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The Barrigudo

Arthur O. Friel

HAVE you noticed, senhores, the big, slow-moving monkey which that oily- faced trader over yonder is taking down the river with him?

It is a barrigudo?the "bag-belly" monkey? and one of the largest I have seen, though I have met many of those big fellows during my years of service as a rubber-worker in the Javary jungle. From the end of its solemn nose to the tip of that strong tail, which it can use as a fifth leg in the trees, it must be more than four feet long.

The trader tells me that he intends to sell it as a pet in Para. But unless he is very lucky his monkey will be dead long before the end of his journey. For the barrigudo, senhores, is a creature of this upper Amazon alone, and when he is taken away from his own country he dies.

Why this is so I cannot tell you. Looking at his bulky body, you would think he could endure almost anything. Yet he is mortal, as we Brazilians say?delicate, not hardy. It may be that in his silent way he grieves himself to death because he has lost his own land and his old friends. You cannot always tell, by looking at either monkey or man, what sort of heart is hidden in his breast. And, after all, the heart is the only thing that really counts.

This may seem, senhores, like idle talk, but it is not. I have a tale to tell you?a tale of the most surprising barrigudo I ever met.

I CAME upon this creature at the time when the great yearly floods had passed their crest and were going down again. Indeed, they had gone down so far that I was worried; for I was far from where I ought to be, and in strange country where I might soon find myself stranded in the midst of unknown jungle.

With my comrade Pedro Andrada, a fellow workman on the big rubber estate of old Coronel Nunes, I had paddled across country from our Javary region into the upper reaches of the Jurua, a low-lying and very crooked river to the south and east. Then, after meeting with queer experiences and traveling some distance down the river, we had turned homeward, journeying along a flooded furo, or natural canal, until we met a number of roving North American soldiers who saved us from death at the hands of a horde of fierce savages. Now these men had left us and gone back toward the Amazon, whence they had come; and we were trying hard to reach our own territory before the ebbing waters should leave us trapped in some blind flood-channel.

As I say, I was worried. If we had known where we were I should not have cared so much, for then we should have been able to judge our course. But neither of us had passed this way before, our only guide was the sun, and we had to trust to that and to luck to carry us through the maze of twisting water- courses opening around us on all sides.

The furo itself, which had been fairly plain, now was becoming harder to follow, winding here and there in a confusing way; and already we had blundered off it more than once and lost much time in learning our mistake. Besides this, our food supply now was none too plentiful, and we found little game to shoot. And inch by inch, day and night, the thick tangle of bush was rising steadily around us as the waters slipped away.

Yet these things, serious though they seemed, suddenly became nothing at all. They were swallowed up by something far more grave.

Pedro fell sick. It must have been the Spotted People who gave the disease to him. We came upon them in the morning of a sweltering day when no breeze stirred. We were stripped almost naked, breathing with mouths hanging open, gasping now and then for the air which it seemed we could not get, but shoving steadily onward. All at once my comrade, up in the bow, held his paddle and called sharply:

"Quem vai la? Who goes there?" No answer came. No sound of any kind followed his hail. He was peering at a tangle of trees rising from the water at his left.

"Do you see anything, Lourenço?" he asked. "Nothing," I replied.

"Yet I thought I heard? Let us go and look." We turned the canoe into the trees. As we neared them a figure rose behind a big blown-down tree-trunk. It held a bow and arrow. Instantly we backed water and snatched up our rifles.

For a moment we hung there, the man menacing us with his arrow but not daring to loose it with our gun-muzzles covering him. He was a naked Indian, and seemed to be standing on the water.

"Baah derekoh? What is the matter with you?" he growled sullenly in the Tupi tongue.

"Anih baah. Nothing," I answered in the same language. "Put down that arrow if you would not be shot."

He lowered his weapon in a surly way.

"What are you doing here?" Pedro snapped. For answer the man stooped and held up a spear, on which a fine big fish hung quivering.

Laying down our rifles, but keeping them within instant reach, we pushed up to him and found that he was in a small canoe hidden by the prostrate tree. He still held the spear, and the water on its shaft showed that he had plunged the barb into the fish just before Pedro shouted. We saw that he was peaceable enough, and that he was a very ordinary- looking fellow except for one thing. His face was blotched with hard, rough, black spots.

After telling him we meant no harm to him or to any other man who did not attack us, we asked him whence he came. In a slow, heavy manner he replied that his people lived close by, up on a little hill above the reach of the floods. We asked him if they were many, and he said no. Then, without questioning us in turn, he dropped spear and fish into his canoe, picked up a paddle, and began to move away.

"Wait," said Pedro. "Will you sell that fish?" He stopped, squinted at the fish and at us, and said he would barter for beads. But we had no beads, for we were not on a trading trip. We offered him some empty cartridge shells, though, telling him they were lucky bells which would keep demons away. He hesitated so long that we thought the fish was ours. But then he grunted, "No," and started on.

"Wait," Pedro commanded again. "Is there fruit at your town?"

The fellow said there was much fruit. So then we told him that if he would give us fruit he could have the lucky bells. At once he consented. We followed him a short distance through the watery forest to the hill where his village stood.

IT WAS a miserable little place of a few scattered huts, and the people in it seemed as wretched as the town. When we walked boldly in among them, following our guide, they gathered around us in a sluggish way and looked us over without saying anything. Their eyes were dull, their expressions blank, their movements lifeless and their skins spotted with those same black patches which disfigured the fisherman. Everyone of them?men, women, children?was spotted.

The older they were, the worse they looked. The children had only small spots, with lighter rings around each blotch. But the grown people were crusted with hard patches, and among them I saw a withered man whose face was one great black scab. And not only the people, but the town itself, seemed sick; for there was a smell in the air?a heavy, depressing odor of disease which made me wish we had not come.

"Let us get our fruit at once and go," I muttered. "I cannot breathe well."

"Nor I," my partner agreed. "But I want something fresh to eat, and I will have it. Here, stabber of fish! Fetch the fruit quickly, or we will go and keep our demon-bells."

The fisherman grunted, moved his head for us to stay there, and went away. He was gone for what seemed a long time. We stood still, and all the others stood still, staring without a blink. And the odd thing was that they stared not so much at our guns and breeches as at our skins. After a time it dawned on me that they marveled because we were not blemished as they were.

"Por Deus!" muttered Pedro. "When we leave this place I shall take a bath. These people make me feel slimy."

"I feel the same way, and the smell here makes my stomach squirm," I said. "But here comes our man."

The fisherman was returning, bent forward under a long atura basket which hung down his back. We turned at once toward the water. He followed, and at the canoe he put basket and headline and all into the bottom.

Handing him the empty shells, we pushed off and away, leaving him jangling his "demon-bells" in his palms. No doubt he thought we were great fools to give such a charm for a simple basket of fruit. And the time was not far off when I was to believe we had indeed lost our luck at that place.

We paddled away fast and traveled some distance before we either ate of the fruit or took the bath we had promised ourselves. Somehow the sickly smell of that village seemed to stay with us long after the town itself had disappeared behind us. A thin mist had hung over the place of the Spotted People, and the same vapor was crawling along the water and keeping up with us. Not until we finally got clear of it and breathed clean air once more did the odor fade away.

"Phew!" whistled Pedro, his nose wrinkled. "What an unwholesome hole! Now that we are quit of it, let us bathe and eat."

So we found a firm bare spot where we could stand and pour gourds of water over ourselves. We wanted to take a swim, but the water did not look inviting and we knew well that under its surface might be lurking death in the shape of fish or reptile, so we bathed on land.

When we felt clean again we ate heartily of the fruit, which tasted very good. And as we paddled onward after that we munched now and then at other fruits taken from the basket.

That night neither of us ate well. Our stomachs did not want the usual ration of dried pirarucu and farinha. So we devoured the rest of the fruit and were satisfied.

Before dawn I awoke to hear Pedro moaning softly in his sleep. He had a bad dream, I thought. So I yelled and roused him, grumbled that he was disturbing me, turned over in my hammock and shut my eyes again. He said nothing, and I slept almost at once.

When next I looked around me it was day, and my partner was sitting up and holding his head in his hands. He only grunted when I spoke.

I got breakfast, but he would eat none. This was so uncommon that I looked sharply at him, finding his skin pale and his face drawn. But when I asked him what ailed him he said only that he had not slept well.

We paddled away as usual, and all through the hot, sunny morning he said no word. His stroke lacked its regular power, and several times he stopped work and bent forward as if to favor his stomach. I grinned, thinking he had a touch of colic from eating too much fruit and was too stubborn to admit it. At last I snickered outright.

"Poor little man!" I mocked. "Does his little belly ache? Perhaps he needs a little drink?"

I DID not finish. He groaned, wavered dizzily, and slumped into the bottom of the boat.

This scared me. He was not the man to let anything overpower him as long as he had an ounce of fight left in him, and I realized that he must be very sick.

As quickly as possible I got the boat to shore. There I found that his illness was not a mere ache of the stomach.

