have touched me. I should not fear to encounter a much larger one, provided I knew that he was approaching. These creatures are dangerous only when people are unprepared to meet them."

"But as I had no knife ready, and should not have known where or how to strike him, I am very thankful that I got out of the water in time to avoid his sharp teeth," I observed.

Marian shuddered. "Yes, indeed, it was dreadful even for the few moments in which I thought there was danger," she observed. "Oh, I am so thankful that when my father and Arthur were swimming by the side of my raft, they were not attacked by the monster."

"We indeed ran a great risk," observed my father. "Probably the creature was frightened by the splashing we made in the water, and by the appearance of the raft; or possibly it may not have been in the neighbourhood at the time."

"I suspect that it was not far off," observed Uncle Paul. "These creatures do not move much about; they frequent particular pools and parts of the river. However, its appearance must make us cautious how we venture into the water in future. We may be well-satisfied that our long swim is over.—Do you see anything of Sambo and Tim with the raft?" he shouted to the Indians, who were still looking out.

"Yes, yes; they have this moment come in sight, and are standing on the raft poling it along,—so it seems to me," answered Maco, pointing along the igarape, down which a stream of light came from the setting sun, tingeing here and there the boughs on either side, and gilding the summits of the lofty trees. No scene of the same character could have surpassed it in beauty.

"It is indeed lovely," exclaimed Marian. "Till we came here, perhaps the eyes of those capable of appreciating its beauties have never gazed on it. It seems strange that so many lovely spots, such as exist in these wilds, should be concealed from the eyes of civilised people."

"Many things exist for which we cannot account," observed Uncle Paul. "Birds of the most gorgeous plumage are found in parts of the globe inhabited only by the lowest savages. Nothing can surpass the magnificence of the icebergs clustered at the arctic and the antarctic poles, where the feet of human beings never tread. What curious coloured fish swim far down beneath the surface, where the eye of man cannot penetrate! Indeed, we may believe that civilised men are not the only beings capable of enjoying the beauties of creation; which all, however, tend, when brought to light, to exhibit the power and beneficence of the Creator."

Arthur listened attentively to what Uncle Paul was saying. "Yes, indeed, I agree with you," he observed. "There are numberless things which we see around us in nature, but cannot comprehend the reason of their existence, though we must acknowledge the wisdom of Him who made them all, and bow humbly to his will."

Our attention was now turned towards the approaching raft. While it was coming, Uncle Paul inquired what provisions we had among us; and we found, on examination, that the stock was very limited, and that the fruit had come to an end. While there was still light, therefore, he sent the Indians to search for some more. We saw, not far off, several palms and other fruit-bearing trees with birds perched on them, showing that the fruit was ripe. Both Arthur and I were desirous to accompany them, but we felt much too weary to move.

"You must take care not to get into the midst of the macaws' nests, else you may find yourselves attacked as we were," observed Arthur. "I see a number of those birds congregated about a tree in the distance, and possibly they have their homes thereabout; at all events, they may not like to be disturbed in their feast, and will do battle with the intruders."

"Never fear," answered Uncle Paul; "the Indians know pretty well what they are about."

We had not long to wait for Sambo and Tim, who managed to bring the raft close up to us. It was, however, so late in the day that Uncle Paul considered it best for us to remain where we were till the following morning, when he proposed that we should build another raft capable of carrying all the party who could not find room on the first. As we had no tools excepting our knives, the operation of cutting down the trees would not be an easy one; therefore Tim offered to commence at once, so that we might have some progress made before morning. Uncle Paul thanked him for his forethought. Sambo, aided by Kallolo, immediately set to work to break off by main force as many young palm-trees as they could meet with. Neither Arthur nor I felt that we had strength to assist them. Indeed, we could do nothing but lie stretched on the trunk of the tree; and had the Indians come in pursuit of us, I really believe that we should have been unable to make any efforts to escape. My father, also, was greatly exhausted; but Uncle Paul, though fatigued, was still able to exert himself, and to give any directions which were necessary.

At length the two Indians returned with an ample supply of fruit. We enjoyed our supper. It was the first we had taken together for several days. When it was over it was high time to secure sleeping-places before the shades of night should come down upon us. By arranging some sepos which hung down from the boughs above, we formed a secure place for Marian; and then we looked out for similar places for ourselves, where we might rest without the danger of falling off into the water: and I could not help reflecting that if we should meet with such an accident, the creature we had seen would take the opportunity of biting off a foot or an arm, or of dragging us off to his den to devour us at his leisure. I had read of people sleeping over volcanoes: our fate would have been quite as unpleasant, had we fallen into the water, as that of persons found napping at the moment a volcano commenced sending forth its streams of lava or showers of ashes.

Though we believed that we were already at a safe distance from the savages, Uncle Paul considered it prudent to set a watch, that we might have due notice of the approach of danger. Arthur and I begged that we might take our share of duty, with one of the men to assist us. Uncle Paul himself intended to keep the first watch, to give me time to obtain some rest. I did not sleep very soundly. Frequently I opened my eyes and saw the tall figure of Uncle Paul pacing up and down on the trunk of the tree, with a pole in his hand to balance himself, making only three or four paces between each turn, stopping every now and then to look up and down the channel, or to peer into the forest. While he was on the watch, I was sure that we should have timely warning of danger. At length his figure seemed to extend into gigantic proportions, and then grew more and more indistinct, till my eyes closed.

Arthur at last awoke me. He had had his watch, and it was now time for me to take mine; but he warned me to be careful not to slip off the trunk, as he had nearly done, he said. I got up and took the pole he gave me. At one end was a sharp point, which would serve to give an effectual thrust to any wild beast, or to a human savage who might attack us. There was not much probability of our being assailed either by a jaguar or a puma, as these creatures were not likely to make their way across the water intervening between us and the dry land; but we were not safe from the stealthy approach of an anaconda, though we had seen no signs of such a creature since we had left the broad river. I could not, however, get out of my head the recollection of the monster which had attacked us; and very often, as I looked up and down the channel, I fancied that I saw one of the creatures swimming towards us, with its head above the surface. Greatly to my relief, on each occasion the object I had caught sight of resolved itself into the partly submerged root or branch of a tree.

Very thankful I felt when at last the streaks of early dawn appeared in the eastern sky, and the noises of animated nature again burst on my ear. Parrots and macaws, and numberless other birds, began to utter their varied notes, and the sounds I have before described echoed through the forest. I called up my companions, and, without a moment's delay, all hands set to work to put together the raft for which we had collected part of the materials the previous evening. More were required; and while the Indians and Tim went into the forest to cut or break down the palms, Uncle Paul, assisted by Sambo, bound them together. Arthur and I employed ourselves in dragging the logs up to them, and in cutting the lianas or sepos, which my father and Marian unwound and prepared for use as cordage. The task was a far more difficult one than it would have been had we possessed axes. Our knives served only to cut off the smaller boughs, and slightly to trim the logs or cut the lianas.

We worked away with so much energy, that by eight o'clock, as far as we could judge from the sun, we had put a raft together capable of carrying six persons. Pretty well tired by our exertions, and with good appetites, we sat down on the huge trunk to breakfast. The heat of the sun was already great; but, shaded by the overhanging branches, the spot we occupied felt delightfully cool, while the bunches of fruit the Indians had procured were most refreshing. At this meal we finished the last of the dried fish and meat we had brought with us, and we had henceforward to depend on the birds or animals we might trap or shoot in the forest, or the fish we might obtain from the water. We had, however, no fear of starving. Kallolo assured us that we should find turtle in abundance; and that, with the blowpipe he had undertaken to form, he should be able to kill as many birds and monkeys as we might require; while the produce of many varieties of palm-trees and the different fruits we were sure to discover would afford us an abundant supply of vegetable diet.

