3. La Estancia Esperanza
We rode quietly along, for we had about twelve and a half leagues in front of us, until we reached our journey's end. "Napoleon" appeared quite happy; not the least upset by the prospect of a change in his surroundings. I had brought some cold meat and biscuit, and a little coffee and sugar, so that we might enjoy a light meal between eleven and twelve o'clock, and also let the horses rest and graze for a while. We made a little fire by the side of the track, and then sat down until our coffee got warm. After that, we made good progress, so that we arrived at La Esperanza about three o'clock in the afternoon, where I received a very kind welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Jardine, who were at home at the time. When I had unsaddled, the former told me to turn my three horses into a large paddock, enclosed with wire fencing, where he said they would be all right. Justiniano, however, kept his grey, and tethered him out for the night, so that he could then get it early next morning, when he was to return to the Cerro. Mr. Jardine's house was both roomy and comfortable. It stood facing a picturesque river, less than half a mile distant, with woods on either bank. In front was a wide verandah, which also went further back in the middle, thus dividing the house, as it were, into two wings, united at the back by bedrooms, which lay behind. As you entered Mr. and Mrs. Jardine's apartments were on the right, and a large dining-room, with a kitchen and sundry outbuildings attached, lay to the left. Quite at the far end of the house to the right stood a high tower, with a comfortable sitting-room below, and a bedroom above. Beyond this again was a flower garden, with numerous fruit trees, and this joined on to another garden at the back, where both flowers and vegetables abundantly flourished. In front of the verandah, looking towards the river, was a wide open space. A brick house, with its roof of red tiles, a storehouse, and an office stood fairly removed on the right, while further away in front was a "galpon," or woolshed, with ranchos for employees adjoining, but these latter were at the same time so situate as not in any way to incommode the house itself, neither did they shut off the view of the woods and river beyond. Mr. James Jardine, or Don Diego, as he was mostly called, was a thin spare man, of middle height, and something over forty years of age. He was a great sportsman, and devoted to shooting; indeed, during the winter months he occupied himself in scarcely any other way. He really took but little interest in the work of the estancia, as he left this to his managing partner, Mr. Alexander Maclean, otherwise known as Don Alejandro, who, at the time of my arrival, was away in Monte Video, but was expected to return in about a fortnight. Mrs. Jardine was not very strong; she usually had her sister, Miss Denman, living with her, who, at the time I came, was away on a visit. There were two little boys, one five years old, called Peter, and the other two and a half, whose name was John. They were altogether a very happy family, greatly preferring the freedom of the camp to the conventions of town life.
The Estancia Esperanza comprised somewhere about eleven thousand acres, but within this area were included three or four "banyados," or small lakes, and a certain amount of land, which was often covered with water during wet weather, but affording at the same time very useful pasturage. There were twelve hundred head of cattle, and a "manada" of mares and colts, beside something over thirteen thousand sheep. These were distributed at five puestos, more or less two thousand and five hundred at each, while perhaps five hundred fed at the estancia itself. Both cattle and sheep were each under the charge of a "capataz," or foreman, who carried on all work connected with them, the sheep being under the superintendence of a Scotchman, named John Gordon, and the cattle and horses of a native, who would then be more than fifty years of age. His name was Ramon Duran, a first-rate camp man, who knew his business thoroughly. Owing to the war, which had so recently ended, the estancia was short of riding horses. Mr. Jardine was much surprised when I told him I had succeeded in saving mine, for he had nearly had to part with the only horse he ever really cared to ride, a good-looking "rosillo alazan," or chestnut roan; indeed, he said it was more good luck than any care and management on his part which had enabled him to keep him. Meanwhile, all was well, he said, which ended well. Spring was now coming on, and September came in fine and warm. I went for a ride round the estancia, and came back along the bank of the river. It was pleasant riding here, and I could well imagine that later on in the summer the flowering creepers would be very beautiful. As I passed, it was drawing on to sunset; I noted the cry of a "carpincho," or water-pig, whom I had suddenly disturbed, while the shrill call of the "pteru-pteru," or plover, made itself heard on the plain beyond; and a flight of water-fowl, among whom I noticed a white egret crane, came quickly swooping down at the side of some marshy land, mostly covered with reeds, where doubtless they had their home. When I again reached the house I was glad to find my box and portmanteau had arrived, a cartman who was returning to La Esperanza having come across them at the Hotel Oriental in San José, and brought them along in his cart. "Napoleon" had already found a corner in the verandah, underneath the tower, in which to sleep. He was a very good-tempered dog, and I had no fear that he would be at all likely in any way to alarm the children. Next morning I walked down to the corral, to see the riding horses brought up, a good many of which had evidently been left by soldiers during the war. During the next couple of weeks the flocks from the puestos were being passed through the sheepyards at the estancia; the lambs had to be marked, and various matters attended to. I also went to my first "para rodeo" of the cattle. We had horses tied up the night before, and made an early start. I rode my rosillo, and went with Ramon Duran to the far end of the estancia, looking towards the river Plate. It was a beautiful morning, and the air was delightful as we galloped along. I soon perceived the cattle were well in hand. They came up very well to the "rodeo," and were easy to keep there. The first fortnight in October proved very fine and warm. Meanwhile, Miss Denman had returned, as also had Mr. Alexander Maclean, from Monte Video. I found him to be a big, burly, and apparently good-natured looking Scotchman. He proposed that I should take charge of the accounts, and also lend a hand in the ordinary routine work of the estancia. He took me into the office and shewed me the books, explaining how they had been kept. I had hitherto been occupying one of the bedrooms opening on the garden, which lay behind the house, but I now moved up into the bedroom above the tower. This was very agreeable, for there was a splendid look-out from either of the two windows, and I could imagine what it would appear on some clear night in summer, when a full moon was shining, the heat of the day over, and you could gaze far and wide in every direction, beyond lake and wood, and river, away to the distant horizon, which alone would appear to end the undulating plains of Uruguay. There was a very nice American wagonette at the estancia. It had four wheels, and was fitted with a pole, and drawn by a pair of small bay horses, with flowing manes and tails. Their brown harness was both light and strong, with brass mountings, so that altogether it was really a very pretty turn-out. A young Scotchman, who acted as coachman, sat in front, while those inside sat facing each other behind. When the weather permitted, Mrs. Jardine much enjoyed a drive down to Beatty's puesto, which was at the far end of the estancia, and she liked to take her sister and the children with her. Accordingly, one afternoon, they all made a start, inviting me to go with them. So I mounted "Carnival," whom I happened to have caught up, and "Napoleon" went with us. There were one or two wide tracks leading from La Esperanza, on either side of it, which had developed into quite respectable roads for driving on. Partly from having been beaten down by carts, and partly from the nature of the soil, they seemed to have caked down quite hard and firm, so that ruts and bad places were few, and the carriage was able to pass smoothly and easily along. Mrs. Beatty was a nice woman, with an engaging manner. She had two children, Susan, a little girl of nine, and David, a fine little fellow of five. She had unfortunately lost her eldest boy, who would now have been about fourteen, a little more than a year ago, owing to an accident with a horse, which had kicked him and seriously hurt him internally. This was a great grief to his mother; his name was Robert, and he had come out with his parents from Scotland. Mrs. Beatty welcomed us warmly when we arrived. It made quite a small picnic for the children, for she always insisted on their staying to have tea and some of the nice little Scotch cakes she made. So we took the horses out of the carriage, and tied them up under the "euremada," for the sun was now getting to be quite hot after mid-day. Beatty himself was a quiet, rather solemn-looking man, with a red complexion, and sandy-coloured hair. It was pleasant as we returned in the late afternoon, and as we passed along, we saw one of the blue silver foxes some distance ahead of us, already come out of his lair, preparing for an evening stroll. We made too much noise for him, however, and he soon made off, followed in full chase by "Napoleon," but naturally to no purpose. The sun was fast declining when we reached the estancia; however, I was pleased to hear both the ladies and children tell Mr. Jardine, who was in the verandah, they had enjoyed their drive, and had all of them spent a very pleasant afternoon. The next morning we had a heavy thunderstorm, with sharp and continuous flashes of lightning, which lasted upwards of an hour, and was then followed by torrential rain. This went on the greater part of the day.
