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Gatherer caught between a rock and a sad place rarest

gatherer caught between a rock and a sad place rarest

Lock bonus1xbetsports.website Unlocks the Golden Gatherer Merchant Sail for purchase. Captain of Silvered Waters, Place in the top three in Contests in The Arena. These are rare rock art depictions of a combination of human head Boundaries among hunter-gatherers were agreed upon by the. ' is almost impossible to answer—but what is staringin-the-face remarkable is that so many musical figures are shared between our music, in a. GOORAL BETTER PLACE TRACK LISTING

The slow, sweet call gave the boy a sense of companionship, and he fell asleep with the music of it still sounding in his ears. Toward midnight he woke with a vague sense of uneasiness. It was as if some hidden subconsciousness of danger had sounded an alarm note within his nerve centers and awakened him. Something seemed to be moving and whispering outside of the screened alcove.

Then a body struck the screen of mosquito-netting, and he heard the rotten fiber rip. Another second, and his little room was filled with moving, flitting, invisible shapes. Great wings fanned the air just above his face. There was the faint reek of hot, furry bodies passing back and forth and all around him.

For a moment Will lay thinking that he was in a nightmare, for he had that strange sense of horror which paralyzes one's muscles during a bad dream so that movement is impossible. At last, by a sudden effort, he stretched out his hand and struck a match from a box which stood on a stand beside his hammock. At the quick spurt of flame through the dark, from all parts of the little room came tiny, shrill screeches, and the air around him was black with whirling, darting shapes.

Suddenly into the little circle of light from the match swept the horrible figure of a giant bat, whose leathern wings had a spread of nearly two and a half feet, and whose horrible face hovered and hung close to his own. Never had the boy believed that any created thing could be so grotesquely hideous.

The face that peered into his own was flanked on each side by an enormous leathery ear. From the tip of the hairy muzzle grew a spearlike spike, and the grinning mouth was filled with rows of irregular, tiny, gleaming sharp teeth, gritting and clicking against each other. Deep-set little green eyes, which glistened and gleamed like glass, glared into Will's face. Before he could move, a great cloud of flying bats, large and small, settled down upon him. Some of them were small gray vampire-bats with white markings, others were the great fruit-eating bats, and there were still others dark-red, tawny-brown, and fox-yellow.

Whirling and wheeling around the little point of flame, they dashed it out, and crawled all over the boy until he felt stifled and smothered with the heat of their clinging bodies. Suddenly he felt a stinging pain in his bare shoulder and in one of his exposed feet.

As he threw out his hands desperately, tiny clicking teeth cut the flesh of wrists and arms. The scent of blood seemed to madden the whole company of these deaths-in-the-dark, and, although the actual bites were made by the little vampire-bats, yet at the sight of them feasting, the other night-fliers descended upon the boy like a black cloud and clustered around the little wounds, as Will had seen moths gather around syrup spread on trees of a warm June night.

The sting of their bites lasted for only a second, and the flapping of their wings made a cool current of air which seemed to drug his senses. Dreamily he felt them against him, knew that they were draining his life, yet lacked the will-power to drive them away.

Suddenly there flashed into his mind all that he had heard and read of the deadly methods of these dark enemies of mankind. With a shriek, he threw out his arms through the furry cloud that hung over him and sprang out of his hammock. At his scream, Professor Ditson rushed in with a flash-light, followed by Pinto, Hen, and Joe, while Jud slept serenely through the whole tumult.

They found Will dripping with blood from a dozen little punctures made by the sharp teeth of the bats, and almost exhausted from fright and the loss of blood. Then came pandemonium. Seizing sticks, brooms, machetes, anything that came to hand, while Will sank back into his hammock, the others attacked the bats. Lighted by the flash of Professor Ditson's electric light, they drove the squeaking, shrieking cloud of dark figures back and forth through the little room until the last one had escaped through the torn netting or was lying dead on the floor.

Twenty-seven bats altogether were piled in a heap when the fight was over. At Belem they boarded a well-appointed steamer and embarked for the thousand-mile voyage to Manaos, which is only six degrees from the equator and one of the hottest cities of the world. There followed another week of a life that was strange and new to the travelers from Cornwall.

There were silent, steaming days when the earth seemed to swoon beneath the glare of the lurid sun, and only at night would a breath of air cross the water, which gleamed like a silver burning-glass. For their very lives' sake, white men and Indians alike had learned to keep as quiet and cool as possible during those fiery hours. Only Hen, coming from a race that since the birth of time had lived close to the equator, moved about with a cheerfulness which no amount of heat or humidity could lessen.

At night, when the fatal sun had reluctantly disappeared in a mass of pink and violet clouds, the life-bringing breeze would blow in fresh and salt from the far-away sea, and all living creatures would revive. The boys soon learned that, in the mid-heat of a tropical summer, the night was the appointed time for play and work, and they slept during the day as much as possible in shaded, airy hammocks. One evening, after an unusually trying day, the night wind sprang up even before the sun had set.

Here and there, across the surface of the river, flashed snow-white swallows with dark wings. As the fire-gold of the sun touched the horizon, the silver circle of the full moon showed in the east, and for a moment the two great lights faced each other.

Then the sun slipped behind the rim of the world, and the moon rose higher and higher, while the Indian crew struck up a wailing chant full of endless verses, with a strange minor cadence like the folk-songs of the Southern negro.

Hen Pine translated the words of some of them, and crooned the wailing melody: "The moon is rising, The seven stars are weeping, Mother, Mother, To find themselves forsaken, Mother, Mother. Suddenly, in the still moonlight from the river-bank came a single low note of ethereal beauty and unutterable sorrow.

