Home  »  Through the Brazilian Wilderness  »  Page 56

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

Page 56

high wal’s, inside of which trees rose, many of them fragrant. We wandered through the wide, dusty streets, and along the narrow sidewalks. It was a hot, still evening; the smell of the tropics was on the heavy December air. Through the open doors and windows we caught dim glimpses of the half-clad inmates of the poorer houses; women and young girls sat outside their thresholds in the moonlight. All whom we met were most friendly: the captain of the little Brazilian garrison; the intendente, a local trader; another trader and ranchman, a Uruguayan, who had just received his newspaper containing my speech in Montevideo, and who, as I gathered from what I understood of his rather voluble Spanish, was much impressed by my views on democracy, honesty, liberty, and order (rather well-worn topics); and a Catalan who spoke French, and who was accompanied by his pretty daughter, a dear little girl of eight or ten, who said with much pride that she spoke three languages—Brazilian, Spanish, and Catalan! Her father expressed strongly his desire for a church and for a school in the little city.
  When at last the wood was aboard we resumed our journey. The river was like glass. In the white moonlight the palms on the edge of the banks stood mirrored in the still water. We sat forward and as we rounded the curves the long silver reaches of the great stream stretched ahead of us, and the ghostly outlines of hills rose in the distance. Here and there prairie fires burned, and the red glow warred with the moon’s radiance.
  Next morning was overcast. Occasionally we passed a wood-yard, or factory, or cabin, now on the eastern,