Shearing began on the tenth of November. There was only a small gang of six professional shearers employed. The remainder were made up of natives living in the neighbourhood, of which there were a good many, who not only could shear well, but had been accustomed to come year after year. The "galpon" was not nearly so large as that at the Cerro, in fact the room available was if anything too restricted for the number of sheep which had to be shorn. More time, therefore, was needed to complete the business. On November 20th a spell of bad weather set in which caused delay, as the sheep naturally were wet and could not easily be got dry again. However, a week later it cleared up, and after that work progressed satisfactorily. The shearers were very quiet, and orderly, and although they did not shear very fast, they did their work well. The month of December, however, was half through before the shearing was completed, and the shearers, having received the money due to them, finally took their departure. No festivities took place, as was so often customary at the end of shearing, but it was generally understood that a race or something of the kind would be held later on, probably on one of the days between Christmas and the New Year. John Gordon, the "capataz" of the sheep, had a nice bay horse, about five years old, belonging to himself, which had been born and grown up, and also been tamed on the estancia. His owner considered him to be something of a racer; indeed, had so high an opinion of him, I really believed him to think he would easily run away from anything likely to be put against him. When some talk was taking place about having a race one evening at dinner, I said I should not mind matching my old "saino" against Gordon's bay, provided the distance was anything over a mile. Don Alejandro told Gordon what I had said, and he was quite willing to ride his horse against mine, and as it happened we were both just about an equal weight. I had seen the bay several times, a good-looking horse, with a white star on his forehead, and two white hind fetlocks, and I reflected I had probably made a mistake in putting my "saino" against him. However, as the race was only to be for prizes given by Mr. Jardine and Don Alejandro, and there was to be no betting between Gordon and myself, nor indeed did I intend to bet with anyone else, I did not see any harm would be done, and if it gave any pleasure to the people on the estancia to see a bit of a gallop, all I had to say was I hoped they would enjoy the amusement of it, and that the best horse would win. The time being so short, it was obvious nothing could be done in regard to training either horse, beyond giving him half a dozen gallops or so, just to clear his wind; and it was agreed that both horses should run the race as they were, without giving them any maize or special preparation. The "saino" had improved a good bit in condition since he came to La Esperanza. A rest had done him good, especially as to his forelegs, which I felt sure had been a bit shaken. He had also got his summer coat, and this added to his appearance. We now knew the distance was to be a mile and a quarter, on the track leading from the estancia towards Beatty's puesto, and the finish was to end as close to the former as possible. I caught the "saino" up for three hours every day, and gave him a brush over, and saw to his feet, taking him out for a gentle canter, and every other day I gave him a gallop on the course, but not at full speed; in fact, I only put him to this twice until the day of the race arrived, and then for not more than a quarter of a mile at a time. Gordon did much the same with his bay, only while I rode my horse late in the afternoon, he rode his early in the morning, when no-one was much about to see how he performed. New Year's Day was appointed for the race to be run, at three o'clock in the afternoon, the day being, of course, a holiday. There was a pretty general feeling at the estancia that the bay horse would win, and the odds were greatly in his favour. I knew, of course, that bets would be made on the race. I never knew a race in South America when they were not, but beyond the prizes that were given, I myself, as I have before mentioned, did not stand to win anything. These were to be an excellent English saddle and bridle complete, and a breech-loading revolver, of a good make, with a box containing a hundred cartridges to fit. New Year's Day proved fine and still; the sun shone from a blue sky, interspersed here and there with light "cirrus" cloud, but the air was fresh and cool, so it was not too hot; just the day, indeed, for everyone to enjoy a holiday. News of the race, of course, got about, and I was told that some natives who were interested in racing were coming to look on, probably inspired by curiosity to see how the Englishmen managed it. As Gordon and I rode quietly down, soon after half-past two o'clock, to the starting point, there seemed quite a little crowd gathering where the finish was to take place. Two friends of Gordon came with us to see us off. The start was quickly made, neither horse giving the slightest trouble. The bay took the lead from the first, and made the running throughout, the "saino" being in close attendance. When, however, we were about three hundred yards from the finish, and I fancied the bay seemed flagging a little, for I saw that Gordon was using his whip, I also made a call upon the "saino" which he immediately answered, and stretching himself out, shot forward like an arrow from a bow, winning easily by a couple of lengths. The natives at once came to inspect the winner, and one, who seemed somewhat of a principal man among them, asked me if I would like to part with him, offering me forty dollars for him. I asked him if he was buying him to keep or to sell again, and also if he would be sure and treat him all right. He promised to keep him, and to do this, so we rode back to the estancia. I unsaddled the "saino," the man paid me over the forty dollars, and he then took the horse straight away with him. I knew if I refused the offer, that it would not probably be very long before the old "saino" would be missing, for I had noticed one or two natives present, men who did not look too particular, shewing a somewhat peculiar interest in the horse, now they had seen how he could gallop. As a matter of fact, I had no real fancy for racing, and I thought it better to pass on the "saino" to an owner who did like it, and to a man who evidently appreciated the horse's good qualities, and would therefore be likely to take good care of him. I happened to hear of him again some time later from a man I met casually. He told me the horse had done a good bit of racing in a quiet way, and had been quite successful, and had done well for his new owner, so that he also would probably continue to do well by him. I received many congratulations upon the result of the race, and it seemed to be the general opinion that the native, when he bought the "saino" from me, got very good value for his money. In the middle of January the weather became very hot, and this lasted a little over a fortnight, and then came a succession of thunderstorms, with severe lightning, which rapidly cooled the air. I watched one of these with much interest about 9 p.m. through the windows of my room above the tower. Just an ordinary display of nature's fireworks, but how grand they were! as the vivid flashes shot like rockets in every direction through the overheated atmosphere of a summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Meantime, Mr. Jardine had received a letter from a Mr. Treherne, a friend of his residing in Buenos Aires, saying he purposed coming up to Monte Video for a little rest and change, and that if it were possible he should very much like to see him. Thereupon, he at once wrote inviting him to come and spend a few days at La Esperanza, and he asked him to fix his own day to travel to San José in the diligence, and to let us know, so that we might send in to meet him. Accordingly word came to expect him on February 4th, so I went in with a boy, mounted on a chestnut, and a nice little grey horse belonging to the estancia, and "Carnival" to welcome him. I also had a little business to arrange at the Policia, and I wanted if possible to have a short interview with the chief of police. So we started just before three o'clock, arriving at the Hotel Oriental not long before the diligence was expected. When it came it brought Mr. Treherne with it. He was rather a delicate-looking man, getting on towards fifty, his hair fast turning grey, and with the manner of the student rather than the man of affairs. He had only brought light luggage in a pair of canvas saddle bags, which the boy could easily sling across his "recado." I got him a comfortable bedroom at the hotel, and a smaller one for myself. We then had dinner. At eight o'clock next morning, I went to the police station, transacted my business, and before leaving was fortunate in obtaining ten minutes' conversation with the chief of police, a tall, grizzled-looking man, who was, however, very courteous, and polite. I had two or three small commissions to attend to for Mrs. Jardine, and some medicine to get at the chemist's for John, and then, having partaken of coffee and bread and butter, we were all ready for a start at half-past nine. I asked Mr. Treherne which horse he would prefer to ride, "Carnival" or the grey. He preferred the former, and we were soon jogging along through the outskirts of the town. My companion was not much of a horseman, but "Carnival" knew his business, and carried him smoothly and easily along; he was fortunately very safe on his legs, and knew well how to pick his way over rough ground; indeed, all the rider need do was to sit quiet and hold the reins, for "Carnival" himself would do all the rest.
