Robin marched steadily forward (p. 31).
CRUSOES OF GUIANA
THE WHITE TIGER
"' -!1-3I 9"!.
EDGEWOOD PUBLISHING COMPANY.
f~~i I -
A MISS IS AS GOOD AS A MILE *
AN INDIAN'S GRATITUDE
UPON HIS TRACK .
A FRIEND IN NEED .
A NARROW SQUEAK .
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING .
A MYSTERIOUS FRIEND .
* S 17
* 5 55
A HIDDEN ENEMY o09
PREPARING FOR A START I 20
A DESPERATE CHASE 126
FIRST EXPERIENCES 139
FISHING EXTRAORDINARY 152
SCARING A TIGER 162
OVER A REEF .172
A HAVEN OF REFUGE 185
THE STOCKADE 20I
A FIGHT UNTO THE DEATH 217
LIFE IN THE CLEARING a 228
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Robin marched steadily forward Frontispiece
He drew out from the bottom of the hole a chopper 1
There was a long silence, which was broken only by the
voice of Fagot 27
Close to the creek lay eleven skeletons 32
He saw them hanging themselves by their tails 50
They carried back Benoit to the prison 53
Come, my friend, and sleep here 67
He applied its tail behind the ear of the sick man 68
Mad with terror, he bounded back, making a sweep with his
sword at the terrible snake 77
He remained as if petrified, as a man with a chopper in his
hand rose suddenly .
Her eyes turned to a portrait .
Making a canoe .
The fire had consumed everything .
viii LIST OF ILLUSTRA TIONS.
"It is he! It is he whom they are killing I" 136
Their store of provisions was carried on board 140
In three minutes an arbour was constructed for the mother
and children I
"Oh it is milk, real milk 152
The Boni shook with laughter 168
Angosso climbed with a vigour and address which would
have made the fortune of a gymnast 180
Cassimir went in front, striking the vegetation to right and
left .. 191
These trees were united by four beams 192
" Now some wood, and we will bake it hard" 204
He talked the matter over with Cassimir 212
For some moments Robin had regarded with curiosity a
large brown body 22
He carried on his head a great basket like a chicken-coop 230
One fine morning Nicholas, to his delight, received a packet
of cigars 234
"What is that ?" cried Robin, seizing his gun 241
Cassimir at last succeeded in catching a monkey .* 245
THE WHITE TIGER
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
HE giant trees of the equatorial forest bent under the
gale. The thunder growled furiously, and the claps,
alternately loud and stifled, short and prolonged,
sharp and crackling, sometimes curious, always
terrible, seemed to run into one endless detonation. From north
to south, from east to west, stretched above the tree-tops, as far
as eye could reach, an immense black cloud bordered by an
angry copper band.
The blinding flashes of all forms and all colours blended in
one vast illumination, as if they were escaping from a crater
turned upside down. From these masses of clouds, which the
mighty sun had pumped up from the marshes and unexplored
solitude, poured down in perfect torrents what we call in Europe
VOL. L B
THE WHITE TIGER.
drops of rain, but which resembled large masses of metal in a
state of fusion, across which the lightning was strangely reflected.
The leaves fell cut as if by a storm of hail, or rather as if by
millions of jets of steam-pumps.
From time to time an enormous mahogany-tree, the pride of
the verdant forest, fell with a crash. A cedar, over ioo years
old, which four men could not encircle in their arms, crushed
down like a splinter of pine. A grim ebony, whose trunk raised
itself more than 130 feet, and was as hard as iron, bent like a
straw, while other giants, whose heads rose nearly to the clouds,
fell shivered by the lightning. These, fastened together by masses
of lianas, and whose branches were hidden by orchids and other
parasitic plants in full flower, swayed and fell in a heap. Millions
of red petals strewed the grass : one might have taken them for
drops of blood poured from the sides of a stricken Colossus. The
frightened animals were silent, the grand voice of the tempest
This terrible concert of nature, which might have been called
the symphony of the genius of the storm executed by a choir of
Titans, filled the immense valley of the Maroni, the grand river
of French Guiana.
The night fell suddenly, with a rapidity peculiar to the equa-
torial zones, where the sun rises without a dawn, and disappears
without a twilight.
Any one who had not been familiarized for a long time with
these terrible convulsions would have been astonished at the
sight of too men of all ages and of different nationalities, who
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
were ranged, silent, impassible, hat in hand, in four lines, under a
The roof of boughs of the waie seemed as if every instant it
would fly away; the beams trembled, and the four lanterns hung
at the corners seemed on the point of being extinguished. The
faces of these men, Arabs, Indians, blacks, and Europeans,
preserved the same expression of dull impassibility. All were
bare-footed, clad in trousers and blouses of grey cotton, on the
back of which were two large black letters, C. P."
Along these four lines a man of middle height walked quietly.
His shoulders were disproportionately large; his face was brutal,
and divided by a great brown moustache, with long cosmetted
points; his eyes were grey-blue, with an expression of craft and
This man was clad in a coat of blue cloth with a collar sur-
rounded by a band of silver, and on each side of his trousers
were two stripes, also of silver. A long sabre hung by his side,
and in his belt was a pistol He carried in his hand a strong
whip, with which, from time to time, he executed with a satisfied
air a flourish, with a correctness which indicated a profound
knowledge of the art of single-stick. He examined from head to
foot, peering out beneath the peak of his cape, which was of the
same stuff as his coat, each of the men as they replied to the call
of their n-mes.
Th:- -.-i!1 .s n".de hy a man clad in the same uniform, who
stood before the front rank, and whose physiognomy formed
a striking contrast with that of his companion. He was tall,
4 THE WHITE TIGER.
thin, and well-built, and his face was by no means disagreeable.
He did not carry a stick, but had in his hand a small note-
book upon which were inscribed the names. He called out in a
loud voice, stopping often, so bewildering was the noise of the
"Here!" replied the hoarse voice of a Hindoo, who was shiver-
ing in spite of the suffocating temperature.
"Another who has St. Vitus's dance," grumbled the man with
the waxed moustachios. He pretends that he has got the fever.
Wait a little, my man, I'll make you dance presently with my
"Here," feebly said a European, whose face was livid, his
cheeks fallen, and who could scarcely stand upright.
"Reply louder, animal !"
And the heavy blow of the stick fell upon the shoulder of the
poor creature, who twisted and gave a cry of pain.
"There! I knew very well that his voice would come back to
him. See, now he is able to sing like a red ape."
Here cried, with a voice like a stentor, a negro of colossal
size, showing a double range of teeth of which a crocodMe .I,4ht
have been jealous.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
SRobin," repeated he who was reading the roll-call.
SAnswer now, scum of the earth I" cried the man who carried
A vague murmur circulated through the four ranks.
Silence, you dogs The first who leaves his place, or says a
word, I will blow out his brains;" and he cocked his pistoL
There were a few seconds of calm during which the thunder was
To arms to arms !" cried some people a few yards off. Then
there was the shot of a musket.
A hundred thousand thunders We are now in a nice mess.
For a certainty Robin has escaped, and he is a political
The prisoner Robin was marked as missing, and the roll-call
was brought to a close without further incident. We say prisoner
and not convict. The first of these names being reserved for men
accused of political crime; the second for ordinary prisoners.
It is, in fact, the one nominal difference established by those who
are sent to these horrible places, and their guards. The work is
identical, the food, clothing, and rules. Prisoners and convicts
mix together, receive in equal superabundance the blows of the
stick of warder Benoit.
The scene was, as we have said, in French Guiana, on the right
bank of the Maroni, a river which separates the French possessions
from the Dutch.
6 THE WHITE TIGER.
The convict establishment where was passing in February, 185-,
the prologue of the drama which we are about to tell, was called
it. Laurent. It was but recently founded, and was an offshoot
of that in the Island of Cayenne. The convicts were not yet up
to their full number, and did not exceed 5oo. The place was
unhealthy. Marsh fevers were frequent, and the work of clearing
the ground crushing.
The overlooker Benoit accompanied his brigade to the barrack.
He had the hang-dog look of a fox caught in a trap. His stick
was no longer twirled in his hand; the points of his moustachios
hung sadly, and the visor of his cap had no longer the jaunty
cock of before.
This was because the escaped man was a political prisoner,
a man of high intelligence, energy, and action. His flight then
would be disastrous for the warder to whom the solicitude of
government had confided him. Ah if he had been but a vulgar
assassin or even a simple forger, Benoit would have thought
nothing of it.
The convicts, delighted at this incident which had put their
chief out of temper, with difficulty hid the joy that their eyes
reflected. It was, indeed, their sole protestation against the acts
of brutality of the warder. They took their places in their ham-
mocks stretched between two beams, and soon slept the sleep
which, even if a tranquil conscience is absent, severe labour will
Benoit, more out of countenance than ever, betook himself
without paying any attention to the tremendous rain and the
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 7
crashing thunder, to render an account of the roll to the superior
officer of the convict station.
Already informed of the situation by the sound of the shot, and
the call to arms of the sentinel, the governor had taken the
measures which he thought necessary to carry out the pursuit;
not, indeed, that he had any hope of overtaking the fugitive, but
it was the rule. He reckoned rather upon hunger, that implacable
enemy of every man lost in the interminable forest. In fact,
although the evasions were numerous, famine invariably brought
back all those whom the wild hope of liberty had carried away.
Only too happy, when tortured by hunger, were they to avoid the
teeth of the reptiles, the attack of the wild beasts, and the bite,
often mortal, of the insects.
When, however, he learnt the name of the man who had
escaped, the commandant, who knew the energy, and could
appreciate the force of character of their prisoner, felt his con-
"He will not return," he murmured. He is a lost man."
"Commandant," said Benoit, hoping by a display of zeal to
turn from his head the punishment he had deserved, I will bring
him back dead or alive. I charge myself with the business. It
is my duty."
"Dead That is too much. You understand me?" drily re-
plied the commandant, a man at once just and firm, and who
knew how to perform his terrible functions with humanity. I
have often tried to check your brutality. I have formally for.
bidden you to act as you do. You know to what I refer. Mind,
8 THE WHITE TIGER.
you are for the last time warned. Make every effort to bring
back the fugitive, if you want to avoid the council of discipline,
and the eight days in prison, which I shall give you to date from
the moment of your return. Go I"
The overlooker saluted briskly, and left, grumbling between his
teeth a series of terrible oaths.
"Yes; I'll bring him back- the scoundrel-dead or alive. Yes,
indeed; it's alive that I want him. A ball through the ribsl
Bah, it would be too little for such a vermin! I will hold him
yet beneath my stick; and I hope that he will die under it. Now
to the search."
The overlooker regained the house that his colleagues in-
habited in common, put together some provisions into a haver-
sack, provided himself with a compass and a sabre, cast a
fowling-piece and a cartridge-belt over his shoulder, and prepared
It was yet scarcely seven o'clock, and three-quarters of an hour
had passed since the flight of Robin was signalled. Benoit, who
was the chief warder, commanded the post. He ordered three
others to accompany him, and they equipped themselves without
"Well, Benoit," said one of those who remained on guard, the
same indeed who had made the roll-call with him, "you will not
think of setting out in such a tempest, and at such an hour.
Await, at least, the end of the tempest. Robin cannot be very
far, and to-morrow-"
SI do what pleases me," replied he gruffly. I command
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
here, and I don't ask your advice. And, besides, my man will
try to cross the Maroni, so as to take refuge among the Arouagnes
or the Galibis. He will follow the stream. I shall catch him
before he will be able to construct a raft. Ah ha! I understand
his plan. It is a stupid one; all the more that I saw wandering
about here yesterday some of those filthy redskins near the
northern boundary. Wait a little, my friends. You shall soon
have news of him. Isn't it so, Fagot, that we are about to talk
to them in the country ?"
