2. El Cerro Del Pichinango
The Cerro del Pichinango comprised something over sixteen thousand acres, on which fed twenty thousand sheep, two thousand head of cattle, and three hundred and fifty horses. The sheep were divided into seven flocks, not counting a small flock of Southdowns at the Cerro. Each flock had its own area of camp, over which to feed, and was located at its own "puesto," where its "puestero," or shepherd, lived and looked after it. The cattle grazed at will all over the estate, which was quite open, without fences of any kind, here and there, in large groups, and often in small points of twenty or thirty animals. There was good pasturage, and abundant water. The river Rosario, which bordered the estate on the West, did not run in a straight line, but curved in its course, while at the South-West corner it took a much larger curve, forming almost a semi-circle, and here the woods were wider than hitherto. All this gave the scenery quite a park-like aspect, which was very attractive. On the Southern side the river Pichinango did the same, the woods which bordered its banks being even more beautiful, hung with creepers and flowering plants, the river winding peacefully in between. Here, too, fish could be caught, and the carpincho, or water-pig, was able to enjoy himself undisturbed to his heart's content. Moreover, a considerable stream called the Cañada Grande, passed right through the centre of the estate, running for the most part clean and pure over a stony and rocky bed. La Concordia, where Mr. Dampier lived with his family, was situate at the opposite end of the estancia to the Cerro. The house stood on elevated ground overlooking the river Rosario, and its woods on the west, while towards the south it commanded a distant view of the Swiss Colony, with its red-roofed houses and patches of arable land between. On the right were the wide and beautiful woods which bordered the banks of the river Pichinango, where it joined the Rosario, at which juncture of the two rivers a broad rincon, or corner, was in itself quite a feature of the landscape. To the left the grass-covered plain, with here and there a large bed of tall thistles, rolled away for some four miles to the northern boundary of the estancia. The house was modern and comfortable: built on three sides of an open "patio," or court, which you entered through iron gates, and the drawing room spacious and airy, with its three large windows coming down to the ground, occupied the whole length of the house at the back. On the left and in front was the flower garden, divided by a carriage drive, which led out past a lodge to the open camp. The "peones'," or servants' quarters lay to the right, forming a square, in the centre of which was a large "euremada," or shed, with four open sides, used for tying up horses under and for the "peones" to seek shelter from the sun during the "siesta."
Further away was the "corral," or yard, in which to shut up horses, and beyond again were the sheepyards. There was also a considerable area of cultivated land, where maize, and potatoes, and "alfalfa," a species of clover, flourished, as did a large quantity of fruit trees, planted all round an open space, used for the production of vegetables. Winter had now come, and the weather had become stormy, with cold nights and cold winds from the South.
I was out in the camp pretty continually, nevertheless, visiting the various puestos, and turning inwards the cattle, especially on our northern boundary. When fine enough I had the Indians at work mending up the walls of the sheepyards, which were made of loose stones piled one upon another. These had been greatly neglected at the "Cerro" and needed building up and repairing, as many gaps were to be seen. Three of the gates, too, required attention. After a week, however, the weather improved, so a "para rodeo" of the cattle was arranged for the next day but one, which was a Saturday. We had our horses tied up the night before, and were all ready for a start just before sunrise, Don Frederico and his party coming up from La Concordia just about the same time. The rodeo, or meeting-place for the cattle, was situate in a direct line between the Cerro and La Concordia, about half a mile distant from the former. It had the usual big post planted in the centre, round which the cattle revolved, and the ground all round was quite bare of herbage, evidently well trodden by numerous animals. We had help from three of the puesteros, especially from one named Marmasola, who not only came himself, but brought three boys with him, all well mounted. Laborde and Martin arrived from their own side, accompanied by two or three dogs. I was riding "Carnival," who had now settled down at the "Cerro," having attached himself to the little grey mare with one eye, to which he had been collared on his first arrival. "Napoleon" was in great spirits, paying no attention whatever to the couple of mongrel terriers who followed behind him. He was quite aware that serious business was on foot. I got over with the Indians to the north-western corner of the estancia, and we spread ourselves out, driving the cattle before us. Some of them seemed inclined to break back. This was easily prevented, and I found it much easier to do this here, where it was all open camp, than it had been at the Sierras de Mal Abrigo, when hindered and surrounded by large masses of rock. Don Frederico came up from his side with a good deal of help; so altogether we made a very satisfactory "para rodeo." I had no experience of dealing with cattle in such large numbers, nor was I surprised to find that care was needed to keep them all together on the "rodeo," when we got them there. I felt pretty sure, however, that by bringing them up constantly, and always keeping them up some time when collected, we should soon get the herd under complete control. Don Frederico brought with him a Mr. John Jennings, who was living with him at La Concordia. He was a good Spanish scholar, and an excellent accountant, fond of gardening, and was much occupied at the time with the cultivated land there, to which I have before alluded. His figure was decidedly burly; he had a good-natured face and thin legs. He did not look well on horseback, as he appeared too heavy above the saddle, nor was he really much of a rider. Upon this occasion he bestrode a very dark grey, somewhat low in condition, and not apparently up to his weight. They both came up to the Cerro for breakfast: some mutton stewed with rice, hot coffee and camp biscuits; all very acceptable after the morning's gallop. I let go "Carnival," and had a little bay horse, with a white blaze and two white stockings caught up, and when they returned I rode with them as far as La Concordia. Here I stopped for awhile, and then rode over into the Swiss Colony to arrange some business which had to be attended to; nor did I get back to the "Cerro" until about an hour before sunset.
Curiously enough, since my first arrival, but little seemed to have happened in regard to the war. Every now and again a party of Blanco soldiers would ride up, have some food, and go on their way. They did not take our horses, for these were as yet plentiful, and probably they had better ones of their own. The Colorados had not come our way at all, being mostly concentrated near Monte Video, the capital, while a fairly large force were also encamped in the province of San Josè. Meanwhile the Blanco army was said to be in great strength out beyond Paysandû, waiting for finer weather, and until the horses should pick up after the somewhat early winter. Spring, when it came, advanced rapidly. The days soon seemed longer and the weather warmer. We had a good deal of sheep-working on hand, as the flocks came up from the "puestos" to the Cerro, to be passed through the sheepyards, when it was our custom to get through one flock in a day. Don Frederico generally rode up to see how the work progressed, bringing two or three "peones" from La Concordia, as this winter there was a certain amount of foot-rot among the sheep, which needed attention. Fortunately, however, this was never really bad at the Pichinango, as a great part of the camp lay high, and therefore dry, covered with a hard kind of grass, which grew profusely between the longer tussock-grass. The flocks near La Concordia, however, fed on lower ground, but they were passed through the sheepyards there, when I went down from the Cerro, taking two of the Indians with me to assist. And so the days passed on one much like another, until the sun began to shine longer, and the weather to get warmer when at length we began to realise that summer was not far off. Some four weeks passed without anything particular happening, and then came the branding of the calves, always an event of supreme importance on a large South American estancia. First there was a general "para rodeo" of the cattle, and then they had to be shut up in the large stone enclosure, or "manga." Our native neighbours had to be advised beforehand of the appointed day, so that they might be present to see if any of their animals were by chance mixed up with our herd. I also obtained the services of three or four natives in the neighbourhood, known to be good camp men, i.e., skilled in the management of cattle, and especially so at this particular work. When the appointed day came round, it proved fine and fortunately there was but little wind. We all made an early start from both ends of the estancia, and were well on our way when the sun rose in a blue sky. Having plenty of horsemen, the cattle came up particularly well to the rodeo, where we kept them revolving round for quite half an hour, and then by driving a point of tame cattle in front of them, we managed to get the entire herd inside the "manga" without much difficulty. They did not quite like the operation; odd animals would try to break away, but they were quickly brought back, and they looked to me a very large number, when once inside the stone enclosure; far larger than I had ever seen shut up together before. Meanwhile two big fires had been lighted to heat the brands, and all being ready, two natives entered the "manga" on horseback with their lassoes, and one by one caught and easily brought out the calves. And so the work progressed, until quite a large number of calves had already been marked. Then came the time for breakfast. A young cow was lassoed and killed, its hide quickly taken off, and the meat cut up into large joints, and placed before the fires to roast. Biscuits were handed out, also farinha, a kind of coarsely-ground flour, grown from a plant in Brazil. The neighbours appeared, each mounted on his best horse, with such silver on their reins and headstalls, bits, stirrups, or "recados," as they happened to possess. They mostly wore a gay-coloured summer "poncho," a broad-brimmed felt hat, black bombachos, or very loose trousers, tucked into long boots, often ornamented with heavy silver spurs, so that the whole scene looked quite picturesque. After breakfast there was a short pause, and then the work went on, and it was between three and four o'clock in the afternoon before all the calves were branded. The herd was now let go, and quickly dispersed, doubtless, very glad to be once more free--now that their knocking about was at length over. And then as evening drew on young women made their appearance, riding up on horseback, dressed in their best clothes, and a couple of musicians turned up anxious to have a meal and to earn a few coppers. Music was heard on every side, and it was not long before a dance on quite a large scale was in progress, and apparently greatly enjoyed. Meanwhile the moon rose and shed its silver light upon the scene. The evening was fine and warm, and it was after eight o'clock before the company dispersed. I watched the scene from the flat roof of the Cerro with much interest and amusement, for it was all quite new to me. However, before half-past nine o'clock all was quiet, the Indians in the galpon had already gone to sleep. I heard old Robinson snoring loudly in his room above the kitchen, so I locked up the doors and retired to my bedroom with the feeling that all had gone off well; indeed, to me it seemed to have been nothing less than quite an exciting and altogether satisfactory day.
Early in November shearing began, which, on an estancia, is the big business of the year. It took place at the Cerro in the large "galpon," and suddenly, as it were, the old place began to assume an air of importance and activity. Old Robinson, who managed the wooden wool-press during shearing, and for the time being abandoned the culinary art, started to get all ready, another cook taking his place. Mr. John Jennings, usually known as Don Juan, came up to take charge inside the woolshed, being a man of knowledge and experience, while I superintended the work outside, such as getting up the sheep so that there were always sufficient ready waiting to keep the shearers going. The afternoon before shearing was to begin a gang of fifteen shearers arrived on horseback. They were rather a rough-looking lot, indifferently mounted. I had half a dozen of their horses collared, and the others, which were poor, and in bad condition, were turned out to feed with them. These shearers were supplemented by other natives in our neighbourhood, and by those of our own people who knew how to shear, so that quite a good number were ready to commence the important work. A number of sheep were brought into the yards, and passed up into the small pens, which ran along outside the galpon, facing the two wide wooden doors. Two men were ready, waiting to catch the sheep: tie their legs and lay them on the floor, ready for the shearers. To each shearer, as he finished his sheep a little tin token called a "lata" was given, these being counted, and entered up in a book in his name at the end of the day and week. Most of the payment in money being made at the end of the time. As the wool was shorn it was gathered up and carried to two large wooden tables, where it was roughly classified according to quality. It was then put into long bags, made of a thin open canvas material, which were pressed in the wooden wool-press before being packed into the carts, which carried them away. The shearers had all to be fed with their proper allowance of rations, a matter requiring care and attention, and sheep had to be slaughtered each morning, and every now and again a fat cow, as they managed to consume quite a large amount of meat. Don Juan was very good-natured and pleasant to do with. He thoroughly understood how the work should be carried on, and how best to control shearers, and as I was glad to assist him in my spare time, I was able to gain a good deal of useful experience which might not otherwise have come my way. Shearing could only go on during fine weather; after rain the sheep had to get quite dry again before they could be shorn. When this happened, as also in the evenings, Don Juan would instruct me in book-keeping, and in writing Spanish, both of which I was well aware would be of value to me as time went on. Day succeeded day, and fortunately during the second half of November we had an exceptionally fine spell of weather, without it being unduly hot. So the shearing of the sheep made good progress. Don Frederico Dampier, who rode up from La Concordia nearly every day, seemed very pleased to see how things were going; indeed, the second week of December found us finishing up the last of the sheep. One afternoon Charles Bent came over from the Sierras for a short visit, which was a great pleasure, as I was able to hear how Royd was getting on, and how things were going over there, and if many soldiers were about. He appeared mounted on his best horse, a good-looking light brown, with a white star on his forehead, and a white stocking on the off hind leg, also a few white hairs at the root of his tail, apparently in the pink of condition. He told us that Royd had now removed all his remaining stock to his friend's estancia near San José, where he seemed to have settled down, and to be quite happy. Nothing now was left at the Sierras, and the place was to be handed back to its owner very shortly. Bent said he himself intended to go back to his relatives, up towards the Rio Negro, so we persuaded him to prolong his visit to the Cerro before doing so. He lent a hand inside the galpon, gave out latas to the shearers, and saw to various little matters needing attention, so both Jennings and I were very glad to have him with us during the last days of the shearing. When it ended it was a not unusual custom for the day following to be kept as a general holiday before the company finally dispersed, and the shearers took their departure. Don Juan, who was quite au fait at this kind of thing, thereupon arranged that on this day there should be a grand race, in which Bent proposed to ride his own horse, and a native, who had a "rosillo," or roan, he fancied very much, whom the natives generally thought a lot of, offered to ride his horse against him. The course arranged, was to be from the Cañada Grande, opposite Laborde's puesto, up to the Cerro, which was about a mile and a quarter, more or less. Both riders accordingly paid much attention to their steeds, giving them a daily ration of maize, and morning and evening exercise. Of course, there was a good deal of betting amongst the people in the galpon, for the South American Spaniard is a real gambler at heart, and the race was a much more exciting affair than the games of cards and dice throwing, etc., which habitually went on among the shearers during the evening when work was over. Don Juan, too, had always been fond of a bit of racing, and did not hesitate to back Bent's horse, which he pronounced the best of the two, supposing always he was able to stay the course. It was somewhat a stiff one, and longer than usual, the ground rising considerably during the last part of it. Bent considered this to be to his advantage, as his horse, accustomed to the Sierras, went exceedingly well over uneven ground, and he felt quite confident he should win the race. On the appointed day the weather was fine, and, as it happened there was no wind. The start was to be at eleven o'clock, and I was one of those chosen to see it made, and to send the horses and their riders on their way. Both apparently looked all right as they jogged quietly down to the starting point. Quite a crowd had collected to see the finish. Everyone wore their best clothes, and the old Cerro for the moment looked quite gay. It had seen many events and happenings in its time. A first-rate start was made, and the horses got away quite even. Then Bent's horse took a slight lead, but at the end of half a mile, to our great astonishment, suddenly collapsed, shivering all over, and breaking out all at once into a thick lather of white sweat; indeed, for four or five minutes he could scarcely stand, swaying all the time to and fro on his legs, like a drunken man. I did not know the least what had happened, but Jennings, who was well up in these matters, at once stated his opinion that the horse had been got at early that morning by one of the natives, who must have given him some poison, probably the leaves of a shrub which grew on the banks of the river Pichinango, for he said all the symptoms were just those which the leaves of that plant would produce, and he had known it done more than once before. These began to pass off during the afternoon, and the horse to recover; indeed, by next morning he looked as if nothing had been the matter with him. Of course, however, nothing could be proved: the stakes had to be paid over, and the bets, which were mostly in favour of the rosillo, had to be paid also. I myself had bet nothing on either horse, so I was no loser, for, unlike Jennings, as a matter of fact, I really had no taste for racing. There was, of course, a good deal of excitement, and some quarrelling, in the galpon during the evening--more especially as that day, being a general holiday, there had been a certain amount of Caña on the go; but Don Juan managed to quiet things down. Then the night came, and as it always does, overshadowed all things. The next morning all the shearers, having received payment for their work, mounted their horses and departed, and the old Cerro once again resumed its usual aspect of quiet and dignified seclusion. The old year passed peacefully away, and the new one came in with all its possibilities and all its hopes and fears. Meanwhile, Mrs. Dampier and the children had returned to La Concordia, from their visit to Monte Video, which really had been prolonged longer than they expected.
This was chiefly owing to the war, which made the long journey less safe than in time of peace, and there was always the danger of having the horses taken as you travelled through the open country. Don Frederico had gone into town to return with them, taking two peones with him, and quite a large tropilla of horses. People generally in disturbed times travelled by the diligence, which plied to and fro pretty regularly on the "Camino Real," or Government road--but it was a most uncomfortable mode of conveyance for a lady with children, so in spite of the risk it was preferable to travel in one's own carriage, with a good supply of horses and a reasonable escort. Fortunately, all went well, and they reached home safely without any trouble or contretemps of any kind.
During the middle of January the weather became very hot, and work had to be suspended from twelve until two o'clock as a matter of course, and very often longer, for in those good old days, as they were called, the custom of keeping the siesta during the summer months held sway over the length and breadth of the republic. The old Indian, Feliciano, who lived in a little house built of stone down below the big manga, was a wonderful old man. He looked after the flock of rams, and was now quite old; a true Indian of the Pampas, both in appearance and character, and his son, Juan, who was up with me at the Cerro, must have been himself well over fifty years of age. Old Feliciano himself was extremely silent and reserved. I don't think I ever heard him speak more than three or four consecutive words at any one time. But he was most scrupulous in the performance of duty in regard to looking after his flock, which was never neglected under any circumstances whatever. He had been years at the Cerro, where for a long time it was impossible to get him to live in any kind of house. He preferred to live in a "tolda," a shelter made of mare's hides, stretched over a light wooden frame, as did the original Indians of the Pampa, from whom he sprang, and among whom he was reputed to have been a leader or chief. As the sun set below the western horizon he would walk to some little rise of the ground, where he could better see it, and facing it, fall down on his knees and say a short prayer. He did not like being observed, but I have myself watched him do this when he was not aware that I was within sight. He had descendants living round him to the second and third generation. He was said to have been a famous horseman in his time, as indeed were all his race, for they practically passed their whole lives on horseback.
