Saturday, 30 June 2012
PLANNING TRIP TO MEXICO, NOW
A. H. Verrill-Most Versatile Citizen
BY JOHN COLLER
Special to The Miami Daily News
From The Miami News - Jun 1, 1951. Digitized by Doug Frizzle, June 2012.
LAKE WORTH, June 1 — Now in his 80th year, A. Hyatt Verrill is without doubt Lake Worth's most versatile citizen, and that same claim might well be made to include a lot more of Florida.
Author of 114 published books of amazing variety, this man qualifies as a noted archeologist, painter, authority on shells of the world, a student and author on piracy and hidden treasure, a cabinet maker, expert rifle marksman, under water photographer, circus performer, to name a few.
Born in New Haven, Conn., where his father was professor of geology and zoology at Yale for 40 years, Verrill came by his traveling and collecting pursuits naturally. He also studied art at Yale but admits that he learned little to add to his natural ability.
While a young man he toured the West Indies and he and a companion lived on a deserted island entirely "from the land" as an experiment. He wrote his first books following this trip.
From 1922 to '26 he was in Peru, representing the Museum of the American Indian, of New York, studying the ancient Incans. Gathered from the tombs and burial mounds of that ancient land, Verrill has not only made some remarkable finds but has pieced together the most authentic history of that ancient race.
He is now completing a group of eight paintings of old Incan chieftains and princes, dressed in native costumes. Clothing, helmets, arm and leg bands, breast plates and other accouterments found in the mounds, plus talk with the natives and thorough study, he has written volumes concerning one of the world's earliest civilizations, hundreds of centuries before Christ,
He was a personal friend of Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, and the latter helped Verrill make up as an Indian in Buffalo Bill's wild west circus. Verrill is one-sixteenth Indian and his wife is half Indian.
He has been made a blood brother in two Indian tribes and is an authority on the Indian of North, Central and South America. He knew Will Rogers in his earliest days of the stage.
The Verrill’s are now packing for another trip to Mexico, and at 80 years of age, is looking forward to new adventures with the same zest that has marked this frail but wiry man all through his many years.
He has driven a car since 1902 and is proud of his record of never having had an accident or even a parking ticket. On this trip, however, he is not going to drive. He is going with Capt. Paul Daniels, of the Nu-Way Leather Shop, who is going on a buying trip. With them is also going Bud Waite, of the Waite Bird Farm of Boynton Beach.
Verrill is going to take them into the remote parts of Mexico and deal directly with the natives in buying birds and small animals, including spider monkeys and marmosets. Verrill and his wife are also going to add to their collections and materials for more writing. Mrs. Verrill keeps a complete running diary from day to day for writing reference.
Friday, 29 June 2012
Verrill was a great recycler, this material is likely repeated in the book Harper’s Book for Young Naturalists published in 1913./drf
A Boy's Museum –Part 1
From THE AMERICAN BOY magazine, February, 1910.
Popular Science Department A DEPARTMENT OF INTEREST TO YOUNG AND OLD
EDITED AND ILLUSTRATED BY PROFESSOR A. HYATT VERRILL
Digitized by Doug Frizzle, June 2012.
NEARLY every boy wishes to have a collection of some sort, and as so many boys have written me to ask how to collect, preserve, classify, and keep insects, birds' eggs, nests, or other objects, that for the present I am going to devote this department to telling you just how you should do all these things. If you are really interested in nature and popular science and wish to collect specimens with, the object of learning something, you will be interested in finding out more about it, but if you have collected a few odds and ends and have the idea of collecting merely as a fad, you will not care one way or the other, and the directions will be useless to you. As a rule, several boys can start a collection, and that is far better than one started by a single boy, for each usually has some special line in which he is interested or with which he is more or less familiar. The first step, therefore, is to talk to your friends and find out how many will join in making a systematic collection and in looking after it. Having selected the "directors" of your museum, you should find just what each boy is interested in. From these select one interested in birds, another in minerals, another in plants and trees, and another in insects, and if possible, others interested in reptiles, fishes and animals. Of course it is sometimes impossible to do this, for some boys may all be interested in the same subjects, but in such cases two or more departments may be assigned to one boy. The boys thus selected should be appointed "curators" of their respective departments, and should have full charge of the collections under their direction. Any specimens of one thing, found by a curator of another department, should be brought in and turned over to the proper curator. In this way much larger and more complete collections will be obtained than by each boy confining his attention to one subject; for it is a fact that while you are looking for plants you will find lots of objects you are not looking for, in the way of insects, minerals, etc., and the butterfly-hunter will no doubt run against many interesting plants, birds and reptiles. Before the collections are begun, however, some preparation for their preservation and exhibition should be made. Doubtless one or more of your directors will have a spare room or outbuilding which will do for a museum. This room should have all useless furniture and other material removed, and should be used solely as a museum and workroom. The workroom, or preparatory room, should be partitioned off and used in assorting, preparing and working up your collections. It should contain tables, chairs, shelves for books and specimens, tools, materials, unclassified specimen boxes, and all other material used in making and preparing the collections.
For the museum proper you must make and put up shelves, or cases, or both. Cases with glass doors are the best, and you can probably manage to get at least a few by using a little ingenuity and trouble. Old window sash can be used for the fronts, or you can make your own doors and fit glass to them. If you cannot manage to make real wall cases, you can at least make boxes to fit the shelves, and put single glass covers to these for your rarer and more fragile specimens. Minerals, woods, stuffed birds and animals, and alcoholic specimens do not require cases, but may be placed on open shelves. Fit the shelves to all portions of the room around the sides and, if large enough, additional cases or shelves may be placed in the centre of the room on a bench or table. One lot of shelves or cases should be reserved for each department, and each of these plainly and neatly labeled with the class of specimens intended for it. Thus label one lot VERTEBRATE ANIMALS, another INVERTEBRATES, another INSECTS, a fourth MINERALS, a fifth BOTANICAL SPECIMENS, and another BIRDS AND BIRDS' NESTS. Under each label print the name of the curator and a list of the divisions of each group under his direction. For example, under INVERTEBRATES the name of the curator should be placed, and below this a list of the divisions represented in the collection (if complete), as "Mollusca," "Worms," "Crustaceans," "Sponges," etc. Leave a blank space to be filled in, as additional divisions are collected and added to the collection. In addition to these large labels there should be individual labels for each specimen. If one of the boys owns a printing press or typewriter, these may be made small and neat. They should be printed in plain, clear type, and should be arranged as follows:
* Common Name ................... *
* Scientific Name................... *
* Locality ......................... *
* No............. Sex.............. *
* Donor ........................... *
Each curator should be provided with a blank book, in which the name, number, sex, locality, and name of donor (person giving or collecting the specimen) should be written as soon as the specimen is obtained, also the date on which it was received or obtained, and any remarks in regard to its habits, colors in life, etc. The sex should be designated by the marks ‡ for male and * for female. Each curator should keep a separate set of numbers for his own department, and it will then be very easy to keep track of your collections and look up any interesting points in regard to them. Moreover, each specimen should be marked with a small number corresponding to that in the books, so that in case of loss of labels the specimen may be identified and relabeled. These numbers should be as small as possible, and may be placed directly on the specimen, as in the case of woods and minerals, or written on the stand or pedestal, as in case of birds and mounted animals. Alcoholic specimens should have the number written on tough paper with lead pencil, and placed in the bottle with them.