Our final task was to cut some long poles, and to split up into thin boards, by means of wedges, a portion of a branch which had been torn off by a storm. These boards were secured to the ends of short poles, and thus formed as many rough paddles as we could use.

All was now ready, and Uncle Paul gave the order to prepare for departure. The smaller raft was first drawn under the bough: Marian was placed on it as a passenger, Uncle Paul went as captain, Sambo as pilot, and Arthur and I as the crew. Our father consented to go on the newly-constructed raft, which was navigated by the three Indians and Tim. On board neither of them was there much room to spare; and considerable caution was necessary, when standing up, to avoid falling off into the water or upsetting it.

All of us having taken our places, Uncle Paul exclaimed, "Now, my friends, we must commence our voyage; and I pray that we may be protected from all the dangers we may have to encounter."

The channel, however, was narrow, and we had considerable difficulty in making our way along it. Our raft, being the smallest, glided very easily between the overhanging branches and roots; but the people of the other, with the exception of my father, had several times to jump overboard to work it through the narrow places. Our progress was thus but slow. The scenery was very similar to that which we had already passed; indeed, sometimes I scarcely knew whereabouts we were, so much did one part resemble another.

We had been going on for some time under thick, overhanging boughs, when suddenly the bright shining waters of a lake opened out before us; and, greatly to our satisfaction, shortly afterwards we found ourselves free of the narrow igarape, or channel, through which we had been so long passing. The bright sunlight and the free air of the lake raised our spirits, and made us feel as if all our difficulties were over. Happily we did not then think of the many we had still to encounter. A slight breeze was blowing from the northward, and I suggested that we should try to rig a sail, with one of the poles as a mast and another as a yard. We had but scanty materials for forming it; but we all contributed our handkerchiefs, and Sambo offered his shirt! With some of the line we had prepared for fishing we stitched the whole together, and then secured it to the yard. A strong breeze would quickly have blown our sail into its original constituents of shirt and handkerchiefs; but the gentle air which favoured us served to send on the raft as fast as we could paddle it. The people on the other raft followed our example, and we saw two shirts stretched out, with a large handkerchief to form a topsail. Under this strange sail we glided smoothly over the calm surface of the lake.

We had carefully preserved our fishing-lines and hooks, and Uncle Paul now distributed them between the two rafts. We got out ours as we went along, the rate at which we were moving not preventing us from having hopes that we might catch some fish. We were not disappointed. Before long I got a bite. The fish pulled lustily, but as the tackle was strong, it could not break away; and after it had been pretty well drowned by being towed, Sambo assisted me to haul it in. When we had got the fish up to the raft, the black stooped down, and, at no little risk of toppling off into the water, lifted it on board. It must have weighed at least several pounds, and it resembled in shape the black fish of our northern regions. Kallolo afterwards told me that this fish is called the tambaki, and is one of the best in this part of the world. The only pity was that we could not cook it till we reached dry land. As, however, we hoped to do so before long, we again threw out our lines. In a few minutes we caught another fish of the same species, not quite so large. The Indians on the other raft had, in the meantime, caught three fish of similar size, but of a different species; and not being so particular as we were, they cut one of them up, and, after having hung the pieces in the sun for a short time, ate it for dinner. We, however, contented ourselves with the fruits and nuts which had been collected in the morning. After having rested for some time, we again took to our paddles, and, the breeze remaining fair, the rafts made good progress. We earnestly hoped that the wind would continue in the same quarter, as we might thus before nightfall reach the spot where Captain van Dunk and Peter had been left.

We now entered the igarape Sambo had described. As it was tolerably broad, and the wind still favoured us, we quickly got through it, and entered another lake somewhat similar to the one we had left. With much satisfaction we heard Sambo announce that in another half hour we should reach the end of our voyage. We paddled on even more eagerly than before, hoping soon to be shaking the honest skipper and his mate by the hand, and thinking how pleasant it would be to sleep comfortably in a hut, and to sup well-cooked provisions.



As we sailed along about a hundred yards off the mighty trees whose branches overhung the lake, we looked out eagerly for the settlement our two friends had, we hoped, formed on the shore. Water-lilies with enormous leaves floated on the surface, showing that the depth could not be great. On the lower branches of the trees, and here and there where points of land ran out into the lake, were numerous magnificent birds. Among them, the scarlet ibis and roseate spoonbill excelled all others in gorgeousness of colouring. The ibises were of the brightest scarlet, except that the tips of their wings were black; the spoonbills were equally beautiful, their general colour being a delicate rose-tint, with a rich lustrous carmine on their shoulders and breast-tufts; the formation of their bills was also very singular. We saw them fishing for shrimps and other small creatures along the edges of the water. The wood ibis is larger than either of the other two; its general plumage is white, the tips of the wings and the tail being of a purplish-black. I cannot, however, attempt to describe the various birds of which we caught sight as we glided along. We were satisfied, however, that the forest and the water would supply us with an abundance of food.

"We shall have, however, no little difficulty in replacing our clothing," I observed; "though, as fortunately Marian's box has been saved, she will be better off than any of us."

"I don't despair of being able to manufacture clothing sufficient for our wants," said Uncle Paul,—"shoes, hats, and cloaks; but we must take to kilts when our trousers give way. We shall have, to be sure, somewhat the appearance of savages; but I hope that our manners will not become less civilised in consequence."

"I can easily fancy how we can make dresses of leaves, or even of matting," said Arthur; "but how do you propose to manufacture shoes, unless we capture some wild beasts and tan their skins?"

"I propose to make shoes of a vegetable substance," answered Uncle Paul. "I have already seen some trees which produce it, and I have no doubt that we shall find others near our settlement. Every sailor knows how to make hats from grass or leaves; and the rest of our dresses must be made, as you suppose, of matting. Depend on it we shall have plenty of occupation when once we get on shore, in order to supply our necessities; and we may be thankful for it, as it will prevent us from dwelling unduly on our past misfortunes, or on the dangers and difficulties we may have yet to encounter."

"I wish we were on shore, then," I exclaimed; "for I cannot help thinking of the past, and on the dangers which may yet be in store for us."

"Rouse up, Guy," exclaimed Uncle Paul. "Your wish will soon be realised; for see yonder hut on the shore, and the captain and Peter standing ready to welcome us."

We urged on our raft, and our friends beckoned to us to come to a part of the bank where we could most easily land. We made for it, and soon reached the shore. The captain and his mate Peter were standing ready to secure the raft.

"Welcome, friends, welcome to our new province of terra firma," exclaimed the former in a hearty tone, as he grasped Uncle Paul's hand. Then stooping down, he lifted Marian in his arms and placed her safely on the beach, exclaiming—"And you, my pretty maid, I am rejoiced to see you safe after all the perils you have gone through."

"Indeed I am very thankful to have arrived here," answered Marian; "for I feared that we should never see you again." She had not before this said a word about the alarm she must have constantly felt during our passage up the igarape.

"You don't look so much fatigued as I should have expected," observed the captain; "and a few days on shore, with the good cheer we can offer you, will set you all to rights."