I had been riding a brown horse, with a wall-eye, and some white hairs in his tail; he was not much to look at, but I found him to be sure-footed and comfortable, and a good horse among cattle. There was a little chestnut, too, which was very pleasant to ride. The Indians had horses of various sorts and colours, which they had been accustomed to ride themselves. Among these was a little rosillo, or roan, which I noticed Justiano liked to saddle up frequently, particularly when work amongst cattle was going on. He was not much to look at, being small, with rather a hollow back, and he seemed to me poor in condition, and to be overworked. Moreover, I saw that he had a nasty sore underneath the recado, one day when he was being unsaddled, so I took pity on him, and told the Indian not to ride him in future, as I would try to dress the wound, and if possible get it well. So I washed it myself, night and morning, applying a solution of tincture of arnica, and it soon began to mend. The horse, too, improved in condition by a little rest and freedom from pain. When the wound seemed nearly all right again, I saddled him up with my English saddle, and took him out for about an hour. I enjoyed riding him; he was so full of go; but at the same time docile and quiet. When I saw Don Frederico, he told me his history. One afternoon at the end of the Flores War, a soldier rode up to La Concordia, and asked for a fresh horse. "I cannot think what has come to this one," he said. "He is a real good one, but no sooner did we cross the river Rosario, coming from the Swiss colony, than he seemed to collapse all at once. He has come nearly ten leagues (30 miles), without shewing any sign of being tired." Don Frederico himself came out at the moment, and looked at the horse. "I can tell you," he said. "The rosillo has our mark, and so soon as he crossed the river he knew he was on his own camp, where he was born. He must have been caught as a 'potro,' or colt, and have been tamed by the soldiers. Except that he carries the mark of this estancia, we none of us know anything about him. However, go to the kitchen and get some refreshment, and we will give you another horse, and doubtless the rosillo will be glad enough to find himself at home again." No sooner, however, was he let loose, than he gave two or three neighs of joy and then he trotted off, straight up to the Cerro, and joined the horses there, so we could only conclude he must have originally been caught and taken from the Cerro end of the estancia. Such was his history, and I now saw after him myself, and took him for my own riding. He was a real good little horse, and I liked him more and more as time went on. Napoleon liked him, too, and used to lie down beside him when I had him tied up under the "ombu" tree, which gave so good a protection from the sun in the courtyard, and then as evening came I let him loose, so that he might join the other horses, and feed and enjoy himself to his heart's content.
As it happened, since the New Year, no soldiers had passed the Cerro, nor had we heard any news of the war, but I was quite prepared to look upon this as merely an interlude, and we kept a good look out, especially in the early morning and late evening. So soon as the hot spell passed, and the weather became cooler, our first business was a gathering together of the horses. This meant a general sweep up of everything in the shape of a horse on the estancia: the riding horses at La Concordia and the Cerro alone excepted, for these were brought up into the corral each morning, in accordance with the daily routine. There were two large "manadas," or troops of mares with foals at the Pichinango, one called the "saino," or brown, and the other the "moro," or dark blue roan; these being the colours of the respective stallions which presided over them. These "manadas" usually fed quite apart, on different portions of the camp. They each made up a large number, as they included not only yearling foals, but both colts and fillies of two and three years old, although the former of these usually cut themselves off from the main body, forming small points feeding by themselves. To gather together so many horses and keep them in control a good many horsemen were needed, so nearly everyone who could ride joined in. Marmasola, who had a small lot of mares of his own which fed on the estate, was in great force with his sons and two other native friends. Laborde and Martin were always ready to help, and the Indians were delighted at the prospect of a really first-class gallop. I got a man called Pedro Lima, living in the Swiss Colony, but really himself a native, and a first-rate camp man, to come and take charge of the operation of getting all the horses shut up in the big manga; not an easy matter unless they were skilfully handled; and I asked him to bring two or three of his native friends well-mounted with him. In accordance with camp etiquette, I sent round to our native neighbours, inviting them to come and join us, as we intended branding some foals, so giving them the opportunity to come and see if any of their animals were by chance mixed up with our horses. The appointed day proved fine, and we were all in the saddle before sunrise, old Robinson alone excepted. We had arranged to join up with Marmasola and the party from La Concordia and so form a continuous line, driving everything in the shape of a horse straight in front of us in the direction of the Cerro. It must be remembered that this was a much more critical job than gathering up the cattle, as the horses could travel as fast or faster than we could. Moreover, when dealing with them in large numbers, care and good management were a real necessity if they were to be shut up inside the manga at all. I rode "Carnival"; the Indians were mounted as they liked themselves; "Napoleon," although he was no use, would not be left behind. Don Frederico and Mr. Jennings and their people joined us at the place appointed, as did Pedro Lima and his friends, as well as the puesteros, when plans were laid down and instructions given all round as to how the work was to be carried out. Don Frederico, who was a beautiful rider, was mounted on his gay rosillo. He always rode on a recado, with silver mounting in front and behind; he had silver fittings to his bridle, and chain reins for a little way, just where they joined the bit, then made of well-worked and softened hide, with silver rings. He wore long boots, silver spurs, and carried a light summer poncho across his saddle in front of him. Altogether, a picturesque figure!--a true estanciero of the old régime--nor do I think he was ever happier than when he felt his best horse under him, and work of this particular kind was the order of the day.
Jennings, on his dark grey, cut a different figure; he did not look the genuine camp man at all, neither was he in the slightest degree; and it was easy to see that work of this kind was not congenial to him. Marmasola and his boys were in great spirits. What he did not know about horses was not worth knowing, although he himself was not a great rider; advancing years were beginning to tell their tale. But he had been through the war of Oribé, generally known as the Big War. He remembered the traditions of "the past," and as he had now been on the estate for a great number of years, certain privileges were accorded to him; but at the same time he would spare no trouble and was always willing to do anything he could to benefit the estancia and its owner. We all formed into line on the western boundary, facing towards the Cerro, stretching out both to right and left, and riding some three hundred yards apart. We allowed the cattle to go back between us, but drove all horses of every kind in front of us. Some of the colts tried hard to break back, and for the moment succeeded, but were eventually rounded up and brought back within the line. "Carnival" carried me splendidly: he was really very fast, and at the same time perfectly sure-footed. He made one feel quite safe even at full speed, and it was a pleasure to be so well mounted. Meanwhile, the line kept drawing in, and as the horses in front of us began to get up towards the manga, Pedro Lima and a couple of natives, by making a swift detour, got round in front of them so as to round them up as much as possible, more or less where the rodeo of the cattle was situate, and so to keep them in some measure under control until we all came up from behind and were able to form a regular ring round them. Meanwhile the old Indian, Feliciano, had some half a dozen tame horses not very far from the open gateway of the manga, and as these gave a convenient lead to all the others, we got the whole lot safely inside without much difficulty. This was fortunate, because if horses in a round-up of this description once succeed in breaking away in any number together, they are very difficult to get back again, owing to the speed at which they can travel. Once inside the manga, however, we were able to look them over at our leisure. There were a good many foals to be branded, so a fire was got ready. Moreover, breakfast had to be thought of, and it was not very long before a couple of roasts were preparing in front of it. We found there were nearly a dozen colts over four years old which in the ordinary way ought to have been caught up to be tamed, but owing to the war, it was decided to put this off for a year, for the reason that a good-looking colt which shewed any signs of having been handled, was more likely to be taken by soldiers than one which had been left entirely alone. They were very clever at seeing into this, even when the animals were feeding in the open camp. We found some riding horses shut up with the troop which did not belong to the estancia, but had probably been left behind by soldiers as they passed. These we caught up and took down to La Concordia, so that they might meanwhile do such work as they were able. If they could do nothing else they would be good enough for the puesteros to look after their sheep on, or for the ordinary routine work of the estancia. It was very interesting to watch all the horses when gathered together in the manga. I had never, of course, seen so many collected before, and it was a pretty sight to watch them and to note their different colours and characteristics. During the interval for breakfast the two stallions occupied themselves in having a fight, attacking each other fiercely; standing on their hind legs and striking at each other with their fore feet; then they would go round in a circle, each looking out for an opportunity to strike more effectively. Many of the mares too were busy picking up their belongings,--as they would often have a foal and a yearling, and even a two-year-old descendant regularly following after them.
It was very interesting to watch them all, and to observes their ways and manners. There was plenty of opportunity to do this, as after the foals were branded we did not let them go until between three and four o'clock. When at last they were turned loose, they did not let the grass grow under their feet, but soon divided themselves off more or less into their own lots, and with their own companions. Indeed, had they been looked up early on the following morning they would have probably been found feeding more or less together in the same groups, and on the same particular part of the estancia where we had originally found them. The weather had now become quite hot again, and we had continual sunshine for nearly a fortnight. There was a stone puesto about half way between the Cerro and the "Pass of the Pichinango," where an old negro called Tio Benigno lived, looking after a flock of sheep. He was now dead, and the flock had been removed, but his so-called widow, black like himself, was still living on there, with a numerous progeny of various sorts and sizes, almost destitute of clothes who ran in and out of the abode like rabbits, when anyone happened to ride up. They seemed to be living on the rations which had been allowed to the departed parent, which were still being allowed to them. Don Frederico would have been glad if I could have got them to leave the puesto altogether, but the question was where were they to go? I was riding down to La Concordia during the siesta when I saw a peculiar sight. As I was about to cross the Cañada Grande, a short way further up the stream, the black lady was sitting astride an old dun horse, short both of mane and tail in the middle of a large pool, with a fishing rod in her hand, apparently intent on fishing. Of clothes she had none. Such garments as she possessed lay in a heap on the bank by the water. Her black skin fairly shone and glistened in the sunshine. On her head was an old black silk top hat, which also reflected the rays of light. It had doubtless been a gift to her departed husband from one of the young Englishmen who might have been staying at the Cerro, presumably with no idea, however, that it would be put to its present use. The lady saw me pass, but did not appear in the least to mind. She simply gave a broad grin, and leaving her to pursue her peaceful occupation, I passed on my way. Not very long afterwards someone who had known her husband asked her to go and keep an eye on quite a small lot of sheep, and also to act as "lavandera," or washer-woman, as well. So I persuaded her not to lose the opportunity of changing her abode, and gladly sent a cart to move such belongings as she had. Indeed, I was glad to have the puesto empty, for it was in the direct route along which soldiers would pass coming from the town of Colla, and going north, and it seemed better that they should have the road clear in front of them. Rumour in time of revolution was always busy, and it was said that the Colorados intended for some reason best known to themselves to fall back before very long from the province of Colonia, and join up with their main force in the province of San Josè. Should this prove correct, it seemed probable that a portion of the Blanco army, which, during all this time had been steadily concentrating up beyond Paysandû, would seize the opportunity to occupy that province themselves. That being so, it seemed obvious that open hostilities, which had now for some time seemed far away from us, would come much nearer. The fact was it was impossible to foresee what lay before us in the future, and all we could do was to carry on as well as we could for the present, and hope for the best.
Up to now we had certainly been very fortunate, for our horses had not been taken; all had gone on very much as usual; nor had there been any interference either with our sheep or cattle. There happened to be two colts among the horses at the Cerro nearly five years old: a bay and a brown, and I determined to have these tamed. One was the foal of the bay "madrina" mare, and the other had joined the troop on its own account. They were both accustomed to come up each day into the corral, and to see people about, nor had either of them led the wild life of the open camp. So there was every reason to suppose they would prove docile, and I did not trouble to look out for a regular "domador," or horse-tamer, as I thought that Juan, the Indian, would manage, with the help of his nephews, both of whom were good riders. The rough and ready system of taming in the old days consisted of lassoing a colt in the yard, tying him up to a post for the night, and next morning saddling him up with a "recado," with the "cincha," or broad hide girth, as tight as possible. A narrow piece of hide nicely softened was then tied twice round the lower jaw, to which the reins were attached, a couple of pieces of soft sheepskin were fastened over the framework of the recado, while the four legs of the animal were tied together by a "maneador," or long thong of hide, in such a manner that by giving one pull it would all come loose and fall to the ground. The colt was then untied from the post to which he had been made fast, and up got the rider, who was going to give him his first gallop. Two men were ready on horseback, one on either side, while a third man on foot gave the thong round the horse's legs a sharp pull, when it fell loose. Usually the colt would make a wild rush forward, the two horsemen keeping each as close to him as they could on either side, so as to steer him in a straight line. Old Juan was now over fifty, nor was he a regular tamer; but he could still sit tight on a horse which did not buck-jump too hard or too long, and there was always the chance that he would not buck-jump at all, but just bolt off across the open camp. With the bay colt even this did not happen, for he merely lunged forward at a sort of uneven trot, wondering very much at finding anyone on his back. Then he stopped, unwilling to proceed, which Justiniano quickly made him do by a free application of his whip. Eventually he made his first gallop all right and came back apparently having had quite enough of it. That evening the brown colt was tied up as had been the bay, and the same procedure was followed in the early morning. Unfortunately, however, he buck-jumped rather badly, so soon as he was mounted and let loose, and he gave Old Juan a bit of a shaking, but he did not do it for long, and the Indian was able to sit tight and give the colt his first gallop, bringing him back quite sufficiently subdued for one day at any rate.
The gallops went on each morning, with both the colts for about ten days, by the end of which time not only was there no more buck-jumping, but they were beginning to get handy even to the extent of answering the pressure of the rein on the side of the neck, and of turning in some measure as required.
Juan was quite proud of his performance, and began to imagine he was a young man again and a regular horse tamer. Moreover, an extra allowance of Caña, or white rum, of which he was always fond, and at once took effect upon him, made him talk most amusingly of all the colts he had tamed in his early life, and the wonderful things he had done. At the end of three weeks, both the colts were bitted and could be ridden either by Margarito or Justiniano, and it was not long before they were able to take their place among the tame horses.
Attached, as they were, to the tropillas, they were as likely to be taken by soldiers as colts as they would be when tamed, for they would know well enough that young horses among their surroundings were not at all likely to be difficult to break in. I had been lately riding a "manchado," or piebald horse, which had been bred and born town of Colla. He had not much to commend him, but he was easy and quiet to ride. A sad story was connected with him. Between two and three years previously a young Englishman of good position who had come out to have a look at the country, was staying as a guest at the Cerro. One day he rode the "manchado" over to the little country town of Colla. He had not much to recommend him. Returning late at night, he unsaddled the horse in the small yard, just outside the stable. He then took off the bridle, and then, not thinking what he was doing, gave the horse a hit with the reins on his quarters, to drive him out of the yard. The horse kicked out sharply with both hind feet, one hoof catching him just under the throat, and the other at the pit of the stomach. He fell senseless to the ground, and must have remained unconscious for some time. When he came round, he managed to crawl into the galpon and awake the Indians, who, as usual, were fast asleep. They gave the alarm, and a messenger was sent in all haste for a doctor, who was then living on a small place he had beyond and to the eastward of the Cerro. He kindly came over at once, and applied such remedies as he could, but to no purpose, for the poor young man during the morning again became unconscious, and late in the afternoon passed quietly to his rest. It was indeed a sad business, and what made it worse was the thought of how easily it might have been avoided. The "manchado" used to rear a bit at times, but not really badly, and I never knew him show the least sign of kicking during the time I had anything to do with him. Later on, I handed him over to Justiniano, who always gave his heels an uncommonly wide berth, and eventually he was taken by a party of soldiers, and we saw no more of him. About a week later I had occasion to ride over one afternoon to the pulperia on the other side of the pass across the river Rosario, opposite to Marmasola's puesto. I called in as I passed to enquire if there was any news, and I saw his wife, who told me her husband was out with the flock. Reaching the pulperia, I found the owner, a tall good-natured looking man, at home, and we soon arranged the business about which I had come. He then told me that towards the end of the previous week Mamerto Gomez, a captain in the Red army, was coming out of the town of Colla with a troop of Colorado soldiers, on his way towards the province of San Josè. A short distance beyond the furthest houses a poor cripple sat by the side of the road begging. Mamerto halted as he passed, and turning to one of his soldiers, said, "Mata me aquel Bicho amigo," "Friend, kill that reptile for me," whereupon the man got off his horse and cut the poor cripple's throat from ear to ear. Leaving the dead body by the roadside, Mamerto Gomez and his troop passed on their way as if nothing had happened. I asked the pulpero if he had ever seen Mamerto, and what he was like? "Yes, Señor, I have seen him two or three times," he said, "and not long ago"; and he at once gave me particulars as to his appearance. Of course, I had no difficulty in recognizing him as the same Mamerto Gomez I had first seen at the Pulperia de Guaycoru, when the old negro said to me, "Cuidado, beware!" and as the man who had been seen entering the Sierras de Mai Abrigo, whom Royd had always believed to be the real cause of all his trouble and ill-luck, viz., the sad death of poor Henriquez, and the stealing of Bent's flock, and the attempt to break in to his puesto at night. I called at Marmasola's as I rode back, and found him in, and, as usual, we discussed the war. He, too, had heard that the Reds were leaving Colonia, and thought it would not be long before the Blancos turned up there in considerable force, when he thought it likely we might have parties of soldiers coming our way, as we should then be in the direct line of route between them and the concentration of their main army out towards Paysandû; so there was pretty sure to be a certain amount of coming and going. He also told me a story of two young Englishmen who came out to Monte Video during the Flores War, with the intention of making their way up country. They started to ride out from there alone, without any guide, and very foolishly, before leaving the city, they drew a considerable sum of money from the bank, which they carried out with them. They reached San Josè all right, and the following day proceeded on their way in the direction of the Cerro del Pichinango, where they intended to pass the night. They stopped at a pulperia, or store, for some refreshment about eleven o'clock, where there happened to be about a dozen natives, among whom were four or five of very bad character. Such was the account given to the police, who afterwards made enquiries. Whether they let these men know they had money with them nobody ever knew. They were known to be dressed each in a light tweed suit, with a large check pattern on it. The two young Englishmen were never heard of again, but a long time afterwards pieces of the cloth they were said to have been wearing were found in the wood on the further side of the river Rosario, not far from the pass which led over to the Estancia Pichinango. The conclusion come to was that three or four of the natives got on in front of them and attacked them, probably just as they were about to enter the pass, which was rather a wide one, and having shot them, either dragged or carried the bodies into the wood; of course, taking the money and everything they possessed from them. Whether or where they buried the bodies, of course, was not known. So much time having elapsed, it was impossible to make further enquiries. They had simply vanished--and being war-time, it was supposed that anything might have happened to them, for at that time in the camp murders even in broad daylight were by no means uncommon.
