The young Brazilians.
THE GIANT RAFT
EIGHT HUNDRED LEAGUES ON THE AMAZON
TRANSLATED BY W. J. GORDON
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
743 AND 745 BROADWAY
[All rig/lds reserved]
A CAPTAIN OF TIE WOODS .
ROBBER AND ROBBED .....
THE GACRAL FAMILY .
IIESIiATION . .
THE AMAZON. .
A FOREST ON THE GROUND. .
FOLLOWING A LIANA .
THE JANf.ADA .
THE EVENING OF THE FIFTH OF JUNE
FROM IQUITOS TO PEVAS 115
FROM PEVAS TO THE FRONTIER. 127
FRAGOSO AT WORK .
TORRES .. ..
STILI, DESCENDING .
THE CONTINUED DESCENT .
AN ATTACK .
THE ARRIVAL DINNER .
ANCIENT HISTORY .
BETWEEN THF TWO MEN *
. .* 155
S .* 174
* a 0 231
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The young Brazilians
The home of the Garrals
The death of Magalhies .
Minha and Lina .
At the door .
On the bank of the river
The large craft of the Amazon
Among the trees
The felling of the forest
The farewell ramble .
The Naudus .
The cipo bridge .
The finding of Fragoso .
Building the raft .
" To look after the forest "
Araujo the pilot .
viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The start of the Jangada 15
The Indians on the river bank . .. 122
The jangada moored for the night .123
The Indians on the island. 125
The crew at quarters 134
Passing the frontier 141
Fragoso at Tabatinga ... 2
Waiting their turn 155
Torres and Fragoso 159
The ant-eater 167
The black water 169
The manatees 183
The landing on the teach .189
After the dinner 192
Preparing caoutchouc. 05
The death of the cayman 211
The road through the forest ... 216
The river pl;.nts . 218
The brave defence ...... .227
'1 lie tl.e-&-tIte 237
Joanms arrest 243
COURSE OF THE
FIRST MAP. M uras jp
m a ;hu arses
70 e0 s O c u
72 %^ 1a~ M ay ora- u n a
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b \I 7 /^ LY"L4^^^Mhuas 's
7 ----------- "/ \%' 10A~ i? ^ ^ ^ <^
3r otos I q. u wy
z y tos t,
ej oi e /s1)( kk
^^ Y ^Oej^ 0
^^~~ f^/ 7-^
ffipave pea- uo~ridB~eA dSra tis
THE GIANT RAFT.
A CAPTAIN OF THE WOODS.
xp hetozsletnpmvffovpdpajxky ynojyggaynme
rcredgruzblrmnxyz hqhpzdrrgc ro h ep qrufiv
vrp Ip hon tkvddqfhqsn tzh h knfep mqkyu nex
ktogzgkyu umfvijdqdpzjqsykrp lxht xqry m vl
o h hotozvdkspp suvjhd."
THE man who held in his hand the document of which
this strange assemblage of letters formed the concluding
paragraph, remained for some moments lost in thought.
It contained about a hundred of these lines, with the
letters at even distances, and undivided into words. It
seemed to have been written many years before, and time
2 THE GIANT RAFT.
had already laid his tawny finger on the sheet of good
stout paper which was covered with the hieroglyphics.
On what principle had these letters been arranged ? He
who held the paper was alone able to tell. With such
cipher languages it is as with the locks of some of our iron
safes,-in either case the protection is the same. The com-
binations which they lead to can be counted by millions,
and no calculator's life would suffice to express them.
Some particular word has to be known before the lock
of the safe will act, and some cipher is necessary before
the cryptogram can be read.
He who had just reperused the document was but a
simple "captain of the woods." Under the name of
" Capitaes do Mato" are known in Brazil those individuals
who are engaged in the recapture of fugitive slaves. The
institution dates from 1722. At that period anti-slavery
ideas had entered the minds of but a few philanthropists,
and more than a century had to elapse before the mass of
the people grasped and applied them. That freedom was
a right, that the very first of the natural rights of man was
to be free and to belong only to himself, would seem to
be self-evident, and yet thousands of years had to pass be..
fore the glorious thought was generally accepted, and the
nations of the earth had the courage to proclaim it.
In 1852, the year in which our story opens, there were
still slaves in Brazil, and as a natural consequence, cap.
A CAPTAIN OF THE WOODS. 3
tains of the woods to pursue them. For certain reasons of
political economy the hour of general emancipation had
been delayed, but the black had at this date the right to
ransom himself, the children which were born to him were
born free. The day was not far distant when the magni-
ficent country, into which could be put three-quarters of
the continent of Europe, would no longer count a single
slave amongst its ten millions of inhabitants.
The occupation of the captains of the woods was doomed,
and at the period we speak of the advantages obtainable
from the capture of fugitives were rapidly diminishing.
While, however, the calling continued sufficiently profitable,
the captains of the woods formed a peculiar class of ad-
venturers, principally composed of freedmen and deserters
-of not very enviable reputation. The slave-hunters in
fact belonged to the dregs of society, and we shall not be
far wrong in assuming that the man with the cryptogram
was a fitting comrade for his fellow "capitaes do mato."
Torres-for that was his name-unlike the majority of his
companions, was neither half-breed, Indian, nor negro. He
was a white of Brazilian origin, and had received a better
education than befitted his present condition. One of those
unclassed men who are found so frequently in the distant
countries of the New World, at a time when the Brazilian
law still excluded mulattos and others of mixed blood
from certain employment, it was evident that if such ex-
4 THE GIANT RAFT.
clusion had affected him, it had done so on account of his
worthless character, and not because of his birth.
Torres at the present moment was not, however, in
Brazil. He had just passed the frontier, and was wander-
ing in the forests of Peru, from which issue the waters of
the Upper Amazon.
He was a man of about thirty years of age, on whom
the fatigues of a precarious existence seemed, thanks to an
exceptional temperament and an iron constitution, to have
had no effect. Of middle height, broad shoulders, regular
features, and decided gait, his face was tanned with the
scorching air of the tropics. He had a thick black beard,
and eyes lost under contracting eyebrows, giving that swift
but hard glance so characteristic of insolent natures.
Clothed as backwoodsmen are generally clothed, not over
elaborately, his garments bore witness to long and roughish
wear. On his head, stuck jauntily on one side, was a
leather hat with a large brim. Trousers he had of coarse
wool, which were tucked into the tops of the thick heavy
boots which formed the most substantial part of his attire,
and over all, and hiding all, was a faded yellowish
But if Torres was a captain of the woods it was evident
that he was not now employed in that capacity, his means
of attack and defence being obviously insufficient for any
one engaged in the pursuit of the blacks. No fire-arms-
A CAPTAIN OF THE WOODS. 5
neither gun nor revolver. In his belt only one of those
weapons, more sword than hunting-knife, called a man-
chetta," and in addition he had an enchada," which is a
s ortof hoe, specially employed in the pursuit of the tatous
and agoutis which abound in the forests of the Upper
Amazon, where there is generally little to fear from wild
On the 4th of May, 1852, it happened, then, that our
adventurer was deeply absorbed in the reading of the docu-
ment on which his eyes were fixed, and, accustomed as he
was to live in the forests of South America, he was per-
fectly indifferent to their splendours. Nothing could dis-
tract his attention; neither the constant cry of the howl-
ing monkeys, which St. Hilaire has graphically compared
to the axe of the woodman as he strikes the branches of
the trees, nor the sharp jingle of the rings of the rattlesnake
(not an aggressive reptile, it is true, but one of the most
venomous); neither the bawling voice of the horned toad,
the most hideous of its kind, nor even the solemn and sono-
rous croak of the bellowing frog, which, though it cannot
equal the bull in size, can surpass him in noise.
Torres heard nothing of all these sounds, which form, as
it were, the complex voice of the forests of the New World.
Reclining at the foot of a magnificent tree, he did not even
admire the lofty boughs of that pao ferro," or iron wood,
with its sombre bark, hard as the metal which it replaces in
0 THE GIANT RAFT.
the weapon and utensil of the Indian savage. No: Lost in
thought, the captain of the woods turned the curious paper
again and again between his fingers. With the cipher, of
which he had the secret, he assigned to each letter its true
value. He read, he verified the sense of those lines, un-
intelligible to all but him, and then he smiled-and a
most unpleasant smile it was.
Then he murmured some phrases in an undertone which
none in the solitude of the Peruvian forests could hear, and
which no one, had he been anywhere else would have
"Yes," said he, at length, "here are a hundred lines
very neatly written, which, for some one that I know have
an importance that is undoubted. That somebody is rich.
It is a question of life or death for him, and looked at in
every way it will cost him something." And, scrutinizing the
paper with greedy eyes, At a conto' only for each word
of this last sentence it will amount to a considerable sum,
and it is this sentence which fixes the price. It sums up
the entire document. It gives their true names to true
personages; but before trying to understand it I ought to
begin by counting the number of words it contains, and
even when this is done its true meaning may be missed."
In saying this Torres began to count mentally.
1 One thousand reis are equal to three francs, and a conto of reis is
worth three thousand francs.
A CAPTAIN OF THE WOODS. 7
"There are fifty-eight words, and that makes fifty-eight
contos. With nothing but that one could live in Brazil, in
America, wherever one wished, and even live without doing
anything And what would it be, then, if all the words of
this document were paid for at the same price ? It would
be necessary to count by hundreds of contos. Ah! there
is quite a fortune here for me to realize if I am not the
greatest of duffers !"
It seemed as though the hands of Torres felt the enor-
mous sum, and were already closing over the rolls of gold.
Suddenly his thoughts took another turn.
"At length," he cried, I see land; and I do not regret
the voyage which has led me from the coast of the Atlantic
to the Upper Amazon. But this man may quit America
and go beyond the seas, and then how can I touch him ?
But no I he is there, and if I climb to the top of this tree I
can see the roof under which he lives with his family!"
Then seizing the paper and shaking it with terrible mean-
ing, Before to-morrow I will be in his presence; before
to-morrow he will know that his honour and his life are
contained in these lines. And when he wishes to see the
cipher which permits him to read them, he-well, he will
pay for it. He will pay, if I wish it, with all his fortune,
as he ought to pay with all his blood! Ah! My worthy
comrade, who gave me this cipher, who told me where I
could find his old colleague, and the name under which he
6 THE GIANT RAFT.
has been hiding himself for so many years, hardly suspects
that he has made my fortune !"