Of course, before beginning your museum, you must make some preparations for taking care of the specimens. If any of the curators have already collected anything, they will no doubt be provided with instruments and materials for their own use, and these may be used in the interests of the museum. The insect curator should have nets, pins, collecting boxes, etc., and so with each of the other curators. Later I shall describe how to collect and preserve the specimens in each group separately, and will then give a detailed list of the really necessary articles required with a description of the use and the cost of each.
Very likely your school teachers may be interested in your museum, for such collections when property made are of great value and interest in school work, and if they take up the matter they can help you a great deal. You will also find that your boy and girl friends—as well as many grown-ups—will be interested in your museum, and will constantly bring in new and rare specimens as well as many duplicates. Such should always be kept and preserved, for although duplicates should not be exhibited they are always valuable in case of injury or loss of a specimen, and may often be exchanged for valuable things from other localities or even sold for good cash prices to collectors and dealers.
You may at first think that your museum shelves look bare and will be hard to fill, but you will be surprised to find how rapidly they will fill up, and that lack of space will be a greater problem than lack of specimens. No matter how poor a specimen may be, it should be kept and exhibited until a better one is secured, when it should be replaced. Aim to have every museum specimen as perfect as possible, however, and if old, preserved specimens of any sort are presented to your museum, be sure they are thoroughly cleaned and free from moths and similar pests before placing them among your other specimens. In fact your greatest difficulty will be in protecting your specimens from dirt and museum pests. Dust always seems to be thicker as soon as you have valuable specimens to look after, and moths and beetles seem to know by instinct when a collection is within their reach. To prevent moths as much as possible it is wise to paint or whitewash all the walls and shelves of your museum before placing anything within, and a thorough fumigation with sulphur is also wise. In addition, place moth-balls or napthaline-flakes on each shelf and in each case, for as long as your museum smells strongly of napthaline you are pretty safe. Moths always show their presence by little piles of dust, fur, or feathers, beneath the object they infest, and as soon as any such signs are seen, remove the specimen, dose it with benzine or naptha and dry in a closed box or chest. Never use sulphur in any form where specimens are, as it ruins the colors. Although you cannot collect very many things during the winter months, yet you may spend a great deal of time in preparing your museum, labels, and any specimens you have on hand, while the cold weather is just the time to collect specimens of woods and minerals which later on would be neglected, owing to the more attractive things among the birds, plants, and insects.
A complete collection of the native woods of your locality is always interesting and valuable, as well as instructive. Few of us stop to realize the variety of native woods growing in our neighborhood and fewer still are able to recognize many of our commonest woods when we see them. Not many of us know the differences of the various tree-barks or how the grain runs in the natural trunk. Wood collections are the easiest to make, and during the winter evenings all the curators and your friends can busy themselves in preparing, classifying, and labeling the specimens. Before collecting woods you should be absolutely sure that you know the trees from which the specimen is to be taken. If in any doubt, look for old leaves clinging to the branches, for fallen leaves beneath, or for the fruit, nut, or berry the tree bears. If after due care you are still doubtful of your tree, ask some lumberman or farmer. Although the best specimens are obtained from live trees, old wood-piles often contain splendid specimens and, usually, the farmer or woodsman who cut the trees can identify anything you do not know.
The wood specimens should all be of nearly one size, and as pieces too small or too large are apt to be more or less peculiar, an average size is best. By selecting straight, well-grown limbs about three inches in diameter, a good average will be obtained, although, of course, at times you will be obliged to take smaller-sized limbs or pieces split from the main trunk.
Cut the limb carefully, leaving the bark on, and, keep a piece about a foot in length. As soon as cut this should be numbered and marked with the name. This is best done by whittling off a little bark at one end and writing directly on the wood with a soft carpenter's pencil. The pieces of wood thus collected should be placed in a dry, warm place to season and should be turned over occasionally to dry them evenly.
When thoroughly dry, saw off one end diagonally with a fine-toothed saw at an angle of about forty-five degrees. A mitre box should be used, as it insures all the pieces being alike. Next, with a draw-knife and plane, work down the side (on the short side of cut) until the exact centre of the piece is reached. Your specimen will now be a half-round piece of wood with one end cut at an angle. Now, smooth off a little of the right-hand side to show the grain and cut off the piece squarely and smoothly about six inches from the sloping end. All the specimens should be cut alike and to the same size, and care should be taken not to scar or break the bark. In case it should loosen or break, glue it firmly in place again, as the preservation of the bark is important. The specimen should now have all the surfaces of the wood carefully smoothed and sandpapered to a fine finish. When this is done a small portion (about two inches) from the base should be marked off on each piece, and this space given a coat of good varnish. Your specimen will thus show the bark, a cross section, a heart section, and a quarter section of the wood in their natural state in addition to the board and quarter section appearance when varnished.
In arranging these wood specimens they should be set up on the square end and slightly turned to one side so that the bark, as well as all the various wood-sections, are easily seen. It is a good plan to mount each specimen on a piece of stiff cardboard with a tack driven up from below. On this cardboard you should mount the pressed leaf and the nut, or fruit, of the tree from which the wood was taken. The label of the whole may then be placed on the same card, or placed above and behind it, as desired. The fruits or nuts of most trees require very little preparation. They should merely be carefully dried and when dry any parts that become loosened, or drop off, should be glued in place. Many seeds and nuts will keep on ripening after drying, and to prevent their natural bursting apart it is best to soak them in alcohol or formaldehyde solution (2 per cent) for a few days before drying. Dipping in boiling water will answer the same purpose. The leaves are simply pressed between blotters under a heavy weight and when thoroughly dry may be glued to the card.
If any of the curators or their friends have cameras, a very attractive feature of the collection will be a series of neatly-mounted photographs showing the various trees as they appear in winter, after the leaves have fallen. Trees, to show this, should be carefully selected for perfection of growth and form; they should also be isolated specimens growing by themselves in open fields, or in clearings from which the other trees have been cut. The pictures should be clear and sharp and the "harder" the better, as the idea is to show the shape and branching form of the tree without attempting an artistic picture. The photographs should be placed either behind the specimens of wood, or hung above them, and as far as possible each specimen of wood should be accompanied by the photograph of a tree of the same kind.
Quite often the leaves may be difficult to preserve, or may be of such a character as to prevent placing them on exhibition with the wood. In such cases the leaves themselves may be replaced by either solar prints or "autograms" of the leaves. The solar prints are easily made with either blue-print, or printing-out paper, and the only materials required for the former are a printing frame, glass for the frame, and the prepared paper. Place the leaf to be printed face up on the glass, lay the printing paper face down upon it, close the frame and expose to direct sunlight until the paper around the leaf has grown to its deepest shade. Wash thoroughly in cold water and a beautiful print of the leaf, in white on a rich, blue ground will result. If printed deep enough, each tiny vein will show and the print has the great advantage over the real leaf of never decaying, breaking, or curling. Printing-out-paper leaf-prints are made in the same way, but must be toned and fixed like a regular photograph. For those who are unable to make use of either of the above methods, the "autogram" prints are excellent, and are in many ways far better than the solar prints. Autograms require no special materials; a rubber roller such as is used in mounting photographs, a little printer's ink, or some tubes of oil colors and white paper only are required. Place a fresh leaf on a sheet of paper, or card, and brush the under surface smoothly and evenly with a coating of the ink or paint. Do not get it too thick, using only enough to stick to all portions of the leaf. Place the inked surface of the leaf on a piece of clean paper or card; cover it with a sheet of soft paper; hold the stem in place by one finger pressed upon it on the covering paper, and run the rubber roller firmly over the whole. Now, lift off the cover paper and the leaf and you will find that a perfect and beautiful impression has been printed upon the paper beneath, exactly as an engraving or type is printed. If you have a letter-press in the house even more perfect prints may be obtained by its use. Care should be taken that the paper on which print is to be made, rests upon a level, rather soft surface such as a pile of old newspapers or a thick magazine, and be careful not to smudge when placing or removing the leaf itself. You will be surprised to find what a fine addition the wood collection will make to your museum, and if you are in earnest and are industrious, your collection of woods will be pretty complete by the time the next issue of THE AMERICAN BOY reaches you, with directions for preparing your collection of rocks, minerals and Indian relics.
