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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 102

in one corral. Spurred plover, or lapwings, strolled familiarly among the hens. Parakeets and red-headed tanagers lit in the trees over our heads. A kind of primitive houseboat was moored at the bank. A woman was cooking breakfast over a little stove at one end. The crew were ashore. The boat was one of those which are really stores, and which travel up and down these rivers, laden with what the natives most need, and stopping wherever there is a ranch. They are the only stores which many of the country-dwellers see from year’s end to year’s end. They float down-stream, and up-stream are poled by their crew, or now and then get a tow from a steamer. This one had a house with a tin roof; others bear houses with thatched roofs, or with roofs made of hides. The river wound through vast marshes broken by belts of woodland.
  Always the two naturalists had something of interest to tell of their past experience, suggested by some bird or beast we came across. Black and golden orioles, slightly crested, of two different species were found along the river; they nest in colonies, and often we passed such colonies, the long pendulous nests hanging from the boughs of trees directly over the water. Cherrie told us of finding such a colony built round a big wasp-nest, several feet in diameter. These wasps are venomous and irritable, and few foes would dare venture near bird’s-nests that were under such formidable shelter; but the birds themselves were entirely unafraid, and obviously were not in any danger of disagreement with their dangerous protectors. We saw a dark ibis flying across the bow of the boat, uttering his deep,