At the name of Fagot, a shaggy dog with a morose face,
bristling hair, thick-set jaws, and an intelligent eye, came out
from below the rough table. Fagot" signifies "convict" in the
slang of the prisons, and Benoit had thought it amusing to give
this name to his dog, who shared in all the hatred which the
convicts felt towards his master.
It is a curious fact, and yet easily explicable, that the dogs of
convicts hate free men, and the dogs belonging to them. Such
is also the intelligence of these animals of the Indian race, with
their pricked-up ears, their pointed nose, their quick eye and
marvellous scent, that the passage of a white man or of a freed
black is always announced by them.
Upon the other hand, the dogs of the warders will scent the
convict at an incredible distance, and signalize to their masters
his presence by savage barkings.
Even more, when these dogs of the same race meet, they re-
cognize each other at once. Without any of the preliminaries
usual to the representatives of the canine race, they throw them-
THE WHITE TIGER.
selves one upon the other, or rather the free dog attacks the other
with fury. The last, who advances with his tail drooping, turns,
and a terrible fight takes place, in which it is not always the
assailant that has the best of it.
Benoit, whom a long stay in Guiana had familiarized with the
country, had become an excellent trail-hunter. Aided by his
four-footed companion, he could rival the most skilful trail-hunter
of La Plata.
He took Fagot to the barracks, unhooked the hammock of the
fugitive, and gave it him to smell several times, urging him on
as hunters do,--
"Find him, Fagot Find him, my dog !"
The animal smelt the hammock, and took a strong breath of
air, wagged his tail, and gave a little bark, as much as to say,
"I understand," and then dashed out of doors.
"A horrible time ; just the time for an escape," said one of the
three warders, soaked to the bone by the rain, before he had made
ten paces. It's the deuce if we shall ever find our man."
Yes," put in another; one only wants now to put one's foot
on a snake, or to fall into a bottomless quagmire."
"I doubt," said a third, "if his dog can smell the fugitive
There's plenty of time for the rain to have washed aside all trace,
and to have carried away the scent; Robin could not have chosen
a better moment."
"Now then, you men, forward! You understand, this isn't a
question of amusement. In a quarter of an hour at most the
storm will be at an end, the moon will be shining, and we shall
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
have it as light as day. Let us follow the bank of the Maroni
and good luck to us."
SThe four men, preceded by the dog, advanced without noise
in Indian file, by a little path scarcely marked out in the midst
of the brushwood, and which would bring them to a point higher
up on the river.
The man-hunt had begun.
At the moment when the convicts were ranging themselves in
their lines for the roll-call, the sentinel on guard near the building
had distinctly seen, by a flash of lightning, a man quitting the
ranks, and flying at full speed. There was no mistake possible.
The fugitive wore the livery of the prison. The soldier did not
hesitate. His orders were short. He at once cocked his gun and
fired, without even having cried, Who goes there ? "
In spite of the flashes whose flickering enabled him to see
distinctly, he missed the man as easily as possible.
When the fugitive heard the ball whistle, he put on his best
speed, and dashed into the brushwood. He disappeared at the
moment the soldiers at the post ran to arms.
Without taking any notice of the rain, the wind, or the storm,
he advanced into the heart of the wood with the assurance of a
man to whom the slightest changes of the ground were familiar.
He journeyed by the light of the flashes, bent to the left, turned
his back upon the prison, and consequently left the river on Lis
right. He followed a scarce perceptible path through the thick
wall of verdure.
After half an hour's run, he arrived at a vast clearing covered
THE WHITE TIGER.
with trees cast down by the hand of man, and whose trunks were
already partly sawed up. It was one of the clearings carried out
by the convicts.
A few feet only inside the cleared zone stood an enormous
trunk, cut off at the height of three feet from the ground,
according to the custom of the Cayenne pioneers. The fugitive
stopped by the trunk, and felt it, for the flashes were becoming
more rare. But his eyes could not distinguish any sign by which
he could recognize it.
"It was certainly here," he said, in a low voice, putting hs
hand on a piece of wood cut like a pointed stake, and left there
as if by accident. He seized the stake, and turned up rapidly
the ground at the foot of the tree. The point of the stake, almost
as hard as iron, soon met a resisting body, which gave a metallic
The fugitive stooped and pulled up one or those tin boxes in
which sea-biscuit is carried, and which is about fifteen inches
upon each of its faces. A long and flexible creeper was twisted
several times round it, and on one of its sides made two large
bows, which could do duty as the straps of a haversack. He
adjusted it to his shoulders, drew out from the bottom of the hole
a chopper with a wooden handle, bound round with the fibres of
a creeper to a short blade, and slightly bent ; seized his stake in
his left hand, and remained for some minutes leaning against the
Then he straightened himself proudly. At last he said,-
I am free free as the wild beasts with whom I am going to
He drew out from the bottom of the hole a chopper.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. IS
dwell! For me in future, as for them, there are the great woods
and the terrible solitudes. Better by far the snake who crushes
one, the sun which maddens one, the tiger who tears one, the
fever which racks, hunger which kills-better death under all
these aspects, than life in the convict prison. Of the two hells,
that in which I can die free is surely preferable."
The superintendent had not been deceived in his previsions
relative to the tempest. The convulsions of nature at the equator
are formidable, but brief.
Half an hour had not passed when the cloud had flown far
away, the moon gently rose above the thick curtain of foliage
bordering the river. Its disk shone with a brilliancy unknown in
European latitudes, and made the still agitated waves glisten a
well as the leaves bedewed with the last drops of rain. Now and
then a blue ray found its way through the thick vault of foliag
and gliding through the immense trunks shone upon the inex-
tricable masses of leaves and flowers like the endless columns of
The fugitive was not insensible to these beauties of nature; but
he had no time to spare. It was necessary for him, in order to
complete his work of freedom, to fly at his best speed, and to
place between him and his enemies an impassable barrier. He
wrenched himself abruptly from the mute contemplation which
had for some minutes succeeded his monologue, took a fresh
point of departure, and set out on his march.
A MISS IS AS GOOD AS A MILE.
OBIN, since the time when he became a convict on
the Maroni, had seen several escapes attempted.
Not one of these had succeeded. Those who had
tried them had either been recaptured by the
warders, given up by the Dutch authorities, or had died of hunger.
Some, preferring prison life to this terrible end of their attempt
at escape, had returned at the last gasp to give themselves up as
prisoners. They knew that the council of the prison would
impose upon them for a certainty from two to five years' punish-
ment of the double chain. What did it matter? They came
back all the same, so profound in man is the love of life, how-
ever miserable that life may be.
To our hero, who had already held his existence cheap, who had
without hesitation consecrated it to the triumph of an idea, death
mattered but little. He would avoid, at all hazards, a meeting
with the Dutch. It would be easy enough to do so. He had
only to remain on the right side of the stream. Hunger? He
was man enough to brave it. His great vigour and his uncon-
querable energy would permit him to hold out for a long time.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 7
If he should succumb-well, he would not be the first whose
skeleton they would find cleaned by the ants like an anatomical
specimen. But, moreover, he was determined not to die
He was a husband and a father. The terrible labour of the
convict prison had not been able to crush him, nor misery con-
quer him. He wanted to live for his dear ones, and when a man
of this kind says, I want," he will.
There remained the hypothesis of a well-directed pursuit, and in
which the most skilful hunters of the prison would not fail to give
all their faculties. Well, let it be so. Since he was the game, it
was for him to throw the hunters off his traces. It was necessary
for him, as far as possible, to throw their searches upon a false
SThey are already on my traces," said he to himself. "The
thought that I shall try to gain the Dutch establishments will
naturally occur to them. I will leave them the illusion, or rather,
I will help them on in it. In the first place I must construct a
He at once turned and directed his course towards the river,
whose deep murmur he could hear on his right.
"Good," he said; "it is the blue rocks upon which the waves
are striking. In a mile hence I shall find my materials."
Without making more noise than a redskin following the war-
path or pursuing his game, he advanced straight to the river,
from which he was separated at most by three-quarters of an
hour's march. The realization of his plan necessitated a skill
and a bravery of the highest kind. Robin knew that he was
VOL. I. C
8I THE WHITE TIGER.
pursued. He was not ignorant that those who were searching
for him would certainly follow the Maroni either up or down
the river from St. Laurent.
There were two slips, either of which might happen; either the
hunters for his trail had already passed the point where he
intended to make his raft, or they had not yet reached it In
the first place he need feel no disquietude. In the second he
could hide himself among aquatic plants, and avoid the eyes of
his enemies, however piercing they might be. As to a stay more
or less long in the water in company with those sharks of the
fresh water, the "piraies," electric eels, or prickly rays-he did
not even give the matter a thought These were to him but
He could not tell which of these two suppositions was the
correct one, but as he neither saw nor heard anything suspicious
at the moment when he reached the bank, he set to without
hesitation to carry his project into execution.
To choose two long switches of bamboo, white, and strong as
bars of iron, and to cut them down with two blows, was the work
of a moment Then he resolutely entered the water, and pene-
trated as far as the arm-pits into an immense clump of aquatic
plant there called the moucou-moucou, and which grew in
profusion in the bed of the river. These plants are extremely
light, and cut as easily a4 the pith of the elder, at the same time
possessing a skin which gives them consistency. He chose
some thirty of the long stalks of over two yards in length, cut
them without noise, and avoiding all contact with the corrosive
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
juice which flowed from them, twisted them with two turns
round the bamboo so as to form a sort of palisade analogous
to those which serve as a boundary to gardens.
He had, therefore, a sort of platform of about two yards wide,
admirably buoyant, insufficient indeed to support the weight of
a man, but perfectly capable of carrying out the end which he
This done, he stripped off his blouse, stuffed it with leaves in
such a fashion as roughly to resemble a man lying down, placed
in the arm of his lay figure a bough to represent a paddle, and
pushed his skiff beyond the clump of plants.
The tide, which -is felt at more than fifty kilometres from the
mouth of the enormous stream of water, was rising. The raft was
taken by the current, which gently carried it away, giving to it a
slight movement, and taking it little by little towards the Dutch
"It is perfect," said the fugitive. I shall be surprised if in a
quarter of an hour at most my pursuers don't start in pursuit
of this semblance of a boat."
The fugitive, considering that the best plan of hiding himself,
as well in the woods as in the town, was to follow the frequented
paths, took a little road which those in pursuit of him would
Undoubtedly traverse. As to penetrating into the thick forest, it
was not to be thought oL The forest might be a place of refuge,
but it was impossible at such a time to think of forcing a passage
Advancing all the time with infinite precaution, and making
20 THE WHITE TIGER.
efforts not to break the silence of the night, Robin halted from
time to time and tried to perceive a strange noise among the
manifold murmurs which rose from this ocean of verdure.
Nothing but the patter of the drops upon the leaves, the myste-
rious gliding of reptiles among the grass, the silent march of the
insects on the leaves, and the imperceptible rustle of the wings
of a bird drying himself.
He arrived presently at a large creek, some fifty yards wide,
which bore the name of Baletd. He knew that he should meet
this stream, which was a tributary of the Maroni, and which it
was necessary to place as quickly as possible between him and
Before starting to swim across, he paused and took breath,
and inspected the bank with more attention than before. It was
well that he did so, for he heard the sound of voices, and such is
the sonority of the air in the still nights on the equator, that he
could easily catch the words,-
"Yes; I tell you it is a raft."
"I see nothing."
Look there, opposite-a hundred yards down the river. I can
see it well-that black spot. There's a man on it. I can see him
"You are right ; a raft with a man upon it.
"Yes ; but he's rowing up the stream."
"Yes; the tide is running in."
