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who gain an uncertain living by hunt- dragged outside to a short distance, ing the wild mares of the Pampas, and where they are slaughtered, and their killing them for their hides. These hides taken off-the carcasses being people may be described as resem- left to be devoured by the vultures, bling the Back-woodsmen of North caranchos, and other birds of prey, America. They
continually which are always present in vast numshifting their habitation, as the prey bers in the immediate vicinity of these of which they are in search becomes loathsome shambles. Before quitting scarce ; and they seldom follow this this subject, it should be mentioned, wandering mode of life for any great that all the young horses which are length of time ; always abandoning it found among the mares caught in the as soon as they have gained a little manner above described, are immedimoney to purchase cattle and com- ately broke to the saddle, by main mence breeding them in another situ- force as it were, in the course of about ation. But to begin even this first two days; and the hides of the mares, occupation of mare-killing, it is ne- after being dried in the sun, are sold cessary to be possessed of a herd of at the nearest town for about half a about two hundred tame horses and dollar each. The purchaser, when mares, all of which are trained to fol- he has collected a sufficient number low a bell fastened to the neck of the together, sends them in carts to Buemost docile among them—which is nos Ayres, where they produce from bence called Madrina. Two or more six reals to a dollar each. Gauchos having joined their stock of About this point of our journey it horses together, they erect a mud was hourly to be expected that the house on the open waste, and thatch it wild Indians would make their appearon the top with rushy grass ; after ance. At Punta del Sauce, therefore, which they procure from a great dis- our supercargo had engaged with an tance, and by almost incredible labor, active Cordovese Gaucho, and a gia quantity of wooden palisades, with gantic Negro, both of whom were which they form a corral, or penfold, well acquainted with the country, and of great size. Their stock in trade who were to keep a constant look-out being thus established, they set out in advance of the troop, in order to from their new home to scour the prevent a surprise from these roving country ; taking little or no material marauders. The tract of country for subsistence with them, but de- over which we now had to pass was pending on their own skill in procur- one level plain, entirely covered with ing it for themselves when needed. pasture; and on the 20th we crossed They are frequently absent on these a deep stream called Saladillo, and expeditions for a month together; entered upon the Indian territory. never sleeping under a roof during all Having filled our water-jars at the that time, and their food the flesh of above-namned stream-which was of a wild animals, and a little brackish brackish taste-We now travelled day water. Their mode of taking the and night, with the least possible inwild mares of which they are in termission—as it was considered unsearch is very simple, and attended safe to linger a moment longer than by little difficulty. On encountering was necessary in these rude and ina herd of wild horses they drive hospitable wilds. Our chief occupatheir own troop of tame ones among tion by day was running down or them, and the two soon become, as it shooting the fallow deer-a sport were, incorporated together. The which took a most animated character whole are then driven in one body to- from the nature of the ground over wards the Puesto, and on reaching it which we were passing ; and in these are made to enter the enclosures of beautiful plains the game is extremely palisades; where the wild mares are abundant. This sport was sometimes noosed one by one, with the lazo, and varied by that of snaring partridges
with which game the plains also deserts ; and several times our whole abounded. This we effected by means company were deceived by it. On of horse-hair nooses, fixed to the end one occasion I perceived before me, of long canes. Another practice was, apparently at the distance of about a to ride round in a circle swiftly, de- mile, two low trees, of singular apcreasing the extent of the circle, till pearance, which I turned to inquire the bird became literally bewildered the name of, and found that they and giddy by its efforts to escape, and were called Los Quebrachos ; but on at last suffered itself to be approached turning the next instant to look at near enough to kill it with a riding- them again, there was no such object whip.
