again fall into silence or shuffle home, happy and satisfied after a good day's work.
Malaria is very common in some of the regions along the rivers, and Indians who come
from the mountains to work in the cotton and sugar plantations invariably fall victims to this
tropical fever. Once the effects of malaria have rendered them unfit for work, the landowners
simply dismiss them, the existing law that is supposed to protect the unfortunate semi-slaves
against this crime hardly ever being observed.
had a most unpleasant experience with a snake. On a sandy plain we had dismounted to have
a short rest, when suddenly the man shouted to me in a very excited manner. A small snake
had crawled under his mule, probably in order to take advantage ofthe only shady spot within
miles. The frightened man said that this was a particularly venomous reptile, and that its bite
would without doubt kill his mule. We tried to tease the snake away by throwing pebbles at it,
and fortunately the mule was very tame and did not move. However, instead of coming away
from under the beast, the snake tried to climb up one of its legs, and I held my breath, expect-
ing the mule to move or stamp, but somehow it did not seem to feel anything. We were lucky
ready for that purpose.
I had sometimes hired guides to take me through bad and tricky parts, but most of these
men were so useless, lazy and impertinent that I much preferred to travel alone, and leave the
rest to chance.
er remains of the old Indians could be seen, and when we arrived at the river it was already
dark. I knew that a village was not far from the opposite banks of the river, and as I had eaten
until I thought I had found a suitable place to cross, and there I made the horses wade out. I
had not expected to find such a strong current and began to wonder if it would not be wiser to
turn back, and just then the horse I was riding was swept off his feet. Very foolishly I still had
the pack animal tied tothe wide girth ofmymount, the usual manner inwhich lead-horses are
taken along inthe pampas. Before Ihadtime tothink, the three ofuswere swept downstream,
we had started. Besides having had a longer drink than I had bargained for, I rightly suspected
in what a mess I would find the contents of my saddlebags next day. I had no desire to make
a second attempt to cross the river that night, so I resigned myself to fate and prepared to wait
I went to spread my soaked blankets at the foot of a sandy hill close by, for there it would not
be damp, and the sand was still comfortably warm after the day's terrific heat. In spite of my
raving appetite and my wringing wet clothes I was soon fast asleep, but during the night I was
several times awakened by a strange noise that sounded like the beating of drums, or as if a