Puslapio vaizdai

she was fairly gone, and Clara and I were left alone with Selphar's ghostly eyes forever on us. One night I had to lock the poor thing into her garretroom before I could sleep.

Just three weeks from the day mother started for the West, the coach rattled up to the door, and two women, arm in arm, came slowly up the walk. The one, erect, royal, with her great steadfast eyes alight; the other, bent and worn, gray-haired and sallow and dumb, crawling feebly through the golden afternoon sunshine, as the ghost of a glorious life might crawl back to its grave.



Children, She is too and by she

Mother threw open the door, and stood there like a queen. your aunt has come home. tired to talk just now will be glad to see you." We took her gently up stairs, into the room where the lilies were mouldering to dust, and laid her down upon the bed. She closed her eyes wearily, turned her face over to the wall, and said no word.

What was the story of those tired eyes I never asked, and I never knew. Once, as I passed the room, a quick picture showed through the open door. The two women lying with their arms about each other's neck, as they used to do when they were children together; and above them, still and watchful, the wounded Face that had waited there so many years for this.

One was speaking with weak sobs, and very low. It was Aunt Alice. I caught but two words, "My husband."

unknown till the day when the grave shall give up its dead, and the secrets of hearts oppressed and sinned against and sorrowful shall be revealed.

She lingered weakly there, within the restful room, for seven days, and then one morning we found her with her eyes upon the thorn-crowned face, her own quite still and smiling.

A little funeral train wound away one night behind the church, and left her down among those red-cup mosses that opened in so few months again to cradle the sister who had loved her. Two words only, by mother's orders, marked the simple headstone,


I have given you facts. Explain them as you will. I do not attempt it, for the simple reason that I cannot.

A word must be said as to the fate of poor Sel, which was mournful enough. Her trances grew gradually more frequent and erratic, till she became so thoroughly diseased in mind and body as to be entirely unfitted for household work, and, in short, nothing but an encumbrance. We kept her, however, for the sake of charity, and should have done so, till her poor, tormented life wore itself out; but after the advent of a new servant, and my mother's death, she conceived the idea that she was a burden, cried over it a few weeks, and at last one bitter winter's night she disappeared. We did not give up all search for her for years, but nothing was ever heard from her. He, I hope, who permitted life to be such a terrible mystery to her, has cared for her some

But what that husband was remains how, and kindly, and well.

[blocks in formation]



MAJOR COUTINHO and myself the country presented itself to my mind

passed three days in the investigation of the Serra of Erreré. We found it to consist wholly of the sandstone deposits described in my previous article, and to have exactly the same geological constitution. In short, the Serra of Monte Alegre, and of course all those connected with it on the northern side of the river, lie in the prolongation of the lower beds forming the banks of the river, their greater height being due simply to the fact that they have not been worn to the same low level. The opposite range of Santarem, which has the same general outline and character, shares, no doubt, the same geological structure. In one word, all these hills were formerly part of a continuous formation, and owe their present outline and their isolated position to a colossal denudation. The surface of the once unbroken strata, which in their original condition must have formed an immense plain covered by water, has been cut into ravines or carried away over large tracts, to a greater or less depth, leaving only such portions standing as from their hardness could resist the floods which swept over it. The longitudinal trend of these hills is to be ascribed to the direction of the current which caused the denudation, while their level summits are due to the regularity of the stratification. They are not all table-topped, however; among them are many of smaller size, in which the sides have been gradually worn down, producing a gently rounded surface. Of course, under the heavy tropical rains this denudation is still going on, though in a greatly modified form.

I cannot leave this Serra without alluding to the great beauty and extraordinary extent of the view to be obtained from it. Indeed, it was here that for the first time the geography of

as a living reality, in all its completeness. Insignificant as is its actual height, the Serra of Erreré commands a wider prospect than is to be had from many a more imposing mountain; for the surrounding plain, covered with forests, and ploughed by countless rivers, stretches away for hundreds of leagues in every direction, without any object to obstruct the view. Standing on the brow of the Serra, with the numerous lakes intersecting the low lands at its base, you look across the Valley of the Amazons, as far as the eye can reach, and through its midst you follow for miles on either side the broad flood of the great river, carrying its yellow waters to the sea. As I stood there, panoramas from the Swiss mountains came up to my memory, and I fancied myself standing on the Alps, looking across the plain of Switzerland, instead of the bed of the Amazons, the distant line of the Santarem hills on the southern bank of the river, and lower than the northern chain, representing the Jura range. As if to complete the comparison, I found Alpine lichens growing among cactus and palms, and a crust of Arctic cryptogamous growth covered rocks, between which sprang tropical flowers. On the northern flank of this Serra I found the only genuine erratic boulders I have seen in the whole length of the Amazonian Valley, from Pará to the frontier of Peru, though there are many detached masses of rock, as, for instance, at Pedreira, near the junction of the Rio Negro and Rio Branco, which might be mistaken for them, but are due to the decomposition of the rocks in place. The boulders of Erreré are entirely distinct from the rock of the Serra, and consist of masses of compact hornblende.

It would seem that these two ranges

skirting a part of the northern and southern banks of the Lower Amazons are not the only remnants of this arenaceous formation in its primitive altitude. On the banks of the Japura, in the Serra of Cupati, Major Coutinho has found the same beds rising to the same height. It thus appears, by positive evidence, that over an extent of a thousand miles these deposits had a very considerable thickness in the present direction of the valley. How far they extended in width has not been ascertained by direct observation, for we have not seen how they sink away to the northward, and towards the south the denudation has been so complete that, except in the very low range of hills in the neighborhood of Santarem, they do not rise above the plain. But the fact that this formation once had a thickness of more than eight hundred feet within the limits where we have had an opportunity of observing it, leaves no doubt that it must have extended to the edge of the basin, filling it to the same height throughout its whole extent. The thickness of the deposits gives a measure for the colossal scale of the denudations by which this immense accumulation was reduced to its present levei. Here then is a system of high hills, having the prominence of mountains in the landscape, produced by causes to whose agency inequalities on the earth's surface of this magnitude have never yet been ascribed. We may fairly call them denudation mountains.