Mr. Treherne expressed great pleasure at seeing Mr. and Mrs. Jardine again, telling them he had a capital journey, and that the beautiful air of the open country, as he rode along, had given him quite an appetite for luncheon. He was very fond of plants and flowers, and, indeed, something of a botanist as well. During his stay he expressed a wish to see the coastline and shores of La Plata, and said how greatly he would enjoy an expedition there some fine day, when it was not too hot. Mr. Jardine could not accompany him, but he asked me to do so, and we arranged for an early start, as the shore of the estuary lay a good long way beyond the furthest point of the estancia in that direction, so that going there and back made a certain distance to ride. I again offered him "Carnival," as he seemed to like him so much, and I rode a bay horse belonging to the estancia.
When we got beyond our own camp we passed through a kind of open wood with thinly-scattered "tala" trees. These were not large, much in shape of a prickly shrub, although on or near the banks of a river these trees grew much larger, and their wood was greatly used both for fencing and firewood. As we progressed the soil got poorer, until at last we came to what were really sand-dunes.
These were undulating, and of large extent, and as we passed along my companion noticed every here and there rather a deep dell, with shrubs growing in it. Here the sand was deep, so we dismounted and led our horses, and leaving his with me, and going down into one of these, he was surprised to find it quite bright with flowers, "Petunias," and "Lantana," whose improved relations, he said, were great favourites in English gardens. We then were able to remount our horses, and so proceeded slowly on to the shore of the Estuary de la Plata. Here the outlook was most attractive. Nothing, not even a sail, visible on the wide waters, shining like silver in the sunshine on that early summer afternoon. A wide expanse of sand like the sea-shore stretched east and west, golden in colour, and hard and firm to ride on. Bordering this, along the edge of the dunes, were a row of large cacti, the kind you see in flower-pots in England, but here ten to fifteen feet high, with beautiful crimson blossoms in full bloom, hanging in profusion on the edge of their pendant branches. Here we unsaddled and tied up the horses beneath their shade. I soon had a fire lighted to keep off the flies, and also to warm some coffee I had brought with us. Our luncheon, too, was welcome, and we enjoyed it greatly. After a rest and a smoke we again saddled up, and had a good gallop on the sands, which the horses seemed to enjoy every bit as much as we did. We returned by a somewhat different route, turning towards the river bank, and following it during the latter portion of our ride. When crossing the camp, I pointed out the patches of verbena, some scarlet and some white, which in places quite covered the short grass, looking very bright and pretty. We now kept close to the woods, but the undergrowth was too thick and tangled to allow anyone easily to get inside. Mr. Treherne was much interested to see quite large trees apparently covered with flowers, but on nearer approach he found they did not belong to the tree itself, but were the blossoms of a creeper, which completely enveloped it. Some of them were quite brilliant in colour, in marked contrast to the festoons of grey lichen moss, which hung from other trees in close proximity. He dismounted and succeeded in getting some semi-tropical orchids, which it gave him pleasure to take back with him. We were also fortunate in seeing a family of the "carpincho," or water-pig; a mother and her little ones. They were a pretty brown colour, with thick, somewhat bristly coats, in form like a large guinea-pig, with short legs, and webbed feet. On hearing us they all sprang into the river, and swam hurriedly away, their heads only showing above the water. When taken young they make rather amusing pets, and become very affectionate and domesticated, though at the same time they will occasionally go down and join their wild companions for a swim in the river, provided it be near enough, returning back to the house afterwards.
The summer's day was drawing to its close as we rode up to the estancia, unsaddled the horses, and let them go. When Mr. Treherne took his departure I lent him "Carnival," and accompanied him to San Josè. We arrived during the afternoon and, as I had some business to attend to, I left him at the hotel to rest after his ride. I also took the opportunity of calling upon Colonel Gonzales, who was then in residence at a house he owned in the town. A tall, aristocratic-looking man, descended from one of the old Spanish families, who had originally colonised Uruguay, he was now a widower with two daughters, the Señoritas Augusta and Isabella. The former resembled her father, having a somewhat pensive expression, a clear, pale complexion, and dark hair. She had a quiet, gentle manner, and her sister was wont to describe her as "muy religiosa" (very religious). She herself, on the contrary, was vivacious, and amusing, with brown hair and a bright complexion. I was accorded a kind and friendly reception by the colonel, who said he hoped when again in the town I should not fail to come and see them. Soon after I got back to the hotel we saw the arrival of the diligence from Paysandû; this was always an event in the day, and it was timed to start before six o'clock next morning for Monte Video. The horses were quickly taken out, and the passengers emerged, weary and hungry, and entered the hotel. Then dinner was served, when we were fortunate in securing a small table beside one of the large windows opening on the street to ourselves. We then had some coffee and a cigarette, and afterwards walked out to listen to the band which played in the "plaza" when the evening was warm enough. The musicians occupied a small stand in the centre, around which the audience walked on a wide path, or sat about on seats or chairs, as seemed most convenient. Just opposite to the "plaza" stood the Cathedral. The moon was shining brightly, and here and there an officer in uniform, or some other "caballero" in close attendance upon a Señorita wearing the very becoming "mantilla," added to the picturesqueness of the scene. Returning to the hotel, we went to bed, for we had to be up early in the morning, when I duly saw Mr. Treherne, together with his belongings, take his seat in the diligence, and with many thanks for the little I had been able to do for him, he bid me farewell, saying he hoped at some future time he might have the pleasure of seeing me again at his home in Buenos Aires. Among the usual loud exclamations and cracking of whips, the diligence then started, and was soon out of sight in a cloud of dust, as it rolled and swung forward on its long journey. I then mounted "Carnival" and led a bay horse I had been riding, and although travelling somewhat slowly, reached the estancia a little before ten o'clock. During the next week I received a letter from the wounded Colonel Antonio Martinez, saying he had taken office in the new Blanco Government, and was now living in Monte Video. He gave me his new address, and told me that if he could do anything for me, and I would write and let him know, it would give him great pleasure. I accordingly wrote and thanked him for his letter and his kind thought, and told him I was no longer living at the Cerro del Pichinango, but was now at La Estancia Esperanza, some six leagues distant from the town of San Josè. Thereupon, shortly afterwards, I received another letter from him, saying he had a great friend, Don Carlos Mendoza, the recently appointed "Gefè Politico" (or Governour of the Department), and that he had written to give me an introduction to him, and to say that he had asked me to call upon him at his residence in San Josè the next time I happened to find myself in the town. I wrote and thanked him, expressing my gratitude, and saying it would give me great pleasure to avail myself of an opportunity which he had been so very good as to propose. We were now getting well on towards the end of March, and the weather was much cooler, but fine and pleasant, as is so often the case during the early autumn. About ten days later, two young brothers, Elliott by name, turned up at La Esperanza, about an hour before sundown. They were riding out from Monte Video to a small estancia belonging to a friend in the province of Colonia. They had a peon with them, who was leading an extra horse, and who was also engaged to act as guide, and they had ridden on that day from an estancia about twelve leagues distant, inside where they had been put up for the night, such being in these old-fashioned times a very common custom when travelling through the country. Seeing that they hailed from across the border, and that Don Alejandro and Mr. Jardine both happened to know something of their people at home, they were not only made welcome for the night, but were invited to stay until the beginning of the week following, so that they could rest their horses, see something of the estancia, and then proceed on their