Monday, 4 June 2012
Jungle Chums -Ch 4-6
At this moment the boatmen appeared, and a couple of black women and two or three Hindus came hurrying from the nearby house, attracted by the loud words of Leggett and the revolver shot.
"Wa, la!" exclaimed the boat captain, as he caught sight of the little group in the roadway. "Wha' dat randan 'bout, Marster Marvin? Wha' dis fellah try do fo' you? Hi, yo' Hermanas, yo' stan' from he now, we-all take care he don' reap up no mo'."
In a few words Mr. Marvin explained what had taken place, and how the youth, addressed as Hermanas, had dropped from the tree in the nick of time. Meanwhile, the young Indian,—for such he proved to be,—stood at one side; but maintaining a keen watch on Leggett, who, surrounded by the stalwart blacks and unarmed, showed no disposition to attempt escape or resistance, but stood glowering, scowling and scarlet with suppressed rage, in the center of the little crowd which had collected.
"Dis man a mos' obstropolous buckra," declared the captain, when he had heard Mr. Marvin's account. "I mighty glad dis Buck boy drap he down, an' I 'spec he right glad o' de chance to gi'e he a good clout. Wha' yo' wish fo' to do with he, marster? I'se a cons'able, sah, and I 'spec I bes' comprehend he as a auspicious parson, an' take he to de police at Bartica, sah."
"Yes," replied Mr. Marvin, repressing a smile at the boatman's queer jargon, "he's too dangerous to remain at large. I had not intended to prosecute him for his dishonesty; but after this attempted assault, I shall do my best to have him placed behind bars. Take him along to Bartica, captain, and turn him over to the police. I'll appear against him with my son and Hermanas as witnesses whenever the case is called."
Turning to his boat's crew, the captain ordered them to tie Leggett securely, and addressing the discomfited manager, remarked, "Yo' meet yo' meta to-day fo' surely, mon. Now, don' yo' go for tryin' any contending 'cause I gwine to fend fo' myself, an' yo' go to makin' flusteration I bet I mash you' head, yes."
With this parting injunction, the captain ordered Leggett to the boat, and with no choice left but to obey, the rascal started forward and then, turning towards Mr. Marvin with an oath, he shouted:
"You think you've got me, do you? Just wait and see. I'll make you pay for this, you sneakin' white-livered cur. I'll make you wish you'd never seen Ratura. I'll—"
His threat was interrupted by a huge, black hand grasping his shoulder and shoving him forcibly forward, and with a stalwart negro on either side he marched sullenly off and out of sight.
"Thank goodness, we're well rid of him," exclaimed Mr. Marvin. Then addressing the boat captain he continued, ''Come up to the house, Glascow, and get Leggett's things. We have no right to hold his belongings, and you can turn them over to the police at Bartica."
In the meantime, Eric had thanked the Indian boy for his timely intervention, and had already taken a great liking to the quiet, pleasant-faced aborigine, who, still shy in the presence of the white boy and his father, replied to Eric's questions in monosyllables.
Having disposed of Leggett and the others, Mr. Marvin now approached Hermanas and extended his hand. "I must thank you for saving me from Leggett's blow," he said. "I shall be glad to have a talk with you at the house, and I've an idea that you can be of great service to my son here. He's fond of hunting, and is hoping to get out in the bush. I think you'll make a splendid companion for him. How would that suit you, Hermanas?"
"Me likeum too much," replied the Indian, with a grin. "Me make catchum deer, powis, labba, plenty game when walkum topside bush."
'' Hurrah! That will be fine,'' cried Eric. ''You'll be 'guide, philosopher and friend,' as the saying is, find I'll bet we'll be great chums. But I'll have to learn that funny talk of yours. I wonder if I can get the hang of it,—let's see.—Why, you hideum in tree?" Eric laughed joyously at his first attempt to speak the "talky-talky," and his father chuckled at his enthusiasm, but the Indian boy took the matter quite seriously.
"You makeum talky-talky all same Buckman," he declared. "Me in tree for catchum mango for cook. When seeum Legett makeum loud talk me hideum. Leggett no good,—plenty bad man. When seeum make for shoot,—make for mash with stick, must makeum do something. No gotum bownarrow, no gotum gun, me jump like so; knockum down same way. Now must catchum mango one time."
"Very well, Hermanas," said Mr. Marvin. "Go ahead and get the mangos for the cook and then come to the house."
With the agility of a monkey the Indian scrambled into the tree to resume his interrupted fruit gathering, while Mr. Marvin and Eric walked on and entered the bungalow.
Under Mr. Marvin's direction, the servant gathered Leggett's belongings together and delivered them to the captain, and then, this matter attended to, Eric and his father partook of the very welcome breakfast served by the old black cook, who seemed highly pleased at her change of masters.
Before breakfast was over Hermanas appeared and, seating himself in the doorway, waited silently for Mr. Marvin to finish his meal. Although he spoke only the queer jargon peculiar to the "buck-men," or Indians of Guiana, yet Hermanas understood English perfectly and, much to Mr. Marvin's surprise, declared he could read and write. He was a bright, intelligent boy of about Eric's age, and was wonderfully respectful and courteous in his manner. He told Mr. Marvin that his real name was Herman Thomas, which had been contracted to Hermanas; that he was an Arekuna Indian; that his home was "One hour walk topside creek"; that his father was a woodcutter, hunter and balata rubber p gatherer, and had been employed by Leggett when timber was required, or when the rubber trees were to be tapped, and that he, Hermanas, had done odd jobs about the place in return for his food and a few shillings a week.
His eyes brightened wonderfully when Mr. Marvin promised him regular wages to become Eric's companion and guide, but he absolutely refused to live at the bungalow or to sleep indoors. When the matter of clothing was mentioned he somewhat sheepishly admitted that he preferred the ragged pair of cotton trousers that formed his entire costume to any other garments, and that, were it not for the missionaries' orders, he would wear nothing but a loin cloth or "lap."
"S'pose wearum pants, wearum shirt in bush, getum wet. In bush no can catchum dry. No good like so, make Buckman sick, makeum fever. S'pose skin catchum wet dryum same way; no makeum sick."
Mr. Marvin and Eric laughed at the youth's concise explanation.
"Very well, Hermanas," said Mr. Marvin, "I expect you're quite right. Wet clothing certainly is unhealthy. If you prefer to go about with only a 'lap,' as you call it, by all means do so. We shall not object, and as long as you look after this boy of mine, teach him about the bush, and keep him from getting lost, bitten by snakes or running risks, I shall be satisfied. Have you a gun or a boat?"