At this stage of the inquiry we have to account for two remarkable phenomena. First, the filling of the Amazonian bottom with coarse arenaceous materials and finely laminated clays, immediately followed by sandstones rising to a height of more than eight hundred feet above the sea; the basin meanwhile having no rocky barrier towards the ocean on its eastern side. Second, the wearing away and reduction of these formations to their present level, by a denudation, more extensive than any thus far recorded in the annals of geology, which has

given rise to all the most prominent hills and mountain chains along the northern bank of the river. Before seeking an explanation of these facts, let us look at the third and uppermost deposit.

This deposit, essentially the same as the Rio drift, has been minutely described in my former article; but in the north, it presents itself under a somewhat different aspect. As in Rio, it is a clayey deposit, containing more or less sand, and reddish in color, though varying from deep ochre to a brownish tint. It is not so absolutely destitute of stratification here as in its more southern range, though the traces of stratification are rare, and, when they do occur, are faint and indistinct. The materials are also more completely comminuted, and, as I have said above, contain hardly any large masses, though quartz pebbles are sometimes scattered throughout the deposit, and occcasionally a thin seam of pebbles, exactly as in the Rio drift, is seen resting between it and the underlying sandstone. In some places this bed of pebbles even intersects the mass of the clay, giving it in such instances an unquestionably stratified character. There can be no question that this more recent formation rests unconformably upon the sandstone beds beneath it; for it fills all the inequalities of their denudated surfaces, whether they be more or less limited furrows, or wide, undulating depressions. It may be seen everywhere along the banks of the river, above the stratified sandstone, sometimes with the river mud accumulated against it; at the season of the enchente, or high water, it is the only formation left exposed above the water level. Its thickness is not great; it varies from twenty or thirty to fifty feet, and may occasionally rise nearly to a hundred feet in height, though this is rarely the case. It is evident that this formation also was once continuous, stretching over the whole basin at one level. Though it is now worn down in many places, and has wholly disappeared in others, its connection may be readily traced; since it is everywhere visible,

not only on opposite banks of the Amazons, but also on those of all its tributaries, as far as their shores have been examined. I have said that it rests always above the sandstone beds. This is true, with one exception. Wherever the sandstone deposits retain their original thickness, as in the hills of Monte Alegre and Almeyrim, the red clay is not found on their summits, but occurs only in their ravines and hollows, or resting against their sides. This shows that it is not only posterior to the sandstone, but was accumulated in a shallower basin, and consequently never reached so high a level. The boulders of Erreré do not rest on the stratified sandstone of the Serra, but are sunk in the unstratified mass of the clay. This should be remembered, as it will presently be seen that their position associates them with a later period than that of the mountain itself. The unconformability of the ochraceous clay and the underlying sandstones might lead to the idea that the two formations belong to distinct geological periods, and are not due to the same agency, acting at successive times. One feature, however, shows their close connection. The ochraceous clay exhibits a remarkable identity of configuration with the underlying sandstones. An extensive survey of the two, in their mutual relations, shows clearly that they were both deposited by the same water-system within the same basin, but at different levels. Here and there the clay formation has so pale and grayish a tint, that it may be confounded with the mud deposits of the river. These latter, however, never rise so high as the ochraceous clay, but are everywhere confined within the limits of high and low water. The islands also in the main course of the Amazons consist invariably of river-mud, while those arising from the intersection and cutting off of portions of the land by diverging branches of the main stream always consist of the well-known sandstones, capped by the ochre-colored clay.

VOL. XVIII. — NO. 106.


It may truly be said that there does not exist on the surface of the earth a formation known to geologists resembling that of the Amazons. Its extent is stupendous; it stretches from the Atlantic shore, through the whole width of Brazil, into Peru, to the very foot of the Andes. Humboldt speaks of it "in the vast plains of the Amazons, in the eastern boundary of Jaen de Bracamoros," and says, "This prodigious extension of red sandstone in the low grounds stretching along the east of the Andes is one of the most striking phenomena I observed during my examination of rocks in the equinoctial regions."* When the great natural philosopher wrote these lines, he had no idea how much these deposits extended beyond the field of his observations. Indeed, they are not limited to the main bed of the Amazons; they have been followed along the banks of its tributa. ries to the south and north as far as these have been ascended. They occur on the margins of the Huallaga and the Ucayall, on those of the Iça, the Jutahy, the Jurua, the Japura, and the Purus. On the banks of the Japura, where Major Coutinho has traced them, they are found as far as the Cataract of Cupati. I have followed them along the Rio Negro to its junction with the Rio Branco; and Humboldt not only describes them from a higher point on this same river, but also from the valley of the Orinoco. Finally, they may be tracked along the banks of the Madeira, the Tapajos, the Xingu, and the Tocantins, as well as on the shores of the Guatuma, the Trombetas, and other northern affluents of the Amazons. The observations of Martius, those of Gardner, and the recent survey above

Bohn's edition of Humboldt's Personal Narrative, p. 134. Humboldt alludes to these formations repeatedly; it is true that he refers them to the ancient conglomerates of the Devonian age, but his description agrees so perfectly with what I have observed along the banks of the Amazons, that there can be no doubt he speaks of the same thing. He wrote at a time when many of the results of modern geology were unknown, and his explanation of the phenomena was then perfectly natural. The passage from which the few lines in the text are taken shows that these deposits extend even to the Llanos.

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