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

Page 118

with him. For an hour we went through thick jungle, where the machetes were constantly at work. Then the trail struck off straight across the marshes, for jaguars swim and wade as freely as marsh-deer. It was a hard walk. The sun was out. We were drenched with sweat. We were torn by the spines of the innumerable clusters of small palms with thorns like needles. We were bitten by the hosts of fire-ants, and by the mosquitoes, which we scarcely noticed where the fire-ants were found, exactly as all dread of the latter vanished when we were menaced by the big red wasps, of which a dozen stings will disable a man, and if he is weak or in bad health will seriously menace his life. In the marsh we were continually wading, now up to our knees, now up to our hips. Twice we came to long bayous so deep that we had to swim them, holding our rifles above water in our right hands. The floating masses of marsh grass, and the slimy stems of the water-plants, doubled our work as we swam, cumbered by our clothing and boots and holding our rifles aloft. One result of the swim, by the way, was that my watch, a veteran of Cuba and Africa, came to an indignant halt. Then on we went, hampered by the weight of our drenched clothes while our soggy boots squelched as we walked. There was no breeze. In the undimmed sky the sun stood almost overhead. The heat beat on us in waves. By noon I could only go forward at a slow walk, and two of the party were worse off than I was. Kermit, with the dogs and two camaradas close behind him, disappeared across the marshes at a trot. At last, when he was out of sight, and it was obviously useless to follow him, the rest of us