Slowly it rose and swelled, keeping its heartbreaking quality and exquisite beauty. At the sound the men stopped singing, and it seemed as if an angel were sobbing in the stillness. On and on the song went, running through eight lonely, lovely notes which rose and swelled until there seemed to be nothing in the world except that beautiful voice, finally ending in a sob which brought the tears to Will's eyes.

Then out into the moonlight flitted the singer, a quiet-colored little brown-and-gray bird, the celebrated solitaire, the sweetest, saddest singer of the Brazilian forest. After all this music, supper was served. It began with a thick, violet-colored drink in long glasses filled with cracked ice. The boys learned from Professor Ditson that this was made from the fruit of the assai-palm.

It was strangely compounded of sweet and sour and had besides a fragrance and a tingle which made it indescribably refreshing. This was followed by an iced preparation made from the root of the manioc, whose juice is poisonous, but whose pulp is wholesome and delicious. Before being served it had been boiled with the fruit of the miriti-palm, which added a tart sweetness to its taste which the Northerners found most delightful.

The next course was a golden-yellow compound of a rich, nutty flavor, the fruit of the mucuju-palm, which has a yellow, fibrous pulp so full of fat that vultures, dogs, and cats eat it greedily. For dessert, there was a great basket of sweet lemons, mangos, oranges, custard-apples, and other fruits.

After supper they all grouped themselves in the bow and there, in comfortable steamer-chairs, watched the steamer plow its way through a river of ink and silver. That day, Jud, while in his hammock, had seen, to his horror, what seemed to be a slender vine, dangling from one of the trees, change into a pale-green snake some eight feet long, whose strange head was prolonged into a slender, pointed beak.

Even as the old man stared, it flashed across the deck not two feet away from him and disappeared in another tree. So perfectly did its color blend with the leaves that the instant it reached them it seemed to vanish from sight. If you had only been brave enough," he went on severely, "to catch it with your naked hand, we might even now have an invaluable record of the effects of its venom.

I was collecting butterflies in India at a time of the year when it is especially pugnacious, and this particular snake dashed out of a thicket at me. It came so unexpectedly that I had to run for my life. It seems ridiculous that I should have done so," he went on apologetically, "but the bite of the hamadryad is absolutely fatal.

This one gained on me so rapidly that I was at last compelled to plunge into a near-by pond, since this variety of snake never willingly enters water. With the rare intelligence which makes the hamadryad such a favorite among collectors, it had circled the lake and was waiting for me. What did you do then? Jud drew a deep breath. I was hoein' corn up on a side hill in Cornwall when I was about sixteen year old," he continued. You know," he explained, "a hoop-snake has an ivory stinger in its tail an' rolls along the ground like a hoop, an' when it strikes it straightens out an' shoots through the air just like a spear.

As I slid under the fence," he went on, "I heard a thud, an' looked back just in time to see the old hoop-snake shoot through the air an' stick its stinger deep into the hoe-handle. It sure was a pizen snake, all right," he went on, wagging his head solemnly. Professor Ditson was vastly indignant. Although Hen and Pinto and the Professor were used to this kind of craft, it did not appeal at all favorably to the Northerners, who were accustomed to the light bark-canoes and broad-bladed paddles of the Northern Indians.

Joe was especially scornful. After a day, a night, and another day of paddling, they circled a wide bend, and there, showing like ink in the moonlight, was the mouth of another river. Hen joined in Pinto's protest. Your conversation is inconsequential. About midnight the forest became so dense that it was impossible to follow the channel safely, and the professor ordered the boat to be anchored for the night.

Usually it was possible to make a landing and camp on shore, but to-night in the thick blackness of the shadowed bank, it was impossible to see anything. Accordingly, the party, swathed in mosquito-netting, slept as best they could in the montaria itself. It was at the gray hour before dawn, when men sleep soundest, that Jud was awakened by hearing a heavy thud against the side of the boat close to his head.

It was repeated, and in the half-light the old man sat up. Once again came the heavy thud, and then, seemingly suspended in the air above the side of the boat close to his head, hung a head of horror. Slowly it thrust itself higher and higher, until, towering over the side of the boat, showed the fixed gleaming eyes and the darting forked tongue of a monstrous serpent.

Paralyzed for a moment by his horror for all snake-kind, the old man could not move, and held his breath until the blood drummed in his ears. Only when the hideous head curved downward toward Joe did Jud recover control of himself. His prisoned voice came out then with a yell like a steam-siren, and he fumbled under his left armpit for the automatic revolver which he wore in the wilderness, night and day, strapped there in a water-proof case.

Quick as they were, the huge anaconda, whose family includes the largest water-snakes of the world, was even quicker. With a quick dart of its head, it fixed its long curved teeth in the shoulder of the sleeping boy, and in an instant, some twenty feet of glistening coils glided over the side of the boat.

The scales of the monster shone like burnished steel, and it was of enormous girth in the middle, tapering off at either end. Jud dared not shoot at the creature's head for fear of wounding Joe, but sent bullets as fast as he could pull the trigger into the great girth, which tipped the heavy boat over until the water nearly touched the gunwale. Pinto slashed with all his might with his machete at the back of the great snake, but it was like attempting to cut through steel-studded leather.

In spite of the attack, the coils of the great serpent moved toward the boy, who, without a sound, struggled to release his shoulder from the terrible grip of the curved teeth. The anaconda, the sucuruju of the natives, rarely ever attacks a man; but when it does, it is with difficulty driven away. This one, in spite of steel and bullets, persisted in its attempt to engulf the body of the struggling boy in its coils, solid masses of muscle powerful enough to break every bone in Joe's body.