Marmasola always assumed a very serious aspect when telling this story, which usually ended by his sitting down on a "banco," or low wooden stool, and drawing the size of the check pattern on the garments of the deceased on the mud floor with the point of his knife, at the same time saying in a solemn tone, "Los dos pobres finados caramba!" "Alas, for the two poor dead men!" I allowed him to finish without interruption, and then I mounted my horse and rode home to the Cerro, pondering on the many vicissitudes which it seemed possible might happen to the unwary during life in war-time in a South American republic. Nothing had happened during my absence. We got the "tamberos" up to their rodeo, and kept them there awhile, and when I got back the little flock of southdowns were about ready to be shut up in their sheepyard for the night. I looked them over to see that they were all right, and then I went up on to the flat roof of the house to have a good look round with the glass, and so see if all was quiet. The sun meanwhile was about to set, and it was not long before the light began to fade, and one more day had passed and was gone. When next I saw Don Frederico he discussed the situation, and said he thought it would be wise to sell a certain number of the "capones," or wether sheep, which were now in good condition, and also to get a tropero, or buyer of cattle of good position to come and purchase as many "novillos," or bullocks, as we could get him to take, as by so doing we should not only lessen the stock we had to look after on the estancia, but it would do away with the risk of losing them. The "capones" chiefly fed together in one flock near La Concordia, with a certain number in two of the other flocks, so there need be no delay in having them parted out so soon as we could arrange with a purchaser. So he decided to attend to this within the next day or two. Meanwhile, if I heard of anyone likely to purchase up in my direction, I was to let him know. He also said he would write to one or two of the troperos, who had been accustomed to buy novillos from us, informing them that we had a good number for sale, and asking them whether they would be able to make up a troop. It was not long before two buyers of sheep applied at La Concordia. A day was fixed for parting them out, and I went down early with two of the Indians to help to pass the flock through the sheepyards. The purchasers happened to be friends, so agreed to part both together on the same day, and divide the sheep between them afterwards. Altogether they took between six and seven hundred, and after they had finished we helped them over the Pass of the Rosario, facing the Swiss Colony, where they intended to shut them up for the night, before continuing their journey to the town of Colla, where one of them resided. During the following week we passed the other two flocks through the sheepyards at the Cerro, drafting out all the capones and sending them down to the flock at La Concordia to replace the sheep there which had been already sold.
Early in the following week, a little before eleven o'clock, a tropero arrived at the Cerro, and enquired if he could see Don Frederico, as he wanted to buy some "novillos." I had been out early on horseback, and had not long returned, and was just about to have some breakfast. I told him that he was at La Concordia, at the other end of the estancia, and invited him to come inside and join me, which he seemed pleased to do. He had a peon with him with a led horse in addition to the ones they rode, whom I directed to get something to eat in the galpon. The tropero was grandly dressed in full native costume, a beautiful summer poncho, bombachos of very fine black merino, tucked inside long boots, the latter adorned with large silver spurs, and I noticed he was fully armed. He was an agreeable man, evidently well educated, and he told me he had two other men and a tropilla of horses in the neighbourhood who had gone to look at some bullocks at a small native estancia. Breakfast over, I left him to finish his coffee and smoke, while I went out to tell Justiniano to catch me up another horse. I then offered to accompany him as far as La Concordia, so that if Don Frederico happened to be out, I could have him sent for with as little delay as possible. I gathered the tropero wished to make up quite a large troop, en route for Monte Video, and as we had a good many animals to sell, I did my best to make conversation. Fortunately, when we reached La Concordia, we found Don Frederico at home. The tropero's credentials were quite satisfactory to him, as was the price offered. It was therefore agreed that he should part out and purchase all the novillos on the estancia which he thought old enough and in sufficiently good condition to take. We on our part undertook to have all the cattle gathered on the rodeo on Thursday morning, so that he could part out his bullocks, and to help him to the best of our power--payment, as usual, to be made on delivery. The business concluded, the tropero had a glass or two of wine and departed. He said he had plenty of horses with him for his men. I then rode back at once to the Cerro, and sent off one of the Indians to advise our native neighbours and the other round to Laborde, Martin and Marmasola, to inform them at their puestos of what we had arranged, so that they might give help as usual. We tied up horses on Wednesday evening, and made all ready for an early start. I rode "Carnival," the Indians, too, were fairly well mounted. We met the party from La Concordia, Don Frederico riding his rosillo, with two big dogs following him, and Jennings mounted on his dark grey; he seldom rode anything else. The tropero and his men did not take part in gathering the cattle, but joined us at the rodeo, near the Cerro, mounted on their best horses, while the others they had with them were meanwhile feeding not far off, with a boy in attendance, to look after them. The cattle came up well, and just as we got to the rodeo, Pedro Lima arrived with a couple of natives, and also three or four of our neighbours beyond the Cerro turned up, so we had plenty of help to keep the cattle well under control. Don Frederico and the tropero came up to the house for some coffee and a biscuit, but we were soon back again, when the work of parting out the bullocks at once began. A point of tame cattle had meanwhile been brought up to a suitable position a short distance from the herd. These were guarded by Juan, the Indian, with his two nephews to help him. The tropero was mounted on an "oscuro," or black brown horse, and his two men rode one a grey and the other a bay.
He began by riding in among the cattle with one of his men, singling out a suitable bullock, and then the two together, one on either side, ran it out into the point of tame cattle, where it had to remain whether it liked to or not. Then a second bullock was run out, and so on, one after another, until quite a good number were parted. One of the tropero's men now went to help the Indians to guard them, as every now and again one would try to escape, intent on rejoining the main herd, and occasionally a bullock would break loose and make for the open camp, determined to fight hard for liberty. But it was not to be! for the men were well-mounted and knew their business, and the horses knew theirs. They were, of course, faster than the bullocks, and when an animal was desperate, and really refractory the lasso came into play, and he was brought back his energy spent, and having been well bullied about he generally thought it better to keep quiet for the time being. A really good horse for work of this kind must be safe and quick on his legs, and have plenty of courage. Indeed, the best thing the rider can do, if well mounted, is to sit tight and leave as much as he can to his horse, who seemed to know all that was expected of him, and was seldom found to fail.
It was now eleven o'clock, seventy-five bullocks had been parted; each one being counted as it went by two people. So a fire was lighted, and a large "asado," or roast of mutton, put on, a little coffee and sugar, some biscuits, farinha and yerba, for the men's Matè were brought down from the Cerro, and it was not long before breakfast was ready. When up at the house I let "Carnival" go, and saddled up the rosillo, who was now in first-rate condition. Work was resumed with as little delay as possible, and when the tropero announced it was time to stop one hundred and sixty bullocks had been parted. The tropero seemed well satisfied, and so were we. Our next business was to give him every assistance to get the animals outside the boundary of the estancia, where they would be easier to manage than they were on their own camp. Meanwhile we kept the tame animals with the novillos which had been parted, to give them a lead and so render them easier to drive, and we made a start towards the pass of the Rosario, beyond Marmasola's puesto. There being many of us, we had no difficulty in getting them across the pass, and when they had gone a short distance on strange ground we parted out the tame cattle, and I returned with them to the Cerro. Don Frederico and Jennings, also the tropero, rode to La Concordia, to receive payment and give the usual certificate, shewing the mark and number of the animals sold, this document being required for the police. The sun was now declining fast towards the horizon, and we had made a fairly long day. Supper, when it came, was welcome, and the pipe which followed it; and having duly recorded particulars in the log-book, I was not sorry to lock up and get early to bed. Autumn was now past, and it would not be long before winter, with its rain and storm, cold nights and early mornings, would be really upon us. I had three cart-loads of wood brought up from the "monte," where we had some men working. Some of the flocks had to be passed through the sheepyards, and what with attending to one thing and another, I always found the day pretty fully occupied. Ten days later a party of Blanco soldiers rode up and asked if they could have some food, and also fresh horses. They were on their way to the town of Colla, having passed not far from Guaycoru, as they travelled from outside. With them was Colonel Mallada, who had sent back Francisco's pony at Las Sierras de Mal Abrigo. He had a great reputation among the natives as a fighter. When I went out I found him sitting on his horse, surrounded by some twenty soldiers. I invited him to get off and come in and have some breakfast while the soldiers lit a fire at a little distance, and made themselves a roast outside, for, as it happened, we had a whole sheep hanging in the galpon, ready skinned and dressed. I was amused to see the attitude of the Indians when the Colonel passed through into the courtyard. They stood up together on one side, as it were, at attention, with a very solemn expression of countenance, and they evidently looked upon him as a man to be feared rather than loved. He was quite civil during our meal, and told me that a large division of the Blancos were coming down to occupy the province of Colonia, while the main army was now largely concentrated outside, waiting for a favourable opportunity to march in to the province of San Josè, and so on towards the capital itself. He seemed to enjoy a cigarette with his coffee after our meal, and a glass of Caña also met with approval. Meanwhile, I had told Justiniano to get all the horses up into the corral. I had "Carnival" tied up under the ombu tree in the courtyard. The Colonel himself was well-mounted on a good-looking grey, apparently quite fresh. The soldiers caught five of our horses, and left us three tired ones, so we did not get off so badly after all, and I was very glad to think that the rosillo, whose back I had cured, was not among them. They all rode off, apparently satisfied, towards the Pass of the Pichinango, and we were all glad to see them depart. But it made me think, and realise what now might at any time happen, and I determined to have the rosillo caught up and tied in the courtyard oftener than I had done, and to keep a sharp look-out over "Carnival." At two of the puestos the shepherds were each somewhat of a character in their way. They were both of them "bascos," i.e., either natives of or having originated from one of the Bay of Biscay provinces in Spain. One of them, whose name was Gaitan, looked after what was known as the "Fine Flock," because it contained the highest strain of Negretti blood. From it were selected the male lambs, which were to be the future rams for the other flocks. He was now no longer in middle age, bent in figure, and slow in his movements. He lived quite alone, doing his own cooking and washing, and he wore remarkably old clothes. He had been for many years on the estancia, getting the usual pay of a puestero, viz., fifteen dollars and thirty-six cents per month (just over £3), together with his allowance of meat and rations, viz., farinha, yerba and salt, which he received monthly. His only luxury was a little tobacco, and he was said to be somewhat of a miser, and to be quite rich. He was usually seen bestriding an old and rather poor horse, but he was a very good shepherd, and except when cooking or eating his meals, or towards evening, when his sheep were drawing home, I never knew him to be long absent from his flock. He was extremely reserved and silent, and I always found it difficult to carry on a conversation with him. His puesto was situate to the north of La Concordia, rather towards the centre of the estancia, and really not very far distant from the former. The other shepherd was called Anjel; he was a much younger man, although he looked older than he really was. He, too, was reserved and silent, and I often wondered if it was the solitary life he led which tended towards this, and whether he would have appeared a somewhat different man if he had been cast among other surroundings. He had neither wife nor child, and like Gaitan, was but a poor rider, and I never saw him on a decent-looking horse. But he had usually a dog with him, and I often saw a cat or two when I visited his puesto, situate close to the river Pichinango, some little distance below the pass. Here the grass was good and plentiful, and his flock, which was rather a large one, did very well. He was a most careful and conscientious shepherd, and a skilled worker in wasca, or raw hide, of which he manufactured reins and headstalls, and whips and hobbles; indeed, everything of the kind a well-equipped horseman would require. Just about this time I did not happen to be very busy, so was able to shoot a few partridge, more correctly described as "quail," which were now in good condition, and made a pleasant variation in diet. There was a little single barrel gun available, which I found very nice to shoot with. I also managed to shoot some of the common deer of the Pampas (Cervus Gampestris) with my rifle, the flesh of which is not very appetising, but the skins were easy to dry and soften, and were not only useful as a covering for my "recado," or native saddle, but also served well as rugs for the floor of the sitting-room. The natives mostly chase the deer on horseback with dogs. There is a very curious peculiarity attaching to the young of this species of deer when not more than three or four days old, when the perfection of its instincts at that tender age seems very wonderful in a ruminant. When the doe with fawn is approached by a horseman, even when accompanied by dogs, she stands perfectly motionless, gazing fixedly at the enemy, with her fawn at her side. Then suddenly, as if at a preconcerted signal, the fawn rushes away from her at its utmost speed and, going to a distance of perhaps six hundred yards, conceals itself in a hollow on the ground, or among the long grass; lying down very close, with head stretched out horizontally, and will thus remain until sought by the dam. When very young it will allow itself to be taken, making no further effort to escape. After the fawn has run away the doe still maintains her statuesque attitude, as if to await the onset. Then, but only when the dogs are close upon her, she too rushes away; but invariably in a direction as nearly opposite to the fawn as possible. At first she runs slowly, with a limping gait, and frequently pausing as if to entice her enemy on, just like a partridge, duck, or plover when driven from its young. But as the dogs begin to press her more closely her speed increases, becoming greater the further she succeeds in leading them from the starting point. Truly a marvellous combination of both instinct and sagacity, and also of maternal love.
Winter was now come, and we had a spell of cold and stormy weather, with a fair amount of rain. I was out in the camp and round the puestos pretty constantly, to see that the flocks were all right, and that there had been no trouble from soldiers. One afternoon I called at La Concordia to see Don Frederico, as I thought it advisable to have three of the flocks passed through the sheepyards, to part out sheep which did not belong to them, and have their feet attended to. This was necessary from time to time, as during bad and stormy weather a certain amount of mixing was apt to occur, however careful the puestero might be. It was obviously more difficult to prevent where the land over which one of the flocks was accustomed to feed lay in the same direction on the estancia, and not very far distant from the land occupied by another. Don Frederico told me he was making arrangements to send Mrs. Dampier and the children on a visit to England, and that he was already in communication with the shipping company about taking their passage. His idea was that they should go into Monte Video about a week before the steamer left, and that he would drive them himself in his own carriage with horses and a couple of servants, while their luggage could be sent in a cart to San Josè, and on from there by diligence to Monte Video. The visit to England had been thought of some little time, but, as, owing to the war, things seemed to be getting more and more unsettled, he thought it better not to delay longer than was necessary. He spoke to me about two or three matters needing attention, and said that Jennings would remain at La Concordia during his absence, and would help me in any way should anything of consequence happen, or an unforeseen difficulty arise. When I got back, I found old Robinson in a very unsatisfactory state; he had evidently got hold of some Caña, but how I could not imagine, as I always kept it securely locked up. He talked a lot of nonsense about being tired of life at the Cerro, and of his determination, although he knew he was an old man, to go off somewhere or other, he did not care where, with a view to bettering himself. I concluded this phase would be a passing one, and by next morning he would be himself again. However, when it came, he was both dull and disagreeable, and although he had always been subject to occasional fits of the kind, I felt that his present state of mental irritation and unrest really proceeded from something more than his having drunk a little more than was good for him. I enquired of the Indians if anyone had been to see him. Margarito had seen no one, but Justiniano said he had been looking up the "tamberos," and as he was riding back he saw someone in the distance come out of the door of the kitchen, mount a horse, and ride off towards the Pichinango; and he thought by the way he rode he looked like a "gringo," the native term for a foreigner. However, next day Robinson seemed better, and the little household disturbance for the moment at any rate passed over. At the end of the week seven Blanco soldiers rode up and asked for food and horses. They had evidently come a good distance, and were en route for Colonia. They had four tired horses, which they left with us, taking the two horses previously left by soldiers, and two of ours as well. However, they were quite civil, and one of them told me we might expect to have a good many more coming our way before long. "Carnival" and the rosillo happened both to be tied up in the courtyard, nor did they trouble the least about them. Old Juan, the Indian, mostly kept himself out of sight when soldiers arrived. I suppose he had a sort of idea they might take him off, as they probably would have done had he been younger. I noticed he was always very talkative, and apparently in extra good spirits when they had gone. After about a week the bad weather cleared up, and it set in fine and dry. I went down to La Concordia the afternoon before Don Frederico and the family were to leave for Monte Video. Everything was now ready; the luggage had been sent on two days previously, and they were to make an early start the following morning, which happened to be a Wednesday. It turned out a lovely day for the time of the year, continual sunshine, with a cool breeze, perfect for travelling. On Saturday I had our usual para rodeo of the cattle, and they came up well. Early on Monday morning I started on "Carnival" to ride down to the far end of the Swiss Colony, whence the land stretched away to the Estuary de la Plata, which divided the republic of Uruguay from that of Argentina. I called at La Concordia on my way, and had a talk with Jennings about the business I had on hand. My object was to see a man, Emile Gunther by name, who was a buyer of hides and sheepskins. We had a large number of these at the Cerro, and I was anxious to be rid of them, as they were apt to get damp and out of condition during the winter. I crossed the Pass of the Rosario below La Concordia, into the Colony, following the track which led out of it, gradually rising to higher ground. Every here and there "chacras," or farms, each surrounded by more or less cultivated land. Many of the houses were built of bricks, plastered and whitewashed outside, one storey only, with bright red tiles on the roof, and they usually had a wide open verandah, very convenient to sit in, and also to eat one's meals during warm weather. Each house seemed to have its garden, where vegetables did well, for the soil was good and easy to work, and it was rare to find one without a few flowers, while clumps of "eucalypti," the blue gum of Australia, planted either round or near the homesteads, were almost universal. The stables and outbuildings were mostly mud-huts, with roofs of "paja," a reed which was quite common, and very suitable for the purpose. All this was that part of the Colony which could be seen in the distance from La Concordia, where the original Colonists had first settled themselves down and made their homes. As I rode on, I came to a much wider track, with wire fencing stretched on wooden posts on either side, running at right angles to the one I had hitherto followed. Turning to the left, I rode along this in a south-westerly direction, and as I proceeded the farms got fewer, and further apart, while the land intervening was thickly covered by a shrub, with a small leaf, the knobby roots of which, when dried, made excellent firewood. Here cattle and horses could be seen feeding, for the soil was rich and fertile, and where the shrub, or "chirca," as it was called, was not too thick, good grasses grew in between. I had no difficulty in finding Señor Gunther's farm, which was quite an important one, for, in addition to land under cultivation, where wheat and maize were grown, there were two large "portreros," or paddocks, fenced in with wire, affording ample pasturage to a considerable number of stock. Trees of various kinds had been planted, including fruit trees, and were growing well. There was a little "monte," or wood of "eucalypti," and some were also planted on either side of the drive leading up to the house, forming quite a respectable avenue. The house was an "azotea," one storey high, with a flat roof, the rooms spacious and comfortable, overlooking on their further side a garden, with fruit trees and flowers. As I rode up, I was welcomed by the owner's wife and daughter, who told me he had only gone down the farm for half an hour, and would soon return. Meanwhile, they invited me to come in and sit down, shewing me where to tie up my horse. Señor Gunther, when he came, was a fine-looking man, above middle height, well set up, apparently about fifty. He looked shrewd and intelligent, with a pair of keen blue eyes and light hair, already beginning to turn a little grey. "Buen dia Señor" (Good morning, Sir) he exclaimed genially, as he came up to shake hands. "I have heard of you." "I, too, am equally pleased," I replied in Spanish. "What a nice situation you have, and how well the trees must have grown!" "Yes, indeed they have," he said, "considering the time we have been here." He said he had a number of milk cows, and had already made a fair amount of Swiss cheese, which sold well, and he had reason to think it would prove profitable, and hoped to increase it. He told me to unsaddle and turn out my horse into a small paddock close by, and invited me to stay and have some breakfast, which would be ready in half an hour. "After this," he said, "if you have sufficient time to spare, I would like to show you round the farm." Our meal was enjoyable, and he pressed me to drink some excellent muscatel wine of a rich golden colour, which he had himself purchased, and brought out from Monte Video. Coffee and cigarettes followed, and he had evidently become able to surround himself with an amount of comfort by no means easily attainable on some of the estancias outside. Of course, we discussed the war, and I then spoke to him as to the business about which I had come. Finally, it was arranged that he should purchase all the hides and sheepskins at the Cerro at the price I asked for them, and he was to send a cart and fetch them away in about a week. He told me they were fortunately situate in regard to soldiers, being out of their track, and that scarcely any seemed to come their way, nor did he think they were likely to unless anything unforeseen occurred. After a turn round the garden, he went and had a look at "Carnival," whom he seemed to admire. I told him I had brought him from the Sierras de Mal Abrigo, where he was bred and born, and that I was greatly afraid lest the soldiers should take him at the Cerro, as we heard so many were coming our way it seemed hardly possible he could escape. He then said if I cared to leave "Carnival" with him I was welcome to do so, and he would do his best to look after him, at any rate until the worst of the trouble we were looking forward to should pass over. I gladly accepted this offer, with very grateful thanks. My host suggested I should saddle him up now, when taking our turn round to farm, and then just have a look at the Piedmontese Colony, which was not far distant. He further proposed that on our return I could leave "Carnival," now he was here with him, and he would lend me a horse to ride home on, which could be brought back when he sent a cart for the hides, etc. I gladly agreed to this arrangement, and we made a start forthwith. A peon was ploughing on the arable land, using a somewhat heavy plough, drawn by a yoke of oxen. It was a slow business, but had the advantage of turning up the soil fairly deep. The milk cows and a small flock of sheep were feeding together in one large paddock, while some nice-looking young stock and the horses were feeding in the other; besides these was a small flock of fifteen goats, the milk of which I concluded was used in the manufacture of cheese. Near the house was the usual corral to shut up animals, and attached to the outbuildings which were roomy and convenient was a well-arranged dairy.