He had fever. And it was not the ordinary jungle swamp-fever?which is bad enough?but a deadly sickness which burned and froze and griped and turned him inside out. When at last his spasms ceased he lay so limp that I thought him dead.

He could not even whisper. He could not move. He lay like a corpse and he looked like one, and only the feeble throb of his heart and his shallow breathing told me that he still lived. And there was not a single thing that I could do to help him, for we had no medicine?not even a mouthful of rum to strengthen his heart.

Squatting beside him, I tried in a dumb, dazed way to think of something I could do.

He was more to me than anyone else in the world. He was far closer than a blood brother?he seemed a part of myself. A handsome, happy-hearted, boyish man, strong of hand and quick of thought and action, he had been my comrade in fair weather and foul, in times of merriment and times of deadly fight. Either of us would throw away his own life to save the other?yes, or endure torment worse than death, if by it the other might escape.

And at that very moment I was in such torment of mind as I hope will never come to me again. I could not let him die, but it seemed that I could not aid him to live.

At last I thought of a thing, though it seemed of little use. If I could find some pajemarioba, a bitter medicinal herb sometimes used by the Indians to make a sort of tea, it might start him to sweating and drive the fever out. The pajemarioba grows wild in many places, and some might be there.

I started at once and hunted all about the spot where we were. But I found none.

I came back to him just in time. He lay on the ground as I had left him, limp and motionless. And halfway out of the water, crawling up toward him, was a big alligator.

I leaped at the beast in fury. It slewed and slid back under the surface. Then, lifting my partner, I laid him in the canoe and stroked swiftly away from that accursed place.

As we went onward I watched along both sides, hoping to see a patch of pajemarioba on some point of land. The chance of finding it was poor, I knew, but it was all I could do, and at any rate I was doing something. So, hunting desperately for some sign of that herb, I kept on for I know not how long.

At length I came into a place where the water widened out and met open shores covered with fine matupa grass, beyond which grew ferns and slim assai palms. I paddled slowly near one bank, thinking that here I might land and seek again for the pajemarioba. And while I looked around and thought it over, an astonishing thing came about.

On the empty shore, a few feet from me, a voice spoke.

"Ko tam baheh? What is that?" I started, looked at the spot whence the words had come, and saw no man. Nothing was there except thick tufts of grass, and the grass was not tall enough to conceal anyone unless he were lying down. Yet I was certain the voice had spoken at that place. Watching it steadily, I turned the canoe straight at it.

But just as the bow touched shore the voice came again from another spot.

"Bih pende hoh? Where are you going?" The question came from a small bush standing a foot or so above the grass and a few feet to my left. As before, no living thing was there?no living thing with a voice could be there. The bush was so thin that I could see through it, and beyond it was nothing except grass and trees.

I felt a little chilly. Then I grew angry. If some man was there and making sport of me I would spoil his joke. Picking up my gun, I stepped ashore into mud that rose over my ankles, and through this I plowed straight to the bush.

I found nothing at all. No man was there and no man had been there, for the mud held no tracks but my own.

THEN, as I scowled around me in wonder, a new thing came. It was a sound of singing.

It seemed to be far away, yet very near?almost over my head, a clear, sweet song without words, up in the blank air above me. I stared upward, and, seeing that nothing but the sky was over me, I grew chilly again. Was I going mad? Was I, too, about to become delirious with fever? Was this a place of demons, where grass and bushes spoke and the air sang? I did not know. But I did know I wanted to get out of there. Turning, I sloshed back through the soft mud to the canoe.

As I got into it the voice spoke once more. From the water near me rose the same question the spotted fisherman had asked:

"Baah derekoh? What ails you?" For the first time I answered. With my eyes on Pedro I growled in Tupi:

"Heraku. Fever." Then I shoved off. But a reply came that stopped me.

"Ehe ahrahm. Che ahoh apuh ayuk. Wait. I will cure the sickness."

This time the voice seemed to be heavier, more like that of a man; and it came from a place near the edge of the trees. I looked sharply at that spot, but saw no man there. For that matter, I did not expect to see anything human, after what had happened.

But this weird voice had said it would cure Pedro, and if the great horned devil himself had risen beside me and given me that promise I would have embraced him. Holding the canoe still, I told the Thing to come to me.

It answered that it could not come, for it had no body but was only a spirit. But if I would go and find a man who now was sleeping on the shore of a narrow neck of water beyond us, and would follow him, the fever should be driven out.

That was all. I asked the Thing just where this man was, but got no reply. No sound of any kind came to me. The matupa grass, the bush, the water, the trees?all were vacant and silent. I drove my paddle into the water and heaved the dugout ahead.

Pedro moaned, squirmed a little, and lay still. Looking at him, I shut my jaws and began watching along shore for any narrow water such as the Thing had told about. And soon, senhores, I found it. And I went into it, and under a tree I found a sleeping man.

He was half-lying, half-sitting with his back against the tree trunk. His mouth hung open, and from it came a gurgling snore. But after I looked at him, I came near turning about and going away. No such creature as he, I thought, could ever cure Pedro.

He was a greasy, bag-bellied barrigudo of an Indian. Hairy as a monkey he was, too, and the black hairs of his whole body were matted with clay, plastered on thickly to keep biting bugs from reaching his hide. The long, stringy hair of his head hung down over his face so far that I could see little of it, but what little I could make out looked blank and stupid.

As I have said, I would have welcomed the devil himself if he had offered aid to my comrade; but the devil, senhores, has brains, while this creature looked as if he hardly knew enough to scratch an itch?a mere mass of fat, hair, and dirt.

I grunted with disgust, and half-moved my paddle to push out and away. But just then the queer voice spoke again.

"Hemba eah hy," it reminded me. "You are sick."

It came from the tree, a little above the sleeping man. I looked first at the tree trunk, on which was nothing alive. Then my eye swerved again to Pedro. And instead of going away I drove the dugout to shore, stepped out, and prodded the human barrigudo with my paddle.

His snoring ended. I caught the glint of eyes staring through his hair. He grunted, and the sound seemed to come from the depths of his belly. Then he sluggishly pushed himself up higher against the tree, yawned with a wheezing noise, and growled?

"Baah derekoh?"

"My mate has fever," I answered, pointing at Pedro.

He sat bunking. Then he yawned again. "Hembara ahreteh. I am very tired." And his head drooped as if he meant to go back to sleep.

His callousness angered me. In one long stride I was at the canoe. In another I was back, with my cocked rifle in his face.

"Get up, you filthy beast!" I snarled. "Get up and take care of my comrade, or the next alligator that comes here will find a fat feast awaiting him."

He got up. Slowly, as if afraid he might touch the gun and discharge it, he rose and stood against the tree. When I lowered the weapon he waddled past me and stared at Pedro. Then, with a sour grunt, he pointed a thick finger and moved his head to show I was to pick up my partner and go somewhere with him. After scowling at him I did so.

He led me for some distance back into the bush?so far that before we stopped I was breathing hard, for Pedro was no lightweight to carry. Yet I would rather carry him myself than have that dirty Indian do it, even if he had offered to.

As I look back at that time I wonder that I followed him at all, for in spite of the promise made by the queer voice I had faint hope of any real help from him. But I kept on, and presently we entered a cleared space where were huts and people.

THE barrigudo man, striding along easily in spite of his size, went straight to a hut set off at some distance from the rest. Half-blinded with sweat, humped over under the burden of my partner's hot body, I trailed at his heels.

We passed through the doorway into a dim room of shadows, where a tiny fire smoldered in the middle of the dirt floor. There the Indian pointed to a sort of legless bench or bed of woven sticks, which hung like a hammock but was straight and flat. On this I laid Pedro.

Pedro squirmed again and kicked about, and for a minute I had to hold him to keep him from rolling off. When he quieted I straightened up and turned toward the barrigudo. But he was gone.

Puzzled, I stared around. He could not have gone outdoors, for I was between him and the spot where he had last stood, and I should certainly have known it if he had passed me. Yet there was no other opening in the house except a small smoke- hole in the roof ten feet above me, and he surely could not have gone out there. But he was not in the place. The huge creature had vanished into air.

Peering at the walls about me, I found no sign of any door except the one where we had entered. The walls were made in basket fashion of tightly woven sticks and creepers. On them hung strange and horrid things?skins of deadly snakes and huge lizards; great black poison-spiders; skulls of ugly beasts and of fish with terrible hooked teeth; a vampire bat, and other things of the sort. But all these were dead. No living thing was in the room but ourselves.

As I gaped around I thought I heard a slight chuckle somewhere, but whence it came I could not tell?indeed, I was not sure that I really heard it. Then came a thing that made me forget it. Behind me sounded the hiss of a snake.

I whirled, looked, and saw on the farther wall the head of a big boa. Yes, senhores, only its head?a head as dead as the skins and skulls near it. But as I looked at it its mouth slowly opened; and out of that mouth came a hissing voice that told me to go.

The head closed again and hung silent as before. Feeling rather prickly, I stood watching it until a slight rustle near me drew me around again. There beside Pedro stood a great figure muffled in a garment of bark-cloth.