It was Hen Pine who finally saved the boy's life. Awakened by the sound of the shots and the shouts of Jud and Pinto, he reached Joe just as one of the fatal coils was half around him. With his bare hands he caught hold of both of the fierce jaws and with one tremendous wrench of his vast arms literally tore them apart. Released from their death grip, Joe rolled to one side, out of danger.

The great snake hissed fiercely, and its deadly, lidless eyes glared into those of the man. Slowly, with straining, knotted muscles, Hen wrenched the grim jaws farther and farther apart. Then bracing his vast forearms, he bowed his back in one tremendous effort that, in spite of the steel-wire muscles of the great serpent, bent its deadly jaws backward and tore them down the sides, ripping the tough, shimmering skin like so much paper. Slowly, with a wrench and a shudder, the great water-boa acknowledged defeat, and its vast body pierced, slashed, and torn, reluctantly slid over the side of the boat.

As Hen released his grip of the torn jaws, the form of the giant serpent showed mirrored for an instant against the moonlit water and then disappeared in the inky depths below. Joe's thick flannel shirt had saved his arm from any serious injury, but Professor Ditson washed out the gashes made by the sharp curved teeth with permanganate of potash, for the teeth of the boas and pythons, although not venomous, may bring on blood-poisoning, like the teeth of any wild animal.

Jud was far more shaken by the adventure than Joe, who was as impassive as ever. Now they're beginnin' to creep out of the water to kill us off in our sleep. What a country! It was Pinto who prevented the inevitable and heated discussion between the elders of the party. He at least seventy-five feet long.

We feed him goats every week. My grandfather and his grandfather's grandfather knew him. Once," went on Pinto, "I found him coiled up beside the river in such a big heap that I couldn't see over the top of the coils. Between the two, I'm gettin' all wore out. The old men of my tribe say that always dangers come here by threes. One is passed, but two more are yet to come.

Never, Master, should we have entered this river by night. The party had finished breakfast, and the montaria was anchored in a smooth, muddy lagoon which led from the river back some distance into the forest. While Will and Hen fished from the bow of the boat the rest of the party curled themselves up under the shade of the overhanging trees to make up their lost sleep. At first, the fish bit well and the two caught a number which looked much like the black bass of northern waters.

A minute later, a school of fresh-water flying-fish broke water near them and flashed through the air for a full twenty yards, like a flight of gleaming birds. As the sun burned up the morning mist, it changed from a sullen red to a dazzling gold and at last to a molten white, and the two fishermen nodded over their poles as little waves of heat ran across the still water and seemed to weigh down their eyelids like swathings of soft wool.

The prow of the boat swung lazily back and forth in the slow current which set in from the main river. Suddenly the dark water around the boat was muddied and discolored, as if something had stirred up the bottom ten feet below.

Then up through the clouded water drifted a vast, spectral, grayish-white shape. Nearer and nearer to the surface it came, while Hen and Will dozed over their poles. Will sat directly in the bow, and his body, sagging with sleep, leaned slightly over the gunwale. Suddenly the surface of the water was broken by a tremendous splash, and out from its depth shot half the body of a fish nearly ten feet in length.

Its color was the gray-white of the ooze at the bottom of the stream in which it had lain hidden until attracted to the surface by the shadow of the montaria drifting above him. Will awakened at the hoarse shout from Hen just in time to see yawning in front of him a mouth more enormous than he believed any created thing possessed outside of the whale family.

It was a full five feet between the yawning jaws, which were circled by a set of small sharp teeth. Even as he sprang back, the monster lunged forward right across the edge of the boat and the jaws snapped shut. Will rolled to one side in an effort to escape the menancing depths, and although he managed to save his head and body from the maw of the great fish, yet the jaws closed firmly on both his extended arms, engulfing them clear to the shoulder. The little teeth, tiny in comparison with the size of the jaws in which they were set, hardly more than penetrated the sleeves of his flannel shirt and pricked the skin below, but as the monster lurched backward toward the water its great weight drew the boy irresistibly toward the edge of the boat, although he dug his feet into the thwarts and twined them around the seat on which he had been sitting.

Once in the river, the fatal jaws would open again, and he felt that he would be swallowed as easily as a pike would take in a minnow. Even as he was dragged forward to what seemed certain death, Will did not fail to recognize a familiar outline in the vast fish-face against which he was held. The small, deep-set eyes, the skin like oiled leather, long filaments extending from the side of the jaw, and the enormous round head were nothing more than that of the catfish or bullhead which he used to catch at night behind the mill-dam in Cornwall, enlarged a thousand times.

Although the monster, in spite of its unwieldy size, had sprung forth, gripped its intended prey, and started back for the water in a flash, yet Hen Pine was even quicker. In spite of his size, there was no one in the party quicker in an emergency than the giant negro. Even as he sprang to his feet he disengaged the huge steel machete which always dangled from his belt.

Hen's blade, which he used as a bush-hook and a weapon, was half again as heavy as the ordinary machete, and he always kept it ground to a razor edge. He reached the bow just as the great, gray, glistening body slipped back over the gunwale, dragging Will irresistibly with it. Swinging the broad heavy blade over his head, with every ounce of effort in his brawny body, Hen, brought the keen edge down slantwise across the gray back of the river-monster, which tapered absurdly small in comparison with the vast spread of the gaping jaws.

It was such a blow as Richard the Lion-hearted might have struck; and just as his historic battle-sword would shear through triple steel plate and flesh and bone, so that day the machete of Hen Pine, unsung in song or story, cut through the smooth gray skin, the solid flesh beneath, and whizzed straight on through the cartilaginous joints of the great fish's spine, nor ever stopped until it had sunk deep into the wood of the high gunwale of the boat itself.

