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causes it to ooze out until not only the bags, but the half-naked negroes who handle them, are dripping and smeared with molasses from top to bottom. When the rotting bag bursts entirely, the contents is spread out in the sun, and barefoot negroes are sent to wade ankle-deep back and forth in it until it is dry enough to be shoveled up again.
The line from Recife to Timbauba is the original one of the English corporation which now operates the "Great Western of Brazil." The landscape through which it passes wears the same arid aspect as most of this easternmost part of South America, seeming sadly in need of irrigation, baking hot, often ankle-deep in sand. There was a bit of half-hearted sugarcane, but water was so scarce that there were only shallow mud-holes even for the rare cattle. Evidently the constant trade-winds, grateful though they are to the sun-scorched skin, are deadly to the soil, blowing far to the south and west the rains it sadly needs. Even bread dries up in this moistureless, heated air almost between the cutting and the raising to the lips. Yet one carries off the impression that, properly irrigated, and inhabited by an energetic people, this belly of South America should be able to feed all the armies of Europe.
The long-familiar, bushy, desert country, as dreary and uninspiring as a decapitated palm-tree, broke up frankly into sand-dunes as we neared the coast again, and through these and a bit of Arizona vegetation we rumbled into Natal, the end not only of the "Great Western of Brazil Railway," but the jumping-off place of those traveling north, for here South Amer
ica turns sharply to the westward. little line staggering under the name of "Estrada de Ferro Central do Rio Grande do Norte" does start from across the harbor and wanders a few hours and about as many miles out into the country; but it soon returns, as if terrified at the thought of losing itself in the choking wilderness. There would be no choice henceforth but to take to the ships. The Brazilian Government has long contemplated extending its principal line from Pirapora, on the São Francisco, to Pará, which would make it the "Central Railway of Brazil" indeed; but even had this nebulous project already been carried out, I should not have chosen that route, for while scenery is all very well in its way, the great bulk of Brazil's estimated thirty millions of people live along her seaboard.
The coast of Brazil is like the Nile in Egypt, or Broadway, the main thoroughfare, along which, if one travel it long enough, many faces will become familiar. There were half a dozen men on the Pará whom even I, accustomed to crawl along the land wherever possible instead of following the broad sea route of Brazilian travel, had seen before, somewhere, along the Avenida of Rio, at some theater in São Paulo, in the streets of Bahia or Pernambuco. If I had ever wondered, in my dust-laden, cinder-bitten, often broken journey from the Rio Grande of the South to the different one of the North, how Brazilian ladies, or the more finicky of their male contemporaries, traveled from one city to another, here was the answer. They took to the sea, either in one of the foreign ships that ply up and down the coast, or in the sometimes no less luxurious steamers of their own national line.
Ceará is the worst landing-place on the coast of Brazil, being no port at all, but merely a sandy shore, marked by a lighthouse far out on the end of a tongue of sand, and open to all the winds from off the North Atlantic. What it might be in bad weather was not hard to guess, for even with the slight swell of a calm and cloudless day the scores of heavy rowboats and freight-barges that came out a mile or more to meet us rolled and pitched like capering school-boys. That we would be ducked a few times in getting ashore was taken for granted, that being a common disaster in the port of Ceará.
My fears were rather for our outfit, which seemed on the point of being hopelessly smashed or dropped overboard before we got it lowered into one of the toy barges. At the shore end the landing facilities were even worse. A high and flimsy wooden wharf thrust itself far out to barge depth, and with the boat rising and falling twenty feet or more with every swell, half a dozen languid negroes, tugging at the extreme end of an often too-short rope, and liable, in their Brazilian apathy, to let go at any moment, slowly hoisted our old maroon trunks upon it. To have dropped almost any one of them would have meant the immediate canceling of the Kinetophone tour of Brazil.
As things were landed on the wharf, negroes put the lighter articles on their heads and straggled ashore, not of course without mishaps. One haughty lady, returning from Rio or Paris, had among her belongings six huge pasteboard boxes, which she or her maid had carelessly tied shut, and which an equally careless negro tried to carry off all at once without securing them.
He had taken three steps when the roaring sea wind picked two boxes off his head, opened them, and tossed the latest creation in headgear and feathers into the sea, a fate from which another dream in pink and froth was saved only by being stepped on by a barefooted, but unusually quickwitted, negro. They would not have been cheap hats anywhere, and in Brazil they had certainly cost at least four times the usual price. The owner having already waddled ashore before the mishap occurred, the negro waded out into the surf and rescued the feathered contraption, which, of course, he put back into the box and delivered as if nothing whatever had happened, getting his pay and fading from the landscape just before the owner opened the box to prepare for the gala first performance of a new invention by Edison at the municipal-state theater that evening.
As in the case of Pernambuco, the capital of Ceará is best known to the outside world by the name of the state, only in the interior of which it takes its correct title of Fortaleza. The old fort which gives it this name still forms a part of the public promenade near the "only" hotel, and to this day old cannon point bravely out to sea from its several dry, grassy levels. Situated directly on the sea, without so much as a creek to give its rowboats refuge, it has all the maritime advantages except a port. Its soil is sandy, almost Sahara-like in its aridity, and though it has some ten praças shaded by castanheiros, mangoes, palms, and other magnificent tropical trees, all its vegetation is dependent on the almost constant care of man. More American
windmills than in any town of similar size in the United States rise above the monotonous level of Ceará. It is almost entirely a one-story town, for its people know the terrors of earthquakes and have little faith in their loose, sandy soil. The landscape reminds one of the driest regions of Arizonaan Arizona of perpetual July, and it is hard to understand how the human race lives here, or why.
