Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Title Page
 List of Illustrations
 White gold
 Bleeding gold
 1936 spring list

Group Title: Enchanting wilderness : adventures in darkest South America
Title: Enchanting wilderness
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00075601/00001
 Material Information
Title: Enchanting wilderness adventures in darkest South America;
Physical Description: 285 p. : incl. front. (port.) illus. (map) plates, port. ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Tolten, Hans, 1888-
Loesch, Ferdi ( tr )
Publisher: Selwyn & Blount
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1936
Subject: Indians of South America -- Argentina   ( lcsh )
Indians of South America -- Paraguay   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Argentina   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Paraguay   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Summary: The author's adventures in the Argentine Republic and Paraguay.
Statement of Responsibility: translated from the German by Ferdi Loesch. With 23 illustrations and a map.
General Note: Translation of Kampf um die wildnis.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00075601
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 02032003
lccn - 36018579

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Title Page
        Page 5
        Page 6
    List of Illustrations
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    White gold
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Allurement and hope
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
            Page 22
        Blessings and troubles
            Page 23
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
            Page 30
            Page 31
            Page 32
        Menace of the wild
            Page 33
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
            Page 39
        The circle of death
            Page 40
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
            Page 45
            Page 46
            Page 47
            Page 48
            Page 48a
            Page 49
            Page 50
            Page 51
            Page 52
            Page 53
            Page 54
        Dionisio, the god-chieftain
            Page 55
            Page 56
            Page 57
            Page 58
            Page 59
            Page 60
            Page 61
        Children of the wilderness
            Page 62
            Page 63
            Page 64
            Page 65
            Page 66
            Page 67
            Page 68
            Page 68a
            Page 69
            Page 70
            Page 71
            Page 72
            Page 73
        The murder of Sorai, the red chancellor
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
            Page 77
            Page 78
            Page 79
            Page 80
            Page 81
            Page 82
            Page 83
            Page 84
            Page 84a
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
            Page 92
            Page 93
            Page 94
            Page 95
            Page 96
            Page 96a
            Page 97
            Page 98
            Page 99
        Tribal doom
            Page 100
            Page 101
            Page 102
            Page 103
            Page 104
            Page 105
            Page 106
            Page 107
            Page 108
            Page 108a
            Page 109
            Page 110
            Page 111
            Page 112
            Page 113
            Page 114
    Bleeding gold
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Don Manuel
            Page 117
            Page 118
            Page 119
            Page 120
            Page 121
            Page 122
            Page 123
            Page 124
            Page 124a
            Page 125
            Page 126
            Page 127
            Page 128
        New plans
            Page 129
            Page 130
            Page 131
            Page 132
            Page 133
            Page 134
            Page 135
            Page 136
            Page 136a
            Page 137
            Page 138
            Page 139
        Lost and found
            Page 140
            Page 141
            Page 142
            Page 143
            Page 144
            Page 144a
            Page 145
            Page 146
            Page 147
            Page 148
            Page 149
            Page 150
            Page 151
        La formosa, the beautiful
            Page 152
            Page 153
            Page 154
            Page 155
            Page 156
            Page 156a
            Page 157
            Page 158
        Magú, the Mataco guide
            Page 159
            Page 160
            Page 161
            Page 162
            Page 163
            Page 164
            Page 165
            Page 166
            Page 167
        On the border of the stone-age people
            Page 168
            Page 169
            Page 170
            Page 171
            Page 172
            Page 173
            Page 174
            Page 175
            Page 176
            Page 177
            Page 178
            Page 179
            Page 180
        On secret paths into the unknown
            Page 181
            Page 182
            Page 183
            Page 184
            Page 184a
            Page 185
            Page 186
            Page 187
            Page 188
        The wilderness on the defensive
            Page 189
            Page 190
            Page 191
            Page 192
            Page 193
            Page 194
            Page 195
            Page 196
            Page 196a
            Page 197
            Page 198
            Page 199
            Page 200
            Page 201
            Page 202
        Winged gold
            Page 203
            Page 204
            Page 204a
            Page 205
            Page 206
            Page 207
            Page 208
            Page 209
            Page 210
            Page 211
            Page 212
            Page 213
            Page 214
            Page 215
            Page 216
            Page 216a
            Page 217
            Page 218
            Page 219
            Page 220
            Page 221
            Page 222
        The garden of Eden - and the serpent
            Page 223
            Page 224
            Page 225
            Page 226
            Page 227
            Page 228
            Page 229
            Page 230
        "Deer spoor in the morning dew"
            Page 231
            Page 232
            Page 232a
            Page 233
            Page 234
            Page 235
            Page 236
            Page 237
        Jaguar v. man
            Page 238
            Page 239
            Page 240
            Page 241
            Page 242
            Page 243
            Page 244
            Page 245
            Page 246
            Page 247
            Page 248
            Page 249
            Page 250
            Page 251
            Page 252
            Page 253
            Page 254
            Page 255
            Page 256
            Page 256a
            Page 257
            Page 258
            Page 259
        Expelled from paradise
            Page 260
            Page 261
            Page 262
            Page 263
            Page 264
            Page 265
            Page 266
            Page 267
            Page 268
            Page 269
            Page 270
            Page 271
            Page 272
            Page 273
            Page 274
            Page 275
            Page 276
            Page 277
            Page 278
            Page 279
        According to the eternal laws...
            Page 280
            Page 281
            Page 282
            Page 283
            Page 284
            Page 285
            Page A 2
    1936 spring list
        Page A 3
        Page A 4
        Page A 5
        Page A 6
        Page A 7
        Page A 8
        Page A 9
        Page A 10
        Page A 11
        Page A 12
        Page A 13
        Page A 14
        Page A 15
        Page A 16
        Page A 17
        A 18
        A 19
        A 20
        A 21
        A 22
        A 23
        A 24
        A 25
        A 26
        A 27
        A 28
        A 29
        A 30
        A 31
        A 32
Full Text




Author's Preface Page II

Part I


Chapter I Allurement and Hope Page 15
Chapter 2 Blessings and Troubles Page 23
Chapter 3 Menace of the Wild Page 33
Chapter 4 The Circle of Death Page 40
Chapter 5 Dionisio, the God-Chieftain Page 55
Chapter 6 Children of the Wilderness Page 62
Chapter 7 Murder of Sorai, the Red Chancellor Page 74
Chapter 8 Ghost-Farm Page 82
Chapter 9 A Race with Death Page 88
Chapter to Tribal Doom Page 1oo

Part II


Chapter I Don Manuel Page. I17
Chapter 2 New Plans Page 129
Chapter 3 Lost and Found Page 140

Chapter 4 La Formosa, the Beautiful Page 152
Chapter 5 Mag6, the Mataco Guide Page I59
Chapter 6 On the Border of the Stone-Age People Page 168
Chapter 7 On Secret Paths into the Unknown Page 18I
Chapter 8 The Wilderness on the Defensive Page 189
Chapter 9 Winged Gold Page 203
Chapter o1 Eldorado Page 210
Chapter I The Garden of Eden-and the Serpent Page 223
Chapter 12 Deer Spoor in the Morning Dew" Page 231
Chapter 13 Jaguar v. Man Page 238
Chapter 14 Expelled from Paradise Page 260
Chapter I; According to the Eternal Laws. Page 280




Adventures in Darkest South

Translated from the German by



List of Illustrations

Jauchn6 Nseno'k, the Head-chieftain of the Sanapanis, accom-
panied by a Person of Rank Frontispiece
Landscape from the Gran Chaco 48
" Civilized Indians outside a Native Hut 48
" Civilized Indians, from a district inhabited by White men 68
Scenes from the Chaco Boreal, The Mysterious Country of the
Indians" 84
Indian Man and Woman from the Chaco Boreal 96
Chaco Warriors in Full War Paint 1o8
Chaco Indians at a Drinking Feast beneath an Algaroba tree 124
Type of Hut" used by the Chaco Central Indians 124
Woman and Child of the Ashluslay tribe from the Rio Pilco-
mayo 136
Warrior from the Rio Pilcomayo, showing protective armour
round body 136
Saga-men from the Chaco Boreal 144
Cactus Wood in Formosa 156
Angait6 Indian, showing curious style of dressing the hair 184
Tshamacoco Indian with tame Anaconda 184
Men of the Sanapana tribe 196
Women of the Sanapana tribe 204

Doctor Eel and Doctor Palm-Cabbage, Medicine-men of the
Sanapand tribe 216

A Native Dug-out made from the Bottle tree 232
Sanapana Indians before the tribe had come into contact with
White men 256

In the Text.

Map 37

The photographs of the above
illustrations have been supplied by
the Author and his friends, and
the Berlin Ethnological Museum.

Author's Preface

figment of a vivid imagination, but are actually the
terrible personal experiences which befell myself.
I therefore trust that I shall neither on the one hand
be blamed for any of the book's shortcomings nor
on the other be regarded as unduly egotistical. What
I have done-to the best of my ability-is to faith-
fully record a piece of contemporary history. I have
set out to describe a series of tragic events as they
appeared to me, an actual eyewitness of them, for-
as those who read will learn-my sympathies were
and still are with those children of the wilderness who
are oppressed and homeless in their own country.
However great my compassion may be for this
race-which is slowly bleeding to death in a struggle
which has now lasted for four hundred years, I
have throughout this narrative endeavoured not to
exaggerate in any sense the facts as I know them; and
the story as I have told it will, I hope, serve to draw
attention to a tragic exploitation.
I should like to point out that although more than
a decade has elapsed since the massacre of the Mocowis,
little or nothing has ever been written on the subject.
Reports, however, regarding the insurrection and
subsequent massacre at Napalpi can be found in the

Argentine newspapers, La Nation, La Prensa and
others (May-July, 1924), whilst the August and
September, 1924, issues of the Diario de Sesiones de
la Cdmara de Diputados, which make reference to
Francisco Perez Leiros' attacks against Centeno, the
Governor of the Chaco Austral, and the latter's defence
through Saccone, also deal with the rising at Napalpi
and its bloody suppression.
Those who are sufficiently interested to read the
reports I refer to above will, however, find that they
differ from the events which I describe in this book.
This is perhaps natural, for those who made the
reports were not actual eyewitnesses. The names of
people, too, will not agree, for in many cases I have,
for obvious reasons, given the characters who appear
in my book fictitious names.
My only excuse for writing this preface, then, is
because I am anxious to stress the fact that the events
recorded in my book have actually taken place,
incredible as some of the descriptions of them may
appear to the reader.



Chapter I

Allurement and Hope

of the Argentine formerly lay in cattle and in quebracho
wood, the time ultimately arrived when the cotton-
fever began to manifest itself. Then, with the quickly
kindled enthusiasm characteristic of the country, all
those who were not afraid of life amongst the
motley and somewhat disreputable crew of "gold
diggers" on the frontier, made a rush for the new
I, too, felt the lure of the "white gold"; alone, how-
ever, I would hardly have succumbed to the temptation.
But my friend Paco, a Spanish Basque, who was always
on the look out for some means whereby he could
make his fortune, at last prevailed upon me to give up
the profitable work on my father's mate-farm. Thus
did I come to invest a few thousand pesos-repre-
senting my savings and some borrowed money-as a
partner in a cotton-plantation.
Having reached the small out-of-the-way station of
Machagay on the Central Norte-Railway, we hired
horses and scoured the neighbourhood for good
arable land. Our search, however, was in vain; for
the slightly undulating ground where the coveted soil

was to be found was but sparsely distributed through
the flat clayey plain.
Tired of our unsuccessful quest, we decided to take
over a tract of cultivated land from a native of
Corrientes. Here the young cotton-plants already
stood hand-high. This was better than having to
begin to plough, harrow and sow now in November
when the spring season was already far advanced.
We paid a couple of thousand pesos for the property,
which however gave us no kind of a title to the land;
for all settlers hold unsurveyed Government land as
so-called intrusos-intruders-who can at any time and
without notice be turned out by the authorities. The
purchase money was simply a matter of compensation
for a hut, a well and a cotton-field of some fifty acres.
We bought a cart, loaded it with our luggage,
provisions, farming implements and the most indis-
pensable household utensils and furniture, and pro-
ceeded on our way. Unfortunately we had to set out
alone; for not a single unemployed farm-hand, neither
cook nor servant-girl, nor even a ranch-boy were
procurable, although we offered high wages.

At a sluggish pace the six tall, powerfully-horned
Creole oxen drew the clumsy cart through the arched
greenery of the jungle track leading southward from
Machagay. Soon we came out into the savanna, which,
however, bore little resemblance to the grassy sea
of the treeless pampas, but consisted rather of
varying expanses of grass and reed which lay like
lakes, surrounded by dark forests. As soon as we
approached one of these forest-fringes, however, parts

of it would recede and what from the distance appeared
as an unbroken line would dissolve into a chain of
timber islands, beyond which again stretched the
grassy plain like a vast expanse of water, veiled in
delicate, transparent mists, with distant wooded shores.
Sometimes we came across light groves of short-
leaved fan-palms, their crowns appearing to float
freely like balloons in the milky air, until we drew
near enough to perceive the tall, slender stems which,
like threads, fettered the heavenward-striving globes to
Pitching and tossing like a ship at sea, our cart
swayed along the endless, winding track. Frequently
one of the wheels would bump against the trunk of a
fallen tree which lay hidden beneath the tall grass,
causing it to bounce across it with violent impact; or
again the cart would list dangerously as it negotiated
an ant- or termite-hill. The cart's swaying and jolting,
to the full force of which we were exposed through
the absence of springs, combined with our crawling
advance, made the journey real torture. During the
hot noon hours we unyoked the beasts and did not
reach our destination until late evening.
It had taken us from sunrise to sunset to cover a
distance of barely twenty miles!
The former owner of the plantation was impatiently
awaiting our arrival. When he left us the following
morning, Paco and I found that we were the only
human-beings for miles around-our nearest neigh-
bour living at a distance of an hour's ride on horseback.
My dogs, Leal and Cambi, two jolly black-and-white
fox-terrier mongrels, were our only companions.