He then shook hands with Arthur and me, and giving a friendly nod to Sambo, turned round to welcome my father, the larger raft having closely followed us to the beach. All the party having landed, the two rafts were secured to the trunks of some trees growing at the water's edge. The worthy skipper now conducted us to two huts which he and Peter had erected. He exhibited them with no little satisfaction. One was small, but neatly built; the other was of considerable dimensions, and capable of containing several persons, somewhat thickly stowed.

"I thought of the little maid, and my first care was to build a house which she might have entirely to herself. In it she may rest as long in the morning as she likes without being disturbed by us when we go to our work," he observed.

Marian thanked him warmly as he led her towards the little hut, in which he had formed a bed-place, and put up a table and a three-legged stool; which, though roughly made, showed his desire to attend to her comfort. The bed-place was covered thickly with dry grass. Poor Marian expressed her pleasure at the thought of being able to rest in quiet on it. The larger hut was destitute of furniture.

"We must be content, my friends, to sleep and take our meals on the ground till we can make some hammocks and form a table and benches," said the captain. "Peter and I could do no more; we have worked hard to accomplish this much, I can assure you."

"That you have indeed, Captain van Dunk," observed Uncle Paul. "We are grateful to you for having laboured so hard for our benefit."

"Peter and I knew that you would require a secure resting-place, where you might sleep in peace without the fear of being pounced upon by a jaguar or a puma," answered the skipper. "It will afford accommodation to you four gentlemen and Peter and me, and the other men will soon run up a hut for themselves. They must not spend much time on it, for all hands will have enough to do in building the vessel and procuring food. We can obtain an ample supply, but we must not sit down and expect it to drop into our mouths."

"You will find everyone ready to assist you in carrying out your plans, captain, for a more obedient set of men I have never met with," said Uncle Paul.

"Yes, yes, I am sure of that," said the captain. "Now, instead of losing more time in talking, let us go to supper. We have some parrots and macaws roasting, and a collection of ripe fruit for the little maid."

"And we have brought some fine fish," I said, "to add to the feast."

"Then we will put them on the spit at once," observed the captain; on which I ran down to the raft and returned with a big fish in each hand. Peter, who acted as cook, with Sambo's assistance soon had the fish cleaned and spitted, when the latter took his seat by the fire to keep the various roasts turning.

Marian only partook of a little of the fish, and some cassava bread which the captain had prepared and baked for her beforehand. He then begged her to retire to her hut, and to take that rest she so much needed. Her trunk, which had come on in the raft, enabled her to obtain a change of clothing,—a luxury none of the rest of us could enjoy.

We all enjoyed the feast, however; for we were thoroughly tired, and expected to obtain a comfortable night's rest after it. As soon as it was over, we thankfully entered our hut, where we found that the captain and Peter had thoughtfully collected a large supply of dry grass and leaves for our use. I can truly say that I have never since slept more soundly on feather-bed than I did during that first night in our new settlement, as the skipper called it. I dreamed not of Indians, nor of anacondas, nor of our long swim. Daylight was streaming in at the open door when I awoke. I found the rest of the party, with the exception of my father, on foot, and the captain giving directions to each one what to do. My father was going to get up.

"No, no, my friend," said the skipper. "You are weary, and require a long rest; we must excuse you from working until you have sufficiently recovered to undertake it."

"But I am ready to work," I said, springing to my feet. "Tell me what to do and I will willingly perform it. If I had an axe I would quickly begin to cut down a tree."

"Our first business will be to form tools to work with," answered the captain. "We must search for big stones of a proper shape to serve as hammers; although they are not common down here, they may be found in the interior. We must then form wedges to split the trees, which Peter, who is our best axe-man, will cut down. You will then find ample employment in forming tree-nails with your knife. We must be content to proceed by slow degrees, and each man must take the task for which he is best fitted."

I saw the wisdom of Captain van Dunk's remarks, and felt more confident of success than I should have done had he undertaken to perform in a hurry the work he proposed. I begged that I might set out at once.

"I shall send out three parties for that object," he said. "You with one of the Indians, your cousin with another, and Tim with the third."

Having made a hurried meal of some of the provisions which remained from our supper of the previous night, we set out. Polo was my companion, Arthur took Maco, and Tim was accompanied by Kallolo. The Indians carried their bows and arrows, and we were each armed with long poles, which, being pointed at one end, would serve as spears as well as assist us in our progress. We had no fear of meeting with human foes, as the captain and Peter told us that they had seen no traces of inhabitants. After proceeding some way together we separated, Arthur and his attendant going towards some high ground which appeared beyond the forest-region in front of us, while I made my way up to reach a range of hills in front, Tim and Kallolo going in an opposite direction.

After proceeding some distance we found ourselves on the border of a rapid and shallow stream, and I hoped that we should discover in its bed some stones of the shape and size we required. We made our way along it, and in a short time came upon one which seemed just adapted for the purpose in view. This encouraged me to search for more. I was not disappointed in my hopes, and before long found three others; one with a hole through the centre, the rest being somewhat long, with flat ends, and a narrow part conveniently shaped for attaching a handle. I gave two to Polo, and carried two myself. Feeling sure that the captain would be well-pleased with our success, we commenced our return journey. Supposing that the stream would lead us in the proper direction, we followed down its banks. We continued till we found ourselves in a thick part of the forest, but the underwood was not sufficiently dense altogether to stop our progress. Sometimes we were at a little distance from the stream, and then again we made our way close along the edge. The water was clear and bright, and the sun shone directly down upon the channel, which had now assumed the character of an igarape, the trees by it adorned with numberless creepers and parasitical plants, covered with gaily-coloured flowers, which hung in fantastic wreaths from the boughs. I felt that a swim would be very enjoyable. Being somewhat warm, however, I rested on an overhanging bough before taking off my trousers to plunge in, while Polo stood near me.

"Well, I think I am cool enough now," I observed to him, and was about to stand up before taking a plunge into the tempting water, when I saw the surface disturbed, and presently the huge head and formidable jaws of an enormous alligator rose above it, his wicked eyes turned towards me as if he longed to have me in his maw! I shuddered as I gazed at him, for in another minute I might have been within that fearful mouth, and carried down beneath the surface, as has been the fate of many people in this part of the country. I was thankful that I had seen the creature, for his appearance was a warning to us all not to venture into the water. Polo, stooping down, assisted me to get off the branch, for fear I should by any chance slip, and become, after all, a victim to the monster. I had never before seen so hideous a creature. Though we shouted, he seemed in no way intimidated, and still floated on the surface, as if meditating an attack. Polo earnestly advised that we should retire from the bank, as he said that he had known instances when alligators, hard pressed by hunger, had rushed on shore, and seizing persons, had carried them off without a possibility of being rescued by their friends. I shuddered again as I listened to his account, and thought of the fearful risk I had run. We sat watching the monster for some time at a safe distance, with our spears in our hands; but he showed no inclination to follow us, and at length, turning round, he went swimming down the stream till he was lost to sight.

We had some difficulty in making our way back through the forest, for the stream, we found, took a turn away from the settlement, and it led us further from it than we had supposed. The captain highly approved of the stones we had brought. Arthur and Tim had already arrived, each of them having found only one stone adapted to the purpose of hammers; but they were large and heavy, and were just what was wanted. They had, however, brought several large pieces of hard stone of flinty nature and wedge or axe-like form, which the captain pronounced to be of the greatest value.

"I thought so when I discovered them," observed Arthur. "It seemed to me that by chipping or grinding them, sharp edges might be formed so as to serve either for wedges or perhaps even for axes."