With a gasping sigh, the monster's head rolled off the edge of the boat and slowly sank through the dark water, leaving the long, severed trunk floating on the surface. Reaching out, the negro caught the latter by one of the back fins and secured it with a quick twist of a near-by rope. Ol' piraiba try to eat you; now you eat him. They's more afraid of it," Hen said, "than they is of alligators or anacondas. The next two days, however, seemed to indicate that the River had exhausted its malice against the travelers.

The party paddled through a panorama of sights and sounds new to the Northerners, and at night camped safely on high, dry places on the banks. On the morning of the third day the whole party started down the river before daylight and watched the dawn of a tropical day, a miracle even more beautiful than the sunrises of the North.

One moment there was perfect blackness; then a faint light showed in the east; and suddenly, without the slow changes of Northern skies, the whole east turned a lovely azure blue, against which showed a film and fretwork of white clouds, like wisps of snowy lace. Just as the sun came up they passed a tall and towering conical rock which shot up three hundred feet among the trees and terminated in what looked like a hollowed summit.

Pinto told them that this was Treasure Rock, and that nearly half a thousand years ago the Spaniards, in the days when they were the cruel conquerors of the New World, had explored this river. From the ancestors of Pinto's nation and from many another lesser Indian tribe they had carried off a great treasure of gold and emeralds and diamonds.

Not satisfied with these, they had tried to enslave the Indians and make them hunt for more. Finally, in desperation the tribes united, stormed their persecutors' camp, killed some, and forced the rest to flee down the river in canoes. When the Spaniards reached the rock, they landed, and, driving iron spikes at intervals up its steep side, managed to clamber up to the very crest and haul their treasure and stores of water and provisions after them by ropes made of lianas.

There, safe from the arrows of their pursuers in the hollow top, they stood siege until the winter rains began. Then, despairing of taking the fortress, the Indians returned to their villages; whereupon the Spaniards clambered down, the last man breaking off the iron spikes as he came, and escaped to the Spanish settlements. Behind them, in the inaccessible bowl on the tip-top of the rock, they left their treasure-chest, expecting to return with the reinforcements and rescue it.

The years went by and the Spaniards came not again to Black River, but generation after generation of Indians handed down the legend of Treasure Rock, with the iron-bound chest on its top, awaiting him who can scale its height. Jud, a treasure-hunter by nature, was much impressed by Pinto's story. Beyond a bend in the river stretched before them a long gorge. There the stream had narrowed, and, rushing across a ledge shaped like a horseshoe, foamed and roared and beat its way among the great boulders.

The paddlers brought their craft into smooth water under an overhanging bank while they held a council of war. For a long time the whole party carefully studied the distant rapids. The Indian boy, who had paddled long journeys on the rivers and seas of the far Northwest, shook his head doubtfully.

It was Professor Ditson who finally made the decision. One must take some chances in life. There seems to be a channel through the very center of the horseshoe. Let's go! Then all the belongings of the party were shifted so as to ballast the unwieldy craft as well as possible, and in another moment they shot out into the swift current. Faster and faster the trees and banks flashed by, like the screen of a motion picture. Not even a fleck of foam broke the glassy surface of the swirling current.

With smooth, increasing speed, the river raced toward the rapids which roared and foamed ahead, while swaying wreaths of white mist, shot through with rainbow colors, floated above the welter of raging waters and the roar of the river rose to shout.

Beyond, a black horseshoe of rock stretched from one bank to the other in a half-circle, and in front of it sharp ridges and snags showed like black fangs slavered with the foam of the river's madness. In another second the boat shot into the very grip of these jaws of death. Standing with his lithe, copper-colored body etched against the foam of the rapids, the Mundurucu held the lives of every one of the party in his slim, powerful hands.

Accustomed from boyhood to the handling of the river-boats of his tribe through the most dangerous of waters, he stood that day like the leader of an orchestra, directing every movement of those behind him, with his paddle for a baton. Only a crew of the most skilled paddlers had a chance in that wild water; and such a crew was obedient to the Indian.

In the stern, the vast strength of the giant negro swung the montaria into the course which the bow paddler indicated by his motions, while the other four, watching his every movement, were quick to paddle or to back on their respective sides. At times, as an unexpected rock jutted up before him in the foam, the Indian would plunge his paddle slantwise against the current and would hold the boat there for a second, until the paddlers could swing it, as on a fulcrum, out of danger.

Once the craft was swept with tremendous force directly at an immense boulder, against which the water surged and broke. To Jud and the boys it seemed as if Pinto had suddenly lost his control of the montaria, for, instead of trying to swing out of the grip of the currents that rushed upon the rock, he steered directly at its face. The Mundurucu, however, knew his business. Even as Jud tensed his muscles for the crash, the rebound and undertow of the waters, hurled back from the face of the rock, caught the boat and whirled it safely to one side of the boulder.

In and out among the reefs and fangs of rock the Mundurucu threaded the boat so deftly, and so well did his crew behind him respond, that in all that tumult of dashing waves the heavy craft shipped no water outside of the flying spray. In another minute they were clear of the outlying reefs and ledges and speeding toward the single opening in the black jaw of rock that lay ahead of them.

Here it was that, through no fault of their steersman, the great mishap of the day overtook them. Just beyond the gap in the rock was a little fall, not five feet high, hidden by the spray. As Pinto passed through the narrow opening he swung the bow of the boat diagonally so as to catch the smoother current toward the right-hand bank of the river, which at this point jutted far out into the rapids.