"No got gun, go turn bownarrow, go turn blowgun, go turn woodskin."
"What on earth is a 'woodskin' and a 'blowgun'?" asked Eric.
"A blowgun is a hollow cane through which the Indians blow darts with which they kill birds and animals," replied his father, "and a woodskin is a frail, crude boat or canoe made by stripping a piece of bark from a tree, and fastening the ends together. No doubt you'll have an opportunity of seeing your young Indian friend use them both."
"Yes, sir, me showum how shoot blowgun, how paddle woodskin all same Buckman," declared Hermanas.
"Does your father know anything about selecting timber,—how to tell good crabwood, greenheart and other woods?" asked Mr. Marvin. Hermanas assured him that he did, that his father was an experienced lumberman, and that he could get "Plenty timber too easy," if Mr. Marvin desired it.
"In that case," said Mr. Marvin, "I shall be glad to employ your father. I have an order for a large amount of timber to be furnished as soon as possible. Can you have your father come to see me and talk matters over?"
"Yes, sir. Me bringum same day. Must makeum walk this side," replied the Indian.
"Very well, bring your father over, then. We have our hands full to-day, looking over the place, so Eric will not need you. Get your breakfast before you start."
The Indian boy hurried off towards the kitchen and, calling one of the Hindu laborers to accompany them, Mr. Marvin and Eric started forth to inspect Ratura.
They found the place much neglected, and the few negro and Hindu field hands doing little else than loaf, although as soon as they saw Mr. Marvin approaching they seized their tools and commenced to work diligently.
"See here, my man," said Mr. Marvin, addressing a huge black, who appeared to be a sort of foreman of the gang among the cacao trees, "you can't fool me that way. We might just as well have an understanding at once. Leggett's gone for good and all, and I've taken charge of the estate. I'm willing to pay good wages; but I want returns, and I expect work when I pay for it. It looks to me as if Leggett had been pretty easy-going and hadn't given much attention to his laborers. Is this the way you've been working right along?"
The black man grinned, fumbled the ragged hat he held in his hands, and after a moment's hesitation, replied: "I spec' Mister Leggett don' min' if we works or no, marster. He spen' mos' o' his time a-settin' inside a-drinkin' swizzles, or a-strollin' off in de bush wif he gun. Now an' ag'in he take a look in at we all an' calls we a gang o' lazy niggers an' mebbe gi'es we a clout wif he stick. But, Lor'! we don' pay no 'tention to such flusteration, an' he allers pay us we money come Sat'day. Looks laik to me he don't care what we doin', long's he a-pay-in' o' other folks' money."
"I expect you're right," said Mr. Marvin, "the estate has been losing money right along, and Leggett's been pocketing the little profit there was. I presume he's padded his payroll and only kept enough laborers to make a showing if any one turned up to see what was going on. But that's over with now. If you men want to work and work well, I'll keep you on, but any one who shirks will go at once. I've come here to make Ratura pay, and I intend to make it do so, if it's possible. You're foreman of this gang, I suppose. Now get busy, and let me see how much you can really do in a day."
"Yes, boss, I'll see dis gang wuks right lively, sah."
As Mr. Marvin and Eric turned away the men were working industriously, evidently striving to see how good an impression they could make upon their new employer.
Wherever the two went it was the same; the men evidently killing time; weeds and undergrowth overrunning the cultivation, and the crops neglected and the trees uncared for.
The limes lay rotting on the ground, the coffee bushes were covered with vines and choked with parasites, the cacao trees were green with moss and hundreds of ripe pods were still ungathered, while the rubber groves resembled miniature jungles, rather than cultivated land.
"I cannot understand Leggett's behavior," remarked Mr. Marvin, as they started to retrace their way towards the house. "If he was downright dishonest, as he seems to have been, I should have expected that he would have cultivated the place thoroughly and made a greater profit by his thievery. Instead of that, he has let the place go to ruin. It looks almost as if he was deliberately trying to make it worthless. I wonder if he is not really mad,—well, whatever the reason, the company is really to blame for not sending some one to look after the property sooner."
"It looks perfectly hopeless," declared Eric, "I don't see how you are ever going to get the place into good shape again. Why, it will take years just to cut out the brush and weeds, it seems to me."
"It's not as bad as all that," replied his father. ''The first thing is to hire a large number of efficient laborers, and make them understand that they must earn their money. There are crops enough on the place to pay for the labor for the present, and I hope to commence getting out the timber at once with Hermanas' father's help. If he's like his son, he'll be a real find. By the way, from what you learned about rubber, do you think you could manage to tap some of our trees and gather the latex? Hermanas can help you, and I'll furnish some laborers in addition. The trees have been tapped already, so they must be bearing, and rubber will bring quick returns."
"I'm quite sure I can," Eric replied. "I'll start at that to-morrow."
When they reached the house, after visiting the greater part of the cultivated lands, they found Hermanas and his father waiting for them. The boy's father was a small, broad-faced Indian, with the same quiet, respectful manner of his son, and which, Eric found later, was characteristic of all the native Indians. He listened attentively; expressed his willingness to work at timber cutting, and assured Mr. Marvin there was enough timber on the estate to fill the contracts easily and quickly. He was very intelligent, and Mr. Marvin was surprised at the manner in which he grasped the details of the contract, and could calculate cubic and square feet from the figures given. He preferred to work on contract rather than for daily wages, and declared that he could obtain plenty of his tribesmen to aid him in the lumbering operations. He stated that it would be necessary to cut a "road" and place sticks across it in order to haul the timber out of the forest, and added, that if Mr. Marvin would lend him cattle he could work much more rapidly.
"Why, I didn't know we had any cattle," exclaimed Eric; "I only saw a few cows on the place."
"Gotum plenty cow, plenty ox," replied the Indian. "Two, free, hund'ed."
"Well, where are they?" demanded Mr. Marvin. "Two or three hundred head of cattle can't be hidden very easily."
The Indian then explained that the cattle were on the "savanna," at some distance from the cultivated lands, and that they practically ran wild, and were seldom used,—save when fresh beef was required or timber hauling was to be done.
"Very well," said Mr. Marvin. "Use what cattle you require. I must leave the entire matter in your hands for the present. I have much to attend to here, but shall try to get into the forest within a few days, to see what's being done, and what our resources are."
