Theodore Roosevelt > Through the Brazilian Wilderness > Page 83
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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).  Through the Brazilian Wilderness.  1914.

Page 83
 
horsemen. He lay flat on the ground, panting, unable to catch the scent. Kermit threw water over him, and when he was thoroughly drenched and freshened, thrust his nose into the jaguar’s footprints. The game old hound at once and eagerly responded. As he snuffed the scent he challenged loudly, while still lying down. Then he staggered to his feet and started on the trail, going stronger with every leap. Evidently the big cat was not far distant. Soon we found where it had swum across the bayou. Piranhas or no piranhas, we now intended to get across; and we tried to force our horses in at what seemed a likely spot. The matted growth of water-plants, with their leathery, slippery stems, formed an unpleasant barrier, as the water was swimming-deep for the horses. The latter were very unwilling to attempt the passage. Kermit finally forced his horse through the tangled mass, swimming, plunging, and struggling. He left a lane of clear water, through which we swam after him. The dogs splashed and swam behind us. On the other bank they struck the fresh trail and followed it at a run. It led into a long belt of timber, chiefly composed of low-growing nacur&ygrave; palms, with long, drooping, many-fronded branches. In silhouette they suggest coarse bamboos; the nuts hang in big clusters and look like bunches of small, unripe bananas. Among the lower palms were scattered some big ordinary trees. We cantered along outside the timber belt, listening to the dogs within; and in a moment a burst of yelling clamor from the pack told that the jaguar was afoot. These few minutes are the really exciting moments in the chase, with hounds, of any big cat that will

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