For the last time Torres glanced over the yellow paper,
and then, after carefully folding it, put it away into a little
copper box which he used for a purse. This box was about
as big as a cigar-case, and if what was in it was all Torres
possessed he would nowhere have been considered a wealthy
man. He had a few of all the coins of the neighboring
States-ten double-condors in gold of the United States
of Columbia, worth about a hundred francs; Brazilian reis
worth about as much; golden sols of Peru, worth, say,
double: some Chilian escudos, worth fifty francs or more,
and some smaller coins; but the lot would not amount to
more than 500 francs, and Torres would have been some-
what embarrassed had he been asked how or where he had
got them. One thing was certain, that for some months,
after having suddenly abandoned the trade of the slave-
hunter, which he carried on in the province of Para, Torres
had ascended the basin of the Amazon, crossed the Brazilian
frontier, and come into Peruvian territory. To such a man
the necessaries of life were but few; expenses he had none
-nothing for his lodging, nothing for his clothes. The
forest provided his food, which in the backwoods cost him
nought. A few reis were enough for his tobacco, which he
bought at the mission-stations or in the villages, and for a
A CAPTAIN OF THE WOODS. 9
trifle more he filled his flask with liquor. With little he
could go far.
When he had pushed the paper into the metal box, of
which the lid shut tightly with a snap, Torres, instead of
putting it into the pocket of his under-vest, thought to be
extra careful, and placed it near him in a hollow of a
root of the tree beneath which he was sitting. This pro-
ceeding as it turned out, might have cost him dear.
It was very warm ; the air was oppressive. If the church
of the nearest village had possessed a clock, the clock would
have struck two, and, coming with the wind, Torres would
have heard it, for it was not more than a couple of miles
off. But he cared not as to time. Accustomed to regulate
his proceedings by the height of the sun, calculated with
more or less accuracy, he could scarcely be supposed to
conduct himself with military precision. He breakfasted
or dined when he pleased or when he could; he slept when
and where sleep overtook him. If his table was not always
spread, his bed was always ready at the foot of some tree
in the open forest. And in other respects Torres was not
difficult to please. He had travelled during most of the
morning, and having already eaten a little, he began to
feel the want of a snooze. Two or three hours' rest would
he thought, put him in a state to continue his road, and
so he laid himself down on the grass as comfortably
IO THE GIANT RAFT.
as he could; and waited for sleep beneath the ironwood-
Torres was not one of those people who drop off to sleep
without certain preliminaries. He was in the habit of
drinking a drop or two of strong liquor, and of then
smoking a pipe ; the spirits, he said, overexcited the brain'
and the tobacco smoke agreeably mingled with the general
haziness of his reverie.
Torres commenced, then, by applying to his lips a flask
which he carried at his side; it contained the liquor
Generally known under the name of "chica" in Peru, and
more particularly under that of caysuma in the Upper
Amazon, to which fermented distillation of the root of the
sweet manioc the captain had added a good dose of tafia,"
or native rum.
When Torres had drunk a little of this mixture he shook
the flask, and discovered, not without regret, that it was
Must get some more," he said very quietly.
Then taking out a short wooden pipe, he filled it with
the coarse and bitter tobacco of Brazil, of which the leaves
belong to that old "petun" introduced into France by
Nicot, to whom we owe the popularization of the most pro-
ductive and wide-spread of the solanaceae.
This native tobacco had little in common with the fine
qualities of our present manufacturers; but Torres was not
A CAPTAIN OF THE WOODS. II
more difficult to please in this matter than in others, and
so, having filled his pipe, he struck a match and applied the
flame to a piece of that sticky substance which is the secre-
tion of certain of the hymenoptera, and is known as ants'
amadou." With the amadou he lighted up, and after about
a dozen whiffs his eyes closed, his pipe escaped from his
fingers, and he fell asleep.
THE GIANT RAFT.
ROBBER AND ROBBED.
TORRES slept for about half an hour, and then there was
a noise amongst the trees-a sound of light footsteps, as
though some visitor was walking with naked feet, and
taking all the precaution he could lest he should be heard.
To have put himself on guard against any suspicious
approach would have been the first care of our adventurer
had his eyes been open at the time. But he had not then
awoke, and what advanced was able to arrive in his presence,
at ten paces from the tree, without being perceived.
It was not a man at all, it was a guariba."
Of all the prehensile-tailed mokeys which haunt the
forests of the Upper Amazon-graceful sahuis, horned
sapajous, grey-coated monos, sagouins which seem to
wear a mask on their grimacing faces-the guariba is with-
out doubt the most eccentric. Of sociable disposition, and
not very savage, differing therein very greatly from the
mucura, who is as ferocious as he is foul, he delights in
ROBBER AND ROBBED. 13
company, and generally travels in troops. It was he
whose presence had been signalled from afar by the mono-
tonous concert of voices, so like the psalm-singing of some
church choir. But if nature has not made him vicious, it
is none the less necessary to attack him with caution, and
under any circumstances a sleeping traveller ought not to
leave himself exposed, lest a guariba should surprise him
when he is not in a position to defend himself.
This monkey, which is also known in Brazil as the
"barbado," was of large size. The suppleness and stout-
ness of his limbs proclaimed him a powerful creature, as fit
to fight on the ground as to leap from branch to branch at
the tops of the giants of the forest.
He advanced then cautiously, and with short steps.
He glanced to the right and to the left, and rapidly
swung his tail. To these representatives of the monkey
tribe Nature has not been content to give four hands, she
has shown herself more generous, and added a fifth, for the
extremity of their caudal appendage possesses a perfect
power of prehension.
The guariba noiselessly approached, brandishing a sturdy
cudgel, which, wielded by his muscular arm, would have
proved a formidable weapon. For some minutes he had
seen the man at the foot of the tree, but the sleeper did
not move, and this doubtless induced him to come and
look at him a little nearer. He came forward then not
THE GIANT RAFT.
without hesitation, and stopped at last about three, paces
On his bearded face was pictured a grin, which showed
his sharp-edged teeth, white as ivory, and the cudgel
began to move about in a way that was not very reassur-
ing for the captain of the woods.
Unmistakably the sight of Torres did not inspire the
guariba with friendly thoughts. Had he then particular
reasons for wishing evil to this defenceless specimen of
the human race which chance had delivered over to him ?
Perhaps! We know how certain animals retain the
memory of the bad treatment they have received, and it is
possible that against backwoodsmen in general he bore
some special grudge.
In fact Indians especially make more fuss about the
monkey than any other kind of game, and, no matter to
what species it belongs, follow its chase with the ardour
of Nimrods, not only for the pleasure of hunting it, but for
the pleasure of eating it.
Whatever it was, the guariba did not seem disinclined
to change characters this time, and if he did not quite
forget that nature had made him but a simple herbivore,
and longed to devour the captain of the woods, he seemed
at least to have made up his mind to get rid of one of his
After looking at him for some minutes the guariba
ROBBER AND ROBBED. 15
began to move round the tree. He stepped slowly, hold-
ing his breath, and getting nearer and nearer. His attitude
was threatening, his countenance ferocious. Nothing could
have seemed easier to him than to have crushed this
motionless man at a single blow, and assuredly at that
moment the life of Torres hung by a thread.
In truth the guariba stopped a second time close up to
the tree, placed himself at the side, so as to command the
head of the sleeper, and lifted his stick to give. the blow.
But if Torres had been imprudent in putting near him
in the crevice of the root the little case which contained
his document and his fortune, it was this imprudence
which saved his life.
A sunbeam shooting between the branches just glinted
on the case, the polished metal of which lighted up like a
looking glass. The monkey, with the frivolity peculiar to
his species, instantly had his attention distracted. His
ideas, if such an animal could have ideas, took another
direction. He stopped, caught hold of the case, jumped
back a pace or two, and, raising it to the level of his eyes,
looked at it not without surprise as he moved it about and
used it like a mirror. He was if anything still more
astonished when he heard the rattle of the gold pieces it
contained. The music enchanted him. It was like a rattle
in the hands of a child. He carried it to his mouth, and his
teeth grated against the metal, but made no impression on it.
THE GIANT RAFT.
Doubtless the guariba thought he had found some fruit
of a new kind, a sort of huge almond brilliant all over,
and with a kernel playing freely in its shell. But if he
soon discovered his mistake he did not consider it a reason
for throwing the case away; on the contrary, he grasped
it more tightly in his left hand, and dropped the cudgel,
which broke off a dry twig in its fall.
At this noise Torres woke, and with the quickness of
those who are always on the watch, with whom there is no
transition from the sleeping to the waking state, was
immediately on his legs.
In an instant Torres had recognized with whom he had
"A guariba! he cried.
And his hand seizing his manchetta, he put himself into
a posture of defence.
The monkey, alarmed, jumped back at once, and not so
brave before a waking man as a sleeping one, performed
a rapid caper, and glided under the trees.
"It was time!" said Torres, "the rogue would have
settled me without any ceremony "
Of a sudden, between the hands of the monkey,
who had stopped at about twenty paces, and was
watching him with violent grimaces, as if he would like to
snap his fingers at him, he caught sight of his precious
ROBBER AND ROBBED. 17
"The beggar!" he said. "If he has not killed me,
he has done what is almost as bad. He has robbed
The thought that the case held his money was not how-
ever, what then concerned him. But that which made
him jump was the recollection that it contained the pre-
cious document, the loss of which was irreparable, as it
carried with it that of all his hopes.
Botheration! cried he.
And at the moment, cost what it might to recapture his
case, Torres threw himself in pursuit of the guariba.
He knew that to reach such an active animal was not
easy. On the ground he could get away too fast, in the
branches he could get away too far. A well-aimed gunshot
could alone stop him as he ran or climbed, but Torres
possessed no fire-arm. His sword-knife and hoe were use-
less unless he could get near enough to hit him.
It soon became evident that the monkey could not be
reached unless by surprise. Hence Torres found it neces-
sary to employ cunning in dealing with the mischievous
animal. To stop, to hide himself behind some tree trunk,
to disappear under a bush, might induce the guariba to
pull up and retrace his steps, and there was nothing else
for Torres to try. This was what he did, and the pursuit
commenced under these conditions; but when the captain
of the woods disappeared, the monkey patiently waited
IS THE GIANT RAFT.
until he came into sight again, and at this game Torres
fatigued himself without result.
Confound the guariba!" he shouted at length. There
will be no end to this, and he will lead me back to the
Brazilian frontier. If only he would let go of my case!
But no! The jingling of the money amuses him. Oh you
thief! If I could only get hold of you "
And Torres recommended the pursuit, and the monkey
scuttled off with renewed vigour.
An hour passed in this way without any result. Torres
showed a persistency which was quite natural. How with-
out this document could he get his money ?