within sight. At first I could not beDuring the eight days that were lieve my senses, but was informed occupied in crossing the Pampas, I that the occurrence was quite a comfound it scarcely possible to get an mon one. And in fact the trees themhour's sleep, either by night or day. selves were, as I afterwards found, at The only means by which I could ef a distance of about two leagues from sect it at all were, by riding forward us at the time I saw the illusive apin advance of the troop for some dis- pearance, and were completely bidden tance, and then dismounting, fling my- froin actual view by an undulation in self into one of the deep wheel ruts, the surface of the ground. . The exwhich sheltered me from the cold planation of this phenomenon is now winds, still retaining my horse's bridle well known, and need not be more in my hand. On these occasions, in- particularly referred to. But another stead of being awakened by the creak- curious instance of the effects of the ing and lumbering of the carts, as mirage is worth relating. One mornthey passed me, I was pretty sure to ing, about eleven o'clock, we suddenly sleep till these sounds ceased, and perceived, at a considerable distance then to awake by the absence of the a-head, what we conceived to be the noise~as the miller is said to do when figure of an Indian, and as there was his mill stops.
One night, however, little doubt that we should soon see a when I kad been unusually oppressed party of them approach us with hosby sleep, I found, on awaking, that tile intentions, we did not wait for the the carts were out of sight and hearing. appearance of more, but instantly At first I was not at all alarmed, and prepared to meet their attack. This springing on my horse, thought to re- was done by, in the first place, arrestgain my company in a few minutes. ing the progress of all the carts, and Not coming up with them as soon as causing them to be drawn up in a I expected, I looked up to the bea- double line, so as to serve as a sort of vens, and found that the constellation fortification, behind which each man Orion was on the wrong side of me. was posted with his musket, and preI therefore quickly retraced my course; pared for a desperate resistance. On but it was full an hour before I re- riding up and down, to see that all gained my companions. If it had were in due order, I soon perceived been a cloudy night I should assured- that more was to be apprehended from ly have lost my road altogether, and the awkward morements of our men in all probability have remained seve- themselves, (most of whom were enral days without meeting with any tirely unaccustomed to the use of assistance in regaining it. Indeed, muskets,) than from the expected more than one European has been lost enemy. I therefore consulted with in these extensive solitudes, and died the supercargo, and it was presently from starvation.
arranged that only seven or eight of On these extensive plains I fre- our party, who were accustomed to quently had occasion to observe the fire-arms, should attempt a desence by singular effect of the “mirage," de- that means, and that the rest should scribed by travellers over the Arabian lash their knives to the end of their
bullock goads, and use them by way We saw before us, at a little distance, of pikes-an instrument they were a man mounted on a horse, and driving much more likely to handle to advan- twelve horses before him. tage. I was not long in discovering proaching him, to ascertain who it too, that our drivers were much better could be that was thus traversing the disposed to mount their horses and run desert plain alone, where man meets away, than stand their ground and his fellow man only to dread him as defend themselves : so that, to guard an enemy, he proved to be an old against an event of this nature, some Gaucho, sixty years of age, a native of of us were obliged to swear that we Rojas, who told us that he was jourwould shoot the very first man who neying to San Ignacio, in the moundid not stand his ground fairly, and tains of Cordova, to fetch home his take his chance with the rest.
This seemed so unlikely a tale, sently, however, all chance of escap- that we asked to see it corroborated ing seemed cut off, for the enemy by his passport, and it proved to be were now seen advancing on all sides, true. He had, in fact, set out from and seemed closing in upon us in a Rojas for San Ignacio, a distance of circle, carrying their long lances erect. seventy leagues, fifty of which were Our entrenchment being complete, we over pathless plains, where nothing awaited the onset, each with several could guide his way but the sun by loaded guns, but firmly resolved not day, and the stars by night; and with to fire till sure of our shot telling. no provisions but a little dried beef in Suddenly, however, our opponents his saddle-bags, two small horns of made a dead halt, as if intimidated by water, and a little tobacco. There something in our appearance; on this was also the constant risk of meeting our hitherto cowardly drivers took with the wild Indians, and he had courage, and shouted them on to the moreover the perpetual anxiety atcombat. But still they remained sta- tendant on keeping together twelve tionary—seeming, as well as we could animals who were entirely loose, and distinguish, to be brandishing their well enough disposed to make their long lances in the air.
