Copyright © 2004-2017 
Early writings from Southern Patagonia
Title: The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn
Sub-title: A study of life in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia
Author: John R. Spears
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1895



It was in the month of April – and that is to say in the fall of the year – that I started on my voyage in the wake of the old-time explorers Magellan, Wallis, Cook, Bougainville, and the others whose names are associated with the Cape Horn region. I had passed the previous summer in the fever-laden atmosphere of Rio Janeiro had sweltered and fumed under torrid heats and breathed the odors from the streets that are too vile for description until the thoughts of ice floes and of the sweet breath of a gale from off the snow-capped ranges of the far south were like dreams of heaven. But just where I was to go – what points in the Patagonia coast and southward I was to visit – and how I was to make the journey, I did not know. Indeed, when I reached Buenos Ayres, I was half ashamed to make the inquiries which the lack of a guide book made necessary.

However, I made bold to confess my ignorance, and eventually learned that the Argentine Government kept three naval transports regularly employed in voyages along the coast to the south, and that one was loading for the voyage.

Four days later I piled my baggage into a carriage and drove to the ship. I found the deck thronged with people and littered with baggage. The officers were about in gold-laced uniforms. The people were in holiday attire. A gang of longshoremen gathered about the carriage to get at my baggage, but the ship's steward came to my rescue before I had ceased wondering how I could escape, and in a trice everything was on deck and under the eyes of policemen in sailor uniform who guard the docks there. Then I had leisure to look the steamer over in a cursory fashion. Here is what I learned :

The name of the ship was that of the capital of Argentine Tierra del Fuego – Ushuaia, She had been built in Stockholm as a River Platte lighter, but after some years of service in this humble capacity had been purchased by the Argentine Government and made over for use in carrying troops, supplies, passengers, and freight to and from the various settlements established on the southern coasts in 1884.

When the transformation was complete there was a saloon 14x7 feet large and 6 feet high between beams. On each side of the saloon were two state-rooms, of which the forward ones were fitted with four bunks and the others with two bunks. The larger state-rooms had the bunks lying athwartships and the floor space between the bunks was 20 inches wide. In the staterooms aft the bunks lay fore and aft, and because of the curve in the side of the ship, were narrower at the after end than the forward. There was a little more spare space in these rooms than in the rooms designed for four passengers, however, and so they were to be preferred.

As said, the saloon was 7x14 feet large. In its centre was a table 3 ½ x 8 feet large, while the companion-way came down just forward of the table. On the whole, the space left seemed scant, especially when I learned that we numbered ten passengers, of whom two were ladies, the wife and daughter of a Frenchman, bound to Santa Cruz to open a wholesale general store.

Pretty soon there was a call to breakfast, and then we began to realize just how scant the room was. Besides the ten passengers we had the purser, the ship's agent, and another man at the table, and the table was never intended to seat more than eight. There were six of us on each side of the table that was but eight feet long. The steward could not pass around the table to serve the food; he could only bring the platters and tureens down the ladder and place them at the head of the table, and then the purser had to do the rest without aid. However, the food was abundant, and, by the Italian standard, well cooked. People who don't like garlic might have objected to some of the dishes, but a traveller should learn to like garlic. We had cold beef tongue with onion salad, soup, a beef-stew called puchero that includes squashes among its vegetables, stewed tripe, beefsteak fried with onions and tomatoes, and we finished with fruit and black coffee. It was rather awkward sitting with one's shoulders edgewise to the table, but we got acquainted the easier for the discomfort and enjoyed the meal.

After breakfast we went on deck to smoke. We found the steward washing the dishes of the whole six courses in a single soup tureen full of water. The amount of water seemed rather small to me, but perhaps I was mistaken, because when I called the attention of my fellow passengers to it they did not think it remarkable. They said he used a fresh tureen of water for each course. Perhaps he did, but I'm bound to say the dish water as I saw it was thicker than the soup we had eaten from the tureen an hour before.