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
The Most Historical Spot in America
By A. Hyatt Verrill
ALMOST at our doors, yet practically unknown to the majority of Americans, lies the island of San Domingo, the most historically interesting spot in all the western hemisphere.
On this large and fertile island Columbus, in 1493, founded the first European settlement in America, at a point on the northern coast between the modern towns of Monte Christi and Puerta Plata. This settlement, which was called Isabella, in honor of the Spanish queen, survived but a few years, owing to disease, and is now nothing but a scarce-distinguishable pile of ruined walls and buildings overgrown with vines and tropical vegetation.
Sailing further to the eastward, the great navigator entered the beautiful Bay of Samana, and a landing-party being attacked by the natives, the first blood was shed by the Spaniards in the New World, and the first Spaniard killed in battle on American soil.
In their insatiable thirst for gold the Conquerors found no obstacle too great to be overcome and toiling over mountains and struggling through forests, penetrated far into the interior of the island and established towns. One marvels how the old Dons ever accomplished the feat, loaded down with mail and heavy arms, for even today, with roads and villages where in those bygone days stretched unbroken forest, it is no joke to make the trip. There, on the high, level, Vega Real, Concepcion de la Vega and other towns were built, mines were worked and the land tilled, while a steady stream of gold flowed from this rich new land to the coffers of the King of Spain.
A series of disastrous earthquakes swept the smiling valley, however, and one may still trace the ruins of the ancient buildings, and find among them, old Toledo blades, bits of armor and old coins. It is the capital of the modern Dominican Republic—quaint old Santo Domingo City—that is the most interesting spot, however. Here, it is said, Columbus moored his caravels to a giant ceiba or silk-cotton tree on the banks of the Ozama river and the same tree, although scarred and broken by the storms of centuries, still stands, a prominent landmark and an object of interest to all visitors. Although the town was founded by Bartholomew Columbus (brother of Christopher), in 1496, it is so closely identified with the career of the discoverer himself as to lose nothing of interest, and as the admiral lived, and was imprisoned in the city, it is not improbable that he may have actually made fast his vessels to the old ceiba.
The first buildings erected at Santo Domingo City were on the eastern bank of the river, where a fortress was built which was destroyed by a hurricane in 1502. Soon after this the settlement was removed to the western bank of the river.
Passing through the narrow entrance of the harbor, the visitor's attention is attracted to a grim and time-worn fortress which crowns a jutting headland at the river's mouth. This fine old masonry citadel, with its Moorish tower, was erected in 1509, and although the natives firmly believe that within its dungeon Columbus was imprisoned, there is no foundation for the story, for the date of his incarceration was in 1500, and he was confined in a smaller tower in the old settlement on the other side of the river. The present tower, or "homenaje," is now usually filled with political prisoners, who occupy the same old stone cells wherein the adventurous conquerors thrust their prisoners four centuries ago.
A little farther up the river and close above the modern custom house, stands a large, well-preserved ruin, towering above the smaller modern houses. This was the residence of Diego Columbus (son of the admiral), who was for some time viceroy of the colony. His palace was so strongly fortified and defended with walls and cannon as to alarm the Spanish king, who recalled the governor to explain his actions.
On every hand, as we look shoreward, loom the half-ruined churches and monasteries of the almost-forgotten past and one is filled with a sort of awe at thus standing so near the scenes of Columbus's life. As we step ashore the centuries seem to have rolled back, and as we pass beneath the great arched gateway in the city wall we half expect a challenge from a mail-clad sentinel within the dusky shadow.
This massive wall entirely surrounds the city and even after a lapse of nearly half a thousand years is yet firm and strong and well able to withstand a siege of any but modern artillery.
Passing up the main street, between old houses with their ornate doorways bearing the coats of arms of many such famous old families as Balboa, Alvarado and Ponce de Leon, the plaza is reached, where stands a magnificent statue of Columbus, with his bronze arm pointing ever westward.
On the southern side of the plaza is the massive old fortress-cathedral, begun in 1514 and completed in 1500 (?), and within whose walls repose the bones of Christopher Columbus.
The ancient bells of this cathedral are hung outside the walls in towers built for the purpose, instead of being placed within the building itself. Beneath these queer old bell towers we enter the broad stone portal, with the painted saints on either hand, almost as fresh as when first completed by the artists over three centuries ago.
Within the cathedral our attention is immediately drawn to a most beautiful monument of Italian marble, the last resting place of Columbus. Here, in an ornamental urn, flanked by imposing sculptured lions, and with delicate bass-reliefs portraying his appearance before Ferdinand and Isabella, lie the bones of America's discoverer. Many will be surprised at this statement, as it is commonly supposed that the ashes of Columbus were buried in Havana. The Italian government, which presented the monument to the Dominicans, was thoroughly convinced that such was not the case, however, and our own ex-minister to the republic, the Hon. T. C. Dawson, investigated the matter thoroughly. From Mr. Dawson's extensive researches there can be no doubt whatever that the bones reposing in the cathedral in Santo Domingo are those of Christopher Columbus, while those removed with pomp and ceremony, and taken by the Spaniards to Havana in 1795, were the remains of Don Diego Columbus, son of the admiral.
Although the most interesting, the cathedral is by no means the oldest building in Santo Domingo City. This honor probably belongs to the Church of San Nicolo, built in 1509. Larger than San Nicolo, and almost if not quite as ancient, is the convent of San Francisco, just behind and above the house of Don Diego Columbus. Within the entrance of this famous old pile is buried the great soldier Ojeda, while beneath the pavement of its aisles lie the remains of many another famous old Don, among them being Bartholomew-Columbus, the founder of the town.
Santa Barbara, San Miguel, La Merced, Santa Clara, La Regima and San Anton are all ancient and beautiful churches built 350 years or more ago, although several of them have been restored and are now in daily use. The most famous of all the churches in the city, however, is the old convent church of Santa Domingo, to which is attached the remains of the first university established in America, and over which ministered the great La Casas, one of the few whose career was not marred by blood and greed and who ever was an ardent advocate of education, Christianity and peace. It was he who wrote the only reliable history of those old days in the new lands of the west and here in his beloved Santo Domingo he taught and preached in a university which had passed the century mark when the Pilgrims first trod our shores at Plymouth Rock.
Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950
REVISED EDITION COMPILED AND ARRANGED BY
Donald B. Day
G. K. Hall & Co., 70 Lincoln Street, Boston, Massachusetts
Announcement from the Original Edition..........vi
Magazines Indexed in this Volume.....................xi
How to Use the Index........................................xii
Abbreviations Used in the Index.......................xiv
Index by Authors............................................... 1
Index by Titles.................................................125
Checklist of Magazines Indexed........................272
Back Cover Pictures..........................................287
VERRILL, A.(lpheus) HYATT Biog sketch.......FA May 39 85
AUTHOR Title. .Length .... Magazine, Date, Page
Astounding Discoveries of Doctor Mentiroso, The. .s......................Amz Nov 27 746
Beyond the Green Prism........ .n 2pt........Amz Jan 30 886
Beyond the Pole, .n 2 pt...................Amz Oct 26 580
Bridge of Light, The. .n.....................AQ Fal 29 436
Death Drum, The. .nt.....................Amz May 33 104
Death from the Skies.......... .nt.........Amz Oct 29 583 ToW Spr41 4
Dirigibles of Death, The. .nt .................AQ Win 30 124
Exterminator, The. .ss...................AmzFeb31 1020
Feathered Detective, The....... .s . ..........Amz Apr 30 31
Inner World, The. .n 3 pt...................Amz Jun 35 69
Inner World, The (The Voice from the Inner World), s......................ToW Spr39 101
Into the Green Prism, .n 2 pt. . . ............Amz Mar 29 1064
King of the Monkey Men, The. .nt........AQ Spr 28 230
Man Who Could Vanish, The ....s...........Amz Jan 27 900 AA27 104
Monsters of the Ray. .nt....................AQ Sum 30 364
Mummy of Ret-Seh, The. .s...................FA May 39 70
Non-Gravitational Vortex, The. .nt.......Amz Jun 30 198
Plague of the Living Dead, The. .s..........Amz Apr 27 6
Psychological Solution, The.....s...........Amz Jan 28 946
Through the Andes, .n 3 pt..................Amz Sep 34 49
Through the Crater's Rim......s..........Amz Dec 26 806
Treasure of the Golden God, The. .n 2 pt.....Amz Jan 33 870
Ultra-Elixir of Youth, The......s..........Amz Aug27 476
Vampires of the Desert........s..........Amz Dec 29 774
Visit to Suari, A. .s.......................Amz Jul 30 292
Voice from the Inner World, The. .s.........Amz Jul 27 328
When the Moon Ran Wild, .n . . . ...............AQ Win 31 90
World of the Giant Ants, The. . . . . .n............AQ Fal 28 436
Verrill’s description from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy
Digitized by Doug Frizzle, June 2012.
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY
Compiled by DONALD H. TUCK
A bibliographic survey of the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and weird fiction through 1968
Volume 2: WHO'S WHO, M-Z
Advent:Publishers, Inc. Chicago: 1978
VERRILL, A(LPHEUS) HYATT (23 July 1871-14 Nov 1954) U.S. archaeologist and author. When scarcely 17 he made his first scientific expedition, to the island of Dominica. For nearly 50 years he led expeditions into the tropical regions of South America, Central America and the West Indies, and became a recognized authority on South American Indians, prehistoric civilizations of Peru and Bolivia, and lost and buried treasures. His expeditions added many valuable specimens in natural history, ethnology and archaeology to museums in the U.S.A. and Europe.
Verrill wrote over a hundred nonfiction works, including My Jungle Trails (Pope, Boston, 1937), about his travels; Old Civilization in a New World (Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, 1929); Before the Conquerors (Dodd Mead, New York, 1935), juvenile on the history of the Incas, etc.; Strange Insects and Their Stories (Pope, New York, 1936); Strange Prehistoric Animals and Their Stories (Page, Boston, 1948). He wrote many stories for the science fiction magazines 1926-1935, of which the more notable include: "Into the Green Prism" (AS, sr2, Mar 1929) and sequel; "The Inner World" (AS, sr3, June 1935); "The Plague of the Living Dead" (AS, Apr 1927; Mag. Horror, Aug 1965); "World of the Giant Ants" (ASQ, Fall 1928).
Fiction [Incomplete — see other titles in the Bleiler Checklist]
Bridge of Light, The (ASQ, Fall 1929) (Fantasy Press, Reading [Penna.], 1950, 248 pp., $3.00)
One of Verrill's best novels, done in the Haggard tradition —adventure in South America and finding a lost city.
When the Moon Ran Wild [pa] (ASQ, Win 1931) ([as Ray Ainsbury] Consul: 1197, 1962, 158 pp., pa 2/6)
America's Ancient Civilization [with R. Verrill] (Putnam, New York, 1953, 334 pp., illus., $5.00; London, 1954, 25/-)
For the general reader; covers the great lost civilizations of the Mayas, Aztecs and Incas; illustrated with 24 plates.
Strange Story of Our Earth, The (Page, Boston, 1952, 255 pp., $3.75) (Premier: s24, 1956, 157 pp., pa 35*)
An informative account of Earth's geology and prehistoric animals and men.
Sunday, 24 June 2012
Up The Mazaruni For Diamonds -Part 1
By W. Jean LaVarre
From The American Boy magazine, January, 1919. Digitized by Doug Frizzle, June 2012.
The Boy Scout Who Went Scouting in the Wilds
Editor’s Note—American boys are always doing interesting things. Occasionally one of them does something that is of extraordinary interest and value. Charlie Murphy did; his own story of his fourteen months in the Arctic appeared just a year ago in THE AMERICAN BOY. W. Jean LaVarre did; his own story of his remarkable adventures in the wilds of British Guiana starts on this page and will continue for several months, each installment taking him deeper into that strange land and revealing something of new interest. Jean LaVarre, a Virginian by birth, was 18 years old when he had the thrilling adventure which he describes so graphically. He was "prepared" for it. In 1911 he joined the Boy Scouts of America and helped to organize one of the first troops on Staten Island, New York. He became a First Class Scout, and earned sixteen merit badges and was appointed Patrol Leader of the first Honor Patrol in his city. Outdoor subjects have always been his hobby, especially mountain climbing and camping. He has been camping every year since he was ten years old, and says he intends to keep it up the rest of his life.
The voyage to South America and the trip into British Guiana wilds (several hundred miles farther inland than Colonel Roosevelt penetrated on his visit there) was the biggest of Jean LaVarre's many experiences in the open. He and his friend Edward P. Lewis, of Springfield, Mass., went hunting for diamonds, and for five months lived in the real "wilds” among uncivilized black men—an experience which few white men have had. Not only the adventures but the unfamiliar facts which LaVarre learned there, at first hand, make this a feature of unusual value.
“HERE'S A QUEER looking letter," I said to myself, one day early in the spring of 1917. I could hardly make out the postmark. It was something of a surprise to receive a letter from British Guiana, as I finally deciphered it, but the contents were even more surprising.
The letter was from my friend Edward P. Lewis. "I need a partner in a diamond mining venture," he wrote. "Are you game to try it out with me? It will be a long trip full of adventures and dangers, but there are diamonds here to be had for the digging."
He wrote much more. I became enthusiastic on the moment and was determined to go if possible. I had little trouble in arranging this and wrote him that I would come.
