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

Page 231

neyed onward, under the pitiless glare of the sun or through blinding torrents of rain, we passed desolate little graves by the roadside. They marked the last resting places of men who had died by fever, or dysentery, or Nhambiquara arrows. We raised our hats as our mules plodded slowly by through the sand. On each grave was a frail wooden cross, and this and the paling round about were already stained by the weather as gray as the treetrunks of the stunted forest that stretched endlessly. on every side.
  The skeletons of mules and oxen were frequent along the road. Now and then we came across a mule or ox which had been abandoned by Captain Amilcar’s party, ahead of us. The animal had been left with the hope that when night came it would follow along the trail to water. Sometimes it did so. Sometimes we found it dead, or standing motionless waiting for death. From time to time we had to leave behind one of our own mules.
  It was not always easy to recognize what pasturage the mules would accept as good. One afternoon we pitched camp by a tiny rivulet, in the midst of the scrubby upland forest; a camp, by the way, where the piums, the small, biting flies, were a torment during the hours of daylight, while after dark their places were more than taken by the diminutive gnats which the Brazilians expressively term “polvora,” or powder, and which get through the smallest meshes of a mosquito-net. The feed was so scanty, and the cover so dense, at this spot that I thought we would have great difficulty in gathering the mules next morning. But we did not. A few hours