At 12 o'clock sharp, the hour of sailing, the Captain mounted the bridge. He was a slender, swarthy little fellow with straight black hair and a thin moustache. His name was H. V. Chwaites, and I learned that he had reached a rank corresponding to the Yankee grade of commander in sixteen years. Lighting a cigarette he shoved his hands into his pockets and ordered the lines cast off. Nobody seemed to think it an unusual circumstance that a naval Captain on the bridge should smoke cigarettes or put his hands in his pockets.

As we rounded the turn in the bend of the channel below the docks the pilot (a member of the ship's staff) ordered the quartermaster to right the wheel immediately after the captain had ordered it hard over, and the result was that we had to anchor to avoid grounding. Later still in the long channel leading to the roadstead the pilot did the same thing again. We were steaming along with a stiff breeze over the starboard bow while the steamer's nose was high out of water. In two minutes more we were skating along over Rio Plate mud outside the channel, and the upshot was that we had to call two tugs, which eventually towed us stern first into the channel once more. Having had some experience with ship captains, I was simply astounded when I found that this one did not swear at the pilot for running the ship out of the channel; why, he did not even remonstrate. He simply lighted a fresh cigarette and bowed his thanks to the tug captains.

That afternoon the stiff breeze became a gale, and some of the passengers looked with nervous apprehension at the spars of three different wrecked ships that we passed, but it appeared from the behavior of our steamer that she was a remarkable sea boat. Although but one hundred and sixty feet long and about thirty-five broad, she rolled so little in the sea that no racks were needed on the table when dinner was served. In fact the few of us not seasick had a very pleasant time at the meal, for we had plenty of room.

Night brought new matters of interest. In spite of the storm it was a warm, oppressive night, and the air of the cabin would have been stifling even with the companion-way wide open. The seasick ones wanted the doors closed, and so they were closed. Worse yet, I had chosen one of the after state-rooms because it had only two bunks. It had neither port-hole nor skylight nor window of any kind. The door was small, and it fitted the doorway, I thought, closer than any other two parts of the cabin fitted each other. When shut my room was hermetically sealed. My room-mate was very seasick and in a chill. Would I be so kind as to keep the door closed? There was but one answer. I had to say it would afford me great pleasure to do so. Reeking with perspiration I stripped, got into night clothes, and turned down the bedding, and found both sheets and blanket moister from the humidity of the air than the shirt I had discarded.

Although not wishing to anticipate my story, I may say I never saw the bedding a whit drier during the nine long weeks I was on board.

Morning came with surprises also. I was out early, but I had scarcely completed my toilet when one of the four gentlemen in the room forward of mine appeared and said:

"Will you make to me the favor of to permit me myself to wash in your room? The wash-bowl there in ours is broken."

I said, "With pleasure." He washed. Another and another one followed him. None of us thought about the slop pail under the bowl, and when it had been filled the slops ran over and flooded the floor, whereat my seasick room-mate groaned in anguish and swore feebly in French.

In the after state-room opposite mine was quartered an Argentine lieutenant bound to Ushuaia to take command of a small Government steamer. While the rest of us considered the slops we heard him calling for the steward, who had not yet appeared, and we asked him if we could be of assistance. He said we could. His door was shut and he could not open it. Would one of us open it for him? A glance at it showed us we could not. There was no knob to the lock.

My next door neighbor turned to look at his door, which had been open all night. It had no knob to the lock. Neither had the door to the state-room occupied by the French family. My door only of the four had a knob, but that was found to be removable. Thereafter, when a door was shut purposely or by the roll of the ship, the one imprisoned within would bang the panel with his knuckles and say:

"Señor, that you may wish to make me the favor to bring the door knob." Whereat every man present would skurry about to find the precious article, because each was sure to want such a favor done for him, sooner or later. We had a carpenter on board, too.