He must have been caught by an eddy, and taken over to the
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 21
Shall I shout to him to come over here ?
Stupid-! Ah I if he were an ordinary convict, I should say yes.
The fear of a bullet would bring him over again quickly enough,
but a political prisoner, never."
"Yes, that's true; especially Robin. A fine fellow all the
"Yes; but a fine fellow whom one must catch."
Ah! if Benoit only were here "
Yes; but Benoit has gone on. He traversed the creek in the
boat, and at present is far in advance."
"Well, then, we must fire at the raft."
It is a pity. I have always liked Robin. He was one of the
best and gentlest of men."
Yes, it is always like that, poor devil. However, we must kill
him, and the alligators will eat him?'
"Fire, then I"
Three flashes of light were seen simultaneously, and three
cracks of the rifles came to the ears of the fugitive.
"How stupid we are I We are wasting our cartridges foi
nothing, when there is an easy means of getting at the raft."
"How is that?"
SIt is simple enough. The canoe that served Benoit for
crossing the stream is fastened on the other side. I will get into
the water, seize the liana which unites the two banks of the river
and serves for the passage of the boat, cross it, and come back to
take you over in the boat, then we will take up the chase."
This was done, and the three men at once paddled down the
THE WHITE TIGER.
creek, and pushed out on the Maroni. Robin, remaining per-
fectly quiet, had heard all Fortune was certainly with him.
Scarcely had the canoe disappeared than he seized the liana, cut
it with a blow of his sword, and floated out, holding it in one
hand. The liana, carried down by the stream, described a quarter
of a circle, of which the centre was the other end, by which it was
attached on the opposite bank. Thus, without noise, and without
even moving the surface of the water, Robin found himself on the
Now," he said to himself, it is Benoit who pursues me, and
he has advanced. All right, so far I have followed the hunters,
now they are behind me."
As he walked, he drew from his tin box a biscuit, which he
munched, drinking with it a drop of tafia, and then pushed on at
a renewed pace.
Hours succeeded hours, the moon sank, the sun was about to
rise, and the whole forest seemed to wake up. Among the cries
and calls of the birds was suddenly perceived the sharp bark of a
dog on the hunt.
It is an Indian who is on my track, or else the superinten-
dent," thought Robin. It is unfortunate; the Redskin wants to
gain a prize. However, I shall manage."
Rapidly the light increased, and abruptly the day broke. The
barkings approached. The fugitive grasped his stake in his hand,
A minute later a pretty animal, of the size of a goat, and of a
light brownish colour, passed him like a flash of lightning; it was
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
a kariakow, the goat of Cayenne. At the same moment, and less
than twenty yards from the point where Robin was standing, there
was a sudden movement, and an enormous jaguar leapt from the
branch of a tree; but he was a second too late, and the kariakow
Robin gave no cry, nor showed any signs of emotion. At the
sight of him the beast tried to draw back; but as he had leapt
with all his force, he could not arrest his impetus. Surprised at
the aspect of Robin, and intimidated, perhaps, by his resolute
attitude, he gave a second bound, passed three yards above his
head, and, clinging with his claws to the bark of the tree, lay flat
upon the branch, his eye flashing, his whiskers bristling, and
His eyes fixed on this terrible cat, Robin waited the attack,
spear in hand, and with every muscle stretched. The sound of
branches being moved made him for a moment turn his head.
He saw, at five paces, the muzzle of a gun pointed at him, and a
fierce voice at the same time shouted,-
Surrender, or you are a dead man I"
A disdainful smile passed over his face, as he recognized Benoit.
The challenge seemed an absurd one, with this jaguar on the point
of springing. He again turned his eyes upon those of the jaguar,
and steadily regarded him, as if he would conquer him by his gaze.
The animal seemed to feel this magnetic influence.
"Well, scoundrel, do you not answer me?" shouted the sur
At this moment a formidable roar broke out close to him.
24 THE WHITE TIGER.
"'Ah I" he said, more surprised than astonished. "Two to
Benoit, who was brave, well armed, and accustomed to the use
of the rifle, needed not to hesitate a moment in such circum-
stances. He aimed calmly at the jaguar, and fired. The charge,
composed of buckshot, grazed the cheek of the jaguar, broke his
shoulder, and then, glancing down the side, laid open the skin,
and marked the hide with its red lines-a dangerous wound,
mortal perhaps, but insufficient to check him on the spot, as the
superintendent learned to his cost.
Scarcely had the report sounded than the animal leaped forward,
in spite of the horrible wound, upon the unfortunate hunter, and
hurled him down with the shock. Benoit felt his skin rend under
his claws. He saw before his face an enormous gaping mouth,
with its formidable fangs. Mechanically he pushed forward his
gun. The animal's jaws closed upon it, and in an instant the
rifle was broken at the lock. Benoit felt himself lost, but did not
call for succour. What good would it have been, indeed? He
closed his eyes, expecting the mortal blow.
In an instant, Robin, in whose generous heart the feeling of
hate had no place, bounded to his rescue. He seized the tail of
the tiger and struck him a tremendous blow with his stake.
The jaguar, more furious than before, tried to abandon his first
victim, in order to throw himself upon the being rash enough to
brave him in this way.
The convict had dropped his spear, and his right band bran-
dished his chopper. The blade, wielded by an arm of irons fell
There was a long silence which was broken only by the voice of Fagot.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
true on the neck of the beast-a neck as large as that of a young
bull, and strengthened with enormous muscles-completely sever-
ing the head from the body. Two jets of blood spurted out with
The superintendent lay upon the ground, his thigh laid open to
the bone, and his broken musket as useless as a broom. The
dead body of the wild beast, still twitching in convulsive move-
ments, alone separated him from the convict. The latter quietly
wiped the wet blade upon the grass. There was a long silence,
which was broken only by the voice of Fagot, who was barking
furiously at a respectful distance.
SWell, go on. It's my turn," said the superintendent. "Finish
your work at once."
Robin, his arms crossed and immovable as a statue, did not
reply, and seemed not to hear.
"There, go on, not so much ceremony. Kill me, and there
will be an end of it. In your place I should have done it long
Still not a word.
Ah you enjoy your triumph. The other has done half of your
work. The spotted tiger has been the auxiliary of the White
Tiger. Parbleu he has done for me well. My heart is ceasing
to beat. It's all over."
The blood was flowing indeed in a full stream, and the wounded
man sank into a state of unconsciousness, and would have
speedily succumbed to the hemorrhage.
Robin, who in slaying the tiger had obeyed a spontaneous har
THE WHITE TIGER.
pulse, forgot the insults and the blows. He thought no longer of
this terrible prison which Benoit personified. He saw nothing
but a man wounded and about to die. His experience had taught
him what should be done.
He darted away, seized some herbs, and rapidly searched in the
deep, light soil, composed of vegetable matter. In a few minutes
he found underlying it a rough and greasy clay. Rapidly digging
up a mass as big as his head, he carried it to the wounded man,
cut off one of the sleeves of his shirt, tore it up into small pieces,
and with it prepared a sort of rough lint, which he soaked in tafia,
and placed it on the edges of the wound, which he had first
brought together. Then he took some of the earth, which he
worked up, and then applied a thick layer on the linen. This
done, he wrapped round the whole together solidly by aid of
creepers. The horrible wound, which extended from the hip to the
knee, was now in a condition of healing, and unless fever set in,
the wounded man could be cured as well as if it had been dressed
by the cleverest surgeon.
This operation, accomplished with great dexterity, lasted about
a quarter of an hour, and the blood commenced to return to the
cheeks of Benoit. He moved, took a long breath, and murmured
in a low voice, Water."
Robin took a large leaf of the waie, twisted it into a cone, and
ran to fill it at the hole from which he had dug up the clay, and
which by this time commenced to fill with water. He raised the
head of the wounded man, who drank partly, and opened his
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 29
It would be impossible to describe the expression of astonish.
ment on his countenance when he recognized the convict. Then
the animal awoke in him, and he strove to rise so as to be able to
defend himself, perhaps even to attack. A horrible pain stopped
him. The view of the carcase of the jaguar completed the work of
awakening him to memory.
What! was it indeed Robin, this man whom he had pursued
with a blind hate, and who, having rescued him from the talons of
the jaguar, had now dressed his wounds and satisfied his thirst?
Any other would have bent his head before such an act of
humanity. He would have spoken of the exigencies of duty, and
would have held out his hand to the man and said, "Thank
you !" Benoit only cursed.
Ah, well; you know you are one of those whom we can call
a queer card. I, had I heen in your place, should have given
you a knock and left -cc, and there would have been no more
Benoit. It is a good md4s indeed to repay my blows with
"No," the exile said coldl), human life is a sacred thing;
and besides, is there nothing better than vengeance ? "
"And what is that, if you please ?"
"I know nothing about it. In any case, if I have a chance, I
hope to catch you one day or other."
Just as you please. I have fulfilled a simple duty of humanity.
If later the chances of life place us face to face, I shall defend my
THE WHITE TIGER.
"I should advise you not to wait."
"One word more. I do not ask gratitude of you; only re.
member that though there are in prison men justly stricken by the
law, there are others who are innocent. Never abuse your powers
with regard to one or the other. Farewell I I pardon you all the
ill which you have done me."
"Au revoir! You are wrong, Robin, not to have killed me.p
The fugitive did not even turn his head, He had disappeared
in the thick forest.
AN INDIAN'S GRATITUDE.
OBIN marched steadily forward. It seemed to him
that he could never get far enough away from his
gaolers. Strange as it may seem, he had so far
been able to keep as nearly as possible in the line
which he wished to follow. Three days had already passed from
the time of his escape. The distance which he had traversed
must have been considerable. It could not be less than thirty
miles. Ten leagues in an equatorial forest-it is an immensity.
The fugitive had not for a time anything to fear from civilized
man, but he remained not the less exposed to a terrible series of
dangers of which one alone constituted a perpetual menace of
death. This was hunger-hunger which the explorers, and
functionaries called away from the central depots, and colonists
themselves, could escape only by a great supply of provisions
patiently laid up-hunger, to whose pangs even the blacks and
redskins succumbed, when they had not been able to lay by for
the rainy season the quantity of provisions necessary for their
Here were none of those admirable trees in which nature seemed
32 THE WHITE TIGER.
to have exerted all her creative forces in order to supply man
with the food which he needs. No; this superb forest produced
neither food nor berry; neither orange nor cocoa-nut, banana nor
manioc, nor even the bread-fruit, that last resort of the traveller,
were to be found in a wild state in these internal forests. They
may indeed be found throughout Guiana, but only in the villages
where they are imported and planted by man.
The author of these lines has traversed the forests of the New
World, and, lost in the inextricable pall mall of branches, trunks,
and creepers, separated from his carriers, he made one of those
strange discoveries the recollection of which, after months passed
in the midst of our European civilization, still causes a shudder.
Close to the creek of fresh and limpid water lay eleven skeletons,
dry and white. Some were lying on the back with their arms
crossed, others were twisted and convulsed; others, again, with
their head half sunk in the mud, had still between their teeth the
earth which they had tried to eat ; while others, leaning on their
knees (Arabs without doubt) had stoically awaited death.
Six months before eleven convicts had escaped from the peni-
tentiary of St. Laurent. They had never returned. These men
had died of hunger, and the ants had passed over them, and there
remained nothing but their bones.
Hard was the condition to which the love of liberty had brought
the fugitive. He had started from the prison %\ith a dozen bis-
cuits laid by from his meagre rations, a few heads of maize, and a
few berries of cocoa and coffee. Such was the provision with
which this intrepid man reckoned to make the formidable stage
Close to the creek lay eleven skeletons.