journey. They were in appearance one very like the other, with fair hair, blue eyes, and youthful, rosy, complexions. They had only lately landed in Monte Video, and after learning farming for a couple of years in the south of Scotland, had come out to Uruguay, having between them a moderate capital, with the intention of renting land, purchasing sheep and cattle, and so setting up as estancieros in a small way. There was only apparently about two years difference in their age; indeed, it would be difficult to surmise which was the elder. They had come out full of ideas and of hope for the future, being but little aware that the experience they might have had on the land at home would be of but little use to them in Uruguay, seeing what kind of a country it then was. But they were evidently a pair of cheery happy-go-lucky young fellows, and as I looked at them at dinner, and listened to their pleasant and interesting conversation, I could not help wondering what was destined to be their future. That evening, it was a Thursday, we were all smoking in the dining-room, when the talk turned upon the native method of taming young horses. Not thinking of its being taken seriously, I happened to say that I should not mind mounting a "potro," but I dare not say how long I should stay on his back. "Bravo! Don Guillermo," said Don Alejandro, with a laugh, "you shall mount one. We will have one tied up to-morrow afternoon, and you shall give him his first gallop on Saturday morning." I felt somewhat disconcerted, but did not like to draw back, and so it was arranged, and not long afterwards we all retired to rest. Accordingly, a portion of the "manada" was driven up into the corral, and with them was a colt, which must have been nearly six years old, of a muddly roan colour, with a flowing mane and tail, which had seldom come up before, having never been touched since he was marked late as a foal. A lasso was quickly thrown round his neck, and another round his hind legs, and falling helpless to the ground, a halter was put over his head and made fast with a stout thong of hide to a firm post. This would be about an hour before sundown, and here he had to remain during the night. This rough and ready treatment in handling a colt was quite a novelty to the two young men, who had never even imagined anything of the sort, and I feel sure they were looking forward with both interest and amusement to his having his first gallop on the next morning. I looked him over as he was being tied up, and came to the conclusion he was probably a bit of a tartar, although, as is well-known, appearances are often deceptive. Of course, the news of what was to happen became known, and about ten o'clock on Saturday morning, nearly everyone seemed on the look-out to see me start off. When we came to fix my "recado" he gave but little trouble, although I noticed he seemed sulky, with a nasty sullen look out of the corner of his eyes. He was now led away outside the buildings, where all four legs were tied together by a long hide thong, in such a manner that by giving one pull it all became instantly undone and fell to the ground. I now mounted, Ramon Duran coming on his horse alongside as "padrino," to accompany me, and help to guide the horse. A native pulled loose the leg-ropes, and I was at last ready for a start. The colt stood still a moment, wondering what had happened, and then made a violent plunge forward and started buck-jumping with all his might. He seemed to bend himself almost double, with his head and legs nearly touching underneath. I sat on for a time, while the bucking process continued, and then he threw me clean over his head, but I fell clear of him, and at once got up from the ground, none the worse for the fall. After getting my breath, I got on him again, with Ramon Duran close alongside me, but he again started buck-jumping, even more violently than before. I kept my seat until I felt my legs quite numb with the continued strain, and then I suddenly let loose the slight hold I had and came off a yard or two away on my feet. So I felt comforted; for this, even among the Indians, did not count as a fall. Ramon said he was "un diablo ungobernable" (an ungovernable devil), and urged me not to mount him again, but so soon as my legs had regained their feeling I persisted in doing so. This time he tried it on, but not so severely, and I managed to hold tight, punishing him at the same time with my "rebenque," or hide whip. I thus got him into a gallop straight ahead, Ramon following as close as he could behind, and with the open camp in front of me, I kept him at it until he completely succumbed, and in fact would now go any way I wished. For the moment he had enough, and I rode him back to the estancia, past the buildings and the people, who had gathered to see the fun, right up in front of the house. I received quite a small ovation, it was anyway very much more than the occasion deserved. I then dismounted, and the colt was collared to a mare, so that he could feed, and be got hold of easily again when wanted. The two Mr. Elliotts, who I am sure were very good-natured, both told me how pleased they were I had come to no harm, thanking me, and saying that what they had seen was quite a revelation to them. The end of it was that they all drank my health that evening at dinner, and next morning Mr. Jardine instructed the carpenter to cut out a round medal from a piece of lead with my initials on it, which was duly presented to me. Indeed, I believe I possess it somewhere or other to this day.
On Monday morning the Elliotts resumed their journey towards Colonia, having, I am sure, enjoyed their little visit, and we all felt pleased to have been able to entertain them. The autumn had now come, and Mr. Jardine was beginning to think about his shooting, and looking over the guns and ammunition. The season had been a favourable one, partridges, or rather quail, were already getting into good condition, and it would not be long before the duck-shooting commenced. In shooting "quail," the custom was for two or three sportsmen to walk in a line, about fifty yards apart, and so catch the birds as they rose in front of them from the long grass, where they lay concealed. They were fairly plentiful, and, if the birds rose well, as they often did, afforded good sport, although to make a good bag often involved a fair amount of walking. Don Alejandro was fond of shooting, besides being well above an average shot. I sometimes made up a third and, although the same could certainly not be said of me, yet sometimes I was more successful than I had any reason to expect. Mr. Jardine liked to shoot two or three days a week during the winter, so that opportunity to improve was not lacking. The quail, although inferior both in size and flavour to an English partridge, were a pleasant change of diet, and made an excellent curry, both for breakfast or dinner, a dish which was always much appreciated. A few days later, poor little Peter contracted a somewhat severe chill, and as on the next day he seemed worse rather than better, and his mother was anxious about him, I offered to ride in to San José to get him a supply of medicine, and also to execute some other little commissions which were needed, so I saddled up "Carnival" soon after mid-day and reached the town a little before four o'clock. I finished the shopping I had to do, and then took the opportunity of making my call upon Don Carlos Mendoza, the new Gefè Politico at his town residence, facing the "plaza," or square. On reaching the house, I sent in my name, and was at once admitted. Don Carlos received me in his own room, and as I entered rose to greet me, and expressed his pleasure at making my acquaintance. He was a short man, apparently about forty years of age with an alert manner, and a very pleasant expression. "Colonel Antonio Martinez wrote to me about you," he said with a smile. "He is 'muy amigo mio,' 'a great friend of mine,' and is now holding a rather important appointment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs." After a few minutes' conversation, he took me into the "sala," where he presented me to his Señora, a stately-looking lady, who, I afterwards learned, was a member of one of the oldest Spanish families in Monte Video. Five minutes later a pretty-looking girl, who might be about fourteen, entered the room. The Señora said, "This is my daughter, Carmen, and I have a son Alfonso, who is younger, and is now away at school." Don Carlos appeared to be well-acquainted with Europe, having been educated in Paris and Madrid, and both he and his wife had paid more than one visit to the French Riviera. The Señora asked me how I liked South America, and I told her very much, but added, "You see this is the only year of peace I have known since I came out from England, three years and a half ago." Meanwhile, coffee and cakes were brought in, and some delicious liqueur, and half an hour later I made my adieux. Don Carlos said I must certainly call and see them again, and asking me if I was a smoker remarked, "Here is a cigar from Habana for you," and accompanying me to the door, shook hands, saying, "Hasta la vista, Señor" (until we meet again).
