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

Page 207

the middle of the earth floor; I was told that they were then reciting the deeds of mighty hunters and describing how they brought in the game. They drank freely from gourds and pannikins of a fermented drink made from mandioc which were brought out to them. During the first part of the dance the women remained in the houses, and all the doors and windows were shut and blankets hung to prevent the possibility of seeing out. But during the second part all the women and girls came out and looked on. They were themselves to have danced when the men had finished, but were overcome with shyness at the thought of dancing with so many strangers looking on. The children played about with unconcern throughout the ceremony, one of them throwing high in the air, and again catching in his hands, a loaded feather, a kind of shuttlecock.
  In the evening the growing moon shone through the cloud-rack. Anything approaching fair weather always put our men in good spirits; and the muleteers squatted in a circle, by a fire near a pile of packs, and listened to a long monotonously and rather mournfully chanted song about a dance and a love-affair. We ourselves worked busily with our photographs and our writing. There was so much humidity in the air that everything grew damp and stayed damp, and mould gathered quickly. At this season it is a country in which writing, taking photographs, and preparing specimens are all works of difficulty, at least so far as concerns preserving and sending home the results of the labor; and a man’s clothing is never really dry. From here Father Zahm returned to Tapirapoan, accompanied by Sigg.