There was much to be done, and until late afternoon Mr. Marvin and Eric were busily engaged, making an inventory of supplies, tools and other articles on the place, making lists of various objects required, and readjusting and reorganizing the corps of servants, the laborers and the other employees.
Hermanas proved very useful, and it soon became evident that he was a youth with a vast amount of hard common sense and good judgment, and was a born "handy man," and best of all he was very thorough and painstaking in all he undertook.
He had been so long at the beck and call of all the Hindu and negro men on the estate, that the later at first resented taking orders from him; but instead of lording it over them and taking undue advantage of his new position, Hermanas repeated Mr. Marvin's orders respectfully, and did not hesitate to lend a hand to help wherever required.
Much to Mr. Marvin's satisfaction, the men and women seemed anxious to please, and fell to with a will at clearing up and putting the place in order and, ere nightfall, a great deal had been accomplished, and the house was habitable.
"How any white man could live under such conditions and could deliberately see the place going to pieces under his eyes is incomprehensible," remarked Mr. Marvin. "But, thank goodness, we arrived in time to save the place, and I am confident we shall succeed. It will require all our resources, however. The more I investigate, the more I realize what an out-and-out crook Leggett is. Why, he must simply have pocketed thousands of dollars intended for the estate, and the worst of it is, I can't find a scrap of paper to prove his rascality. He was certainly a clever knave, and I'm thankful he's behind bars by now. He'd be a dangerous enemy to have at large."
Chapter V The Blow Gun
The next morning, as Eric and his father were seated at breakfast, discussing plans for the day, they were interrupted by hurrying footsteps in the gallery and the next instant the boat captain, Glascow, appeared.
"What in the world are you doing here?" Mr. Marvin demanded, and added, "I thought you were in Bartica by now."
"Eh, eh!" exclaimed the negro. "I's bad noos me brung, master. Wha' yo' t'ink; dat obstrepolous Leggett he mek he escape, sah!"
"Leggett escaped!" cried Mr. Marvin. "How did that happen? Do you mean to say the rascal got away from your eight men?"
"Yassir," replied the captain. "Lis'en, good marster; lis'en de story how de t'ing happen, an' yo' don' vex wit me, sir."
"It dis a-way," he continued, "we haf he tie in de corial* all O. K., an' we go ashore for mek breakfas’. Bimeby I ax de bowman fo' go to de boat an' take he breakfas'. Jes so he reach fo' han' de breakfas'—bam!—come paddle on he haid. He bus' out wid big cry an' we-all hear he bawl, an' run down e'ga' an' we jes' time see dat man swim 'cross de creek an' dis'pear in de bush topside. I ent know meself hukkum he fin' way fo' come loose o' do rope. Seems like he jes' stratch out like camudi * an' squeeze tru. 'Tall 'vents, he gone clean 'way, an' we sarch an' we sarch, but no can cotch he to save weself. De bush plenty thick in dat part, marster, an' it too easy fo' man to hide heself. Kimeby we mek up we min' 'tain' no mo' use sarchin' de bush, an' I t'ink bes' fo' retu'n an' 'quaint yo' wid de fac's o' de case, sah."
"Well, there's no use crying over spilt milk," remarked Mr. Marvin, as Glascow finished his tale of the prisoner's escape. "I suppose he'll be caught sooner or later. Without food or arms he cannot live in the bush, and must come out at some settlement. If you report the matter to the police at Bartica they'll be on the watch throughout the colony."
* Corial—A dug-out boat used on Guiana rivers.
* Camudi—Boa constrictor or anaconda.
"Beggin' yo' pardon, sah," said the captain, "I 'spec' dat Leggett man no gwine fo' to walk in to be cotched, sah. When I tek de t'ing in consid'ation, I fin' out de cunnin'ess o' de scamp. Wen yo' t'ink he in, he out; he clean out. He plenty fr'ens 'mong de Bovianders,* sah, an' I 'spec' he gwine rangin' 'bout 'mong he fr'en's, an' plottin' an' com-plottin' 'gainst you-all. Yassir, dat what he boun' for do, sah."
* Boviander-—Colored people who live in the bush along the rivers,— a corruption of "Above Yonder" ('Bov-Yander).
"In that case, we must be on the watch," said Mr. Marvin. "He may attempt to carry out his threats of revenge, although personally I think he's too much of a coward to do so. However, I'll tell all the men to keep a sharp lookout, for it would not be beyond him to attempt to burn the place or destroy property. You should have kept a man constantly on watch over him; but hindsight is always easier than foresight, and there's nothing to be done now. However, as long as you are here, I will send a message to Georgetown, asking my agent to secure some additional laborers."
With the letter tucked safely in his deerskin pouch, and with many protestations of regret and humility at allowing Leggett to escape, Glascow departed, while Eric, accompanied by Hermanas and with a Hindu carrying latex cups, started for the rubber groves, and Mr. Marvin set forth to direct the gathering of the ripe cacao pods.
Erie had learned quite a little in regard to tapping rubber trees during the time spent with the experts in the botanic station, and Hermanas had helped his father on many a Balata bleeding trip. Thus, the two boys working together, succeeded very well, for one possessed scientific knowledge and little experience, while the other had practical experience, but little scientific knowledge.
There were comparatively few large trees on the estate, but there were many which were old enough to tap, and Eric was immensely pleased as he went from tree to tree and saw the thick, milky juice, or latex, trickling into the cups placed below the V-shaped incisions in the smooth gray trunks.
His friend in Georgetown had cautioned him in regard to the care necessary to avoid injuring the trees, and had explained how the sap was produced between the inner and outer barks, and Eric took every precaution to prevent cutting through the inner bark. Hermanas showed great dexterity in using the odd hatchet-like tapping tool, with its double cutting-edge; but the work was new to Eric, and he soon found that practice was essential, and that more could be accomplished by leaving this labor to the Indian and the negro and Hindu workmen, while he directed operations and saw to removing and emptying the cups as they became filled with latex.
Although Erie was most impatient to get into the bush and hunt, yet he realized that for the present, at least, pleasure must give way to business, and he labored diligently until mid-afternoon.