Senhores , I was now so confused and bewildered that I recoiled and leveled my gun at the thing. If it had moved toward me or touched Pedro I would have shot it. But it did not move. It only stood there, and though I could see no eyes on it, it seemed to be watching me with no fear whatever.

As I scowled back at it I thought it must be the barrigudo man, but then I saw that it was much taller than he had been?so much taller that it could not be he. Moreover, it seemed not even to be human. It was armless and headless.

The cloth hanging over it showed no sign of a man's head underneath. It hung as if from a pair of shoulders whence the neck and head had been sliced off. Seven feet high, shapeless and silent and still, it loomed up in that dim and smoky room like a specter born of fog and fever and nightmare?a thing which the eyes saw but which could not exist; a thing which had taken shape as silently as the barrigudo had vanished. And again there came to me the thought that I was crazed: that I had fever or worse, and all this was delirium.

Then the Thing spoke. Out from the folds of cloth rolled a voice, deep and powerful, unlike any voice I had yet heard here.

"The dead live. The living die. The blind see. The seer is blind. This man dies, yet shall live. You live, but you shall die. Go, but remain."

Without realizing it, I let my rifle sink. Stupidly I stared at the thing before me and tried to make sense of its words.

"Go!" came the voice, deeper than ever. "Three suns shall set, two shall rise. When the third sun sinks low this man shall walk again. Until then, go and stay."

"I will not go," I growled. "I stay with my comrade while he lives or until he is surely dead. Whatever you are, help him if you can."


"Vive Deus, I will not!" The thing and I fronted each ether for minutes, neither of us moving. Then it said:

"You would help your comrade? Then take from the wall that vampire, which shall draw the fever from him."

Glancing around, I saw the dead vampire, which I had hardly noticed before. I went to it and tried to take it down.

But it was fastened tight. So I pulled harder, then yanked at it. Suddenly it came away, and from behind it a quantity of dusty powder fell into my upturned face.

The dust stung my nostrils and choked my throat. I coughed and turned back toward Pedro, carrying the vampire. But I did not reach him.

A swift chill ran down my back. My muscles stiffened. The house whirled. The headless figure swelled to a huge blot. I felt myself falling. Then I was floating in some place far, far down, where all was still.

AFTER a long time I found myself lying on a bare dirt floor. Above me was a roof, around me were walls, beyond me was an open door; but they were not those of the house where I had fallen. The walls were bare mud, and in this house was no fire, no sick comrade, no shapeless monster?not even my rifle. As I realized that my gun was gone I reached to my belt for the machete which usually hung there. That too was gone.

I started up. As I reached my feet I turned dizzy and nearly fell again; but soon the place stopped whirling and I became steady. At once I strode toward the doorway.

But before I reached it, it was blocked. Two men jumped into it from outside and stood with spears leveled at my stomach. I stopped and peered at them.

They were tall, well-muscled fellows with clean faces which looked good-humored but rather determined. Presently one of them smiled slightly. But they held their weapons ready.

"What is this?" I grunted. "Drop those spears and step aside."

They stood their ground. The one who had smiled answered:

"Sit down and be still. You can not go to the House of Voices until it is time."

"I do not understand," I told him. "What house is that? And what house is this?"

"The House of Voices is the one where the other stranger lies. You will stay here while he stays there. Make no trouble, if you are wise."

I asked where my gun and machete were, and why I was held here. They looked at each other in a puzzled way, and one said they knew nothing of gun or knife. I was here, he added, because Pajé ordered it. I would remain here until Pajé gave the word to free me.

Now I knew that the pajé of a tribe is its medicine man, but never before had I heard Indians speak the word with such respect. This man had used it as if it meant God. And I saw that what this Pajé had ordered would be done. Yet I growled again, told them to get out of my way, and advanced on them.

Their faces tightened, their arms tensed, and their shoulders swayed forward a little. They were in deadly earnest. Unless I stopped they would plunge those spears into my body. So I halted, laughed as if I had only been joking, squatted, and rolled a cigaret.

They relaxed, though they still watched me closely. Studying them through my tobacco smoke, I thought the wisest plan would be to pretend friendliness and talk of other things, meanwhile watching for a chance to spring and snatch the spear from the nearer man. For I was very uneasy about Pedro, and I did not intend to wait here longer than necessary.

Giving no sign of my thought, I began to talk of our journey from the Jurua. They listened with much interest. When I told of the Spotted People both nodded quickly, and the taller one spoke.

This town too, he said, was once a place of black-spotted people. He himself had been spotted from boyhood, and the black patches had grown until he was repulsive and useless. But then Pajé came to them, and with him came demons of the air who had no bodies; and by the magic of these air- devils and strange-tasting water he had driven out the black sickness and made them strong.

I smoked up my cigaret and slowly made another while I thought about this. Their pajé was far more powerful than any I had met in my jungle wanderings. Those whom I had seen before now were good enough at healing wounds or setting broken bones, and some of them were wise in the ways of poison; but when they had to deal with a pain or sickness whose cause was not clear they all worked in the same way.

The medicine man would make a huge cigar, and with great ceremony he would blow the smoke from this thing on the place where the sick man's pain was worst. Then he would suck that spot for a time, and at length he would stand up and take out of his mouth a long whitish thing looking much like a worm. This evil worm, he would say, was what had caused all the trouble, and now that it was out the sufferer would get well. The truth was that the white thing was no worm at all, but a soft plant- root which he had hidden in his mouth before beginning work.

Did this Pajé of theirs draw worms from their bodies? I asked. They looked puzzled and a little offended. The taller one replied that Pajé did nothing of the sort, and that he and his people were not wormy. I asked them what sort of man Pajé was. And who was the fat, dirty man who had led me to the House of Voices? Surely he was not Pajé?

Both grunted scornfully at this. No, the fat man was only a lazy drunkard and the servant of Pajé. Yet he was valuable to them because he was the only one who knew how to call Pajé when his help was needed in time of sickness. He could talk with the air-devils, too.

So the men of the town watched over him carefully when he was drunk, and saw to it that no alligator or snake or other evil thing should destroy him while he was helpless. If they should lose him they would have no way of reaching the ear of Pajé.

For Pajé was not a man like themselves, but a demon-spirit who came there when summoned and took the shape of a great headless creature without arms. When he did appear it was always inside the House of Voices. This house once had been that of an old medicine man who had little power and who finally had died suddenly in the night, leaving the people with no medicine man at all.

Then, many moons later, a drifting canoe had brought them the fat hairy man, who at that time was not fat but almost dead from starvation. They had fed him and put him in the empty house of the dead medicine man to recover his strength if he could. And he had grown strong, and after a time he had found a way of calling the air-demons, and after that he had brought Pajé himself to cure them.

As you may suppose, I did some more thinking and puzzling about this. Then I asked how Pajé worked on wounds or hurts if he had no hands. They said they did not know?even the men whom he cured did not know.

A man would be taken to the House of Voices, they said, and the fat servant would take him inside. Somehow the hurt man would always fall into a deep sleep before anything was done to his injury, and although he might stay there for days he would remember little or nothing of what went on around him while he lay there. Only a few had ever seen Pajé himself, and those few could tell only that he was a monster with a deep voice that made them quake with fear.

In driving out the spotted sickness, they added, Pajé had not been seen. The fat man had gone about and ordered certain ones to come later to the House of Voices. When they obeyed, much afraid but not daring to remain away, they had found the house empty of life.

But the air-devils had spoken around them, saying queer things and singing as if far off, and finally commanding them to drink deep of strange water in a big gourd on the floor. The same persons had to go each day for a time to the house and drink of the same water, and at length the sickness and the spots had left them. And this kept on until all in the town were well.

They asked me what had come to me in the House of Voices, and I told them. When I asked them in turn how I had reached this place where they now guarded me, they said that while they watched the House of Voices from a safe distance?for nobody ever went near that house unless called?they saw me tumble out of the door as if thrown. Then a loud voice had come, telling them to take me away and guard me. And they intended to guard me well until further orders.

WHILE we talked the sun sank low. It glared in at the doorway, half-blinding me. I moved aside, and instantly my guards grew tense. There was small chance for me to jump them now or later?they were too wide-awake, and probably expecting me to do that very thing. Watching the path of light lengthen across the dirt floor, I remembered the words of the headless giant:

"Three suns shall set, two shall rise. When the third sun sinks low this man shall walk again."

The first sun now was sinking. Forty-eight hours must pass before I should know whether the promise was true or false. To remain here in useless idleness was all against my will.

Yet, even if I did break out of my prison, what could I do to help Pedro? Nothing. Against his fever I was helpless as a babe.

"How far is the House of Voices from this house?" I asked.

They looked suspiciously at me. Then one replied:

"Not far. Why do you ask?"

"If Pajé should call to you from there could you hear him?"

"We could hear him." I nodded and said no more. If the House of Voices was within easy call I too could hear any cry coming from it; and the voice for which I would listen was not that of the misshapen Pajé but of Pedro. At the first sign that he was not being well treated I would fight my way to him somehow. Otherwise I might serve him best by waiting.

So I settled myself to wait the sinking of the third sun.