Close to the creel, lay eleven skeletons.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
which separated him from a country of independence. He had
already greatly decreased the contents of his tin box, but the
smallness of the meals had in no way checked his hunger. He
crunched a few coffee beans, drank a little water from the creek,
and sat down upon a fallen tree.
He rested a long time in this position, his eye resting on the
rivulet, regarding without hearing, conscious of nothing but the
beating of his enfeebled heart, and dizzy head. He wished to rise
and continue his way, but he could not succeed in doing so.
His swollen feet, torn by the thorns and spikes of the forest, would
no longer bear him. He took off his shoes, which the thorns,
long and hard as steel needles, had pierced, in spite of their
"What," said he to himself, "is my energy failing me? Am
I no longer the same? What? Shall my heart so soon after
starting thus easily become enfeebled? Courage! A man, even
though worn with fatigue, can remain forty-eight hours without
He could not, however, continue his march with his feet
in such a state. He understood this, and, sitting comfort-
ably upon a root, let his legs hang in the water -as far as the
Robin was a man of thirty-five years, tall, well-built, strongly
put together, with small hands attached to the arms of an athlete.
His face was surrounded by a long brown beard. His nose was
aquiline; his eyes black and penetrating. His expression was
habitually grave, sad, almost severe. His mouth, alas! had for a
THE WHITE TIGER.
long time forgotten to smile. Such was, nevertheless, the great
vitality of the man that his broad forehead, a little thinned on the
temples, the veritable forehead of a thinker and savant, had not
yet a wrinkle. But his features, emaciated by the labour of the
prison, and his face blanched for want of blood, bore, in spite of
the energy which it showed, the signs of enormous sufferings,
sufferings both moral and physical.
Strange as it may appear, he had unknown to himself obtained
a singular ascendancy over his companions. This stern face
which never reflected the slightest smile, impressed them no less
than the enormous strength of which he was possessed. Besides,
he was a political prisoner, and all, even to the highest of those
in this purgatory which they called the prison, and who had won
their titles at the point of the knife, felt out of place in the com-
pany to which his presence gave some sort of propriety. A cha-
racteristic sign of this singular deference was that no one ever
spoke familiarly to him.
Moreover, he was kind, as are most strong natures. Sometimes
it was a convict whom he carried half a league to a hospital,
sometimes an unfortunate whose wounds he bound. He rescued
one day from the Maroni a soldier who was drowning, and at
another time a convict. He stunned with a blow of his fist one of
those tyrants of the prison who brutally treated a poor devil who
was dying of fever. He was at once feared and respected. These
men felt that he was not of their world. He had, moreover, the
honour to be particularly hated by the superintendent, from whom
he endured the worst treatment without making a complaint.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 37
None were astonished at his flight, and all gave their good wishes
for his success.
A prolonged bath in the cold water of the creek procured for
the fugitive an immediate relief. He patiently picked out the
thorns, whose presence had caused him to suffer greatly, rubbed
his feet with the last drop of tafia, which he had guarded with the
parsimony of a miser, drank a little water, and set himself to
search for his dinner, when a cry of joy escaped him at the sight
of a simarouba.
I shall not die of hunger to-day," he said, at the sight of this
The Quassia Simarouba of Linnaus is employed in medicine
for the tonic properties of its bark and roots, but it bears neither
fruit nor edible berries. Nothing seemed, in fact, to give reason
for the cry of the fugitive, and of his hope of appeasing his
He advanced, nevertheless, as fast as his wounds permitted
him, and, arriving at the trunk, he scratched away the dry
leaves which formed a thick bed at its base. He soon came upon
a hard body.
Ah !" he said, "my comrades were not wrong. If, during my
captivity, I have heard strange and horrible things, there are
some at least which have their usefulness. I remember well the
last recommendation addressed by his neighbour to one of those
who thought of making an effort for liberty. If you meet in
the forest with a simarouba which has just dropped its flowers,
search at the foot of the tree; there you will certainly find tor.
38 THE WHITE TIGER.
toises. They are very fond of the fruit when it begins to develop
The hard body which he had felt was indeed the shell of one of
these tortoises, which are met with in incredible numbers. He
seized it, turned it on its back, and continued his investigations,
and found two others which he equally captured, and prepared to
be his dinner.
Everywhere on the soil were scattered immense trunks, which
were so rotten that the slightest touch made them tumble into
powder. He brought together two great branches torn off by
hurricanes, and thoroughly dry, and a quantity of leaves. He
prepared avast heap, and succeeded with infinite pains in lighting
it, by the help of a little tinder and a flint which he struck upon
his chopper. The flame rose and spread, chasing from the soil a
host of insects.
The preparations were neither long nor difficult. The tortoise
was placed in his shell on a bed of ashes, and covered with hot
cinders, according to the Indian method. Robin, while his dinner
was cooking, did not remain inactive. He remembered that he
had seen just before some trees of the palm family fifteen or
twenty feet in height. He was not deceived. Scarce fifty feet
away arose one of those vegetables of which the green foliage
agreeably breaks the monotony of the long lines formed by the
trunks of the great trees. This sterile palm bears neither flower
nor fruit. Robin nevertheless set to work to cut it down; and
succeeded after half an hour of immense effort. Although the
trunk was no thicker than his thigh, the bark and clumps of fibre
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
were so tough as to test the vigour of his arm, and the temper of
After cutting off the top of the tree, which was indeed the
cabbage palm, he set to work to strip ofi with considerable trouble
all the leaves embracing the head. The outside rings were of
a pale green colour, and as they fell one after another, there
appeared within a cylindrical substance of thirty inches long, the
thickness of one's arm, and of the pale whiteness of ivory. The
fugitive, who was tortured by hunger, broke off a morsel of this
substance, and ate it like a great almond; to which, indeed, it
offers in its texture certain points of resemblance.
When he returned to his fire, the tortoise was well cooked, an
agreeable odour of frying rising from the fire. Robin withdrew it,
opened it without difficulty, and then, with the aid of his chopper,
and using instead of bread the white heart of the palm, he com-
menced his repast
Wrapped up in his meal, he devoured it greedily, sitting on the
soil opposite the tree, and forgetting both his flight and its
A sharp hiss caused him to bound to his feet. Something long
and rigid passed before his eyes, and planted itself quivering in
the bark of the simarouba. It was an arrow of more than six
feet long, tipped with red feathers. Robin seized his pike, and
stood on his defence ; his eye fixed on the point whence came this
terrible messenger of death.
He saw nothing at first, and then the lianas were drawn quietly
aside, and a Redskin appeared, his great bow bent, his arm con.
* '" ...... c --t. ".''-v" : r -. '-21" Xr- 4'- < "1. .> ':
40 THE WHITE TIGER.
traced to send another arrow. Robin was at the mercy of the
new-comer as he stood still as a statue of red porphyry. The
point of the arrow moved from the head to the feet, and then rose
to the level of the chest of the white man.
The Indian was completely naked, except for a small piece of
blue calico bound round his waist. This was called a calamb...
All his body, smeared with a vegetable juice, seemed as if covered
with blood. Strange lines traced with a needle, by the aid of the.
juice of the genipar across his chest and his face, gave him an
aspect at once grotesque and terrible. His long hair of blue
black, cut on a level with his eyebrows, fell behind as low as his
shoulders. He carried a collar composed of the teeth of the
jaguar, and a bracelet of the claws of the tamanoir or ant-eater.
His bow was of iron-wood, and nearly seven feet high, and, while
it touched the ground, rose above his head more than a foot.
Lastly, he held in his left hand three spear-like arrows.
Robin could not understand this attack. The inhabitants of the
lower Maroni, the Galibis, are generally inoffensive. They have,
indeed, many relations with the Europeans, and procure from
them tafia in exchange for cotton clothes, objects of the first
Had the redskin simply tried to frighten him by dis-
charging his arrow? It was probable; for such is the dexterity
of their management of the bow, that they can with certainty
bring, down the red ape, or even the parraqua (a sort of pheasant)
from the top of the highest trees. Most of them can without
difficulty pierce an orange fixed at the distance of thirty paces on
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 41
the point of an arrow. Robin could not then suppose that the
Indian could have missed him at so short a distance.
Determined to show a bold front, he threw from him his pike,
crossed his arms, regarded his enemy face to face, and advanced
slowly. As he approached him, the arm of the savage -that which
held the string-loosened little by little, and the evil look in his
eyes (oblong, like those of the Chinese) died out. The breast of
the white man nearly touched the point of the arrow, when this
quietly was lowered.
White Tiger not have fear," at last the Galibi said, employing
the Creole patois familiar to those of his race who inhabit the
banks of the Maroni.
"No ; I have not fear. But I am not a white tiger.'
This is, it may be said, the name under which the fugitive con-
victs are known by the savages in Guiana.
If you not White Tiger, what do you do here among poor
I am a free man like you. I have done no harm to any one.
I want to live here, to cultivate, to make my clearing, to build my
"No ; you not speak true. If you not White Tiger how you do
without gun ? "
I swear to you by all that is dear to me. You understand,
Kalina (Kalina is the name which these Indians give themselves),
I swear to you that I have never committed a crime; I have
never killed; I have never robbed.'
"Ah you swear this? That is good. I will believe you.
42 THE WHITE TIGER.
Why are you not near your wife or children? Why you come
near Indian to take his land and his shelters ? Atoucka will not
have it. Go away to the whites "
At this remembrance of his wife and children, so suddenly
called up by the redskin, who reproached him for not being with
them, Robin felt himself choked by a rush of tears. He struggled
against this emotion, which he did not wish the Indian to divine,
"My wife and my children are poor. It is to nourish and
shelter them that I am here."
"Atoucka will not have it," the Indian replied, passionately.
"He does not go among the whites to build huts or to plant
manioc. Let the white man rest among his people, and the
Indian among his."
"But look, Atoucka, we are all men. The land here is as free
to me as that in my country is to you."
"No! by the great serpent you lie Dig the ground with your
sword, and you will find the bones of my father, and those of
Indians, my ancestors. If you find the bone of a single white, I
will give you all the land, and become your dog."
But, Atoucka, I have never said that I wish to establish my-
self here. I calculate upon going among the negroes. I am only
passing here. I don't even wish to stay any time."
At this news the Indian, in spite of his finesse and self-
command, allowed a movement of disappointment to escape him.
His visage quickly cleared again, but Robin saw the transitory
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 43
"If you are not White Tiger, go with me to Buonaparte. You
will find there white men, a house, meat, tafia, fish."
At this name of Buonaparte, which he did not expect to hear in
such a place or from such a mouth, Robin shrugged his shoulders,
then remembered that the prison of St. Laurent had so been
called a few years only, after the name of Admiral Boudin, Governor
of Cayenne. The site had been previously occupied for more than
thirty years by an old Indian named Buonaparte. From him the
name of Buonaparte Point had been given to this strip of land,
which bears on the Maroni, and where at present the Commune
of St. Laurent is situated.
"We shall see," said Robin evasively.
The stiffness of the Indian seemed to disappear at once. He
placed his bow on his shoulder with his arrows, as a soldier
grounds his arms, and held out his hand to the fugitive.
"Atoucka is a friend of White Tiger."
"Well, if you still hold to that name, so be it. It is just as
good as any other. White Tiger is comrade to Atoucka. Come,
then, and eat with me what remains of my tortoise."
The Indian required no further invitation. He sat down with.
out ceremony, and worked so well with his hands and his teeth,
without troubling himself about his friend, that there soon re-
mained nothing more than the shells, as clean as if stripped by a
tribe of ants. The dinner, it is true, had contracted a strong
odour of smoke, but the Indian did not trouble himself about
Ah," he said, as if in thanks, you can cook well"
44 THE WHITE TIGER.
It is about time for you to discover that, but I have two more
tortoises, and we will see to-night what you can do."