On the tenth of May I sailed from New York on the steamship Saga to Barbados where Lewis met me. He was delighted and quite as enthusiastic as I. He had been in Georgetown, British Guiana, for a while on other business and had learned about the diamond fields away up the famous, and treacherous, Mazaruni River. From Barbados we sailed away In South America on the steamer Parima. I was surprised in find Georgetown such a large city, 60,000 inhabitants, and, as the buildings were all one and two stories, one can imagine how it spread out.
"Can we start to-morrow?" I asked, after we had reached our hotel. Lewis laughed.
"Hardly," he said. "This isn't like a trip back home where you can toss some clothes and clean collars in a bag, buy your ticket, catch your train and be off."
I had not given much thought to exactly how we were to travel. But I soon learned that to journey up a great river for hundreds of miles with a score of natives, taking all the food for a six months' stay, was a matter that could not be arranged in a moment.
The starting out place for the trip was twenty miles from Georgetown at a town upriver called Bartica. But as Bartica has only twenty inhabitants we bought everything at Georgetown. There we busied ourselves with the preparations. It seemed as though there were a million details to look after, and I got an idea of what an explorer is up against, as we had to outfit ourselves about the same as an exploring party would.
"We must get lead guns, beads, mirrors and other trinkets," said Lewis.
"What's the big idea?" I asked. "Are we to open a five and ten cent store for the native Indians up there?"
"Not exactly," laughed Lewis, "but we must have something to trade with. What use is a silver or gold coin to a native back hundreds of miles in the jungle? He'd rather have a twenty-five cent kitchen knife than a fifty dollar gold piece."
The "lead guns" are not lead, as I learned, but the very cheapest sort of cheap guns, manufactured in England solely for trading with semi-civilized and uncivilized people. No live American boy would take one as a gift, but I found that the natives treasured them above everything else they possessed.
We were fortunate in finding a Dutch captain, a man who has navigated the turbulent waters of the Mazaruni for twenty years. And he picked out a skilled "bowman," a native who stands at the bow of your boat, with an immense paddle, and fends it off rocks, gives steering directions and acts generally as a sort of life preserver for the boat.
Then there was "Jimmy." He was a negro, rather undersized and as black as the inside of a lump of coal. He appointed himself our special guardian, a sort of valet, overseer and servant. He looked after our personal belongings, cooked our food, made our tea and devoted himself exclusively to us.
Twenty paddlemen were also engaged. Sixteen of them were quite as black as our Jimmy, and four of them were in varying shades from tobacco brown to light molasses candy tint. These were of mixed Dutch and Negro blood.
"They are 'Bovianders,'" said the captain.
"Queer tribal name," I commented.
The captain laughed. "Not exactly a tribal name," he explained. "They live up the river quite a distance and so it is said that they come from 'above yonder.' They have twisted that into 'Boviander,' so that the word always means people who live up the river."
While we were engaging our staff the captain was getting boats for us. He selected a great fifty-foot boat seemingly as heavy as a locomotive. It looked like a crude craft, made of great thick planks. I soon learned the necessity of such a heavy boat. We also had a small boat for emergency and for little side trips here and there.
Next came the "cats." We had to take enough food for ourselves, our twenty-two helpers and partly enough for the native Indians that we were to employ later. When the big boat was finally loaded properly under the skillful direction of the captain, we had five tons of food aboard and this included no meat at all except salt fish. There was no need to take meat, for game and fresh fish were so plentiful that we were never without them.
There was a queer, tent-shaped rig amidships of our big craft. Beneath this was room enough for us to stay sheltered during the heat of the day. White men can seldom stand the midday heat in British Guiana.
Packed all about us was the food. Jimmy climbed to the top of the pile. The captain took his position aft. The sturdy Boviander bowman took his place at the bow with his immense paddle, the twenty paddle men took their places in four groups of five, one group on each side, forward and aft of the cargo.
Then they shoved off and began their peculiar, noisy paddling.
The little town of Bartica fell away behind us as we slid out into the broad expanse of the old Mazaruni.
We were off at last, on our great diamond mining adventure!
EAGERLY I scanned the waters and either shore, determined that nothing should escape me, that I should see everything and enjoy every possible thing there was to be enjoyed.
The captain sat, complacently smoking, at the stern of the boat, the great steering paddle, tied to the stern with thongs, in his hands. He looked as bored as if crossing the street to buy an evening paper. How could he, when there was such glorious adventure, I wondered. But afterwards I realized that twenty years of navigating the river had somewhat dulled the novelty of it for him. With him it was work, and nothing more.
To a boy used to paddling our own style of light canoes, the paddling methods of those black men seemed the most awkward in the world. Yet they "got there," and I doubt if any crew of white men, without years of practice, could have propelled the heavy craft as easily as they. Their method was to bend forward, holding the paddle horizontally and sliding it along the gunwale with a loud scraping noise, then suddenly lean over sidewise and dig the paddle viciously into the water, giving a sturdy backward tug with it, still scraping the paddle against the gunwales. At the end of this stroke they returned the paddle to the horizontal position with a loud thumping noise, sat up straight, then leaned forward and repeated the stroke.
They kept perfect time. No varsity crew boys ever worked in unison at the oars any better, and they were forever singing. It didn't matter whether they were paddling twenty feet across a narrow inlet or making an all day pull upstream, they always had music with their paddling.
They were crude songs, partly English that was scarcely understandable, partly native dialect and partly something else that may have been handed down to them from their ancestors who were captured in Africa so many generations ago and brought over by the early Dutch and English slave traders.
If the water was smooth and open, with no current, our twenty paddle men would sing as softly as the whispering of a summer breeze. But if there was a current they would sing louder. And the more difficult the paddling, the louder they would sing. In boiling rapids where it took every ounce of their strength and they had to take quick, short strokes to keep going, their voices arose to an almost howling crescendo.
Soon Bartica was lost to view around a point of land. For nearly six months we were to see no more civilization than Indian villages here and there, hidden far back from the river bank. As we swung up into the broad river where the current became strong enough to cause the paddlers to use a little extra "elbow grease" they broke into a queer song which I heard so many times after that, that it still rings in my ears. I cannot translate it. I do not know what it means, but imagine that it is some sort of love song to some dusky "Lena." This is the way it sounds:
"San, Lena, chile, I do love yo';
Me know so, hear so, yes!
Le, le, le, le, le, le,
Blow, ma booly boy, blow Califo 'ge 'ole,
Splenty o'gol's for A've been tol'
T' th' lan' o' Mazaruni!"
We came in sight of another boat. On the Mazaruni every boat one sees that is going in the same direction is an "adversary" and every paddler believes that it is his duty to pass it. Then you see some fancy paddle strokes, so weird and unusual and grotesque that they are difficult to describe. One would think that they were trying more to awe each other with their paddle gesticulations than with speed. How they race upstream, each determined to get and keep the lead! The captain told me that many lives were lost at rapids because the racing paddlers would give thought only to getting into the narrow passes first and were frequently crashed upon the rocks and overturned.
Not far from the little town is Kalcoon, the biological station where at various times Professor Beebe and the other scientists take up their intimate studies of tropical life. This station is on a high hill where the Mazaruni and Essequibo Rivers join. It was at this place that Colonel Roosevelt stopped when he visited the colony.
From this point the vegetation on both sides of the river became so dense that it seemed almost like greenish-black solid walls. No huts or signs of human life were visible at first. But finally, with sharp eyes, we got so we could detect a slight opening, a log landing at the water's edge or a faint suggestion of a thatched hut in back of the shore row of trees.