And then anger seized him. He swore, he stamped, he
threatened the guariba. That annoying animal only
responded by a chuckling which was enough to put him
And then Torres gave himself up to the chase. He ran
at top speed, entangling himself in the high undergrowth,
among those thick brambles and interlacing creepers, across
which the guariba passed like a steeplechaser. Big roots
hidden -beneath the grass lay often in the way. He
stumbled over them and again started in pursuit. At
length, to his astonishment, he found himself shouting,
"Come here! come here! you robber!" as if he could
make him understand him.
His strength gave out, breath failed him, and he was
ROBBER AND ROBBED. 19
obliged to stop. "Confound it!" said he, "when I am
after runaway slaves across the jungle they never give me
such trouble as this! But I will have you, you wretched
monkey! I will go, yes, I will go as far as my legs will
carry me, and we shall see!"
The guariba had remained motionless when he saw that
the adventurer had ceased to pursue him. He rested
also, for he had nearly reached that degree,of exhaus-
tion which had forbidden all movement on the part of
He remained like this during ten minutes, nibbling away
at two or three roots, which he picked off the ground, and
from time to time he rattled the case at his ear.
Torres, driven to distraction, picked up the stones
within his reach and threw them at him, but did no harm
at such a distance.
But he hesitated to make a fresh start. On the one
hand, to keep on in chase of the monkey with so little
chance of reaching him was madness. On the other, to
accept as definite this accidental interruption to all his
plans, to be not only conquered, but cheated and hoaxed
by a dumb animal, was maddening. And in the meantime
Torres had begun to think that when the night came the
robber would disappear without trouble, and he, the
robbed one, would find a difficulty in retracing his way
through the dense forest. In fact, the pursuit had taken
20 THE GIANT RAFT.
him many miles from the bank of the river, and he would
even now find it difficult to return to it.
Torres hesitated; he tried to resume his thoughts with
coolness, and finally, after giving vent to a last impreca-
tion, he was about to abandon all idea of regaining posses-
sion of his case, when once more, in spite of himself, there
flashed across him the thought of his document, the remem-
brance of all that scaffolding on which his future hopes
depended, on which he had counted so much; and he
resolved to make another effort.
Then he got up.
The guariba got up too.
He made several steps in advance.
The monkey made as many in the rear, but this time,
instead of plunging more deeply into the forest, he stopped
at the foot of an enormous ficus-the tree of which
the different kinds are so numerous all over the Upper
To seize the trunk with his four hands, to climb with the
agility of a clown who is acting the monkey, to hook on
with his prehensile tail to the first branches, which
stretched away horizontally at forty feet from the ground,
and to hoist himself to the top of the tree, to the point
where the higher branches just bent beneath his weight, was
only sport to the active guariba, and the work of but a few
ROBBER AND ROBBED. 21
Up there, installed at his ease, he resumed his inter-
rupted repast, and gathered the fruits which were within
his reach. Torres, like him, was much in want of some-
thing to eat and drink, but it was- impossible! His pouch
was flat, his flask was empty.
However, instead of retracing his steps he directed them
towards the tree, although the position taken up by the
monkey was still more unfavourable for him. He could
not dream for one instant of climbing the ficus, which the
thief would hav. quickly abandoned for another.
And all the time the miserable case rattled at his ear.
Then in his fury, in his folly, Torres apostrophized the
guariba. It would be impossible for us to tell the series of
invectives in which he indulged. Not only did he call him
a half-breed, which is the greatest of insults in the mouth
of a Brazilian cf white descent, but curiboca "-that is to
say, half-breed negro and Indian, and of all the insults
that one man can hurl at another in this equatorial latitude
"curiboca" is the cruellest.
But the monkey, who was only a humble quadruman, was
simply amused at what would have revolted a representa-
tive of humanity.
Then Torres began to throw stones at him again, and
bits of roots and everything he could get hold of that
would do for a missile. Had he the hope to seriously hurt
the monkey ? No i he no longer knew what he was about.
22 THE GIANT RAFT.
To tell the truth, anger at his powerlessness had deprived
him of his wits. Perhaps he hoped that in one of the
movements which the guariba would make in passing from
branch to branch the case might escape him, perhaps he
thought that if he continued to worry the monkey he might
throw it at his head. But no! the monkey did not part
with the case, and, holding it with one hand, he had still
three left with which to move.
Torres, in despair, was just about to abandon the chase
for good, and to return towards the Amazon, when he
heard the sound of voices. Yes! the sound of human voices.
These were speaking at about twenty paces to the right
The first care of Torres was to hide himself in a dense
thicket. Like a prudent man, he did not wish to show
himself without at least knowing with whom he might have
to deal. Panting, puzzled, his ears on the stretch, he
waited, when suddenly the sharp report of a gun rang
through the woods.
A cry followed, and the monkey, mortally wounded,
fell heavily on the ground, still holding Torres' case.
By Jove! 'he muttered, that bullet came at the right
And then, without fearing to be seen, he came out of
the thicket, and two young gentlemen appeared from under
ROBBER AND ROBBED. 23
They were Brazilians clothed as hunters, with leather
boots, light palm-leaf hats, waistcoats, or rather tunics,
buckled in at the waist, and more convenient than the
national poncho. By their features and their com-
plexion they were at once recognizable as of Portuguese
Each of them was armed with one of those long guns
of Spanish make which slightly remind us of the arms of
the Arabs, guns of long range and considerable precision,
which the dwellers in the forest of the Upper Amazon
handle with success.
What had just happened was a proof of this. At an
angular distance of more than eighty paces the quadruman
had been shot full in the head.
The two young men carried in addition, in their belts,
a sort of dagger-knife, which is known in Brazil as a
"foca," and which hunters do nct hesitate to use when
attacking the ounce and other wild animals, which,
if not very formidable, are pretty numerous in these
Torres had obviously little to fear from this meeting,
and so he went on running towards the monkey's corpse.
But the young men, who were taking the same direc-
tion, had less ground to cover, and coming forward a few
paces, found themselves face to face with Torres.
The latter had recovered his presence of mind.
24 THE GIANT RAFT.
"Many thanks, gentlemen," said he, gaily, as he raised
the brim of his hat; in killing this wretched animal you
have just done me a great service!"
The hunters looked at him inquiringly, not knowing
what value to attach to his thanks.
Torres explained matters in a few words.
"You thought you had killed a monkey," said he, "but
as it happens you have killed a thief! "
If we have been of use to you," said the youngest of
the two, "it was by accident, but we are none the less
pleased to find that we have done some good."
And, taking several steps to the rear, he bent over the
guariba, and, not without an effort, withdrew the case from
his stiffened hand.
Doubtless that, sir, is what belongs to you ?"
"The very thing," said Torres, briskly, catching hold of
the case and failing to repress a huge sigh of relief.
Whom ought I to thank, gentlemen," said he, "for
the service you have rendered me ? "
My friend, Manoel, assistant-surgeon, Brazilian army,"
replied the young man.
If it was I who shot the monkey, Benito," said Manoel,
"it was you that pointed him out to me."
"In that case, sirs," replied Torres, "I am under an
obligation to you both, as well to you, Mr. Manoel, as
to you, Mr.- ?"
ROBBER AND ROBBED. 25
"Benito Garral," replied Manoel.
The captain of the woods required great command over
himself to avoid giving a jump when he heard this name,
and more especially when the young man obligingly con-
"My father, Joam Garral, has his farm about three
miles from here. If you would like, Mr.-- ?"
Torres," replied the adventurer.
If you would like to accompany'us there, Mr. Torres,
you will be hospitably received."
I do not know that I can," said Torres, who, surprised
by this unexpected meeting, hesitated to make a start
"I fear in truth that I am not able to accept your offer.
The occurrence I have just related to you has caused
me to lose time. It is necessary for me to return at once
to the Amazon-as I purpose descending thence to Para."
Very well, Mr. Torres," replied Benito, "it is not un-
likely that we shall see you again in our travels, for be-
fore a month has passed my father and all his family will
have taken the same road as you."
Ah! said Torres, sharply, your father is thinking of
recrossing the Brazilian frontier ? "
"Yes, for a voyage of some months," replied Benito.
"At least we hope to make him decide so. Don't we,
Manoel nodded affirmatively.
THE GIANT RAFT.
Well, gentlemen," replied Torres, "it is very probable
that we shall meet again on the road. But I cannot, much
to my regret, accept your offer now. I thank you, never-
theless, and I consider myself as twice your debtor."
And having said so, Torres saluted the young men,
who in turn saluted him, and set out on their way to the
As for Torres, he looked after them as they got farther
and farther away, and when he had lost sight of them,-
Ah! he is about to recross the frontier!" said he, with
a deep voice. "Let him recross it! and he will be still
more at my mercy! Pleasant journey to you, Joam
And having uttered these words, the captain of the
woods, making for the south so as to regain the left bank
of the river by the shortest road, disappeared into the dense
THE GARRAL FAMILY. 27
THE GARRAL FAMILY.
THE village of Iquitos is situated on the left bank of the
Amazon, near the seventy-fourth meridian, on that portion
of the great river which still bears the name of the Mark-
non, and of which the bed separates Peru from the Republic
of Ecuador. It is about five-and-fifty leagues to the west
of the Brazilian frontier.
Iquitos, like every other collection of huts, hamlet, or
village, met with in the basin of the Upper Amazon, was
founded by the missionaries. Up to the seventeenth year
of the century the Iquito Indians, who then formed the
entire population, were settled in the interior of the pro-
vince at some distance from the river. But one day the
springs in their territory all dried up under the influence of
a volcanic eruption, and they were obliged to come and
take up their abode on the left of the MarAnon. *The race
soon altered through the alliances which were entered into
with the riverine Indians, Ticunas, or Omaguas, mixed
THE GIANT RAFT.
descent with a few Spaniards, and to-day Iquitos has a
population of two or three families of half-breeds.
The village is most picturesquely grouped on a kind of
esplanade, and runs along at about sixty feet from the
river. It consists of some forty miserable huts, whose
thatched roofs only just render them worthy of the name
of cottages. A stairway made of crossed trunks of trees
leads up to the village, which lies hidden from the traveller's
eyes until the steps have been ascended. Once at the top
he finds himself before an enclosure admitting of slight
defence, and consisting of many different shrubs and ar-
borescent plants, attached to each other by festoons of
lianas, which here and there have made their way above
the summits of the graceful palms and banana-trees.
At the time we speak of the Indians of Iquitos went
about in almost a state of nudity. The. Spaniards and
half-breeds alone were clothed, and much as they scorned
their indigenous fellow-citizens, wore only a simple shirt,
light cotton trousers, and a straw hat. All lived cheerlessly
enough in the village, mixing little together, and if they
did meet occasionally, it was only at such times as the
bell of the mission called them to the dilapidated cottage
which served them for a church.