"Ah, you have two more tortoises ? "
SYes ; there they are:'
Then seeing that his new comrade, having taken a long drink at
the creek, was about to lie down and sleep, he demanded, with an
accent of greedy covetousness,-
"You have no given Atoucka some tafia.
uI have no more tafia."
"Let Atoucka see what there is in the case.*
The contents did not take long to examine. A shirt of rough
cloth, an empty flask which had contained the tafia, and which the
savage smelt with avidity, some fragments of burnt linen brought
for tinder, and that was all.
Atoucka hardly concealed his disappointment.
Robin, exhausted by fatigue, felt sleep overcoming him. The
redskin squatted by and set to and sang a long and plaintive
recitative. He celebrated his exploits, recounted that his plots of
ground were full of potatoes and bananas, and of millet. His hut
was the grandest, his wife the most beautiful, his canoe the fastest.
None like him could bring down the koLmourou, none could so
well follow the trace of his prey, or pierce as he could with his
The fugitive slept profoundly. For a long time his soul wan-
dered in dreamland. The sun had accomplished two-thirds of
his course when he awoke. The sentiment of reality came sud-
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 45
denly upon him, and abruptly broke his dreams of his wife and
family. And the Indian? At this thought Robin rose abruptly,
looked round, but saw nothing. He called, but there was no
Atoucka had disappeared, carrying off not only the two tortoises,
all the resources of the unfortunate, but also his shoes and his
haversack, which contained all that he had to make a fire with.
There remained nothing to Robin but his chopper, upon which he
had by accident slept, and which the robber had not been able to
UPON HIS TRACK.
OBIN had little doubt that his late guest was on
his way to St. Laurent, where the administration
gives a reward to whoever brings back or gives means
of finding an escaped convict. This reward-ten
francs-represents ten litres of tafia; that is to say, ten days of
This was indeed the design with which the redskin had left.
Seeing that he himself could not take the convict back to
St. Laurent, he had gone to search for reinforcements. Robin,
he was sure, could not go far, and the Indian, knowing his own
skill as a trail-hunter, would be able to conduct the representa-
tives of authority with certainty.
Robin saw that he must instantly continue his vagabond wan-
derings, must go straight before him like the hunted beast, must
place fresh obstacles and longer distances between himself and
his pursuers, and march until he fell He started munching some
green fruits of the arnara, which has a sharp taste, and is strongly
stringent. On he went, no longer thinking of his feet, which were
bleeding with the cuts given by the sharp grass. He rushed
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 47
through the woods, pushing aside the boughs, climbing over fallen
trunks and stooping under thick foliage. Forward What to
him mattered the neighbourhood of the wild beasts, the deadly
serpent in the grass, the millions of insects with poisoned darts,
the stream with its cascades and its sharp rocks, the savanna
with its bottomless morasses; what indeed mattered death in any
form and under any aspect ? Far more than all these were to be
feared the warders of St. Laurent.
Delirium began to seize the fugitive, but the fever gave him
wings. He dashed onward like a runaway horse, feeling but
vaguely, and understanding without caring for it, that he must fall
sooner or later, and that he would never rise again.
Night came on, the moon rose, lighting up the forest with its
soft beams, and soon the noises of the wild creatures which it
contained began. Robin seemed to hear nothing. He marched
without even thinking of picking his route, without even per-
ceiving that he left portions of his flesh on the thorns. Life
seemed to him to be concentrated in one sole function-press
forward. Where was he? Where was he going? He knew not.
He had but one idea-he was flying. This strange course lasted
the entire night. The sun in the morning had already chased
the shadows from the forest, and the fugitive, bathed in perspira-
tion, panting, his eyes starting from his head, his lips fringed with
a bloody foam, was still running, but his powers failing fast. It
seemed to him that his head supported all the vault of foliage.
Giddiness seized him; he staggered, swayed, and at last fell
heavily on the ground.
THE WHITE TIGER.
Meanwhile the superintendent Benoit endured frightful tortures.
His leg, laid open by the claw of the jaguar, swelled rapidly under
the dressing placed on it by the hand of the convict. The bleeding
was arrested, but he was a dead man unless he could be speedily
placed under the care of a skilful surgeon. Fever seized him;
that terrible fever of Guiana-a very Proteus which takes all forms,
which any cause, however trifling, is able to bring on, and which
so quickly kills. The sting of a wasp, the bite of an ant, some
minutes' exposure in the sun, a bath too cold, or much too long, a
change of diet, a blister produced by a shoe too tight-anything,
in fact, suffices to bring on the fever. The head then becomes the
seat of an atrocious pain, the limbs are racked, and-delirium comes
on, with its train of spectres, then coma, and often a speedy death.
Benoit knew all this. He was frightened. Isolated in the forest,
grievously wounded, without other companion than his dog, lying
opposite to the headless jaguar, one can understand that the
situation was enough to move a man of the most vigorous type.
A burning thirst devoured him, and although he could hear at a
few paces the murmur of the creek, he could not at present drag
himself to its edge.
"Ah! the wretch, the vermin! All this is his fault ; and then
he came the Grand Signor with me. He pardoned me, scoundrel I
If ever I catch him, I'll pardon him. Silence there, Fagot. Beast
of ill-omen," growled he to his dog. who was loudly barking, at
'five paces from the dead jaguar. "Ah I how thirsty I am. Water I
water! Those three brutes I have left behind me -perhaps they
will at least have the instinct to follow my traces."
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
The superintendent, tortured by thirst, found in his anger the
strength to make some movement. Grasping in his hands the
grass and the roots, crawling on his side and his unwounded knee,
he was able to accomplish the journey of some yards to the
Ah !" he said, drinking greedily, "how good it is I have a
volcano in my body. Ah I feel myself getting stronger. I shall
be cured. I don't wish to die I must live-live, for my ven-
geance. I have at least my pistol. It is here ; that's well. How
I suffer It is as if half-a.dozen dogs were biting away at my hip.
I trust that all these beasfs of the forest will not take a fancy to
my skin. Benoit, my boy, you have a nasty night to face. It is
certain that if my men are not here to-morrow-Where is Fagot,
the brute? He has quitted me. These dogs are as ungrateful as
men. That's another with whom I shall have to settle. There,
the sun is going down. The night will be as dark as pitch. No,
there's the moon."
If the nights are interminable for those who face them in their
ease, how frightful are they for one who suffers and who is in
The moon had made half her course when a tremendous noise
began over the head of the wounded man. It resembled the noise
made bya train going at full speed, mingled with the screams of a
dozen pigs whose throats are being cut. This bewildering noise
began suddenly. Deep and sharp at the same time, like a duet by
two strange monsters, changing in tone, ascending, descending,
stopping abruptly, only to recommence.
VOL. L E
50 THE WHITE TIGER.
Ah good uttered Benoit. So we are going to have music.
The accursed red apes."
The superintendent was not deceived. A tribe of the howling
ape had taken its place on the top of the tree under which he was
lying. He could see them in the moonlight arranged in a circle
around one of the party, their chief, who uttered these abominable
.howlings, and who alone produced these sounds, which could be
heard at a distance of more than three miles. When he had
howled for some time he paused, and all his hearers, charmed
without doubt, uttered some deep hou-hou of contentment.
The howling ape of Guiana, the Stentor Seniculups, also called
the red ape, is four and a half feet from his muzzle to the tip
of his tail. When he sings, his throat swells out and takes the
proportions of a great goitre. The air which passes through this
immense cavity increases, to a wonderful extent, the intensity of
the voice, and produces the deep sound, so that the red ape is the
sole creature which possesses the faculty of singing a duet. It is
always the chief who sings, to the exclusion of his humble subjects.
If one of these, carried away by his ardour, tries to add his note
to the symphony, the leader at once cuffs him severely and reduces
him to silence. The auditors have only the right to applaud.
Benoit, insensible to this ape melody, became enraged. Presently
he saw them hanging themselves by their tails, and uttering, heads
down, their brief "hous-hous," while the chief, equally topsy-turvy,
sang loudly enough to break the tympanum of the inhabitants of
"What a fool I am I Benoit said to himself. I have some.
--*;~j~-~~~i'~;~j~x ~lr*qk~;l~:~aP~j~'T~~~-?~-~5?;LP;~?5_~ ~.C~L~P~?PP~4b~q
He saw them hanging themselves by their tails.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 53
thing which will make them silent," and cocking his pistol, he fired
in the direction of the band, which scattered in the twinkling of an
Scarcely had he fired than a feeble report was heard in the
distance. Hope suddenly returned to the wounded man.
"They are looking for me. Fire away, then."
He loaded his pistol and fired again. A fresh shot in the distance
was heard, this time sensibly near.
"Ah! it is all right. In a quarter of an hour my men will be here..
In a little while I will be on foot again, and then, beware, Robin !"
The hopes of the superintendent were soon realized. His
colleagues, when they had perceived, too late, that they had deserted
their prey for a dummy, arrived, furnished with torches fabricated
from a resinous wood, and preceded by the dog Fagot, who set to
barking joyously at the sight of his master. They quickly impro-
vised a stretcher, and carried back with immense labour their com-
rade, now wildly delirious.
Four days had not passed when the Indian Atoucka arrived at
the prison, and reported that he had met the White Tiger, and
that he would undertake for recompense to put an armed force
upon his traces. Benoit heard of it. He had the Indian brought
to his bed-side, and promised him whatever he asked, and, giving
him two picked men, sent them off at once, well provided with arms
and with provisions on hJeir hu... By ac-i.g in this fashion with-
out the knowledge of his chief, the superintendent hoped to obtain
credit for the discovery of the fugitive, and so turn from his head
the tempest which would burst upon him after his cure. The men-
THE WHITE TIGER.
hunters, guided by the Indian,to whom the forest offered no mystery,
rarely found the traces. These this redskin followed like a
spaniel, for he found a broken twig, a bit of trampled grass, a twisted
liana, where the White Tiger had passed by.
Four days after their departure from the prison, they found among
the fallen leaves a large mark, made by the fall of a body, and a
spot of blood which embrowned a point of quartz. The convict had
fallen there. Had a forest beast devoured him ? Atoucka shook
his head. He made a large circle, and after being nearly an hour
absent, he returned, putting his finger on his lips.
"Come this way," he said in a low voice.
His companions followed him without speaking. At 500 yards'
distance they found a clearing, and perceived in its midst a little
cabin, made of the boughs of the macoupi, of ancient construction,
but well built. From its roof escaped a thin line of smoke.
"There's the White Tiger," said the Indian joyously.
Katina, my boy," said one of the men, "it is well. Benoit will
not stick at a trifle, and you have got your prize, for we shall catch
A FRIEND IN NEED.
OBIN, out of breath, broken down by his race,
crushed by fatigue, overwhelmed by the heat, had
fallen as if struck by lightning. The body disap-
peared in the deep grass which enveloped him
in a shroud of verdure. Under such circumstances, death would
arrive in a short time. The unfortunate man would expire without
even recovering consciousness. The thick carpet of foliage had
softened the shock, and the body, looking like a corpse, remained
for many hours stretched there. No jaguar, on the hunt, passed;
and the ants did not show themselves. It was a miraculous chance.
The fugitive woke slowly after a time, of which it was impossible
for him to appreciate the length. He was a prey to a prostration
of which he could not explain the cause, although his ideas came
back to him with a singular rapidity. It was an incredible phe-
nomenon that he felt no longer any weight in his head. The
band which seemed to surround his temples seemed loosened ; his
ears no longer sang. He heard distinctly the sharp cry of the
mocking-bird, his eyes opened, his pulse beat regularly, his breast
rose with a steady breathing; the fever had for a moment dis-
..r- ..I- -~ C~c%~:
THE WHITE TIGER.
appeared. But such was his feebleness that he could n-'i all at
once raise himself. He seemed to himself to be of lead. He felt
besides that he was inundated by a warm liquid exhaling a faint
smell. Looking at his shirt, he saw that it was a scarlet red.