It would have been fearfully monotonous but for the fact that Lewis and I devised a new sort of game— to see which one could detect the greater number of signs of human habitation. Our natives, with sharper eyes, would verify our discoveries. All this was in the Boviander section, where the natives come down from " 'Bove yonder." Just before nightfall we reached the foot of the first falls and landed to make camp for the night.
Before the big boat touched land Lewis and I had leaped ashore to stretch our legs. The blacks jumped out into the shoal water and swung the boat into place and made it fast. Jimmy began taking ashore our shelters. Suddenly he began a frantic search and in despair cried:
"You bet you 'cookum,' " I shouted, "I'm starved."
"No cookum! No cookum!" repeated the distracted black boy, mournfully.
Lewis investigated and came back with a long face.
"We did a bright thing," he growled.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Left all of our cooking outfit down at the village!"
"There's two things to do, go without them or go back and get them," I suggested.
"Can't go without 'em," said Lewis.
"Then there's one thing to do," I laughed. I was not to be filled with gloom. The prospects of a great adventure were far too joyous. Our landing was at the last settlement of the Bovianders. These half Dutch, half Negro natives speak fairly understandable English. I scouted around amongst them, found a good canoe, took three black men and set out downriver. The two paddlers were sturdy boys and, going down with the current, they fairly made that old canoe whizz.
IT WAS MIDNIGHT when we got back to the village. Everyone was asleep except the dogs. They greeted us with howls, and many of the men turned out. Perhaps they thought they were to be attacked by some enemy tribe. But we soon explained, got our cooking outfit, lashed it carefully to the canoe and started back. There was no speeding up against the current, although the light canoe made better progress than our heavy boats. And then I heard a sound that made me think I was back home. It was the "put—put—put" of a gasoline motor. I was amazed.
"Fire boat," grunted one of the black men.
I hailed it. A Dutchman answered and came over to us. It was an ordinary native boat to which he had attached one of those portable motors which may be put on any boat. He was going upstream and gladly took us in tow, much to my delight. Otherwise I would not have reached camp until daylight, and the tropical nights (as I afterward learned) are not the sort of nights for anyone, especially a white man, to be out in, because of the terrible dampness and mists as well as insect pests.
As we chugged along upriver, my three blacks sitting back and grinning at their luck because they would be paid just the same for the trip although they escaped all of the hard work, there suddenly came across the black water the most weird sounds imaginable.
There were shrieks and falsetto laughter, squeaks and tinkles and shrill pipings and heavy stamping. I couldn't imagine what it all meant.
"Wedding celebration," said the Dutchman. "Let's put in and see the fun."
I stared at the black bank of the river whence came the weird sounds, but could see nothing. Finally, as my eyes became accustomed, I caught faint glimmers of light that seemed far inland, miles and miles, I thought. In reality the natives were no more than a quarter of a mile inland, or perhaps less. We found a landing place and, guided by the fearful din and the flickering lights, made our way through the jungle to the higher, dry ground beyond. I had all sorts of visions of great snakes dropping on me and wild jungle beasts grabbing at my heels, but nothing worse than giant mosquitoes came near me.
We came to the opening and a group of huts. In front of one hut was an improvised porch or platform. The boards were rough, uneven and loosely laid across supports. At one end sat a wrinkled and grizzled old man playing a squeaky fiddle. Beside him squatted two younger natives playing flutes. Another pounded upon the platform with a cocoanut shell, beating time. We were welcomed with nods and smiles, but the natives could not pause in their festival to do more. They were dancing on that platform. Overalls and frayed shirts and rough brogans made up the evening dress of most of the blacks, but the women were decked out in gaudy skirts and waists. Up and down and back and forth over the rough boards, pouncing and scraping and stomping their feet, they danced and laughed.
Tallow candles, oil lanterns and here and there kerosene lamps were affixed to hut poles or trees, and by this light the dancers cast amazing shadows over everything, shadows that moved and swayed and intertwined in a most awesome manner.
And everyone was talking and laughing at the same time. Every fourth word was understandable but there were many dialects and vernaculars. There were cocoanuts to eat and a peculiar sort of cake or bread. We watched the merrymaking for quite a while. The newly weds were cheered by means of peculiar calls when they danced together. I suppose those black children of the jungle danced all night. We finally grew weary of it all and set out for camp.
Such food as could be eaten without cooking had been served and everyone was asleep except Jimmy, who awaited my coming, and tumbled me into a hammock beneath a canvas shelter. I suppose I had slept many hours but it seemed no more than five minutes before I was wakened and crawled out for breakfast. The camp kitchen had been set up, the blacks had already eaten and were getting the boats ready. Our breakfast consisted of boiled rice, salt fish and biscuits.
The second day up the river was uneventful. There were broad sweeps of water, grand, wide curves and the seemingly endless mile after mile of thick jungle vegetation growing down to the water's edge. That night I had an opportunity to see how such an outfit was handled. We landed in a rather likely spot, not far back from the shore, at five o'clock. Some of the blacks brought the kitchen outfit ashore, others cut long poles and put up the canvas shelters. It seems that we took our "hotel" along with us, merely a great canvas cover, and spread it anew at each night's camp.
A great pole was placed in the crotch of two trees, about twelve feet above ground, the canvas stretched across this and propped up with shorter poles and ropes. Beneath this were stretched two hammocks, one for Lewis and one for myself. Meanwhile Captain Peter and the bowman swung their hammocks under the awning of the large boat.
Our twenty paddlers put up three smaller shelters beneath which they swung their own hammocks.
The tropic sun was turning the great Mazaruni to a sheet of molten gold, deep blue dusk was falling, this turning to gray, and then the camp fires began to glimmer here and there.
The captain and bowman needed no camp fire, sleeping on the boat, but we had our own, and the natives had their own at each shelter. Jimmy presided over our fire, made coffee for us and prepared our supper. Captain Pete and the bowman had charge of the food for the natives. The English laws outline clearly to the last ounce and gramme just how much food you must give the natives that work for you, to live on.
It was interesting to watch Captain Peter, assisted by the bowman, with their scales, measuring out the rations to our paddlers. The Government standard of weekly rations for each man are: flour, 7 pints; salt fish, 1 pound; sugar, 1 pound; rice, three and one-fourth pints; salt pork, 1 pound; dried peas, one and three-quarters pints; biscuits, 1 pound. Frequently the men prefer the extra portion of sugar in place of the peas, as the sugar is a delicacy with them, desired above all else.
Captain Peter, through long years of experience, knew just how to divide this weekly allowance into daily portions and the blacks trusted him. In line they would march down to the boat, each with a tin plate, and receive his portion, carefully weighed on the scales, then he would march back to his camp fire and prepare his food as best suited himself. At the same time each one was given extra tea, sugar and crackers for the light morning meal, to save time in breaking camp. With their pint of flour they baked a cake beside the fire, using the salt from their fish for the seasoning. Sometimes boiled plantains were eaten with their supper but these they brought with them as they are not furnished by the Government. These plantains are much like bananas, but smaller and really considerably different in taste. Then there was game and fish to supply additional meat so that, with the foodstuffs we brought along, everyone fared quite well.