Before night came other guards arrived. One of them brought my hammock, which I slung inside my prison hut. Women also came, bringing food?a big pot of thick stew which seemed to be partly of fish and partly of sweet turtle-meat. The savory odor of it put so keen an edge on my hunger that I completely cleaned out the pot.

Lying back in my hammock to smoke after eating, I spied a little smile on the face of one of the new guards. All were watching me intently. Before my cigaret was half-smoked a heavy drowsiness came over me. And as the darkness of night fell on the jungle town, the darkness of sleep numbed my mind. The vigil of the jailers had been made easy by some drug in my food

I think, senhores, that I was kept drugged most of the time for the next two days. I know that I felt dull and sluggish, that sleep came very easily, and that it was hard for me to keep awake long at a time. There was no chance for me to walk outside and shake off the drowsiness, for I was not allowed to leave the hut. Always guards were there to block me with ready spears.

Suspecting that my lethargy came from something in the food, I refused to eat anything the next noon, but this did no good; for I had a great thirst, and the water I drank must also have held some sleeping-powder. Both nights I lay like a dead man, and both mornings I woke with difficulty, long after the sun was up. The time slipped away in a sort of daze, and it was not until after noon of the third day that this feeling left me.

Then, rousing myself from a siesta, I found that once more I was wide-awake. In the doorway squatted the same two guards whom I had first seen there. As I arose they also stood up.

"What is the word?" I demanded. "No word has come."

"My comrade?does he live?" They lifted their brows as if to say that was a question which no man could answer. When I insisted on a reply the tall one said:

"Only Pajé or his servant can tell. Pajé has not spoken, and the fat drunkard has not been seen. The House of Voices is closed. What lies within it we know not."

"And no sound has come from the House?"

"Yes. On the night of the day when you came a hoarse voice babbled broken words as if struggling in fever. That is all. We have heard nothing more."

I chewed my lip and looked at the sun-shadows outside. The third sun had not yet sunk low, but it was beginning to slip down the western sky. The time of which the monster had spoken would soon come. And then?what?

The next two or three hours, senhores, were the longest of my life. I tried to sit still and talk about other matters; but my eyes always were on the creeping shadows, and at times I had to stride around the room to keep from springing at the sentinels. When at last the light began to glare in at my doorway and crawl across the floor I could no longer hold myself back.

"The time has come," I said, stepping toward the men. "Stand aside."

But they fronted me with weapons low.

"When Pajé orders it?" the taller one began doggedly.

I growled. My toes gripped the floor. But just as I was about to leap at them there came a shout outside.

"The House opens!" We hung there as we were?poised, watching each other, but listening. And then sounded a thundering voice.

"The closed door opens. The open door shuts. Slave of fever, thou art free. Guards of the free man, your task ends. Go forth, ye two, but go not hence."

SLOWLY, as if not quite certain that they understood the words, the watchmen at my door lowered their weapons and glanced out. At once I walked between them into the open. My gaze darted to the House of Voices. Outside it, staring around as if bewildered, stood Pedro.

"Pedro!" I called, running toward him.

"Ah, Lourenço!" he answered, smiling in a relieved way. "So you are here."

He walked to meet me, but his step lacked its usual lithe swing. His face was drawn, his eyes and cheeks hollow, his skin pale. But he was alive and free of fever. I nearly seized him and shook him in my joy, but restrained myself in time.

"What place is this?" he asked, glancing at the Indians who were gathering. "Who are these people? How came we here? What has happened?"

"You have been sick."

"Yes, I know I have been sick, and I must have been crazed?I thought I was dead and roasting in hell with some huge headless devil watching me. I feel now as if I had been through purgatory, at least. But what?"

He stopped, staring around him again. I saw that he swayed on his feet.

"You are safe and sound now," I said, slipping an arm around his body. "Come and rest in my hammock, and you shall hear all about it."

And I drew him on toward the hut which had been my prison.

Indians, men and women, crowded beside us and behind us as we went, muttering among themselves but smiling at us. At the doorway I halted and spoke to them.

"My sick comrade is well again but very weak. Will you, my friends, bring food to make him strong?"

Several at once answered that they would do so. "And do not put into it the thing that makes men sleep," I added. "I have slept overmuch."

At this most of them looked blank, but two of the older men grinned in a knowing way. We passed into the house, which now was unguarded, and Pedro slumped into the hammock.

"My legs are water," he muttered wearily, "and my head is a whirlpool."

Squatting against the wall, I waited for his weakness to pass. Soon his eyes opened and he repeated his questions. I told him all I knew.

"So I was not so crazed as I thought," he mused. "There is a giant without a head. And singing voices. I heard them too. I thought they must come from heaven, and wondered why I was in the other place."

His brow wrinkled, and I saw he was puzzling over what I had told him and what he had seen and heard. Presently he added?

"Are you sure we are in our right minds?"

"No, I am not," I grinned. "But we are alive, and that is something. Tell me what you can remember."

"It is not much. I became horribly sick while paddling. My head split and my body burned. Voices came and went, some singing, some speaking.

"At last I felt that I was awaking from a frightful dream. I looked around and saw fire, awful things back in the shadows?snakes and skulls and spiders?and a demon without head or arms. I was sure I had died and gone below. But I felt no pain?the demon did not torment me. Then he was gone?"

"How did he go?" I cut in. "I do not know. I saw no opening anywhere, no light except one small fire. The monster was there and then was not there. It must have been night, and I must have slept a long time after that, for the next thing I can remember was just before I came out and saw you.

"The place was lighter then, and there was a small hole up overhead where brightness showed? the sunshine outside. Not a living thing was in sight anywhere. Then a door slowly opened and I looked out into the daylight.

"And, Lourenço, nobody opened that door. I looked straight at it and saw both sides of it as it swung, and nothing touched it. It opened itself."

We stared at each other. I shook my head, for I could make nothing of it.

"And then?"

"Then a voice came. A queer little voice that seemed to come from a jaguar skull. It told me to arise and go. And I got off a strange flat hammock?it went out from under me as I did so, and I fell on the floor.

"I crawled through the door on hands and knees, fearing it might close again before I could reach it. While I was scrambling out another voice sounded behind me?a deep voice that said?"

"'The closed door opens?the open door shuts?'"

"Yes. So you heard it. As soon as I was outside I stood up. Then I saw you."

We were silent for a time, thinking.

"Here is another odd thing, Lourenço," he added then. "The deep voice spoke in the Tupi tongue. But the odd little voice from the skull, telling me to go, used our own language?Portuguese."

"Deus Padre! That is strange!" I muttered. "No man here except ourselves speaks Portuguese?"

"Here is food," announced an Indian voice at the door.

A man and two women stood there. The women held bowls. The man was the taller guard who had watched me during the day. He held no weapon now, and as I went to the door he pointed to each of the bowls in turn.

"This broth for him?this stew for you," he said.

Moving his lips close to my ear, he went on in a whisper:

"In his broth is a little of that which makes sleep. Sleep gives strength. It is the order."

"Whose order?"

"It is the order," he repeated. "And is my meat also heavy with sleep?" He grinned.

"No. You have slept enough. Now make your own sleep."

"Who watches us tonight?"

"There is no watch. But it is the order that you stay here until the man with you is strong. Until then your canoe is hidden."

I scowled at him, but he had spoken sense. Pedro must gain strength before we went on, even though the water was ebbing steadily away.

"Where are our guns?" I demanded. He turned away without reply. The women put down the bowls and left us. Saying no more, I took Pedro's broth in to him. He sniffed at it, tasted it, and drained it to the last drop.

I ate my own stew more slowly. When I set down the empty vessel and glanced at Pedro I found him sleeping as peacefully as a tired child.

A WOMAN carrying a bundle came to the door, dropped her burden, and went away. The thing she had left was Pedro's hammock, brought from our canoe.

As I picked it up I saw another figure come lurching along from the direction of the House of Voices. It was fat and hairy?the barrigudo man who had led us there.

With the hammock under my arm I stepped out to meet him. Frowzy and filthy he might be, but he had guided my dying partner to the spot where death's hand was warded off, and now I would say my thanks and offer him reward. Yet I did nothing of the kind. For as he came near me I saw why he staggered. He was drunk?stupidly, disgustingly drunk.

His bloodshot eyes were glazed and set, staring straight past me. His heavy mouth sagged. He breathed thickly, and he hiccoughed. He reeked of liquor as if he had spilled a quart of it down over himself. His look, his reeling gait?and his smell? were those of a man who had wallowed in drunkenness for days. Sickened, I stood back and let the sodden brute stumble past, then swung on my heel and returned to our hut.

There, as I threw another look after him, I noticed that he was being trailed by two armed men. The words of our guards came back to me? that this bleary creature was the only one who could summon the great Pajé, and so he was always protected from danger while drunk.

Perhaps, I thought, the monstrous Pajé was the devil himself, and this servant of his had bartered his hope of heaven for unlimited drink. If ever I saw a man who seemed to have sold himself, body and soul, to the king of all rottenness, the Barrigudo was that man.