"They will form axes, though some labour will be required to sharpen them," exclaimed the captain. "We could then easily fix them in handles; and they will be of the greatest use, if not for cutting down the trees, at all events for scoring the trunks for the wedges, and for smoothing the planks when split. You must search for some more of the same character; and if you find them, as I have no doubt you will, we shall all have tools, and be able to make rapid progress."

The three Indians at once undertook not only to put handles to the hammers, but to sharpen the stones intended for axeheads.

"It will take some time," observed Kallolo; "but in our country we do not think much of time, and patience overcomes all difficulties."

"We must not, however, forget the necessity of finding provisions for our settlement," observed Uncle Paul. "Kallolo has undertaken to supply us, if he can find time to form a blowpipe; it will be wise, I think, to allow him to do so before he attempts to execute any other work."

The captain agreed to this, and begged that Kallolo would endeavour to find the materials for the instrument he proposed to make.

The Indian's eye brightened. "Yes, yes, I will start to-morrow morning," he said. "I will search also for the ingredients for the poison, without which the blowpipe would be of little use. In the meantime I will labour at the hammers and axes, which Maco and Polo may complete while I am employed at the zabatana."

Marian, on seeing all the rest of the party busy, begged that she also might have something to do. "I will gladly act as cook for you, though, unfortunately, I am very little acquainted with the art; but with some hints from Sambo, I may in time become proficient."

"I think we may find pleasanter employment than that for you, my little maid," said the captain. "Some of us are in want of hats, and we shall require a large amount of matting to serve as bedding and clothing, and also to form sails for our vessel. I have thought that if you and your father, assisted by your brother Guy, would turn your attention to the matter, you would render great service to our little community."

Marian said she should be delighted; and my father and I at once expressed our readiness to become plaiters and weavers, and to give our thoughts to the subject;—though, of course, we could not expect to accomplish much at first, as we had very little knowledge of the art we proposed to exercise. Kallolo, however, said that he would show us how matting was manufactured in his country. It could be made sufficiently fine for clothing, or thick and coarse for roofs of cabins on board river-boats, or very strong for sails.

Some feathery-leaved reeds grew on the shore of the lake not far off, and as we were eager to begin, Arthur and I cut a few, and bringing them back to Kallolo, begged him to show us how to plait. He at once undertook to do so, observing, however, that the reeds were not fit for any other purpose than to make coarse hats; and that they must be first dried, and then split, before they could be fit for use. "However, they will do to learn with, and you can at once make hats with your plaiting," he added. Being anxious to learn, we kept hard at work, and before Marian repaired to her hut for the night we had made several yards of plaiting, and my father had designed a plan for manufacturing matting.

I cannot attempt to describe the labour of each day, or the progress we made in our work. Kallolo, who had started as he intended at daybreak, returned in the evening with the materials for his blowpipe, and the ingredients for manufacturing the woorali poison. He had brought several stems of small palms, from which he selected two of different sizes. Outside they appeared rough from the scars of the fallen leaves; but he said that the soft pith within them would soon rot if steeped in water, and being easily extracted would leave a smooth polished bore. The smaller one was very delicate, being scarcely thicker than a finger; the other was an inch and a half in diameter. He explained that the smaller one was to be pushed inside the larger—this was to be done that any curve in the one might counteract that in the other. Having allowed his stems to remain in water two or three days, he was able to remove the pith, which had thus become rotten. He then fastened a cup-shaped wooden mouthpiece to one end, and bound the whole spirally with the long flat strips of the black bark of the climbing palm-tree. Among other materials, he had brought a quantity of wax of a dark hue, with which he smeared the whole of the outside. The tube he had thus formed tapered towards the muzzle, the mouthpiece being fitted to the upper end. Both ends were tightly bound round with a cord of silk grass; the butt being further secured by a nut cut horizontally through the middle, with a hole in the end forming a ring, which, should it strike the ground, would prevent it from splitting. About two feet from the mouth-end he fastened a couple of the teeth of the agouti to serve as sights.

Kallolo having finished his blowpipe hung it up carefully by one end, as should it become in the slightest degree bent, it would be, he explained, completely spoiled. He then commenced manufacturing arrows. They were made out of the leaf of a species of palm-tree, hard, brittle, and pointed as sharp as needles. Having burned the butt end, he fastened round it some wild cotton of just sufficient thickness to fit the hole of the tube. As soon as he had formed an arrow he put it into the blowpipe, and aimed at an unfortunate parrot perched on a tree fifty yards off. The parrot, uttering a cry, flew away, and the arrow fell to the ground; but as no poison had as yet been used, the bird was little the worse for its wound. The case would have been very different had the arrow been dipped in the poison: the bird would have died in thirty or forty seconds, Kallolo told me. He was well-satisfied with his performance, and pronounced his blowpipe a certain killer.

He had now to manufacture the poison. He had already procured all the ingredients, and three large bowls; but he confessed to the captain that all his efforts would be in vain unless he could obtain a vessel in which to boil it, as the wooden bowls would certainly not answer the purpose. His object was to obtain the loan of the saucepan!

"Why, we shall all be poisoned if you use it," said the captain, starting back with dismay; "you had better go without your blowpipe than allow that to happen."

Kallolo assured him that the vessel would not in any way be injured; and that should the white people even swallow a small portion of the poison, they would not suffer.

"Ah, my friend, but I would rather not risk it," observed the captain. "However, if you can undertake to clean the pot thoroughly after you have used it, I will not hinder you, as I am well aware that you could procure more food with your blowpipe than all of us together, with our bows and arrows and fishing-lines."

Having obtained the loan of the pot, Kallolo immediately commenced operations. He had, I should have said, formed a small hut at a little distance from the camp, in which to concoct the mixture. He had placed there the various ingredients he had collected. The first was composed of several bunches of the woorali vine; another was a root with a sharp, bitter taste. Besides these there were two bulbous plants, which contained a green and glutinous juice. He had also collected two species of ants: one large and black, with a sharp, venomous sting; the other a little red ant, which stings like the nettle. Having scraped the woorali vine and bitter root into thin shavings, he put them into a sieve made of leaves, which he held over a bowl, and poured water on them: a thick liquor came through, having the appearance of coffee. He then produced the bulbous plants, and squeezed a portion of the juice into the pot, adding the dried ants, as well as the pounded fangs of two venomous snakes. Clearing everything away, he made a fire in the centre of the hut, and pouring the mixture into the saucepan, he boiled it slowly for some hours. The scum was then taken off, when the liquid had become reduced to thick syrup of a deep brown colour. He now told me that it was fit for use; and his darts being ready, he dipped them into it, as he did also several large arrows, and the points of some of our spears. The remainder he poured off into some small gourds, which he covered carefully over with leaves, and hung up in the hut.

"Now!" he said, "we are prepared for any enemies who may come near us; and we may be sure that we shall be able to procure as much game as we can desire."

The last thing to be done was to cleanse the saucepan. He first boiled water in it several times, throwing each quantity away; he then scraped it with his knife all over, and rubbed it again and again with leaves, till, pronouncing it to be perfectly free from the slightest particle of poison, he took it to the skipper, who examined it with a suspicious eye. I told him all that I had seen done, and at last he seemed satisfied that no one would be the worse for food cooked in it.