But if existence in the village of Iquitos, as in most of
the hamlets of the Upoer Amazon, was almost in a rudi-
mentary stage, it was only necessary to journey a league
TIE GARRAL FAMILY.
farther down the river to find on the same bank a wealthy
settlement, with all the elements of comfortable life.
This was the farm of Joam Garral, towards which our
two young friends returned after their meeting with the
captain of the woods.
There, on a bend of the stream,- at the junction of the
River Nanay, which is here about 500 feet across, there had
been established for many years this farm, homestead, or,
to use the expression of the country, fazenda," then in the
height of its prosperity. The Nanay with its left bank
bounded it to the north for about a mile, and for nearly
the same distance to the east it ran along the bank of the
larger river. To the west some small rivulets, tributaries
of the Nanay, and some lagoons of small extent, separated
it from the savannah and the fields devoted to the pasturage
of the cattle.
It was here that Joam Garral, in 1826, twenty-six years
before the date when our story opens, was received by the
proprietor of the fazenda.
This Portuguese, whose name was Magalhaes, followed
the trade of timber-felling, and his settlement, then recently
formed, extended for about half a mile along the bank of
There, hospitable as he was like all the Portuguese of the
old race, Magalhaes lived with his daughter Yaquita, who
after the death of her mother had taken charge of his
30 THE GIANT RAFT.
household. Magalhaes was an excellent worker, inured to
fatigue, but lacking education. If he understood the
management of the few slaves whom he owned, and the
dozen Indians whom he hired, he showed himself much
less apt in the various external requirements of his trade.
In truth, the establishment at Iquitos was not prospering,
and the affairs of the Portuguese were getting somewhat
It was under these circumstances that Joam Garral, then
twenty-two years old, found himself one day in the presence
of Magalhaes. He had arrived in the country at the limit
both of his strength and his resources. Magalhaes had
found him half dead with hunger and fatigue in the neigh-
bouring forest. The Portuguese had an excellent heart:
he did not ask the unknown where he came from, but what
he wanted. The noble, high-spirited look which Joam
Garral bore in spite of his exhaustion, had touched him.
He received him, restored him, and, for several days to
begin with, offered him a hospitality which lasted for his
Under such conditions it was that Joam Garral was
introduced to the farm at Iquitos.
Brazilian by birth, Joam Garral was without family or
fortune. Trouble, he said, had obliged him to quit his
country and abandon all thoughts of return. He asked his
host to excuse his entering on his past misfortunes-mis-
The home of the Garrals.
THE GARRAL FAMILY. 31
fortunes as serious as they were unmerited. What he
sought, and what he wished was a new life, a life of labour.
He had started on his travels with some slight thought of
entering a fazenda in the interior. He was educated,
intelligent. He had in all his bearing that inexpressible
something which tells you that the man is genuine and of
frank and upright character. Magalhaes, quite taken with
him, asked him to remain at the farm, where he would, in
a measure, supply that which was wanting in the worthy
Joam Garral accepted the offer without hesitation. His
intention had been to join a "seringal," or caoutchouc
concern, in which in those days a good workman could
earn from five to six piastres a day, and could hope to be-
come a master if he had any luck ; but Magalhaes very
truly observed that if the pay was good, work was only
found in the seringals at harvest time-that is to say,
during only a few months of the year-and this would not
constitute the permanent position that a young man ought
to wish for.
The Portuguese was right. Joam Garral saw it, and
entered resolutely into the service of the fazenda, deciding
to devote to it all his powers.
Magalhas had no cause to regret his generous action.
His business recovered. His wood trade, which extended
by means of the Amazon up to Para, was soon considerably
32 THE GIANT RAFT.
extended under the impulse of Joam Garral. The fazenda
began to grow in proportion, and to spread out along the
bank of the river up to its junction with the Nanay. A
delightful residence was made of the house; it was raised a
storey, surrounded by a verandah, and half hidden under
beautiful trees-mimosas, fig-sycamores, bauhinias, and
paullinias, whose trunks were invisible beneath a network
of scarlet-flowered bromelias and passion-flowers.
At a distance, behind huge bushes and a dense mass of
arborescent plants, were concealed the buildings in which
the staff of the fazenda were accommodated-the servants'
offices, the cabins of the blacks, and the huts of the Indians.
From the bank of the river, bordered with reeds and aquatic
plants, the tree-encircled house was alone visible.
A vast meadow, laboriously cleared along the lagoons,
offered excellent pasturage. Cattle abounded-a new
source of profit in these fertile countries, where a herd
doubles in four years, and where ten per cent. interest is
earned by nothing more than the skins and the hides of
the animals killed for the consumption of those who raise
them A few "sitios," or manioc and coffee plantations,
were started in parts of the woods which were cleared.
Fields of sugar-canes soon required the construction of a
mill to crush the sacchariferous stalks destined to be used
hereafter in the manufacture of molasses, tafia, and rum.
In short, ten years after the arrival of Joam Garral at the
THE GARRAL FAMILY. 33
farm at Iquitos the fazenda had become one of the richest
establishments on the Upper Amazon. Thanks to the
good management exercised by the young clerk over the
works at home and the business abroad, its prosperity daily
The Portuguese did not wait so long to acknowledge
what he owed to Joam Garral. In order to recompense
him in proportion to his merits he had from the first given
him an interest in the profits of his business, and four years
after his arrival he had made him a partner on the same
footing as himself, and with equal shares.
But there was more that he had in store for him. Ya-
quita, his daughter, had, in this silent young man, so
gentle to others, so stern to himself, recognized the ster-
ling qualities Which her father had done. She was in love
with him, but though on his side Joam had not remained
insensible to the merits and the beauty of this excellent
girl, he was too proud and reserved to dream of asking her
to marry him.
A serious incident hastened the solution.
Magalhais was one day superintending a clearance
and was mortally wounded by the fall of a tree. Carried
home helpless to the farm, and feeling himself lost, he
raised up Yaquita, who was weeping by his side, took her
hand, and put it into that of Joam Garral, making him
swear to take her for his wife.
34 THE GIANT RAFT
"You have re-made my fortune," he said, "and I shall
not die in peace unless by this union I know that the
fortune of my daughter is assured."
"I can continue her devoted servant, her brother, her
protector, without being her husband," Joam Garral had
at first replied. I owe you all, Magalhaes. I will never
forget it, but the price you would pay for my endeavours
is out of all proportion to what they are worth."
The old man insisted. Death would not allow him to
wait; he demanded the promise, and it was made to him.
Yaquita was then twenty-two years old, Joam was
twenty-six. They loved each other, and they were mar-
ried some hours before the death of Magalhaes, who had
just strength left to bless their union.
It was under these circumstances that in 1830 Joam
Garral became the new fazender of Iquitos, to the immense
satisfaction of all those who composed the staff of the
The prosperity of the settlement could not do otherwise
than grow when these two minds were thus united.
A year after her marriage Yaquita presented her hus-
band with a son, and, two years after, a daughter. Benito
and Minha, the grandchildren of the old Portuguese, be-
came worthy of their grandfather, children worthy of Joam
The daughter grew to be one of the most charming of
The death of Magalhiies.
THE GARRAL FAMILY. 35
girls. She never left the fazenda. Brought up in pure
and healthy surroundings, in the midst of the beauteous
nature of the tropics, the education given to her by her
mother, and the instruction received by her from her father,
were ample. What more could she have learnt in a con-
vent at Manaos or Belem ? Where would she have found
better examples of the domestic virtues ? Would her mind
and feelings have been more delicately formed away from
her home ? If it was ordained that she was not to succeed
her mother in the management of the fazenda, she was
equal to any other position to which she might be called.
With Benito it was another thing. His father very
wisely wished him to receive as solid and complete an
education as could then be obtained in the large towns of
Brazil. There was nothing which the rich fazender re-
fused his son. Benito was possessed of a cheerful disposi-
tion, an active mind, a lively intelligence, and qualities of
heart equal to those of his head. At the age of twelve he
was sent into Para, to Belem, and there, under the direction
of excellent professors, he acquired the elements of an
education which could not but eventually make him a
distinguished man. Nothing in literature, in the sciences,
in the arts, was a stranger to him. He studied as if the
fortune of his father would not allow him to remain idle.
He was not among such as imagine that riches exempt
men from work-he was one of those noble characters, re-
30 THE GIANT RAFT.
solute and just, who believe that nothing should diminish
uur natural obligation in this respect if we wish to be
worthy of the name of men.
During the first years of his residence at Belem, Benito
had made the acquaintance of Manoel Valdez. This young
man, the son of a merchant in Para, was pursuing his
studies in the same institution as Benito. The conformity
of their characters and their tastes proved no barrier to
their uniting in the closest of friendships, and they became
Manoel, born in 1832, was one year older than Benito.
He had only a mother, and she lived on the modest for-
tune which her husband had left her. When Manoel's
preliminary studies were finished, he had taken up the
subject of medicine. He had a passionate taste for that
noble profession, and his intention was to enter the army,
towards which he felt himself attracted.
At the time that we saw him with his friend Benito,
Manoel Valdez had already obtained his first step, and he
had come away on leave for some months to the fazenda,
where he was accustomed to pass his holidays. Well-built,
and of distinguished bearing, with a certain native pride
which became him well, the young man was treated by
Joam and Yaquita as another son. But if this quality of
son made him the brother of Benito, the title was scarcely
appreciated by him when Minha was concerned, for he
THE GARRAL FAMILY. 37
soon became attached to the young girl by a bond more
intimate than could exist between brother and sister.
In the year 1852-of which four months had already
passed before the commencement of this history-Joam
Garral attained the age of forty. eight years. In that sultry
climate, which wears men away so quickly, he had known
how, by sobriety, self-denial, suitable living, and constant
work, to remain untouched where others had prematurely
succumbed. His hair, which he wore short, and his beard,
which was full, had already grovn grey, and gave him the
look of a puritan. The proverbial honesty of the Brazilian
merchants and fazenders showed itself in his features, of
which straightforwardness was the leading characteristic.
His calm temperament seemed to indicate an interior fire,
kept well under control. The fearlessness of his look
denoted a deep-rooted strength, to which, when danger
threatened, he could never appeal in vain.
But, notwithstanding, one could not help remarking
about this quiet man of vigorous health, with whom all
things had succeeded in life, a depth of sadness which
even the tenderness of Yaquita had not been able to
Respected by all, placed in all the conditions that would
seem necessary to happiness, why was not this just man
more cheerful and less reserved ? Why did he seem to be
happy for others and not for himself? Was this disposi-
TIE GIANT RAFT.
tion attributable to some secret grief? Herein was a con-
stant source of anxiety to his wife.