We were not long in reaching the Piedmontese Colony, which at that time consisted only of one pulperia, or general store, and half a dozen houses, more or less near it. From there the land which stretched away towards the river Plate was mostly covered with "chirca," and evidently at that time but sparsely occupied. You could just see the smoke rising from the chimneys of perhaps a dozen mud ranchos, a considerable distance apart, evidently in possession of people only recently settled there, who as yet had not had time to do much in the way of agriculture. However, I was glad to have a chance of seeing the country, and I wondered as we rode back what kind of future might possibly lie before it. Returning to the house we had some coffee and little cakes served with it. Meanwhile, a chestnut was ready tied up, on which I was to ride home; not very attractive-looking, but good enough for the purpose. Indeed, in time of war I had learned that a good-looking horse was a certain care and an uncertain pleasure. So I bid good-bye to Señor Emile and his family, with many thanks for their kindness and hospitality, and the request that should he at any time find himself in the neighbourhood of the Cerro, he would not fail to call and see me. The chestnut travelled along quite comfortably, if not very fast, and the sun was nearly down when I reached home. The first thing Justiniano told me was that Robinson had departed. Two men from the stonemason's, who lived on the other side of the Pichinango, had come for him with a led horse, about the middle of the morning, and old Robinson had put together a few clothes and belongings and had accompanied them. The craving for drink had probably been his motive, for the stonemason himself was given that way, and at his house Caña was generally more or less on the go. Old Robinson had always kept up a sort of friendship with these people, much against my wish, for I prophesied they would one day be the ruin of him. However, the fact I had to face was that I was now without a cook, but Juan got me some coffee, and supper ready on the fire in the galpon, which I myself carried into the dining room, and then I smoked a pipe and thought over my pleasant day. Later I locked all up and went early to bed. Next morning, when I went out, "Napoleon" greeted me joyfully. I had left him at home the day before. The Indians got me some hot coffee at their fire, and after seeing to some things that were necessary, I saddled up the "mala-kara," or bay, with white blaze and stockings, and started off to La Concordia to consult with Jennings as to what I had better do in regard to Robinson's departure. I found him already busy in the garden pruning the fruit trees, and told him what I had arranged with Señor Gunther, and how I was now left without a cook. He said he thought the best thing was to leave Robinson where he was; it was no good attempting to fetch him back, as he would by this time probably be drunk and incapable, or, to say the least of it, very difficult to manage. He proposed to send me a nice-looking young Swiss, called Vicente, who was looking after the "capones," up to the Cerro, to take Robinson's place, and also keep an eye on the southdowns, and I could send Margarito down to La Concordia in his stead. Vicente was handy, and obliging, getting on for nineteen, nor would he at all object to doing a little cooking and housework if required. Jennings asked me to stay and have breakfast, which I did, and said he had received a letter from Don Frederico, written from Santa Lucia, saying all had gone well, and that so far they had travelled comfortably. We saw Vicente before I left; he had just come in from his flock. He said he would be pleased to go up to the Cerro, and would do his best to make things comfortable, and promised to be there a little before sundown. I then bid adieu to Jennings, and rode round by Anjel's puesto. He was out with his flock, and I came across him without having to go so far as his house. He was silent and serious as usual, but gave it as his opinion that Robinson "would come to no good with those people over there," and promised, should he hear of anything further happening, he would manage to let me know. When I got home, we got the "tamberos" up on to their rodeo. No one had arrived during my absence, and I sent Margarito down to La Concordia as arranged.
Early in the following week, one morning just after ten o'clock, Colonel Medina rode up to the Cerro, accompanied by seventy Blanco soldiers. I had met him before, and Don Frederico knew him well, for he lived not so very far from the Pichinango, and we had always looked upon him more or less as a neighbour. I at once invited him to dismount and come inside and have breakfast, assuring him it would not be long before it was ready. As for the soldiers, I said they had better make a fire down below the house, towards the big "manga," and if one was not enough, they could make two. Meanwhile, I would have a couple of sheep killed, so that they could make themselves a roast, as they wanted, and I would send them down a supply of farinha, salt and yerba, in order that they might do what a native always dearly loves, viz., have a rest and suck Matè.
The colonel was a man of middle height, his hair beginning to turn a little grey. I daresay he would be getting on towards fifty. He was well-educated, and had to a certain extent travelled, having held a minor office in the Blanco Government previous to the Flores war, when the Reds came into power. Probably, too, he looked forward before very long to taking office again, when the present revolution should be over, and the success of his own party assured. He told me he was on his way to Colonia, where a division of the Blanco army would probably be concentrated, to hold the province before very long, but that the main advance contemplated, whenever the proper time should come, was to lay siege to the city of Monte Video itself, and he believed it would be quite powerful enough to accomplish this when a really suitable opportunity should arise. This was certainly good news so far as it went, but at the same time he warned me that the war was as yet far from being over, for the Colorados were still fairly strong on the inside camps, especially in the direction of the capital, where they were able to command the assistance of both infantry and artillery and also, if necessary, that of mercenary troops as well. I was greatly interested; indeed, I felt quite sorry when breakfast was over, and the colonel said it was time to make a move. Neither he nor his soldiers asked for horses, having a troop of spare ones in first-rate condition, which they were driving along with them. We parted with mutual compliments, and with the usual "Hasta la vista amigo!" (Friend, until we meet again!), and he further told me that if he could do anything for me during the changes and chances of war-time, I was to be sure to let him know, which, to say the least of it, was very civil of him. The soldiers quickly marshalled up near the door leading out of the courtyard, through which he passed, and I accompanied him. He then mounted a grey horse, which was being held ready for him, and gave the word of command to go forward, and we all watched them jogging along towards the Pass of the Pichinango, when that little excitement was over. It came on to rain early in the afternoon, and we got the sheepskins turned over, and put together again, ready for the purchaser when he should think well to send for them.
Early next morning the sun shone bright, and warm, but it did not last long, for a "pampero," or southerly wind, from the Pampas, blew up soon after mid-day, and towards evening it became very cold and stormy-looking. I was able to "repuntar," or turn inwards, the cattle on the northern boundary of the estancia, and also to visit three of the puestos, where I found everything all right. The following day a bad spell of weather set in, with cold winds and constant showers of rain. However, I kept on the move as well as I could, for it was in stormy weather that a little supervision was most needed. Vicente was an obliging young man, and did his best in his new occupation, and he made me a nice little fire in the gun-room stove, where it was comfortable to sit after supper, especially after having had a bit of a wetting outside. Jennings had given me two little bull terrier puppies. They were an amusing little pair about five months old, small in size, with all the characteristics of a bulldog, except that they were very quick and active on their legs. One I called "Bully"; he was the colour of yellow sand, and the other was a brindle, like its mother, and to him I gave the name of "Brag." As they grew up they hunted the "legatos," a very large lizard, who lived among the rocks, behind the house. They also went with me when I took a gun and went after a brace or two of partridge, and they joined joyfully in the general uproar and barking when any stranger rode up, or indeed near the house. This was so much to the good, as it lessened the chance of our being taken unawares as to what might be coming, always a distinct advantage in time of war. The rosillo had now quite recovered and greatly improved in condition, and I often had him tied up in the courtyard, where I gave him a little maize, which he had learned to eat with satisfaction. I was now able to ride him with my recado, as well as my English saddle, and I made up my mind to take all the care I could of him, for the more I rode him the better I liked him. After about a week the weather became fine, and I decided to ride in to the little country town of Colla, which lay some nine miles south of the river Pichinango, as I wanted to go to the "policia," or police station about some business connected with the estancia. I had intended to put off going until Don Frederico's return, as I rather wished to see him before doing so. However, as I understood from Jennings it was more than likely he would not be able to come home so soon as he expected, I decided to delay no longer, but to start early the next morning. I did not want to take a good-looking horse, for I knew the town would be full of soldiers, so I told Justiniano to have the horses in the corral in good time, and to catch me up rather an oldish bay, left by soldiers, nothing whatever to look at, but really a good deal better horse than he appeared, and also to tie up the rosillo in the courtyard, about eleven o'clock, so that he might be safer if anyone came. The little town of Colla lay pleasantly situate on the bank of a small river. It consisted of one main street, with houses unevenly built, and somewhat scattered on either side. About half way down this widened a little, forming a small plaza, or square, where a band played on summer evenings, and people walked round and round, or sat about and listened to the music, and enjoyed also the pleasure of looking at their neighbours. There was a Roman Catholic Church, and some rather sordid-looking barracks, and quarters for soldiers. Half a dozen pulperias, and general stores, and two or three "fondes," or second-rate hotels, with here and there a private residence, often enclosed inside a garden, completed the buildings of any importance, while stretching away behind these, on either side were the smaller houses and ranchos, occupied by natives, more or less of the working class. Some of these had spaces of cultivated ground attached, and at others two or three cows and a horse or two, and some poultry would be kept, just as happened to be most convenient. There were plenty of soldiers about in the streets, as well as in the cafés and fondas. I rode straight up to the police station, and it was not very long before I was able to conclude my business. Having done this, I did not go to an hotel, as I should otherwise have done, to put up my horse and have some breakfast, on account of the soldiers, but I made my way to the house of a man called Pedro Dominguez. It was next to a large general store, which he owned as well, where he carried on an extensive and profitable business, as a buyer of produce and a seller of merchandise, and had long had dealings with the Estancia Pichinango. He received me with courtesy. A man below the middle height, getting on in years, and somewhat bent in figure, he looked to me as much like a Portuguese as anything else. "Buen dia, Señor," he said, as I rode up and explained who I was. "Please come inside, and I can put up your horse in my stable." Moreover, he invited me to have some breakfast, which was very good of him, for I began to feel hungry after my ride. His house was comfortable, and he had a good sized garden attached, very well kept, and he told me he was a great lover of flowers. While we were enjoying our meal one of the black, hairless dogs, greatly esteemed by natives, trotted into the room. It was about the size of a small terrier, with a perfectly smooth black skin, entirely devoid of hair. It had a pointed nose and a pair of very bright eyes, and they are said to be very affectionate. Señor Dominguez told me he had a widowed daughter and a grandchild who lived with him, but just then they were away on a visit to friends in Colonia. Of course, we talked about the war. He said he had never taken any part in politics, but his sympathies were with the Blancos, and he was very glad to think that for the present Colla at any rate, had seen the last of the Colorados, who he believed as a Government were self-seeking and corrupt, and he felt sure if they were allowed to continue in power, would bring certain ruin on the country. We had some coffee and a cigar, and it was after two o'clock when I saddled up the bay, and with many thanks for his kind hospitality, started on my return journey. The old horse travelled back faster than he had come, and I reached the Cerro somewhat earlier than I expected. As the sun declined, it got quite cold, and I was glad to find a fire lit in the gun-room stove to welcome me. Justiniano had got up the "tamberos" on to their rodeo, and the southdowns were already shut up in their yard, as I rode up to the house. "Napoleon" was delighted to see me, and even "Brag" and "Bully" gave me a sort of welcome in their way. I let go my horse, and wrote up the log-book, and so ended what had been quite an agreeable day. I had the usual "para rodeo" on Saturday, which was quite satisfactory, and I saw reason to think we were now getting the cattle well in hand. This was important during time of revolution, when we were likely to have fewer people to look after them. On the next Tuesday morning, I had just got in from a turn round the puestos, when the cart arrived to take away the hides and sheepskins. The Indians gave the cartman some breakfast in the galpon, and we then counted and handed over the hides and skins, for which the cartman gave me a receipt, while I handed to him a certificate that we had sold them. He started for home about one o'clock, taking with him the chestnut horse, which Señor Gunther had lent me to ride home on. The cartman told me that "Carnival" was all right, and seemed quite happy in his new quarters. The middle of the following week Don Frederico returned to La Concordia. I rode down to see him, and he said he could hardly believe he had been away nearly a month. The fact was his family did not leave for England in the steamer he intended, but waited for the next one, and he naturally wished to see them safe, and as comfortable as might be on board. I told him about old Robinson, and he said the arrangement we had made would do quite well for the present, though later on he should want Vicente back at La Concordia. Meanwhile, however, I could look about and see if I could find a cook. The winter was now passing, and every now and again we had two or three days when the sun would be quite warm, with every sign of approaching spring. We saw but few soldiers, and they were only passers-by, anxious to reach the end of their journey as soon as might be, but we had every reason to believe a considerable movement of troops would take place before very long. Early in August we had begun to see symptoms of what is known as epidemia, or sickness among the cattle. At first a single animal would be found in the camp dead, looking in good condition, and from no apparent cause. Later two or three might be seen, and in different parts of the estancia. Then you would find here and there an animal looking young and even fat, standing by itself, away from the others, not moving or eating, and with obviously something the matter with it. If taken in time and got to move quickly, and the horseman could give it a sharp run, it would probably recover. Should it, however, have gone too far, all one could do was to kill it, and take off its hide, rather than let it lie down on the ground and die slowly by inches. The epidemic went on for some little time, and we lost a good many cattle, and curiously enough it was much more towards the Cerro end of the estancia than it was at La Concordia. During this time, I was constantly out in the camp, looking up sick animals, and I took Juan and Justiniano with me, to take off the hides when necessary. Towards the end of the month I was out with the latter having a look round, and we came across a cow evidently very bad, for it could hardly stand on its legs and, when I tried to move it, it seemed only to totter from side to side. I jumped off my horse, handing the reins to the Indian, and caught hold of its tail with both hands to pull it over. I pulled my hardest, when the hair came suddenly out of the tail, and before I could recover myself I fell sideway into a bunch of big thistles which stood near. Unfortunately, I fell right among them, and felt one of the stiff sharp thorns pierce the flesh on the inside of my left arm, just below the elbow. I turned up my sleeve and tried to get it out with my knife but was unable to do so. We killed the poor cow, and I left Justiniano to commence taking off the hide while I rode back to the Cerro and sent his uncle Juan to help him. I then had another try to get out the thorn, but could not manage it. I bathed it with hot water, and as it was getting a bit painful, applied a hot poultice and hoped for the best. September came in fine, and towards noon the sun began to feel quite warm. At the beginning of its second week, twenty-two soldiers rode up, and said they wanted horses. I saw they meant business, so I told Justiniano to get all our horses into the corral. I had the rosillo saddled in the courtyard, so he was all right, as it was unusual for soldiers to take a horse one had saddled, except for some special reason, or because they really wished to be as disagreeable as they could. They were travelling out north, and were evidently pressed for time. They took six of our horses, including the "manchado," which had caused the death of the poor young Englishman, and left us one, an old bay, and he looked a very poor one. However, there was no alternative, so we had to put up with it, but it gave me a reminder of what we had to expect. The two colts we had tamed, now well-behaved horses, they paid no attention to whatever, and for this I was glad. My arm had become swollen and inflamed, and continued to give me a good deal of pain, and I was obliged to have it in a sling. It was rather a nuisance, for it was my bridle hand, but I consoled myself by thinking had it been my right arm it would have been worse, and as it was I could get about as usual. One fine morning, about eleven o'clock, an old negro woman rode up to the Cerro mounted on a rather thin "gatiado," or drab-coloured horse, with a dark stripe down its back, from which is derived its name. She had a maiden with her, black, like herself, mounted on an old grey. Each had a rug thrown over her horse, made fast with a surcingle, on which she sat, and appeared quite comfortable. The old lady asked me if they could stay for a while, and have a rest before proceeding on their journey. "By all means," I replied, and told Juan, who happened to be about, to give them a couple of bancos, or stools by the fire in the galpon, and I also asked them if they would like anything to eat. "Pero con mucho gusto, Señor," "But with great pleasure, Sir," they replied, "and if you could kindly give us a little yerba and sugar we should greatly enjoy drinking Matè, for we both feel very thirsty." Juan soon made up a good fire, and put on the kettle for hot water, and gave them a piece of meat to roast, and some "farinha," and the ladies seemed quite happy. Later on, as I was passing out through the galpon, the old one came up to thank me for the hospitality we had shewn them. "But pardon, Señor," she said, "may I ask what is the matter with your arm, for I see you have it bound up. I myself am a 'curandera,' or healer, and I am on my way to see a man who is very ill. Please let me have a look at it." This I gladly did, and she told me it was the thorn still in it which was causing the trouble, but she hoped it might work its way out. She said I must take care of it, as my arm looked to her rather as if it had been poisoned. She further said I was to send one of the Indians down to the wood