Little time however was left us for gloomy medita-
tion upon our exile from the world of men, for a severe
trial was in store for us-the ceaseless fight against
prolific and ever-encroaching weeds. The Creole of
course had not stirred a hand since the day of sale, and
the yuyo colorado, a red cauliform weed, had over-
grown everything. We tried to plough it up, but it
had already reached too great a height and taken root
too deeply for this to be done effectively. The plough
tore up the tender yellowing cotton-plants-barely
visible in the dense thicket-and their oppressors
This meant hoeing-the dullest form of drudgery!
From daybreak until sunset we plied our hoes, and
in spite of the sweltering heat allowed ourselves only
a short rest at noon. When evening came we could
scarcely stand erect, our stooping for so many hours
having wellnigh paralysed us. Dog-tired and utterly
exhausted, it required all our will-power to prepare
our meal of locro or maize porridge, and dried meat
and then to wash up the dishes.
Our most desperate attacks, however, failed to keep
the red stranglers at bay, and we were forced to the
conclusion that without some outside help it would be
impossible to save our plantation from death by
suffocation, and that therefore no effort should be
spared to hunt up hoers in Machagay.
To travel the long distance on foot seemed to me a
risky undertaking. Not only would this be giving
evidence of an almost disgraceful poverty, but much
valuable time would also be wasted. Luckily a tropero,
or horse-dealer, with some hundreds of horses and

mules passed our way and for the sum of thirty pesos
we became the owners of a young mare. True, a
mare was not in keeping with our social standing, but
a gelding would have cost three times as much, and
economy was imperative.
In high spirits I unpacked my fine silver-mounted
harness and almost tenderly saddled the handsome
chestnut; no easy job, for she could hardly be curbed
and resisted by violent rearing. Not since I had
left my parents' farm, where I did my day's work astride
nimble-footed horses, had I bridled so fiery and
finely-proportioned an animal. And when I mounted
it seemed as if a great load had fallen from me. I
felt light and almost winged, like the white egrets
sailing high above me in the azure sky.
At first I rode at an easy trot, for I wanted to spare
the animal after her exhausting trek of many weeks
from the province of Corrientes right here into the
interior of the Chaco Austral. But the mare chewed
the bit until she frothed at the mouth and tugged and
tore ever more impatiently at the short reins-she had
scented the trail of her companions who had been driven
in the same direction-northward to far-off Formosa.
On reaching a stretch of level ground I loosened the
reins. The mare neighed joyously as if wishing to
signal to the distant herd, and raced through the
grass of the savanna at full speed. My back, bent
with hoeing, now grew erect. Freed from the
suffocating nightmare of the cotton-field, my chest
expanded, and exulting in the joy of riding, I stormed
forth into the lonely wilderness, shouting and singing
to the accompaniment of galloping hoof-beats.

In three short hours I covered the distance to
Machagay. Here I was in luck, for a couple of
unemployed wood-cutters were persuaded to make
their way to our place, although I could only promise
them work for a few weeks. Once properly weeded,
the plantation would need no further tending until the
ripening season.
With the help of our labourers we quickly van-
quished the army of red enemies. Delivered from
their oppressors, the feeble cotton-plants rapidly
developed into strong bushes so that we had to thin
them out, and as the weed could no longer thrive in
the shadow of closely-interlacing branches, we had
leisure to turn to other important work such as
planting maize, pumpkins, maniocs and sweet potatoes
-batatas-to provide food for the future.

The buds of the cotton-plants were bursting, and
by a whim of Nature every plant bore variegated
blossoms, some being of a delicate yellow, others
pink and purple. Like festive bouquets the bushes
displayed their pageant of large mallow-like flowers
and hand-shaped leaves of a deep green, which
resembled the foliage of vines. While seed-pods
were already forming on the lower branches, fresh
twigs continued to shoot forth, adorning themselves
in due time with the shimmering blossoms.
A splendid profit was in sight, so without delay we
set about building a large barn. Then misfortune
overtook us in the shape of a brilliant, fluttering cloud:
butterflies, borne on a gentle breeze from unknown
haunts, came upon us one evening in slow, uncertain

flight. In this all but shoreless sea of wild vegetation,
the cotton-fields-lying miles apart-were the tiny
islands which with unfailing instinct these swarms
sought out for hatching grounds and feeding-places
for their offspring. Every one of these small insects
deposit countless eggs on the under side of the cotton-
leaves, and very soon millions of voracious cotton-
worms hatch and in a few days destroy the labour of
many months.
At daybreak I started for Machagay once more,
this time to buy poison and two sprayers. Thank
heavens, I was able to get good Schweinfurth Green.
A pound of it dissolved in forty gallons of water made
a solution strong enough to kill the blight.
From early morning until late in the evening Paco
and I paced up and down the long rows of cotton-
plants, each with a four-gallon sprayer on his back.
Despite our utmost precautions, the fine spray of the
arsenic solution got on our clothes, wetted our hands,
and ate into the skin; besides which, the caustic
liquid leaked out round the piston-rod of the air-pump
of the badly-manufactured instruments and burnt
our necks and shoulders. It was an infernal torture
carrying the heavy containers on our sore backs, but
the spirit of battle helped us to endure the pain, and
at last we succeeded in saving the plantation.
Our sores were just beginning to heal when,
under the cover of night, the dreaded insects again
invaded the cotton-field! A heavy thunder-shower
had washed the arsenic from the cotton-leaves and
again the enemy left its disastrous brood.
Genuine Schweinfurth Green was no longer to be

had in Machagay, but an Argentine substitute said
to be equally effective was recommended. I had
no faith, however, in this native product and ordered
some of the reliable German stuff in Resistencia.
This turned out to be an extremely lucky move, for
the planters who had used the Argentine substitute
suffered heavy losses. By the time that they dis-
covered that it resembled Schweinfurth Green only in
colour and consistency, the parasites, "battening on
to the poison"-as the unfortunate planters said with
grim humour-had devoured the crop.
After the second invasion followed a third. Schwein-
furth Green, genuine or not, went up to fancy prices,
but we still had enough left of the good stuff to cope
with this attack.
Corrientians and Paraguayans now went from
plantation to plantation offering their services as exor-
cisers. They undertook to drive away the cotton-
worms by magic, and in this they succeeded, for in a
few days the worms changed into pupa and accordingly
disappeared from view But the leaves and tender
shoots of the cotton-plants had vanished likewise and
the plantations of those mestizos who had accepted the
services of the magicians resembled nothing more
than birch-brooms and soon withered.

Chapter 2

Blessings and Troubles

hard on our plantation, but under the hot rays of the
March sun and a few opportune showers of rain the
plants soon recovered.' The thicket of tangled bushes
had grown breast-high and much of the fruit was
almost the size of hens' eggs and already turning
a brownish colour. Here and there the pods
opened and the seed-hair bulged out like pads of
We began to harvest. Up till now we had been
able to tackle the work alone, but a few days later the
field was dotted white all over and in the heat of
midday the swelling balls of cotton burst their pods
with a sharp cracking sound, like the snapping of
hundreds of hidden castanets.
We could now no longer cope with the work
without assistance and I accordingly rode over to
Machagay in search of labourers, but without result.
Again Paco and I attempted the impossible task of
picking alone, tackling the job with desperate energy,
but for all our efforts we were unable to make the
slightest breach in the white wall of cotton, More

pods than we had deprived of their fluffy contents in
the morning burst open during the midday rest, and
headway was an impossibility. At all costs, extra
labour was imperative.
I thought it as well to sell what we had already
picked, but the carefully-dried flocks bulked so largely
that we were unable to pack them all. In spite of our
vigorous stamping only a small portion could be forced
into the sacks.
I therefore rode over to our nearest neighbour to
borrow more sacks. He, too, was in the act of
"sacking" cotton, but what the devil was this he
was doing? Every time he stuffed the flocks in
the sack, he poured a large cuip of water on top of
Noticing my surprise, he asked me whether we
didn't do the same.
"No," I replied, still taken aback, "we even spread
out the newly-picked cotton in the sun for three days,
otherwise'it gets mouldy!"
"You are newcomers to these parts, I can see," he
said somewhat witheringly. "To each sack of cotton,
that is, about sixty pounds, I add ten pints of water,
and each pint weighs a pound and a quarter. That's
how I make my calculations."
Shaking my head, I left him.
On approaching Machagay with my load, many
bullock-carts came in sight, swaying along it seemed
from all directions. The village, generally so quiet,
was now alive with movement. A second ginnery
had been recently established and both were working
at full pressure, whilst in addition to these factories

and a considerable number of commercial houses,
there were now also a good many agents representing
foreign firms. These buyers hastened to meet the
train of carts on the way, and secretly drove up prices,
although the maximum bid was fixed by mutual
agreement each morning.
I was at once surrounded by eager purchasers, one
of whom drew a knife and without as much as "by
your leave" slit open a sack and pulled out a sample.
This evidently surprised him and he quickly made
an attack upon another sack. When the cotton
bulged out snow-white and dry at every cut, he
repeated the price which the others had already
offered me, but unobserved by his companions
rapidly held up his outstretched hands twice. This
gesture signified an additional twenty pesos per ton.
Before accepting, however, I made a few further
inquiries, but 520 pesos per ton of 2240 lbs.
remained the highest price bid.
My buyer was the owner of one of the ginneries
and thither I drove my span. From the outside, the
factory appeared as merely an ugly, clumsy shed of
corrugated iron, and it was therefore something of a
surprise to find the interior fitted up with imposing
modern machinery. Almost everything here was
done mechanically. An enormous air-shaft swallowed
the raw cotton and, through a tube as thick as the girth
of a man, carried it to the ginning machines. Here
hundreds of circular saws, revolving close together
at high speed, tore the lint from the seed-kernels
without, however, injuring the latter. Archimedian
screws transported the blackish-green seed to the

bagging machines, whilst the rushing current of air
whisked the lint to the great presses, where the downy
flock was pressed into stone-hard bales of six hundred-
weight each, and which were finally covered with
sacking and banded with hoop-iron, ready for dis-
While the workmen were busy unloading the cart
I stepped up on the weighing-machine. Heavens, I
only weighed one hundred and ten pounds! Could it
be that the unaccustomed labour of the last few
months had reduced me by forty pounds? I asked
the men to stop unloading for a minute, and hurried
over to the railway-station in order to check this
alarming loss of weight, but I returned reassured, for
now I had regained twenty-five pounds!
In order to turn the short-weight to the best possible
advantage for himself, my buyer had only three sacks
weighed at a time, but I quietly added twenty-five
pounds each time so that' my tally showed'a few
hundredweight more when we had finished. This
caused quite a commotion, but I took the fellow
aside and told him exactly what I thought of his
methods. He then paid me according to my
calculation, and begged me not to speak further of the
Piled against the wall outside lay a large heap of
bricks, pumpkins, blocks of wood and other weighty
objects. This curious collection had, I was told, been
carefully hidden in the sacks and delivered as cotton
by the frontiersmen!
"Expensive bricks and costly pumpkins," observed
the factory-owner with a wry smile, "five hundred

pesos a ton, and on top of that the risk of one of these
things getting into the machines and ruining them.
But worst of all is the confounded damping. Colour
and quality both suffer, and the lint becomes mouldy
and completely worthless. Once the present boom
begins to abate we'll find it impossible to get rid of
our stuff on the world market."
"Quien roba d un ladron,
Cien anos de perdon!"I

I quoted laughingly, with a significant glance at the
deceitful weighing-machine.
The fellow shrugged his shoulders. "One lives in
this place and must either learn its ways or pack up.
. Run with the herd or be trampled under foot,"
served he obphilosophically.

