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track of a thousand horses, they will soon guess the number of mounted ones by seeing how many have cantered; by the depth of the other impressions, whether any horses were loaded with cargoes; by the irregularity of the footsteps, how far tired; by the manner in which the food has been cooked, whether the pursued travelled in haste; by the general appearance, how long it has been since they passed.
, They consider a rastro ten days or a fortnight old quite recent enough to be hunted out.
In journeying from the Rio Negro to the Colorado we came in sight of a famous tree, which the Indians reverence as the altar of Walleechu. It stands on a high part of the plain, and hence is a landmark visible at a great distance. As soon as a tribe of Indians come in sight of it they offer their adorations by loud shouts. The tree itself is low, much branched, and thorny: just above the root it has a diameter of about three feet. It stands by itself, without any neighbor, and was indeed the first tree we saw; afterward we met with a few others of the same kind, but they were far from common. Being winter, the tree had no leaves, but in their place numberless threads, by which the various offerings, such as cigars, bread, meat, pieces of cloth, etc., had been hung
Poor Indians, not having anything better, only pull a thread out of their ponchos and fasten it to the tree. Richer Indians are accustomed to pour spirits and matë (tea) into a certain hole, and likewise to smoke upward, thinking thus to afford all possible gratification to Walleechu. To complete the scene, the tree was surrounded by the bleached bones of horses which had been slaughtered as sacrifices.
All Indians, of every age and sex, make their offerings; they then think that their horses will not tire, and that they themselves shall be prosperous. The Gaucho who told me this said that, in the time of peace, he had witnessed this scene, and that he and others used to wait till the Indians bad passed by, for the sake of stealing from Walleechu the offerings. The Gauchos think that the Indians consider the tree as the god himself; but it seems far more probable that they regard it as his altar.
WE determined to pass the night at one of the posthouses, a day's ride from Bahia Blanca. This posta was commanded by a negro lieutenant, born in Africa; and, to his credit be it said, there was not a rancho between the Colorado and Buenos Ayres in nearly such neat order as his. He had a little room for strangers, and a small corral for the horses, all made of sticks and reeds; he had also dug a ditch round his house as a defence, in case of being attacked. This would, however, have been of little avail if the Indians had come; but his chief comfort seemed to rest in the thought of selling his life dearly. A short time before, a body of Indians had travelled past in the night; if they had known of the posta, our black friend and his four soldiers would assuredly have been slaughtered. I did not anywhere meet a more civil and obliging man than this negro; it was therefore the more painful to see that he would not sit down and eat with us.
While in Brazil, not far from Itacaia, we passed under one of the massive, bare, and steep hills of granite which are so common in this country. This spot is notorious from having been, for a long time, the residence of some runaway slaves, who, by cultivating a little ground near the top, contrived to eke out a living. At length they were discovered,
and a party of soldiers being sent, the whole were seized, with the exception of one old woman, who, sooner than again be led into slavery, dashed herself to pieces from the summit of the mountain. In a Roman matron this would have been called the noble love of freedom; in a poor negress it is mere brutal obstinacy.
During our stay at an estate on the river Macahe, I was very near being an eye-witness to one of those atrocious acts which can only take place in a slave country. Owing to a quarrel and a lawsuit, the owner was on the point of taking all the women and children from the male slaves, and selling them separately at the public auction at Rio. Self-interest, and not any feeling of pity, prevented this act. Indeed, I do not believe the inhumanity of separating thirty families, who had lived together for many years, ever occurred to the
Yet I will pledge myself that in humanity and good feeling he was better than the common run of men. be said there is no limit to the blindness of interest and selfish habit. I may mention one very trifling incident which, at the time, struck me more forcibly than any story of cruelty. I was crossing a ferry with a negro who was uncommonly stupid. In endeavoring to make him understand, I talked loud and made signs, in doing which I passed my hand near his face. He, I suppose, thought I was in a passion and was
I going to strike him, for instantly, with a frightened look and half-shut eyes, he dropped his hands. I shall never forget my feelings of surprise, disgust, and shame at seeing a great powerful man afraid even to ward off a blow, directed, as he thought, at his face. This man had been trained to a degradation lower than the slavery of the most helpless animal.
On the 19th of August, 1836, we finally left the shores of Brazil. I thank God I shall never again risit a slave country: To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings when, passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but
suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew that I was as powerless as a child even to remonstrate. I suspected that these moans were from a tortured slave, for I was told that this was the case in another instance. Near Rio de Janeiro I lived opposite to an old lady who kept screws to crush the fingers of her female slaves. I have
stayed in a house where a young household mulatto, daily and hourly, was reviled, beaten, and persecuted enough to break the spirit of the lowest animal. I have seen a little boy, six or seven years old, struck thrice with a horsewhip (before I could interfere) on his naked head, for having handed me a glass of water not quite clean. I saw his father