After washing ourselves a few of us gathered on deck near the head of the companion-way to get a breath of fresh air before coffee was served. Among the rest was the French merchant, who was the best groomed man of the lot. We were inclined to be cheerful as we watched the tumble of waters, and hailed with delight the advent of the steward when he first appeared. When he got closer to us we were not so much delighted. He was carrying an open sugar-bowl and a platter of tiny sweet biscuit – the certain signs of coming coffee. But before reaching the companion-way he had to pass a big chicken coop that occupied the centre of the quarter-deck, and, as he explained afterward, he never did like chickens. He had been seasick all night, and the sight and smell of that coop were too much for his stomach. Rushing to the rail he leaned far over, and, regardless of sugar-bowl and biscuit, paid a flowing tribute to Neptune.

At that the dapper Frenchman grew white, exclaimed "Oh, my God!" and, clasping his hands to his stomach, fled to the opposite rail.

However, the sea grew calm next day, and the warm sun came down on a sea rippled by a gentle breeze. Everybody came on deck then, perfectly willing and even anxious to be contented. But not all could succeed. There were some who did not think any better of chickens than the steward did.

The chicken coop, which stood on the quarter-deck, contained over thirty chickens, and it was provided with a slat bottom. People who object to having chickens roaming about over the lawn of a farmhouse will sympathize with the passengers on the Ushuaia who did not like to have a chicken coop in the centre of the quarter-deck. The roll of the ship was slight, but it swashed the refuse of that coop clear across the deck. Some of the passengers said such a condition was never before seen on the quarter-deck of a naval ship. However, we all knew that it would not do to brood over sorrows, and the livelier ones began to seek to amuse the rest. The Frenchman knew a dice game different from any the rest had ever heard of, but unfortunately had lost his dice. A German doctor bound to a Tierra del Fuego gold camp supplied the lack by whittling a set from a piece of Yankee pine.

Count Richard of Roedorn, Germany, a young man travelling for pleasure, and bound for the same camp, had several decks of cards, and had learned the Yankee game of poker. Several others knew enough of the game to make it interesting for a couple who knew it better yet. The rank of the Count, by the way, did not in any way interfere with his being a right good travelling companion. He was well educated, a traveller of experience, and he had a most cheerful disposition. So far as I observed, not even a finical critic could have found more than one habit about him to censure, though that, to be sure, would have excited the severest remarks among the knowing people of New York. Count though he was, he wore made-up ties.

However, to continue the story, Herr Ansorge, a miner, let us know that he was a member of a German singing club in Buenos Ayres, and two minutes later "Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay" was sung in four languages at once – Spanish, French, German, and English. A half dozen other songs followed in a way that demonstrated that if we were not trained musicians we formed a cosmopolitan crowd that could enjoy life under adverse circumstances off Patagonia.

Speaking of card playing reminds me that we saw much of it on that steamer, especially on the way home, but poker was not the game. They used the Spanish cards in which swords and cups take the place of spades and diamonds, and the game was like that known in the States as Banker in which the king was high. The lowest bet on this game was a dollar currency, and, of course, money changed hands rapidly, but the greatest win of any night's play was $150.

The prevailing winds of that region in April are found between west and south. The Ushuaia bunted and bobbed her way through a head sea for five days before the high alluvial cliffs that mark the entrance to New Gulf loomed through the chilled mist of a storming morning. Then the wind shifted and came on in scurrying squalls. We had theretofore travelled on with the utmost care for the safety of everything about the ship, but now the captain made sail to help the steam, until the masts groaned under the strain. She was a slow tub – good for eight or eight and a half knots in smooth water, but under the press of canvas she drove across New Gulf at more than ten. The passengers looked on in delight and wonder. Soon after noon we rounded to before a landscape that was made up of low, white alluvial cliffs, alternating with sloping brown stretches of sage brush and sand, behind which rose a range of hills to complete a picture for all the world like those to be seen in the deserts of southeastern California. Then, even before the sails were furled, the captain ordered a boat lowered into the water, and he was hastily rowed to the shore.