The rubber grove stretched away to the very edge of the forest, and Eric's eyes often strayed longingly to the cool, green jungle so close at hand. Parrots were constantly winging their noisy flight from tree to tree; the hoarse cries of macaws could be heard from the tree tops, and once or twice Eric caught sight of these great scarlet birds flying laboriously from one part of the forest to another, their long, pointed tails trailing behind. Again and again, Eric interrupted his work to watch these denizens of the bush, or to gaze with intense interest at the strange, huge-billed toucans that barked and clattered in the foliage, for he was still new to his surroundings, and it seemed marvelous and almost unnatural to see parrots, toucans, macaws and other strange birds flying about at liberty.
Once, as the party skirted the edge of the bush, there was a roar of wings and a flock of large dark-colored birds sprang from the ferns and whirred into the forest like a covey of gigantic partridges.
"Marudis," exclaimed Harmanas.
Eric remembered that in the museum at Georgetown he had seen some handsome pheasant-like birds with that name and which the attendant told him were among the finest of Guiana game birds.
"Oh, I do wish I'd brought my gun along," he cried, as he gazed after the Marudis, "I might have got one of those chaps easily."
"S'pose gotum blowgun mebbe catchum," remarked Hermanas and, without waiting for a reply, he darted off towards the house.
Presently he returned, carrying a long, slender tube of cane and a tiny cylindrical box of woven palm bark.
Eric watched the Indian with interest, as he opened the cartridge-like receptacle, and drew forth a tiny, pointed stick with a tuft of yellowish-brown, woolly material wrapped about one end. This he slipped into the hollow cane and beckoning to Eric to follow, he started into the forest.
"I don't see how you're going to kill a Marudi with that thing," remarked Eric, and then, remembering his determination to acquire talky-talky, asked, "How go for catchum Marudi like so?"
Hermanas grinned: "Me tellum killum Marudi same way. S'pose watchum, you see."
As soon as they reached the edge of the bush, Hermanas cautioned Eric to make no noise and, with eyes searching every dim mass of vines and each tree trunk, he crept stealthily forward. For a short distance they proceeded, and then Hermanas dropped on his knees, and pointed to a trailing liana a score of yards distant. Looking in the direction indicated, Eric saw two handsome birds, about the size of fowls, where they perched upon the vine,— turning their heads suspiciously from side to side, and peering about as if aware of danger.
Cautiously, Hermanas raised the cane tube, placed one end to his lips, pointed it toward the Marudis, and gave a sudden puff of breath. There was no sound, but swift as light the tiny dart sped from the blowgun and true as a bullet struck the nearest Marudi in its breast. The creature gave a little flutter of surprise, hopped to a neighboring vine, and plucked at the spot where the dart had struck. His companion crouched and raised its wings as if to take flight; but in an instant the Indian had slipped another dart into his weapon, and before the Marudis realized what had happened the second arrow sped through the air and found its mark. Instantly the Marudi took wing, but the one first struck flapped its pinions once or twice, swayed on the vine and, losing its foothold, came tumbling to the ground.
"Hurrah—" commenced Eric, but his exclamation was cut short by a gesture from Hermanas and, obeying the Indian's whispered word, Eric listened intently. A minute passed in silence and then, from a short distance to the right, some object fell with a heavy thud from the tree tops to the ground. Hermanas rose and hurried to the first Marudi, which was lying stone dead where it fell.
"Of all wonderful things!" exclaimed Eric, "I never would have thought that tiny arrow could kill a bird like that."
Stooping, Hermanas picked up the little pointed stick from where it had fallen to the ground within a few inches of the stricken Marudi.
"Let me see it, Hermanas," said Eric. He reached out his hand to take the dart.
"No touchum," exclaimed Hermanas, holding the little object out of reach. "S'pose touchum mebbe catch die all same Marudi. He gotum Wurali."
"Wurali?" Eric repeated questioningly, "what's that, and why might I die if I touched it?"
"Wurali all same poison," replied the Indian. "Much bad. S'pose prickum makeum dead like so; likeum same way Marudi. Wurali how makeum blowgun kill. Wurali make killum all thing—killum bird, killum tiger, killum man."
"Whew!" exclaimed Eric, "I understand. You use poisoned arrows. Gee! but that Wurali must be some poison."
Slipping the poisoned dart into his case, Hermanas picked up the dead Marudi and led the way through the forest for a few yards. For a moment, he peered intently about and then, stepping over a fallen tree, reached down and secured the second bird, which the terrible poisoned arrow from his blowgun had killed.
Eric had been thinking and now he asked, adopting the Indian's jargon: "S'pose killum Marudi with poison, how you eatum and no die?"
"No poison for eatum," replied Hermanas. "Poison for getum in blood, no for getum in mouth."
"Well, it's all beyond me," declared Eric, "I'll have to ask father to explain; but, come along, Hermanas, we're neglecting the rubber." As the two boys reached the edge of the woods the Indian stopped and examined several deep marks upon a patch of soft, bare earth, and then explained to Eric that they were deer tracks, which had been made very recently.
Hermanas, who was a born hunter, was anxious to trail the deer, but Eric insisted that no more time could be spent in hunting, much as he would enjoy it, and Hermanas, without a word of protest, continued on his way to the rubber grove and, hanging the Marudis on a bush, resumed his interrupted work.
When the day's work at last was done, a large portion of the bearing trees had been tapped, and Eric was highly elated at the amount of latex he had collected.
Mr. Marvin was also greatly pleased at his son's success, and complimented him upon the result of his first day's work. "I think I'll leave rubber cultivation to you, Eric," he remarked. "I don't know anything about it, and will have all I can attend to with the cacao, coffee and fruit; in fact, I must get a good overseer to help me as soon as the new hands arrive. I'll have to look after the business end of the estate and the timber, too,—that is, unless you think you and Hermanas can do as well at lumbering as at rubber gathering."
"I'll do my best," declared Eric, and added, "of course, I don't know much about rubber yet,—if I hadn't picked up what I did at Georgetown I wouldn't be able to do anything,—but Hermanas knows a lot, and between us, I'm sure we can look after the rubber, and will have time to help with the timber, too. Hermanas knows all the trees and he's worked with his father at the timber grants up at Wismar. I'm sure he can teach me a great deal about it very soon."
"Well, we'll leave that for later on," declared Mr. Marvin. "I think you two boys have earned a day off. I know you are wild to get into the jungle with your gun, even if you haven't mentioned it. A little game will be welcome for the table, so you can take to-morrow for your first hunt, Eric."