By this time a number of hammers had been formed, and no less than four axes. Maco and Polo, working under water, had sharpened them by means of some other hard stone which they found in the stream. For this purpose each of them dug a hole on the shore of the lake, into which they let the water, and seated over it performed the whole operation under the surface. I reminded them of the huge alligator I had seen.

"No fear, Massa Guy," answered Maco; "while we make noise like this, the caymans take care not to come near us."

"I hope that you will not be mistaken," I answered, advising them to place a number of small poles in the mud in front of them, which might prevent even a hungry cayman from landing, as he would probably be suspicious.

A most important event now took place. It was laying the keel of our proposed vessel, which had been prepared with infinite labour, chiefly by a single axe. When we considered that we had to cut out the ribs with such tools, and then to shape and nail on the planks, we might well have despaired of accomplishing the work.

"Have we not an auger, and a saw, and an axe? why then should we despair?" exclaimed the skipper over and over again. "Though we have no nails, we can make wooden ones; and though we have no iron, we will compel wood and fibre to take its place. We shall build a vessel, never fear."

Having no paper for the plan, the captain had smoothed a piece of ground, on which he had drawn it out with great accuracy, so that the opposite timbers should be of the same shape, and agree with each other, expanding less and less towards the bow and stern, that when the planks were laid on they should remain even and be firmly fixed. Uncle Paul approved of Captain van Dunk's plan, and ably seconded him in every part of the work.

All day long hewing and chipping went on. Each crooked piece of timber, as it was cut off, was brought to the plan to ascertain for which of the ribs it was most fitted. Tim proved himself one of the best workmen of the party. I suspect that had all possessed regular tools others might have excelled him, but his talent consisted in employing our very imperfect instruments, and in devising new methods of getting through the work. He was especially an adept at splitting trees. No sooner was one felled than he would set to work to scrape off the bark at the upper part, and to run deep and straight lines down it; he then fixed the wedges in a long row, and went from one to another, driving them in as if playing on a musical instrument. When they were all firmly fixed, he would call the rest of the party with their hammers, and at a signal make them all strike at once, seldom failing to separate an even plank.

We had not hitherto been troubled by wild beasts, nor had even any serpents shown their ugly heads. I had one morning accompanied Tim into the forest, intending to look out for trees to fell, Tim carrying his axe to mark them. I had thoughtlessly left my bow and arrows behind, and had only a long pointed stick in my hand. We had reached a somewhat open space, and having passed across it, had arrived at a narrow glade,—probably the result of a hurricane. Just at the edge of it Tim had discovered one of the trees of which he was in search. We were going up to it when, not twenty yards off, a huge jaguar stalked out of the forest, and stood looking at us, apparently meditating a spring in our direction!

"Do not run, as you value your life, Mr Guy," exclaimed Tim. "Stand still, and I will tackle the gentleman."

I did as he advised, merely holding my pointed stick before me; though I knew that had the jaguar attacked us it would have been of little more use than a toothpick. Tim, however, ran boldly forward, and, to my surprise, doffing his hat, exclaimed—

"The top of the morning to ye, Mr Jaguar. You will please to say what you want, or take yourself out of this; for it's your room rather than your company we would be after wishing for." The jaguar, astonished at the coolness of the man, though he could not understand what was said, turned slowly round and went off, trailing his tail after him as if he felt himself conquered. On seeing this, Tim set up a wild shout, which sounded to my ears like "Wallop—ahoo—aboo—Erin-go-bragh!" in which I very heartily joined him, feeling no small satisfaction at the peaceable termination of this our first interview with one of the very few wild beasts we had to dread in the forests of the Orinoco.

The puma, or American lion, though not in reality quite so formidable as a jaguar, is not a creature which an unarmed man would wish to meet when alone; though, except when very hard pressed by hunger, or when it can attack a person unprepared, it seldom destroys human beings. The savage jaguar, on the contrary, will follow with stealthy feet the trail of the Indian, and suddenly seizing him, deprive him of life. Though generally not much larger than a wolf, it occasionally reaches the size of the Indian tiger, and is often called the tiger or panther of the New World. It greatly resembles the leopard, especially in its forest habits, as by means of its powerful claws it can with ease spring up the trunk of a tree, and make its way along a branch, ready to pounce down upon a foe. It is truly the lord of the South American forests, as it often attacks the thick-skinned tapir, and even the largest alligator. In spite of the enormous jaws of the latter, the jaguar will leap towards the tail of the creature, tear open its side, and devour it even before life is extinct. Only two animals do not fear the jaguar; one is the great ant-eater, which is defended from the monster's attacks by its thick shaggy coat; the other is the little peccary. The latter, however, when caught singly is quickly despatched. When collected in a herd the case is very different. They then so fearlessly assail the jaguar with their sharp tusks, that though it may kill a few of them, it is usually pierced to death, or compelled to take to flight. We had good reason, therefore, to be thankful that the jaguar had not found us busy at work with our backs turned towards him; in which case he would probably have killed one or both of us. He must already, as Tim observed, have had his dinner, else he would not so readily have taken his departure. We found, indeed, not far off, the remains of a deer on which he had been feeding, several armadillos and a king-vulture being engaged in finishing what he had left of the feast.

While Tim was at work, I kept watch in case another jaguar or any other foe should approach. I regretted not having brought my bow and arrows, and determined never to leave home again without them.

The tree was soon cut down, for we were obliged to choose those of small size, which could be easily chopped through and split. As soon as it was down, Tim smoothed off the upper surface, and then drew lines along it to mark the divisions of the planks, scoring them deeply with his axe, ready for the wedges. Sometimes a tree split from one end to the other, and we quickly had a number of boards formed; which, however, required seasoning before they could be used. This operation took place more rapidly than in our northern climes; for by placing them in the shade, though exposed to the air, they quickly dried.

Having cut a tree into planks, we each of us carried home a couple of them. I gave a description of Tim's encounter with the jaguar. Of course our friends congratulated us on our escape; and, taking warning, they determined to be on the lookout lest the creature should think fit to pay the settlement a visit.



Our manufactures of various sorts went on with unabated vigour. We had already gained considerable skill in mat-making, and had tried various substances,—some produced from different species of palms, and others from grass and sedges growing on the banks of the neighbouring stream or lake. We had also made a quantity of string, or what sailors call sennit, which, twisted together, would serve as cordage for the vessel. One of our great wants had been hammocks in which to sleep, they being far cooler and more healthy than standing bed-places. There was an objection, also, to sleeping on the ground: for we were liable to be stung by insects; and indeed venomous snakes might enter and remain undiscovered, coiled in the heaps of grass and dry leaves which formed our mattresses.

After we had made a quantity of sennit, Peter cut out some netting needles and pins, and set to work to net a hammock for himself. Others followed his example, and soon each of us had a hammock slung in the hut; which being stowed away in the daytime, gave us far more room than we had before enjoyed. Arthur and I made a sort of cot for Marian, in which she was able to sleep with more comfort than in the confined bunk the kind captain had at first made for her.

Uncle Paul had not forgotten his intention of trying to supply us with garments; but as we had so many things to attend to, he had not as yet begun to make them. We had all, however, been supplied with straw-hats; which, working as we were in the sun, were absolute necessities. The Indians had also to make frequent excursions in search of game and fruit to supply the community with food, so that we were never without an abundance of what we considered the necessaries of life. Kallolo had also manufactured some palm-wine and several refreshing beverages from fruit, chiefly of palms. Occasionally, too, Uncle Paul with a companion launched out into the lake on the smaller raft with hooks and lines, and invariably returned with a good supply of fish.