which bordered the bank of the river Pichinango, and he was to get the leaves of a certain shrub which grew there. I was to make these leaves into a poultice and put it on my arm as hot as I could bear it every night for about a fortnight. Further, I was to put the water in which the leaves were boiled into a jug and drink it cold each morning as soon as I awoke. She interviewed both Juan and Justiniano and made them clearly understand what was the shrub the leaves of which were to be brought: what it was like, and how and where it grew. She then explained to Vicente exactly how to make the poultice, and how much of the leaves to use at a time. Then came the curious part of the would-be cure. The old lady insisted that I should begin it on the first evening of the new moon, and at no other time but then. We were all somewhat impressed, the Indians very much so, for they looked up the "curandera" with a certain amount of superstitious awe. However, I determined to try the "remedio," and as there happened to be a new moon that evening I sent Justiniano at once off to the Pichinango to find the leaves. He returned with a good supply of them. It was a small leaf, a little larger than the ordinary tea leaf, and it reminded me very much of the leaf of a small tree known as the "manouka" tree, of New Zealand. So the poultice was duly made; the water in which the leaves were boiled was put ready to drink the first thing next morning, and forthwith the prescribed treatment began. A few days passed, when one morning, between seven and eight o'clock fifteen soldiers rode up and demanded horses. The tropillas had not long been turned out of the corral, so our horses were quite close for the soldiers to see. There was nothing for it but to shut them in and let them take what they wanted. I did the best I could, but they took four and left one, an old gatiado, with a stripe down its back, the same colour as the one the curandera had ridden. The soldiers only stayed long enough to get horses, and then resumed their journey, travelling north. The weather was now getting warm, when one afternoon about four o'clock, an elderly negro rode up to the Cerro, mounted on a very poor-looking old "bayo," or cream-coloured horse. The Indians, who had been out in the camp, were sitting by the galpon fire, sucking Matè. I was in the courtyard unsaddling the rosillo, whom I had been riding, but not far away. I heard a great barking of dogs, "Napoleon's" voice being loud among them; "Brag" and "Bully" were also doing their best to increase the noise. I passed out through the small door, and there was an old man, surrounded by the barking dogs, sitting quietly on his horse, calling out "Ave Maria," the customary form of salutation, and waiting for someone to ask him to dismount. This I did, and he enquired if here was the Cerro del Pichinango, and if I would allow him to put up in the galpon for the night. As for his horse, he said it was worth very little, and if let go he did not think it would move far away. He looked tired, and weary, as did his steed, and said what most he needed was a real good sleep. He had a bundle with him, tied up in a roll at the back of his old "recado," a battered black felt hat and a much-dilapidated summer poncho, while some old "bombachos" and a pair of alpargatas, or canvas shoes, completed his attire. I told him to make himself comfortable, and left him to rest as I was just thinking of saddling up the bay colt we had tamed, and riding down to Marmasola's puesto. I found his flock quite near it, ready to be shut in for the night. He himself was at home, and he told me that a soldier who had passed by not long before had told him there had been an engagement some distance out beyond Guaycoru, and that the Blancos had been victorious, and had driven the Reds off in full flight to the north of the Sierras de Mal Abrigo, and so on towards the province of San Josè. How far this was really true, and whether it was an affair of much importance he did not know. He thought, however we should all do well to be on the alert, and promised to send me up word should he hear any further news. Everything seemed quiet as I rode back: the epidemia among the cattle was now dying out, and there was only an isolated case now and then, and I was thankful to think we had been able to get through the trouble so easily.
My arm by this time had become less inflamed, and much less painful, so I thought it better to go on with the treatment for a few days longer than the "curandera" had suggested. When I saw the negro again next morning he told me he had slept well, and felt all the better for it. He told me he had passed through a rough time with General Lopez Jordan up in Paraguay during the war between that country and Brazil. Having drifted down into Uruguay, he found himself with hardly any money, and no friends. Had it not been time of revolution, he did not doubt but that he could easily have got work. He said his nerves had been completely shattered, and what he wanted was a feeling of security and a little rest. He asked me if I would allow him to stay on a bit at the Cerro, as he liked the look of the place, for you had a good view all round, and could see anyone who might be coming. He said if I would permit him to stay he would be glad to do anything he could to make himself useful. I thereupon asked him if he would act as cook. "Pero con mucho gusto," "But with great pleasure," he replied. When I next saw Don Frederico he said I had better arrange with the negro, whose name was Correo, to do the cooking, and such housework as had to be done. Vicente could then come back to him, as he needed him rather badly. He also told me I had better take a little boy about twelve years old, a grandson of the old Indian, Feliciano, to help to look after the southdowns, and to look up horses, as otherwise I should find myself short-handed. He was a funny little person, with a pair of sharp-looking black eyes. His father was said to have been killed in a quarrel during the war, and although, of course, a relative of Justiniano, he had every appearance of mixed blood. Correo seemed very pleased at the prospect of staying on at the Cerro, and settled down quite comfortably. He kept the rooms clean and tidy, and could cook anything that was required. For the next ten days or so we had sheep-working on hand, and I was kept pretty busy; and we had the regular para rodeo of the cattle on Saturday as usual, which was now quite easy to manage.
A few days later, I started to ride over to an estancia belonging to a Mr. Trafford, which lay beyond the town of Colla, well on towards Colonia. My object was to see some rams we needed for the Fine Flock, and which Don Frederico had heard were for sale there. I rode a dark chestnut horse, which had been left tired and almost done up by soldiers, but had now recovered. I preferred taking him to a horse of our own mark, as I thought it quite possible I might have to pass through the Blanco lines. Should this be so and they took the chestnut they would probably give me another in exchange which would do to bring me home. I was up early and in the saddle just after sunrise. It was a nice morning, and the chestnut was in good spirits, and went along smoothly and easily. When I reached Colla I found the place full of troops, so did not delay, but rode straight on and beyond, being asked as I passed the Police Station who I was, and where I was going. No one interfered with me. I stayed that night and over the next day with Mr. Trafford, who was very kind and hospitable. He had no one with him when I arrived, for his daughter, not yet grown up, was away at school in Buenos Aires. His house was comfortable, well-built, and well-arranged, with a very wide verandah on one side of it. He saw me ride up, and came forward to welcome me, a thin, tall man, with a somewhat serious expression, which made him look older than he really was. He kept up the English custom of having tea in the afternoon about four o'clock, with bread and butter, cakes, jam, etc., which to me were quite a luxury. After partaking of this, I had a look over the rams, which were then in a large paddock not far from the house. They were a nice lot, well cared for, and in good condition, and on hearing the price I came to the conclusion they would be just about what Don Frederico required. So I arranged provisionally to buy twenty of them, and to pick out the ones we would have in the morning; this arrangement being subject to Don Frederico's approval. I further proposed he should write to Mr. Trafford immediately after my return, and so complete the purchase, and then we could send over to fetch them, as might seem convenient. The following day I much enjoyed as we rode over the estancia, and inspected both the sheep and cattle, for, as a matter of fact, Mr. Trafford had, for that time, some exceptionally good stock. He took great interest in his garden, which appeared well-stocked with both flowers and vegetables, and his numerous fruit trees were evidently a source of great pleasure to him. Next morning, after coffee, I saddled up the chestnut and started for home. On my way back I passed close to a place where a Spaniard, who was really a "basco," was driving a good sized flock of sheep up towards his house. A nice-looking sheep-dog, which looked well bred, was helping him very efficiently. I pulled up for a while to give my horse a rest, and I took a great fancy to the dog, for I liked the way he went about his work. We were getting a bit short-handed, and I thought a dog like this one would be useful, so I made his owner a bid for him, just in case he might care to part with him. Rather to my surprise, the man said he would not mind selling him, but only because he contemplated leaving where he was to go and live in a town, where the dog would be no use to him. The only condition he made was that I would be kind to him and treat him well. He was black and light tan in colour, and the true sheep-dog breed, with a nice head and intelligent eyes. The only fault I could see in him was he had rather too heavy a coat for work in hot weather. His name was Ramonou. He did not at all like being taken away from his home by a stranger, and I was obliged to lead him with a thin thong of hide, fastened to his collar, which I held in my hand. Fortunately the chestnut was very quiet and tractable, but having the dog with me naturally delayed my progress, so that it was late when I reached home. However, there was a moon which shone brightly, so it did not much matter. "Napoleon," as usual, was glad to see me back. Nothing had happened during my absence, and Correo soon got me some supper, and seemed quite contented and happy. Next morning "Ramonou" seemed none the worse for his journey. I had tied him up for the night and given him some food, and I now let him loose in the courtyard, just to stretch his legs. "Napoleon" was not at all quarrelsome, and the two dogs happily took to each other, and soon became great friends. I had the bay horse caught up, and started down to La Concordia, as I wished to lose no time in letting Don Frederico know what I had arranged about the rams. He was perfectly satisfied, and said he would at once write to Mr. Trafford. He told me he had heard that old Robinson was lying very ill over at the stonemason's, from the effect of too much Caña, and he went so far as to say he was doubtful if he would recover. "You know we should not like him to die over there," he said; "after being so many years at the Cerro, we had come to look upon him as almost part of the place!" "Supposing I send Steff, the Swiss peon, with a light cart to be at Anjel's puesto, say at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning. You might then send Juan and Justiniano to meet him there at that time, and they could all three go on together to the other side of the Pichinango. If there is plenty of 'paja' in the cart and he is well wrapped up, I do not see why he should not travel all right." So it was arranged; and I promised to see that the Indians were at the place appointed at the hour named. As a matter of fact, they both rather liked old Robinson, and would be sorry for him being so ill, and I felt sure they would do their best to bring him back with as little suffering as possible. I then rode back to the Cerro, round by Anjel's puesto.
When the cart arrived at the Cerro with the poor old man lying full length in it, I saw at once that he was very ill. We got him out of the cart and into the kitchen, where we laid him down in front of the fire and started rubbing his hands and feet, for he really seemed in all but a comatose condition. After a while he somewhat recovered, and I got him to swallow two or three spoonfuls of mutton broth made strong and quite plain. Towards evening he seemed better, and said he wished us to get him up into his bedroom above the kitchen. He could not speak above a whisper, but I understood him to say he felt cold, and would rather be in his own room above the kitchen stove than in one of the larger rooms on the ground floor. For two or three days he seemed to mend, and then one afternoon he sank into an unconscious state, and I knew it would not be long before all was over. He could take nothing whatever, but he lasted through the night, and passed peacefully away about eleven o'clock next morning. I sent down at once to tell Don Frederico, and he sent me word he would have a shell coffin sent up as soon as possible. During the afternoon we got the remains down from the bedroom and laid them on a "quatre," or wooden camp bedstead, in the last room but one at the far end of the house, which had a door in it, opening into the courtyard, covering the body over with a white sheet. Late in the evening the wooden shell arrived, and we reverently laid him in it. I put a couple of screws in half way down, just to hold on the lid for the time being. The Indians said they would light a candle and watch by the coffin, and Correo said he would like to take a turn also. It was a fine clear night, calm and still, with the moon now in its second quarter, and about nine o'clock I went to bed. I was awakened some three hours later by a loud knocking at my door. I jumped up, hastily putting on some clothes, and took up my revolver, which was lying by my bedside. When I opened my door, leading into the covered archway, there was Correo, his face an ashy grey colour, gesticulating violently outside, and begging me to come at once to the room where we had placed the coffin. He said the Indians who had been on guard were terribly frightened, because while they were on watch the ghost of the "finado," or dead man, had appeared, and was then to be seen passing like a shadow up and down the room. As I went out into the courtyard "Napoleon" came and put his cold nose in my hand, and the rosillo who was shut in there for the night, gave a little neigh. I went to the door, opened it, and entered the room, followed by the negro, who was almost in tears. Of course, there was nothing, and I showed him the two screws half way down in the lid, exactly as we had left them. Meanwhile the Indians had fled and hid themselves in the galpon; the candle they had left lighted was flickering down in its socket, and the room was in semi-darkness. I with difficulty persuaded Correo to go to his bed and have a sleep, for he was much upset, and trembling all over, but at last I succeeded. I thereupon locked the door of the room, taking the key with me, and returned to my bed for the rest of the night, which passed without further disturbance of any kind. The next morning, but one, Steff drove up in his cart with the coffin, into which we silently placed the remains, and he started at once to convey it to the cemetery in the Swiss Colony. At the same time I rode down to La Concordia to advise Don Frederico that it was on its way to its last resting place. When I got there I unsaddled my horse and tied him up under the euremada before going inside the house. A little later I was sitting in the dining room talking to Jennings, when Don Frederico came hurriedly in. "Good gracious!" he said, "there is Steff crossing the rincon towards the Pass of the Rosario standing up in the cart and trotting ever so fast. Do go down and stop him, and tell him only to go at a foot pace." A "moro rosillo" (blue roan horse) was standing ready saddled outside. I jumped up on him and went down the high bank behind the house somewhat faster than he liked. He started bucking as he got nearly to the bottom, and what with being taken unprepared and only having my right hand on the reins, I narrowly escaped what might have been a nasty fall; but I was able to stop the cart before it crossed the pass. I returned to the house, and shortly afterwards Don Frederico started to go to the cemetery in the Swiss Colony, in order to attend the funeral, while I rode up to the Cerro, as some sheep-working was going on there I wanted to see after. Ramonou came and helped, and soon proved himself useful in getting the sheep through the yards. We were now in the first week of October, and as work of this kind would be pretty constant throughout the month it seemed as if he had arrived on the scene just about the right time. One morning I was busy superintending this work; the weather was becoming hot, and progress somewhat slow. Before going to breakfast, I went to my room to wash my hands; my arm had now got much better, the inflammation and swelling having gone. I had turned up my shirt sleeve, and was rubbing the soap gently between my hands, when a thistle thorn half an inch long suddenly popped out of my arm, somewhat in the same way as a cork flies out of a bottle, and fell into the soapy water. By its appearance it should have been a larger thorn, so that part must have broken off when it entered the arm. Anyway, I was only too glad to be rid of it, for it might easily have caused me more trouble than it had done, and I felt thankful to the "curandera" for the advice she had given me. The thorns of the big thistle are very sharp and strong, so much so that when riding through them I have known a thorn pierce right through a long leather riding boot.
The spring had so far been a dry one, and we were looking forward to soon beginning the shearing, partly because the season was an early one, and also on account of the difficulty of getting shearers. Soldiers were everywhere more or less on the move, and on an estancia this is always a hindrance to work of every kind. Saturday came round again with its "para rodeo" of the cattle, and on Monday morning, between ten and eleven o'clock, thirty soldiers arrived asking for food and horses. They were travelling north to join the main army. I had a sheep killed for them, as they said they were hungry, and gave them some farinha and yerba, and I ordered our horses to be got up into the corral; it was, in fact, the only thing to do. They ended by taking thirteen horses, six of our own mark, including the brown colt we had tamed, and seven which had been left with us by soldiers, among them the chestnut I had ridden over to Mr. Trafford's estancia. They left us five, apparently tired out, and weary, and all in poor condition.
I had the rosillo saddled; indeed, I now had him up very constantly, letting him out to feed at night. Our own horses were gradually disappearing, and I saw it would not be long before we ran short of them. We were now busy getting ready for shearing, and I had to go round to all the native neighbours and find out how many and when they would be likely to come. This year, owing to the scarcity of outside people, it seemed probable that more of our own people would have to shear than usual. Meanwhile, Don Frederico was doing all he could in the Swiss Colony, although as a rule the colonists were not great shearers, for at that particular time their own farms often needed attention. I had the stone walls of the sheepyards attended to, and saw to the gates, and also that the doors and belongings of the galpon were all in proper order. I also had an ample supply of wood brought up from the Monte, the necessary provisions had to be got ready as well as numerous other articles, all of which were sure to be wanted at such a busy time. On November 1st a small gang of nine shearers arrived. They had been previously engaged, and commenced work on the following day. Meantime, Jennings duly turned up at the Cerro to take charge inside the galpon, while I looked after matters outside, and also helped him in my spare time. It was not long before we found out how useful Ramonou could make himself. He helped to get the sheep through the yards, and also to hurry a flock from one of the puestos, which otherwise would have come too slowly, and so kept the shearers waiting for sheep. The weather favoured us--for the month proved warm and exceptionally dry, so work got on faster than it could otherwise have done. Soldiers called up half a dozen at a time, but no large number came to trouble us, for which we were very thankful. Pedrito now kept an eye on the southdowns, and also got up the horses, for both old Juan and Justiniano took a turn at shearing, although neither of them were very efficient.