I left my oxen at a near-by farm and set out by
rail on the five hours' eastward journey to the town of
Resistencia in order to find harvesters. There, and
in the harbour town of Barranqueras on the Parana
river, I succeeded in hunting up thirty men of rather
disreputable appearance. They were in all probability
tramps and harbour loafers-but I could not afford to
be particular.
All of them immediately demanded advances. One
alleged that he had to pay off debts, another that he
wanted to buy a blanket or a mosquito-net, another,
1 A hundred years forgive,
The thief who cheats a thief."

again, declared that it was essential to buy a pair of
hemp-shoes. A few promptly disappeared, and I lost
both cash and men, but at long last I got twenty-five
of the men safely into the train. During the journey
however the fellows received offers from other planters
which were more tempting than mine, as they eliminated
the need of having to work off the pay that I had
advanced them Every time the train began to pull
out of a station some of my men jumped from the
running-boards and bolted.
I arrived home with only seven "faithful followers"
and a couple of hundred pesos to the worse. It soon
became evident that these casually-chosen pickers
were not much good; they averaged barely twenty
pounds a day, and being unversed in the art of picking,
damaged their fingers on the sharp spikes of the cotton-
capsules. For all that, we were glad to have the men.
It must have been quite a cheerful sight to behold the
nine of us working in the field, and we roused the
envy of the whole district. Unfortunately, however,
this did not last long. A neighboring planter, who
had been prowling around our plantation like an
opossum round a poultry yard, saw his opportunity
one day when we were busy weighing cotton inside
our hut. Emerging from his hiding-place, he per-
suaded our pickers to go off with him. Horses, hidden
in a small wood were-so we discovered later-in
readiness, and thus they got away easily. This was
the last we saw of the runaways who, incidentally,
owed us a good deal of money.
More and more the green patches of cotton-leaves
disappeared beneath the shimmering white carpet. A

fortune hung down from the bushes, suspended by
gossamer threads, and a thick layer of wadding already
covered the ground. The first regular downpour of
rain would of course destroy these riches, whilst
many workers would be needed to gather in this
blessed harvest. Paco and I were on the verge of
There was nothing for it but to make another attempt
to find help in Machagay, and so again I set out with
a load of cotton. But not a single unemployed person
in the village was to be found. I waited until the
following day: perhaps, I thought, the train would
bring labourers in search of work.
Hours before the train was due to arrive, the station-
platform became packed with growers who entertained
hopes similar to mine. The long train, crowded with
hundreds of half-breeds, had scarcely come to a halt
when the planters began to compete with each other
in offering employment. One praised his field which
he said was entirely free of burs and prickly weed;
another offered to supply free batatas and pumpkins;
a third promised to add beef at ten centavos the pound;
while a fourth said that harvesting had not even com-
menced on his plantation so that one could simply
"rake in" the flock with spread fingers-it could
scarcely be called picking.
The shabbily-dressed Corrientians looked out of
the windows with sullen faces, inquiring about terms
in insolent tones, and even the generous offer of eight
centavos a pound, at which rate a good picker could
earn up to six pesos a day, was declined with con-
temptuous gestures. Normally these fellows only made

from fifteen to twenty pesos a month on the ranches
of their native province, unless they belonged to the
agregados, the unpaid retainers of the big land-
It was the policy of the Government to alleviate
unemployment by issuing railway-tickets to the
interior of the territory at a very low uniform rate.
The consequence was that the labourers, believing
that wages would rise in proportion to the distance,
first travelled the whole length of the line and then
slowly worked their way back. Thus much valuable
time was wasted.
The train went on without anyone having alighted,
and the cotton-growers watched its departure- with
crestfallen faces, while ragged, grinning peons waved
a mocking farewell from the carriage windows. For
the first time in their lives these wretches had found
their services being sought for and at once thought
themselves indispensable. This feeling of importance,
never experienced before, had clearly turned their
A letter bearing the stamp of the immigration office
was waiting for me at the post-office. Expectantly I
tore open the envelope, for I had applied to the
authorities some time ago for ten German labourers
for the cotton-crop. Such applications were laid
before the immigrants by the officials and if accepted
the Government provided free fares to the place of
employment, even if situated in the remotest parts of
the country. But a fresh disappointment was in store
-nobody had been inclined to take on piece-work,
although the terms we offered were exceptionally

favourable. A fixed rate of from four to six pesos per
eight hours' working day was demanded, in addition
to free board and lodging in healthy and decently-
furnished dwellings.
In spite of my worries I had to laugh: healthy and
decently-furnished dwellings, indeed! The immigrants
would certainly open their eyes if they could see our
"mansion"-a low mud hut thatched with rushes and
the bare earth for a floor, not to speak of the furniture
which consisted of a couple of hammocks made of
raw-hide straps, a rickety table of unplaned boards
roughly knocked together with a few nails, and round
it a few small packing-cases to serve as chairs. The
cupboard was simply an arrangement of larger packing-
cases placed on top of one another with the open side
facing into the room and hung with a piece of chintz.
Most of our things were still in our trunks and
provisions were kept on a scaffolding of poles, slung
from the roof by four wires, as a protection against
Our washing and bathing accommodation was
similarly crude. A tin basin was placed on a
block of wood beside the well whilst the shower-
bath consisted of a large petroleum tin to the
bottom of which we had fixed the rose of a watering-
can. The whole contrivance dangled between
four poles around which we had draped some old
No, the newcomers would not put up with such
primitive arrangements. They must needs first pass
through the hard school of the South American campos.
This would soon teach them what nonsense it was to

speak of an "eight hours' working day" and of
"decently-furnished dwellings." They would work
from grey dawn until nightfall and often think
themselves lucky if they had a hammock, blanket and
mosquito-net. .

Chapter 3

Menace of the Wild

single picker caused me almost physical agony for I
could visualize Paco's disappointment. Tired and
disheartened I got my cart, stowed away the provisions
I had bought, together with a few bales of empty sacks,
and set off on the homeward journey.
I lashed the animals into a brisk walk, for it was
already late in the afternoon which meant that we must
hurry, otherwise night would overtake us in the forest.
A jungle path at night becomes a dark tunnel through
which one must grope one's way like a blind man,
and if one encounters a low branch one is swept from
the cart, together with the load. Added to this is the
risk of having one's face or even eyes injured by the
thorny twigs and creepers hanging overhead.
Dusk was deepening into night when I noticed before
me something like a bright, circular window, which
continued to increase in size: it was the opening of
the dark forest path into the savanna which lay bathed
in yellow twilight. A fresh evening breeze was
blowing and the beasts stepped out briskly, for they
knew now that we were homeward-bound. Night
settled down, and I had to hold the ear-line loosely
c 33

and depend entirely on the leaders of the team, for I
could no longer make out the path. Often my gaze
turned to the "coal-sack," that mysterious pitch-black
spot in the southern heavens, in order to determine the
direction in which we were going. I was afraid that
the oxen, attracted by the pastures of their former
owner which lay further to the west, would stray from
the track leading to our plantation.
On the ground, as well as on the blades of grass,
were countless fire-flies. Rhythmically as if by com-
mand they flashed on and extinguished their greenish
light. One could imagine some fabulous monster
crouching on the plain and blinking with its million
fiery eyes. From afar sounded the hoarse cry of the
maned wolf which was answered by another closer at
hand, and whenever there was a rustling and crackling
of some wild animal slinking through the tall reed,
the oxen gave a startled snort.
The four bright stars of the Southern Cross were
about to dip below the horizon, and I guessed the time
to be now about midnight. More and more the track
which my animals had been following for hours swung
to the west, and the "coal-sack" was now visible
above my left shoulder instead of in front of me. With
growing disquiet I waited for the path to turn in a
southerly direction again-but in vain-and at last
there could be no doubt-the animals had taken a
wrong track.
To turn back now was out of the question, for the
path led through a tacurusal, one of the settlements of
the black robber-ant, which often extends over an
area of many square miles. In serried ranks the ant-

hills rose breast high, and at the first attempt to turn
the cart I ran the risk of capsizing it and being crushed
I drew the team to a standstill and listened intently
for the sound of some domestic animal which might
reveal the presence of a farmyard. There, in the
distance, I could faintly hear the barking of a dogl
Others joined him-there must be several farms in
the neighbourhood. .
Joyfully I drove on, intending to try to reach some
house where I could rest until the coming of dawn.
Soon I perceived lights or fires which shone out on the
horizon like stars. Again a dog gave tongue from that
direction, and others answered, but this barking had a
curiously yelping, almost bickering note.
A considerable number of dogs were kept on the
farms, often ten or more. They are necessary to
protect the farm-house and small cattle against
predatory beasts, to drive home the herds from the
pastures, and for hunting. Such a pack is made up
of dogs of all sizes; the strong, long-legged animals
being preferred in the savanna as they can keep up a
good pace in the tall, dense grass and reed; while the
small fry, mostly spotted fox-terrier mongrels like
Leal and Camba, are kept on account of their courage
and vigilance. They are the leaders of the chase and
keep a keen edge on things, especially in the case of a
jaguar or puma hunt and are therefore called tigreros,
or tiger-hounds.
At night one is able to judge the distance of a farm
from the barking of the dogs. First the deep baying
of the bigger hounds becomes audible, but as one

approaches the clear voices of the tigreros penetrate
more and more until at last one is met by a whole
chorus of barks pitched in all the notes of the
But the sounds that I now heard were different.
The hoarse barking which from time to time rent the
silence of the night sounded strangely uniform, as
if coming from a pack of wild animals-nor did it
end in the angry growling note of the farm dogs, but
rather in a plaintive whining. By this whining I
understood the situation: only native dogs barked thus
-long-legged, flat-headed prairie animals of unknown
origin, resembling greyhounds, which in prehistoric
times had been domesticated by the Indians.
So the team, following a westerly track, had brought
me into the territory of the Indian settlement of
Napalpi. By means of shouts and tugs at the ear-line
I pulled up my team of six animals. I judged the
distance to the now dully-glowing camp-fires to be a
mile and a half, which was far enough away, I reasoned,
to remain unobserved during the night. At dawn I
would return by the way I had come, for an inner
voice warned me against the camp over there. .
I unyoked the oxen, tethering them to the cart by
means of long straps of raw hide, so that they were
able to lie down. Then I crawled in between the
sacks and packing-cases in order to rest until morning,
and being very tired fell asleep immediately.

When I awoke, sky and savanna glowed in the red
light of the rising sun. An enormous flock of parrots
was passing overhead with a loud chattering and so


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clear was the morning air that in spite of the great
height I could make out the light-green of their bodies
and the large blood-red spots on the tail and wing-
The oxen snorted and tore at their tethers. I called
to them reassuringly, stretched lazily, and was about to
go to sleep again, when suddenly a horse neighed close
by. I got up to see what was happening, but the
scene which met my eyes so startled me that I nearly
fell back into the cart again.
I was surrounded by a large band of mounted
The memory of the camp-fires and barking prairie-
dogs had been wiped from my mind by sleep, and the
sudden appearance of the motionless bronze-coloured
figures chilled the blood in my veins.
The Indians carried spears and rifles in their hands,
while macanas-short handy war clubs made of iron-
hard quebracho wood-were firmly pressed between
thigh and saddle. Round their foreheads they wore
white bands which dangled down over their thick
black hair, giving them a still more formidable
appearance. The absence of women and children, too,
was an unmistakable sign that they were on the
I climbed down and with trembling hands yoked
the oxen to the cart, the warriors looking on in stony
silence. Then I turned the cart in order to return
along the same path by which I had come. The
circle opened slightly in front of me and with
a thumping heart I drove through the living

"Good morning, friends," I saluted, trying to
give my voice a careless tone. None of the red
horsemen however responded to my greeting. Silently,
with dark, threatening faces they regarded me, as they
allowed me to depart unmolested.

Chapter 4

The Circle of Death

about noon. Paco was working in the cotton-field
and I called to him to come inside, but he only shrugged
his shoulders and quietly continued his picking. So I
unyoked the oxen, ate some of the locro which Paco
had kept for me, and then went out to join him.
Deep despondency clouded his features and he
answered my greeting with the merest nod of his head.
Then he wiped the perspiration from his forehead
with a corner of his neckerchief and asked me reproach-
fully why I had not slung on my harvesting bag in
order to help him.
"We must fly, the Indians have risen," was all that
I could say, and with that I told him of my meeting.
"Nonsense," he replied airily, "that must have
been Indians on the reservation, and they are quite
He referred to the reservation of Napalpi lying
about twenty-five miles westward of our plantation.
There the Government had segregated several hundred
families of the Toba and Mocowi tribes. But these
protedgs of the State were dispersed over the entire
reservation, living on the fields which had been allotted

to them and which they cultivated under the super-
vision of officials. It was forbidden for them to form
into bands, to move into a common camp or arm
themselves in a warlike manner as had those horsemen
who had so recently surrounded me. Thus I argued
with Paco, pointing out our imminent danger in the
most urgent words that I could command.
He listened to me thoughtfully. "So the Indians
are going to bring me ill-luck again," he said with a
sigh. He was thinking of his ethnological thesis
which had marked the close of his studies years ago,
but which had been rejected by the university of
Saragossa. For Paco believed that the reason why the
examiners had not passed him at the time was because
they belonged to that class of detached advocates of
the Indians whose scientific judgment is biassed by
After his failure the rejected student had emigrated
-but not in order to find a new home, for there was
only one country in the world worth living in and
that was Spain. Like so many of his compatriots, he
regarded South America only as a means of making a
fortune, or at least of attaining a competence sufficient
to enable him to spend the rest of his days following
his inclinations as a well-respected Indiano in the city
of Navarra. Not that he was thinking of a house in
the town and vineyard or olive-grove in the neigh-
bourhood, for he intended to take up his studies again
and endeavour to vindicate his ideas against the
sentimentalists who preached the cause of the Indians.
Up to the present however his efforts to make a
fortune had met with little success, although he had

shown considerable determination and energy in many
of his enterprises and had never shirked even the
heaviest physical labour. It would seem however
that gold eludes the man who does not desire it for its
own sake but only sees in it a means to an end. Paco's
aim in life was not the hoarding of riches, and the
inner disharmony which was the result of striving so
strenuously for something which in reality he despised,
made him glooiiy and melancholy. This melancholy,
fed by an incurable nostalgia, spiritualized the features
of the young hidalgo, giving them a certain quality of
pathos which was touching. It was probably this
which had first awakened my sympathy, developing
our acquaintainceship into friendship, and it was
solely due to this friendship that I had been persuaded
to become a partner in an enterprise which now
threatened to turn out fruitless.
I held firmly to my view however, and suggested
that we should load our cart with what cotton we had
harvested, with our farming implements and few
household goods, fetch our cattle from the pasture and
get everything into safety with as little delay as
possible. But Paco who had not personally experienced
the shock of the threatening band would not hear of it,
and had I not given way at last, he would have remained
on the plantation alone.
So we stayed on, but uncertainty and fear weighed
heavily upon us. Uneasily we looked about us when
the watchful marsh-turkeys and keen-eyed lapwings
sounded their shrill notes of warning, or when Leal
and Camba raced to the edge of the forest growling
and barking, with noses lifted and hair bristling.