"I am in a bath of b.Jod,' he manmured. "Where am I?
What has happened ? "
At last he succeeded in raising himself to his knees.
I am not wounded-and yet this blood. Oh, I am feeble!"
He found himself in a large valley surrounded by wooded hills,
whose height did not exceed 500 feet, and which gave rise to a
little stream of clear water of delicious freshness. These creeks,
abundant in Cayenne, are indeed the sole compensation offered by
nature to the torments which men have to endure there.
Robin dragged himself to it, drank greedily, stripped himself of
his torn garments, and, plunging into the water, washed off the
thick mud which covered him.
These ablutions terminated, he got out of the little stream, when
the same sensation of the flowing of a warm liquid again upset
and disquieted him. He carried his hand to his forehead, and
drew it back reddened. It was in vain that he again felt himself.
No wound tore the flesh. He failed to explain the cause of the
In five minutes a negro or a redskin would have already had
a looking-glass. Let me do like them."
In spite of the feebleness whichwas constantly increasing, hefound
some large leaves of a green-brown belonging to avarietyof nenuphar,
very common in Cayenne. Cutting one of these leaves, he placed
~- /- J ,^
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 57
it horizontally in the water, and kept it slightly below the surface.
His likeness, reflected as by a glass on a sheet of tin, appeared
to him as distinctly as it could in the best looking-glass.
"Ah," he said, after a moment of attentive examination, perceiv.
ing above the left eye-brow, near the temple, a little cicatrice, "I
have been visited by a vampire."
Then recalling his encounter with the Indian, his wild flight,
his delirium, and his final fall-
"What a strange destiny is mine Pursued by wild beasts;
tracked by man; it needed the voracious gluttony of a hideous
beast to save my life."
Robin was not mistaken. He would have been lost without the
strange intervention of the vampire, who had literally drained him
One knows that the bat-vampire makes his food almost exclu.
sively of the blood of animals, whom he surprises asleep, and
whom he sucks with avidity. He is provided with a sucker, or
rather his mouth terminates in a little horn armed with tiny
lancets, by whose aid he perforates softly and without pain the
* epidermis of beasts (especially the great mammals), and of man
He approaches his victim softly, waving his long wings, whose
continual movement gives a feeling of exquisite freshness. Then
he places his mouth to the point which seems handy to him, his
wings beating always; and the skin is soon pierced, and the hor-
rible ghoul fills himself little by little, like a living bellows, then
flies away, leaving the wound open.
THE WHITE TIGER.
If the evil caused by the vampire stopped there, it would be
only of slight consequence. The small quantity taken for his
repast would not be absolutely prejudicial to his subject; but as
the waking seldom follows this bleeding, and as the blood continues
to flow the entire night through this little opening, the victim,
pale, livid, and bloodless, has lost all his strength, and his life
is in peril, unless an exceptional regime repairs as quickly as
possible the ravages occasioned by the loss.
Many travellers, surprised in their hammock without having
taken the precaution to cover their feet, their throat, or their
head, awake in the morning in a bath of blood, and have paid for
it with their lives, or at least with a cruel illness; for few indeed
possess in the midst of the woods the resources sufficient to restore
their weakened organism. They become thus an easy prey to the
terrible equatorial fevers which cannot be resisted except by a man
in a perfect state of health.
But to every evil there is good, and our hero had experienced it.
This enormous bleeding had saved him for the moment. He
dressed quietly. Such was his feebleness that he could with diffi-
culty cut a stick upon which to lean. It mattered not. No more
to-day than yesterday did his energy abandon him, since he must
march well forward. Such constancy must at last have its recom-
"What he cried, presently, "do I dream? No, it's impos-
sible What, a banana-tree? Then this is a clearing; it is an
enclosure. This herb which covers the ground with its trian.
gular leaves-it is the potato. There are the cocoa-trees, the
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 59
ananas, the manioc. Oh, how I want to eat! I die of famine!
Is this a village of Indians? Whoever may be the proprietors,
I must find them."
He cut off a bunch of ananas, pulled off the scaly pulp of
the fruit, and bit it, and ate it by mouthfuls. Then, refreshed
and a little restored, he seized the cluster of green which sur-
mounted the fruit, dug a hole in the soil, planted it, pressed down
the earth, and directed his steps to a little hut which he perceived
at ioo paces distant.
This custom is one which the hunters never neglect observing.
When they have eaten the fruit they always plant the shoot.
Six months afterwards it has taken root, its growth is complete,
so active is vegetation; and then the fruit perhaps may save the
life of another traveller.
This solitary habitation was a comfortable hut covered with the
leaves of ware-a palm almost indestructible-forming a roof
which can last for fifteen years. The wall, formed by enlaced
wattles, was impervious to rain. The door was hermetically
It is the house of a black," he said to himself, recognizing the
particular form of the habitation of the race. "The proprietor
cannot be far away. Who knows? perhaps he is a fugitive like
He knocked at the door, and obtained no reply. He knocked
What you want ?" said a voice within.
I am wounded, and am hungry."
6o THE WHITE TIGER.
"Poor man ; you cannot enter my house."
I beg you open to me. I am dying," said the fugitive painfully,
for extreme feebleness was now suddenly seizing him.
Not come, not come; not touch nuffin in my house, or you go
Help help groaned the unfortunate.
The voice-that of an old man, without doubt-continued,-
"Ah, poor white man; me not let you die there. No."
The door was at last opened, for Robin, incapable of making a
movement perceived, as in a nightmare, the most ghastly-looking
being, of whom the sight had ever haunted the brain of a fevered
Over his forehead, seamed with open sores, was a coat of white
hair, tufted in some places like brushwood, and in others bare as
afield. Here the sores had made livid scars with red lines of
hideous aspect. The sight of one eye was gone. The left cheek
was one sore; the mouth had no longer any teeth; and his hands
were without nails. Lastly, one of his two legs was enormously
The old negro, in spite of the leprosy which was devouring him,
had a sad and kind aspect.
SOh, massa, massa !" he cried, "me not touch you. Me one
poor leper. Come," he said anxiously, "white man, under the
shadow of dis tree."
Robin regained his senses. The view of this unfortunate man
brought upon him a sensation of immense pity; but, it need not
be said, not altogether without disgust.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 6z
"Thanks, my good fellow," he said, in a weak voice.
* Thanks for all your goodness. I feel better. I will continue
"Oh, massa, not go yet. Me give you a little water, cassava,
and fish. Old Cassimir has all that in his hut."
"Thanks, thanks," murmured Robin, touched by the kindness of
the poor creature.
The black could not conceal his joy. He hurried about at his
best speed, taking infinite precautions to avoid giving to his guest
the touch which he believed was contagious. He entered the hut,
and soon came out with half a new calabash, which he held at the
end of a piece of bent wood. He took this vessel to the creek,
filled it with water, and brought it to the sick man, who drank
During this time a smell of grilled fish came through the wattles
of the house. Cassimir had placed on the firea piece of koumourou,
and the flesh of this magnificent fish on the grill filled the place with
a pleasant odour; for he believed in the axiom that fire purifies
everything, and that Robin could eat it without fear of contracting
The black was delighted with the manner in which the new
comer did honour to his hospitality. Loquacious, like all of his
colour, he made up for the silence imposed by his solitude. It was not
long before he perceived the social position of his new-comer. It
made little difference to him, however. The good fellow saw an
unfortunate, that was enough for him. The stranger had knocked
at his door, and had become still more dear to him. Besides he
62 THE WHITE TIGER.
loved the whites with all his heart. The whites had been good
He was old-so old as not to know his age. He was born a
slave on the plantation of the Gabriel, belonging to a Monsieur
Favart, and situated on the banks of the Roura.
"Ah, massa," he said, not without pride, "me domestic negro;
me know how to cook, to manage house, and to take care of plan-
Monsieur Favart was a good master. At the plantation of the
Gabriel they scarcely knew what a whip was. The blacks were
treated as the children of the house, and were regarded as men.
Cassimir lived there long years; and grew old there. A little
before 1840 he felt the first attacks of leprosy-this terrible evil
which desolated Europe in the Middle Ages, and which is still so
frequent in Cayenne that the administration has been obliged to
found the leper hospital of Acarouany. The sick man was isolated.
They built him a hut not far from the plantation, and looked after
Then came the memorable hour when that grand act of repara-
tion, which they call the abolition of the slaves, was accomplished.
SAll the blacks were freed. All men were made equal. There was
no longer any other superiority beyond that of merit and intelli-
The colonial industry received a severe blow. Its prosperity,
unjustly based upon unpaid labour, upon the gratuitous use of
human force, was irremediably injured. The planters, ac-
customed to lavish expenditure, found themselves for the most
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
part without capital, and lived, from day to day, from hand to
mouth. The greater part, therefore, could not keep on with paid
From whatever cause, or in default of a knowledge of how to
organize, the colonists saw their habitations going to ruin. The
blacks left, took up plots of land, planted them, and each worked
for himself and lived free. They were to-day citizens. But in the
beginning a great number remained attached to the fortunes of
their masters and worked as in the past, giving their labours
gratuitously and with a good heart.
Such were those of the Gabriel; but a day came when their
master left them. The band of common affection was broken:
the blacks scattered. Cassimir remained alone. Without re-
sources, incapable of living in the villages, racked by leprosy,
become to all an object of horror, he left, journeyed for a long time,
and finished by arriving at the point where he now was. The place
was admirably fertile. He installed himself there, worked like four
men, and awaited, without complaint, the moment when his
soul should quit its wretched habitation. His labour rendered him
Robin listened without interruption to the recital of the negro.
For the first time since his departure from France he felt a
moment of happiness. The broken voice of the old man sounded
affectionate in its intonations. No more gaol; no more blas-
"Ah If I could but press in my arms the human being whom
a misfortune more cruel than mine has attacked, how good it
64 THE WHITE TIGER.
would be to be here," he said. "But am I far enough away?
Never mind. I will remain. I will dwell with this old man. 1
will aid in his labours. I will love him. Friend," said he to the
leper, "your disease devours you. You suffer. You are alone.
Soon your arm will no longer have strength to lift the pick and
to dig the earth. You will be hungry. If death comes, none will
watch you, none close your eyes. I also am disinherited. I
have no longer a country. I have no longer a family. Are
you willing that I should live with you? Are you willing that I
should join you, body and heart, in your joys and pains as in your
The old man, delighted, and scarcely knowingwhether he dreamed,
laughed and sobbed at the same time.
"Ah, massa! massa !
Then the feeling of his hideousness suddenly seized him, and he
hid his face in his fingers, and fell on his knees, his breast agitated
and convulsed with sobs.
Robin slept under a banana-tree, but his sleep was haunted by
nightmare. On awaking, the fever seized him again with convul-
sions: delirium followed. Cassimir did not lose his head. He
knew that it was necessary above all things to have a shelter for his
new friend. The house was, he thought, contaminated. It was
necessary, then, to make it suitable in the quickest way possible ft
its new destination, and to render it habitable for the sick man.
He seized a pick, dug up the soil, carried it to a distance, scattered
on the bed-place burning charcoal, and then cutting a number of
fresh boughs of the macoupi, he piled them upon it. When the
" Come, my friend, and sleep here."
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 67
place was purified he made the sick man rise, and srld to him
Come, my friend, and sleep here."
Robin obeyed like an infant, entered the house, threw himself on
the green bed, and slept like lead.
A NARROW SQUEAK.