Work progressed as the days passed, and time went on, so that by the end of the first week in December, we made a finish, and the gang of shearers having received their money, at length took their departure. No sooner was shearing over than we had to see about marking the calves. This should have been done earlier, but perhaps owing to the same causes which had produced the epidemia the cattle this spring had been in rather poor condition, and the calves generally both younger and weaker than usual. The third week in December began on a Wednesday, and Don Frederico fixed that day for the marking. I went round to let our native neighbours know, and asked them all to come and help. Fortunately, the morning was fine, and we were all on the move at the Cerro even earlier than usual. I rode a black horse with a white star and two white hind feet. Pedrito was quite proud of himself, mounted on a small bay which had been left tired by soldiers, but had now recovered. He was a good rider, inherited no doubt from his Indian ancestry, and he never pulled his horse's mouth about more than was necessary. As it happened, although we were fewer horsemen than usual, the cattle came up well, and we left them to go round and round on the rodeo while Don Frederico and Jennings came up to the Cerro to have some coffee which Correo had ready for us. I let go the black horse and saddled up the rosillo, and on returning to the rodeo was pleased to find that several of our native neighbours had arrived. With the aid of a point of tame cattle to lead them, we got the herd shut up in the manga, and I felt relieved to think that my responsibility was now over. Two large fires were lit, and the brands heated, and then two of our native neighbours rode in among the cattle to lasso and bring out the calves. And so the work progressed, until about eleven o'clock a halt was made for breakfast. Seeing we depended so much upon the help of our native neighbours, Don Frederico said we had better regale them with what was known as "Carne con cuiro," or beef roasted in the hide. So a young cow had been killed and cut up in a much shorter time than the uninitiated would deem possible, and two big roasts with the hide on them were already cooking before the fires. This above everything is a delicacy the South American native dearly loves, and Pedrito's face was a picture when he learnt what was going to happen. Caña, farinha, salt, and yerba were served out, and the company were all enjoying their repast when a horseman appeared approaching, perhaps two hundred and fifty yards away. As he got nearer I saw he was riding a colt, known as a "redamon," i.e., only about half tamed, with a piece of hide tied round its lower jaw, instead of a bit, and as he rode on towards us the animal, a beautiful "rosillo," answering the slightest touch of the rider's hand on the rein, he was indeed a sight to see. His long black hair well oiled and curling beneath a worn and battered old felt hat, fell almost down to his shoulders. Over a shirt anything but clean was a dilapidated old summer "poncho," with a rag of a white handkerchief tied loosely round his neck. An old worn coloured "cheripa," over a pair of cotton drawers, covered his waist and the upper part of his legs, and below were a pair of potro boots, made of the skin of a wild mare, from which the hair had been removed; mounted with a pair of large iron spurs, completed his footgear. As he rode among the crowd, he raised his hat above his head with a "Buen dia Señores" (Good-day, gentlemen) as he sat on his horse like a statue waiting to be invited to dismount. Then came a cry from the assembled company, "Cypriano caramba! Cypriano!" but the tribute was certainly not to his wealth, nor indeed, to his character, for he was a well-known horse stealer, as well as a famous "domador," or horse-tamer, but rather a spontaneous and unpremeditated recognition of his wonderful horsemanship. This touched the hearts of the "Gauchos" as nothing else could have done. In spite of his rags and his dirt and his poverty, he was to them a true aristocrat, rising for the moment head and shoulders above his fellows; for such, indeed, at that time, was the way and custom and manner of the "Pampas."
Breakfast being finished, work was resumed. By three o'clock the marking was over, and the herd of cattle let go, when, owing to the times through which we were living, the company at once dispersed. The weather continued hot and dry right into the New Year, when I found the water in the alhibi, or reservoir in the courtyard was becoming exhausted. As I have previously stated, all our water came from collecting the rainfall on the roof, whence it passed through pipes into the "alhibi." Usually the supply was sufficient, but probably the water had been used in excess and wasted during the shearing, and as no rain had fallen now for some weeks, it was easy to account for the shortage I wished to preserve what there was for the house, and indoor use; so we caught up an old petiso called Waddle, and Justiniano mounted him and made fast his lasso to the forked branch of a tree with a barrel fixed on its top, and started for the Cañada Grande to fetch water. He did not go very fast, for Waddle had seen much of life, and had an enlarged knee; but he had done the job before, and he did not mind. I daresay, too, he knew by experience it was not likely to last very long. So with the daily barrel brought up each morning, we managed to get along quite comfortably. As to the stock, they always had plenty of water, with the river Rosario on one side and the river Pichinango on the other, not to speak of the Cañada Grande, which was hardly ever dry; nor, indeed, had they to go any distance to drink. Of course the "seca" had its effect on the pasture, and the grass everywhere got very dry. Where, however, the camp was not overstocked, and there was good water, the animals could pass through time of drought without coming to any harm. One morning Pedrito, who had been out on an old horse looking after the southdowns, came back and said he had seen an ostrich nest with several eggs in it, which he thought were still quite good; so I sent Juan with him to fetch them. There were seven, and they turned out to be but recently laid. The female bird will lay her eggs out in the open, choosing a place where the grass is long and dry, and well exposed to the sun. The yolk is somewhat rich, both in taste and colour; but when fried in a frying pan or made into an omelette is excellent eating. One of his other pastimes was going after partridges also on horseback, holding a long stick in his hand, at the end of which was fastened a thin running noose. When he saw a bird lying in the grass, which they were fond of doing during hot and dry weather, he would ride round and round in a circle, gradually getting nearer and nearer, until he could drop the noose over the head of the bird as it lay still, as it often would do for some time. Correo could cook both the ostrich eggs and partridge very well, and I found them a pleasant change after a prolonged course of mutton roast and boiled. During hot weather he often wore a beautiful suit of white cotton; he had two of these with him, and when he brought in my meal to the dining room he would occasionally stand behind my chair, in a solemn manner while I was eating, which certainly looked imposing, for his black skin shone like ebony, but was at the same time quite unnecessary. He did not much like talking about his experiences during the war in Paraguay, which I always realised had given him a pretty severe shock, for he told me he had passed through villages where not a single man had been left alive, and where a stranger entering them would find himself surrounded by only women and children, all of whom were in a state of semi-starvation, and of abject terror and misery. All the crops and animals had been destroyed by the troops as they passed, and there was nothing suitable in the way of food anywhere within reach. I liked the old man, whom I always found very willing and obliging, and I was glad to see his health improve, as it certainly did, doubtless owing to the rest, and quiet, and to freedom for the time being from any care or anxiety as to where or how he could get a living.
The New Year came in exceptionally hot; day after day brought continual sunshine from a blue sky, in which scarcely a cloud could be seen. Towards mid-day the rays of heat poured down so fiercely, they seemed as if they would scorch the very tussock grass itself. The rocks behind the house fairly glistened and shimmered in the noon-tide glare, and the large lizards were very happy, constantly running in and out of their holes, and indeed had a glorious time. Out in the camp, the ground itself got warm, and everything dried up. The cattle could be seen here and there in groups; by this formation they seemed to think they might escape the burning rays of the sun, and it was in the night and early morning, as well as late afternoon, that they were able to feed in comfort. They went gladly enough to the rivers to drink, but they could not stay long by the woods on account of the number of flies which were ever ready to pester and torment them, until they hardly knew how to bear. The sheep, also, could be seen clumping themselves together, each trying, as it were, to get shade by standing in each other's shadow.
If the pasturage on the estancia was hard and dry, there was yet plenty of it, and as there was abundant water I had no fear of anything like starvation for the stock. During the great heat the "siesta" in the middle of the day had to be longer than usual, and practically all work was suspended, except during the early morning and late afternoon. The rooms, however, were very comfortable during hot weather, for being so high, and opening one into another, there was always plenty of air, even when the heavily-barred windows were, according to the Spanish custom, kept shut during the middle of the day in order to keep out the heat. We had no garden to suffer, and were thankful for the grateful shade of the "ombu," and also of the figtrees in the courtyard, so that, except for the want of water, we had little to complain of during the period of the "seca." Curiously enough, during the great heat we had no thunderstorm, the atmosphere remaining perfectly clear and dry. This, however, was quite unusual.
One morning, not long after sunrise, two Blanco officers, and about eighty soldiers rode up to the Cerro. They said they were en route for Colonia, and had been travelling the greater part of the night, taking advantage of a nearly full moon. I invited the two officers into the house to have some coffee, but before accepting, they said what they wanted were horses, for many of those they had with them were tired, and it was important they should get on with as little delay as possible. I asked if the soldiers wanted food, but all they were allowed to do was to make a couple of fires and suck some Matè, before proceeding on their journey. As to the horses, there was nothing for it but to get all our horses up into the corral--they had not long been let go--and let the soldiers take what they wanted. There were now but few of our own mark to choose from; the others being horses previously left with us. However, they took seventeen and left us twelve tired ones, poor in condition, and not one of them looking as if he was much account. As it happened, the bay colt we had tamed was with his mother and the wall-eyed horse I often rode, and old Waddle some distance further away. So these did not come up with the others, thus the bay colt once more escaped attention. I had the rosillo tied up and saddled, and Pedrito was riding the little "mala kara," so he got off, but a very light bay horse, called an "andador," or pacer, which Justiniano was fond of riding, was one of the first chosen by the soldiers. The officers told me they were going to join a large division of the Blanco army, now in the province of Colonia, which was thought likely to be moving in our direction, and it was supposed General Aparicio himself was coming down shortly just to see how things were going. The officers were quite civil, but when they were gone, and I had time to think matters over, I realised that this hardly compensated for the fact that we had now hardly any horses of our own mark left to us. Such, indeed, was so often the fortune of those whose business it was in "the old days" to try and carry on an estancia during time of revolution.
On January the twentieth, we had three or four very short and slight showers, and on the day following, heavy rain fell and continued without intermission for twenty-four hours. The "seca" had now broken up, the "alhibi" was more than half full, and we had no further trouble in regard to water. Soon after two o'clock on the last afternoon in the month, a party of soldiers rode up, and one of them, who appeared to be their leader, told me I was to go with them to where a division of the Blanco army was encamped, some two and a half leagues to the south-east of the Cerro. As they seemed to attach importance to the request, I did not care to quite refuse or indeed argue the point as to whether I should go or not. Moreover, I thought it would be an experience, and possibly somewhat of an adventure. As it happened, I had caught up the rosillo a short time before, intending to take a turn round the camp. I told them I would be ready in a quarter of an hour, saddled him up, strapped the belt of my revolver round my waist, slipped a light summer poncho over my head, and we made a start forthwith. Meanwhile, the Indians had hid themselves in the galpon, and I bid adieu to Correo, who looked greatly perturbed when he saw me depart. We travelled rapidly along, for something over an hour, and then, as I looked ahead, I saw an interesting scene spread out before me. In a large "rincon," at the back of which was a stream, lightly bordered by trees, were quite a large number of soldiers. Horses were either feeding loose or tethered everywhere. The men were scattered about in every sort of attitude and position, mostly resting and smoking, and some enjoying a game of cards, while others were chatting and talking together, and apparently enjoying themselves. Meanwhile, fires had been lighted in front of which large joints of meat were already roasting. A little to the right, half a dozen "Gauchos" were busy giving some colts they had got hold of a gallop, which, from their appearance, had only been recently caught up. Behind all these, on slightly rising ground, a group of officers were gathered. One of these was seated on some rugs and saddle gear, which had been piled up for the purpose, and he was at the time occupied in sucking Matè through a silver "bombilla," or tube. He was a remarkable looking man, somewhat above middle height, with rather broad shoulders, over which his long hair hung down in a slight curl at the back, swarthy in complexion, with a very keen-looking pair of black eyes. I realised at once that I was in the presence of no less a personage than General Aparicio himself. Meanwhile, he invited me to dismount, and asked me who I was, and where I had come from, and what had brought me there. When I told him, he said, "This ought not to have happened! There must have been some mistake!" Then he continued, "Siente sé Señor," "Sit down, Sir." "Vamos à tomar un matecito," "Let us drink a little Matè." In the meantime, a soldier was holding my horse, and behind where we were sitting, two lances were stuck in the ground, from which the white banner was flying. The General's sharp eyes caught my horse. "That little rosillo seems made of some good stuff," he said. "You had better take good care of him." I told him he had the mark of the Estancia Pichinango, and was about the only one we had left. "Pero que quiere mi amigo? Es tiempo de guerra." ("But what could you wish, my friend? It is time of war,") he replied, with a laugh. The General then told me that a good many matreros (deserters from the army) and bad characters, were said to be hiding in the woods our way, and that he would send a couple of soldiers with me when I went back, who could also stay at the Cerro for a time, in case I should find myself in any trouble. Thereupon I thanked him, and about half an hour later made my adieux. As I left the camp the two soldiers rode in front of me, each carrying his lance, with the white banner flying, while I followed immediately behind. Upon reaching the Cerro, which we did just after sundown, I got quite a reception from Correo and the Indians, in which "Napoleon" and "Ramonou," also "Brag" and "Bully," took part, in fact, they all appeared quite relieved, and very pleased to see me back again. On the next morning, I rode down to La Concordia to see Don Frederico. He was greatly amused when I told him of my little expedition, and at once asked me if I thought the Blancos were likely to be coming our way. I told him I thought not, as from what I had gathered their intention was to make straight for Colonia across country, as it were, without touching the town of Colla, in which case they would not be likely to come near the Pichinango. He further said the two soldiers who had come back with me would be a help rather than a hindrance, for he had been wondering how we could manage to get the horses all gathered up into the "manga" this year, and the foals marked, seeing there was hardly any outside person available. He said that now I had the two soldiers, who doubtless understood camp work, at disposal, he would arrange a day to gather up the horses, with as little delay as possible, and let me know. I could then inform our native neighbours, and possibly succeed in getting a certain amount of help. I rode back by Marmasola's puesto, and told him if he knew of anyone likely to be of any use, to be sure and let me know. That same evening, a little before sundown, a young Englishman, Mr. Frank Turnor, arrived, with three horses and a peon. He was "Major Domo" on a large English estancia up the country, and he asked if we could put him up for the night. This I was delighted to do, and we had the horses collared and sent out to feed. He was a fine-looking young man, with broad shoulders, and a tall, upright figure. We were sitting smoking after dinner, when the conversation turned upon "matreros," men wanted by the police, hiding in the woods, whereupon he told me the following story. He said where he was living they had large woods bordering the river, in which "matreros" would come and stay for a time, living on the estancia cattle, and then move off again to other secure places, where the police could not catch them. They were a desperate lot, and murdered one of the shepherds of the place because he mended up the fence after they had cut the wires, so as to pass backwards and forwards, which was a cause of annoyance to them. He said it was his business, together with two men, to search the woods every Saturday to see if they were there, as they always left some trace or other, such as the remains of food or tracks of horses. Both he and his men always carried rifles, but he was never very keen about finding the thieves, as they were known to be very dangerous characters. A new Chief of Police had come, whose ambition was to catch these men. Knowing the outlaws were in the woods, he thereupon notified him, and the police officer appeared early one Sunday morning with ten men, all fully armed, when he at once went with him to show more or less where the matreros were to be found. On the way they met a half Indian man called the Negro Largo, who in peace time was allowed three sheep a week to keep him from stealing, and in time of revolution forty dollars a month to save the horses; as the Indian then had some thirty men under his command. He went on to say that as he and the Negro Largo knew the woods, they were asked to go quietly ahead, so as to try and find the encampment, the police following.
At last some horses were seen tied out near some little "talditos," or coverings made of branches, but all was quiet; it was very hot, and the thieves were sleeping. He and the Negro Largo then returned to the police, without disturbing the sleepers. Turnor wanted the "comisario" to charge right up on horseback, but being an infantry officer, he preferred to do so on foot. So after approaching a little nearer he ordered his men to dismount and form line, and himself heading them with drawn sword, charged up to the place where the horses were tied. Owing, however, to the noise caused by dismounting, etc., the outlaws, hearing what was going on, made a bolt into the thick wood, so that only the horses, saddles, etc., were captured. He further mentioned that he and the Negro Largo were not in the charge, but behind a tree watching.
The police officer was intensely proud of his achievement, and at once ordered one of the best looking horses to be saddled up for him. When he mounted, however, the horse reared, and coming over backwards, gave him a bad fall, much to the general amusement.
Turnor said that this was his only encounter with the "matreros," but that some time after two of the men with rifles who were revising the woods as usual came right upon the outlaws over a bank, with their horses saddled. Instead of trying to escape they at once mounted and attacked them, firing their pistols, when they on their part being taken by surprise, made a bolt of it, and being better mounted succeeded in getting safely away. Eventually all the outlaws were captured and put in prison.
It was getting late when we turned in, but as Turnor wished to make an early start on the morrow, I had already told Correo to get some coffee the first thing. Fortunately, he was always an early riser. The morning was fine, and the sun had but lately risen, when my visitor and his man mounted their horses and started on their way, the latter leading the spare horse, so that either could change to it as they went along.