Yaquita was now forty-four. In that tropical country
where women are already old at thirty she had learnt the
secret of resisting the climate's destructive influences, and
her features a little sharpened, but still beautiful, retained
the haughty outline of the Portuguese type, in which
nobility of face unites so naturally with dignity of mind.
Benito and Minha responded with an affection un-
bounded and unceasing for the love which their parents
Benito was now aged one-and-twenty, and quick, brave,
and sympathetic, contrasted outwardly with his friend
Manoel, who was more serious and reflective. It was a
great treat for Benito, after quite a year passed at Belem,
so far from the fazenda, to return with his young friend
to his home to see once more his father, his mother, his
sister, and to find himself, enthusiastic hunter as he was,
in the midst of these superb forests of the Upper Amazon,
some of whose secrets remained after so many centuries
still unsolved by man.
Minha was twenty years old. A lovely girl, brunette,
and with large blue eyes, eyes which seemed to open into
her very soul; of middle height, good figure, and winning
grace, in every way the very image of Yaquita. A little
more serious than her brother, affable, good-natured, and
Minha and Lina.
THE GARRAL FAMILY. 39
charitable, she was beloved by all. On this subject you
could fearlessly interrogate the humblest servants of the
fazenda. It was unnecessary to ask her brother's friend,
Manoel Valdez, what he thought of her! He was too
much interested in the question to have replied without a
certain amount of partiality.
This sketch of the Garral family would not be complete,
and would lack some of its features, were we not to men-
tion the numerous staff of the fazenda.
In the first place, then, it behoves us to name an old
negress, of some sixty years, called Cybele, free through
the will of her master, a slave through her affection for
him and his, and who had been the nurse of Yaquita.
She was one of the family. She thee-ed and thou-ed both
daughter and mother. The whole of this good creature's life
was passed in these fields, in the middle of these forests, on
that bank of the river which bounded the horizon of the
farm. Coming as a child to Iquitos in the slave-trading
times, she had never quitted the village; she was married
there, and early a widow, had lost her only son, and re-
mained in the service of Magalhaes. Of the Amazon she
knew no more than what flowed before her eyes.
With her, and more specially attached to the service of
Minha, was a pretty, laughing mulatto, of the same age as
her mistress, to whom she was completely devoted. She was
called Lina. One of those gentle creatures, a little spoiled
40 THE GIANT RAFT.
perhaps, to whom a good deal of familiarity is allowed but
who in return adore their mistresses. Quick, restless, coax-
ing, and lazy, she could do what she pleased in the house.
As for servants they were of two kinds-Indians, of
whom there were about a hundred, employed always for
the works of the fazenda, and blacks to about double the
number, who were not yet free, but whose children were
not born slaves. Joam Garral had herein preceded the
Brazilian Government. In this country, moreover, the
negroes coming from Benguela, the Congo, or the Gold
Coast were always treated with kindness, and it was not
at the fazenda of Iquitos that one would look for those
sad examples of cruelty which were so frequent on foreign
MANOEL was in love with the sister of his friend Benito,
and she was in love with him. Each was sensible of the
other's worth, and each was worthy of the other.
When he was no longer able to mistake the state of his
feelings towards Minha, Manoel had opened his heart to
"Manoel, my friend," had immediately answered the en-
thusiastic young fellow, "you could not do better than
wish to marry my sister. Leave it to me I will commence
by speaking to the mother, and I think I can promise that
you will not have to wait long for her consent!"
Half an hour afterwards he had done so.
Benito had nothing to tell his mother which she did not
know; Yaquita had already divined the young people's
Before ten minutes had elapsed Benito was in the presence
of Minha. They had but to agree; there was no need for
42 THE GIANT RAFT.
much eloquence. At the first words the head of the gentle
girl was laid on her brother's shoulder, and the confession,
"I am so happy was whispered from her heart.
The answer almost came before the question; that was
obvious. Benito did not ask for more.
There could be little doubt as to Joam Garral's consent.
But if Yaquita and her children did not at once speak to
him about the marriage, it was because they wished at the
same time to touch on a question which might be more
difficult to solve. That question was, Where should the
wedding take place?
Where should it be celebrated ? In the humble cottage
which served for the village church? Why not? Joam
and Yaquita had there received the nuptial benediction of
the Padre Passanha, who was then the curate of Iquitos
parish. At that time, as now, there was no distinction in
Brazil between the civil and religious acts, and the registers
of the mission were sufficient testimony to a ceremony which
no officer of the civil power was entrusted to attend to.
Joam Garral would probably wish the marriage to take
place at Iquitos, with grand ceremonies, and the attendance
of the whole staff of the fazenda, but if such was to be his
idea he would have to withstand a vigorous attack con-
"Manoel," Minha had said to her betrothed, "if I was
consulted in the matter we should not be married here, but
at Para. Madame Valdez is an invalid; she cannot visit
Iquitos, and I should not like to become her daughter
without knowing and being known by her. My mother
agrees with me in ,thinking so. We should like to per-
suade my father to take us to Belem. Do you not think
so ? "
To this proposition Manoel had replied by pressing
Minha's hand. He also had a great wish for his mother to
be present at his marriage. Benito had approved the
scheme without hesitation, and it was only necessary to
persuade Joam Garral. And hence on this day the young
men had gone out hunting in the woods, so as to leave
Yaquita alone with her husband.
In the afternoon these two were in the large room of the
house. Joam Garral, who had just come in, was half re-
clining on a couch of plaited bamboos, when Yaquita, a
little anxious, came and seated herself beside him.
To tell Joam of the feelings which Manoel entertained
towards his daughter was not what troubled her. The
happiness of Minha could not but be assured by the mar-
riage, and Joam would be glad to welcome to his arms the
new son whose sterling qualities he recognized and appre-
ciated. But to persuade her husband to leave the fazenda
Yaquita felt to be a very serious matter.
In fact, since Joam Garral, then a young man, had
arrived in the country, he had never left it for a day.
44 THE GIANT RAFT.
Though the sight of the Amazon, with its waters gently
flowing to the east, invited him to follow its course; though
Joam every year sent rafts of wood to Manaos, to Belem,
and the seacoast of Para ; though he had seen each year
Benito leave after his holidays to return to his studies, yet
the thought seemed never to have occurred to him to go
The-products of the farm, of the forest, and of the fields,
the fazender sold on the spot. He had no wish, either
with thought or look, to go beyond the horizon which
bounded his Eden.
From this it followed that for five-and-twenty years Joam
Garral had never crossed the Brazilian frontier, his wife and
daughter had never set foot on Brazilian soil. The longing
to see something of that beautiful country of which Benito
was often talking was not wanting, nevertheless. Two or
three times Yaquita had sounded her husband in the
matter. But she had noticed that the thought of leaving
the fazenda, if only for a few weeks, brought an increase of
sadness to his face. His eyes would close, and, in a tone
of mild reproach, he would answer,-
"Why leave our home ? Are we not comfortable
And Yaquita, in the presence of the man whose active
kindness and unchangeable tenderness rendered her so
happy, had not the courage to persist.
This time, however, there was a serious reason to make
it worth while. The marriage of Minha afforded an excel-
lent opportunity, it being so natural for them to accom-
pany her to Belem, where she was going to live with her
husband. She would there see and learn to love the
mother of Manoel Valdez. How could Joam Garral hesi-
tate in the face of so praiseworthy a desire ? Why, on the
other hand, did he not participate in this desire to become
acquainted with her who was to be the second mother of
his child ?
Yaquita took her husband's hand, and with that gentle
voice which had been to him all the music of his life,-
"Joam," she said, I am going to talk to you about
something which we ardently wish, and which will make
you as happy as we are."
"What is it about, Yaquita ? asked Joam.
Manoel loves your daughter, he is loved by her, and in
this union they will find the happiness-"
At the first words of Yaquita Joam Garral had risen,
without being able to control a sudden start. His eyes
were immediately cast down, and he seemed to designedly
avoid the look of his wife.
What is the matter with you ? asked she.
Minha ? To get married murmured Joam.
"My dear," said Yaquita, feeling somewhat hurt, "have
you any objection to make to the marriage? Have you
46 THE GIANT RAFT.
not for some time noticed the feelings which Manoel has
entertained towards our daughter ?"
Yes ; and a year since-"
And Joam sat down without finishing his thoughts. By
an effort of his will he had again become master of himself.
The unaccountable impression which had been made upon
him disappeared. Gradually his eyes returned to meet
those of Yaquita, and he remained thoughtfully looking at
Yaquita took his hand.
Joam," she said, "have I been deceived ? Had you no
idea that this marriage would one day take place, and that
it would give her every chance of happiness ?"
"Yes," answered Joam. "All! Certainly! But,
Yaquita, this wedding-this wedding that we are both
thinking of-when is it coming off? Shortly ?"
It will come off when you choose, Joam."
"And it will take place here-at Iquitos ?"
This question obliged Yaquita to enter on the other
matter which she had at heart. She did not do so, how-
ever, without some hesitation, which was quite intelligible.
"Joam," said she, after a moment's silence, "listen to
me. Regarding this wedding, I have got a proposal which
I hope you will approve of. Two or three times during
the last twenty years I have asked you to take me and my
daughter to the provinces of the Lower Amazon, and to
Para, where we have never been. The cares of the fazenda,
the works which have required your presence, have not
allowed you to grant our request. To absent yourself even
for a few days would then have injured your business. But
now everything has been successful beyond your dreams,
and if the hour of repose has not yet come for you, you can
at least for a few weeks get away from your work."
Joam Garral did not answer, but Yaquita felt his hand
tremble in hers, as though under the shock of some sorrow-
ful recollection. At the same time a half-smile came to
her husband's lips-a mute invitation for her to finish what
she had begun.
"Joam," she continued "here is an occasion which we
shall never see again in this life. Minha is going to be
married away from us, and is going to leave us! It is the
first sorrow which our daughter has caused us, and my
heart quails when I think of the separation which is so
near! But I should be content if I could accompany her
to Belem Does it not seem right to you, even in other
respects, that we should know her husband's mother, who
is to replace me, and to whom we are about to entrust her ?
Added to this, Minha does not wish to grieve Madame
Valdez by getting married at a distance from her. When
we were married, Joam, if your mother had been alive,
would you not have liked her to be present at your
46T THE GIANT RAFT.
At these words of Yaquita Joam made a movement
which he could not repress.