Wearily we lugged our heavy repeating rifles and
large-calibred revolvers about with us whenever
and wherever we worked, sleeping out of doors, and
changing our resting-place every night. We took
watches by turns, and drew a breath of relief as soon
as the narrow streak in the eastern sky heralded the
coming dawn. As time passed however without any
danger having shown itself, we gradually relaxed our

During the intervals of rest and in the evenings when
we sat for hours sipping hot matd, we would converse
in low tones about the terrible fate of the Indians. I
laid all the blame upon the Whites who oppressed
and exploited the natives; but Paco on the other hand
ever sought to justify his ancestors, the Spanish con-
querors, and spoke in high praise of the tolerant
policy which the Spanish kings of that period had
adopted towards the natives. In eloquent language he
described under what unspeakable hardships and
privations this handful of White men had to hold their
own against an alien race. A caravel, rotting up in
some bay on the coast of America, and now become a
legend, formed the only link with their own kind and
the blessed, fruitful garden of their native land. Not
only were these early settlers opposed by a race of
barbaric enemies but also by a strange and cruel
Impenetrable primeval forests and endless swamps
alternated with waterless plains and deserts of stone
and nitre. The early Spaniards were exposed not
only to the icy blast of the plateaux, but also to the

hot, damp vapours of the tropical lowlands which rose
about them. Their clothes mouldered away and their
bodies became sore from the pressure of their armour,
yet they dared not discard it for it was the only pro-
tection against the poisoned arrows of the enemy who
always lurked in the dense thicket of the jungle.
Rarely a bath refreshed their begrimed bodies, which
were covered with festering sores, for in the water
lurked piranas-murderous fish that fell in their
thousands upon the careless bather, turning their
victim into a white skeleton in a few minutes.
Monstrous eels threatened with their paralysing
electric shocks, rapacious crocodiles lay hidden beneath
the floating shields of the victoria regia and even in
the shallow waters of the shore the rayas, the poisonous
sting-rays, were buried in the sand and quickly
emptied their venom into the heel of whoever touched
And when at last these utterly exhausted and half-
starved martyrs, tormented by fever, dysentery and
beriberi, reached a human settlement where they
hoped to find rest and gain fresh strength, the scalps
and heads which were fixed on stakes and poles
warned them with silent insistence of the fate which
was in store for them if they were not ceaselessly
on the alert. .
No wonder then, argued Paco, that they struck the
first blow at the slightest suspicion, and that they did
not practise the traditional chivalry towards a foe
who fought with poisoned weapons and whose only
recognized tactics were assassination, ambushing and
sudden assault-a strategy which had enabled him to

annihilate many Spanish expeditions to the last man.
And thus it was also excusable that the Spaniards
exploited the land to the utmost and were ever on the
hunt for gold and riches in order to be able as quickly
as possible to turn their backs on a country which
appeared to them as the very forecourt of hell
But it was impossible, I remonstrated, to explain
away on grounds of self-defence alone, this terrible
burial-ground of vanished tribes. Never could a
merely defensive battle of White men have resulted
in the extermination of so many and populous native
paco however was well prepared for this argument.
Without hesitation he replied that the Red race had
evoked its tragic fate through customs and traditions
alien to life, long before they came into contact with
the Europeans. Life-giving peace was unknown to
the pre-Columbian Americans; to and fro the tribal
waves billowed in eternal warfare, every man's hand
turned against his fellows'. And not only strange
tribes made war upon each other, but members of the
same clan or even family fell upon each other. Scalp-
and head-hunting were the only motives of these feuds.
The Red man who held himself in respect must
capture the head of an enemy in order to make
himself a drinking goblet out of it; he needed a scalp
in order to prove his prowess to his bride and tribes-
men. From Alaska to Patagonia the Red man was
fired by one idea alone, and strove for one thing only
-the possession of human trophies. To gain the
scalp of a fellow-man became the one supreme thought

and desire of the North American aborigines. It was
their mark of knighthood, their order of merit.
"You forget," I interrupted Paco, "that they were
a race of hunters, by whom it was considered a virtue
to successfully stalk and to kill some living thing.
It was not their fault that the instinct of murder did
not stop at taking the life of a fellow-creature."
But Paco would not admit this. This irresistible
craving for murder, he continued, was a blood heritage
of the Red race and not the result of environment and
mode of living, and to prove this, he referred me to
the neighbours of the Red people, the Eskimos of
Labrador and Hudson Bay. They, too, were a
true hunting-people, but not the hardest struggle for
existence in a country of short summers and terrible
winters had been able to deprive them of their peace-
ableness and gentleness of character nor bring about
any change in their manners and customs up to the
present time. Amongst them the practices of scalp-
hunting, human sacrifice and child-murder were
All these horrors however raged right up to their
frontier, where the settlements of the most northerly
Indians, the Algonquins, began, and they ruled
throughout the continent. Only the nature of the
human spoils varied with the different tribes. Further
to the south, in Mexico and Central America, the scalp
lost its importance. This was the home of the highly-
civilized nations of Aztecs and Mayas, whose calendar-
system and accurate astronomical calculations, executed
in artistic picture-writing or chiselled into stelae and
works of sculpture, still excite the admiration of

scholars and lovers of art. With them it was no
longer a case of hunting the individual like a bear or
puma; the man-hunt had developed into massacre.
The number of human-sacrifices to be offered to the
gods had become so great that it was necessary to
undertake ceaseless campaigns in order to take
sufficient captives.
Appalling indeed were the orgies of human butchery
among the Aztecs. The consecrated victims were
bent backwards over the black sacrificial stone, where-
upon the priest opened their breasts with a blow of the
great flint-knife and tore out the heart in order to
offer it, still quivering, to the Sun God. The blood
which spurted over the priest's hair and face must
never be removed so that, covered by thick crusts of
it, he resembled some horrible demon more than a
human being.
Then the heads were severed from the corpses.
The warriors who had made the captures removed the
fleshy parts from the skulls, pierced holes near the
temples and then brought them back to the place of
worship in order to have them fixed on the tzompantli,
or sacred scaffolding, upon which the skulls were
ranged in rows like the balls on an abacus. Here
they hung, facing the idols, until they rotted and fell
off, when they were replaced by fresh ones.
In the great temple of Mexico alone the rows of
skulls numbered hundreds of thousands, whilst to
this terrible figure must be added the vast number
of those set in the walls of the temple of Huitzilo-
pochtli and those of the gigantic edifice of steps upon
which rested the sacred scaffolding. This structure

was built entirely of stones, chalk and skulls and at its
ends towers arose which were likewise built of human
skulls and mortar.
Such pyramids of skulls and scaffoldings of craniums
rose up all over the land. Not only in Mexico but
also in Guatemala, Honduras, San Salvador, Nicaragua,
Costa Rica; in short, wherever the Nafha tribes settled
the cult of human-sacrifice spread after the manner of
the Aztecs. Further to the south, in Castilla del Oro,
Veragua and Panama, one also heard of these temples
of horror, yes, of rows of streets entirely paved with
human-skulls, and at the great festivals in honour of
the gods the Aztecs ate the flesh of the sacrifices which
was prepared by boiling it with maize.
No matter where one turned one beheld evidences of
homicide developed into a cult, and of vanity in the
guise of boastful trophy-hunting.
The villages of the Cotos, to the north of. the
isthmus of Panama, were enveloped in an odour of
decay for evermore-so the Deity demanded-
human-sacrifices must rot upon the temple pyramids.
With the Miranhas, Jivaros, Mundrucus and Tupis,
who inhabit the great forests of the Amazon river up
to the present day, one comes face to face with ghastly
objects of human prey which have become for their
owners the very purpose of life.
Cured with clay and vegetable oils, dried over a
fire, adorned with feathers and provided with artificial
eyes of resin, thus do the heads of his enemies still
dangle from the belt of the Mundrucu; or else he
carries them about wherever he goes, fixed to the point
of a staff, as a sign of the valour of their captor.

"Rapacious crocodiles lay hidden beneath the floating shields of the Victoria regia."

Yet even these horrors are surpassed by the talis-
mans of the Jivaros. These Indians crush the bones
of the captured head, extracting them through a cut
in the base of the skull. Then they cure the fleshy
parts by inserting heated stones, by which process the
head-the features of which are, however, fully retained
-shrinks to the size of a man's fist. Grinning horribly,
these miniature heads-uncannily framed by the
profuse growth of hair which is pressed tightly together
on the shrunken scalp-stick up their swollen, sewed-
up and disproportionately large mouths towards the
There was not a tribe on the Orinoco and Magdalena
rivers or on the Ciuca, a tributary of the latter, which
had not waged its wars with the greatest cruelty and
indulged in cannibalism, human-sacrifices and head-
hunting. And no Indian settlement was to be found
which had not been surrounded by skull-adorned
stakes. Even inside the villages the heads of slain
and devoured enemies hung suspended from tall
bamboo poles.
Here as well as in Guayana, the famous brewers of
poison, the Macushis, Piaroas and the Umaias still
prepare from the bark of a certain creeper the curari
the most terrible and deadly of all vegetable poisons;
and the arrow poison of the Choc6s, which is obtained
from the glandular secretions of a small toad is deadly
too, even in the slightest scratch.
These natives introduced the use of poisoned
weapons to the already unchivalrous methods of lying
in ambush and suddenly springing upon the un-
suspecting enemy-tactics which were practised by

nearly all the American tribes. But these murderous
aborigines of America did not content themselves with
waging war against their enemies, which often included
closely kindred tribes, they also sacrificed their own
tribesmen in large numbers.
The Tarascos sacrificed their own children to the
snakes and toads which they held sacred. The
Cafiaris annually butchered a hundred boys and
maidens at the entrance to a cave at the top of the
Curitaqui mountain, where a goddess of maize was
believed to have her abode. Besides food and drink
and personal property, the Quimbayas presented to
their dead chieftains the ashes of a number of burnt
wives and slaves to keep them company, and this
custom was also practised by most of the tribes of
Even in the domain of the Incas, which was a model
state in social respects, these gruesome customs held
sway. When a new Inca took the reins of government,
all the provinces had to contribute sacrifices, generally
boys and maidens. From Cuzco these were distri-
buted among the idols all over the country, and to the
beat of the large drums which were covered with the
skins of captured noblemen-the cured head serving
as an embellishing appendage, and the dried hands
as drumsticks-the victims were strangled and buried
with all their possessions, in front of the idols and

After these lengthy dissertations, Paco expected
me to agree with him in words of disgust and con-
demnation; but I objected, blaming him for having

purposely enumerated these bloody customs without
having made the least attempt to construe them
rightly, which seemed to me to be the very crux of the
matter. All these practices must be regarded in the
light of ritual, the Indians associating them with
religious and magical ideas. These hunting-people
believed that the powers and virtues of the slain passed
into the slayer and that the spirit of the dead enemy
would become his servant if he ate of the flesh of the
corpse or acquired a part thereof, either head or scalp.
The agricultural people, such as the great nations
of the Mayas and Incas on the other hand regarded
human sacrifice as a magical spell of fruitfulness for
their plantations and fields, and as these were the
property of the community, the individual was sacri-
ficed for the common good. The chosen ones became
identified with the gods and went to their death with
lofty dignity, to the accompaniment of much pomp
and magnificence.
These customs however which were in fact a con-
tinual extermination of the vanquished or weaker
individuals, had probably arisen under the force of
the law of Nature which ensures the survival of the
fittest. And who would dare assert that this obscure
path of apparent error might not finally have led to
an unconsciously sought-for goal: evolution through
selection of the most suitable individuals, if the White
man had not prematurely destroyed this world.
But even from a lower point of view the friends of
the Indians could make out a strong case. The
Jesuits who, during the one hundred and thirty years
of their activities, had succeeded in settling over half

a million natives of the Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay
rivers, turning them into useful citizens in our sense
of the term, furnish sufficient proof that there was
undoubted good in the American Indian tribes, even
as this virtue is conceived by the Western world.
Paco had described the past of the Red race, now I
would speak of its terrible present. .
First appear the cunning traders who cheat these
harmless children of Nature in the most infamous
manner. The conchabadores follow in the wake of the
traders. They are the slave traders of to-day who, by
dint of all kinds of trickery and deceptive promises,
carry off the Indians in their thousands to distant
places where they are again taken advantage of and
exploited in every imaginable way. For it is easy-
every fool of a White man is able to work it-to
defraud these inexperienced children of the wilderness
-be it in weight, quality of goods or the calculation of
their paltry wages. Finally, the insatiable greed of the
Whites grows so shamelessly evident that even these
harmless aborigines become alive to it. Then it may
happen that their righteous anger tempts them to
take by force that of which they have been cheated by a
thousand tricks and devices.
Although I felt that Paco was deaf to my eloquence,
I insisted that the most degenerate White was per-
mitted to exploit the natives unhindered, as if they
were his slaves, while even the smallest resistance or
attempt at retaliation on the part of his victims was
promptly puffed up to a maldn, the Indian expedition
of war and marauding. Often, too, the Whites fire
at the first Redskin who happens to come within

range, without taking the trouble to inquire about the
name of the Indian or, at any rate, the tribe of Indians
which has been lacking in submission. The avenging
raids of the tribal brethren are the fateful consequence,
for the blood feud is an inviolable moral law to the
Indians and revenge by their own hand is their only
course, for there is no judge to help them in their
right. In spite of all legislation and protective
commissions-and these have their site in far-off
Buenos Aires, hundreds of miles away-the Indians
are just as much outlawed to-day as they were at the
time of the Spanish conquest.
After such acts of revenge on the part of the Indians,
there followed the ruthless penal expeditions undertaken
by troops or by the police, during which-more often
than not-the innocent were made to suffer. Thus the
deadly circle within which the Red race was bleeding
to death had closed again. .
And to Paco's comment: "I have never been able
to conceive why the Indians do not flee to some remote
and inaccessible part of the country when hard pressed
by the avenging troops-for instance into the great
wilderness beyond the Pilcomayo," I replied: "The
notion, 'wilderness,' is an abstraction of our own
world of thought and has no place in that of the Indian.
From time immemorial every tribe has had its camping-
and hunting-ground, the natural boundaries of which
-mostly rivers-had to be respected by strange clans.
On crossing the tribal boundaries the fugitives would
thus be caught between two fires: the White enemy
behind and the Red in front. For this reason, the
Indians whose domain becomes interspersed with the

settlements of the ever-advancing frontiersmen, try
to live at peace with the Whites, if only from an instinct
of self-preservation; and only the demands of a blood-
feud drive them to cast all caution to the winds and
force them to avenge a murder."
I remember this discussion word for word, as its
humorous ending was so characteristic of the state of
our minds at the time. Hardly had I spoken the last
word "murder," when the silence of the moon-lit
night was rent by a long-drawn, wailing cry. We
sprang up and cocked our Winchesters. But it was
only a njakurut;, an enormous horned owl, which
had alighted on the stump of a withered tree beside
our hut! We looked at each other with sheepish
"Let us hope your Red friends won't cut our throats
before you've finished your song of praise," said Paco
mockingly, crawling underneath the mosquito-net
with his rifle beneath his arm.