During the afternoon Margarito arrived with a note to say that we were to have a "para rodeo" of the cattle on Saturday as usual, and a general gathering up of the horses on the Wednesday following. I therefore lost no time in advising our native neighbours, and getting them to come and help us. To make this doubly sure I rode next morning to pay a visit to two or three of the principal ones in person. Both the soldiers accompanied me with their lances, and the Blanco device on their hats and the white banner flying. When I arrived at the first native house I saw at once that I was about to make an impression. I thought the dogs barked if anything louder than usual as we sat on our horses calling out "Ave Maria," the usual form of salutation. For the moment no one appeared, but I saw signs of first one and then another woman or child peeping out through a window and so on. Then the front door was opened, and the master of the house appeared bare-headed, and with a bow desiring me to dismount. Whereupon I did so, and went into the house, the two soldiers meanwhile holding my horse outside. I delivered my message, and we discussed the war, and I was invited to have some refreshment, which I declined. When I thought sufficient time had elapsed I got up to leave, being accompanied outside by apparently the whole family. I then walked solemnly to my horse, mounted and signed to the two soldiers to move on, and altogether I flattered myself that I made a very dignified departure. The same mode of procedure took place at two other houses, each with the same satisfactory result. The fact was, we were getting very short of horses in our neighbourhood, and as hardly any of these people, friendly as they might appear on the surface, would have at all objected to coming inside our camp and picking up and carrying off any stray horse which, having been left there, would otherwise have proved useful to us, I thought it a good opportunity to let them know that, up at the Cerro I was in a position of some authority, and therefore not to be trifled with. On the Saturday the two soldiers went with us to the "para rodeo" of the cattle; "Napoleon" enjoyed himself greatly, and all went well.
Wednesday morning was fine, and we were all early on the move. I rode the rosillo, who was in excellent form, while the two soldiers and the Indians were mounted on horses which had been left by passing soldiers. As we got the troop up towards the "rodeo" a portion of them tried their utmost to break back, but the rosillo was quite equal to the occasion; he was indeed a good little horse, and his speed and energy soon succeeded in rounding them up and forcing them to rejoin the others, so that we managed to get them all shut up in the stone "manga" with less difficulty than I had expected. Our native neighbours duly turned up, fires were lighted, and we were able to mark quite a fair number of foals. We also picked out about a dozen stray riding horses from among the troop, which had probably been left by soldiers as they passed along. These we divided between the Cerro and La Concordia, attaching them to the tropillas, in order that so long as they remained to us they might be made useful, and earn their living for the time being. Don Frederico was mounted on his rosillo allazan (chestnut roan), otherwise known as his war-horse; but Jennings no longer rode his usual dark grey, for it had been taken by soldiers about a month previously, so he was compelled to bestride a rather ancient-looking bay horse, which was also in but poor condition, instead.
At the beginning of March the two soldiers were recalled to Colla. When they bid us adieu they both thanked me for the pleasant time at the Cerro, and when they departed took with them our good wishes. Towards the end of the month, Charles Bent turned up quite unexpectedly. His relatives outside had been unfortunate, and had lost a lot of stock, both sheep and cattle, during the war, and his idea was to make his way to Monte Video later on, for he seemed to have a hope that the war would soon be over. He had lost his race-horse not very long after the disastrous affair at the Cerro, now getting on for a year and a half ago, and he rode up on an old "Bayo Negro," or dark cream, with a black mane and tail, which had been left by soldiers, and seemed to be of very little account. I was glad to see him again, for I always liked him. Moreover, he did not look very well; he was never really strong, so I asked him to stay on a bit at the Cerro, as we had ample room, and I knew he would be glad to help in any work which had to be done. With the exception of the rosillo, we were entirely dependent upon what I might call outside horses, for we had now scarcely one of our own mark left. The bay colt old Juan had tamed, was still with us, but he had managed to sprain his shoulder rather badly, so was for the time being of no use.
We had a room at the Cerro with a strong brick floor, which had at one time been used for stores, and I had this arranged for the rosillo, so that in case of necessity he could be shut up there at night. Generally, when the weather was fine, I could have him tied up in the courtyard, but when the nights got cold and he was unable to feed there, I knew it would be difficult to keep him in good condition. As it turned out, I found that the shelter from wind and rain, together with a small but regular allowance of maize, greatly contributed to his welfare. When I next saw Don Frederico I spoke to him about Charles Bent, and he said he should be very glad for him to stay on at the Cerro for he knew he would always willingly lend a hand at any work which might be going. He said he thought he would be much better there than if he were to go into Monte Video at present, as it was generally believed by those who knew, that before very long the Blancos intended to try and besiege the city, and if they should do so would probably succeed. During the next three weeks we had a good deal of sheep-working on hand, as the flocks from the puestos were being passed through the sheepyards, both at the Cerro and at La Concordia. Ramonou was really a great help; he was obedient and good at his work, and gave satisfaction all round. Bent had left his sheep dog, "Bob," with his relations. He told me it was some time since he had heard of Royd, but he believed he had sustained many losses with his stock at his friend's place near San Josè, and that he either had sailed or was about to sail for England. At this I was not surprised, for he never seemed to me well suited to camp life. He was naturally somewhat despondent, and there was no denying he had been very hard hit at the Sierras de Mal Abrigo.
Correo seemed now to have recovered his health and spirits, and to enjoy preparing our simple menu. He was always willing and attentive; indeed, since his arrival at the Cerro, everything inside the house had gone on quite comfortably.
Some three weeks passed and nothing happened except the ordinary routine of estancia work. During this time either Bent or I had been accustomed to go up on to the flat (azotea) roof once or twice daily with the glass, so as to have a good look round. The Cerro stood high, so that from its roof we could overlook the greater part of the estancia. This was a distinct advantage in times like the present, for it not only let us know anything that might be going on among the stock, but also allowed us time to prepare beforehand for any soldiers who might ride up to the house with the intention of causing us trouble. One afternoon Bent and I were up on the "azotea" together, having a look round with the glass. It was just about two-thirty when suddenly we saw some twenty soldiers coming our way from the East, at an angle which would make them pass to the front of the Cerro, about half a mile distant. We could, moreover, see they were Colorados, for the red banner was clearly flying from their lances. At the same time a troop of Blancos appeared, coming up from the Pass of the Pichinango, so that the two parties came into collision just about the place where Tio Benigno's deserted puesto still stood. We could see it all perfectly. They galloped furiously one toward the other two or three times, but seemed always to manage to avoid close contact. They fired their guns and revolvers, some of the shots at any rate being hurriedly let off into the air. Then the Reds made a bolt, and thereupon the Blancos, seeing this, galloped furiously after them, with their lances. One of the Reds was wounded by a shot, for we saw his arm hang useless by his side as he rode away. Another got a lance wound in his back, which was apparently more serious, as he fell from his horse after the Reds got a little further away, and had to be picked up by his comrades. So the Blancos remained masters of the situation, and after the Colorados had disappeared, they passed the Cerro at a gallop, about a quarter of a mile distant, following a northerly direction, as if they were making for Guaycoru, and we were all very glad to see both lots clear out. Some ten days later we were both up on the "azotea," about an hour before sundown. After taking a look round, I said to Bent, "Do you see that point of cattle feeding almost at the same place where the Blancos and Colorados met? And can you see a dark lump on the ground, a little way removed, just on the far side of them? If I am not mistaken that is a matrero, out 'bombiando.' You know what that means, 'looking for and marking down a young heifer, so that he and his companions can come and kill it at night,' and there will be a moon to-night up to twelve o'clock, you know!" "I believe you are right," replied Bent. "Have a look through the glass. I fancy you will find that animal standing alone a little further away to be a horse saddled, and he is probably hobbled as well." Taking the telescope, I soon saw this to be the case. "I will give that fellow a bit of a fright," I said, at once going down into the courtyard, where I had the rosillo ready saddled. It took but a moment to lead him out through the small door, jump on his back, and gallop off. I had not got more than half way, when the matrero, who must have seen me coming, ran to his horse, mounted, and made off towards the woods of the Pichinango as quickly as he could. The rosillo was going strong, and I should certainly have overtaken him, when an unfortunate thing happened. The ground was very rough and uneven, with numerous pieces of pointed rock rising up above it in every direction. The horse unluckily caught his off fore foot on one of these, and as he was going fast, it tripped him up, and he came down a regular cropper, rolling right over. I, of course, came down with him, having my revolver tightly held in my right hand, fully loaded, the trigger at half cock. When I fell it somehow got jammed between me and the hard ground, with the end of the barrel against my chest, slightly bruising the flesh. Fortunately, it did not explode! It was a Colt's muzzle loader, and I felt grateful to them for its reliability and their excellent workmanship. I remounted, and continued the chase, but the delay gave the man too much of a lead, and I only arrived in time to see him enter the woods and disappear. Bent seemed quite glad to see me return without any further mishap, and when I explained to him how I came to have the tumble, which he had been able to see with the telescope from the house, he remarked, "That revolver of yours is indeed worth more than anything it may have cost, old man!" This pleased me, for as a matter of fact, I had bought it second-hand, when I was at the Sierras de Mal Abrigo, upon its eminent firm of maker's reputation, knowing otherwise but little about it. Bent and I then got up the "tamberos" to their rodeo. They were now well in hand, and went up easily. As we returned, Justiniano was bringing up the southdowns, to shut them in for the night; I looked them over, and saw them safely inside their yard. Correo was always pretty punctual with supper when we were at home, for he was glad when work was over and he could retire to rest. Afterwards we had a quiet talk and a smoke, and both went early to bed.
A week later we were both on the "azotea" about four o'clock in the afternoon. A Mr. Fenton, who had formerly stayed a good deal at the Cerro, had left his "moro," or blue-grey horse behind him when he went away, attached to one of the tropillas. The horse was not there when I came, having detached himself, and joined up with the "saino manada," or troop of mares and foals. We had not been looking round long when I noticed a horse coming at pretty nearly full speed in the direction of the Cerro, with two soldiers in full pursuit. "I believe it is Fenton's 'moro,'" I said to Bent, "and what is more those two fellows are going to have him." Just then the "moro" passed, some three hundred yards distant, in front of the house. One soldier flung his "boleadores," but as it happened they fell short. The second thereupon immediately increased his speed, and flung his with such accuracy that they twisted themselves round the "moro's" hind legs, and soon brought him to a standstill. The soldiers then slipped a halter over his head, loosed the "boleadores" from his hind legs, and led him off with them, riding in the direction of the Pichinango Pass.
The "boleadores," or "bolas," as they are often called, are a very effective weapon in the hands of a skilled horseman who is well mounted. They are chiefly used to capture horses and wild mares in the open camp, and are a very important part of a "Gaucho's" equipment. They are made of twisted strands of raw horse-hide. There are three thongs united together at a common centre, each about a yard in length. At the other end of each thong is a leaden ball, covered with hide. The horseman holds one ball in his right hand while he swings the two others quickly round his head. He then lets go the ball he had in his hand, so that the three go whirling swiftly forward in a circle, and their weight and impetus causes the thongs to twist themselves round the hind legs of any horse at which they may be aimed, which, chiefly owing to the speed at which it is moving, soon finds itself with its hind legs tied up together, and so falls helpless to the ground.
Much smaller balls fastened together in the same manner, with quite thin thongs, are used by the natives to capture the wild ostrich.
Indeed, I have always been given to understand that the "boleadores" were in use among the Indians of the Pampas from quite remote times. A few days passed, and nothing happened, and then one morning just after ten o'clock a Blanco officer and between seventy and eighty soldiers arrived, who asked for food and horses. Accordingly I had two sheep killed, and gave them what else they required, and told them to make a couple of fires outside, over which to roast their meat and boil their kettles. As to horses, I told them we had none left, only a few more or less useless ones, which had been left by soldiers. As, however, they said they had four tired ones which could go no further, I sent Pedrito to bring up what we had into the corral, so that they could suit themselves, for under the circumstances it was the only thing to do. Finally, they took five and left their broken-down ones in their place. So we were not much worse off after all. The rosillo I had saddled, and regarding him they gave me no trouble whatever, so I really had cause to be thankful, for I particularly did not wish to lose him. We invited the officer to come in and have breakfast. He was a good-looking man, not more than thirty years of age. He told us they had come from the north, and were going to join their division near Colonia. He said the main White army was now very strong indeed, and it was their intention before long to push right through the province of San Josè, where they expected to easily drive the Colorados before them, and then to besiege Monte Video, thus stopping all supplies coming in from the interior. Should they succeed in carrying out their intention, which he fully believed they would do, we might have reason to hope the war would soon be over. In due course, the soldiers having refreshed themselves, took their departure, proceeding at a "trotte-cito," or jog-trot, towards the Pass of the Pichinango, the officer riding in solitary grandeur behind. One afternoon in the middle of the week following, Bent and I were up on the azotea taking a look round. We had not been there long when we saw something which looked like a man on horseback going slowly, leaning forward in the saddle, with his arms resting upon the horse's neck. He seemed to sit more or less helpless, and the horse, which was three-quarters of a mile distant, appeared to be making his own way, having come from the East, behind the Cerro, towards the road which led from it to La Concordia. I sent Justiniano, who had a horse saddled, to see if anything was amiss, and if so, told him to bring the horse and rider back with him. This he did, and the latter turned out to be a Swiss, weak and faint from loss of blood. We got him off his horse, and carried him into the galpon, where we laid him on a "quatre," or light wooden bedstead, and I then managed to pour a little Caña and water down his throat, for, as we lifted him from his horse, he had suddenly fainted. After a few moments he came round, and told us he was coming in from outside with a considerable sum of money on him. Suddenly three men appeared, whom he took to be "matreros," or deserters, for they had no device on their hats, although all were armed. They compelled him to hand over all the money, his poncho, spurs, and silver-handled whip, even to a large gold ring which he wore on the fourth finger of his right hand. They threatened to cut his throat if he made any resistance, and as it was he had a deep wound from a stab with a knife, just about the middle of the forearm, inside and below the elbow of the bridle hand. This had evidently bled profusely, and was even then bleeding, and it was clear the poor man had lost a good deal of blood. He thought the wound must have been made when one of them was taking the ring from his finger. However, Bent and I managed to improvise a small tourniquet, and so get pressure to bear, which easily controlled the bleeding. We then bound up the arm with a cold water bandage, and made the man as comfortable as we could. Correo made him some "bouillon," and when he had taken this he soon sank off into a doze. About an hour and a half later he woke up, feeling better, whereupon we readjusted the bandage and enquired his name and address, and where his home was situate in the Swiss Colony. I told him to make himself as comfortable as he could during the night, and early in the morning I would send a messenger to advise his friends what had happened, so that they could bring a light cart to fetch him, for he was too weak to ride. I told Justiniano to tie up a horse and start as soon after daylight as he could, taking at the same time a note I wrote to Don Frederico, telling him what had happened. This Justiniano could leave at La Concordia as he passed, without really going out of his way. Meanwhile, old Juan said he would keep an eye on the man during the early part of the night, and advise me if anything went wrong. Bent and I then turned in, feeling pretty sure that if the Swiss could get some sleep he would probably be better in the morning. Fortunately, this turned out to be the case, although the patient was still very weak. About ten o'clock a friend and a relation arrived in a light covered cart, with a straw mattress and suitable coverings. We carried the Swiss, and placed him carefully in the cart, it was evident he had received altogether a great shock. I gave his relative a written statement of what we saw; how we had found him; and what we had done, so that if necessary it could be shewn to the police, and I said I was prepared and willing to answer any further enquiries. They soon made a start, and this little excitement was over. May was now well advanced, and sheep-working among the flocks, which had been pretty constant, was drawing to its close. One morning, towards the end of the month, Bent and I rode down early to La Concordia, where the fine flock was to be passed through the yards. The work made good progress, so that we were both back again at the Cerro a little before twelve o'clock. When I saw Correo he told me a Swiss baker had called during our absence, on his way outside with bread, and that he had bought three loaves from him. We were glad of this, as being a pleasant change from the "galleta," or hard camp biscuit. According to our usual custom, we were both again up on the "azotea" about four o'clock in the afternoon.
Everything seemed quiet, but we had not been there long before our attention was arrested by what looked like a covered cart slowly crossing the camp, about a mile and a half away, in the direction of the Cañada Grande, opposite to Laborde's puesto. Every now and again it seemed to stop, and the two horses, which we could see were drawing it, appeared to be grazing. Altogether, it gave us the impression that either there was no driver in the cart, or that if one was there, he was either drunk or incapable. I then decided to send Justiniano to see what was the matter. He had the bay colt his uncle had tamed saddled, whose shoulder was even yet not quite sound. I told him if he found anything wrong to make his lasso fast to the horses, and so bring them cart and all, up to the Cerro. By this time, from Correo's description, we had identified the cart as belonging to the Swiss baker, who had passed in the morning. Of course, it was possible that he had somehow got separated from his cart, which was now moving towards home without him. Meanwhile, we watched Justiniano reach the cart, get off his horse, and go round to the back to look in behind. He then came round and made fast his lasso to the horses' heads, remounted, and made start with the cart in tow in the direction of the Cerro. All this we could see quite clearly through the telescope. When he arrived, I went down to meet him, and Correo and Pedrito and uncle Juan were all in attendance. I saw at once from Justiniano's countenance, that something serious had happened. Our consternation may be imagined when he told us that the body of the baker was lying inside the cart, and that he was quite dead, with his throat cut from ear to ear. How he had come to his death we were unable to form any idea. We could only suppose that two or three "matreros" had come across him in the open camp, far from any dwelling, and that they had done the dastardly deed from sheer devilry. The poor man apparently had no revolver or weapon with him in the cart; if he had one it had been taken away, neither was there any sign of shots having been fired at him; nor was either of the horses in any way maimed or injured. In fact the whole thing was a complete mystery. Correo and the Indians seemed greatly impressed. Naturally, the former could identify the body and the cart as being that of the man from whom he had bought the three loaves of bread in the morning, but beyond that there was nothing whatever to point as to how the tragedy had come about. Inside the cart was indeed a sickening sight. The loaves that remained, and the floor of the cart, were covered with blood. I took a note of all the gruesome details, and then we got the body out of the cart, and laid it on a heap of sheepskins inside the galpon, and covered it over with a white sheet. When I first saw it the body was quite cold, and probably the poor man had already been dead for more than two or three hours, for already the arms and legs had begun to get slightly stiff. By the time all this was done, it was getting dusk. The sun had already set, so I postponed sending down to the Swiss Colony to convey the sad news until early the following morning.