"Well, it really won't be my first hunt," said Eric. "Hermanas and I stole a few minutes from work to-day, and do you know, he killed two big birds he called Marudis with his blowgun. It was the most wonderful thing I've ever seen. The birds hardly fluttered, and died almost instantly. He says his darts were poisoned with something he calls Wurali and that it will kill anything if it gets in the blood; but isn't poisonous to eat. Can you tell me anything about it?"
"It's one of the most virulent poisons in the world," replied Mr. Marvin. "The merest scratch with a weapon dipped in Wurali will kill any living creature in a few moments and apparently without pain. It is used by many Indians of Central and South America, and is called Hurali, Wurali, Wurari, Curare, and various other names by the different tribes. No one seems to know its exact composition, for it's prepared by certain experts among the Indians, and they surround its manufacture with much secrecy, and a great deal of mummery and hocus-pocus. The principal ingredients are various poisonous vines belonging to the strychnine family, but ant- and snake-poison, gums and various other things are added; many of them probably merely to conceal its true nature and to impress the other Indians. Strangely enough, it is not poisonous when taken internally unless one has a scratch or some other raw spot in the mouth or throat."
"Isn't there any antidote for it?" asked Eric. "I should think the Indians would constantly get killed by accident when using it."
"Yes," replied his father. "The Indians use cane juice and common salt to counteract the effects of Wurali. Many of them secure live birds and animals by shooting them with blowgun darts and then, before the creatures die, administering cane juice and salt. I don't think I'd care to trust to the remedy and scratch myself with a poisoned arrow, however. I hope you'll be extremely careful, and that Hermanas will use every precaution when handling the arrows."
"That's mighty interesting," declared Eric, "but it really gives me the shivers to think of the stuff. I guess I'll let Hermanas leave his blowgun behind when we go hunting."
Hermanas was as greatly pleased as Eric at the prospect of a hunting trip the next day, and assured the white boy that if they started for the bush before dawn they certainly would secure game of some sort.
"What kind of game you think we'll find?" asked Eric.
"Mebbe catchum deer, mebbe powis, mebbe labba, mebbe waterhaas, mebbe acouri, mebbe bush-cow."
Eric laughed. '' You've a fine lot to choose from,'' he declared. "I don't know what half those are. Wait a minute till I get the list of names I made at the museum and I'll see what sort of beasts we're likely to find."
With the notes in hand he asked Hermanas to repeat the native names, and checking them off, found that Powis were the great Crested-curassows; Labba was another name for the big Guinea pig-like creature, otherwise known as the Paca; that Acouri was synonymous with Agouti, and that Water Haas and Bushcow were, respectively, Capybara and Tapir.
"You no think mebbe we shoot jaguar?" asked Eric, whose ambition was to kill one of the great, spotted cats.
Hermanas looked puzzled, and shook his head. "No sabby jag'ar," he replied.
"They call them 'tigers' down here," remarked Mr. Marvin, who sat nearby, in the gallery.
Hermanas' face brightened. "Sabby tiger," he announced. "Me tellum must makeum far walk topside, want shootum tiger. No catchum this side."
"Well, I'm going to take a walk 'topside' some day," declared Eric, as he rose to go to bed. "I mean to kill a jaguar and ever so many times I hear that place 'topside' when I ask about various things. 'Topside' must be a wonderful spot."
His father burst out laughing. "'Topside' is no place in particular," he explained. "It means up river; far away; a long distance,—to find 'topside' would be like seeking the end of a rainbow—no matter how far you go 'topside' is ever beyond."
"Well, I'm going to catchum sleep topside bed," laughed Eric, as he bade his father good night.
Chapter VI In The Jungle
It was still dark when Eric was aroused by Hermanas, and waiting only for a cup of steaming coffee, the two boys started for the bush.
Although the sun had not risen the eastern sky was tinged with pale saffron and pink, the light, fleecy clouds were edged with gold and above the river hung a thick white fog. Trees, land and forest were bathed in a soft, gray, mysterious light; every twig, leaf and blade of grass was dripping with moisture, and on every hand were the myriad sounds of awakening tropical life.
In the open clearings and cultivated lands it was quite light, but when the two boys reached the edge of the forest and entered the bush they were in almost total darkness. Here and there a gleam of faint light showed upon a tree trunk, far above their heads the interlaced branches glowed green in the rays of the invisible sun; but where they stood all was black with deepest shadows and even the nearest objects were indistinguishable.
But Hermanas seemed possessed of owl-like vision and moved briskly forward, turning and twisting along some narrow path, now and then slashing at trailing vines or obtrusive branches with his machete, and ever penetrating deeper and deeper into the gloomy recesses of the jungle.
All was silent save for the sharp trill of tree frogs or the faint twitter of birds in the tree-tops, but presently the sun rose above the sand hills to the east; cool, soft twilight took the place of darkness in the forest and instantly the bush burst into life.
From every side the Wallaba-birds whipped out their ringing cries of "Whip-whee-weu-oo!" parroquets chattered, parrots screamed, macaws shrieked, toucans barked and hawks screeched from the trees. From hidden thickets the wonderful silvery notes of the Bell-birds rang, and great, red, howling monkeys aroused the echoes with their fiendish cries.
Presently Hermanas stopped, listened intently and then uttered a low clear call. From a short distance ahead came an answering cry, and, with a gesture for caution, the Indian crept stealthily for ward, repeating the call at intervals, with Eric following close at his heels. Naked, save for his scarlet loin-cloth or "lap " Hermanas slipped silently as a shadow among the vines, trees and undergrowth. Eric found it difficult indeed to keep pace with him without breaking twigs beneath his heavy boots or catching his khaki clothing on the thorns and razor-grass that beset him at every step.
At last Hermanas halted beneath a giant Mora tree, whose huge buttress-like roots spread for a dozen yards in every direction, and whose enormous brown trunk was half hidden by great clumps of orchids, vines and air plants. Crouching in the shelter of the great slabs of living wood the Indian pointed upward to the tangled mass of greenery a hundred feet above and whispered:
"Powis! You shootum!"
Eric peered intently at the indicated spot, but could see nothing aside from the dark green foliage, the gleaming scarlet orchid flowers and the drooping vines. Then from the far-off branches a broken golden fruit dropped down and Eric saw a large dark object moving among the leaves.
Raising his gun he fired, and at the report pandemonium broke forth in the tree-tops; hoarse, frightened cries and screams of scores of birds, the shrill, terror-stricken chatter of monkeys, and the roar of great beating wings. But Eric scarcely noticed these, for with a terrific crash two great, black birds came tumbling downward and fell almost at the boys' feet.