Later I got ashore myself. The captain met me at the landing. Would I like to meet the agent of the little railroad running down to Chubut? I would. He was a Welshman, who, of course, talked English, and had lived in the country twelve years. We walked over the desert sand to a long shanty of vertical boards roofed with galvanized iron. The captain walked in through an open door as one who felt at home might do. The room was a marvel of neatness, considering the surroundings, and there was a piano in the corner. While the captain enjoyed my admiring glance, a door to an adjoining room opened, and a most attractive girl of perhaps seventeen came in.

"Is this the agent of the railroad?" I asked, when we had been introduced.

"No, she is the telegraph operator," replied the captain; "but she will tell you anything about the country you may wish to learn for the benefit of the North Americans."

"Will you do that?" said I to her.

"I shall be glad to, unless you would rather talk with father," she replied, turning her big blue eyes on me in a way that showed she knew very well no man would want to see, or hear, or think of anybody else while she was around.

Three or four days later the Ushuaia was steaming slowly down the coast, bound for the ancient resort of pirates called Port Desire. It was a dreamy, Indian summer day, and the passengers were idling about when a servant asked me to go to the captain's quarters. I found him picking a guitar, but he put it away as I entered, and took a slip cut from a newspaper out of his pocket and handed it to me. Would I be so kind as to translate the little poem printed on the slip from English into Spanish? I would try. It was the story of a girl who stood on a pier weeping for a sailor whom the sharks had eaten in a far-away port, and it had a refrain:

"And the waves sigh low
As they ebb and flow,
For they know that the sea is fraught with woe,"

"She gave it to me," said the captain. "It must be very beautiful," and he nodded his head to the point of the compass that was in a line to the anchorage we had left in New Gulf. "We will be back in thirty days," continued the captain, "and then I will ask her father."

It took us more than six weeks to get back. Then the captain once more hastened ashore. I watched him through a glass as he entered the door, but no one met him there. I do not know why this was so, but I guessed that this handsome little telegraph operator had some of the characteristics that make pretty girl operators in the States so tantalizingly charming. I guess she was a coquette who thought a naval ship captain legitimate prey.

At Port Desire the view of the settlement is disappointing. One hears in advance that sixty people live there. As the ship enters port one sees a long gray corrugated iron house that is two stories high in the middle, one story high at each end, and apparently one room deep. It stands on a little plateau on the left (south) just at the entrance of the harbor. Tower Rock, a Y-shaped natural column, rises a few hundred steps away behind it, and a tall flagstaff, braced almost as well as a ship's mast, stands in front. Both tower and staff serve the mariner as landmarks in entering port. Then three leagues away to the south of this building is seen another. It is of the sort found in American mine camps – a wood and iron structure. Next, the old ruins under the precipice at the north shore come into view, and among them are seen two more iron roofs, the bodies of the houses being very well concealed by the old stone walls. Last of all, one sees close down to the water on the south side, and not far from the first house noticed, another iron structure that is low, but wide and long, and has a pile of very crooked firewood on the beach before it. And that is all one sees of the settlement of Port Desire.

This settlement cannot be said to be growing. Desire River furnishes excellent pasturage. Vegetables in abundance can be grown, and even grain, to a fair extent, with a little irrigation, while the range for sheep is said to be much better than in many parts of the territory down near the strait; but people will not come here because it is so far from any base of supplies which they can visit on horseback. The calls the Argentine naval transports make are irregular. There was one stretch of nine months in the last two years when no steamer visited the port. Of course, nobody went hungry or suffered for lack of absolute necessaries during that time, because the cattle, the guanacos, the panthers, and the ostriches supplied all things needful. With plenty of meat, a little salt, and the guanaco fur robes, the frontier ranchman of the Argentina does very well – so well that he will not take the trouble to raise even his favorite vegetable, the squash. But what worries him, when the steamer fails to come, is the inevitable famine of maté, the wild tea of Paraguay. The consumption of this herb is a remarkable feature of Argentine life, north and south, but in Patagonia there is no citizen but would take maté rather than a good dinner if he had to choose between the two. Then, too, wine and the native rum become exhausted, and so does tobacco. The traveller who looks at the settlement dispassionately will say that so long as famines of drinks and tobacco impend, there is no great hope for its future.