Soon after sunrise Justiniano started, and I told him to call at La Concordia on his way back, and tell Don Frederico what had happened. About ten o'clock two men arrived, who took away the cart and the remains. I made out a written statement of the whole affair, so far as we knew about it, and were concerned in it. This I signed and dated, and got Bent to witness. I then gave it to one of the two men, who turned out to be a relation of the "finado," or deceased. In the afternoon I rode down to Marmasola's puesto. He had just returned from Solarez's pulperia on the other side of the pass. He told me he had heard that a large division of the Colorado army, with infantry and artillery, was coming up to turn the Blancos out of the province of Colonia, and that there was pretty sure to be a battle very shortly. Hearing this, I rode on to La Concordia to acquaint Don Frederico, who said it was just about what he expected, and we had better be on the alert, and keep a sharp look-out. I then went back to the Cerro, and we got the "tamberos" up on to their "rodeo," and I saw the southdowns safely shut in, and by the time I had unsaddled and put the "rosillo" into the stable, it was already sundown. Next morning we were all early on the move. We carefully shut all the doors and entrances to the galpon, and so far as we could made all fast. We looked to our firearms, and had our long ladder which reached to the roof of the house, carefully concealed in the galpon, so that no one could get up there from outside; in fact, we prepared everything to make as good a defence as we could in the event of our being attacked.
Next morning, after all our preparations, everything appeared quiet, but about three o'clock in the afternoon we heard the constant firing of big guns out towards Colla, although, by their sound, we were able to tell they must have been a good long distance away. The firing continued intermittently until sundown. We spent the afternoon on the roof, which we could reach with the small ladder inside the house. Nothing happened during the night, but half an hour after sunrise the first signs of the battle which had taken place began to show themselves. First a small party of Blanco soldiers were seen crossing the estancia at a gallop from the Pass of the Pichinango, shaping their course straight for the Sierras de Mal Abrigo. These were followed by others and by single soldiers, galloping for all they were worth. Then, later on, came the main body of the Blancos in full flight. Stretching in a long uneven, but continuous line, they passed about two hundred yards in front of the Cerro, the wounded in carts without springs, drawn by horses, and what looked in some cases like half-tamed mares, were continually passing, to which any amount of whip was forthcoming to make them move. Early in the day none of the soldiers came up to the Cerro, but about three o'clock a light cart, with a canvas covering, drove up to the house, with three horses attached to it. A negro, who sat in front with a whip, which he evidently had made good use of, was driving. In attendance were two soldiers, with their lances, and fully armed. They told us that a wounded colonel lay inside, who was in great pain, so much so that he could with difficulty bear the jolting of the vehicle, which had no springs. They asked if we could do anything to help him in his plight. I proposed that we should get him out of the cart and lay him on a "quatre" in the covered way which led from the galpon into the court, where he would get plenty of air, and we could then see if anything could be done for him. This we did, and then Bent and I attended to him. He had a severe lance wound in the right side, just above the hip bone. It was only very roughly bound up with some dirty calico, and he had evidently lost a good deal of blood. We first gave him a little Caña and water, and I told Correo to bring him a cup of bouillon, made of mutton, with rice in it, which he happened to have cooking on the kitchen stove. We undid the bandage, sponging the wound with warm water, so as to get it clean so far as we could. I then put on three pads made of linen soaked in cold water, fresh from the "alhibi," covered them with a piece of oil-silk I happened to have, and over these a broad linen bandage, to do which I remember I tore up the last remaining dress shirt I possessed. Above all this, we firmly fastened a broad strip of blanket, so that it would not easily move. Meanwhile, Correo and the Indians roughly fixed up three small bags filled with the dead leaf of the maize plant, and some old wool we had in the galpon; one for him to lie upon, with the other two on either side, in order, so far as possible, to deaden the jolting of the cart. By this time he seemed to have somewhat recovered, and although we could not persuade him to eat anything solid he took some more "bouillon," with a little biscuit broken into it. He seemed a very nice man, about forty years of age, and he told us his name was Antonio Martinez, and gave me an address which would always find him. He was very grateful for the little we had been able to do for him, and told me if at any time he could be of any service to us I was to be sure to let him know. We then carried him carefully to the cart, where we made him as comfortable as might be. The soldiers and the negro had meanwhile got something to eat, and sucked some Matè in the galpon, so they were quite refreshed, and we watched them make a start, with the sincere hope that the wounded colonel might safely reach his journey's end. The passing of the soldiers went on during the day; it did not finish until about half an hour before sunset. Bent and I watched it to the end from the "azotea," and it was indeed a wonderful sight. The excitement and the desire to get on was intense, and it was quite clear the Blancos had been defeated, and were now making a pretty good run of it, and that the whole division, of which we had from time to time seen portions, and heard so much, was hastening to join their main army, lest the victorious Colorados should again come up with them. We also remained watchful and alert, and continued to have everything made fast for the next two or three days, so that should they happen to come our way they would not catch us unprepared. The dogs, however, did not at all approve of it, because they could not run in and out of the galpon at will, but "Napoleon" and "Ramonou" managed to take exercise in the courtyard, and "Brag" and "Bully" did very much the same. However, a week went by and we heard nothing of the Colorados after the battle; all we knew was that none of them seemed to come our way, and for this we were thankful. One afternoon, a few days later, about half an hour before sunset, a captain in the Blanco army rode up to the Cerro, attended by a soldier, carrying his lance and wearing the white device on his hat. They had a led horse with them in addition to the two they rode, and all three were in first-rate condition. The captain asked me if we could put them up for the night. So soon as they had unsaddled, I had one of the tropillas brought up, and we collared their horses for them. Correo soon made up a bed, and it was not long before Bent and I and the captain sat down to supper, the soldier, meanwhile, making himself quite happy with the Indians in the galpon. After it was over we sat and smoked and talked in the gun-room, where Correo had lit a small fire in the stove, so that we were warm and comfortable. Our guest told us his name was Eduardo Suares; he was very polite, and appeared to be well educated; and he looked certainly not more than thirty years of age. He told us the battle of Colonia would have no influence whatever upon the movements of the main Blanco army, which he expected would now very shortly be moving forward, and that it would not be long before Monte Video would be besieged. He did not think for a moment that the Colorados would be able to make any firm stand outside the capital. All this being so, he considered that early in July the revolution might probably be at an end, and the Colorados would be compelled to resign office. Captain Suarez also said he had passed a great part of his life in the province of Entre Rios, where his relations had an estancia, but that he himself was a native of the republic of Uruguay. He gave us the following interesting account of the great Urguiza, Governour and despot of the province of Entre Rios, who was one of the strongest, ablest and most savage lieutenants of the famous Dictator Rosas. He ruled his province with the dagger and the bullet; himself shut up in a strong castle in the midst of the "Pampa." Eventually he succeeded to supreme power after the fall of Rosas, and his first important administrative act was to assemble all the provincial governours and to ratify the Fundamental Agreement of January, 1831, as the basis of the Constitution of the Argentine Confederation. He further told us that he himself was present at the death of Urguiza, when he was assassinated in 1870. He said that when Urguiza's body lay dead an Indian chief who was present exclaimed "Impossibile! El General Urguiza nunca muere!" "Impossible! The General Urguiza never dies!" It was during Urguiza's governorship of Entre Rios that it was said you could hang up a pair of silver stirrups upon a tree in the Monte, on the bank of the river, where there was much traffic, and go and find them there in a month's time. But this state of things was certainly not the case in the Republic of Uruguay during La Guerra de Aparicio, from the year 1870 to the year 1872. We both enjoyed listening to our guest's descriptive and animated conversation, and having bid each other "Buena noche" (good-night), retired to rest, as the captain wished to start early next morning. The horses were up in the corral by sunrise, when the soldier caught up and saddled his own and the captain's horse, and after partaking of coffee the latter bid us "Adios" with many thanks for the very slight hospitality I had been able to afford them. Exactly three weeks from the day when the wounded colonel Antonio Martinez drove up to the Cerro, a negro rode up about twelve o'clock. I happened to be just returning from a ride round the camp in the opposite direction. He appeared to be well mounted on a good-looking "bayo," or cream horse, with a black mane and tail, and he was leading a "saino," or brown, with a white star on his forehead. He saluted me, and asked if I was in charge of the Cerro. I said "Yes," whereupon he handed me a letter from Colonel Martinez, saying that after leaving us he had suffered very much less on his journey, that he had reached a hospital, and was now almost convalescent, for his wound had gone on well. It was a nice letter, couched in very friendly terms, thanking me for what we had done, which was really very little, and begging that I would accept the "saino" horse as a slight memento of what had happened. I told the negro to unsaddle and tie up the two horses and go into the galpon to get some breakfast, which he seemed very pleased to do. I then just had a look over the "saino." He was at first sight rather a long low-looking horse, with good shoulders and long sweeping quarters, and it was this length of body which made him appear, until you got close up to him, a smaller horse in height than he really was. He gave me the impression of being between six and seven years old. Bent had ridden down to the Swiss Colony, hoping to find some letters he was expecting, so I had to await his return before giving me his opinion regarding him. I wrote a letter to Colonel Martinez, thanking him for the horse, and for his kind thought about us, and gave it to the negro, who promised to deliver it, and after he was sufficiently refreshed he mounted his "bayo," to whom we had given a feed of maize, and departed. I then had the "tropilla" brought in, and collared the "saino" to the bay mare. Her colt, which old Juan had tamed, still suffered at times from his shoulder; hard ground seemed to affect him the most, for after rain he could then be ridden. A little before sundown Bent returned quite cheerful, having received his letters. There were several people at Quincke's pulperia, and the place seemed full of conversation and news. It was said that the advance on Monte Video by the Blanco army had already begun, and that the Colorados were now retiring before them. Those who had taken part in the battle of Colonia had already returned to the province of San Josè by a route which led them nearer to the estuary of La Plata, and I could not help fearing lest in their passing they might have gone to Monsieur Emile Gunther's, and so have taken "Carnival." However, I comforted myself by the certainty that if I had kept him on at the Cerro I must have lost him. When the horses came up in the morning, I saddled the "saino" and rode him down to La Concordia. Bent was not much impressed by his appearance, but when I saw Don Frederico, he said he thought him a good honest horse, likely to prove a good servant, and that I had better do all I could to look after him. We had now reached the second week in June, and winter had already come. However, we had plenty of grass, and both sheep and cattle had done very well since the New Year began. About eleven o'clock Marmasola sent me up a message by one of his boys to say that a battle on a somewhat large scale had taken place inside the province of San Josè; that the Blancos had been victorious, and that the Colorados were now completely disorganised, and fleeing before them. Further, it was supposed the main Blanco army would now move forward and besiege Monte Video. This was indeed great news, and we now felt we should soon see the end of the revolution, and peace would be declared at last. Two days later, about four o'clock, a Blanco officer rode up to the Cerro, carrying dispatches. He said his horse was tired, for he had travelled fast and far, and he begged me to lend him a really good horse, which would carry him along for five leagues (15 miles), without loss of time, at the end of which he felt certain of obtaining fresh horses and all he wanted. What was I to do? He said the dispatches were urgent, and he had been directed to make all possible haste. I thought it over a couple of minutes, and then told him I would lend him my rosillo, provided he would faithfully promise to let him go at the end of the five leagues, and this he promised to do. The moon was nearly at the full, and would be shining during the greater part of the night, which looked as if it would be fine and clear. The rosillo was in excellent form; he had not been ridden for nearly a week, and I knew he would carry him swiftly and well, and that if all went right, when let loose he would do his best to make his own way back to the Cerro with the moon. While he was being got ready, the officer, who looked as if his word could be relied on, told me that the news Marmasola had sent to me was correct, and that it was more than probable that the siege of the capital had already commenced. It was with a sore heart that I said, "Hasta la vista," "until we see each other again," to the rosillo, and saw the officer mount him and ride away. For it was the first and only time that a soldier had put a leg across him during the revolution. So I wished the officer "un buen viaje" (a good journey); the rosillo tossed up his head and set off at a gallop; he had the heart of a lion, and very soon both were out of sight.
The first news I heard next morning was from Pedrito. He said he was bringing up the tropillas not long after sunrise, when he heard a neigh behind him, and looking back there was the rosillo, coming at a trot to join his troop, just as if nothing had happened. He looked none the worse for his journey, and a drink of water from the "alhibi" and a feed of maize pleased him greatly. "Napoleon," too, showed pleasure at his safe return, for they were great friends, and had passed many a night together when the rosillo was tied up in the court, and even when in his stable the dog would lie as close to it as he could. June passed away and nothing happened, except that the news of Monte Video being closely besieged by the Blancos was fully confirmed; and then early in July peace was declared. The revolution was over, and what had been known as "La Guerra de Aparicio" was at length a thing of the past. Thereupon the Blancos took over the government, and assumed power, and the whole country quickly settled down, as was the custom of a South American republic under similar circumstances.
Charles Bent at once began to prepare to go into Monte Video, and left by the diligence from Quincke's pulperia the middle of the following week. His life in Uruguay had not been a very successful one, nor was he really fond of camp life; indeed, he was already looking forward with pleasure to the many conveniences and comparative comfort of life in a town. During the latter half of the month I too was turning over in my mind whether I would not take a journey out towards the Rio Negro, where I knew a man who had a large estancia. I had rather a fancy to go up country, for not only should I be able to see all that was to be seen, but also obtain a little more experience of estancia life, probably under somewhat different conditions and surroundings. However, while I was thinking it all over, I received a letter from Mr. James Jardine, who was living at his estancia La Esperanza, situate some six leagues from the town of San Josè in the direction of the river Plate, inviting me to come and stay with him there for a time. He said he had heard from a mutual friend in Monte Video that it was not unlikely I might be leaving the Cerro now the war was over, so he wrote at once lest I should be making any different plans. I rode down to La Concordia and showed the letter to Don Frederico, who advised me to take advantage of the opportunity offered. He said, however, that he was arranging to go away himself very shortly for about three weeks, and he hoped I should be able to stay on at the Cerro during his absence, and so look after things until his return. Accordingly, I dispatched a letter to Mr. Jardine, thanking him for what he so kindly said in his letter, and informing him how matters stood, and saying that I hoped to arrive at La Esperanza during the last week in August. I found myself fully occupied during Don Frederico's absence, and I kept the weekly "para rodeo" of the cattle going on regularly. On one of these occasions, I was riding the "saino," we were rather short-handed, and a big point of cattle made an attempt to break back. I had to put the "saino," therefore, into a full gallop, and was rather surprised to find that he seemed to me to have, when stretching himself out, quite a superior turn of speed. With a little care and rest he had considerably improved, both in looks and condition. One beautiful day, with a frosty air and a blue sky, I rode him down to Monsieur Emile Gunther's, to ask after "Carnival." I found him at home, and he kindly invited me to join them at breakfast. Although it was the end of winter, the Swiss Colony looked attractive as I rode through it, and this was doubtless due to the fact that the numerous and large clumps of "eucalypti" never lost their summer foliage. Monsieur Emile told me "Carnival" had kept well and safe from soldiers. Moreover, when from time to time he had been good enough to use him, as I had especially asked him to do, he had always found him a very pleasant horse to ride. I sincerely thanked him for his kindness, and, when I left, saddled up "Carnival," leading the "saino," who led very well, and I arrived home with my two horses feeling that I had greatly enjoyed my ride, and I am sure that "Napoleon" was glad to see his friend again. One afternoon during Don Frederico's absence I had been round the puestos, returning but a few minutes before sundown. The southdowns were shut up inside their sheepyard, and in it was a man in the act of catching hold of one of them. He was brandishing a large knife, and loudly gesticulating, and he looked to me as if he had been drinking too much Caña. It seems he had ridden up shortly before and asked the Indians to give him some mutton to eat, as he said he had been riding in the woods of the Pichinango, and that he was hungry, and wanted food. This they offered to do, but when he saw the southdowns in their yard he said he would have one of them, and when they remonstrated and told him I should be very angry, merely remarked "that he did not care for any Englishmen, whether he liked it or not. It did not matter the least to him." As it happened, I just rode up at the critical moment, when I at once jumped off my horse, went into the yard, and told the man to come out of it, and leave the sheep alone. He made a step or two forward, towards me, knife in hand, but I whipped out my Colts revolver, and covered him with the barrel, warning him that if he came a step forward I should fire. This calmed him down, and he put back his knife into its sheath and began to walk out of the yard. I told him to mount his horse at once, and clear out, and that if I found him again interfering with any of the stock upon the estancia, it would be the worse for him. So he rode away, looking very much subdued. I could only suppose him to be one of the matreros who were still said to be hovering about the woods in our neighbourhood.
It had been Correo's intention to go into Monte Video so soon as peace was declared, but he told me he felt altogether so much better for his stay at the Cerro, he should like to remain on until I left. On August 25th, Don Frederico returned, and I went down to see him the following morning. He very kindly said he wished me to keep the rosillo, seeing I had taken such care of him in memory of my stay at the Cerro. I proposed that "Ramonou" should go down to La Concordia, where I knew he would be useful, as there were plenty of sheep dogs where I was going. "Bully" and "Brag" were to go there with him. Jennings had been away for some time, but I thought perhaps he might like to have them back. Don Frederico also said I had better take Justiniano with me, as he could lead the "saino" with my light baggage. My box and portmanteau meanwhile could be sent over to Quincke's pulperia to await the next diligence passing on to San Josè, where it could be left at the Hotel Oriental, until I could send for them. I arranged to start three days later, and when I got back began putting my things together, and getting everything ready for a move. The morning proved fine, and Justiniano and I were all ready saddled up soon after sunrise.
I rode "Carnival" and led the rosillo, while Justiniano bestrode a grey, not by any means a bad horse, which had been left by soldiers. He led the "saino," also saddled, and carrying my light baggage.
Uncle Juan, and Correo, and Pedrito were all present to see us off, and thus I bid adieu to the Cerro del Pichinango, not without regret, as I thought of the day I had first arrived there, now more than two years ago, and of all that had happened since.