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

Page 145

the future, to the deeds and the wanderings of the oldtime Spanish conquistadores in their search for the Gilded King, and of the Portuguese adventurers who then divided with them the mastery of the oceans and of the unknown continents beyond.
  This was an attractive and interesting camp in more ways than one. The vaqueiros with their wives and families were housed on the two sides of the field in which our tents were pitched. On one side was a big, whitewashed, tile-roofed house in which the foreman dwelt—an oliveskinned, slightly built, wiry man, with an olive-skinned wife and eight as pretty, fair-haired children as one could wish to see. He usually went barefoot, and his manners were not merely good but distinguished. Corrals and outbuildings were near this big house. On the opposite side of the field stood the row of steep-roofed, palm-thatched huts in which the ordinary cowhands lived with their dusky helpmeets and children. Each night from these palm-thatched quarters we heard the faint sounds of a music that went far back of civilization to a savage ancestry near by in point of time and otherwise immeasurably remote; for through the still, hot air, under the brilliant moonlight, we heard the monotonous throbbing of a tomtom drum, and the twanging of some old stringed instrument. The small black turkey-buzzards, here always called crows, were as tame as chickens near the big house, walking on the ground or perched in the trees beside the corral, waiting for the offal of the slaughtered cattle. Two palm-trees near our tent were crowded with the long, hanging nests of one of the cacique orioles. We lived well, with plenty of tapir beef, which was good, and