Theodore Roosevelt (18581919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.
of the houses; men stood in front of them. The biggest house was enclosed by a stockade of palm-logs, thrust end-on into the ground. Cows and oxen grazed round about; and carts with solid wheels, each wheel made of a single disk of wood, were tilted on their poles.
We made our noonday halt on an island where very tall trees grew, bearing fruits that were pleasant to the taste. Other trees on the island were covered with rich red and yellow blossoms; and masses of delicate blue flowers and of star-shaped white flowers grew underfoot. Hither and thither across the surface of the river flew swallows, with so much white in their plumage that as they flashed in the sun they seemed to have snow-white bodies, borne by dark wings. The current of the river grew swifter; there were stretches of broken water that were almost rapids; the laboring engine strained and sobbed as with increasing difficulty it urged forward the launch and her clumsy consort. At nightfall we moored beside the bank, where the forest was open enough to permit a comfortable camp. That night the ants ate large holes in Millers mosquito-netting, and almost devoured his socks and shoe-laces.
At sunrise we again started. There were occasional stretches of swift, broken water, almost rapids, in the river; everywhere the current was swift, and our progress was slow. The prancha was towed at the end of a hawser, and her crew poled. Even thus we only just made the riffle in more than one case. Two or three times cormorants and snake-birds, perched on snags in the river or on trees alongside it, permitted the boat to come within a few yards. In one piece of high forest we saw a party