They were splendid creatures almost as large as turkeys, shining iridescent black in color, and with handsome, curled crests above their bright, orange-yellow beaks. They were Crested-curassows, and Eric felt immensely proud as he examined the fine birds—the result of his first shot.
Cutting a piece of liana, or "bush rope," Hermanas tied the two birds together, hung them out of reach of prowling animals, and once more led the way into the depths of the forest.
For some time there was no sight nor sound of game, and then as he scrambled over a fallen tree Eric uttered a startled cry, for he had landed almost on top of a great, shaggy, black creature as large as a bear.
He was so surprised at the unexpected meeting that he tumbled backwards into the thicket, while the strange beast—more startled than the boy—reared itself on its hind legs, pawed the air with its enormous front claws, and then wheeling about, scrambled off as fast as its unwieldy gait could carry it. It was such a remarkable looking beast and Eric had come upon it so unexpectedly that he quite forgot to shoot, but sat staring with amazement. With a huge, bushy tail spread like an umbrella above its back, its coarse, shaggy coat, and stout legs ending in enormous hooked talons, and with a broad black and white stripe across its shoulders the animal was most formidable in appearance. But as Eric caught sight of the tiny head, ending in a long, slender, beak-like snout, he realized that it was only a giant ant-eater, and, picking himself up, he joined heartily in his companion's laughter at his momentary fright.
An hour's tramp revealed no other game, and Eric was commencing to think that game was not as abundant in the jungle as he had imagined, when Hermanas stopped and turning whispered:
"Me tellum shootum labba same day."
Pointing to the soft earth he showed Eric a number of footprints and some freshly gnawed roots.
Then, crouching low, and with a signal for Eric to do the same, he crept slowly forward towards the bank of a small creek. Ever and anon he stopped, listened attentively and again moved onward, inch at a time. At first Eric could hear nothing save the steady dripping of moisture from the leaves, the sharp, incisive notes of the ever-present Wallaba birds and the chirp of frogs and insects.
Then, as he crouched in the shelter of a thicket close to the creek's edge, his ears caught a low grating noise and occasional subdued grunts. At a gesture from Hermanas he crawled forward and peered cautiously through an opening of the thicket.
Before him lay the creek, its dark brown water mirroring the forest that rose above it on every side, and at the foot of the bank, a few yards from where he was hidden, were two strange animals gnawing at fruits which had fallen from a tree above.
They were about the size of half-grown pigs; reddish brown in color and handsomely striped and spotted with pure white. Eric raised his gun with the utmost caution; but, slight as the movement was, one of the labbas ceased eating, sniffed suspiciously and darted among the roots of the trees. The other was a second too late, and at the report of the gun rolled over dead.
Hermanas soon bound the legs of the labba with bush ropes, and shouldering the carcass, prepared to continue on the hunt; but Eric had no wish to kill more game than he could use, and told the Indian to return to the estate.
"Mebbe like seeum my house?" suggested Hermanas.
"I certainly would," declared Eric. "Is it near here?"
"Not too far," replied the Indian. "Takeum walk in woodskin for seeum."
Eric laughed. "That's the funniest thing you've said yet, Hermanas,'' he exclaimed. "I'll certainly enjoy 'taking a walk' in a canoe." Hermanas grinned, but said nothing, and, turning to the right, hurried forward, following the bank of the creek. They had walked, perhaps half a mile, when they came upon a well marked trail, and following this the boys soon reached a little sheltered cove in the bank of the stream.
Here, tied to an overhanging tree, was the queerest craft Eric had ever seen. It was merely a shell of bark, barely twelve feet in length and less than eighteen inches in width, and it rested so lightly and one-sidedly upon the water, that Eric could not believe it would be possible for any human being to enter it without capsizing.
''Is that your woodskin?" he asked his companion.
Hermanas, who was searching for something in a clump of ferns, nodded affirmatively.
"Well, I'll bet if we get into that thing we'll swim instead of walk," declared Eric. "It's the crankiest-looking canoe I've ever seen."
Hermanas had now secured the paddle for which he had been searching, and, hanging the labba in the shade, he led the way down the muddy bank, drew his primitive boat to shore, and holding it steady, invited Eric to enter.
"I guess it's all right if you say so," Eric remarked, as with great care he stepped into the craft and squatted down at the bow in the spot indicated by the Indian. Eric's weight brought the frail craft very low in the water, and he fully expected it to sink and fill or to capsize when Hermanas stepped nonchalantly into the stern. Nothing happened, however, and while the tiny canoe rocked slightly, as Hermanas seated himself, his weight seemed to affect its buoyancy but little. Eric drew a breath of relief, for he had confidently expected a ducking, and when the Indian drove his paddle into the water and the woodskin shot forward into the open creek he was pleasurably surprised to find the craft fully as steady as the birch canoes to which he was accustomed.
All about were innumerable things to interest him and Eric soon forgot all else in admiration of the strange beauties of his surroundings. Vine-draped trees and graceful palms rose in an impenetrable wall of greenery on either bank; arches of tangled lianas and spreading branches met above the water; mangroves spread their sprawling roots in the shallows, and the gigantic lily-like arums or "mucka-muckas" reared their thick green stalks and huge, arrow-shaped leaves along the banks. Strange air plants and brilliant orchids bedecked the limbs and trunks of trees and festooned the vines, and great dazzling blue butterflies flitted in and out of the shadows, their cærulean wings reflected in marvelous manner upon the dark surface of the stream. Dark, reddish-brown in color, smooth as glass and with a strange, oily appearance, the water mirrored every object in a wonderful way. It was as if the canoe were floating in mid-air suspended between two forests—the one right side up, the other reversed—and Eric could scarce distinguish where water ended and land began. Here and there fallen trees or "tacubas" barred the way, and with consummate skill Hermanas dodged between the branches or followed tiny leads into the jungle and around the obstructions, and passed through spots where countless water lilies covered the water as with a carpet ablaze with yellow, pink and purple blooms.
At other places the great knotted ropes of vines hung above the waterway and the two boys crouched low as their little craft darted beneath the aerial bridges. As they passed under these the Indian cautioned Eric not to touch the mass of vegetation or to allow it to scrape across his back, and explained that many of the vines and trees were armed with strong, recurved spines which would inflict terrible wounds or tear garments to ribbons.