At this mo escape.
These latter the old man ment the mist that surrounded us rode alternately, catching one with cleared partially away, and we disco- his lazo whenever he wished to change vered that our supposed enemies were his saddle, and at night it was his no other than a herd of wild horses, practice to stop immediately after the which, being startled at the unusual sun went down, and feed his horses, appearance of our caravan, had lifted he himself lying down to sleep for a their heads, with erect ears, high in few minutes at a time, but being comthe air, and seemed to approach us pelled to get up and mount a horse momently, by reason of the thickening every now and then, in order to keep mist magnifying their size, and at the the herd together. The bridle of the same time changing their real appear- horse he was riding, he used always ance into something like that for to keep in his hand while sleeping. which our fears had mistaken them. This rencontre presented me with an As soon as our ludicrous mistake was instance of mingled simplicity and discovered, shouts of laughter burst self-confidence, which it would be from all our company, and such of difficult to parallel in a more civilized thein as were mounted, riding towards class of life. the cause of our late fears, they turned On the 24th of September, our wain an instant, and fed away across the ter being all exhausted before reachplain with the speed of the wind. ing the expected means of supplying
The next day we met with an in- it, we were tormented for some hours stance of that extraordinary spirit of with a burning thirst. Towards evenindependence and enterprise, which is ing we discovered a pond at a disonly to be met with in savage life. tance, and rode eagerly towards it;
but on reaching it, we found that al- out the power of moving. With the though half a mile in circumference, rapidity of lightning the Cordovese it was no where more than two inches now dismounted, and the blood of the in depth, and lay on the surface more animal was the next instant gushing like oil than water. We were, how- forth beneath his knife. After satisever, not to be deterred by its ap- fying our thirst by returning to the pearance, nor by the clouds of mus- marshy pool, the carcass of the lion quitoes that were hovering over it; was dragged to the carts, where the but spread our handkerchiefs on the skin was taken off, and the flesh cut surface, and lying on our faces, suck- into small pieces, roasted and eaten, ed the muddy liquid through them, within an hour of our first sight of the and felt it like nectar to our parched living animal ! The Aesh, which I throats. The next instant the whole tasted, was very white, and resemwas converted into a quagmire, by bling veal, but of a fishy flavor ; it the horses and mules rushing into it, was much preferable, however, to and attempting in vain to quench their that of a newly slain buck, which was thirst. It was not till towards the roasted at the same time. The flesh middle of the next day that we again of the lion is esteemed a great delicadiscovered a rushy marsh at the dis- cy by the Gauchos. The next day tance of about a league, and as this arrived at Melinqueçito, near offered the probability, though not the which place there was an enormous certainty, of a supply of water, I has- lake of salt water, having the charactened to it, accompanied by the capa- ter alınost of an inland sea, for we taz and our Cordovese scout, which could not perceive the opposite side latter was the most active and skilful of it. On this lake were immense horseman I ever beheld. On ap- numbers of aquatic birds, and in parproaching pretty near to the marsh, ticular, large flocks of the splendid we discovered, to our infinite delight, flamingo. On the firing of our rifles, a considerable quantity of rain water these magnificent birds rose from the among the rushes, and were on the water in vast numbers, and the effect point of dismounting to partake of it, of their gorgeous plumage shone upon when suddenly a large Puma, or South by the rays of the morning sun, was American lion, sprung from a rushy brilliant beyond description. lair where he had been couched, and On the 27th we reached Melinque, instantly fed across the plain. This which was formerly a settlement of somewhat startling appearance dis- some importance, but now abandonpersed our thirst, or the sense of it, ed, having been previously ruined by for the moment, and we all turned our the repeated ravages of the Indians. horses in pursuit of the fugitive. I On the evening of this day, the sky have elsewhere described the extraor- threatened a pampero, or land storm, dinary skill of the Gauchos with their in consequence of which the carts lazo. On this occasion I had to wit were drawn up in a circle, and lashed ness a new instance of it in the Cor- together, for the