As he swerved, the long montaria shot through the air over the fall. The Indian tried to straighten his course, but it was too late. In an instant the boat had struck at an angle the rushing water beyond, with a force that nearly drove it below the surface.

Before it could right itself, the rush of the current from behind struck it broadside, and in another second the montaria, half-filled with the water which it had shipped, capsized, and its crew were struggling in the current. It was Hen Pine who reached the river first. When he saw that the boat was certain to upset he realized that his only chance for life was to reach smooth water.

Even while the montaria was still in mid-air he sprang far out toward the bank, where a stretch of unbroken current set in toward a tiny cape, beyond which it doubled back into a chaos of tossing, foaming water where not even the strongest swimmer would have a chance for life. Hen swam with every atom of his tremendous strength, in order to reach that point before he was swept into the rapids beyond.

His bare black arms and vast shoulders, knotted and ridged with muscle, thrashed through the water with the thrust of a propeller-blade as he swam the river-crawl which he had learned from Indian swimmers. For an instant it seemed as if he would lose, for when nearly abreast of the little cape several feet of racing current still lay between him and safety.

Sinking his head far under the water, he put every ounce of strength into three strokes, the last of which shot him just near enough to the bank to grip a tough liana which dangled like a rope from an overhanging tree-top.

Pinto, who was next, although no mean swimmer, would never have made the full distance, yet managed to grasp one of Hen's brawny legs, which stretched far out into the current. Professor Ditson was the next one to win safety, for the two boys were staying by Jud, who was a most indifferent swimmer. As the professor's long, thin legs dangled out into the current like a pair of tongs, with a desperate stroke Will caught one of his ankles, and was gripped in turn by Joe, and Jud locked both of his arms around the latter's knees, while the swift river tossed his gray hair and beard along its surface.

As the full force of the current caught this human chain it stretched and sagged ominously. Then each link tightened up and prepared to hold as long as flesh and blood could stand the strain. Only hurry—the professor won't be able to hold on much longer, nor Hen to stand the strain. He was followed by link after link of the human chain until they were all safe at the edge of the bank. Hen was the first to scramble up and give the others a helping hand, and a moment later all six of the treasure-seekers stood safe on the high ridge of the little promontory and sadly watched the boat which had borne them so well smash into a mass of floating, battered planks among the rocks and disappear down the current.

Along with it went their guns, their ammunition, and their supplies. Jud alone retained the automatic revolver which he always wore, with a couple of clips holding sixteen cartridges, besides the eight in the cylinder. Hen also could not be termed weaponless, for he still wore his machete; while Will had a belt-ax, Joe a light hatchet, and Professor Ditson a sheath-knife. Besides these, the Indian had his bamboo tinder-box and flint and steel, which he always wore in his belt.

These and the jack-knives and a few miscellaneous articles which they happened to have in their pockets or fastened to their belts comprised the whole equipment of the party. Before them stretched a hundred miles of uncharted jungle, infested by dangerous beasts and wandering cannibal tribes, through which they must pass to reach the old Slave Trail. Half that distance behind them was the Amazon.

If once they could find their way back to that great river and camp on its banks, sooner or later a boat would go by which would take them back to Manaos. This, however, might mean weeks of delay and perhaps the abandonment of the whole trip. As they stood upon a white sand-bank far enough back from the river so that the roar of the rapids no longer deafened them, it was Pinto who spoke first. Let us have fire and food first.

A man thinks more wisely with his head when his stomach is warm and full. When he had a little pile on the white sand in front of him, he opened the same kind of tinder-box that our ancestors used to carry less than a century and a half ago. Taking out from this an old file and a bit of black flint, with a quick glancing blow he sent half a dozen sparks against a dry strip of feltlike substance found only in the nests of certain kinds of ants.

In a minute a deep glow showed from the end of this tinder, and, placing it under the pile of shavings, Pinto blew until the whole heap was in a light blaze. Hastily piling dry wood on top of this, he left to the others the task of keeping the fire going and, followed by Will, hurried through the jungle toward the towering fronds of a peach-palm, which showed above the other trees. Twisting together two or three lianas, the Indian made from them a light, strong belt.

This he slipped around himself and the tree, and, gripping it in both hands, began to walk up the rough trunk, leaning against this girdle and pushing it up with each step, until, sixty feet from the ground, he came to where the fruit of the tree was clustered at its top. It grew in a group of six, each one looking like a gigantic, rosy peach a foot in diameter.

In a moment they all came whizzing to the ground, and the two staggered back to the fire with the party's supper on their backs. Stripping off the thick husk, Pinto exposed a soft kernel which, when roasted on the coals, tasted like a delicious mixture of cheese and chestnuts. When at last all the members of the party were full-fed and dry, the wisdom of Pinto's counsel was evident.

Every one was an optimist; and, after all, the best advice in life comes from optimists. Even Pinto and Hen felt that, now that they had lived through the third misfortune, they need expect no further ill luck from the river. Jud seemed less positive. Yet," he went on judicially, "there's a hundred miles of unexplored forests between us and the perfesser's trail, if there is any such thing.

We've lost our guns; we've no provisions; we're likely to run across bands of roving cannibals; lastly, it may take us months to cut our way through this jungle. Therefore I vote—forward! John cut wood! It was only a spotted goatsucker, a bird belonging to the same family as our northern whip-poor-will, but Hen was much amused. Get busy and cut wood," he laughed, slapping his friend mightily on the back.