As soon as they had eaten and cleaned their tin plates they crawled into their hammocks and filled their short black clay pipes with tobacco. I must say that it was not a very attractive brand of tobacco, to judge from the odor. That night we gave cigarettes to those who did not have them and after that we sold them cigarette tobacco and papers from our stock at cost. They are extremely fond of them.
IT WAS at these times, as I soon learned, that there was much amusement to be had with these blacks. I learned of their many superstitions, their ambitions, likes and dislikes and much of the customs of that wild country that could never be learned in any other manner. This I learned both by means of questions and by listening carefully as they talked to each other. Their English was about as easy to understand as that of the Southern Georgia darkey, when they cared to talk it.
A "Dodo" they told me—and they believed it, too—is a sort of hairy bird-beast twenty feet high which either eats men alive or carries them off to its jungle nest and makes slaves of them. Then they would name this or that acquaintance and say, "Ah spec' he shuah was et by a Dodo, yes suh."
Caven, one of our paddlers, solemnly assured me that he had seen a Dodo. Caven looked much like a Dodo, or some sort of a missing link, himself. He said he was out hunting monkeys and saw one.
"He gi' me scar' fo' true," said Caven, and he must have seen some weird thing, or dreamed that he did, for his teeth chattered even at the telling of it. These blacks could talk fairly understandable English when it was necessary for them to make themselves clear to us. Otherwise they could profess almost absolute ignorance of the language, and among themselves they frequently talked a jargon that would defy any linguist to interpret.
Our men soon formed themselves into cliques and they stuck to these groupings throughout the long trip. The Bovianders kept by themselves; the Berbicans (negroes from Berbice) by themselves; and the Demeranans (who believed themselves to be the salt of the earth) likewise flocked together. We had one Barbadian negro. Now to a British Guiana darkey, a darkey from Barbados—one of the Leeward Islands—is the essence of laziness and good-for-nothingness. I think the British Guiana darkey is right. But I found that Caven and his brother Berbicans were really the best of the lot. In every test of strength, bravery, skill and endurance, they led the other blacks.
I really did not get my initiation into the mysteries of hammock sleeping in the tropics until the second night because on the first night I tumbled in about three in the morning too tired to know whether I was in a hammock or a feather bed. But on this second night I found myself doubled up like a crescent moon. I twisted and squirmed and wriggled about in my fantastic debut into the brotherhood of hammock sleepers before I discovered that the trick was simple enough, once you got on to it, that of sleeping diagonally across it from head to foot.
Having made this discovery I arose and got out the victrola we bought in Georgetown. It was a small, cheap one, but the best investment 1 ever made. I don't know what induced me to do this, but with a large assortment of records that machine drove away gloom and dull care through many and many a dreary evening.
The blacks enjoyed it immensely, and it seemed strange to be mingling the voices of our opera singers with the screech of monkeys and the howls of red baboons and piping of strange night birds in the tropical jungle.
The camp fire died low, at last. Fresh lanterns were lighted and the men prepared for sleep. This was no simple matter to them. To me it was the most astonishing sight I had witnessed. They made ready for bed by putting on all of the clothing they possessed. Then they wrapped cloths around their hands, feet and necks. Some even pulled bags down over their heads and tied them. The "wealthy" blacks had bags for each foot. Our empty flour bags became grand prizes to be used for this purpose, which we awarded to the best workers.
By the faint camp fire light and flicker of lanterns those natives certainly did look queer, like fantastic goblins, all muffled up. There was little that seemed human about them as they clambered into their hammocks and rolled themselves up, pulling over the flaps until quite lost to view.
"Does it get so cold at night that we have to wrap up like that?" I asked Jimmy.
"No suh, dey's feered o' vampire bats. That there is a part protection."
I couldn't get the "part protection" meaning of it, and all Jimmy would explain was that they had some sort of superstitious "voodoo" rigamarole performances to keep away the vampires.
I was quite excited about it. From early boyhood I had read about the deadly vampire bats that come upon you when you are sleeping and suck your life blood away. Secretly I hoped that I would be bitten by one so that I could boast of it when I got back home.
The blacks were asleep. By virtue of being a sort of aide-de-camp Jimmy was allowed to swing his hammock in a corner of our shelter. He insisted that the lantern be kept burning all night.
"No need of it," I told him.
"Yes suh, they is, Mister Laver," (which was the best he could do in the way of pronouncing my name). "Ef yo' don' bu'n a lantum all night yo' will shuah be annoyed."
"Annoyed?" I laughed.
"Uh, huh, annoyed by vampires," he answered, very solemnly.
But I couldn't sleep with the lantern light in my eyes and so blew out the light. Several times in the night, poor scared Jimmy tried to light it, but I yelled at him.
Neither Lewis nor myself were ever bitten by a vampire. Sometimes one would alight on my hammock, but fly away without trying to bite me. Yet, despite their great care, our blacks were frequently bitten. They would become restless in the night, kick off some of their wrappings and then the vampires would get at them.
I have heard that vampires are deadly. I never knew personally of a fatal case. I do know that they always pick out a blood vessel for their biting spot and that they never awaken the sleeper. The more blood they draw, the sounder is the sleep of the victim and the bite does not become painful until the next day.
I should say that our crew of blacks must have lost, among them, a couple of quarts of blood during the trip. Some of them were quite lame and sore and a bit weakened as a result, but that was all. As near as I can figure it out the vampires prefer the blood from gentlemen of color rather than from pale-faced Americans.
It was the stentorian shout of Captain Peter. He was a human alarm clock. He never failed to awaken at the first gleam of daylight. In the tropics it does not come on with a slow pink dawn as here, but seems to burst through the gray morning light in a flash.
There was a scramble everywhere and all tumbled out of the hammocks. Camp fires were lighted, tea was boiling and in a short time everyone was getting into the boat. The natives had our shelters down while we were drinking tea. They came down to the boat with their pots and pans jangling at their sides, and at the captain's cry, "In boats all!" we climbed in, the darkies took up their paddles and began their noisy paddling, singing at the same time. The sun was flaming over the top of the jungle from the distant shore of the river, three quarters of a mile away, and we set out on our journey.
Lewis and I took seats on top of the canvas where we could see everything. We passed through a wide part of the river full of islands and deep channels and treacherous currents and whirlpools. Only a skillful man like Captain Peter could have guided our boat through the right channels, as some of them contain whirlpools that look smooth enough on the surface but would have dragged even as heavy a craft as our own under without a struggle.
Some of the islands were a mile in area, some no bigger than a doormat. In and out amongst them we paddled and finally came to a smoother, more open part of the river.
"Eleven o'clock!" cried Captain Peter.
I looked at my watch. It was just eleven o'clock.
"Your watch is right, Captain," I called.
"I have no watch, sir," he replied. "I use God's time."
It was a fact, he told time by the sun, and seldom was a minute out of the way.
Eleven o'clock was always breakfast time. How those black men could paddle up against a strong current towing our smaller boat, from five o'clock to eleven with only a cup of tea was more than I could understand. Yet they did it, and worked well and never seemed hungry. At eleven we always went ashore and cooked breakfast, cakes, rice, boiled plantains, salt fish and tea. Then we would pile back into the boat again and keep on until just before sunset, trying to make a good landing in time to pitch camp before dark.