HE attack of fever was rapid and overwhelming,
but the black knew perfectly how to treat it, and
all the remedies applied by the wise women of
The plantation contained not only the plants and trees useful for
food, but also the zerbs of which the Creole doctor makes such
frequent and valuable use.
But in the case of Robin it was necessary to use a more effectual
and energetic treatment. In spite of the copious bleeding to which
the vampire had submitted him, the access of fever took a conges-
tive form, and it was necessary to apply a blister. Taking his
gourd, the black went to the borders of the creek and examined
it minutely. Stooping over it, he picked up something and put
it in his gourd, and did the same eight or ten times. Then he
His absence had lasted ten minutes. Standing near the sick
man, with a grave and careful air he seized with infinite pre-
cautions an insect about half an inch long, black as ebony and
shining. Holding the creature by the head, he applied its tail
He applied its tail behind the ear of the sick man.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
behind the ear of the sick man. A short and stiff sting darted out
and buried itself deeply in the skin.
"Ah !" said the black, "dat berry good."
He threw away the insect, took another, and performed the same
manoeuvre behind the other ear. Then a third, half an inch lower;
then a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth. The sick man shouted, so much
did the little sting hurt him.
"Ah !" said the black, "this bad little beast good for massa."
Excellent, in fact. A quarter of an hour had not passed when
two immense swellings grew on the skin, producing a blister
analogous to that which results at the end of twelve hours
from the application of the best plaster. The sick man seemed
to renew his life. His breathing became softer; his fevered cheeks
"These ants berry good," Cassimir said; who then pricked the
blister, and wanted to dress it with cotton dipped in oil extracted
from the fruit of the bache, but he dared not for fear of communi-
cating his leprosy.
Robin recovered consciousness, or rather a soft sleep succeeded
rapidly to his comatic state. He could scarcely murmur Thanks,"
and then fell asleep. The negro had worked almost a miracle.
The elements of this marvellous cure, of which the result was so
immediate, were very simple. It was a common remedy of the
wise women of the country. The sting of these ants is atrociously
painful. Such is in fact the particular property of their venom,
that it instantly raises a blister. Such is the result produced by the
"boiling-water ant of Equatorial Africa. Th6 skin rises instantly,
72 THE WHITE TIGER.
as under a poultice of boiling water; the phenomena absolutely
identical with those which result from the application of cantharides.
Upon awaking, a strong infusion of the leaves of the batata com-
pleted this tropical cure, and twenty-four hours afterwards the sick
man, although terribly feeble, was out of danger.
Four days had scarcely passed when Cassimir, after an absence
of some hours, returned alarmed, crying,-
"Massa, massa, bad white men coming !"
"Ah," said Robin, whose eye at once flashed, "white men
enemies. Is there not an Indian with them ?"
"Yes; Indian there."
"Good. I am still feeble; but I will defend myself, and they
shall have nothing but my dead body. You understand ? "
Dis nigger understand; but bad men shall not kill you. You
not move. You lay dere, under the leaves of the macoupi. Old
Cassimir do good trick to wicked whites."
The fugitive armed himself with his sword, which, however, was
too heavy for his weakened arm. Then, knowing the resources
which his old companion held in reserve, hid himself under the
leaves and waited.
Rapid steps were soon heard ; then a rough voice, accompanied
by the well-known click of the lock of a gun. The formula em-
ployed by the new arrivals, serious in a civilized country, was
grotesque in such a place.
"In the name of the law, open !"
The black, without awaiting a second summons, opened softly
the door and showed his hideous face.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
His appearance produced on the whites the effect of the head
of a spectre.
As to the Indian, who did not expect such a meeting,, he re-
mained for a moment absolutely petrified. There was a moment
Enter," said Cassimir, giving to his face an expression of the
most cordial welcome-a vain attempt, which produced only a
most atrocious grimace.
It is a leper," said one of the new-comers, who wore the cos-
tume of the military warders. Nothing shall induce me to enter
his cabin to catch the disease."
What! will you not come in ?" asked the black.
Never. Everything is contagious in there. Even a convict
would not take refuge there."
"Who knows ?" said the second warder. "We are not come
here to return empty-handed. By taking some precautions we
are safe. Come, we are not children."
"Do as you like. I shall beat a retreat before I have my limbs
seamed with the leprosy. The air alone of this pest-house is enough
to poison one."
"Me go," said the Indian, thinking of the prize, and of the in.
numerable glasses of tafia which would result from it.
I too," said the warder. "One cannot be killed by it,
Dat so," said the black cheerfully.
The warder, sword in hand, penetrated first into the humble
cabin, scarcely lighted by a few rays which passed through the
THE WHITE TIGER.
foliage. The redskin followed close behind. A hammock stretched
across the room was the only furniture of the hut. On the ground
were some utensils, and a bed of the boughs of the macoupi.
In a corner were some bunches of maize-heads, and some cassava
cakes. That was all.
"Ah, below there," murmured the warder, pointing with his
sword to the bed of boughs, "is there nothing?"
"Me not know," the black said.
"Ah, you don't know. Well, I will go and look."
The redskin raised his arm as if to push the point of his sabre
among the branches. A sharp, hissing sounded, and the warder,
terrified, remained with his arm uplifted, and his point lowered,
in the position of a fencing-master. He was petrified. The
Indian was already outside. He was frightened-even he, -this
wild redskin-and seemed to have absolutely forgotten his recent
"Aye-aye !" he stammered ; "Aye-aye !" and his accent indi-
cated the wildest terror.
The warder was half a minute before he could recover him-
self. The leper, also immovable, regarded him with an evil
"Why not search ?" he said.
The sound of the human voice recalled the warder to him-
An aye-aye," he murmured, in a hoarse voice. "Yes, it is an
aye-aye," and his look did not quit the two points which shone
in the midst of a little black mass. He said to himself, "A
Mad with terror, he bounded back, making a sweep with his sword
at the terrible snake.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
sudden movement, and I am dead. Well, I must retreat, and
Very softly, with infinite precautions, he drew back his right
leg, then his left, and moved backwards, trying to gain the
A second hissing was heard above his head at the moment when
he was giving a sigh of relief. His hair stood up. It seemed to
him that the root of each hair was a sting. Then a long, thin body,
of the thickness of the neck of a bottle, glided quietly for the brain
with a rattle of his quivering scales. He raised his head and
nearly fell backwards, seeing a few inches from his face a snake
with open mouth, who, hanging by his tail, was about to launch his
poisoned fangs at his face. Mad with terror, he bounded back,
making a sweep with his sword at the terrible snake. Happily for
him, his sword was well aimed, and cut off the head of the animal,
who fell upon the soil.
A grage !" he shouted, "a grage!"
The door was open behind him. He pushed through it
with the quickness of a clown jumping through a paper hoop,
but not without running against a third snake, which was
elevating himself, and agitating the rattles of his tail.
The scene had not lasted a minute. The second warder, alarmed
by the cries of the Indian, stood astounded at the shout of his
companion, who, bathed in perspiration, his face contracted with
terror, seemed about to faint.
"Well," he said briefly, "what is it ? Speak."
It's full of snakes in there," he said feebly.
THE WHITE TIGER.
The black at the same time came out of his house with as much
rapidity as his disabled leg permitted him to make. He appeared
Ah, massas-snakes too many. My house full.
But don't you live there in the hut? ~
"Yes, massa, me live there."
How is it, then, that it is full of snakes? Ordinarily they only
go in abandoned huts."
Me not know."
"You don't know? You don't know? It seems to me there are
a great many things which you know, and which you pretend not
Me not put the snakes dere."
"Ah, I can believe that. Well, so that no misfortune shall
happen to you to-night, I will just put fire to your hut. Its garrison
is too dangerous."
The old negro trembled. If his cabin were burnt, so would
his guest be; so, with a real accent of terror, he implored the
pity of the two warders. He was a poor man, very old and
very weak. He had never done harm to any one, and his
house was his only property. How could he find a shelter?
His weakened limbs would not permit him to make another
After all, he is right," said the one who had entered the
house, and who, delighted to have escaped, asked nothing
better than to go. "It were safe to bet that our man is not
asleep with such bedfellows. The Indian is mocking us. One
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
of two things: either Robin is far off at present, or he is
That's right enough, and we have done all we can. If you are
of my opinion, we shan't wait here."
I think so too. Let us leave this old fellow to do as he can
with his lodgers, and let us be off."
"I am with you. As for the Indian, he has let us in for it
regularly, and has taken himself off. If ever he falls into my
hand, he may be quite sure that I will give him something for him-
The warders, accepting philosophically their defeat, took the path
back, and disappeared. Cassimir looked after them with a mocking
Ha! ha! ha! De aye-aye-de grage-de rattlesnake. Good
little beasts of Cassimir's."
Then he re-entered the hut, whistling gently. Some im-
perceptible movements disturbed the litter for a few minutes,
and then all was quiet. There was nothing to indicate the
presence of reptiles but the strong characteristic odour of
"Ah, massa," he said joyously, "how you feel? "
The pale face of the fugitive emerged from his cover, and then
the whole body drew itself painfully from the trench at the bottom
of which Robin had, for a quarter of an hour, endured mortal
"Are they gone ?"
SYes, massa, dey gone. Dey catch quite fright.'
So THE WHITE TIGER.
"Ah, but how did you put them to flight? I heard them shouting
with terror. And what is this odour of musk ?
The leper then recounted to his guest that he was a snake.
charmer. He knew how to call and make them come, and not
only could he touch them with impunity, but he had nothing to
fear from their bite in case the savage visitors might give him a
scratch. Not only the rattlesnake, but the formidable grage, and
the terrible aye-aye (so named because the person bitten has not
time to cry between the moment of the bite and the time of his
As to the immunity of Cassimir, he explained that he had
been charmed against a snake by Monsieur Oleta, a white, well
known in Cayenne, who, by means of drinks and inoculations,
could render any one absolutely impervious to the bite of all
"But suppose one ha! bitten me ?
"No danger dat, massa. Me put by your side herbs which the
snakes no like. Dey no. come dat side. Massa not go out.
Redskin gone other side great wood. He not content-not got his
money-not got tafia. He keep eye on us."
The negro was not mistaken. Six hours after the scare given
to the warders, and their precipitate retreat, the redskin was
impudently hanging about the house.
SIt is an historical fact, officially certified, that a Monsieur Oleta had
discovered means by which he could render persons absolutely invulnerable
to the bite of snakes, or cure them if they were bitten, if brought to him
alive. Monsieur Oleta died some ten years ago, leaving the receipt to his
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 8l
You bad man," he said, prevent me taking white tiger.'
Gp, bad Indian, or old leper cast charm on you."
At the word "charm" the Indian, superstitious, like all of his
race, fled in terror, like a stag pursued by a tiger.
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING
-Y OBIN, in the course of his adventures, had not very
much deviated from the direction which he had pre-
viously traced out for himself. He did not wish
to go far from the Maroni, which forms the boun-
dary of the two Cayenrnes, and had pretty well succeeded in keeping
to the north-west, wLich is the direction in which the river runs
from its mouth as far as the fifth degree of north latitude. With-
out any scientific instrument it was impossible for him to calculate
accurately the distance which he had gone, or the point where he
now was. His companion was incapable of telling him anything.