Chapter 5

Dionisio, the God-Chieftain

is superintended by Government officials instead of
by missionaries. Only Indians are allowed to settle in
this territory which measures roughly fifty thousand
acres, but they must first apply to the superintendent
who allots to them a piece of arable land as well as
assists them to erect the prescribed farm-hut. The
completely destitute novices also derive some help in
the way of farming implements, tools and beasts of
burden, besides being provided with a small stock of
provisions to tide them over until the harvesting season.
The Indian colonists, however, are not permitted to
trade personally with the surplus yield of their planta-
tions; everything has to be delivered to the super-
intendent who arranges the sale, accounting to them
for the proceeds.
Up to the present day the officials have been the
only persons who have made any profit out of Napalpi.
These men were political favourites, practically without
exception, bent solely upon enriching themselves as
quickly as possible before returning to more pleasant
parts. Their interest, therefore, was more in the
valuable red quebracho wood for which high prices

were paid by the tannin producers, than in the Red
people for whose custody they drew substantial
salaries. Soon the settlement was turned into one
great lumber-yard and the Indian settlers who were
not employed as lumber-men were regarded by the
superintendent as mere encumbrances. Unfortu-
nately, the rich timber-lands were only accessible on
the pretext of founding Indian settlements.
It is little wonder, then, that the reservation did
not hold much attraction for the natives. Now, as
before, they roamed all over the Chaco Austral, and
everywhere one came across inhabited or deserted
tolderias, as their primitive grass-roofed huts are
At the time of the sugar-cane crop, crowds of natives
invaded the large plantations in the provinces of
Tucuman, Salta and Iujuy. Generally they made the
journey of many hundred miles on foot, but cattle-
trucks for their transportation were also brought into
requisition by the Central Norte-Railway.
The conchabadores, as previously mentioned, are the
agents between the Indians and the "sugar-barons."
Through lavish presents they gain the favour of the
chieftains and in this way often obtain control over a
considerable number of harvesters. They accompany
the natives to their destination-keeping a suspicious
watch over them on the way-to prevent anybody else
seizing them. The conchabadores receive from forty
to sixty pesos for every adult delivered, whether male
or female, so that all these dealers in voluntary slaves
rapidly make a fortune. Yet they also risk their
lives in carrying on their trade, for many have been

slain by their enraged dupes when they dared to show
their faces in their villages a second time.
The cotton-planters looked askance at this drainage
of their greatly-desired labour because with its help
much money could have been saved which was now
lost owing to the shortage of pickers, for the cotton
and the sugar-cane crops happen to fall within the same
month. The Indians, however, preferred to work
among the sweet and nutritious sugar-canes, which
succulent food they could suck to their hearts' content.
True, they also ate the tender cotton capsules which
taste of honey, but these did not afford sufficient
nourishment, besides which, they were scolded by
their employer should he happen to catch them
at it.
The greater the cotton plantations spread and
developed the more acute became the shortage of
labour. Accordingly, the planters of Saenz Penia,
a couple of hours' railway-journey westward of our
plantation, applied for help to the governor asking
him to prohibit the annual exodus of the Indians to
the sugar districts.
This measure of local patriotism was obvious to
the head of the territory, and so he gave the necessary
orders to the police-stations. So here again were two
kinds of law: one for the White people and one for the
Red of the Argentine. The right of unrestrained
movement within the limits of the country which the
Argentine constitution guarantees to every citizen,
was denied to the Indians. These unfortunate people
were now little better off than slaves, for they were
forbidden that which is granted even to the lowest

tramp or the most degenerate half-breed: the
inalienable right to seek an honest living wherever
they chose.

Several hundred Mocowis-the last of a once-
mighty tribe-had sought refuge in the settlement of
Napalpi. They had long resisted oppression in any
form and again and again had evaded the advancing
White settlers, retreating at last into the great
inaccessible forests which stretch from the western
part of the Chaco far into the provinces of Santiago del
Estero and Salta.
This mighty belt of forest, popularly called El
Impenetrable, is scantily supplied with water and game;
but for the sake of retaining their independence the
Mocowis bravely faced a life of privation in these dry
and barren regions until, during a year of particularly
severe drought, thirst and hunger drove back the
liberty-loving tribe over the Indian boundary into the
settlements of the White men.
They made for Napalpi where some of the families
took jobs as hands on the neighboring farms while
the greater part became planters in the settlement,
under the supervision of the Government officials.
Things went passably well until the harvesting-
season commenced and the Indian colonists began to
deliver up their cotton. Now, however, was the time
for the superintendent to make his customary extra
profit. He paid less for the cotton than was offered
by the merchants elsewhere, made excessive deductions
for carriage and other expenses and, as he could think.
of nothing further, charged I5 per cent on the value

of everything that was brought in-for, as he explained,
the upkeep of the roads!
This disgraceful imposition, though, was too bare-
faced even for the unsophisticated Indian, for he knows
that the only way of making a path in the campo is
by all traffic following the narrow rut of the ox-cart
which was the first to traverse the virgin country.
Faithfully this track is followed-be it ever so erratic-
and thus quite naturally does a "road" come into
being. Only the sun, which quickly dries up the
puddles and morasses of mud after a day of rain,
keeps these "highways" of the campo in a passable
Discontent grew among the Mocowis. They
would not acknowledge these deductions, and as
their protests went unheeded they finally worked
themselves up into such a state of resentment that
they refused to obey the officials, leaving their planta-
tions and banding themselves together under the
leadership of their chieftain, Dionisio Gomes. (Such
Spanish names are bestowed upon the Indians by the
White men, as they are unable to remember or
pronounce the Indian ones.)
On the fringe of an extensive forest, in a spot near
the boundary of the reservation, called Isla del Aguard,
fox-wood, the Indians established their tolderia. Safely
gathered there, Dionisio let it be known to his people
that he had received a message from a supernormal
source. In short, a medicine-man, whom the police
of Saenz Pefia had shot the previous year, had appeared
to him and announced that he would soon again return
to earth. Moreover, all those tribal brethren who

had been, or would be killed by the police, would also
arise from the dead by the combined magic of the
medicine-man and the chieftain.
So firmly did the Mocowis believe in this prophecy
that they made clothes and weapons for their promised
helpers from the land of Shades. In addition to the
discontented members of the settlement many other
natives had now entered the camp, for the police began
treating every wandering family-even though per-
fectly peaceful-as escaped criminals so as to obstruct
their way to the sugar-cane plantations of the provinces.
Very soon Dionisio rose to the dignity of Otahd
Ni Seliamecjque-that is, God-Chieftain, and from
now onwards was in constant touch with the spirit-
world, prophesying that the ancient realm of the
Mocowis and their kinsmen the Tobas would be
restored. Soon they would again be powerful and
their domain would stretch from the Rio Salado in
the south to the Rio Pilcomayo in the north as it did
in the days of old.
Chance had it that Dionisio found an unexploded
Mauser cartridge which had been thrown away.
This he wore as a charm round his neck, showing it
to every newcomer and pointing to the dented cap,
declaring that he, the God-Chieftain, now possessed
the magic power to make all the shots of the police
misfire I
The Mocowis built a house for their deity, which
was roofed with a thick layer of reed, whilst the
walls consisted of tree-trunks placed one beside the
other and cemented with mud. The forest which
skirted the camp was fortified by barricades made of

iron-hard quebracho wood, whilst in order to secure
drinking-water for their stronghold they dug several
wells in the forest. They also hewed a broad bridle-
path through the thicket which, well concealed,
encircled the entire wood thus enabling the defenders
to ride round the whole forest without being observed
from outside.
Before long the chieftains Maidana, Machado and
Jose Carlos with their hordes joined Dionisio's forces
and placed themselves under his supreme command.
Thus it came about that the fortified village by
the AguarA came into existence, its inhabitants being
estimated at some eight hundred souls, among whom
were about two hundred warriors. It was thither that
my oxen had led me on that memorable dark night,
and it had been the rebellious Mocowis who, in the
morning, had given me the silent, but imperious
command to turn back and leave the neighbourhood
of their encampment.

Chapter 6

Children of the Wilderness

warlike preparations. Living on their lonely farms,
often miles away from neighbours, they felt themselves
greatly outnumbered and at the mercy of the Indians.
As usual, when the planters believed themselves to
be in danger, they sent one lengthy telegram after
another, bearing numerous signatures, to the Minister
of the Interior in Buenos Aires. They asked that a
regiment of cavalry might be despatched to lay siege
to the Indians, starve them out and disarm and disperse
But the Minister declined, replying that hostilities
would be unavoidable once soldiers intervened. Presi-
dent Alvear however deeply deplored the shedding of
Indian blood, having declared that any harm done to
the natives would be considered by him as a personal
The settlers were exasperated and complained that it
was cheap generosity to play the friend of the Indians
in far-off Buenos Airesi but that when one is planted
in some remote wilderness with wife and children,
cattle-herds and a farm which it has taken years of
hard work to build up, and is expecting to be robbed

and murdered at any moment, the situation assumes
a different aspect. One must claim protection for life
and possessions-all words to the contrary were but
empty phrases, noble as they might sound.
At last the governor of the territory, who had like-
wise been bombarded with telegraphic reports and
petitions, arrived at the reservation with a strong
police-guard. The envoy which he sent to the rebels
however returned unharmed, and could only report
peaceful intentions on the part of the Indians. So
the governor personally ventured into the Indian
encampment, accompanied by his chief of police and
an interpreter.
The Mocowis respectfully greeted the great White
Chieftain and his subordinates and again reiterated
their peaceful intentions. They only desired the
right to live and demanded to be placed on an equal
footing with the settlers so that they might be allowed
to sell the produce of their fields wherever they could
obtain the best prices. They complained, however, of
the 15 per cent for road-building and the other
extortionate deductions, and finally begged that a less
rapacious superintendent should be appointed.
As their wishes met with great cordiality, the
Indians promptly added a few other requests; not
least were they mindful of two of their brethren who
had slain a half-breed in a quarrel, and who were now
serving long sentences in the jail at Resistencia.
The governor promised to comply with all their
requests and further, held out prospects of a gift of
twenty hundredweight of ship-biscuits and two oxen.
This generous gesture impressed the Indians, for the

Mocowis were half-starved in their wooded fortifica-
tion, notwithstanding the fact that untended herds of
fat cattle browsed in the savanna before their very
eyes. There was only one condition: the tribe was to
break camp, each family again moving into its hut
in the colony. Thus ended the peace negotiations.
The rebels were reluctant to comply with the order
to disband, for experience had taught them that the
White men make many promises but keep few of
them. They were also aware of the fact that they were
feared so long as they remained in a body, so they
therefore resolved-for the time being at least-to
await the release of their two brethren from their
terrible imprisonment in the city.
But although the convicts did not return and none
of the many promises of the governor was fulfilled,
everything seemed to point towards a satisfactory
ending. One family after another left the "fox-wood,"
but as they found their plantations had in the meantime
been destroyed by the cattle herds and all kind of
vermin, they hired themselves out to farmers in order
to make a living until the time of the next sowing

We succeeded in engaging fifteen Mocowis as
cotton-pickers. I had ridden over to the God-Chieftain,
who was still enthroned in his clay temple by the
Aguari, and who was now very affable. He received
my present, a substantial bale of tobacco, with a broad
smile. In addition to this I promised him two bags of
ship-bread if he would allow some of his people to
work on our plantation for good pay. Where were the

bags, he queried, and when I told him that I would
send them along, he made a deprecatory gesture with
the remark: "A White man's promise, bah!"
But before making a final decision he talked the
matter over with a wizened little man who cut a curious
figure beside the gigantic stature of the god. This was
his adviser and medicine-man, Sorai. This wise old
shaman was the conciliatory voice in Napalpi. He
possessed considerable influence which he invariably
exercised in the interests of peace; for he had probably
long ago realized that his tribe could only continue
to exist by adapting itself to the changed conditions
of life, and by endeavouring to live in harmony with
the White settlers.
Nor did the old man make any exception in our
case but gave his advice in favour of work, arranging
with me the wages and board of the pickers. Then the
Chieftain chose those who were to accompany me:
five men, six women and a couple of children.

