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

Page 184

proprietor sat; and there were half a dozen such sheets, each extending between two trees. The webs could hardly be seen; and the effect was of scores of big, formidable-looking spiders poised in midair, equidistant from one another, between each pair of trees. When darkness and rain fell they were still out, fixing their webs, and pouncing on the occasional insects that blundered into the webs. I have no question that they are nocturnal; they certainly hide in the daytime, and it seems impossible that they can come out only for a few minutes at dusk.
  In the evenings, after supper or dinner—it is hard to tell by what title the exceedingly movable evening meal should be called—the members of the party sometimes told stories of incidents in their past lives. Most of them were men of varied experiences. Rondon and Lyra told of the hardship and suffering of the first trips through the wilderness across which we were going with such comfort. On this very plateau they had once lived for weeks on the fruits of the various fruit-bearing trees. Naturally they became emaciated and feeble. In the forests of the Amazonian basin they did better because they often shot birds and plundered the hives of the wild honey-bees. In cutting the trail for the telegraph-line through the Juruena basin they lost every single one of the hundred and sixty mules with which they had started. Those men pay dear who build the first foundations of empire! Fiala told of the long polar nights and of white bears that came round the snow huts of the explorers, greedy to eat them, and themselves destined to be eaten by them. Of all the party Cherrie’s experiences had covered the widest range. This was partly owing to the fact that