But the Barrigudo's future was nothing to me, and I gave him no further attention. After slinging my hammock I curled up in it. And all that night Pedro and I slept peacefully side by side.

I awoke late, but earlier than Pedro. The morning light showed that his color was better and his face did not look quite so hollow. He had rested almost twelve hours when at length he stirred, yawned, blinked at me, and lazily demanded a cigaret.

"Do we go on today?" he asked between puffs. I shook my head.

"Not until you can swing your paddle again."

"I can swing it now."

"For a time, yes. But not all day."

I did not tell him that our canoe had been hidden and that we were under orders to remain here. That would only have made him determined to go at once and to fight anyone trying to stop us. And he was in no condition for fighting.

"So you are afraid you would have to do all the work?" he laughed. "Perhaps you have it right. I feel lazy this morning. Yet we should start onward soon. The water must have sunk while we stayed here, and we are far from the Javary."

"There will be water enough. And I like the cooking of these Indian women."

"Oho! So that is it! The broth they gave me last night was delicious, it is true. I could eat more now, and meat with it."

"You shall have it." Calling an Indian boy near the house, I told him to get food. He went away, and soon the same women and the same guard came with the clay bowls. The man looked at Pedro, smiled in a satisfied way, and went out.

After he had gone I thickened my comrade's broth with some of my turtle-meat, and we both ate our fill. When he had smoked again he arose and stretched himself.

"I am going to walk and see the place," he said. And he went out, lounging along languidly but with far more sureness in his step than he had shown when last he walked. I followed.

Outside we stood and looked long at the House of Voices. For the first time I noticed that it was round. The wall curved away in a circle, and its high pointed roof also was round. An odd thought came to me?that the demon's house was bigger outside than inside; for my memory, though somewhat hazy, told me that its one room was rather small. But as I thought again I could see why it might have seemed small?because of the things that were in it: the heads on the wall, the fire in the middle, the flat hammock, the body of Pedro, and that giant figure looming up in the smoke. And then I forgot it, for again the barrigudo man appeared.

He shambled up toward us, heading for the demon-house, followed by the same men who had trailed him last night. He looked even more sodden than when I had last seen him, but not so drunk; the look of a man who had slept off some of his liquor but was stupid from the sleep and from the drink still working in him. His guardians were heavy- eyed, and it was easy to see that they had been awake all night.

I expected him to pass as before, but this time he halted near us and stared at Pedro. And Pedro stared back with disgust plain in his face.

"Phew! What an animal!" my partner sniffed. "The rest of these people look clean. Why do they not wash this beast or throw it to the alligators? An alligator will eat anything?and the fouler the better."

"This is the noble gentleman who brought us here. The Barrigudo, of whom I told you. Embrace him and give him thanks."

"Ugh!" Pedro gulped as if sickened by the thought.

"I would rather touch a corpse that had lain in the sun. He is worse than the Spotted People. But I can thank him, unless the wind changes and blows his scent this way."

Changing then from Portuguese to Tupi, he spoke to the man.

"You are he who brought me here and called your Pajé to heal me? I am grateful for my life. If I have anything which you or Pajé want, speak. You shall have whatever I can give."

The Barrigudo made no reply. He only stared stonily at us both. His eyes, though, held an expression I did not like?a look that seemed anger. Yet why should he be offended? Such an uncouth creature surely could not understand what we had said of him in Portuguese, and he would scarcely resent Pedro's offer to reward him.

But, as I say, he made no answer. He gave one sour grunt and plodded on.

"You said you had to put a gun in his face to make him guide you," said Pedro. "I can believe it. We owe him no gratitude."

And we forgot the drunkard as quickly as we could, not even watching to see where he went.

STROLLING slowly, we walked among the little houses of the Indians, who received us with a quiet dignity which increased our liking for them. Before long we found with us the tall guard who had told me of the orders and had come each time with the women bearing food.

"Are we still under guard?" I grumbled. Looking slightly surprised, he said no: I knew the orders and of course would heed them, and he came only because his father wished to see us. When we asked who his father was, he astonished us by replying?

"The chief." Somehow we had not thought of a chief in this place, and still less had we thought that a chief's son was one of our guards. I did not know whether to consider this an honor or an indication that the real ruler here was Pajé. But I said nothing on this point. To make talk as we crossed the clearing I remarked that the dirty servant of Pajé was drunk again.

He nodded, as if I had said the sun was hot or water was wet. Pedro, still disgusted, asked him the same question he had asked me: why they did not make that man keep himself clean. The Indian said they could not do so without treating him roughly, and in that case he might sulk and refuse to call Pajé when needed.

"And no one else can call Pajé?" I asked.

"I have said so."

"But in time he will rot himself to death. Then how can you reach Pajé?"

"We cannot. But he is strong and will live many years."

"Perhaps. Yet he might leave you at any time and go to another tribe."

The Indian's face grew grim. The fat man would not go away alive, he said. And I saw that the barrigudo, though he did as he pleased, was not much better than a prisoner.

We found the chief to be old, thin, but clear- eyed and shrewd-brained. He asked us many questions and answered none of ours. When we left his mud house we had learned nothing new, and we felt that, so far as he was concerned, we were neither welcome nor unwelcome here. The servant of Pajé had brought us to the place, and if he and his headless master wished to amuse themselves with us it was nothing to the head of the tribe.

Outside, as we stood a moment talking with the young chief, a man came up with three fine fish. One was a splendid surubim, as long as my leg, beautifully spotted and striped. The others were tucunares, with the big eye-spots on their tails. The man laid them down respectfully before the young chief, who glanced at them, then picked up the surubim and started away toward the House of Voices.

"The finest fish goes to Pajé," said Pedro as we strolled back to our hut. "Let us see whether he comes out to receive it."

We saw nothing of the monster, but we soon heard something from him. At the doorway of the round house the tall young savage stopped, spoke, laid the fish down, and backed away; then stopped again, seemed to listen to a voice, backed once more, swung on his heel and came straight to us.

"At the sinking of the next sun the gamba drums will beat," he told us.

"What does that mean?" Pedro yawned. "It is the night of the full moon, when demons are restless. Many voices will be round about. Demons of water and air and earth will be near. No man may stay in his house, lest a devil seize him in the dark. All must gather around the House of Voices, where the drums will beat and Pajé himself will protect us. Sleep well tonight, for tomorrow night there will be no sleep."

With that he strode off toward his father's house.

"Demons seem to rule this place, Lourenço," my partner said. "Voices in the air?a monster without a head?devils who seize men in their houses when the moon is full?I shall not be sorry to leave it all behind me."

He spoke half in jest, but he expressed my own thought. We had already been delayed too long, and I had seen more than enough of this devil-ruled village.

Since there was nothing to do, we did nothing but eat, sleep, and argue about Pajé and his fellow demons until the night of the full moon came. In that time Pedro's strength flowed steadily back into him. And when the sun dropped low and we saw men carrying the long log drums to the House of Voices, the old reckless twinkle was in his eyes as he said:

"Since we must sit up and evade the devils, let us start a pira-purasseya fish-dance with some of these good-looking girls while the drums beat. Ask the young chief to bring out some cachassa, too, and we can make a real night of it."

"Playing with girls and rum is no way to dodge the devil," I told him.

"But if you have a handsome girl and plenty of drink, why care if the devil does get you?"

I knew well that he cared little for women or liquor. But I retorted:

"Your friend the Barrigudo has plenty of rum. See what it has done for him."

"Ugh!" He wrinkled his nose as if I had put something offensive under it.

"I hope I shall not meet him again tonight. He spoils my appetite as well as my thirst."

"Have courage. I have not seen him since yesterday, and he probably is sleeping off more drink. We are not likely to be near him."

I was wrong. We were soon to be much nearer to that Barrigudo than we expected. And before we parted from him? Well, senhores, you shall hear.

THE sun slid down and was gone. Fires sprang up around the House of Voices. The thunder of the big gambas filled the jungle, each beaten by a man astride the log, pounding the skin head with his knuckles. The clatter of caracasha rattles broke out. And all the Indians, big and little, hurried to the round demon-house where they could be safe. Walking more slowly, we followed.

The fires surrounding the House were many but small, none being very close to the curving wall. We found that there were really two rings of these fires, with a fairly wide space between the inner and the outer circle; and in this space the people arranged themselves.

As we approached, the young chief came out to meet us and pointed to a spot where we were to squat. When we had settled ourselves we found the old chief himself beside us, staring at the ground. The young chief sank down on the other side of us.

Nobody spoke. Talk would have been useless in that booming, rattling uproar. Patiently we waited for Pajé to walk out, or for something else to occur. But we waited long and nothing happened. The drummers and rattlers kept up their work without a pause, and everyone else squatted or sat motionless while the bright moonlight flooded the clearing. At length I tired of it and arose to go back to my hut.

At once the young chief sprang up and blocked me. Other men also arose and moved toward us. Shouting in the tall fellow's ear, I told him I did not want to stay here, and that I would risk being carried off by devils. I wanted to get into my hammock.