On that very same day the Indians began to build
their toldo on the fringe of the forest adjoining our
cotton-field. Young saplings were driven into the
ground at intervals of half a yard, with a similar row
opposite them. Then the tops were bent together so
that they formed a sort of arboured walk, two paces
wide by ten long. The frame of this roof, which
practically rested upon the ground-one could only
move about beneath it in a stooping attitude-was
covered with reed and grass, and that was all there
was to the mutual dwelling of the Indians. On rainy
days the water trickled through everywhere and great

tufts of the loose grass-covering were often carried
away by gusts of wind. It was one of the jobs of the
women to keep the wind-harassed toldo in repair.
Scant as was their dwelling-place so also were their
belongings which the women had brought from the
Aguari in their carrying-nets, which hung down
over their backs, supported by broad head-bands. A
few dried and dressed skins of wild animals and
home-woven blankets of sheep's-wool, earthen water-
jars and a couple of empty petroleum and jam tins
for cooking utensils, a wooden mortar for the pounding
of the maize-such was their equipment.
Besides his weapons, every male possessed a wallet
woven in artistic patterns of brown and white from
the fibres of the leaves of the wild pineapple. In
this he kept his ammunition, an awl made of bone or
the sharp horn of the Mazama-deer, tobacco pipe and
other small articles of daily use. There were also
charms for all emergencies-rattles of the rattlesnake,
claws of the ant-bear and tusks of the wild boar.
The Indians were dressed in the cheap cotton cloth
which they had received from the administration of
the settlement. The men were clad in wide trousers,
much the worse for wear and of a dirty grey colour.
From the belt upwards their lithe, deep-chested bodies
were naked, shining in purest chocolate-brown.
The women simply wound round their bodies a
piece of calico which they bound fast above the hips
with a cord of Caraguata bast, letting the material
fall down to the knees. Only occasionally did they
put on the small and far-too-tight blouses which had
been forced upon them by the officials as an unavoid-

able demand of morality. Like the men, they loved to
let the sun shine on their naked bodies, and perhaps
they knew that they were far more handsome when
they did not force their supple bodies and freely-
swinging breasts into monkey-jackets of threadbare
The children ran about stark naked. They had a
grand time of it, for everybody petted and spoilt them.
No matter what pranks they got up to, nobody ever
scolded or beat them. Only when they trod on a
thorn, or sand-fleas burrowed into their toes, did the
otherwise easy-going parents become relentless. With-
out taking the slightest notice of their yells or squalling,
the father, or whoever else might be at hand, caught
hold of the child's foot, while the mother removed the
offending object by means of an awl of sharpened bone.
All this went on only during the intervals of rest,
for the Indians never neglected their work. A male
harvester could manage to pick up to fifty-five pounds,
and a woman or girl up to seventy-five pounds of
cotton a day.
Accounts were squared once a day and sometimes
even twice, for nothing less would please our
employees. Furthermore, we had to put up with
first having to pay them their wages and then selling
them provisions or other necessaries for the money
which they had just received.
They were happiest if one paid them in small coin.
Ten pieces of nickel of ten centavos each seemed more
desirable to them than one peso note. On making
their purchases they first handed over a ten centavo
piece and asked for sugar. Then they bought ship-

bread for the same amount-and so it went on. When
they had received ten centavos worth of everything,
the purchases were recommended in the same order!
Finally they compared the bags in order to assure
themselves that they had received the same quantity
each time, and they considered themselves well served
with the many parcels which had been acquired for
such a small outlay. With proud satisfaction they
_bore off their luxuries to the toldo, where they were
consumed between them without the least selfishness.
It cost us a great deal of wrapping-paper and even
more patience to weigh out their modest daily require-
ments of food and to wrap these up as if they were
the greatest delicacies.
The Indians also had a weakness for the young,
honey-sweet cotton-pods which sprouted on the bushes
beside the ripening plants. Not until I had promised
to give them a sack of sweet-potatoes now and then if
they refrained from eating the green and unhealthy
fruits did they master this weakness.
Comparison with our former White pickers to our
present labourers was in favour of the Indians. It
was really touching to see how they always endeavoured
to show us pleasant, smiling faces! Some certainly
did not develop the art to more than a grin, but we
noted the good intention with satisfaction.
But the Indians could also be roguish, as for instance
when one morning I gave them a large basket of
batatas, telling them to fortify themselves with them
before going to work; for, said I, an empty sack cannot
stand upright. The result however was that they ate
so many of the delicious sweet potatoes, which had


rice 3

been roasted in the glowing embers, that instead of
being stimulated by the meal they became lazy and
clumsy. On reproaching them for their gluttony an
elderly man with the fine name of Elkowd ("Nest full
of Ostrich-Eggs") replied: "Full sack can no stoop
down," and with a malicious grin pointed at his
distended stomach
"Nest full of Ostrich-Eggs" was able to make
himself understood fairly well in Spanish, and although
his vocabulary was very limited he had a useful knack
of paraphrase when he could not find the correct
words. Thus he called a mare "the horse with two
hind-quarters," whilst a cock became "the chicken
that sings."
Our Indians lived in mortal fear of anyone wearing
a uniform. One day when a police patrol rode by at
close quarters, the mothers seized their children and
with a cry of terror, "Guatagand," everybody fled into
the forest. Not until long after the riders had disap-
peared into the distance, did they venture forth
timidly from their hiding-places.

One of the Indian girls proved herself to possess
particular aptitude. She went by the name of TigonA
(which means "mouse"), and we called her "Mousie."
We had long grown tired of the double burden of
having to attend to domestic affairs as well as doing
the heavy work of the field and so we appointed her to
the job of housekeeper, cook, milkmaid and laundress.
At first she protested against this, for she rightly
considered herself to be a good picker, and hoped to
be able to make more money by harvesting; but

when we promised to pay her similar wages to those
earned by her cleverest companion, Nadihl'que
("Broadly flowing Water"), she agreed to our proposal.
Whenever "Broadly flowing Water" brought her
cotton for weighing, Mousie hurried to the spot in
order to receive a similar amount of pay. Often she
took along an empty sack and hung it on the hook of
the steelyard, chuckling gleefully as she pulled at it.
She considered it a capital joke that she should be paid
exactly as many pieces of nickel for her empty sack
as "Broadly flowing Water" received for her full one.
Paco became Mousie's teacher. To begin with, he
taught her how to milk, which caused her great
difficulty at first, for she forced the milk upwards
into the udder instead of pressing it out of the teatsl
Against this painful proceeding the animals protested
violently by kicking with their hind-legs and jumping
about as if demented, so that the milk-pail was upset
and Mousie fled in terror. Only when Paco had tied
up a cow with stout leather straps as if it were a
dangerous beast of the jungle did the frightened milk-
maid dare to approach it. In the course of a week,
however, she had learned the knack and with an
earnest, proud face she squatted on the milking-stool,
holding the tassel of the cow's tail between her teeth
and with her small brown fingers, rhythmically pressed
the frothing white jet of milk into the pail. Sometimes
when milking she indulged in a secret drink, often
forgetting to wipe her lips, and afterwards strutting
about quite unsuspectingly with a tell-tale white
moustache. When we smiled at her knowingly, she
would regard us with blank surprise.

She never learnt how to wash clothes properly,
although she pounded and kneaded the articles with
the greatest zeal and in exactly the same manner as
Paco had taught her. The result was that the cleaner
pieces merely took on a slightly darker colour and the
dirty ones became a little whiter, while in the end
-everything turned a uniform grey. Her mending and
patching, too, left much to be desired. Into a tear in
my mosquito-net, for instance, she stuffed a piece of
bunched-up rag which promptly fell out again,
making the rent larger in consequence.
Paco, who at first had taken Mousie's education
very seriously-although he often found it hard to
suppress a smile-grew more and more indulgent and
ready to help her. Under the pretext of showing her
the ropes, he relieved her of all sorts of work which he
-considered too heavy for her and at last, completely
jeopardizing his prestige, only had an amused smile
for every one of her failures.
The result was that Mousie soon lost all shyness.
Where formerly she had scarcely dared to give him
a timid, sidelong glance from lowered lids, she now
turned up her face to him and rested her dark,
melancholy eyes fully upon him when he spoke
kindly to her.
From now on he took every opportunity to be with
the girl. One day the couple even went for a ramble
in the forest, saying that they wanted to gather wild
fruit. When they returned with a very meagre
gathering, in spite of their long absence, it was she
who seemed to be amused at his expense, while he
regarded her with an earnest look.

From that day on they often went fruit-gathering
during the midday rest, always, however, with the
same small success. Nevertheless Paco seemed to be
very happy and went about his work whistling all the
afternoon, whereas formerly he had been very loth
to forego his siesta. When Mousie went to her
sleeping-place in the hut of her tribesmen, however,
his face grew troubled. Anxiously he watched her as
she flitted away, waving a big firebrand so as to
illuminate the path-strangely unreal in the dark
night-like a firefly making its zigzag flight.
One evening when it seemed to me that he had
secretly followed her, I hesitated no longer in making
a proposal to him which I had for some time been
turning over in my mind, namely, to find a lodging
for our housekeeper in our neighbourhood in order
to save her the nightly walk home, which was
dangerous on account of the poisonous snakes and
wild beasts.
Paco agreed with grateful enthusiasm and pressed
my hand impetuously. I feigned surprise at this
demonstration of joy, so that he grew a little
embarrassed. Without delay however he set about
building the hut, Mousie insisting upon attending to
the roof herself after the manner of the Indians, and for
which purpose she promptly began to drag along the
necessary reed and rushes.
A farmer who was leaving the district offered us a
small herd of cattle at bargain price and as we could
now reckon upon a good income, thanks to our
Indian pickers, we quickly decided to buy the lot.
There were many milch-cows among the cattle so

we lent some of these to the Indians so that they, too,
could supply themselves with milk.
It now fell to Mousie's lot to teach "Broadly
flowing Water" how to milk, whilst to the indescribable
delight of Quilik (that is "Parrot"), the half-grown son
of Elkow6, we presented him with a pony and
appointed him head-shepherd of our herds. We
insisted upon Quilik mounting and dismounting the
pony from the left side like a White horseman, but
whenever he thought himself unobserved he climbed
on to the pony from the right in true Indian fashion.
Soon we had become so accustomed to these usually
silent, but always friendly children of Nature, that the
possibility of losing them when they returned to their
own fields at the beginning of the sowing season
weighed heavily upon us.
Paco entertained a plan of building a proper house
for the Indians and laying out a field of maize, batatas,
maniocs and ground-nuts, by which means he hoped
to keep them on the farm indefinitely. In any case
he would have to work the farm alone one day, when
I found that I could stand it no longer; for it was my
intention to turn my back on the cotton venture and
the whole life of pioneering as soon as we had got
things into a little better shape.

Chapter 7

The Murder of Sorai, the Red Chancellor

Machagay to get some small change. The earnings
of our pickers were beginning to exceed their expendi-
ture and every family had already saved a small heap
of nickels which were carefully hoarded by the men
in their braided wallets, together with their other
In spite of the cheerless winter weather, trade was
flourishing in the village, and all the shops-some
fifty odd, and they practically constituted the whole
place-were full of customers. Also the numerous
saloons which sprang up mushroom-like during the
harvesting season and bore such pretentious signs as
"Cafe" and "Restaurant" were well frequented. The
cash-box of the smallest shopkeeper bulged with notes;
everybody had a part in this treasure of "white gold."
It was late in the afternoon when I turned home-
wards. My way led past a tavern which was situated
on the outskirts of the village, and as I had not
succeeded in getting enough small money I thought
I would try to change a few notes there.
A group of Mocowis almost filled the small room.
Here they squandered their hard-earned wages in

sugar-cane brandy. The tavern-keeper had already
drained their pockets and now refused to serve them
with any more drinks. This infuriated one of the
drunken Indians who abused him roundly in his
native tongue, and at last, drawing out a long bowie-
knife, made a rush at him. But old Sorai, the good
genius of his tribe, threw himself between the tavern-
keeper and his enraged assailant. In a loud and
angry voice he tried to bring the excited men to
reason, and drunken though they were, they obeyed
the influential medicine-man. He succeeded at last
in persuading some twenty Indians to leave the tavern
and to drag the unruly brawler along with them. As
had so often happened before, the wise old shaman
had kept his tribesmen from folly and its dire conse-
quences and had once more saved the life of a White
Livid with fear, the tavern-keeper felt his body as
if to make sure that he was unhurt, and then did a
foolish and dastardly thing-he snatched up his
police-whistle and blew loud signals of distress.
In the meantime the Indians, amidst a dreadful
uproar, had already got into the street. Sorai who
continued shouting at them with blazing eyes and
dashing round the group, supple as a cat, finally
managed to hustle them all off in the direction of
their horses. Had they been left alone only a few
minutes longer the whole incident would have passed
off without further trouble, but at the very moment
when the Mocowis reached their horses which had
been tethered a short distance away, Police-inspector
Rojas came galloping along with two men.