Master," he said to Professor Ditson, "if all will help, I can make a montaria in less than a week, better than the one we lost. Then we not have to cut our way through jungle. There, on soft white sand above the mosquito-belt, they slept the sleep of exhaustion. It was after midnight when Will, who was sleeping between Professor Ditson and Jud, suddenly awoke with a start.

Something had sniffed at his face. Without moving, he opened his eyes and looked directly into a pair that flamed green through the darkness. In the half-light of the setting moon he saw, standing almost over him, a heavily built animal as big as a small lion. Yet the short, upcurved tail and the rosettes of black against the gold of his skin showed the visitor to be none other than that terror of the jungle, the great jaguar, which in pioneer days used to come as far north as Arkansas and is infinitely more to be feared than the panthers which our forefathers dreaded so.

This one had none of the lithe grace of the cougars which Will had met during the quest of the Blue Pearl, but gave him the same impression of stern tremendous strength and girth that a lion possesses. All of these details came to Will the next day. At that moment, as he saw the great round head of this king of the South American forest within a foot of his own, he was probably the worst scared boy on the South American continent.

Will knew that a jaguar was able to drag a full-grown ox over a mile, and that this one could seize him by the throat, flirt his body over one shoulder, and disappear in the jungle almost before he could cry out. The great beast seemed, however, to be only mildly interested in him. Probably he had fed earlier in the evening. Even as Will stared aghast into the gleaming eyes of the great cat, he saw, out of the corner of his eye, Jud's right hand stealing toward his left shoulder.

The old trapper, as usual, was wide awake when any danger threatened. Before, however, he had time to reach his automatic, Professor Ditson, equally watchful from his side, suddenly clapped his hands together sharply, close to the jaguar's pricked-up ears. The effect was instantaneous. With a growl of alarm, the great beast sprang backward and disappeared like a shadow into the forest.

The professor sat up. If you had shot him," he continued severely to Jud, who held his cocked revolver in one hand, "he would have killed the boy and both of us before he died himself. It was this occurrence which started a discussion the next morning in regard to weapons, offensive and defensive. There was a flash, a sharp spat, and the case of nuts about twice the size of a man's fist came whizzing to the ground. Hen stared at the old trapper with his mouth open. Joe said nothing, but, drawing from his belt the keen little hatchet which he always carried, poised himself with his left foot forward, and, whirling the little weapon over his head, sent it hurtling through the air toward the same Brazil-nut tree.

The little ax buzzed like a bee and, describing a high curve, buried itself clear to the head in the soft bark. Picking up a couple of heavy round stones, Will put himself into a pitching position and sent one whizzing in a low straight peg which hardly rose at all and which struck the tree close to Joe's hatchet with a smack which would have meant a broken bone for any man or beast that it struck; for, as Joe had found out when the two were pursued by Scar Dawson's gang, Will was a natural-born stone-thrower, with deadly speed and accuracy.

It was Professor Ditson, however, who gave what was perhaps the most spectacular exhibition of all. Standing before them, lean and gaunt, he suddenly reached to his belt and drew out a keen, bone-handled, double-edged sheath-knife. Poising this flat on the palm of his hand, he threw it, with a quick jerk, with much the same motion of a cricket-bowler. The keen weapon hissed through the air like an arrow, and was found sunk nearly to the hilt in the bark between the mark of Will's stone and the head of Joe's hatchet.

Laying this down on a hard stump, Pinto, with the utmost care, split the whole length into halves. Then, fumbling in his belt he pulled from it one of the sharp teeth of the paca, that curious reddish rodent which is half-way in size and appearance between a hog and a hare and which is equally at home on land and in water, and whose two-inch cutting-teeth are among the favorite ready-made tools of all South American Indians.

With one of these Pinto carefully hollowed out each section of the stick, smoothing and polishing the concave surface until it was like glass. Then, fitting the two halves together, he wound them spirally with a long strip of tape which he made from the tough, supple wood of a climbing palm, waxed with the black wax of the stingless bees. When it was finished he had a light, hollow tube about nine feet long. At one end, which he tapered slightly, he fixed, upright, the tiny tooth of a mouse, which he pressed down until only a fleck of shining ivory showed as a sight above the black surface of the tube.

At the other end he fitted in a cup-shaped mouthpiece, chiseled out of a bit of light, seasoned wood. By noon it was finished, and Jud and the boys saw for the first time the deadly blow-gun of the Mundurucu Indians. For arrows, Pinto cut tiny strips from the flinty leaf-stalks of palm-leaves. These he scraped until the end of each was as sharp as a needle.

Then he feathered them with little oval masses of silk from the seed-vessels of silk-cotton trees, whose silk is much fluffier and only about half the weight of ordinary cotton. In a short time he had made a couple of dozen of these arrows, each one of which fitted exactly to the bore of the blow-gun, and also fashioned for himself a quiver of plaited grasses, which he wore suspended from his shoulder with a strip of the palm tape.

Late in the afternoon he made another trip into the forest, returning with a mass of bark scraped from a tree called by the Indians mavacure, but which the white settlers in South America have named the poison tree. This bark he wet in the river, and then pounded it between two stones into a mass of yellowish fibers, which he placed in a funnel made of a plantain-leaf. Under this he set one of the aluminum cups which each of the party carried fastened to his belt.

This done, he poured in cold water and let the mass drip until the cup was full of a yellow liquid, which he heated over a slow fire. When it thickened he poured in some of the milky juice of another near-by tree, which turned the mixture black. When it had boiled down to a thick gummy mass, Pinto wrapped it up carefully in a palm-leaf, after first dipping every one of his arrows into the black compound.