One day when he and Arthur had gone out for that purpose, Marian asked me to accompany her in search of a peculiarly elastic grass called the "capim grass," and two or three other sorts which grew on the banks of the stream. Tim and Sambo followed, to assist us in bringing back what we might collect; and Kallolo and Maco, wishing to shoot some birds, came with their blowpipes and bows and arrows.

We had got nearly to the mouth of the stream, where there was some open ground, the trees not growing so closely down to the edge of the water as in other places. Tim and Sambo were together. I had gone a little way on, when Marian saw some of the grass of which she was in search. The Indians, who had just shot a toucan, were a little way behind me, waiting for the bird to drop. The waters having by this time considerably subsided, the stream was running much more rapidly than at first. I stopped to watch a log which was floating down, and I thought how convenient it would be to get hold of it and tow it on shore, as it would save us several hours' labour should it be fit for our shipbuilding purposes. Just then I caught sight of Uncle Paul and Arthur on the raft, they having come to the mouth of the stream; but of course they could not ascend it. I shouted to them, and pointed out the log.

At that moment I heard a piercing cry, and to my dismay I saw that Marian had fallen into the stream from a projecting point on which she had been standing, and that she was being rapidly hurried down by the current. What also was my unspeakable horror, when, almost at the same moment I caught sight of a huge alligator, which, with open jaws, rose to the surface, and was making directly for her! I shrieked out to Kallolo, who had at the same instant caught sight of the creature. Quick as lightning he fixed an arrow to his bow, which he sent with unerring aim into the monster's eye. It had the effect he hoped for,— it made the alligator turn aside; and apparently blinded, and unable to see where it was going, it darted up close to the bank. Tim and Sambo, seeing it coming, had sprung on to a tree which overhung the stream. Then Tim, instigated by an impulse for which he himself probably could not have accounted, leaped directly down on the creature's back, and digging the fingers of his left hand into its remaining eye, began so furiously to belabour it with a thick club he held in his right hand, that the astonished saurian dashed off through the water, madly lashing it into masses of foam with its huge tail. Under other circumstances I should have trembled for the gallant Tim's safety, but for the moment I could think of nothing but the fearful danger to which my dear young sister was exposed. I am very sure that it was the idea that he might help to save Marian which prompted him to the performance of the unexampled act of heroism. It may, however, be considered an Irish way of proceeding, as he would certainly have rendered her more service by swimming out and supporting her. As soon as I had recovered from my terror, which for the moment almost deprived me of reason, I leaped into the current and swam towards her.

Though at first almost paralysed with fear, she had recovered her presence of mind, and had begun to strike out, so as to support herself above water. I swam with all my might to overtake her, dreading every moment lest another alligator should appear and seize one or both of us. The shouts and cries of the men, however, and the furious disturbance of the water caused by the monster Tim bestrode, effectually prevented any other from venturing out of its hiding-place, and therefore I believe Tim rendered us effectual aid.

Now up the stream, now across from one side to the other, the alligator and his rider dashed at a tremendous speed. The creature would have dived had not Tim, exerting all his strength, held back its head, thus keeping its jaws open, and preventing it from plunging. All this time Tim had been shouting to Sambo to come and join him on the creature's back, and to the Indians to shoot at it again; but Sambo, though a brave fellow, not having been accustomed to steeplechasing in his youth, had no fancy for such a ride; and the Indians well knew that their arrows would glance harmlessly off the scaly back of the saurian, or that they were more likely rather to wound brave Tim himself. Still Tim held on in a way a practised fox-hunter could alone have done, hitting now on the monster's jaws, now behind him, and now on its side. It was a question who would first get tired, the Irishman or the alligator.

Meantime I had got close to Marian, and knowing the importance of keeping up as much noise as possible, I shouted and shrieked, telling her to do the same, while Uncle Paul and Arthur were making the most strenuous efforts with their paddles to reach us. It was important, indeed, that they should do so, for Marian's strength, overcome by her terror, was rapidly failing her. I did my utmost to keep her head above water; for I am very sure had she been alone she must have sunk. The Indians, seeing Uncle Paul and Arthur coming to our assistance, and knowing that I was a good swimmer, hastened up the bank with Sambo to aid Tim: for they saw that should the alligator hold out much longer, he would be compelled to let go its head; in which case it would have immediately dived to the bottom, and very probably have given him a fatal blow with its tail, or dragged him down along with it.

As I looked at Marian's countenance, I saw that it was becoming very pale. Her terror and the efforts she had made had completely overcome her. She fainted away. Still I kept her up, striking the water with my feet; for I could do no more. The current bore us rapidly down, and as I looked at the raft I feared that we should be swept past it. I knew that there was no use calling out to my friends, for they were already doing their very utmost. Those were indeed awful moments. The shouts and shrieks of Tim and the Indians sounding in my ears, I knew that they could not be far off. I could even hear the noise made by the alligator as it furiously lashed the water with its tail; and I expected every moment that it would rush down toward us, and perhaps strike us in its mad course, or dash against the raft and upset it. I dared not look around, but kept my eye on the raft, and with my right hand, (for the left arm sustained Marian), I endeavoured to direct my course towards it. My great dread was that the shock she had received would prove too much for her, and that she would succumb to it. Every moment she pressed more heavily on my arm. My own strength, too, I felt, was failing me. Still I was encouraged by seeing Uncle Paul and Arthur coming nearer and nearer; but even close though they were, there was still a possibility that Marian would slip from my grasp. My anxiety became almost greater than I could bear: a dimness came over my eyes—I was sinking. Then I felt that Marian was no longer on my arm. The next moment my hand was on the side of the raft, and I was safe in Uncle Paul's strong grasp. He was kneeling with Marian in his arms. I pressed my lips to hers to recall her to life. She opened her eyes,—my heart bounded with joy. She was still deadly pale, but she gently smiled, saying faintly, "I shall soon be well, Guy."

"Yes, yes; our little maiden is safe, and will quickly be all right!" exclaimed Uncle Paul, though the tremor in his voice showed that he had not even yet recovered from the fearful agitation he had experienced at seeing our danger.

From the time we had got on board the raft, Arthur had been paddling with might and main to regain the shore, where it now floated calmly out of the strength of the current. Having somewhat recovered, I was able to watch Tim and his strange steed. Whenever the alligator showed an inclination to go either up the stream or down to the lake, Tim turned it with a fierce blow of his shillelagh; and thus kept it moving backwards and forwards between the two banks.

The Indians and Sambo had now got directly opposite the spot it generally reached in its rapid circuit, Kallolo carefully watching the movements of the monster while his companions were hastily cutting some long and tough trailing vines hanging from a neighbouring tree.

"Bear a hand! bear a hand, or sure I will be after riding to 'Davy Jones's locker' sooner than will be altogether pleasant!" shouted Tim, gasping for breath.

"Keep up its head! keep up its head!" cried the Indians in return,—a piece of advice Tim fully intended to follow as long as he had the power.

At length the alligator came directly towards Kallolo, who at that moment drawing his bow sent a poisoned arrow directly down its throat. The alligator, feeling the pain, turned round, and again dashed across the stream; but once more Tim managed to turn it with his well-dealt blows, and again it dashed back to the bank, close to where Kallolo stood. Throwing down his bow and quiver, the Indian, apparently doubting whether the poison would produce its usual effects on the monster, sprang forward into the water and drove his knife directly into its breast. As he did so it gave another fierce lash with its tail, but it was the last. The Indian drew out his knife, ready to repeat the blow, but there was no necessity for him to strike; the alligator rolled over from side to side, its head dropping in spite of Tim's efforts to keep it up.