Horrified, I saw the three of them draw their heavy
cavalry swords and cut into the Indians without
troubling to find out what was the matter. The
clamouring and brawling Redskins immediately
stopped fighting among themselves and turned against
the hated police. Suddenly grown quite sober, they
fell upon their foes with the agility and swiftness of
wild animals, and in a few seconds the three policemen
lay on the ground yelling for help. Only old Sorai's
cries of warning not to kill the White men saved the
police from an untimely end.
The inhabitants of Machagay now came rushing
up from all sides, surrounded the Mocowis and
commenced firing blindly into the confused mass of
humanity. The police, finding themselves free, now
also opened fire on the Indians with their large-calibred
service revolvers.
When the Indians saw that there was no escape
from the ever-widening ring of enemies which now
surrounded them, and that everyone who tried to
force this living wall with his knife went down under a
hail of lead from the heavy revolvers, they did not
intone a death chant but did something far cleverer
if less noble-they slipped to the ground and pretended
to be dead.
Immediately the firing ceased, and the circle began
to open. Suddenly and without warning, the feigning-
dead men sprang up and disappeared like lightning
into the nearby forest. The surprised Whites only
succeeded in catching a few of the wounded who,
weakened by their injuries or from loss of blood,
could not get away quick enough.

The victors left the field of battle practically unhurt,
their injuries being confined to the few light flesh
wounds which had been sustained by Inspector Rojas
and police-officer Cayetano. The dead Indians were
left lying in the street like carrion. Proudly
the conquerors marched off with their prisoners to the
distant police-station whilst two men clutched the
wrists of each of the wounded Indians and roughly
dragged the staggering captives along with them.
The last to be dealt with in this manner was the aged
shaman. A bullet had struck his knee and the blood
oozed down his leg, clots of it covering his frayed
trousers. Sometimes his head sank on his breast and
he could go no further, but the two fellows who held
him captive dragged him forward. And so the little
man hobbled along with an agonized face, almost
doubled up with pain.

Powerless to help, I followed the dismal procession.
Presently however I tried to persuade the two fellows
to release the badly wounded shaman, but they
indignantly refused.
A horseman now came trotting up from behind.
It was the Paraguayan Ituralde, one of the herdsmen
from the cattle farm of Camilo Gonzaga. He hailed
us and did not conceal his annoyance at having missed
the fray. He would have loved to have put a couple of
bullets into the Red rabble, and his vexation did not
grow less when he was told by the two men that
his master Don Camilo had distinguished himself
mightily during the battle. Quickly he sprang from
his horse and drawing a heavy bush-knife, dealt

Sorai the shaman a terrible blow on the skull from
All this happened so quickly and unexpectedly that
I could not come to the assistance of the old man who
went down without a murmur.
The others proceeded on their way without taking
the least notice of the victim. Deeply moved, I stepped
to the dying man's side. Taking my saddle-cloth and
folding it, I put it beneath his head. Then I knelt
down beside him and wiped the blood which streamed
from his eyes and mouth. The enormous vitality of
his race gave him back consciousness once more and
he regarded me steadily with his dim, yellow eyes.
"Malditos Cristianos!"1 he exclaimed. These were
his last words.

I rode over to the police-station. A great deal of
fuss was being made there over the superficial cuts
which Inspector Rojas had received on his forehead-
as if the Indians had intended to take his scalp. The
chemist came along with medicaments and bandages
whilst everybody was shouting for a doctor.
Although seriously wounded, the prisoners had
been chained to the barra, an iron rod several yards
long and fixed to two posts about knee-high above
the ground. The unresisting captives had been
thrown on their naked backs on the earth and their
feet had been manacled to the elevated rod by means
1 "Damned Christians." The word "Whites" as understood by
us is unknown to the Indians of these latitudes. To them every non-
Indian, irrespective of colour and race, is a Cristiano. Besides their
tribal name they call themselves Paisanos, that is, "native people."

of iron rings. The blood, thus driven back from their
suspended legs, poured out of the bullet wounds and
formed large crimson pools. The poor wretches must
have been suffering infernal torture but no sound of
complaint, scarcely a groan, escaped their lips. Nobody
heeded them for everyone was pressing around the
Inspector. Ituralde was among the gapers.
"That man is a murderer," I cried, pointing at the
Paraguayan. "Arrest him! I will take the respon-
Now all eyes were fixed upon Ituralde who had
suddenly turned pale.
"Who has he murdered?" asked the Inspector,
seizing the retreating Ituralde by the arm.
"Old Sorai the medicine-man of the Mocowis. He
killed him from behind with his machete, although he
was already badly wounded and a prisoner."
A roar of laughter, in which Ituralde joined, was
the only reply.
"Damned good joke," said the Inspector and twisted
his mouth into a grin; but remembering in time that
he had just shed his blood in the service of his country
and of civilization, he quickly composed his features
again into an expression of sternness and suffering.
He regarded me with a disapproving shake of his head
and let himself be bandaged by the chemist.
Heavy at heart I turned away, to hurry to Paco
with the evil tidings. We must fly; for out at our
plantation we could not now be certain of our lives for
one moment.
On the forest path leading to the savanna my horse
shied suddenly. Bedded among the broad roots of a

wild fig-tree lay an Indian. Mortally wounded, he
had dragged himself thus far in order to die in peace
in the depths of the primeval forest which had so often
afforded his race protection against their white
oppressors. His staring gaze was fixed above; and
it seemed as if he were listening to the sighing of the
evening wind in the tree-tops ....

Headlong I raced along the lonely path. The night
was dark and starless and I had to keep a sharp
look out to avoid getting into the westerly track which
once before had brought me into the neighbourhood
of the Indian encampment. To do so now would
mean certain death.
Arrived home, my first concern was our pickers'
toldo. The camp fires were still glowing, but the Indians
had already left; Mousie's hut was also empty. They
had taken nothing away which did not belong to them
and I found Quilik's pony tethered to a tree close at
hand; saddle and harness lying on the ground close by.
Swift riders had carried the message of war to all
their tribal brethren including those families which
had already repaired to their huts in the settlement.
Those, too, who had taken work on the farms were now
assembled in the fortified camp under the leadership
of their chieftain.
Next morning at daybreak two hundred mounted
warriors assembled in Machagay. They demanded
the release of the prisoners, possession of their dead
and the return of their horses and saddles. In the
face of such overwhelming odds the police, who were
only eight strong, were only too willing to agree to

these demands. The inhabitants of Machagay, too,
who only yesterday had shown such heroism in blazing
away at the few Mocowis who had been armed merely
with knives, now anxiously endeavoured to get the
Indians' horses together which had been scattered all
over the neighbourhood.
The Red horsemen did not offer to assist them.
Pressing closely to the fringe of the forest which was
to afford them cover in case of a surprise attack, they
waited threateningly until all the animals and saddles
had been delivered. Then they lifted their wounded
and dead on to the horses in front of them and,
as suddenly as they had arrived, disappeared along
the forest-path in a southerly direction towards the

Chapter 8

Ghost- Farm

Chieftain, regarding the re-establishment of the rule
of the Mocowis and Tobas, seemed to be coming true.
Planters and ranchers alike fled before the Redskins,
abandoning their fields and herds. The rebels robbed
and plundered the deserted farm buildings, destroying
what they could not take away with them. It also
went hard with the cattle, for every day the Mocowis
drove huge herds into their fortified camp for killing.
A police patrol belonging to the commissariat of the
neighboring Quitilipi which had lost its way and
strayed as far as the Aguari, were taken prisoners.
The Indians took away their horses and weapons,
pulled off their uniforms and underclothing, and then
let them loose stark naked and trembling with fear.
Perhaps they did this to prove what pitiable figures
the "Guatands" were when deprived of their uniforms
and weapons, or because they believed that the disgrace
was a form of punishment worse than death. Thus,
at least, one sought to explain the matter; but the
riddle as to why the Redskins had not killed their
deadly enemies was to be solved later on.
The losses of the settlers increased from day to day.

Apart from the little which had already been sold the
entire harvest was lost, for the rebels also destroyed
the cotton which they found in the barns of the
The losses of cattle went into thousands. The
encampment had grown considerably-again there was
talk of some eight hundred souls, and Indians consume
vast quantities of meat when they can lay hands on it.
Now they had only to drive the cattle in from the
One of the first to leave his farm was Camilo
Gonzaga, who had so bravely shot at the small group
of Indians on the ill-fated Saturday and whose herds-
man, Ituralde, had murdered old Sorai. But whereas
the Mocowis robbed the deserted farms of everybody
else, that of Gonzaga seemed to be taboo. It was as
if some mighty guardian-spirit watched over the place.
His power however did not appear to extend far beyond
the house and farmyard, for Gonzaga's herd, which
grazed outside in the savanna, was among the first to
be taken by the rebels.
Fugitives passing the unharmed farm spread the
strange story far and wide. Here, then, was another
riddle for the Whites, at which they guessed with
as little success as at the mystery of the released
police-officers. Only the knowing ones whispered
mysteriously about Poras and other evil spirits which
haunted the place, and of which the Indians were
The revelry of the Mocowis had now lasted for
more than a month, and the sphere of their reign of
terror was ever growing. The price of arms and

ammunition was trebled in the territory, for even the
farmers in remote districts armed themselves, expecting
a general rising among the tribes.
Up to the present the Government had not inter-
vened, although the telegraphic cries for help became
more and more frantically urgent. Further, the high
Government officials in Buenos Aires freely admitted
that they would not shed Indian blood this time and
this greatly embittered the afflicted Whites.

The entire south of Machagay and Quitilipi was
now only uninhabited wildernesses in which small
bands of Mocowis disported themselves as absolute
masters. Paco and I had fled immediately after the
murder of Sorai and had united with some other
settlers in the common defence of a farm lying about
twenty-five miles south of the Aguarl. The Mocowis
would think twice before attacking such a well-guarded
stronghold, for we were all armed with repeating
Winchesters and frontiersmen are good shots.
As a matter of fact the Redskins did not seem to be
bent upon taking the lives of White men as long as
they kept out of their way. Rather was it the reporters
of the big newspapers in Buenos Aires, which daily
published several columns about the Indian war, who
"killed" large numbers of settlers! Although our
side, however, did not as yet need to lament the loss
of human lives, the whole district was doomed to
economic collapse. We, too, had lost all our cotton
with the exception of the two loads which we had sold
before the outbreak of hostilities. Like many others,
our farm had been plundered and burnt down. The

Resting after a war dance
A halt during a game of ball

small cattle had been killed and of the herd and
draught-oxen which had been abandoned by Quilik
when he fled with the others, we could discover no
trace in spite of careful searching. We did not give
up hope, however, for it was quite possible that the
querencia, the homesickness for the pastures of their
former owner, might lure the animals back there. It
did not seem very likely that the Indians would kill
our cattle, which had grown lean through the enforced
change of pasture, when there were so many fattened
herds close at hand.
Spurred on by this idea, Paco and I rode out in
search every day. Two farmers of small means, an
Italian, Don Secundino, and a Creole, Don Alejo, who
in their first alarm and anxiety for wife and children
had abandoned their cattle and now also hoped to
rescue their few milch-cows and draught-oxen from
the danger zone and bring them into the safe cover of
our camp, often accompanied us and so we generally
set out four men strong.
We had to keep a sharp look out during these
expeditions in order to avoid being surprised by the
Mocowis. Cautiously seeking cover behind bushes,
trees and forest-islands, we pushed on through the
campo in a northerly direction. We were always
ready to fly should anything suspicious show itself,
or to rush upon our cattle and quickly drive them off
southwards, should we be so fortunate as to get them
within the focus of my excellent field-glasses.
One Sunday, towards the middle of July, our search
led us as far as the farm of Camilo Gonzaga-the
"ghost-farm," as it was now called. This peaceful

islet had a most uncanny and sinister atmosphere, with
its chickens busily scratching the ground for food and
pigs eagerly burrowing for the roots of the papyrus
on the shore of the lake, while sheep quietly grazed
near the house. Even the small padlock on the door
remained intact and the store of maize and cotton
in the open barn appeared to be untouched.
A secret uneasiness, however, made us quickly leave
the eerie place. On turning into a path behind a tongue
of forest, two riders came towards us from the direction
of Machagay-they turned out to be Camilo Gonzaga
and his herdsman, Ituralde. The men shook hands
in the manner of the campo, but I dismounted and
busied myself with my saddle-girth. My companions
told Don Gonzaga about the mysterious, untouched
condition of his farm and he said that he was very
pleased to hear it. He had come, he said, in order to
convince himself of the miracle which was the talk of
the whole district. Now he would hurry back to
Machagay to get some ox-carts and then take away
all his portable property and small cattle, while the
sheep could be driven along behind the carts. In this
way he could at least save his furniture and a part of
his live-stock.
"While I fetch the carts, you can pen the sheep,"
he told the shepherd, "so that we can get ready all
the quicker afterwards."
With these words he turned his horse and galloped
away in the direction from which he had come.
Ituralde glanced round uneasily.
"Won't you come along and help me?" he asked us.
My two companions would have been ready to go

with him, for such acts of assistance are never declined
out in the campo; but when I refused curtly they, too,
excused themselves, a little haltingly.
"I see," said Ituralde sullenly, "you still bear me a
grudge over that affair with old Sorai! But what would
you? Snakes and Indians must be exterminated. This
worthless rabble will never work with us properly,"
he continued under his breath, as if talking to himself,
"they only pretend to do so sometimes. It's more
convenient to live on other people's work. Now we
can see what damage these cattle-thieves and robbers
are doing again. It is supposed to be unlucky to kill
a snake, perhaps it's the same with Indians-but I
would do it nevertheless. We must wipe out this
rabble for good; not until the last of the bush-rangers
have been exterminated can we hope to plant our fields
and tend our herds in peace."
Then he rode on without a word of farewell. Slowly,
hesitatingly, he turned towards his patron's farm.
When we passed that way again a couple of hours
later on our way home only a smoking heap of ruins
remained. In the middle of the farmyard lay the
horribly mutilated corpse of Ituralde I
For weeks the Mocowis had lain in ambush in the
nearby forest in order to revenge themselves for the
murder of their shaman. They had left the farm
untouched as a bait and now it had well served its