On reaching the hotel, I had some dinner, and much enjoyed the Habana cigar, which I knew to be too good a one to light and smoke in the open street. I went early to bed, with the request that they would call me at sunrise next morning. This they did, having also prepared me some coffee. So I saddled up "Carnival," and reached the estancia just before nine o'clock. I was pleased to hear from Mr. Jardine that Peter was better, having fortunately passed a good night. One afternoon I and Ramon Duran had ridden down to look up some cattle not far from Beatty's puesto. As we were returning he told me there was a big dun-coloured bull, not bearing the estancia mark, which for some time had taken up his abode among the "tarlas," at the far end of the camp, within easy reach of the river bank. He made a constant disturbance among our cattle, his object no doubt being to cut some of them off, and so get control over them, and then form a small point of his own. Ramon suggested that we should lasso him and kill him, and so get rid of the nuisance once and for all. He asked if I would like to go down and assist, and I said I should very much. However, we came to the conclusion it would be better to have three horsemen for the job, so the matter remained for the moment in abeyance. The next day he told me he had seen Robert Mackie, a young Scotchman, who had come out to Uruguay as a boy, and was already something of a camp man, accustomed to lassoing on the "rodeo," and working amongst cattle, who wished to join us in our little adventure. He, moreover, described him as "un joven muy guapo," "a very capable youth," so it was agreed we should all three go in search of the bull on Saturday afternoon. Ramon was to ride his favourite "picaso" (a black horse, with a white blaze and two white hind fetlocks), while Mackie would saddle up a "moro" (or blue roan), which he often rode, as it was well-trained, and a first-rate horse at that kind of work. I was to ride my "rosillo," so we were all to be well-mounted. Our first idea had been that if we came across the bull we should all three try and get round to the far side of him, with the object of driving him in among a point of our own cattle, but on consideration we determined to approach him from the direction we were ourselves riding, and then by acting quickly and suddenly, try and get a lasso round him before he had time to reach his favourite woods. We were riding quietly along, when we made out the bull standing feeding by himself, quite a long distance inside the camp, and away from the woods, whereupon we widened out our line into a kind of semi-circle, Ramon being on the left, with Mackie in the centre, while I took the right, so that we might approach as near to him as possible without causing any alarm. This method seemed to answer for, as it happened, we managed to get closer up to him than we had any reason to expect. Suddenly, however, up went his head, and he saw us coming, when he immediately made off as fast as he could. We then followed at full gallop, and Mackie, who was in the centre, pushed ahead of Ramon and myself, for the "moro" was a fast horse, and his rider both young and eager. Running his horse close up behind the bull, he threw his lasso, the loop of which, instead of going round the horns of the animal, as it should have done, passed over his head and round his neck, thus giving the bull a much greater power of purchase than he would otherwise have had. Then a most unfortunate thing happened. Mackie had his foot out of the stirrup on the lasso side, which was not by any means unusual, but he also had his leg rather far forward, and as the coils of the lasso went out swiftly, owing to the speed at which the bull was now running, one of them caught his right leg, entangling it just below the knee. It was now a question of speed between the horse and the bull, with a man's life hanging in the balance. Ramon and I could do nothing, for if either of us pressed forward we should only help to increase the speed of the bull. So we both slowed down, edging off one to the left and the other to the right, which was the only thing to do. Fortunately, the "moro" rose to the occasion. He never made a mistake, in spite of the ground being rough and uneven, but shooting forward at an increased speed, he enabled Mackie to get his leg free from the coil of the lasso, and so saved the situation. Ramon had called to Mackie to take out his knife from its sheath and cut the lasso, but when he put his hand behind him both knife and sheath had fallen from his belt during the gallop. Now Mackie was able to bring purchase, with his lasso, to bear upon the bull, who was also by this time getting a bit pumped, and compelled to slacken his speed, so that in a couple of hundred yards more he was able to bring him to a standstill. Ramon now came up and threw his lasso round the bull's hind legs, when both the lassos straining at the same time, and in opposite directions, the bull, now completely mastered, was compelled to fall helpless to the ground. Ramon then dismounted his "picaso," still carefully keeping up the strain of the lasso, as a good horse is trained to do, and taking out his knife from his belt gave the bull his "coup de grâce." Mackie and Ramon were not long in taking off the hide, which they slung across the back of the "moro," behind Mackie's recado, when we returned quietly to the estancia, reaching it just after five o'clock.