"Jump off, or it will carry you to the bottom!" cried Kallolo; who then, turning round, shouted to his companions to bring the rope. They came hurrying to the spot with a ready-made noose, which they dexterously slipped over the monster's head, Tim at the same moment, springing on its back, leaped from thence to the shore.

"I have mounted many a skittish horse when I was a spalpeen of a lad, but never in all my born days have I ridden so ill-mannered a baste; and sure I hope as long as I live that I may not have to break in such another as this one," exclaimed the Irishman.

The Indians, while Tim was speaking, were getting ready their ropes, which they managed to slip round the monster's forelegs; then, all hands hauling away, they dragged it by slow degrees up the bank. As its struggles were not over, the task was not so easy as it would have been had it been unable to offer any resistance. Its jaws continued to open, showing its captors that it would be wise to keep at a respectable distance. Kallolo, however, who did not fear to face it in the water, did not hesitate to rush in and give it several additional stabs.

Tim's mind had been so entirely occupied with the strange situation in which he found himself, that he had almost forgotten the cause which first prompted him to leap on the monster's back. As soon, however, as he was again on his feet, he recollected all about the matter, and seeing Marian and me on the raft, with wild shouts he came rushing towards us, exhibiting, by the most vehement gestures and extraordinary antics, his delight at our safety.

"Sure and she's safe, the darling Miss Marian!" he cried out as he sprang on board the raft; "and the brute of an alligator has not eaten her, as I was fearing he would have been after doing. It's a mighty fine counthry this, but it would be all the better if it was as free of them creatures as Ould Ireland is of snakes and sarpents,—blessings on the head of Saint Patrick who drove them all out."

After he had calmed down a little, Uncle Paul directed him to take one of the paddles and to assist in navigating the raft home, while he himself attended to Marian. He was anxious to get her safely on shore, and placed in her cot, where she might enjoy that rest she so much required. He and I sat by her side chafing her feet and hands. We wished that we had had some of the skipper's schiedam to give to her; but Uncle Paul had brought none with him, and we could think of no other remedies than those we were already applying. The sun striking down on us with its usual force, she did not feel any bad effects from being wet. The colour gradually returned to her cheeks, and we trusted that she would not suffer materially from the accident. Arthur and Tim exerted themselves to the utmost to urge on the raft. We had no difficulty in getting out of the river, as the current carried us rapidly down to its mouth. We then made good progress along the shore.

Uncle Paul felt even more anxious about Marian than I did. I had never seen him so affected. As she lay in his arms, he bent over her, uttering endearing expressions. "Cheer up, my little maiden," he said; "we shall soon be at home, and you will be all put right. We must not let you run such a risk again. These wilds are not suited for young girls to wander through alone, and you must remain in the encampment till we get our new craft ready for sea."

"I am not much frightened, and shall soon be quite myself again, I assure you," said Marian faintly. "Still I cannot help thinking about that dreadful alligator. It won't come after us, will it?"

"The young mistress need not be afraid of that, unless the baste has more lives than a Kilkenny cat," observed Tim, who had overheard her. "It's my belief that I'd have ridden the brute to death, even if Kallolo hadn't sent an arrow down its throat and stuck his long knife half a dozen times in it. The alligator is hauled up high and dry on shore, and the creature's ugly head is off its body by this time; so you may be pretty sure that it'll not be after troubling you again."

Tim's account had at all events the effect of banishing from Marian's mind the idea that the alligator would follow us; and Uncle Paul and I did our best to keep up her spirits too, and prevent her thoughts from recurring to the fearful danger she had gone through.

The time occupied in reaching our camp seemed very long; but Marian was conveyed much more easily on the raft than she would have been through the tangled forest. Our father saw us coming, and hurrying down to the beach, assisted us in carrying up Marian to her hut. When he heard what had occurred, he was greatly agitated, and blamed himself for having allowed her to go on such an expedition. He agreed with Uncle Paul that she must not in future be permitted to leave the village without an escort, which must never for a moment quit her side.

The captain, who had been working at the vessel, hearing of the accident, came hurrying to the hut with a bottle of schiedam under his arm. "My little maid! what should we have done had she been seized by the alligator? We should have lost all heart for work, and left our bones to whiten on the beach!" he exclaimed in an agitated voice, which showed how much he felt. "She must take some of this: it's the great remedy for all diseases; and I have kept it on purpose, resisting the temptation, when I felt inclined to take a drop to comfort my heart as I thought of my home, and my dear frau, and the months and months that must pass before I can see her again."

Uncle Paul gave Marian a small glassful of the schiedam, which undoubtedly had the good effect of sending her off into a sound sleep.

In a short time the Indians arrived with the head of the alligator, which they and Sambo proposed to preserve, in order, the latter said, to make a figurehead for the new vessel!

"We will think about it," answered Uncle Paul. "I doubt whether it would bring pleasant recollections to the mind of our little maiden. At any rate, we will carry it with us on board, and perhaps in after years she may be less unwilling to look at it than at present, when she may exhibit it to another generation as she describes our adventures in the wilds of the Orinoco."



Quacko and Ara, though the only idle members on our estate, were, contrary to the usual rule, perfectly happy, and certainly afforded us all constant amusement. Tim observed that they were growing conceited, and thought too much of themselves. He proposed, therefore, to try to catch a few more pets, in order to teach them to behave properly, and to show them that they were not of so much importance as they were inclined to suppose. Tim, whenever he could get away from work, was fond of making exploring expeditions on either side of the settlement. He had discovered, not far off, the roosting-place of a flock of macaws, and had determined to capture one. I reminded him of the way Arthur and I had been attacked when we had attempted to rob their nests on Grove Island.

"To be sure, Master Guy; but it will be a very different matter here," he answered. "We shall be on firm ground, and able to use our legs if they attack us; for, as you see, they are all perched up on the trees, and will not be inclined to come off for the sake of looking after a friend or two who may tumble to the ground."

Tim had told Kallolo of his intention, and we all set off together, Kallolo with his blowpipe, Tim and I with our bows and arrows. Tim, in addition, carried a long mat fastened at one end, a string being drawn through the other. Kallolo told us, as he went along, that had he possessed some salt he should have had no difficulty in catching as many macaws alive as we might wish for; but as yet we had not discovered that necessary of life.

We soon reached the birds' roosting-place; but no sooner did they see us than, contrary to Tim's expectations, they all arose and began circling round our heads, screaming vociferously. Kallolo, looking on calmly, did not shoot. Tim and I let fly a couple of arrows, but both missed. At last the birds began to settle down, and I again shot an arrow, when down tumbled a young macaw. The missile had passed through its wing. Away it scuttled, uttering loud shrieks from pain and terror. Tim and I made chase, he holding the mat with the joined part in front ready to throw over the bird. We quickly overtook it, when, finding that it could not escape, it turned round and did battle bravely for its liberty, attempting to bite our legs with its sharp beak; but Tim's sack was speedily over it, and drawing the string, he had it a close prisoner. Meantime Kallolo had brought down three of its companions with his deadly blowpipe. Though they struggled at first, they speedily succumbed to the effects of the poison, and were tied by the feet and slung over his back.