It was very silent on the creek, but there was plenty of life to be seen by one with keen eyes and a love of nature. Stately white egrets flapped reluctantly from their fishing spots in tiny coves; blue and green kingfishers—some large as pigeons, others scarcely larger than humming birds—flashed from perches into the water at sight of passing fish or insect; doves and pigeons cooed softly from the foliage along the banks; quaint, bright-hued mannakins flitted among the bushes; gaudy cotingas hopped about 'mid vines and air plants; great white-headed hawks and broad-winged vultures wheeled majestically overhead; curious soft, gray, fin-foot birds, purple gallinules, and dainty golden-winged jacanas ran nimbly across the huge Victoria Regia leaves, and sun-bitterns spread their gorgeous wings as they strutted along the muddy shores.
From the tranquil water tiny fresh-water flying fish skittered off like skipping stones as the canoe approached, and curious "four-eyed fish" scurried away in schools on every hand. Once Eric caught a glimpse of a great scaly alligator that slipped from a tacuba as the boat rounded a bend in the stream, and at another time a big otter swam swiftly across the creek, leaving a trailing wake of silver upon the dark water.
It was like navigating a new world, an undiscovered land, and Eric plied Hermanas with questions as to the various trees and plants, the insects, the fishes and the birds, to all of which the Indian replied, telling his white companion their Indian names, the uses to which they were put and something of their growth or habits.
For nearly two hours they paddled up the creek and then, swinging around a sharp bend, came in sight of a little clearing at the edge of the stream. Moored to the trees and drawn upon the muddy shores were several woodskins and two or three large dug-out canoes, and leading from the water's edge to the top of the steep bank was a crude, primitive ladder made by cutting deep notches in a log. Here Hermanas ran his canoe onto the mud, and hopping out, steadied the craft while Eric stepped ashore and clambered up the ladder to dry land. Up the hill and through the clearing ran a narrow, well marked path, and Hermanas, leading the way, told Eric that this led to his father's camp.
As they reached the summit of the bank they came face to face with a naked brown boy, who uttered a little cry of fright and dodged out of view among the bushes, as he caught sight of the stranger. Hermanas shouted a few words in his native tongue, however, and the youngster, reassured, came shyly forth and trotted along beside Hermanas, the while casting furtive, suspicious glances at Eric. Presently they came to a field covered with banana trees and cassava plants with the thatched roofs of the Indians' houses rising above the greenery.
Eric had expected rude lean-tos or wigwams and was filled with surprise when, upon reaching the Indian camp, he saw the neat open houses or "benabs" of the Arekunas. Supported on stout upright posts were huge, steep-sided roofs of beautifully thatched palm leaves; hard pounded earth served as the floors and from the posts swung numerous hammocks. No men were visible; but several girls and women were busily working at various tasks in the benabs, and Hermanas greeted them in Arekuna and then led Eric into the largest benab and invited him to take possession of a luxurious hammock.
It was very pleasant to lie here in the shade of the broad roof, for the open sides allowed a free circulation of air, and the gentle forest breeze was wonderfully cool. It was interesting, also, for the women went on with their tasks utterly oblivious to Eric's presence, and he watched them intently as they pared cassava roots, grated them on slabs of wood roughened by tiny stones set in gum, and baked the cassava cakes on sheets of iron above a fire of coals.
Presently the woman who was grating the roots rose and took a strange six-foot tube of basketwork from where it hung on a nearby post. Calling another girl to help her, the flexible tube was then pressed down until it was scarcely two feet in length while its diameter was almost trebled. Into this the grated roots were pressed, and then the two women carried the tube to a tree just outside of the benab. Here the upper end of the tube was hooked over a branch, a stout lever was passed through the lower end and pressing upon this the women exerted all their strength. At once the tube commenced to lengthen and become more slender, and from the interstices of the basketwork liquid oozed forth.
"What are they doing?" asked Eric of Hermanas.
"Makeum cassava," replied the Indian, and he then explained the whole intricate and wonderful process by which the poisonous roots of the manioc or cassava plant are converted into nutritive and wholesome food.
He showed Eric how the roots were pared, how they were grated, and told him the poisonous juice was pressed out by means of the "metapee" as he had seen. He also explained that any remaining traces of poison were driven off by heat, and handed Eric one of the great flat cakes which had just been baked on the hot iron. Eric thought the cake had a very pleasant, nutty taste, but was rather dry, and Hermanas told him it was usually eaten with "pepper pot." Eric asked what this was and the Indian informed him it was made of the cassava juice boiled down until thick and known as "cassareep" and that into this peppers and bits of meat were thrown, and that a "pepper pot" was always on hand in every house, and that the contents kept forever.
"Cassava must be mighty useful," remarked Eric. "Do you use it for anything else—useum for other thing same way?"
"Makeum piwarrie," replied Hermanas, and in answer to Eric's question he stated that "piwarrie" was an intoxicating drink which was used at the Indian feasts, and was made by the women, who chewed up the cassava cakes and spat them into a trough of water where it was left to ferment.
Eric thought this a most filthy and disgusting method of preparing the liquor, and was much relieved to find that Hermanas' father had forbidden the use of the drink in his camp, owing to the debauchery which resulted from drinking it.
An Indian girl now appeared with breakfast, and the two boys did ample justice to the meal. There were cassava cakes and pepper pot, of course; but in addition there were sweet potatoes; fried, boiled and roasted plantains; yams, and roasted "acourie" or agouti, which Eric declared excellent. The waitress was a comely girl, fifteen or sixteen years of age; but her golden-brown skin was disfigured by bright-blue lines tattooed across her lips and cheeks like a fanciful mustache. Hermanas told Eric she was an Acawoia girl who had married an Arekuna and, in reply to a question about the tattoo marks, explained that these indicated that she was one of the women selected to chew cassava for making piwarrie, and that as such she was entitled to certain privileges and respect.
Eric was greatly interested in this, for it savored of the primitive aborigine, and he had been quite disappointed in finding the Indians so civilized. He had half expected to find them garbed in feathers and beads, but instead found them dressed in worn and rather ragged civilized clothes, and not until long afterwards did he discover that beneath their other garments the women still wore their beautifully woven bead aprons or "queyus"; that the "piaimen" or medicine men still possessed great influence over their fellows, and that civilization was scarcely more than a veneer.