Winter had now come, bringing with it continued bad weather, accompanied by cold winds and constant showers of heavy rain. This went on more or less until the third week in June, when it cleared up; but the beginning of July ushered in rain heavier than before, the river overflowed its banks, and low-lying land was mostly covered with water. Fortunately, at La Esperanza, there was plenty of higher ground for stock to feed on, for the constant rain day after day, so filled the "banyados," usually quite small pieces of water, that they developed into something much more like an inland sea, flooding all the surrounding land for a foot deep, and in some places even more. The cattle were well able to look after themselves, but as the floods increased considerable care was necessary to keep the sheep from being surrounded by water, for when danger threatens they are stupid animals, easily frightened, and apt to get drowned. The bad weather continued until the middle of July, moderating during the third week, although still very unsettled. However, on the morning of the twenty-fifth, I started to ride to Colla, to receive a considerable sum of money which was owing to the estancia. Mr. Jardine wished me to take his "rosillo alazan" (or chestnut roan), a good horse, above the ordinary height, which he said would help to keep me out of the mud. The morning was fine, and I made an early start, for I wished to reach my destination without delay. Instead of using my "recado," I put the saddle which had been given as a prize at the Christmas race on the "rosillo," this being the kind to which he was accustomed. The river alongside the estancia had mostly run down, but when I reached the "Cufré," I found it more or less in flood. As, however, the water only reached up to the flaps of the saddle, I got across quite dry, always a comfort when travelling on horseback. The horse carried me well, and I reached Colla about three o'clock in the afternoon, the track being less soft and slippery than I expected. I put up at the Hotel de la Paz (Hotel of Peace), and then went out to receive the sum of money for which I had come. It was all in paper notes, some of them very dilapidated, and I was obliged to look them over carefully to assure myself they were all good currency. This reminded me of a little incident which had once happened to me when paying an account. The man receiving it was a native in good circumstances, but he could neither read or write. As I handed over a bundle of notes to him he said, "El buey es bueno pero la oveja no vale por nada," "The bullock is good, but the sheep is worth nothing," referring to the pictures of the animals printed on the notes I was about to pay him. To him nothing else mattered. Having given a receipt for the money, I rolled up the notes and put them into the large pockets of my carpincho skin belt, and when I got into the street, I took out my revolver, just to see that it was all right. I then returned to the hotel to see my horse was comfortable, had some supper, and went early to bed. It was then fine, with a young moon shining brightly, but I had not long got off to sleep when I was awakened by a loud banging and knocking at my door. Thinking it might be someone come after the money, I first got hold of my revolver, before going to see, but it was nothing more than a visitor who had been drinking too much wine and failed to find his proper bedroom. It somehow seemed to me that the name of the hotel did not clearly describe its character. I awoke to find the sky dull and cloudy, and a very cold wind blowing from the south. I succeeded in getting some hot coffee, with bread and butter. I then saddled up, paid my bill, and made a start. When I got away from the town, I found the track very muddy and slippery. The "rosillo" was a good horse, who could pick his way carefully, and I was obliged to travel slowly. As I passed along, the country on either side looked dreary and desolate. Such cattle as I saw stood grouped with their backs to the cold wind, while the sheep were mostly huddled together, their fleeces wet and sodden with the rain. When I reached the river Cufré, I found the water high and swollen, having evidently come down a good deal during the night. I entered it as far up the bank as the pass would permit, so as to leave me as much room as possible to land on the other side, in case the water should be deeper in the middle than I expected. This turned out to be the case, for my horse lost his feet for a moment, gave a violent plunge, and I got wet through right up to my waist. However, he was not really nervous, and recovering himself, succeeding in making a landing a little lower down, so that we both reached the opposite side with nothing worse than a bit of a ducking. My first thought was about the money. My "carpincho" skin belt, which contained it was, of course, having been under water, soaked through and through; it was all in paper notes, many of them much worn and dilapidated, and I knew if I left them where they were they would soon turn into pulp, and become quite worthless. Moreover, to make things worse, it all of a sudden commenced to rain. Looking round, about half a mile distant on some higher ground to the right, I saw what appeared to be a small place belonging to a native. There were only two or three mud ranchos, with half a dozen poplar trees standing near them, but from one of the low chimneys I saw smoke rising. I thereupon determined to make straight for it, and see if I could get permission to dry the notes by the fire. It was not a very pleasant idea, as I was, of course, quite ignorant as to who might be inside, and my revolver, in case I were attacked for the sake of the somewhat large sum of money I carried, was now probably useless, owing to having been so saturated with water. However, I made up my mind to take the risk, and rode up. A dog barked loudly as usual, and a dark, middle-aged woman came to the door. I told her what had happened, and asked permission to dry the notes, saying I should be glad to pay for the use of the fire. To this she kindly agreed; indeed, from her manner I thought she seemed sorry for the plight in which I found myself. "You seem very wet, Señor," she said, "would you not like to dry some of your clothes as well?" I thanked her, but declined, saying they did not matter, as I wished to continue my journey without unnecessary delay, but I asked if I might lay my revolver down by the side of the fire as I feared it might be a bit damp, in case I should happen to need it before reaching home, for I had a good long way to go, and it might get dark. She smiled at this, and said I was fortunate to have come up to the house when I did, for only half an hour before three native Gauchos had ridden away, all fully armed, and two of them, she remarked, would murder anyone with any money as soon as look at them, for they were notorious bad characters, and had been in the hands of the police more than once already, supposed to have been connected with something of the kind. While she was talking, I succeeded in getting the notes fairly dry, and rolled them up in my pocket handkerchief, and placed them carefully in the large inside breast pocket of my jacket which, however, was scarcely big enough to hold them, but I was able to manage it by packing them tightly together, and now they were once more dry this did not matter. I realised it would have been more prudent to have done this before I entered the river. One is always apt to think of things only when it is too late! I thanked the woman for what she had done for me, and gave her a small present. "Muchas gracias Señor y adios" (many thanks, Sir, and good-bye). "Keep a sharp look-out on anyone you may happen to meet," she said, as I remounted and rode away. Fortunately, the rain had now ceased, and even a gleam of cold and fitful sunshine seemed every now and then to struggle to make itself felt at the edge of a heavy cloud. The track was extremely muddy, and slippery, but the "rosillo" took it all in good part, for he well knew he was going home. When we came to our own river, next to the estancia, I found it considerably higher than on the previous day, but we managed to get across all right, and I rode up to the house as the cold afternoon was passing, and the winter light was just beginning to fade.
One morning at breakfast, early in August, Mr. Jardine told us he had heard from Mr. Herbert Fraser, and his brother Frederick, two young Englishmen, now staying in Monte Video, where they had broken their journey for a time, their intention being to go on by sea to Valparaiso, through the Straits of Magellan. They had brought letters of introduction to him from England, and he proposed to invite them out to La Esperanza for a short visit, so that they might have a little shooting. They arrived during the week following by diligence at San José, and the carriage was sent in there to bring them on to the estancia. They brought their own guns and cartridges with them, and seemed keen about sport. They were the type of young men with ample means to be found travelling for pleasure, not quite knowing at any particular time what they would do next. The morning after they arrived we drove in the wagonette to the end of some large swamps, on one side of the estate, with a boy in attendance to look after the horses, and on reaching the first lagoon we sent the Frasers to the further end, Mr. Dampier and I wading among the reeds along either side, with two men in the centre acting as beaters. The water generally did not come above our knees, but the thick weeds caused slow progress. There are three sorts of duck, the native names for which are the "picaso," the "baroso," and the "ovaro" duck. The first is the largest, with handsome black and white plumage, the "baroso" is a description of pintail, male and female being of a uniform brown colour, with yellow bills. The "ovaro" duck, known for its beautiful variegated plumage, is not nearly so common as the other two. It is also very wary, but when bagged is the best for the table. First rose half a dozen "picaso" ducks, and Mr. Dampier and I each getting a shot, one fell to each barrel. Next came a brace of teal, both easy shots, which I missed badly, but my companion brought down his bird. A flight of "barosos" came flying cross ways, but wheeling round, passed over the heads of the Frasers at the farther end, who brought down three of them in first-rate style. A little further on a pair of swans rose hurriedly, out of range for us, but although a long shot, one fell to our friend's gun, tumbling into the water with a tremendous splash. We then shot over some grass land for partridge, walking in line and beating them up, and in less than two hours we bagged nine brace. We afterwards went on to two of the other lagoons, where we met with success, so we drove home well-contented with our day's sport. Among the larger birds the ostrich merits the first place. It is not a true ostrich, but a "rhea," and its feathers and plumes are comparatively but of small value. Of large waders, several species of herons are found. Storks and the little egret are common, while the rosy spoon-bill and flamingo, although very shy, are seen occasionally. There are two kinds of eagle, and many different species of hawk. Snipe are plentiful during the winter months, being found in swampy lagoons and small streams; they are usually fat, and excellent eating. There are two kinds of teal, a blue and a brown, both of which are abundant. Golden plover and sandpipers abound, and as you ride along the spur-winged plover, or "pteru-pteru" rises with its shrill cry, and wheels round and round over one's head. Quite a number of small birds inhabit the country, and the plumage of some of them is very beautiful. There is the scissor-bird, with its curious tail; the oven-bird, which will make a round nest of mud, often as large as a man's head, on the top of a gatepost, quite close to a house where people are constantly passing; and others, with all the varying shades of yellow and black. Large flocks of the small green grey-breasted parakeet take up their abode in the woods, and make the whole place resound with their chatterings. A species of wood-dove is also very common, and affords good sport. Amongst the numerous spiders is the "tarantula," which is alarming, and its bite venomous, also another equally large grey spider, which is very pugnacious, and will jump up at you when disturbed. There is also a minute insect of the nature of a harvest-bug, called the "bicho colorado" (or red insect), which abounds during hot weather in summer, but disappears during the winter, and when the temperature is cold. It is a great nuisance, burying itself in one's skin, and causing great itching and irritation, and often producing sores on the human body by no means easy to heal. Mosquitos and flies of course are numerous, particularly near woods, and especially near water. There are several kinds of snakes, amongst them the coral snake, which is venomous, and a pretty little green snake, which hangs by its tail from the branches of a tree, so exactly like the green pod of a flowering creeper that it is difficult to tell one from the other. The Frasers stayed a fortnight at La Esperanza, getting several days' good shooting. They then returned to Monte Video, apparently well pleased with their visit.