Ceará is famous for its hammocks; redes, or nets, they call them in Portuguese, for lack of an exact word. They are woven of cotton grown in the state, by hand still in the sertão, though by machinery in town factories, and great heaps of them lie for sale in the most nearly picturesque market-place in Brazil. The hammock is the favorite bed of the Cearense, and his lounge, cradle, and easy-chair; wherever the visitor enters, a hammock offers him
its lap. In and about among venders and buyers, and down the white-hot streets, wander blind beggars led by a sheep, the animal often wearing several bells to announce its coming. Many women and children, and some men, wear about their necks a little black hand made of ebony as a protection against the evil eye. Yet the leisurely traveler from the South is struck by the scarcity of African blood, which decreases in Brazil as one approaches the equator, so that here a full negro is seldom seen, and the prevailing mixture is Indian with white. The flat head of the Cearense is legendary, and the average complexion is a halfburnished copper. Their own citizens admit that four fifths of the people of Ceará are mestiços, with a greater or smaller percentage of aboriginal blood, and this gives them an individuality among their largely African
fellow-countrymen, with many of the characteristics of the South-Americans of the Andean regions. In place of the hilarious indifference of blacker Brazil, they face life with the rather melancholy fatalism of the New World aborigines.
The state of Ceará has long been notorious for its seccas, or deadly droughts. Of the four or five states in the so-called "dry zone" of northern Brazil, it is the most harshly treated by the moisture-sponging trade-winds. An all-wise editor has it that "in Ceará there has always been less lack of water than of instruction and practical knowledge of the most rudimentary notions of agronomy." A simple hot-air pump would do wonders, he contends, for wood is plentiful; and even crude windmills with cloth sails have been known to make garden spots of the driest parts of the state. But the traveler in primitive South America never ceases to marvel at the improvidence of wilderness people, which often costs them dearly. High as he stands in some respects among his fellow-Brazilians, the Cearense has not the energy and initiative needed to overcome his one great natural disadvantage, at least as a people, for individual members could do nothing, since to supply themselves with a special source of water would merely mean to have all their neighbors camp upon them in dry weather. Hence the state continues to endure periodical drought and famine with Indian fatalism, dying off, emigrating to the Amazonian region, or awaiting a change in the weather, "como Deus quere" ("whatever God wishes").
They call 1877 "O Anno da Fome" ("the Year of Famine") in Ceará, but there have been many others nearly
as deadly. When the never-ceasing winds from off the Atlantic refuse to bring rain with them, or carry it far into the interior, the trees grow bare, covering the ground with their leaves, as in the lands where winter reigns; the naked beds of rivers tantalize thirsting man and beast, the maps of Ceará divide its streams between "perennial" and "non-perennial," even the hardy roots of the mandioca dry up, and there is nothing left but flight or death. In the worst years scores of human skeletons have been strewn along the trails from the interior to Fortaleza, and even in the capital sufficient aid has often been unobtainable, so that plagues have broken out to add to the misery of the hordes of refugees, and people have died so continuously that there has been neither time nor energy to bury them. Those wealthy enough to have died in their hammocks are carried off in them; the corpses of others are tied hands and feet to a pole and borne to some sandy hollow beyond the town, where clouds of gorged and somnolent vultures hover. Many of the Cearenses become earth-eaters, which may postpone, but not alleviate, their fate. The more enterprising abandon what to them is their native land and take up life anew along the Amazon, enduring as best they can the gloomy heavens and months of constant rains, which make that region vastly different from their own cloudless land.
The opening up of the Amazon basin, and the consequent increase in the production of rubber, was mainly due to the droughts in Ceará. Nomad by atavism through his Indian ancestors, the irregularities of the season and the impossibility of counting on a certain to-morrow has made the Cea
"Among venders and buyers"
rense more so, and it is a rare spot that has been inhabited by the same family for generations. First they went singly to the rubber-fields, then in bands, and finally in whole ship-loads, contracted and shipped by regular recruiting agents. In the Amazonian wilderness they may die of fevers or other dread ailments, but at home they are sure to die of drought; therefore in years of extreme dryness the risk is worth taking. Thus nearly all the seringueros, rubber-gathers in the seringaes of Amazonia, are Cearenses; and if they live through all the dangers of the wilderness along the "Sea-River," and escape the onslaughts of the swarms of prostitutes of all types and nationalities who await them at Manaos or Pará on their downward journey, their return to Ceará is much like that of an Italian immigrant from America to
his native village. So rare and so important, in fact, is the native of Ceará who returns from the rubber-fields to his dry, but beloved, home that a special term has been coined for him: they call him a paroara, one who has been beyond Pará.
This year the drought threatened to be as bad as the fearful one of 1877; worse in fact, for then at least there was good old emperor Dom Pedro, whose statue in the praça just outside our window bore testimony to Ceará's gratitude for his timely assistance. Money was plentiful instead of the, country being wrung dry by a financial crisis, and there was the final resort of the rubber-fields, which returning paroaras were now reporting useless because of the low price of that commodity. Already tales of wholesale starvation were coming from the vicinity of Cratheus, and cattle were dying by thousands throughout the interior, leaving nothing but their hides to recoup the owners for their labor and investment. True, there was an imposing government department in Fortaleza, known as the "Inspectory of Works against the Droughts," but the country people knew only too well that this was mainly a means for political rascals to make hay out of their sufferings.
A narrow-shouldered Baldwin engine dragged four freight- and six passengercars made in Delaware away from the little heap of hills into what might best be called a jungle, though there were few large trees, and no really dense vegetation. The leaves were everywhere shriveled, or curled together as if striving to protect their last suggestion of moisture from the malignant sun. The dry air was so clear that the arch of heaven seemed higher and the hori