Chapter 9

A Race With Death

with some small measure of success-two tame milch-
cows with their calves. We took the cattle between us
and hastily drove them southward in order to throw
them in with the herd which grazed under the
protection of our camp.
Don Secundino, to whom the animals belonged was
greatly pleased and not a little proud, and his wife and
two half-grown daughters ran after us jubilantly when
we drove the recovered animals past the barricades to
the pasture. They stroked and fondled them, gave
them pet names and almost wept over them. And no
wonder that these poor people were overjoyed, for
their farm and the harvest had been destroyed by the
Indians. The land on which they had settled belonged
to the State, so that probably these animals were all
they possessed.
Encouraged by our luck, the four of us searched the
savanna with renewed energy, although we were warned
against doing so by our camp fellows who were of the
opinion that now that Ituralde had fallen into the trap
the Redskins would give up their moderate methods
and butcher every White man whom they happened

to catch within the territory. We four would probably
be the first to be threatened by the danger of such a
meeting if we continued to behave so foolhardily.
We paid no need however to these dire predictions,
little guessing that they would come true only two days
later; namely, on the Wednesday following that Sunday
on which the murderer of old Sorai had met his death.
We had set out very early this time. Taking cover
behind the tongues and inlets of an isthmus of forest
which extended for several miles, we cautiously stole
northwards. Everywhere in these inlets browsed large
herds of cattle. Only a few scattered animals were
visible in the open savanna, the wintry south wind
having driven them to seek shelter in the forest. This
was favourable for our plan, for we dared not venture
out into the open plain where we could be seen by
any roving band of Indians from a considerable
In one of these many forest-bays we caught sight of
three of Don Alejo's cows among the other cattle.
He recognized them by their ear-marks when they
had pricked up their ears at our approach. He pointed
them out to us by their colour, shape and the form of
their horns, so that we should not lose sight of them
again. So far, however, it was not quite clear to us
how we were to get the animals out of the large herd
and so drive them off between us. This seemed all
the more difficult because the herds had been
untended for a considerable time and had already
become shy of human beings.
The animals were grazing only a quarter of a mile
away and our presence was beginning to make them

restless. One by one they stopped feeding, lifting
their heads and expanding their nostrils in order to
get the scent, while their stiffly rising tails with waving
tassels were a sure sign of a contemplated speedy
Hastily we hid behind a tongue of the forest and
held a council of war. The best thing would have been
to chase the herd far out into the open savanna which
would give us plenty of room to cut off our animals
from the others; but this would, we decided upon
reflection, expose ourselves too much. To drive the
animals along the fringe of the forest was impossible
as they would then break into the thicket and be lost
to us. There remained only one method, and that
was with the lasso. But even this plan had its dis-
advantage: lasso-throwing is an art which must be
practised from childhood, and like all immigrants Paco
and Don Secundino were poor hands at it.
We tightened the girths of our horses (for one end
of the lasso is fastened to the girth-ring), and then got
ready for action. The loop was played out until it
had a diameter of about nine feet and was held in the
right hand, while the rest of the lasso was coiled up in
the left, which also grasped the reins.
Cautiously we rounded the forest-tongue, stole upon
the herd as closely as possible from behind and
suddenly pressed forward at full speed between the
cattle and the wood.
The herd broke away sideways, making for the
savanna in wild flight. We pursued the three cows-
riding at full tilt and swinging the lariats above our
heads in rhythmical, whistling circles, ready to let fly.

I galloped up to within fifteen yards of one of them,
keeping this distance for a few seconds by adapting
the speed of my horse to that of the fugitive, and then,
at the psychological moment, threw the rope.
I was successful: the noose fell fairly over the
widely-spread horns of the beast and contracted tightly
round its forehead. I let go the rope so that it was
held solely by the girth of my horse, but now came the
dangerous part of the business, for I was tied to the
cow which was rushing ahead in mad terror. If one
of my own or my horse's legs should become entangled
in the rope it would be severed from the body as if
cut off with a saw.
But the captive was in danger, too. Very gradually
I had to reduce my speed if I were not to run the risk
of breaking its neck and legs by too sudden a jerk.
This might snap even the strong lasso which was
woven out of four tough lengths of raw-hide and
which lashing back with a loud report, might seriously
injure both rider and horse.
At last I had checked the furious pace of the cow
sufficiently to risk pulling up my horse and placing
it at right-angles to the lasso. It braced its legs side-
ways, throwing its entire weight on the rope. But
for all my precaution, the captive was torn round with
a violent jerk and stood, with a bellow of rage and fear,
facing me with lowered horns.
Don Alejo also held a cow captive with his lasso;
but the animal which had been marked out by Paco
had got away, only one of its horns having been caught
by the noose. For a short time it had held to the
rough surface at the root of the horn, but when the

rope became taut it had slipped off and the heavy
iron ring recoiled on Paco like a projectile, closely
missing his head which he ducked only just in time.
Then Don Secundino had tried his luck with the animal
but with no better success.
We had considerable trouble in dragging along the
two cows which at first resisted violently, but after
a little while they submitted and we were able to take
off the lassos. With Paco's help the happy Don
Alejo drove them along in front of him in the direction
of the distant camp.
Don Secundino and I thought we would take just
another look into the next forest-bay before we
followed the two others, but in the excitement of our
search we rode further and further to the north, ever
following the fringe of the forest until we came to the
next herd.
The grass plain to our right had gradually narrowed
down and the forest on the other side converged upon
us like a dark coast-line, until at last the savanna
stretched like a broad river between wooded shores.
In the middle of this green river of grass, now barely
a couple of miles broad, darkly rose a small forest
On the opposite side of the plain lay a couple of
buildings-the farm of the Creole, Juan Retamar.
A few "neighbours" had fled there with their wives
and children from their own farms miles away, and
the men-about ten in number-believed themselves
strong enough to defend the farm-house against the
For all their daring however, they had provided for

a rapid retreat, as I could ascertain through my field-
glasses. Their grazing horses were tethered close to
the house, fully harnessed and saddled.
After a little hesitation we decided to ride over to
these folk. Perhaps they had noticed on their pastures
cattle bearing our brands or ear-marks and such
information would, of course, facilitate our search.
Before leaving cover, however, I carefully scanned the
country to the north through my glasses, but as nothing
suspicious came into view we ventured forth and galloped
over to the little wood in the middle of the savanna.
Here we dismounted, wedging ourselves and our
horses between the low-hanging branches of the
algaroba trees, and I again reconnoitred the plain and
dark forest fringes.

This precaution was our salvation. Far to the
north, but brought into our immediate neighbourhood
by the powerful glasses, appeared a large band of
Indian horsemen! With lances athwart their saddles
and holding their rifles in their hands for immediate
action, they were coming towards us at full tilt.
I quickly considered the possibility of joining the
farmers yonder before the Redskins were upon us,
but this seemed hazardous, for in front of us lay marshy
ground, recognizable by the marsh-hyacinths and rows
of wading herons and ibis. We would only be able
to advance step by step out there, running the risk of
being surrounded by the charging Mocowis before we
had got out of the swamp. To turn back seemed
equally rash, for as soon as our figures became detached
from the dark background of the forest-island, the

Indians would not fail to observe us; and if they took
up the pursuit it would be doubtful whether we could
make good our escape on our tired horses.
I therefore suggested to my companion that we
should hide and he agreed with me. It was no easy
matter, for the thicket was densely-grown with wild
pineapple whose long, sword-like leaves tore our
clothes and flesh with their sharp points and penetrated
the breasts and bellies of the animals so that they
reared and refused to go any further.
Don Secundino's progress was even slower than
mine. Usually so calm, he was now dreadfully
excited, and this made him both fidgety and clumsy.
At last we succeeded in squeezing ourselves so far
into the forest-island that we could hope to remain
unnoticed from the outside while we ourselves
had a perfectly good view of what was going on
before us.
We pulled off our coats and covered the heads of
our horses with them, for fear their snorting might
betray us to the enemy should they come near our
hiding-place. Then I took up my field-glasses again
in order to watch developments.
The Indians came on in a broad chain and when
they had got within half a mile of the buildings the two
wings began to push forward so that the front formed a
semicircle. Their intention to surround the building
was unmistakable.
With ear-splitting yells and howls the Red horsemen
descended upon the farm, and the settlers must have
realized that they were lost if they wasted time with
vain resistance, for everybody made for the horses.

The women mounted and the men quickly passed up
the children. Then they opened fire at the charging
Mocowis in order to cover the retreat of the fugitives.
But the Indians were still too far distant, and the
volleys had little or no effect upon the approaching
enemy. The men did not wait for a more favourable
range, but sprang into their saddles and, following the
women, raced away in a southerly direction. It was
all they could do to get through between the wood
on their left and the advancing wing of the enemy on
their right.
Suddenly my heart missed a beat. One of the
Whites had remained! I recognized him by his
full black beard. It was Ravaz the Frenchman.
His horse had shied and torn itself loose when he
tried to mount it, and had now bolted without its
But one of his companions tore back, facing almost
certain death. In vain he tried to drag Ravaz up on to
the horse behind him, but the planter was no gaucho.
He was a poor horseman, in fact, and all his attempts
to mount from the rear failed. The Redskins now gave
up the pursuit of the farmers and quickly advanced
upon the two remaining men, trying to surround them.
But before the ring closed about the two luckless
fellows, the rider made for the only remaining gap:
the marsh just in front of our hiding-place.
Ravaz caught hold of the long tail of the horse-a
desperate means of saving one's life known only on
the prairies of the hot countries, for only there are the
horses allowed to have long trailing tails in order to
enable them to keep off the mosquitoes. Great agility,

muscles of tempered-steel and the last extremity of
resolution, as that of a man running for life-all these
qualities are necessary for the successful performance
of the horse-tail trick.
These desirable qualities seemed to be united in
the man before us. In spite of the terrific speed at
which the horse tore him along, he did not once
stumble. Flying along behind the animal, every one
of his steps became a fantastic bound.
Nearly overtaken by the howling band, the fugitives
eventually reached the swamp. The animal sank into
the boggy ground up to its breast, but fortunately it
was strong, corn-fed, and worked itself across. Amidst
a hail of bullets horse and rider reached the opposite
bank and quickly escaped. In the meantime, how-
ever, the other fugitive got caught in the morass
and was forced to let slip the succouring tail of the
The Indians immediately fell upon Ravaz like a pack
of howling wolves, and I could no longer distinguish
him amid the throng who sprang from their horses
and were pressing around. Suddenly however the
twitching and thrashing body of the White man rose
above their heads, and as if playing at some gruesome
game of ball it was tossed up again and again, only to
be caught on the points of the Indians' lances.
We were doomed to witness the terrible death of
the poor fellow without being able to help, yet with
the certainty that a similar fate awaited us should the
savages, now drunk with blood, discover us. Escape
on our lean, exhausted horses was out of the ques-


The frightful shrieking and howling, the crash of
rifle-shots and thunder of hoofs frightened our
mounts which reared wildly, trying to free themselves
from the coats which covered their heads. But we
dared not remove these now, for in their terror they
would immediately have given vent to loud snorts
which would be heard far away. That would have
been the end of us. With great difficulty therefore
we held the unruly animals by their halters,
endeavouring to soothe them by stroking them.
But the position was to become still worse. Glancing
at Don Secundino, I saw that his face had undergone a
terrible change. I could hardly recognize him, dis-
torted as he was by fear. He let go his horse and
crouched down on all fours in an attempt to crawl
further into the forest through the prickly wall of wild
pineapple. He tore at the earth with his fingers,
trying to burrow into the ground like an armadillo.
His horse, no longer feeling the restraining hand
on the halter, and heedless of the many claw-like
thorns which hemmed us in, attempted to turn round
and escape into the open savanna. The coat had
slipped from its head but had caught on the bridle,
maddening it completely. In the nick of time I
clutched the trailing reins and in spite of the violent
jerk which tore the skin from the palm of my
hand, succeeded in holding the frightened animal
The stamping and snorting of the horse and the
snapping of broken branches had made such a commo-
tion that it seemed inevitable that we should be dis-
covered. I peered out fearfully half expecting to see

our hiding-place surrounded, but miraculously not a
single Indian was in sight.
From the farm beyond came the loud shrieking of
pigs. The plunderers were in the act of killing off the
smaller live-stock. They did not seem to be in a hurry,
and the hours dragged by in an agonizing eternity; for
in front of me lay the tattered corpse of the planter,
behind me crouched my demented companion, whilst
with each hand I had to curb a horse which tore madly
at the reins and would bring us death should my
grasp loosen for a moment.
At last the Mocowis departed in a northerly direc-
tion. They rode at a walk, passing quite close to us
and scouting on all sides. The carcasses of the stolen
pigs and sheep dangled, dripping blood, from the backs
of their mounts.
It required great firmness and patience to induce
the deranged Secundino to leave his imagined burrow.
Only by degrees did he come to himself and we were
able to start on our homeward journey. It was late
at night when we reached the camp.
News of the attack had already been received from
Juan Retamar and the other farmers. Everybody
was greatly excited, for they no longer felt safe here
and so next morning it was resolved that we should fly
further south into the neighbourhood of the Santa
Fe railway.
In low spirits the settlers, driven from their farms,
set out on the journey. Among the company, which
resembled a funeral procession, was the widow of the
slain Ravaz with her five small children. The women
each took one on the saddle in front of them, for we

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