But he yelled back that the danger was not mine alone. If a demon got me, that demon would keep coming back each night and taking others. And when I still insisted on going, he added that no man could be allowed to imperil the rest in that way, and that anyone trying to leave the fire-circle would be killed at once.

I sat down again. Then came a sudden break in the drumming. The door of the House had swung open. Out from it came the barrigudo. He lifted a hand. The racket of the caracashas ceased. With the end of the tumult the place seemed still as death.

"Pajé, master of demons, has come," he said in a throaty tone. "Be still."

We were still. And in the stillness we heard whisperings and squeakings in the air above and around us. The air-devils also had arrived.

Thin voices spoke from nowhere?in the grass, up overhead, at the very walls of the House. And they spoke one word only:

"Hewy! Blood!" A singing voice answered them: "Ehe ahranm! Ehe ahrahm! Wait a while! Wait a while!"

Another singing voice, high and sweet, played around in the air over us, saying nothing?only singing without words. But then, from the smoke- hole at the peak of the House, a harsh little voice croaked:

"Hewy! Hahmbuya heh! Blood! I am hungry!" And another voice, sharp and squeaky, cried: "Heyimbeh! Kunyimuku! A heart! A young girl!"

Fear showed plain in the faces of the Indians near me as they heard the demands of the dreaded demons. All stared at the roof. I too looked up there; but, seeing nothing, dropped my gaze and glanced along the line of terrified eyes gleaming in the light of fire and moon.

For a moment all was very still. Then out rolled the sonorous tones of Pajé himself:

"Seek ye the blood and hearts of beasts, not of my people. Begone from this place!"

The command came from within the House. The Barrigudo was not in sight. The door stood partly open, and in the dimness beyond it I saw a giant figure?tall and thick and headless?standing in smoke. Others saw it too. Pedro drew in his breath sharply, and the old chief gave a startled grunt. Slowly the door swung shut.

Queer snarling noises sounded on the roof, as if the hungry demons raged at the command to go. Silence followed. When it had lasted for the space of a dozen slow breaths, Pajé spoke again.

"So ye would snatch at the lives of young girls, the mothers to be? Ye would drink the blood of the strong men? Then I, Pajé, will give my people to drink of that which will not harm them but will burn you if ye touch them. Slave, take this bowl and give to all except the two strangers "

Again the snarls sounded above, with broken cries of rage. The door opened, and out came the Barrigudo, grunting under the weight of a tall clay jar of liquid. This he set down beside the old chief.

"Three swallows," he growled. "Then pass on. Do not step outside the fire circles. You and you"?looking at Pedro and me?"stand inside the inner ring. You get none of the drink of Pajé."

Wondering, we obeyed and stood watching. The Barrigudo tilted the jar. The old chief drank three times from it, arose, and made room for his son. When the young man had taken his three swallows he also moved on. And one by one, in their turns, men and women and children stopped at the jar, drank, and passed along between the fires.

At length the old chief returned, having walked all around the house, and sank into his place facing the door. Everyone in the circle except Pedro and myself had taken of the drink, and the jar was almost empty.

"Let the drums beat," muttered the Barrigudo. The old chief cried out shrilly. The thundering of the logs broke out again. Pedro and I, not knowing what else to do, squatted where we were. When we tired of squatting we lay down on our backs and watched little clouds drift across the big white moon.

For some time the drumming went steadily on, and I became so used to it that I began to grow sleepy. If this was to last all night, I thought, I might as well take what rest I could there on the ground. So I shut my eyes, and was dozing away when I noticed that the drumming seemed to be growing weaker. The drummers were tired, I thought, and should be relieved. But I did not bother to look at them until Pedro softly gripped my shoulder.

He was wide-awake and grinning. He moved his head toward the nearest drum. I looked and found that its drummer was no longer astride it, but lying beside it. He seemed asleep Beyond him another drummer was swaying drowsily, and soon he slipped off his log and lay still. Only two of the dozen drums now were booming, and soon there was only one. Then that one stopped

But the place was not silent. Now that the drums were quiet we could hear a chorus of snores. All around the circle lay Indians sound asleep, and others were drooping forward and slumping down on the earth. Both the old chief and his son lay as if dead.

By ones and twos they all slipped down and remained where they dropped. We heard a short, hard chuckle from the door of the round house. In the opening, his teeth gleaming in his dirty face, stood the Barrigudo.

AS WE looked at him he walked away from us, around the house. Returning to the door, he went in, remained a moment, and came out with an atura basket on his back. In his hands he held our guns and machetes. Straight to us he came.

"Come," he grunted. He was sober, or nearly so. He walked away with a sure, steady stride. We arose and trailed behind him.

"Get your hammocks," he ordered, pausing before our hut.

Swiftly we untied our beds and slung them over our shoulders. Across the moonlit clearing he swung then to the edge of the deep jungle shadows. There he halted.

"A torch. In the basket." I dipped a hand into his atura and found at the top a fagot of twigs and bark. Pedro lighted it. The Barrigudo took the flaming bundle and started on. I walked along behind him, Pedro coming after me. Under the trees it was very black in places, but our leader never hesitated. Before long we reached water.

The fat Indian held his torch out, and we looked down into our own canoe. He dropped our weapons into it and motioned for us to get in. Throwing in our hammocks, we did so. As we picked up the paddles he turned away.

"Wait! What does this mean?" I demanded.

"Wait! You shall see what it means," he retorted.

His torch moved a few yards along the bank, dipped, wavered about, then stood still. In a moment it moved outward. A paddle dipped. The barrigudo also was afloat.

Along the narrow inlet the boats moved until they entered a wider space where the moonlight shone down. Here the barrigudo pulled the torch from its fastening at the bow, plunged it hissing into the water, dropped its charred stub into the bottom of his canoe, swerved to the right, and slid on along the wide furo.

For hours we worked steadily westward, saying nothing. To me, after the days of inaction, it was a joy to feel my muscles loosen and stretch, to be going somewhere, even though I knew not where or why.

Pedro too, though not so strong as before his sickness, moved with his usual swaying stroke. The barrigudo, however, with his big belly and his weight of fat and his muscles rotted by rum, soon found his task harder and harder.

Often we heard him gasp and grunt as if driving himself beyond endurance. But he kept on doggedly, though splashing more and more, until we marveled that he could still move. Not until the sinking of the moon made the channel very dark did he quit.

Then he dropped his paddle noisily into his canoe. Wheezing and groaning, he slumped forward, clasping his huge stomach. We drew alongside and waited. After a time his distress passed and he straightened up.

Beside us opened another narrow cove. He swung his head toward it, lifted his paddle, and shoved his boat into it. When well away from the furo he stopped again.

"Keep awake," he said hoarsely. "I must sleep. If anyone calls do not answer. Wake me at sunrise."

Exhausted, he laid himself down in his canoe, gave a long sigh, and slept.

"What do you make of this, Lourenço?" my partner asked.

"Nothing, unless he is escaping with us," said I. "Yet for us it is not really an escape?we should soon have been freed. But we shall see."

"Would soon have been freed?" Pedro puzzled.

"Were we not free to go at any time after I left the House of Voices?"

"No." And for the first time I told him of the hiding of our canoe and the orders of the young chief.

"I wish I had known that," he grumbled. "Yes, and you would have made trouble for yourself. We are out of the place now, so forget what is past. You had better sleep a little too. I will keep watch."

He retorted that he was no child and could watch as well as I. Yet after he smoked a cigaret he did curl up on our hammocks, and soon I was the only one awake.

When the sun had burned away the morning mists I touched Pedro and prodded the barrigudo. Pedro sat up a little stiffly, but with a smile. The slave of Pajé and of liquor had hard work to sit up at all, but after several attempts he managed it. He scooped up some water in his hands and drank it thirstily. After blinking a minute he again took up his paddle.

"Por Deus! Your barrigudo now drinks water!" Pedro laughed. "What marvel shall we see next?"

The barrigudo gave him an ugly look through his hair. I began to suspect that the man did know Portuguese. So I spoke to him in that tongue.

"Let us eat." He only grunted as if he did not understand and did not want to, and shoved his dugout toward the furo. We did not stop to eat, but pushed out in his wake.

Again he turned westward. And all through that hot forenoon, senhores, he kept going. Sweating, breathing hard, groaning at times, but always pulling away at his paddle, he drove onward until noon. By that time his strokes were so weak that his boat merely crawled, and we were so hungry that we were ugly.

"Are you trying to kill yourself and us with work and hunger?" I complained. "What does all this mean? Where are you going?"

Slowly, looking us straight in the eyes, he answered:

"Eheh ahoh putare heretamo koteh. I am going away to my country."

So that was it. Somehow it seemed strange that this creature could have any country other than the place where we had found him. Yet I did not despise him now as I had. His grim fight to keep going in spite of his clumsiness and his rum-rot made me respect him a little. I was about to ask him, in a more civil tone, where his country was, when Pedro broke in.

"So are we. But we have eaten nothing today, and I am going ashore now to eat and rest a while."

The barrigudo watched him a minute, then stooped, drew something out of his basket, bit off a piece, and threw the rest to us. It was a flat cake of pressed leaves and bark, wet and sticky as if it had been soaked.