Laden with our prizes we returned homewards. The dead birds were at once stripped of their feathers, spitted, and placed before the fire to roast for supper; for had they been allowed to cool they would have proved somewhat tough, but treated as they were they were perfectly tender. The live macaw was allowed to remain in the bag all night, when its spirit being somewhat quelled by hunger, we gave it some nuts, which it took readily; and in the course of the day it consented to come out and get a string tied round its leg. At night it went to roost; and by the next morning it was perfectly tame, and willingly took the fruit and nuts offered it. Its plumage was blue and yellow; and though not so pretty as some of its more gaily-coloured relatives, as its temper improved it became a great favourite.

We had by this time erected a complete village of huts. The good captain and his mate, that we might have more room, had built one for themselves. Tim and Sambo put up another, and the three Indians erected a fifth. They had no pretensions to architectural beauty, but were quite sufficient for all the shelter required in that warm climate. For our dining-hall we had an open shed, where we were sheltered from the rays of the sun. We were also making good progress with the vessel: the stem and the stern, with several ribs, had already been fixed. Cutting out the ribs with the scanty tools we possessed was a slow process; and a Dutchman alone could have conceived the possibility of succeeding in such an undertaking, with the numerous difficulties to be encountered.

"Never fear, my friends; we will do it," the skipper was continually saying. "Only take care not to break the axes. If we do, we shall have to work with our knives. But remember it could be done even then; only we should be much longer about the job. 'Slow and steady wins the race.'"

Slow our work certainly was, but every day saw some progress. While the captain and Peter were working at the timber, the rest of us were smoothing down the planks; and we had now a large pile ready to fix on as soon as the ribs were set up. My father, Marian, and I were improving in the manufacture of matting. We could not, however, make it of sufficient strength for the sails; still, the material we manufactured would serve to form a roof for the cabin, or it might do for kilts or for cloaks.

We had established several other manufactories. A pottery was the first. Fortunately, we had found some clay well adapted for our purpose; and my father was acquainted with the principles of the art and the mode of working. A small kiln was first put up; and we then, kneading our clay, formed it into vessels of various shapes and sizes. Our great object was to burn some sufficiently hard to serve for cooking purposes. We cracked a good many, and it must be confessed they were all somewhat rough and unshapely; but we improved in that respect, and eventually succeeded in producing several pots which stood the fire remarkably well. At Uncle Paul's desire, we also formed a number of small cups, though he did not at the time tell us for what object he required them.

He had not forgotten his promise to supply us with shoes when ours should be worn-out. We had for some time been going about with bare feet. We found it, however, both painful and dangerous to wander through the forest with our feet unprotected. I reminded him one day of what he had undertaken to do.

"I have not forgotten it, and will at once fulfil my promise," he answered. "Come with me into the forest; before we start, however, you must pack up the small pots you made at my request the other day."

"What are they for?" I asked.

"You shall see when we arrive at the manufactory," he answered.

We set out towards the west. After having proceeded some way we found, scattered here and there among the other trees, a number of trees of great height, and from two to three feet in diameter. The trunks were round and strong, and the bark of a light colour, and not very smooth. Their summits did not spread wide, but their appearance was especially beautiful, from their long, thin leaves, which grew in clusters of three together, and were of an ovate shape, the centre one rather more than a foot in length, the others a little shorter.

"These are seringa trees," said Uncle Paul, pointing them out. "It is with the sap which proceeds from them that I purpose to manufacture our shoes."

I stared with astonishment, for I saw that he was not joking. He now took the pots, to which strings had been fastened, and secured two or three to each tree by small pegs, which he took out of his pocket. Above each peg he made a deep incision with his stone axe, and almost immediately a milky substance began to ooze out and drop into the pots. Taking some himself, he bade me taste it, assuring me that it was perfectly harmless. Its taste was agreeable,—much like sweetened cream, which it resembled in colour.

We went on from tree to tree, cutting deeply into the bark of each, and hanging up our pots till we had exhausted all we carried. This being done, all hands under his direction set to work to build a hut; and he then bade the Indians search for a nut of a peculiar palm which was required for the operation.

These preliminary operations being concluded, we returned to the settlement, where Uncle Paul set us to work to form several lasts suited to the size of the feet of the different members of the party. He made a pair for Marian; but the rest of us, he said, must be content with shoes of the same shape for both feet; and though very rough, and not very well shaped, they would answer our purpose. We had not time to bestow much labour on them.

Next morning we again set out, carrying this time a couple of large bowls, which, Uncle Paul said, would be required. On arriving at the hut, he placed one of them on the ground, and then piled up inside the hut a number of the palm-nuts collected on the previous day. Having surrounded them with stones, he placed the bowl, in the bottom of which a hole had been made, in an inverted position on the top of them. We next went out to collect the pots we had hung up on the seringa trees. They were all full of juice, and were brought to the hut and emptied into the other bowl. This done, we took the pots back and hung them up again. The lasts we now smeared with clay, of which some had been found at hand. The nuts were lighted, and a dense white smoke ascended through the hole in the bottom of the bowl. One of the lasts, to which wooden handles had been fixed, we now dipped into the bowl of indiarubber juice; and when it was drawn out, a thin layer of juice was found adhering to it. On being held over the smoke this quickly dried, and became rather darker than at first. The process was repeated a dozen times, till the shoe was of sufficient thickness; care being taken to give a greater number of coatings to the sole. We found, after a little time, that the various operations required about five minutes,— then the shoe was complete. One after another the lasts were dipped in the same way; and the shoes were then hung on cross sticks which had been put up outside the hut, that they might be exposed to the sun. There being no risk of our shoes being stolen, we left them, and returned home as before, having plenty of occupation for the rest of the day.

Next morning we went back to the hut, and having collected the juice which had in the meantime trickled into the pots, we finished off the shoes which had been made on the previous day; and having scored the soles to prevent them from slipping, we cut them off the lasts, which were thus ready again for use. We now manufactured some more shoes and left them to dry, carrying with us those which had just been finished. Marian was delighted with hers, which were very soft and elastic, though they would not do to walk far in.

We had now not only the means of making shoes, but bottles and cups; and Uncle Paul even thought of manufacturing a material which would serve instead of cloth, and might be formed into cloaks and kilts, if not trousers—though, as he had no substance to lay it on, he was afraid that it would easily tear. We agreed, however, that, except in rainy weather, the matting was likely to prove the more useful article.

We were returning from our indiarubber manufactory the next day, when we saw an object moving among the boughs of a tree at no great distance from us. Tim ran forward to ascertain what it was.

"Arrah now, if it's not a live alligator, I don't know what it is," he exclaimed. "It's my belief that the baste has climbed up into the tree that he may pounce down upon us as we pass by."

"No fear of that," answered Uncle Paul. "Alligators, although they venture out of the water, never go far from it. The creature you see, large as it looks, is only an iguana, a sort of lizard which lives in trees; and though it is ugly to look at, it is said to be very good to eat, so we will try to get the gentleman."

On getting under the tree, we saw what certainly looked like a huge lizard, about four feet in length, including its long tail. The tree not being a large one, we shook it, when down came the creature to the ground. In spite of its rather formidable appearance, Tim dashed boldly forward and caught it by the neck and the small of the back, and held it fast. It lashed about very fiercely with its tail, its only weapon of defence, as its teeth, though numerous, were small. Uncle Paul having formed a noose, slipped it over the creature's head and told me to hold it tight while he made another, which he dexterously threw over its tail. Tim and I then going ahead began to drag it along; and though it made some resistance, we at length got it to the settlement.

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