September had now come, the sunny spring-time of the Southern Hemisphere. It was more than a year since I left the Pichinango, and I made up my mind to return to England. When I bade good-bye to Mr. Treherne at San José, he told me to be sure and write and let him know whenever I should think of doing so, as he thought it would be a great pity were I to leave South America without seeing Buenos Aires. So I wrote him a letter to say I should be leaving La Esperanza towards the end of the month, with the intention of taking my passage in some steamer, leaving shortly for Europe. About ten days later, I received a reply suggesting that I should pay him a few days' visit at his quinta, (or villa, with a garden), situate in the then outskirts of Buenos Aires, and fix the day of my arrival just as I might find to be most convenient. I wrote at once to say what pleasure it gave me to take advantage of his kind proposal, promising to write again when I could tell him exactly when I hoped to arrive. He also mentioned that the S.S. "Dido" would be leaving Buenos Aires on or about October 11th, in case I should think her a likely ship to suit me. On the Monday following I rode "Carnival" in to San Josè, and I took the opportunity to call again upon Don Carlos Mendoza, whom I was fortunate enough to find at home. We had some interesting conversation as to the prospects of the new Blanco Government, and the future of the country, and when we parted he expressed the hope that some day or somewhere he might have the pleasure of seeing me again. He was a nice man, and gave me the impression of being intellectual and cultivated, and I felt very glad to have had the pleasure of making his acquaintance. Colonel Gonzales and his two daughters were away paying a visit to their estancia. I got back in good time next morning, for "Carnival" carried me well. He was a good, reliable horse, and I felt sorry to think my rides on him were so soon to come to an end. I now fixed up my plans for departure, and wrote again to Mr. Treherne that I expected to leave La Esperanza on Tuesday, September 28th, for San Josè, go on from there by diligence to Monte Video, and travel by what was known as the river steamer, on the last evening of the month, arriving at Buenos Aires early the following morning. The first thing I did was to send my "rosillo," whom I had with me during the war, back again to the Pichinango, where for some years he led a pleasant, easy life, and ultimately died at a good old age Mr. Jardine said he should like to have "Carnival," and that he would take good care of him. For this I was glad, for I felt sure the horse would suit him in every way. I gave my dog "Napoleon" to Ramon Duran, who promised to treat him well. He was first-rate with cattle, and I wished him to go where he would be appreciated. Meanwhile, I sent my luggage to the Hotel Oriental in a cart which was going out to San Josè, keeping only what I could easily carry on horseback. When the day came to say good-bye, I thanked them all for their kindness and for having done so much to make my stay at La Esperanza such a pleasant one. Early in the afternoon I saddled up the grey, taking a boy on another horse with me to bring him back. And so ended a year which will always be to me a very enjoyable recollection. It was a fine afternoon, and as we rode quietly along the sun felt quite warm, so that we did not reach the hotel until just about five o'clock. I found my belongings there waiting for me, and not long afterwards the diligence arrived from Paysandu. It had come in somewhat earlier than usual, for the roads were now good, and probably the team of horses which were being quickly taken out, were better than usual. Immediately afterwards dinner was served. I chose a quiet seat, and sat on for a while just to smoke a contemplative pipe with my coffee, and to ponder over the events of the day. I had been very happy at La Esperanza, and one cannot help feeling regret when an agreeable time has come to an end. I then went to bed, instructing them to call me the first thing in the morning. I was up betimes, and able to see the boy start back to the estancia with the horses, and also to see to my things before the horses were harnessed up to the diligence, and all ready for a start. There were only half a dozen passengers, so there was plenty of room, and we rolled and rumbled along much as we had done now nearly four years previously, when I went out to Guaycoru to stay with my friend, Robert Royd, at Las Sierras de Mal Abrigo, little knowing all that lay before me. When we reached Monte Video, I made my way to the Hotel Oriental, feeling somewhat weary and tired, but a good sleep was all that was needed to make me feel completely restored. I had a little business to attend to during the day, and the late afternoon found me on board the river steamer, soon about to get under weigh, with her bows heading in the direction of Buenos Aires. It was more or less a twelve hours' run, and I came on deck next morning to find we were just about to let go our anchor; although still some distance from the shore. There were various methods of landing at the port of Buenos Aires in the good old days. The big ocean steamers lay at anchor in the estuary, from eight to ten miles distant from the land. Passengers were passed first into a tug, then into an open boat, whence they sometimes had to be shifted into a cart; indeed, it was not uncommon to carry them ashore on men's backs. However, a small steam launch came alongside and took the passengers aboard, afterwards transferring us to an open boat, so we reached the landing-place quite comfortably. I then got a carriage, which carried me and my belongings on to "Bella Vista," that being the name of Mr. Treherne's quinta. He came to meet me as I drove up, with a very kindly welcome and many enquiries after Mr. and Mrs. Jardine and all at La Esperanza. It was a roomy, comfortable house, with two wide verandahs, facing north and west. The garden was just entering upon its spring beauty, and would soon be a blaze of colour. The mimosa trees were just coming into flower, as also the paradise trees, with their purple blossom. That of the wistaria was already out, hanging in profusion all along the verandah, while a little further away was a long low hedge, thickly covered with "plumbago," and here and there a pomegranate. There were several kinds of palms and flowering cacti, and on the house itself was a magnificent magnolia, already covered with buds. The rose trees were an especial care, and some were even now beginning to flower. Moreover, there was provision for ample watering during hot weather. Breakfast was served at 11.30 in the wide verandah. Early in the afternoon my host took me into the town. I went first to the shipping office, and was afterwards to meet him at the "Strangers' Club," where he kindly said he would introduce me. I found the S.S. "Dido" to be a steamer of moderate size, bound for Antwerp, calling at Rio de Janeiro and Lisbon, and also at Southampton, to land her English passengers. She did not carry many, but hearing she was well-found, and reputed to be a good sea-boat, and finding a comfortable cabin was at disposal, I at once decided to take my passage in her. So the whole matter was easily settled. I found the "Club" very comfortable and well-arranged. Those who knew Buenos Aires at the time of which I write would indeed wonder at the beautiful city they would find to-day. The streets were then rough and ill-paved. The drainage was scanty and bad, and when it rained heavily the water poured like a torrent down the principal streets. But even then there were beautiful shops, and well-appointed carriages, with silver-mounted harness, so beloved of Spaniards, were quite a distinctive feature, and a great contrast to the rough and, uneven roads over which they were compelled to travel. The great net-work of railways which now traverses the republic was then a thing undreamed of, for the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway, first among its fellows, then extended but a short way into the open country. Beyond it the wide "Pampas," the home of the roving Indian, with troops of wild mares, together with deer and ostrich, rolled into distance like waves of the sea, stretching one upon another far away into the great unknown. My visit proved agreeable, and I felt