But he took a great liking to the quiet, soft-voiced people and thought it would not be at all unpleasant to live for some time in their camp here in the heart of the wilderness.
After breakfast the two boys wandered about the camp, and Eric found much to interest him and learned a great deal about the arts and crafts of the Indians. He saw women weaving their wonderful cotton hammocks, and was filled with admiration at the deftness with which they spun the strong cotton twine from the raw cotton, using only a rude wooden spindle for a spinning wheel. He saw others weaving coarse baskets or "surianas" in which burdens are carried by the women, while still others were plaiting beautiful "pegalls" or wicker trunks, or snake-like "metapees." Every one was busily employed at something and all seemed content and happy. At first the women and children had been shy and had scarcely spoken; but now they had become accustomed to his presence, they laughed and chattered gayly, and Eric discovered they could all talk and understand English.
In every house there was a platform of sticks across the rafters and on these the Indians kept all their possessions, and Eric was greatly elated when in one house he saw a number of bows and arrows lying upon the platform above his head.
"Do your people use bows and arrows?" he asked Hermanas, and added, "I thought you all had guns."
"Useum bownarrer for shootum fish, shootum bird. Useum gun for shootum deer, shootum labba, shootum tiger. S'pose no can buy powder, no can buy shot, useum bownarrer all time."
Eric examined the bows and arrows with the most intense interest, for they were different from anything of the sort he had ever seen. The bows were very powerful, and about six feet in length, while the arrows were made of light cane and were fully five feet long. Most of them had no feathers and the heads were of various kinds. Some had fixed steel heads with many barbs; others ended in broad balls of hard gum, while others had barbed steel points slipped loosely upon the end of the arrow and secured by a long line wrapped about the shaft.
Hermanas explained that each kind of arrow was used for a definite purpose; that the fixed heads were used for turtles and birds and small animals; that the blunt heads were used for killing small birds or stunning creatures to be captured alive, and that the loose-headed arrows were designed for shooting fish, the light shaft floating free and acting as a buoy when the fish was struck and the line serving as a means for hauling the fish ashore—in fact, the whole affair was, in reality, a miniature harpoon shot from a bow.
Eric wanted Hermanas to show him how the arrows were used, but the Indian said there were no fish and no game in the vicinity, but he promised to try and shoot some fish in the river when they returned to Ratura.
Time passed quickly in the Indian camp, and it was long past noon when Eric, realizing that several hours were required to reach home, bade good-by to his Arekuna friends and again embarking in the woodskin started down the creek.
The labba was found where they had left it, the two powis were undisturbed, and laden with these the boys tramped homeward through the forest. To Eric there was no sign of a trail or mark by which Hermanas found his way through the jungle, but a turned leaf, a bent twig, or a cut vine left by the boys as they entered the bush was enough for the Indian's keen eyes, and he hurried on unerringly and without pause or hesitation. At last the old trail was reached and a few minutes later they stepped out of the forest and into the cultivated land of Ratura.
"You appear to have had good luck," said Mr. Marvin, as the two boys arrived at the house late in the afternoon.
"I expect we could have killed more if we'd stayed longer," replied Eric, "but I didn't care to kill things just for sport, and we had enough as it was."
"Quite right," agreed his father. "That's the true sportsman's spirit. Destroying life merely for fun is despicable; but to kill for some purpose—even if not actually necessary—is quite different, especially if in so doing the hunter gains accurate knowledge of wild life, acquires woodcraft and self-reliance and trains eye, ear, brain and muscles by the chase. How did you enjoy your first experience in the jungle!"
"It was splendid," declared Eric, "and we visited Hermanas' home and had breakfast with the Indians. Everything was so interesting and so different from anything I imagined. But I never could have done anything without Hermanas. He showed me all the game, and it was wonderful how he found his way about. Without him I should have been lost in a minute and might have tramped for hours without finding game."
"Well, I expect you are pretty well tired; what do you say to a good swim? One of the men showed me a fine bathing beach which he says is perfectly safe."
"I'd like nothing better," declared Eric. "Come along, Hermanas, I'll bet you swim like a fish."
Hermanas grinned. "S'pose takeum bownarrer. Mebbe seeum fish," he remarked.
"Yes, bring the bow and arrows along," replied Eric. "If you can catch fish that way you're certainly some fisherman."
The beach was a charming spot, a crescent of golden sand bordering one side of a great pool or basin, barred from the river by a ledge of rocks, and safe from the dreaded Perai fish, electric eels or other dangerous inhabitants of the river.
The water was pleasantly cool, and much to Eric's surprise its deep, reddish-brown color left no stain upon his skin or upon his garments.
Hermanas enjoyed the bath fully as much as his white friends, and won their admiration by his feats at swimming and diving, for the Indian appeared as much at home in water as on land.
After their bath Hermanas picked up his bow and arrows, and, cautioning Eric and his father to move silently a few yards in the rear, walked slowly along the shore, peering intently into each rock-bound pool and hole. With arrow fitted to string and bow ready for instant use he moved onward like a figure of glowing bronze in the soft rays of the sinking sun. Presently he bent forward, drew his bow and seemed about to shoot; but in a moment he relaxed, and, standing erect, commenced beckoning towards the water, the while uttering a low whistle.
"He's calling the fish," whispered Mr. Marvin. "I've heard of it before, but I've never seen it done —it's a most interesting performance."
"Does he really expect the fish to come to him?" asked Eric, in surprise.
"He surely does," replied Mr. Marvin. "I'm not prepared to say that the fish do respond to his gestures and whistles, but others have assured me they do. Ah! he must see one now."
Hermanas had ceased his gestures, and with a quick motion drew the bow to his ear; there was a ringing twang and the long arrow clove the water and disappeared in it with scarce a splash.
The next moment the shaft bobbed up and instantly Hermanas leaped forward, and seizing the line attached to the cane commenced hauling it in. Eric and his father hurried forward, and as they reached the Indian he pulled a great, flapping, silvery fish onto the rocks.
"Me tellum shootum fish same way," he remarked proudly.
Eric clapped Hermanas on his bare brown back: "Hermanas," he cried, "you're simply a wonder— I'll believe anything you tell me after this."
"Too easy shootum fish like so," declared the Indian. "All Buckman catchum same way."
As the party walked up the path towards the house Eric was very silent, but presently he turned to his father and asked: "Do you suppose Hermanas really called that fish to him?"
Mr. Marvin smiled—"Ask Hermanas," he replied.
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- As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.