"Chew that," he said. "Swallow." Seeing that he was already chewing his own, we each bit off a chunk and ground it between our teeth. It tasted both sweetish and sour, quickly filling our mouths with water. After we had swallowed a few times our hunger left us and we felt refreshed.

"What is it?" Pedro asked. "Petema. Tobacco," he replied with a slight grin. "Yahoh uahn. Let us go now."

And he resumed paddling.

"It is no more tobacco than my foot," Pedro snorted in Portuguese. "But I will not let that bag- belly outpaddle me."

And his shoulders also began to sway again and we moved on.

IT WAS sundown when we stopped at last. Up another inlet we went, around snake-like curves, and into a large, rounded pool.

"Here we are safe," panted the hairy man. Picking a shelving spot, he drove his dugout ashore, high and hard. As the canoe struck he tumbled forward and lay wheezing. When he was able to get up he crawled out on hands and knees, looking more than ever like a huge monkey.

While we landed he sat in the soft mud by the water, his head hanging, his eyes closed; and he stayed there until we had put up our hammocks, made a fire, and prepared to eat.

"Come and eat," I called. Wearily he lifted his head and slowly he got up. But he did not eat. He looked at the fire, then stumbled over to it and flopped down beside it.

"Anih hahmbuya heh. I am not hungry," he sighed?and went to sleep sprawling on the bare ground, with the smoke creeping over him.

We let him lie. We did not feel hungry either at first, but after the first few mouthfuls we ate like starved men. When we were full we were stupid from fatigue and heavy eating. After building up the fire so that it would burn slowly and long, we tumbled into our hammocks; and I fell asleep at once.

When I opened my eyes on a new day the Barrigudo was gone.

My machete also was gone. The rifles were there, however, and nothing else was missing. And when I looked at the water's edge, there was his canoe, just as he had driven it up at sundown

Of the man himself, though, there was no sign?no blood on the ground, no fresh tracks near the water. He had not been killed or carried off, and he seemed not to have walked away. He had simply vanished.

Wondering, I made breakfast and awoke Pedro. We called, but got no answer. So, after some talk and argument, we ate and smoked, intending then to search the bush. Before our cigarets were finished, however, a deep voice spoke behind us.

"Good morning!" The words were English. The voice was not that of the Barrigudo, yet it was familiar. And the man we saw as we whirled and looked was not the Barrigudo either?not the Barrigudo we knew; but it was such a man as the Barrigudo might be if, by some miracle, he should become clean.

A broad, heavy white man stood there. Yes, senhores, a white man?burned to a coppery brown by the sun, black-haired of body as well as of head, but a white man for all that. His whole body glowed as if it had been scrubbed and scraped and scrubbed again. His hair was not long and greasy like that of the Barrigudo, but cut close to his broad skull; and his scalp, too, was rosy as if rubbed almost raw.

Under his black brows a pair of deep brown eyes looked straight at us without wink or waver. His mouth was not loose-lipped but set in a resolute line. His head was up and his shoulders back; and, though he was overfat, both face and body were those of a man strong and self-reliant.

Open-mouthed, we stared until he spoke again. "Understand English?"

"Y-y-yes, senhor," Pedro gulped. "We both speak it But?but are you?the Barrigudo?"

"I was. Yesterday. Today I am?somebody else."

He talked slowly, halting for words as if it had been so long since he had last used his own language that it did not come easily to his tongue.

"Now that I am fit to do so," he went on, "I will eat breakfast. Been cleaning up at a little pool back in the bush."

Calmly he advanced and handed me my machete. In a dazed manner I took it.

"Yours," he nodded "I used the back to scrape myself and the edge to saw off my hair. Overdid the haircut a bit. Shall have to make a leaf hat now. What have you to eat?"

Dumbly I arose and got out more farinha and dried fish. With the farinha I tried to make some chibeh, but I paused to stare at him again and spilled half of the water.

"Never mind the chibeh," he said, gnawing off a chunk of the pirarucu fish. "I will make it myself. Sit down. You seem upset."

A little vexed, I put my mind on my work and made the chibeh as it should be. Placing the gourd on the ground, I made a new cigaret and watched him eat.

"Roll me a smoke too, if you please," he added.

"Haven't had one for four years. Now that I have quit boozing I need a smoke to steady me."

"You have stopped drinking?" I repeated as I reached for my pouch.

"I have. It's gnawing at me now, but I'm through with it. ?? the stuff! It's been my curse.

I'll beat it or die trying. And I'll not die."

He bit savagely into the fish again, and chewed it as if grinding up with it his craving for drink. He ate his chibeh in the same fierce way. When that was gone he drank heavily?of water. After that he swiftly lighted the cigaret I had made, sucked the smoke into his lungs, coughed, choked, tried again, and made better work of it.

"Got to learn to smoke all over again," he grumbled. "It makes me dizzy and it tastes rotten. But it helps some.

"Now you fellows are bursting with questions, I suppose. Shoot them quick. We've got to move."

"Anything you wish to tell us, senhor, we shall be glad to hear," Pedro replied. "We ask no questions about matters that do not concern us."

"Thanks. Mighty decent of you. Then I'll say this much now, for it does concern you: About another day's paddle from here we hit a rambling sort of river running northeast. Are you hunting for a way to the Amazon?"

"No. We seek the Javary, in the northwest."

"Oh. I see. Probably this furo continues northwest after we reach the river. Not sure about that, though. We'll see. If you go northwest I leave you at the river. I travel northeast."

"To the Amazon?"

"To the Amazon. Then to the Atlantic. Then to America?North. Three A's in a row. They spell 'Home' to me. Let's go."

He heaved himself up, winced from the pain of stiff muscles, clamped his jaws, and marched to his canoe. As soon as we could gather up our hammocks, weapons, and food we entered our own craft, and again we were off.

ALL day we kept on his wake. All day he drove himself to keep his paddle going, eating nothing, only chewing a few mouthfuls of that "tobacco" of his which banished hunger and subdued fatigue. And as mile after mile crept past and the sweat continued to roll off him he seemed slowly to shrink?shrink to firm muscle and slough off his gross fat.

Whether or not this was only my fancy, I know that when we stopped that night on the far side of his rambling river?for we did reach it late that day?he was shaped more like a man and less like a monkey. And his face, with new lines eaten into it, was that of a map, fighting a hard but winning fight.

That night, too, he bathed himself again, though so tired that he could not stand steadily. And he ate and smoked before he lay down by the fire.

"Take my hammock," I urged. But he would not. And when I spoke of snakes, he retorted:

"Any snake that bites me will die of delirium tremens. There's a lot of bad booze in my system yet. I'll take the chance. Good night!"

So, as before, Pedro and I slept in our hammocks and he on the ground. And, as before, he was up first in the morning.

"Now," he said after breakfast, "we have time to talk.

"You're wondering, of course, how I came into this part of the world. Briefly, then, I was a surgeon. I was a good surgeon. But I drank. More than once I operated when I was nowhere near sober. That meant trouble ahead.

"The trouble came. There was a delicate operation?a young woman?and I was shaky from the effects of a wild night. I had to quit in the middle of the job. Another doctor finished it, but the damage was done. She never recovered consciousness. It was just as well that she didn't.

"That botch broke me. I lost my grip. I drank harder?slid downhill fast. Lost my practice and about everything else, including self-respect and hope. Never committed any crime, though. I'm clean in that way if in no other.

"Drifted into Brazil as 'doctor' of a crowd of wealthy bums who came up the Amazon on a steam-yacht, calling themselves 'explorers.' Lots of money and fool ideas, but no brains. Only thing they explored was every known variety of Brazilian booze. I was the best explorer in the bunch when it came to that.

"Had a drunken row and got put ashore at some Indian town and left there. Thought I had hit the bottom then, but there was still some distance to slide. Yes, there was.

"I kept drinking. Quit everything else?even quit wearing clothes?but I kept drinking. Went from one place to another with Indians?only friends I had left, and some of them not very cordial. I was a no-good white, down and out.

"Just how I got into that place back yonder I don't remember. Drifting around, drunk whenever I could find booze?finally got lost, starved nearly to death, woke up in a place of scabby spotted folks who had fed me and then dumped me in a medicine man's hut.

"I got well, looked for more booze, and couldn't find enough. But I fixed a way to get plenty. Then I stayed with it until you fellows came."

He paused, scowling out at the river flowing past, as if he saw the last four years of his life floating by him on its surface. We said nothing. After a time he went on.

"There is more than one way of getting booze. Buy it, make it yourself, get others to make it for you. When you're lazy and broke there are objections to all these ways. Making it yourself means work and waiting. Buying it means paying for it. And folks won't make it for you unless they receive something in return.

"Of course, a man who won't make his own and has no means of buying it has two ways left?to beg it or steal it. But there are places where even these ways won't get you much. And I was in one of those places.

"There was a little booze in that town, but only a little. The reason why there wasn't more was because the people were too sick and sluggish to work and make it. What little I could get was only a teaser for a two-handed rum-hound like me. I grew desperate. And in my desperation I got a big idea.