So ended the making of the famous urari arrow-poison, which few white men indeed have ever seen brewed. When it was safely put away, Pinto carefully fitted one of the tiny arrows into the mouthpiece and raised the blow-gun to his mouth, holding it with both hands touching each other just beyond the mouthpiece, instead of extending his left arm, as a white man would hold a gun.

Even as he raised the long tube, there came a crashing through the near-by trees, and the party looked up to see a strange sight. Rushing along the branches came a pale greenish-gray lizard, marked on the sides with black bars and fully six feet in length. Along its back ran a crest of erect spines. Even as its long compressed tail whisked through the foilage, a reddish animal, which resembled a lanky raccoon, sprang after it like a squirrel, following hard on its trail.

Little by little, the rapid bounds of the mammal overtook the swift glides of the reptile, and in a tree-top some fifty yards away the iguana turned at bay. In spite of its size and the threatening, horrible appearance of its uplifted spines, the coati made short work of it, worrying it like a dog, and finally breaking its spine. Even as its long bulk hung lifeless from the powerful jaws of the animal, Pinto drew a deep breath and, sighting his long tube steadily toward the distant animal, drove his breath through the mouthpiece with all his force.

There followed a startling pop, and a white speck flashed through the air toward the coati. A second later, the latter, still holding the dead iguana, gave a spring as if struck by something, and started off again through the tree-tops, the great body of the dead lizard trailing behind. Suddenly the coati began to go slower and slower and then stopped short. Its head drooped. First one paw and then another relaxed, until, with a thud, the coati and iguana struck the ground together both stone-dead.

The boys rushed over and found Pinto's tiny, deadly arrow embedded deep in the coati's side. Less than a minute had passed since it had been struck, but the deadly urari had done its work. Fortunately, this poison does not impair the food value of game, and later on, over a bed of coals, Hen made good his words about their eating qualities. The coati tasted like roast 'possum, while the flesh of the giant lizard was as white and tender as chicken. Followed a week of hard work for all.

Under Pinto's directions, taking turns with Jud's ax, they cut down a yellow stonewood tree, which was almost as hard and heavy as its name. Out of the trunk they shaped a log some nineteen feet in length and three feet through, which, with infinite pains and with lianas for ropes, they dragged on rollers to the water's edge. Then, with enormous labor, working by shifts with Joe's hatchet, Jud's ax, and Hen's machete, they managed to hollow out the great log.

At the end of the fourth day, Jud struck. If I work much longer on palm-nuts I'm liable to go plumb nutty myself. It was Jud who first came across game, a scant half-mile from camp, meeting there an animal which is one of the strangest still left on earth and which, along with the duck-bill of Australia and the great armadillo, really belongs to a past age, before man came to earth, but by some strange accident has survived to this day. In front of him, digging in a dry bank with enormous curved claws, was an animal over six feet in length and about two feet in height.

It had great hairy legs, and a tremendous bushy tail, like a vast plume, curled over its back. Its head ended in a long, tapering, toothless snout, from which was thrust constantly a wormlike, flickering tongue, while a broad oblique stripe, half gray and half black, showed on either side. Pinto's face shone with pleasure when he came up.

Upon seeing them, the great beast shuffled away, but was soon brought to bay, when it stood with its back against the bank, swinging its long snout back and forth and making a little whining noise. Jud was about to step in and kill it with a blow from his ax, but Pinto held him back. You watch. Again came the fatal pop, and the next second one of the tiny arrows was embedded like a thorn in the side of the monster's snout. For a moment the great ant-eater tried to dislodge the tiny pointed shaft with his enormous claws.

Then he stopped, stood motionless for a while, swayed from side to side, and sank dead without a sound or struggle. With the help of Jud's ax and his own knife, the Indian soon quartered and dressed the great beast and an hour later the two staggered back to camp loaded down with a supply of meat which, when roasted, tasted much like tender pork.

Then a slow fire was kindled under its whole length. Pinto tended this most carefully, so that the heat would spread evenly. Gradually, under the blaze, the green wood spread out. This was the most critical point in this forest boat-building, for if there were too much heat at any one point, a crack might start through the log and all the work of the week go for nothing. As the great log opened out, the Indian moved constantly up and down its length, checking the blaze here and there with wet moss where the sides were spreading out too fast.

At several different points he fitted in straddlers, with wedges made from stonewood branches. By skilfully changing the pressure of these and varying the heat at different points the hollowed log at last took on a graceful curve, with tapered turned-up ends. Green strips of stonewood were fitted in for gunwales, and seats and semicircular end-boards put in place. Then the long dugout was allowed to cool off gradually all through one night.

As it contracted, it locked in place gunwales, seats and thwarts. Another day was given to fashioning light paddles out of palm-wood; and then at last, one week after their shipwreck, these latter-day Argonauts were once more afloat upon Black River. There followed long days, in each of which three seasons were perfectly reproduced.

The mornings had all the chill of early spring; by noon came the blinding heat of midsummer; and the nights, of the same length as the days, had the frosty tang of autumn. During the morning of each day they paddled, lying by at noon-time in cool, shaded lagoons where they slept or fished.

At other times they would collect nuts and fruits on the shore, under the direction of Professor Ditson, or take turns in going with Pinto on short hunting-trips, during which all kinds of strange game would fall before his deadly blow-gun. It was Jud who went with him on the first of these hunts.

As they came to the bank of one of the many streams that ran into the Black River, the old trapper caught sight of a strange animal on the bank which looked like a great guinea-pig about the size of a sheep. Its wet hide was all shining black in the sunlight, and even as Jud turned to ask the Indian what it was, there sounded just behind him the fatal pop of the blow-gun, a venomous little arrow buzzed through the air, and a second later was sticking deep in the beast's blunt muzzle.