That long afternoon was tiresome to me. I scanned the deep foliage everywhere in hopes to see many wild beasts and reptiles. I recalled my geography, with its woodcuts of jungles showing great alligators on the shores, giant boa constrictors writhing in trees, monkeys hopping from branch to branch and queer, bright-colored birds flitting about. This was jungle, surely enough, with such thick vegetation that only crawling things could penetrate it, yet for hours I saw no signs of life there. There were wonderful orchids that would, if they could be brought to New York, sell for fabulous sums. There were queer looking trees, great fronded palms, hanging moss as thick as large hawsers and other growing things that I knew nothing about.
In Georgetown I had heard tales of giant forty-foot snakes. I never saw one. I did catch a glimpse of a small snake which they told me was deadly poison. He was hanging from a limb over the water. We were paddling close inshore to avoid a current. One of the blacks saw it and in a flash knocked it far away into the stream with a blow of his paddle and kept on paddling, because to him this was a common incident. His eyes were trained to see such things.
That night we camped at Topeka Falls, or just below them, and the roar lulled me to sleep.
I DISCOVERED that the first part of our trip up river was not as full of adventures as I had hoped. But adventure came in good time. The routine was the same, night after night, but there were many new things of interest to see, many narrow escapes and considerable trouble in one way and another. At this camping place I stripped and was about to take a swim.
"Hey, quit that," shouted Lewis.
"I won't hurt your old river," I laughed.
"You won't come out alive, sir," said the captain. "There isn't an alligator or crocodile or whatever you call 'em in sight," I insisted and started to dive. Jimmy restrained me.
"No go in. Fish eatum up," he said. I laughed at the idea of a fish eating me up. The captain tossed a salt fish into the water. There was a swish and a big fish came and grabbed it. I didn't get a very clear look at the fish but he looked bigger than a whale and his teeth seemed altogether too prominent for me to fool with.
I discovered that the river was full of "perai," a decidedly savage fish extremely fond of human beings.
One of them will devour a man in a short while.
I gave up my plan of having a swim and Lewis and I satisfied ourselves by sitting on the edge of the small boat and splashing water over each other.
Our fifth night was Saturday. We did not intend to travel or work on Sunday. We selected a splendid camp site. Heretofore the blacks had waited and given us the best camping place. But we had been treating them so well that they thought our kindness to them was not kindness at all, but fear of them. And so they started to make their shelter on the best spot.
"You can't have that place," I said.
"We got it," grinned one of the men. Most of the others stuck by him. One or two slunk off.
"Go down there," I commanded.
"We stay here," he declared and stood his ground. I was in an uncomfortable position. If I let them have their way this time there would be no living with them. If I got in a fight—they were, after all, twenty-two blacks to three whites—they could overpower us.
Suddenly I had a vision of how they would abuse us if I gave in. I could see them grinning at each other, believing that we were afraid of them. That situation would be unbearable. I turned on the black man and pointed with my left hand down the slope.
"Get down there and stay down!" I commanded.
"I won't —"
He didn't say any more. My fist shot out and took him under the ear and he went over like a stick of wood. Then I wheeled to face the others.
I REALLY EXPECTED a fight, but the blacks stared at their fallen companion who rolled down the slope, their eyes bulging, and before I had time to bark out a short command for them to get out they hastily snatched up their belongings and ran down the hill.
I stood there a moment, waiting to let my anger cool oft a little to make sure that I would not say things or do things unnecessarily severe or that I would regret. Then I strode down to where they were grouped and where the first black was dazedly rubbing his chin. When they saw me approach they again dropped their things and started to run away
"Don't run. You are all right there," I shouted. They paused and looked at me suspiciously.
“We are running this little outfit," I said to them, pointing to Lewis, and we are hiring you to work for us. You know your places. Keep them and you will get good treatment, otherwise you will be the sorriest niggers in British Guiana. For every wrong that you do, you shall be punished. For every good thing that you do you shall be rewarded. We are treating you kindly because it is the right thing to do, not because we are afraid of you. Your punishment for attempting to dispute our authority shall be to sleep to-night without your shelter cloth!"
Then I picked up their shelter cloth, turned my back on them and walked away. To be quite truthful, I was not a little frightened when I turned my back fearing treachery yet it was the only thing to do. I knew that I had to make them believe that I was without fear of them or of anything else, otherwise I would not win their respect or co-operation.
Meekly they arranged to hang their hammocks without the shelter cloth, seeming to take it for granted that they had this penalty coming to them for the way they had acted.
"You acted like a veteran explorer" said old Captain Peter to me. "You did just right, boy. If you had given in they would not have worked, they would have stolen everything and they would have abused you during all the trip."
Most of the white men that these native darkies knew had been of a rough sort, adventurous Dutchmen and others, who kicked them about and treated them without the least regard until the poor black boys—we call all blacks "boys"—thought that it was the white man's natural way. When we showed kindness to them and full regard for their comfort they mistook it for fear. And, thinking that we were afraid of them, they decided to run things themselves. It did not take them long to learn that American white men are not brutes and that when they worked hard and acted on the square they would be treated with kindness. And I am sure no group of native blacks, as a whole, ever worked more faithfully than this bunch after they had learned their lesson. There are always a few exceptions. One or two became lazy, one or two tried to steal diamonds, later, but we had our own methods of handling them.
For the first time in my life I learned by direct experience the value of superiority of intelligence. We white men, being mentally far superior to the blacks, could rule them. Had they known their own strength they could have overpowered us at any time. And I recalled that in all of my histories the same has held good. The mentally superior people have ruled the less intelligent.
This was our fifth night of camping on the banks of the Mazaruni. We were to be two nights here, as we did not intend to travel or work on Sunday.
By the time we had our shelters erected and this little mix-up with the blacks had been settled, Lewis suddenly looked up from his notebook in which he was keeping a sort of journal, and said, "Say!"
"Say it," I remarked, lazily, from my hammock where I was resting.
"Whoop-ee!" shouted Lewis, leaping to his feet.
"What's got you?" I demanded. "Is it a vampire down your neck or a crocodile up your trousers leg?"
"This, my beloved fellow American, happens to be the fourth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventeen, and the one hundred and forty-first year of our country's independence!" was his reply, whereupon I stared at him a moment and then I, too, leaped up and emitted a war whoop. Fourth of July in a far-away jungle! What to do? Well, we did it—did it up brown—but what we did, and how, I shall have to tell in the next chapter.
A weird Fourth of July celebration, baboon hunting, visits with the first native Indians encountered, and further hard progress up the Mazaruni—these are features of the second part of Jean LaVarre's story which will appear in the February number of The American Boy.
- ► 2015 (22)
- ► 2014 (55)
- ► 2013 (41)
- A. H. Verrill-Most Versatile Citizen
- A Boy's Museum –Part 1
- The Most Historical Spot in America
- Verrill from Index to the Science Fiction Magazine...
- Verrill’s description from The Encyclopedia of Sci...
- Up The Mazaruni For Diamonds -Part 1
- An Obituary for A. Hyatt Verrill
- How the Fog Came
- How to Operate a Motor Car
- The Bamboo Messenger
- Diseases of Watches
- How to Make and Use Bows and Arrows
- Jungle Chums -Ch 4-6
- The Story of Aluminum
- How the Reindeer Lost Their Tails
- Why the Crow is Black and the Loon Speckled
- ▼ June (16)
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- ► 2009 (40)
- ► 2008 (48)
- 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.