"I had bummed many a drink?and many a drunk?among Indians who gave it to me because I could do surgical and medical work for them. I had knocked around in this country long enough to pick up a knowledge of your jungle diseases, and also of the medicinal virtues of your native roots, herbs, leaves, barks, and so on. I had seen that scabby, spotty skin disease before, and I knew how to cure it.

"But I was tired of begging drinks; I wanted to command them. And while I was in that dead medicine man's house I got the idea. I began to play God.

"I mean just that. God created men. I had to create men too. Those spotted Indians were nothing but living corpses, and I had to take those dead- alive people and turn them into healthy folks. Otherwise they wouldn't make booze for me.

"So, for the sake of rum, I became a creator and a savior of bodies. Their souls didn't interest me. My own didn't interest me either.

"Worrying along with what rum I could get and driven by my idea, I worked like a beaver inside the round house until it was ready. Then I made the air-devils talk and sing. After that I built Pajé.

"Pajé was just the boy to handle those Indians, both before and after they were cured; and I saw to it that he never botched things as I had botched that operation back home. So everybody got well, and as the servant of Pajé I lived on the fat of the land and was soused to the collar most of the time.

"And then you chaps came along and woke me up. That's all. Make me another cigaret, please."

"BUT senhor, that is not all," I protested. "What was that work which you did in the round house? How did you make air-devils and Pajé? What is Pajé? How did you?"

I broke off and glanced upward. Above our heads sounded a sweetly singing little voice. Nothing was there; the air was empty. As I dropped my gaze again to the Barrigudo I found him grinning.

"The singing voices follow us," he laughed. "And so does Pajé."

Without moving, he suddenly boomed out in resonant tones:

"You have eyes but you see not. You have ears but your brain is deaf. I am Pajé, master of demons! I am the air-devils! I am the whole ?? works!

Give me that cigaret!"

It was the voice of Pajé himself.

"But how?" I gasped.

"Oh, give me the makings and let me roll my own smoke," he said impatiently in his usual tone.

When his cigaret was lighted he explained.

"I built an inner wall to the house. A false wall, with space between it and the real wall for me to move. Fixed a blind doorway on a slant in a dim spot at one side. Kept the house dark and smoky all the time to conceal it. Could appear and disappear in no time that way.

"The great Pajé was hidden between the walls. He was nothing but a light framework fitting over my shoulders, with dark cloth draped over it. Had a very thin place in the cloth so that I could see through it. Trickery and a change of voices did the rest."

"Por Deus!" muttered Pedro. "You fooled us with our own trick. We ourselves used such frames and great false heads to terrify Indians back on the Jurua. But yours was headless and armless?"

"And you were sick, and I kept up the demon stuff, and the Indians firmly believed I was an infernal monster and told you so. As for the air- devils, I happen to be good at ventriloquism? throwing voices around, you know.

"I had a bag of tricks inside the house too? strings which would open and shut the door or the jaws of heads on the wall, and so on. You saw some of them, Lourenço. Remember the boa's head that ordered you out and the vampire that put you to sleep? That dust that fell into your face when you pulled down the vampire was a sure-fire knockout powder.

"There were other things which you didn't see because I didn't need to use them on you. I had a very complete workshop there."

"I believe you," I agreed. "But if you yourself are the air-devils, how did you throw those voices all the way from the place where we found you to the spot where I first heard them? How did you even see us through all that bush? Why, senhor, you were asleep!"

"No more asleep than I am now," he chuckled. "Wasn't far from you, either. I was right at the edge of the bush, squatting and grubbing around for a certain kind of root, when you hove in sight.

"Happened to have just enough rum in me to make me feel good. Kept out of sight and tossed voices around just to see what you'd do.

"Then, finding you had sickness aboard, thought I'd look it over. While you were paddling downstream and then going up that cove looking for me I took a shortcut, lay down under a tree where you couldn't miss me, and pretended sleep. After that I had to be surly and carry out my role. Anything else?"

"Yes. What ailed Pedro, and how did you cure the Indians of spotted sickness, "and?"

"Not so fast. I am not going to tell you all I know. But if ever you become diseased with that spotted ailment, make strong sarsaparilla and drink it. Very strong, plenty of it.

"Pedro had malignant fever, which kills in a few hours. You brought him to me barely in time, and I had a job to pull him through. Didn't touch a drop of rum in all the time I was working on him? didn't sleep a wink either. The minute he was out of the house, though, I gulped about a gallon of jungle lightning."

I nodded, remembering his appearance when he passed me an hour after Pedro's release from the House of Voices. After being sober and sleepless for forty-eight hours, it was no wonder that he had become drank so swiftly and completely when the tension ended.

"Now that I know what I know," Pedro said slowly, "I am sorry, senhor, that I said what I did when I saw you the next day."

"You needn't be. It was exactly what I needed?a look at myself through another man's eyes. It jolted me into realization of just how much of a beast I had become.

"When I had shut myself up inside the round house and knocked out my hangover with a little homemade bracer I sat down and did some real thinking. Didn't have to meditate much concerning my exact social status?your disgust showed me where I stood.

"But I had to figure out a way to get out of there quick. Knew I had to go quick or I'd lose the ambition to go. Knew the Indians would never let me go if they could stop me.

"So I fixed them so they couldn't stop me. Scared them with the air-devils and then fed them that Pajé-drink, which was doped heavily enough to knock them cold for twelve hours. So here I am."

"And now that you are here, what will you do?" I asked.

"Go home, I told you. When I reach home I'm going to atone for sacrificing that young woman's life on the altar of Bacchus. I'm going to save a good many other lives in its place.

"No, not by surgery?I doubt if I shall ever operate again. But, as I said before, I've learned a good deal down here about native medicines, and I've experimented a lot and worked out new remedies of my own. Had to do it in order to keep up my bluff. The result is that I know powerful drug combinations of which North America knows nothing. But North America is going to hear about them soon. See that basket?"

He motioned toward the atura which he had brought from the House of Voices on that last night, and which now lay in his canoe.

"It's full of leaves, bark, roots, twigs, pieces of vine?stuff which you'd call rubbish. But every one of them has a big value in medicine, and I know exactly what each is good for.

"In the next few years there may be good jobs here for men who will collect those things for the North American market. Want a job like that?"

We laughed.

"Thank you, senhor, but we are seringueiros," Pedro told him. "We collect nothing but rubber, mosquito bites, and danger. Those three things keep us so busy that we have no time for anything else."

"Suit yourselves," he said, and arose. "You say you go westward from here. But you haven't found the furo yet, so we'll travel together until you think you've hit it.

"Now let's move. My Indian jailers may be coming this way, and I'd rather make a clean getaway than have to fight them."

He planted his big body in his dugout and pushed out and downstream. Half a mile below our camping place he slowed.

"Looks like a channel there, running west," he said. "Your furo, perhaps. Going to chance it?"

After studying the quiet water opening out on the left bank we decided that it was what we sought. We urged him to come with us to the headquarters of our coronel, who would send him home as a gentleman. But he shook his head.

"I'm through with bumming," he snapped. "I'm working my way home. Glad to have met you, gentlemen. Goodbye."

"Wait!" cried Pedro. "You must take a gun. Here is one given me by an American soldier back toward the Jurua?he and his comrades had come here on a treasure-hunting journey, led by a crazy man, and when they went back toward the Amazon they gave us each a rifle. We have another, and plenty of cartridges. Take it, senhor, and some of our food, and my clothes?I shall not need them."

"I'll take the gun and some cartridges if you insist. Been wondering how you chaps got those Army Springfields, but didn't like to ask. Nothing else, thanks?not a thing. I can handle myself in the bush. Thanks again, and goodbye."

HE HELD out a hand, and we grasped it in farewell. Then he slapped his paddle into the river and heaved his boat downstream. Holding our own craft steady, we watched him until he passed out of sight. Not once did he look back.

"If he holds that pace to the Amazon he will grow much thinner than he is now," said Pedro as we turned into the furo.

"He will be hard as itauba stone-wood and free from all drink-craving when he reaches the great river," I agreed.

"Do you honestly believe he will win his fight with himself? He has far to go, and he may find Indian villages on his way."

"He will win. He has something to look forward to now. I have seen such men before. At first he drank as you and I drink when we feel like it?for the fun of carousing with others. Then he drank to drown the memory of the girl he had killed. Here in the jungle he drank to forget that he was, as he said, 'a no-good white, down and out.'

"But now he has before him the thought of home and the knowledge that he can wipe out his past. With that to draw him on, the rum of Indian villages will not snare him."

"You have it right," my comrade admitted. "A man's life depends on what is in his own heart. Yet you named him rightly when you called him barrigudo. Do you know what happens to a barrigudo when he leaves his own country?"

"He dies."

"He dies. And this man, leaving his own land, died and became a beast."

"But now the barrigudo is dead and a new man lives in his place."

"Si. It is as it should be. Now let us lean on our paddles, for we have many miles to go and the water ebbs."

We shot away along the furo, homeward bound.