My dear," continued Yaquita, "with Minha, with our
two sons, Benito and Manoel, with you, how I should like
to see Brazil, and to journey down this splendid river, even
to the provinces on the sea-coast through which it runs!
It seems to me that the separation would, be so much
less cruel! As we came back we should revisit our
daughter in her house with her second mother. I would
not think of her as gone I knew not where. I would fancy
myself much less a stranger to the doings of her life."
This time Joam had fixed his eyes on his wife and
looked at her for some time without saying anything.
What ailed him ? Why this hesitation to grant a request
which was so just in itself-to say Yes," when it would
give such pleasure to all who belonged to him? His
business affairs could not afford a sufficient reason. A few
weeks of absence would not compromise matters to such a
degree. His manager would be able to take his place
without any hitch in the fazenda. And yet all this time he
Yaquita had taken both her husband's hands in hers, and
pressed them tenderly.
"Joam," she said, "it is not a mere whim that I am
asking you to grant. No For a long time I have thought
over the proposition I have just made to you; and if you
At the door.
consent, it will be the realization of my most cherished
desire. Our children know why I am now talking to you.
Minha, Benito, Manoel, all ask this favour, that we should
accompany them. We would all rather have the wedding
at Belem than at Iquitos. It will be better for our daughter,
for her establishment, for the position which she will take
at Belem, that she should arrive with her people, and
appear less of a stranger in the town in which she will
spend most of her life."
Joam Garral leant on his elbows. For a moment he hid
his face in his hands, like a man who had to collect his
thoughts before he made answer. There was evidently
some hesitation which he was anxious to overcome, even
some trouble which his wife felt but could not explain. A
secret battle was being fought under that thoughtful brow.
Yaquita got anxious, and almost reproached herself for
raising the question. Anyhow, she was resigned to what
Joam should decide. If the expedition would cost too
much, she would silence her wishes ; she would never more
speak of leaving the fazenda, and never ask the reason for
the inexplicable refusal.
Some minutes passed. Joam Garral rose. He went to
the door, and did not return. Then he seemed to give a
last look on that glorious nature, on that corner of the
world where for twenty years of his life he had met with all
50 THE GIANT RAFT.
Then with slow steps he returned to his wife. His face
bore a new expression, that of a man who had taken a last
decision, and with whom irresolution had ceased.
"You are right," he said, in a firm voice. "The journey
is necessary. When shall we start ?"
"Ah! Joam! my Joam!" cried Yaquita, in her joy.
' Thank you for me! Thank you for them! "
And tears of affection came to her eyes as her husband
clasped her to his heart.
At this moment happy voices were heard outside at
the door of the house.
Manoel and Benlto appeared an instant after at the
threshold, almost at the same moment as Minha entered
Children! your father consents "cried Yaquita. We
are going to Belem "
With a grave face, and without speaking a word, Joam
Garral received the congratulations of his son and the kisses
o his daughter.
"And what date, father," asked Benito, "have you fixed
for the wedding ? "
Date?" answered Joam. "Date? We shall see. We
will fix it at Belem."
"I am so happy! I am so happy!" repeated Minha,
as she had done on the day when she had first known of
Manoel's request We shall now see the Amazon in all
its glory throughout its course through the provinces of
Brazil! Thanks, father! "
And the young enthusiast, whose imagination was already
stirred. continued to her brother and to Manoel,-
Let us be off to the library! Let us get hold of every
book and every map that we can find which will tell us
anything about this magnificent river-system! Don't let
us travel like blind folks! I want to see everything and
know everything about this king of the rivers of the
52 THE GIANT RAFT.
"THE largest river in the whole world!" said Benito to
Manoel Valdez, on the morrow.
They were sitting on the bank which formed the southern
boundary of the fazenda, and looking at the liquid mole-
cules passing slowly by, which, coming from the enormous
range of the Andes, were on their road to lose themselves
in the Atlantic Ocean eight hundred leagues away.
"-And the river which carries to the sea the largest
volume of water! replied Manoel.
"A volume so considerable," added Benito, "that it
freshens the sea-water for an immense distance from its
mouth, and the force of whose current is felt by ships at
eight leagues from the coast !"
A river whose course is developed over more than thirty
degrees of latitude !"
"And in a basin which from south to north does not
comprise less than twenty-five degrees !"
On the bank of the river.
THE AMAZON. 53
"A basin!" exclaimed Benito. "Can you call it a
basin, the vast plain through which it runs, the savan-
nah which on all sides stretches out of sight, without a
hill to give a gradient, without a mountain to bound the
And along its whole extent," continued Manoel, like
the thousand tentacles of some gigantic polyp, two hun-
dred tributaries, flowing from north or south, themselves
fed by smaller affluents without number, by the side of
which the large rivers of Europe are but petty stream-
"And in its course 560 islands, without counting islets,
drifting or stationary, forming a kind of archipelago, and
yielding of themselves the wealth of a kingdom !"
"And along its flanks canals, lagoons, and lakes, such
as cannot be met with even in Switzerland, Lombardy,
Scotland, or Canada."
"A river which, fed by its myriad tributaries, discharges
into the Atlantic over 250 millions of cubic metres of water
"A river whose course serves as the boundary of two
republics, and sweeps majestically across the largest empire
of South America, as if it were, in very truth, the Pacific
Ocean itself flowing out along its own canal into the
And what a mouth An arm of the sea in which one
54 THE GIANT RAFT.
island, Marajo, has a circumference of more than 500
"And whose waters the ocean does not pond back with-
out raising in a strife which is phenomenal, a tide-race, or
'pororoca,' to which the ebbs, the bores, and the eddies of
other rivers are but tiny ripples fanned up by the breeze."
"A river which three names are scarcely enough to
distinguish, and which ships of heavy tonnage, without any
change in their cargoes, can ascend for more that 3000
miles from its mouth."
"A river which, by itself, its affluents, and subsidiary
streams, opens a navigable commercial route across the
whole of the south of the continent, passing from the
Magdalena to the Ortequazza, from the Ortequazza to the
Caqueta, from the Caqueta to the Putumayo, from the
Putumayo to the Amazon! Four thousand miles of
water-way, which only require a few canals to make the
network of navigation complete !"
In short, the biggest and most admirable river-system
which we have in the world."
The two young men were speaking in a kind of frenzy
of their incomparable river. They were themselves chil-
dren of this great Amazon, whose affluents, well worthy of
itself, from the highways which penetrate Bolivia, Peru,
Ecuador, New Grenada, Venezuela, and the four Guianas
--English, French, Dutch, and Brazilian.
THE AMAZON. 55
What nations, what races, has it seen whose origin is lost
in the far-distant past It is one of the largest rivers of
the globe. Its true source still baffles our explorers.
Numbers of States still claim the honour of giving it birth.
The Amazon was not likely to escape the inevitable fate,
and Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia have for years disputed
as to the honour of its glorious paternity.
To-day, however, there seems to be little doubt but that
the Amazon rises in Peru, in the district of Huaraco, in
the department of Tarma, and that it starts from the Lake
of Lauricocha, which is situated between the eleventh and
twelfth degree of south latitude.
Those who make the river rise in Bolivia, and descend
from the mountains of Titicaca, have to prove that the
true Amazon is the Ucayali, which is formed by the
junction of the Paro and the Apurimac-an assertion which
is now generally rejected.
At its departure from Lake Lauricocha the youthful
river starts towards the north-east for a distance of 560
miles, and does not strike to the west until it has received
an important tributary-the Panta. It is called the
Marafon in its journey through Columbia and Peru up to
the Brazilian frontier-or, rather, the Maranhio, for Mara-
fion is only the French rendering of the Portuguese name.
From the frontier of Brazil to Manaos, where the superb
Rio Negro joins it, it takes the name of the Solimais, or
56 THE GIANT RAFT.
Solimoens, from the name of the Indian tribe Solimao, of
which survivors are still found in the neighboring pro-
vinces. And, finally, from Manaos to the sea it is the
Amasenas, or river of the Amazons, a name given it by the
old Spaniards, the descendants of the adventurous Orellana,
whose vague but enthusiastic stories went to show that there
existed a tribe of female warriors on the Rio Nhamunda,
one of the middle-sized affluents of the great river.
From its commencement the Amazon is recognizable as
destined to become a magnificent stream. There are
neither rapids nor obstacles of any sort until it reaches a
defile where its course is slightly narrowed between two
picturesque and unequal precipices. No falls are met with
until this point is reached, where it curves to the eastward,
and passes through the intermediary chain of the Andes.
Hereabouts are a few waterfalls, were it not for which the
river would be navigable from its mouth to its source. As
it is, however, according to Humboldt, the Amazon is free
for five-sixths of its length.
And from its first starting there is no lack of tributaries,
which are themselves fed by subsidiary streams. There is
the Chinchipa, coming from the north-east, on-its left. On
its right it is joined by the Chachapoyas, coming from
north-east. On the left we have the Marona and the
Pastuca; and the Guallaga comes in from the right near
the mission-station of Laguna. On the left there comes
TIE AMAZON. 57
the Chambyra and the Tigre, flowing from north-east;
and on the right the Huallaga, which joins the main stream
2800 miles from the Atlantic, and can be ascended by
steamboats for over 200 miles into the very heart of Peru.
To the right, again, near the mission of San Joachim
d'Omaguas, just where the upper basin terminates, and
after flowing majestically across the pampas of Sacramento,
it receives the magnificent Ucayali, the great artery which,
fed by numerous affluents, descends from Lake Chucuito,
in the north-east of Arica.
Such are the principal branches above the village of
Iquitos. Down the stream the tributaries become so con-
siderable that the beds of most European rivers would fail
to contain them. But the mouths of these auxiliary
waters Joam Garral and his people will pass as they
journey down the Amazon.
To the beauties of this unrivalled river, which waters the
finest country in the world, and keeps along its whole
course at a few degrees to the south of the equator, there
is to be added another quality, possessed by neither the
Nile, the Mississippi, nor the Livingstone-or, in other
words, the old Congo- Zaira-Lualaba-and that is (although
some ill-informed travellers have stated to the contrary)
that the Amazon crosses a most healthy part of South
America. Its basin is constantly swept by westerly winds.
It is not a narrow valley surrounded by high mountains
THE GIANT RAFT.
which border its banks, but a huge plain, measuring 350
leagues from north to south, scarcely varied with a few
knolls, whose whole extent the atmospheric currents can
Professor Agassiz very properly protested against the
pretended unhealthiness of the climate of a country which
is destined to become one of the most active of the world's
producers. According to him, a soft and gentle breeze is
constantly observable, and produces an evaporation, thanks
to which the temperature is kept down, and the sun does
not give out heat unchecked. The constancy of this
refreshing breeze renders the climate of the river Amazon
agreeable, and even delightful."