Like an enormous muskrat, the stranger scrambled to the edge of the stream, plunged in, and disappeared in the dark water. A few minutes later, the limp, dead body of the capybara, the largest of all aquatic rodents floated to the surface. Jud was about to wade into the shallow water and secure it when he was stopped by the Mundurucu. That night the whole party camped on a high, dry, sandy bluff where Pinto and Hen dressed the capybara and roasted parts of it on long green spits of ironwood.

Will sampled the dank, dark meat cautiously. From another trip, Pinto brought back a coaita, one of the spider-monkeys which had so affected Will's appetite on the occasion of their first meal at Professor Ditson's house. This one had a long, lank body covered with coarse black hair, while its spectral little face was set in a mass of white whiskers.

Will ate the rich, sweet meat shudderingly. It was Jud and Will who accompanied Pinto on the third and most eventful trip of all. The boat had been beached at the slope of a high bank; and, while the others dozed or slept, Pinto and his two companions started through the woods on their hunt for any game which might add some kind of meat to their menu. A hundred yards from the bank the jungle deepened and darkened.

Everywhere the strangler-fig was killing straight, slim palms and towering silk-cotton and paradise-nut trees. At first, this assassin among the tree-folk runs up its victim's trunk like a vine. As the years go by, it sends out shoots and stems around and around the tree it has chosen.

These join and grow together, forming a vast hollow trunk, in the grip of which the other tree dies. Pools of black water showed here and there at the foot of the strangled trees, and something sinister seemed to hang over this stretch of jungle. Even as he spoke, there sounded among the distant trees ominous grunting groans, and here and there among the shadows dark shapes could be seen moving about. The fierce moaning grew louder, mingled with a clicking noise like castanets.

They were liable to bite a piece out of you as big as a tea-cup. I'm in favor of lettin' these big fellows strictly alone. As they came closer and closer, each of the peccaries seemed nearly as large as the wild boar of European forests, while their lips and lower jaws were pure white. The Mundurucu showed signs of alarm. Better each one choose a tree. With a deep groan, he lowered his head and charged at full speed, his tusks clattering as he came, while the white foam showed like snow against the raised bristles of his back.

The whole herd followed—a nightmare of fierce heads, gleaming red eyes, and clicking, dagger-like tusks. Against such a rush Jud's automatic was as useless as Pinto's blow-gun or Will's throwing-stones. There was only one thing to do, and, with the utmost promptness all three of the party did it.

Jud went up the vinelike trunk of a small strangler-fig hand over hand, nor ever stopped until he was safe astride the branch of a stonewood tree, twenty feet from the ground. Pinto, gripping the rough red bark of a cow tree, walked up it Indian fashion until he was safely seated in a crotch far above the ground. Will was not so fortunate. Near him was the smooth bark of an assai-palm. Twice he tried to climb it, and twice slipped back.

Then, with every muscle tense, he dodged behind it and sprinted, as he had never run before, across a little opening to where a vast strangler-fig had swallowed a Brazil-nut tree in its octopus grip. The rush of the charging herd was hard on his heels as he reached the tree, and he had just time to swerve around its trunk and grip one of the vinelike tentacles which had not yet become a part of the solid shell of the strangler. Even as he swung himself from the ground, the bristling head of one of the herd struck against his feet, and he kicked them aloft just in time to avoid the quick double slash of the sharp tusks that followed.

Up and up he went, while the whole shell-like structure of the fig swayed and bent under his weight and dry dust from the dead nut tree powdered down upon him in showers. Finally he reached a safe stopping-place, where he could stand with both feet resting in a loop which the snakelike fig had made in one of its twisting turns around its victim.

For a few minutes the trio in the tree-tops sat and stared in silence at one another and the weaving, champing herd of furious beasts below. It was Jud who spoke first. Will amused himself by watching the birds which passed him among the tree-tops and listening to some of their strange and beautiful songs. At any time of the year and in any part of the world, a bird-student can always find pleasure in his hobby where unseeing, unhearing people find nothing of interest.

To-day the first bird that caught his eye looked something like a crow, save that it had a crest of curved, hairy feathers, which at times, on its perch in a neighboring tree, it would raise and spread out over its head like a fringed parasol. From its breast swung a pad of feather-covered flesh, and, as it perched, it would every now and then give a deep low flute-note, raising its parasol each time in a most comical manner.

The next bird which passed by aroused the interest even of Jud, who cared even less for birds than did the Indian. Through the dim light of the sinister forest, above the raging, swinish herd, flitted a bird of almost unearthly beauty, a parrot over three feet in length, of a soft, hyacinthine blue except around the eyes, where the bare skin showed white.

As Will watched it delightedly, he recognized the bird as the hyacinthine macaw, the largest, most beautiful, and one of the rarest of all the parrot family. Even as he looked, the great bird alighted on a neighboring Brazil-nut tree and immediately showed itself to be as efficient as it was beautiful.

Seizing in its great black beak one of the tough, thick nut-cases, called "monkey-pots" by the Indians, it proceeded to twist off its top and open up a side, although a man finds difficulty in doing this even with a hammer and chisel. Drawing out one Brazil-nut after another, it crushed them, in spite of their hard, thick shells, into a pulp, which it swallowed.

Then it flew away, leaving Will staring regretfully after it. As noon approached, the vines and the tree-trunks seemed to hold and radiate the heat like boiler-tubes. Click Rewordify text and you'll instantly see an easier version, for fast understanding. The reworded words are highlighted— click them to hear and learn the original harder word. You can change how the highlighting works to match the way you learn!

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