sorry when it came to an end. However, on Saturday, I was informed that the S.S. "Dido" had to pick up a late consignment of cargo at Monte Video, and would not leave Buenos Aires until late on Monday afternoon. Further, that the tug which was to take passengers on board, would leave the landing stage punctually at three o'clock, on October 11th. Mr. Treherne went with me to the place of embarkation, and we were both ready waiting there nearly half an hour before the appointed time. The tide was favourable, and there happened to be plenty of water. All was now ready to shove off, so I said good-bye to my host, with many thanks for his kindness, stepped on board the tug, and we at once got under weigh. The afternoon was beautifully fine as we hauled up alongside the steamer, which, her blue Peter flying at the fore, was due to reach Monte Video at daylight on the following morning. Dinner was served in the saloon at five o'clock. We were then steaming along in smooth water, so everything was steady. There were five passengers for Southampton besides myself. One of them, Mr. Philip Payne, took his seat beside me at table. He was a young man, perhaps a little older than I was, of middle height, with an active figure, with light brown hair, and grey eyes. I found out he was the son of a country clergyman and, after learning a little farming in England, had come out to South America with the well-known Henley Colony. When this undertaking, owing to Indian raids, and other circumstances, turned out to be a complete failure, he went round to Chile, through the Straits of Magellan, and at the end of the previous summer had come back again to Argentina, across the Andes, on mules, with a troop of Indians, then considered to be something of an adventure. When I came on deck next morning, a lighter, with cargo was already alongside, and the city of Monte Video lay glistening in the bright sunshine, much as I first saw it four years ago. I did not go ashore, for we were due to leave soon after mid-day, and the early afternoon found us again under easy steam, with a light breeze and a calm sea, and the ship's head pointing northwards. I now made the acquaintance of the other four passengers, a Mr. and Mrs. West, with their son Herbert, aged fourteen, and daughter Rose, a girl of ten. He told me he was an engineer by profession, and had come out to Argentina in delicate health, hoping the climate might benefit him, and that he might obtain suitable employment. Neither of these had been fulfilled, and I felt sorry to see him returning to England after a time which must have been to them one of disappointment. Mrs. West, too, looked anything but strong. Their son Herbert, was lame, having had a somewhat serious accident to his hip, but his parents hoped that if he went under proper treatment in England the difficulty would be overcome. Four days later, early in the morning, land was sighted, and by eight o'clock we were passing beneath the famous "Sugar Loaf," a high, conical-shaped hill, which guards the entrance to Rio de Janeiro. As we steamed slowly up to our anchorage the city lay to the left, its houses rising tier after tier up the hillsides, the whole overshadowed by the great "Corcovado," a mountain which lay behind. To the right the magnificent harbour, with many a beautiful island and many a beautiful bay, stretched some ten miles southward towards "Petropolis." We were not due to sail until evening, so Payne and I had ample time to go on shore. We first amused ourselves walking through the town and making some purchases at the famous feather flower shop in the Rua d'Ouvidor. We then took the tramway and drove out to see the wonderful Avenue of Palms, supposed to be perhaps one of the finest in the world. Gay plumaged birds were flying to and fro, and bright coloured butterflies were hovering hither and thither, as we slowly walked between the long line of beautiful trees, the lovely plumes of which, as they hung down in clusters, fairly shimmered in the hot sunshine of that early afternoon. We got back on board soon after four o'clock, both of us ready for a wash and brush up, and for dinner when the bell rang. The sun had already set as the S.S. "Dido" was fast getting clear of the land, and I stood on deck and watched the shadows of the distant mountains in the fading light, and I realised I was now taking my last look at South America. Four Brazilian passengers had embarked at Rio de Janeiro for Lisbon, for which port we had also taken in a certain amount of cargo. We had fine weather and a good voyage, sighting land on November 8th, and passing up the Tagus soon after nine o'clock. We let go our anchor lower down the river than we might have done, and at some distance from the town. Lighters at once came alongside to take off the cargo, and the four Brazilian passengers were landed in the agents' boat. All this took place with very little delay. Indeed, our captain wished to get to sea again as soon as possible. So neither Payne nor I thought it worth while to go ashore. We got under weigh soon after three o'clock, and it was not long before a thick fog came on, which compelled us to slow down. Later in the evening the fog grew thicker, so that the ship had to be stopped for a time, and all through the night we made very slow progress. The following day the fog came on again, even thicker than before, but cleared towards evening, so that we could proceed on our course something under half speed. The morning of Wednesday was again foggy, clearing towards the afternoon, but the sky remained heavy and overhung with thick cloud, so that no observation could be obtained, and the ship had be navigated only by dead reckoning. The West family seemed very depressed, but my friend and I were accustomed to difficulties, and we made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit. The two following days the sun was again obscured by cloud, but we were able to go ahead full speed. On Saturday evening the captain considered we might be somewhere abreast of Ushant, but here we fell into what are known in the Channel as thick belts of fog. These are always very confusing and misleading, as the thick mist comes down like a curtain, enveloping everything, and rising and falling very rapidly. The ship had constantly to stop, and never could steam more than four knots an hour, and very often less. These conditions prevailed during Sunday, and we crept along gradually, as it were, feeling our way. Every precaution was taken, a sharp look-out was kept forward, a sailor being also stationed in the fore-top, while two men were continually in the chains, taking the depth of the water, and the foghorn was kept constantly going as well. About five o'clock, the dinner bell had just rung, Payne and I were standing by the port rail, looking over the side, near the after hatchway. A curtain of fog which had come thickly down was just lifting, when a cry rang out from the look-out forward, "Breakers ahead." Then came the order from the captain on the bridge, "Hard a port!" A second later the fog lifted further, and there alongside rose the precipitous rocky face of the "Bill of Portland." It looked almost as if you could throw a biscuit ashore. There was no wind, and the sea was gently lapping up against the base of the high cliff. Payne put his hand on my shoulder, "Look there," he said, "that is the place to swim for, where you see the grass growing down almost to the water's edge." In a moment it was all over, land and sea being once more completely enveloped in fog. Fortunately the ship had sufficient weigh on her to enable her to answer her helm, and she at once came round to starboard, when all danger was past. Mr. and Mrs. West were down in the saloon, and knew nothing of what had happened, nor did we either of us mention one word about it. We made slow progress during the night, but when daylight appeared, the sky was clear, and when I came on deck about nine o'clock, we were just about to pass inside the "Needles." We then steamed leisurely up the Solent, the tide was favourable, so that we got alongside the landing stage, and were able to go ashore soon after eleven. I then bid good-bye to my friend Payne, and having collected my belongings, got them conveyed to the railway station, where I took the first train to London, and so ended my experiences of "Old days among the Gauchos of Uruguay."