The Abb6 Durand has likewise testified that if the tem-
perature does not drop below 250 centigrade, it never rises
above 33, and this gives for the year a mean temperature
of from 280 to 29, with a range of only 80.
After such statements we are safe in affirming that the
basin of the Amazon has none of the burning heats of
countries like Asia and Africa, which are crossed by the
The vast plain which serves for its valley is accessible
over its whole extent to the generous breezes which come
from off the Atlantic.
And the provinces to which the river has given its name,
have the acknowledged right to call themselves the
THE AMAZON. 59
healthiest of a country which is one of the finest on the
And how can we say that the hydrographical system of
the Amazon is not known ?
In the sixteenth century Orellana, the lieutenant of one
of the brothers Pizarro, descended the Rio Negro, arrived
on the main river in 1540, ventured without a guide across
the unknown district, and, after eighteen months of a
navigation of which his record is most marvellous, reached
In 1636 and 1637 the Portuguese Pedro Texeira
ascended the Amazon to Napo, with a fleet of forty-seven
In 1743 La Condamine, after having measured an arc of
the meridian at the equator, left his companions Bouguer
and Godin des Odonais, embarked on the Chinchipe,
descended it to its junction with the Marafion, reached the
mouth at Napo on the 3 st of July, just in time to observe
an emersion of the first satellite of Jupiter-which allowed
this Humboldt of the eighteenth century" to accurately
determine the latitude and longitude of the spot-visited
the villages on both banks, and on the 6th of September
arrived in front of the fort of Para. This immense journey
had important results-not only was the course of the
Amazon made out in scientific fashion, but it seemed
almost certain that it communicated with the Orinoco.
60 THE GIANT RAFT.
Fifty-five years later Humboldt and Bonpland completed
the valuable work of La Condamine, and drew up the map
of the Marafon as far as Napo,
Since this period the Amazon itself and all its principal
tributaries have been frequently visited.
In 1827 Lister-Maw, in 1834 and 1835 Smyth, in 18-4
the French lieutenant in command of the Boulonnaise,"
the Brazilian Valdez in 1840, the French "Paul Marcoy"
from 1848 to 1860, the whimsical painter Biard in 1859,
Professor Agassiz in 1865 and 1866, in 1867 the Brazilian
engineer Franz Keller-Linzenger, and lastly, in 1879
Doctor Crevaux, have explored the course of the river,
ascended many of its tributaries, and ascertained the navi-
gability of its principal affluents.
But what has won the greatest honour for the Brazilian
Government is that on the 31st July, 1857, after numerous
frontier disputes between France and Brazil, about the
Guiana boundary, the course of the Amazon was declared
to be free and open to all flags; and, to make practice har-
monize with theory, Brazil entered into negotiations with
the neighboring powers for the exploration of every river-
road in the basin of the Amazon.
To-day lines of well-found steamboats, which correspond
direct with Liverpool, are plying on the river from its
mouth up to Manaos; others ascend to Iquitos; others by
way of the Tapajoz, the Madiera, the Rio Negro, or
THE AMAZON. 61
the Purus, make their way into the centre of Peru and
One can easily imagine the progress which commerce
will one day make in this immense and wealthy area,
which is without a rival in the world.
But to this medal of the future there is a reverse. No
progress can be accomplished without detriment to the
In fact, on the Upper Amazon many Indian tribes have
already disappeared, amongst others the Curicicurus and
the Sorimaos. On the Putumayo, if a few Yuris are still
met with, the Yahuas have abandoned the district to take
refuge among some of the distant tributaries, and the
Maoos have quitted its banks to wander in their diminished
numbers among the forests of Japura.
The Tunantins is almost depopulated, and there are only
a few families of wandering Indians at the mouth of the
Jurua. The Teff6 is almost deserted, and near the sources
of the Japura there remained but the fragments of the
great nation of the Umaiia. The Coari is forsaken. There
are but few Muras Indians on the banks of the Purus.
Of the ancient Manaos one can count but a wandering
party or two. On the banks of the Rio Negro there are
only a'few half-breeds, Portuguese and natives, where a few
years ago four-and-twenty different nations had their
02 THE GIANT RAFT.
Such is the law of progress. The Indians will disappear.
Before the Anglo-Saxon race Australians and Tasmanians
have vanished. Before the conquerors of the Far West the
North American Indians have been wiped out. One day
perhaps the Arabs will be annihilated by the colonization
of the French.
But we must return to 1852. The means of comlTu-
nication, so numerous now, did not then exist, and the
journey of Joam Garral would require not less thar four
months, owing to the conditions under which it was made.
Hence this observation of Bcnito, while the two friends
were watching the river as it gently flowed at their feet
"Manoel, my friend, if there is very little interval
between our arrival at Belem and the moment of our
separation, the time will appear to you to be very short."
"Yes, Benito," said Manoel, "and very long as well, Fo1
Minha cannot be my wife until the end of the voyage."
A FOREST ON THE GROUND. 63
A FOREST ON TIE GROUND.
THIE Garral family were in high glee. The magnificent
journey on the Amazon was to be undertaken under condi-
tions as agreeable as possible. Not only were the fazender
and his family to start on a voyage for several months, but,
as we shall see, he was to be accompanied by a part of the
staff of the farm.
In beholding every one happy around him, Joam forgot
the anxieties which appeared to trouble his life. From
the day his decision was taken he had been another man,
and when he busied himself about the preparations for the
expedition he regained his former activity. His people
rejoiced exceedingly at seeing him again at work. His
moral self reacted against his physical self, and Joam
again became the active, energetic man of his earlier years,
and moved about once more as though he had spent his
life in the open air, under the invigorating influences of
forests, fields, and running waters.
THE GIANT RAFT.
Moreover, the few weeks that were to precede the de-
parture had been well employed.
At this period, as we have just remarked, the course of the
Amazon was not yet furrowed by the numberless steam-
vessels, which companies were only then thinking of put-
ting on the river. The service was worked by individuals
on their own account alone, and often the boats were only
employed in the business of the riverside establishments.
These boats were either "ubas," canoes made from the
trunk of a tree, hollowed out by fire, and finished with the
axe, pointed and light in front, and heavy and broad in the
stern, able to carry from one to a dozen paddlers, and of
three or four tons burden: "egariteas," constructed on a
larger scale, of broader design, partly covered in the centre
with a roof of foliage, and leaving on each side a gangway
for the rowers : or, "jangadas," rafts of no particular shape,
propelled by a triangular sail, and surmounted by a
cabin of mud and straw, which served the Indian and his
family for a floating home.
These three kinds of craft formed the lesser flotilla of the
Amazon, and were only suited for a moderate traffic of
passengers or merchandise.
Larger vessels; however, existed, either "vigilingas,"
ranging from eight up to ten tons, with three masts rigged
with red sails, and which in calm weather were rowed by
four long paddles not at all easy to work against the
^. *' l.
The larger craft of the Amazon.
A FOREST ON THE GROUND.
stream ; or "cobertas," of twenty tons burthen, a kind of
junk with a poop behind and a cabin down below, with two
masts and square sails of unequal size, and propelled, when
the wind fell, by six long sweeps which Indians worked
from a forecastle.
But neither of these vessels satisfied Joam Garral. From
the moment that he had resolved to descend the Amazon
he had thought of making the most of the voyage by
carrying a huge convoy of goods into Para. From this
point of view there was no necessity to descend the river
in a hurry. And the determination to which he had come
pleased every one, excepting, perhaps, Manoel, who would
for very good reasons have preferred some rapid steamboat.
But though the means of transport devised by Joam
were primitive in the extreme, he was going to take with
him a numerous following and abandon himself to the
stream under exceptional conditions of comfort and
It would be, in truth, as if a part of the fazenda of
Iquitos had been cut away from the bank and carried
down the Amazon with all that composed the family of
the fazender-masters and servants, in their dwellings, their
cottages, and their huts.
The settlement of Iquitos included a part of those mag-
nificent forests which, in the central districts of South
America, are practically inexhaustible.
THE GIANT RAFT.
Joam Garral thoroughly understood the management
o'. these woods, which were rich in the most precious and
diverse species adapted for joinery, cabinet work, ship-
building, and carpentry, and from them he annually drew
The river was there in front of him, and could it not be
as safely and economically used as a railway if one existed?
So every year Joam Garral felled some hundreds of trees
from his stock and formed immense rafts of floating wood,
of joists, beams, and slightly squared trunks, which were
taken to Para in charge of capable pilots who were
thoroughly acquainted with the depths of the river and the
direction of its currents.
This year Joam Garral decided to do as he had
done in preceding years. Only, when the raft was made
up, he was going to leave to Benito all the detail of the
trading part of the business. But there was no time to
lose. The beginning of June was the best season to start
for the waters increased by the floods of the upper basin
would gradually and gradually subside until the month of
The first steps had thus to be taken without delay, for
the raft was to be of unusual proportions. It would be
necessary to fell a half-mile square of the forest which
was situated at the junction of the Nanay and the Amazon
-that is to say, the whole river side of the fazenda, to
A FOREST ON THE GROUND. 67
form the enormous mass, for such were the jangadas, or
river rafts, which attained the dimensions of a small
It was in this jangada, safer than any other vessel of the
country, larger than a hundred egariteas or vigilingas
coupled together, that Joam Garral proposed to embark
with his family, his servants, and his merchandise.
Excellent idea! had cried Minha, clapping her hands,
when she learnt her father's scheme.
"Yes," said Yaquita, "and in that way we shall reach
Belem without danger or fatigue."
"And during the stoppages we can have some hunting in
the forests on the banks," added Benito.
"Won't it take rather long? observed Manoel; "could
we not hit upon some quicker way of descending the
It would take some time, obviously, but the interested
observation of the young doctor received no attention
from any one.
Joam Garrel then called in an Indian who was the
principal manager of the fazenda.
"In a month," he said to him, "the jangada must be
built and ready to launch!"
"We'll set to work this very day, sir!"
It was a heavy task. There were about a hundred Indians
and blacks, and during the first fortnight in May they did
THE GIANT RAFT.
wonders. Some people unaccustomed to these great tree-
massacres, would perhaps have groaned to see giants many
hundred years old fall in a few hours beneath the axes of
the woodi..en; but there was such a quantity on the
banks o' the river, up stream and down stream, even to
the most distant points of the horizon, that the felling of
his half-mile of forest would scarcely leave an appreciable
The superintendent of the men, after receiving the in-
structions of Joam Garral, had first cleared the ground of
the creepers, brushwood, weeds, and arborescent plants
which obstructed it. Before taking to the saw and the axe
they had armed themselves with a felling-sword, that in-
dispensable tool of every one who desires to penetrate the
Amazonian forests, a large blade slightly curved, wide and
flat, and two or three feet long, and strongly handled,
which the natives wield with consummate address. In a few
hours, with the help of the felling-sword, they had cleared
the ground, cut down the underwood, and opened large
gaps into the densest portions of the wood.