It mattered little to the poor negro whether he was in one place or
another. The only thing he needed was means of existence. He
knew vaguely that the river was three or four days' march distant;
that was all. He was even ignorant of the name of the stream of
which the waters fertilized the valley. Robin conjectured that it
might be the Sparwine. If this were so, his abode with the leper
would offer him no safety. The administration of the convict estab-
lishment was about to place at the mouth of this river a barrack of
wood-cutters. A party of convicts had already taken up their abode
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 83
there. Who could say if from one moment to another one of his
ancient comrades, or even a warder, might not suddenly debouch
into the clearing ? His strength had come back, and with it an irre-
sistible desire to preserve at all cost the liberty acquired after such
A month had already passed since the day when his enemies had
been so rapidly put to flight by the corps of reptiles of which
Cassimir was commander-in-chief. He had accustomed himselfcom-
pletely to this tranquil life, the profound repose of which rested alike
his soul and body after the horrors of the convict settlement. But
the thought of his family incessantly occupied his mind ; every day,
every hour was full of the sweet and sad thought of the absent ones;
Every night his sleep was haunted by them in his dreams. Ho.v
could he let them know that the hour of his deliverance had sounded?
How could he see them again ? How give them a simple sign of
his existence without exposing himself to the greatest danger ? The
wildest ideas, the most impossible plans, presented themselves to
his mind. Sometimes he thought he could gain the Dutch bank of
the river, traverse the whole width of their possessions, and arrive
at Demerara, the capital of English Cayenne. There he would find
work sufficient to keep him, and could then take a passage on board
a ship for Europe, upon which he would embark as a sailor. But
his reason showed him the impossibility of this project. He would
certainly be arrested by the Dutch, and even if he were not, he had
no chance of gaining the English colony with which France had
no treaty of extradition.
If, on the other hand," he said to himself," I go up the Mar.ni,
THE WHITE TIGER.
I am sure, according to the maps of Leblonde, that its principal
branch the Aona has a connexion with the basin of the Amazon.
Can I not descend the Yarry or some other affluent as far as
Wait a little," replied the negro; "wait a little."
"Yes, my good Cassimir, I will wait as long as possible. We
will make provision-a canoe-and will both of us leave."
"Dat will be the berry thing," Cassimir said.
It was only after long discussion that Robin consented to associate
the old man with the risks of his enterprise. It was not that he
feared that any contact or contagion could result from it. Far from
it; but Cassimir was old. Had he a right to use the profound affec-
tion which this old man had shown him from the first day of meet.
ing, to take him away from the Eden embellished by his mutilated
hands? Certainly Robin was no egotist. He returned with all his
heart the affection which the old man had bestowed upon him, and
tried in every way to render his existence pleasant to him; but
Cassimir had so much and so strongly insisted that Robin could not
refuse him. The leper wept with joy, and thanked, with briskness,
his good white comrade.
By a thoughtless movement at one of these gestures, the offspring
of the full heart of the old man, the exile, taking him by the hand,
raised him to his feet.
Ah," said the old man sorrowfully, you have touched Cassimir.
You come to be leper too."
"No, Cassimir; have no fear. I am not afraid of touching your
hand. Believe me, my friend, your disease is less contagious than
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 85
is gEnerally thought. I have studied much in France. The doctors
and wisest savants go so far as to affirm that it is not communicated
by touch. 'Some, indeed, who have practised in the countries where
leprosy is most severe, assert that they can stop its progress by
removing the patient from the place where it has been contracted.
Therefore there is a double reason why I should take you to some
place where I am going."
Cassimir understood one thing: that was, that the white man would
not leave him-still more, that he had shaken his hand. For more
than fifteen years such a thing had not happened to him ; needless
to say, then, that his emotion was great. From that moment their
resolution was taken. They would construct a light canoe of a
slight draught of water, and in which they would stow as many pro-
visions as possible. These provisions would be principally com-
posed of chouac, which is the flower of the manioc, and of dry
tinder. When the boat was ready they would descend the creek,
travelling only by night. During the day the canoe should be
hidden among lianas and other plants which covered the banks, and
the two men would sleep under the trees. They would traverse the
Maroni, ascending its course to the point where there was a con-
siderable affluent cutting the narrow part of Dutch Cayenne, and
communicating with the basin of the Essequibo, the great river of
the English colony. There they would be safe, for Georgetown
and Demerara are near the mouth of this river. Such was the
plan of their great project, except for such modifications as might
result from further events. As to the almost insurmountable diffi-
culties, the two men enumerated them as a matter of form, and
THE WHITE TIGER.
made no further question of them. Provisions were in abundance.
It sufficed to get the vegetable products and store them from time
to time. But there remained the question of a boat. A bark canoe
would not be sufficient to accomplish such ajourney. Its impene-
trability is far from being perfect, and the provisions would be
damaged. Moreover, it would not be able to always resist the
shocks and blows resulting from navigation across the rapids
which abound in the rivers and the creeks of Cayenne. It was
resolved, then, that the canoe should be constructed on the model
of those of the Bosh and the Bonis, of one piece from the hard
and impervious wood of the bemba. Fined down and strengthened
at its two extremities, it may be navigated either way. The two
sharp points being left solid for the first two feet, could with impunity
dash against the rocks. It would be sixteen feet long, and would
carry (in addition to the two canoe-men) about a thousand pounds
weight of provisions.
The first thing was to find a tree uniting all the requisite pro-
perties; that is to say, which should neither be too large nor too
small, of middle age, without knots or cracks, and, above all, in the
neighbourhood of the creek and the clearing. It took two days of
painful search among the giant trees of Cayenne, which do not grow
in groups, but are scattered here and there. One was at last found,
and declared very good by Cassimir, engineer-in-chief in the naval
construction. They then set at once to work.
The labour advanced but slowly. The old negro had but one
hatchet of small dimensions, of which the edge struck vainly on the
tenacious fibres of the bemba, making but small gashes. For.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA.
tunately, Cassimir was an adept in all the resources of the inha-
bitants of the forest. Since iron was insufficient, he brought fire to
his assistance. A bonfire was lit at the base of the tree, which
burnt slowly for forty-eight hours, and then fell during the night
with a terrible crash. Cassimir awoke with a start, and shaking
his companion's hammock, cried joyously,-
Fren' Robin, you hear de bemba go crack ?"
Robin was too joyous to go to sleep again.
"It is well indeed. This is the commencement of deliverance.
We want instruments for digging out the canoe."
O," interrupted the negro, Bosh negro, Boni negro not have
instruments. Dey make canoe with fire."
"Yes, I know that they hollow out their canoes with fire, and
polish them with their knives or even with sharp stones, but I
have discovered something better than that."
"What you found, fren' Robin ?"
"You have a pick, have you not ? a good pick. Well, I shall fit
it up properly, give it a heavy handle, and that will make me a
capital adze. With such an instrument, Cassimir, I shall be able
to make a good canoe."
Dat is so, dat is so," said the negro, delighted.
This was settled, and the two men, having altered the pick to
its new purpose, went to their labour. They carried with them
the provision for the day, and advanced jaunting gaily.
"Do you see, Cassimir ?" said Robin, already a changed man
since his life had an object and this object was drawing near,
"before a month we shall be started. Soon we shall be far away
88 THE WHITE TIGER.
in a free country. I shall no longer be a wild beast whom they
pursue, a convict whom they track. I shall no longer be the game
of the Indians, and of the warders. I shall no longer be a white
"Dat so, massa," said the leper, happy at the joy of his
They arrived at this moment at the clearing formed by the fall
of the bemba, which had in falling brought down several other
trees. A broad ray of the sun came through the open space. The
base of the tree still smoked.
Now to make my-"
Robin did not finish the phrase. He remained as if petrified, as
a man with a chopper in his hand, and dressed in the horrible
livery of the prison, rose suddenly and pronounced these
"What I is it you, Robin? I never expected to find you
Robin, thunderstruck with the suddenness of this encounter, did
not reply. The view of his ancient companion of the gaol called up
suddenly a nightmare of lugubrious remembrances. The convict
could not be alone. Perhaps at two paces' distance in the cover
were a party of these scoundrels with their escorts, the warders.
What! had all these sufferings been endured vainly? Was it
necessary to say adieu to this liberty scarcely regained ? A strange
fever seized the engineer. A passing thought of murder crossed
his brain, in fact. What mattered the life of this man in compari-
son with his freedom? He was ashamed immediately of this
He remained as if petrified, as a man with a chopper in his hand rose suddenly.
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 91
thought, and recovered his composure. The other did not seem to
notice his trouble, or to be astonished at his silence.
"Ah! I understand. You never were a talker. It is all the
same. I am glad to see you again."
"It is you ?" said the convict, with an effort. Gondel?"
Gondel himself, in flesh and bone-specially in bone. You see
our food has not improved since your departure, and what with the
heat and the work which we have to do, there is no means of getting
ourselves into condition."
But what are you doing here ?"
"To any one else but you I should reply with What business is
that of yours?' and that it does not matter. But you have a right
to know everything ; I am simply a hunter of wood."
"A hunter of wood."
"Yes. You know well that each wood-cutting establishment
sends out a man well acquainted with the forest and the descrip-
tions of wood. He starts on his adventure, finds out the finest
subjects, marks them, and some time afterwards the pioneers (the
pioneers of the state) cut them down for the benefit of their em-
ployer. Before being imprisoned, I was a cabinet-maker. I was
therefore made searcher, with forty centimes of pay per day, and
that's how I have suddenly tumbled upon you. But do you know
that you are looking well ? One can see that you are living on
"And the others, where are they ?"
"Oh, they are three days' journey from here. You need not for
the present be alarmed."
THE WHITE TIGER.
Then you are not a fugitive ? "
Not such a fool. I have only six more months to do. In six
months I shall be at provisional liberty to reside at St. Laurent on
Oh, you are not a fugitive ?
No; I told you so. One would think that you would pre-
fer to make perfectly sure that I was not returning. Don't be
afraid. We are a bad lot-but one convict never denounces an-
Robin made a sudden movement.
"Ah!" said the other, "when I say'convict,' don't get angry.
I know well that you were not in for crime. Well, if you would
know the truth of it, all the world was delighted that you made your
Benoit, whom the warders brought back altogether smashed up
-didn't he bleed? Well, you are a strong man. You are not of
us, but we esteem you all the same."
And are they thinking of pursuing me ? demanded Robin.
"Nobody but Benoit. You are his bte-noir. He swears morning
and night, to such an extent, that the poor sisters of the hospital
are almost out of their minds. He will be after you, of course. I
am sure that when he is once upon his feet he will try to get you in
The convict, loquacious like his class when they have an occa-
sion to chat with others of their companions, still kept on.
Do you know that you have had good luck in meeting with this
THE CRUSOES OF GUIANA. 93
old negro who is with you ? He is ugly enough to frighten old Nick.
But he must have been useful to you indeed Well, I never thought
of finding you when I discovered this bemba on the ground. It
will make a fine canoe. Shall I help you ?"
No, thank you," Robin said, unable to overcome the repulsion
with which the convict's dress inspired him.
I understand you," the man said quietly, and it is natural after
what you went through among us. Still, I am not all bad. I was
once a decent fellow. I received a certain amount of education;
my father was one of the first cabinet-makers of Lyons. Unfortu-
nately, I lost him when I was seventeen years old, when I made bad
acquaintances. Pleasure attracted me. I can recall now my poor
mother saying to me, My boy, I heard yesterday that the young
folk of the village made a disturbance, and that they passed the
night at the lock-up. If such a thing were to happen to you, I
should die of grief. Two years afterwards I committed forgery,
and they condemned me to five years' hard labour. My mother
remained for two months between life and death. She was out of
her mind for two years. Her hair became white. She was not
forty-five years old, and she Ippeared sixty after my departure. I
have never robbed since I was at the prison. I am neither worse
nor better than the others; but I am a condemned man. See, I
can't even weep in talking of it. You-sir-the prison has ennobled
you; me it has destroyed."
Robin, moved in spite of himself, approached the man.
It is not for me to judge you," he said; I thank you for the
offer you mAde me, but I feel that it would bring me bad luck if I