purpose of securing dovese scout, who, presently coming the oxen within the inclosure thus up with the lion, cast his lazo over its formed. This necessary arrangement head in an instant, and brought it to for preventing the escape of the cattle the ground almost choked by the run was scarcely completed, when faint ning noose. On recovering himself a flashes of lightning were seen on the little, the lion seemed disposed to turn verge of the horizon, which proved on his assailants and defend himself, the near prelude of a most furious but before he could rise, the lazo of hurricane. To the “ pitiless pelting" the capataz was dexterously cast round of this storm, which was so violent his hinder legs; and the holder of it that even the heavy ox-carts could riding on, the lion was stretched on scarcely stand against it, the Boyeros the plain by the tightened cords, with- were exposed during the whole night,
being obliged to ride round the en- of the torch thistle (Tuna) so planttrenchment constantly, for the purpose ed that its thorny stems alınost touch of seeing that the oxen did not escape each other to the thickness of four or in their fright; but notwithstanding five feet. It is true the stems of this these precautions, it was found in the plant, being merely of the consistence morning that four of the cattle were of a cabbage-stalk, might easily be missing, and a Boyero was immedi- chopped down by means of an axe. ately sent after them, but did not re- But as the Indians never, or very join us for four days, having lost his rarely, dismount, when making their way during another storm two nights attacks, and as the hedge I have deafter.
scribed is fire-proof, and may be deThe condition of these poor fellows fended by musquetry from behind, it is perhaps worse than that of any other becomes, in point of fact, an absoluteclass of their countrymen. The one ly impregnable barrier against such I have just alluded to, who was sent assailants. At the time we visited it, after the stray cattle, had neither Rojas contained about 1,500 inhabieaten nor drank during the whole pe- tants, and presented a most singular riod of bis absence from the troop, and romantic appearance-being situhaving taken nothing with him but a ated on a slight eminence, and the little tobacco, with which he contrived enclosures of the Tuna thickly plantto sustain nature ; and yet, on his re- ed, chiefly with peach groves. The turn, his case did not seem to be look- entrance to each enclosure is by a ed upon as a peculiarly hard one. draw-bridge.
We observed among He was only considered as having the inhabitants many Indian boys and performed an ordinary portion of his girls, who had been taken prisoners duties, for which he receives 15 dol- from the Indians in various incursions, lars per month, or six weeks, i. e. for and were used as slaves. the whole period of the journey, which On the 30th we fell in with a herd is more or less, according to the con- of about 400 wild pigs. After a condition of the oxen. I observed that test of nearly an hour with several feimmediately on the return of the one rocious boars who stopped and faced alluded to above, he proceeded to us, we succeeded in killing ten of the "refresh" himself, by devouring about herd. It was not long before portions four pounds weight of tough beef, of them were roasting. I found the without either bread or salt. This, flavor not unlike that of rancid whale with a draught of brackish water, oil. These herds form a great article formed his repast, after which he be- of commerce with the shipping agents took himself to sleep—not having of Buenos Ayres. closed his eyes during his absence. We now began to enter a district
On the 29th of September we reach- well improved as estancios, or cattle ed the little town of Rojas, which farms; to each of which is attached presents a very characteristic scene, a long grove of peach trees—this being arising out of the necessities and cor- the only tree used for firewood in responding expedients of its peculiar these districts. position. The town consists, besides On the 1st of October we reached a fort mounting three guns, of many the Guardia del Salto, a town with a detached houses, each of which is an fort and two thousand inhabitants. impregnable fortress in itself—that is On the 2d of October we passed to say, impregnable with reference to through Areco, a town similar in chathe attacks likely to be made upon it. racter to the above ; and on the 4th Each house is surrounded by a deep we reached one of a very superior deditch, and, within that, planted with a scription-the pretty town of Luxanhedge the nature of which renders it which includes several handsome a perfect safeguard against the attacks buildings, and a church surmounted of the Indians. This hedge consists by a dome. The next day the dry
17 ATHENEUM, vol. 2, 3d series.