In this way the work progressed. The ground was
cleared in front of the woodmen. The old trunks were
divested of their clothing of creepers, cacti, ferns, mosses,
and bromelias. They were stripped naked to the bark,
until such time as the bark itself was stripped from off
Among tlhe trees.
A FOREST ON THE GROUND. 69
Then the whole of the workers, before whom fled an
innumerable crowd of monkeys who were hardly their
superiors in agility, slung themselves into the upper
branches, sawing off the heavier boughs and cutting down
the topmost limbs, which had to be cleared away on the
spot. Very soon there remained only a doomed forest,
with long bare stems, bereft of their crowns, through which
the sun luxuriantly shot its rays on to the humid soil which
perhaps it had never before caressed.
There was not a single tree which could not be used for
some work of skill, either in carpentry or cabinet-work.
There, shooting up like columns of ivory ringed with brown,
were wax-palms 120 feet high, and four feet thick at their
base; white chestnuts, which yield the three-cornered nuts;
"murichis," unexcelled for building purposes; "barrigu-
dos," measuring a couple of yards at the swelling, which
is found at a few feet above the earth, trees with shining
russet bark dotted with grey tubercles, each pointed stem
of which supports a horizontal parasol; and "bombax of
superb stature, with its straight and smooth white stem.
Amongst these -magnificent specimens of the Amazonian
flora there fell many "quatibos," whose rosy canopies
towered above the neighboring trees, whose fruits are like
little cups with rows of chestnuts ranged within, and whose
wood of clear violet is specially in demand for ship-building
And besides there was the iron wood, and more particularly
70 THE GIANT RAFT.
the "ibiriratea," nearly black in its skin, and so close
grained that of it the Indians make their battle-axes;
"jacarandas," more precious than mahogany; "cesal-
pinas," only now found in the depths of the old forests
vilIch have escaped the woodman's axe; "sapucaias," 150
feet high, buttressed by natural arches, which, starting
from three yards from their base, rejoin the tree some
thirty feet up the stc m, twining themselves round the trunk
like the filatures of a twisted column, whose head expands
in a bouquet of vegetable fireworks made up of the yellow,
purple, and snowy white of the parasitic plants.
Three weeks after the work was begun not one was
standing of all the trees which had covered the angle of
the Amazon and the Nanay. The clearance was com-
picte. Joam Garral had not even had to bestir himself in
the demolition of a forest which it would take twenty or
thirty years to replace. Not a stick of young or old wood
was left to mark the boundary of a future clearing, not even
an angle to mark the limit of the denudation. It was indeed
a clean sweep; the trees were cut to the level of the earth,
to wait the day when their roots would be got out, over
which the coming spring would still spread its verdant
This square space, washed on its sides by the waters of
the river and its tributary, was destined to be cleared,
ploughed, planted, and sown, and the following year fields
The felling of the forest.
A FOREST ON THE GROUND. 71
of manioc, coffee-shrubs, sugar-canes, arrowroot, maize, and
pea-nuts would occupy the ground so recently covered by
The last week of the month had not arrived when the
trunks, classified according to their varieties and specific
gravity, were symmetrically arranged on the bank of the
Amazon, at the spot where the immense jangada was to be
built-which, with the different habitations for the accom-
modation of the crew, would become a veritable floating
village-to wait the time when the waters of the river,
swollen by the floods, would raise it and carry it for hun-
dreds of leagues to the Atlantic coast.
The whole time the work was going on Joam Garral had
been engaged in superintending it. From the clearing to
the bank of the fazenda he had formed a large mound on
which the portions of the raft were disposed, and to this
matter he had attended entirely himself.
Yaquita was occupied with Cybele with the preparations
for the departure, though the old negress could not be
made to understand why they wanted to go or what they
hoped to see.
But you will see things that you never saw before,"
Yaquita kept saying to her.
Will they be better than what we see now ?" was
Cybele's invariable reply.
Minha and her favourite for their part took care of what
72 THE GIANT RAFT.
more particularly concerned them. They were not pre-
paring for a simple voyage; for them it was a permanent
departure, and there were a thousand details to look after
for settling in the other country in which the young mulatto
was to live with the mistress to whom she was so devotedly
attached. Minha was a trifle sorrowful, but the joyous
Lina was quite unaffected at leaving Iquitos. Minha Valdez
would be the same to her as Minha Garral, and to check
her spirits she would have to be separated from her mis-
tress, and that was never thought of.
Benito had actively assisted his father in the work, which
was on the point of completion. He commenced his
apprenticeship to the trade of a fazender, which would pro-
bably one day become his own, as he was about to do to
that of a merchant on their descent of the river.
As for Manoel, he divided his time between the house,
where Yaquita and her daughter were as busy as possible,
and the clearing, to which Benito fetched him rather oftener
than he thought convenient, and on the whole the division
was very unequal, as may well be imagined.
FOLLOWING A LIANA.
FOLLOWING A LIANA.
IT was a Sunday, the 26th of May, and the young people
had made up their minds to take a holiday. The weather
was splendid, the heat being tempered by the refreshing
breezes which blew from off the Cordilleras, and everything
invited them out for an excursion into the country.
Benito and Manoel had offered to accompany Mipha
through the thick woods which bordered the right bank of
the Amazon opposite the fazenda.
It was, in a manner, a farewell visit to the charming
environs of Iquitos. The young men went equipped for
the chase, but as sportsmen who had no intention of going
far from their companions in pursuit of any game. Manoel
could be trusted for that, and the girls-for Lina could
not leave her mistress-went prepared for a walk, an ex-
cursion of two or three leagues being not too long to
Neither Joam Garral nor Yaquita had time to go with
74 THE GIANT RAFT.
them. For one reason the plan of the jangada was not
yet complete, and it was necessary that its construction
should not be interrupted for a day, and another was that
Yaquita and Cybele, well seconded as they were by the
domestics of the f.zenda, had not an hour to lose.
Minha had accepted the offer with much pleasure, and
so, after breakfast on the day we speak of, at about eleven
o'clock, the two young men and the two girls met
on the bank at the angle were the two streams joined.
One of the blacks went with them. They all embarked
in one of the ubas used in the service of the farm, and
after having passed between the islands of Iquitos and
Parianta, they reached the right bank of the Amazon.
They landed at a clump of superb tree-ferns, which were
crowned, at a height of some thirty feet, with a sort of
halo made of the dainty branches of green velvet and the
delicate lacework of the drooping fronds.
Well, Manoel," said Minha, "it is for me to do the
honours of the forest, you are only a stranger in these
regions of the Upper Amazon We are at home here, and
you must allow me to do my duty, as mistress of the
Dearest Minha! replied the young man, you will be
none the less mistress of your house in our town of Belem,
than at the fazenda of Iquitos, and there as here-"
"Now then!" interrupted Benito, "you did not come
The farewell ramble.
FOLLOWING A LIANA. 75
here to exchange loving speeches, I imagine! Just forget
for a few hours that you are engaged !"
"Not for an hour-not for an instant!" said Manoel.
Perhaps you will if Minha orders you ?"
"Minha will not order me."
"Who knows ?" said Lina, laughing.
"Lina is right," answered Minha, who held out her
hand to Manoel. "Try to forget Forget! my brother
requires it. All is broken off! As long as this walk
lasts we are not engaged : I am no more than the sister
of Benito You are only my friend "
"To be sure," said Benito.
"Bravo Bravo! there are only strangers here," said the
young mulatto, clapping her hands.
Strangers who see each other for the first time," added
the girl; "who meet, bow to-"
Mademoiselle said Manoel, turning to Minha.
To whom have I the honour to speak, sir ?" said she
in the most serious manner possible.
"To Manoel Valdez, who will be glad if your brother
will introduce me."
"Oh, away with your nonsense! cried Benito. Stupid
idea that I had Be engaged, my friends-be it as much
as you like Be it always "
"Always!" said Minha, from whom the word escaped
so naturally that Lina's peals of laughter redoubled.
THE GIANT RAFT.
A grateful glance from Manoel repaid Minha for the
imprudence of her tongue.
Come along," said Benito, so as to get his sister out
of her embarrassment; if we walk on we shall not talk so
One moment, brother," she said. You have seen how
ready I am to obey you. You wished to oblige Manoel
and me to forget each other, so as not to spoil your walk.
Very well; and now I am going to ask a sacrifice from you
so that you shall not spoil mine. Whether it pleases you
or not, Benito, you must promise me to forget-"
Forget what ?"
That you are a sportsman !"
What! you forbid me to-"
I forbid you to fire at any of these charming birds-any
of the parrots, caciques, or curucus which are flying about
so happily among the trees And the same interdiction
with regard to the smaller game with which we shall have
to do to-day. If any ounce, jaguar, or such thing comes
too near, well-"
But-" said Benito.
If not, I will take Manoel's arm, and we shall save or
lose ourselves, and you will be obliged to run after us !"
Would you not like me to refuse, eh ?" asked Benito,
looking at Manoel.
"I think I should replied the young man.
FOLLOWING A LIANA. 77
"Well, then-no!" said Benito; "I do not refuse; I
will obey and annoy you. Come on "
And so the four, followed by the black, struck under
the splendid trees, whose thick foliage prevented the sun's
rays from ever reaching the soil.
There is nothing more magnificent than this part of
the right bank of the Amazon. There, in such picturesque
confusion, so many different trees shoot up that it is pos-
sible to count more than a hundred different species in a
square mile. A forester could easily see that no wood-
man had been there with his hatchet or axe, for the effects
of a clearing are visible for many centuries afterwards. If
the new trees are even a hundred years old, the general
aspect still differs from what it was originally, for the
lianas and other parasitic plants alter, and signs remain
which no native can misunderstand.
SThe happy group moved then into the tall herbage,
across the thickets and under the bushes, chatting and
laughing. In front, when the brambles were too thick,
the negro, felling-sword in hand, cleared the way, and put
thousands of birds to flight.
Minha was right to intercede for the little winged world
which flew about in the higher foliage, for the finest re-
presentations of tropical ornithology were there to be seen
-green parrots and clamorous parrakeets, which seemed
to be the natural fruit of these gigantic trees; humming-
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