For the last three or four years the post of sub-prefect at Port Desire has been filled by Don Juan Wilson. Don Juan when a boy was known as Johnnie Wilson at Alexandria, Va., but his people emigrated to the Argentine, and the lad entered the naval school, where he was graduated with honor. Something of his subsequent career is worth telling to illustrate the Argentine way of doing things. Lieutenant Wilson has been in all the wars but one of the Argentine for a quarter of a century. He has a dozen medals which were given to him for services rendered and he can show more scars obtained in battle than he has medals, but he is a Lieutenant still, although men who entered the navy after and below him, rank as Commodores and Admirals. That looks as if he had been treated very unfairly, but the truth is he can thank his lucky stars, as he says, that he is no worse off. He has been in every revolution against the Government but one, and every time but once has been of the losing party. He might have been shot lawfully several times, but because he was a conspicuously good fighter, and therefore sure to be very useful in case of a war with a foreign nation, his life has not only been spared, but he has been retained in the service. But because he was always ripe for a revolt they sent him down to Patagonia. He could not revolt there or help anybody revolting in Buenos Ayres, and in case he were needed to fight Chili or Brazil he could be had very quickly. The reason he failed to take part in one revolution – the last – was that he was in Patagonia while the revolt was in the capital. When talking to me about it he seemed to be very sorry that he had not been able to join his comrades, and that, too, though everyone of them was in prison under sentences of from twenty years up.

Of the life naval officers in Patagonia lead I had a glimpse at Port Desire, where I had dinner and remained over night with Lieutenant Wilson. The barracks were found to be comfortable and even cheerful within, though as bleak as the desert without. At the table the Lieutenant sat at the head, with a junior officer and his wife on the right, and the Lieutenant's son, a bright lad of seventeen, on the left. Two boys waited on the table with a military precision of motion that was very funny to a non-military spectator. We had excellent fare – Italian soup, fish from the river roast beef and two vegetables, with bread and coffee and cigarettes after.

One of the waiters had a history. He was a full-blooded Tehuelche Indian. The Lieutenant, while leading a squad of sailors up the Rio Negro in General Roca's war of extermination, heard a curious cry in the thick boughs of a tree. A sailor climbed up, expecting to find some strange beast or bird, but brought back a boy baby not over two years of age. He had been hidden there in a three-prong fork by his mother as the Indians fled because she was too much exhausted to carry him further. No doubt many Indians did the same, but all the babies starved save this one because the sailors held the territory. When old enough to serve as an apprentice, the lad was shipped in the navy with his adopted father, Mr. Wilson.

Certainly no other sergeant in the world has had such a history as this one.

When we reached Port Desire we all went ashore to inspect the old ruins of a Spanish fort, and then a desert cattle man invited us all to dine with him.

We found the home of our host standing among the old ruins. The contrast between the ancient Spanish and the modern Argentine architecture was very great. The old walls were of thick masonry carried up as high as a man could reach, and above these there had been wooden roofs thatched with grass. The modern structure, built by the Argentine Government to induce settlers to come consisted of a light wooden frame entirely covered in with corrugated iron. One sees just such houses in the mine camps of the United States, where they are popular because cheaply and quickly built. But not till one has been in such a house built where the wind blows as it does on the Patagonia desert, can he fully appreciate its capabilities as a musical instrument. When we came to sit down to the long, bench-like table for dinner after a walk over the hills that had sharpened our appetites, we paused to listen as if to the notes of a great organ played by the hands of a mad musician. Probably the corrugations of the iron, the sharp edges of the plates, the lengths of plates projecting unsupported beyond slender beams, and the differing degrees of rigidness with which the plates were secured to the beams combined to vary the vibrations of the plates under the impulse of the whirling wind squalls.

There were soft and smooth murmurs, hoarse boomings, fair altos, and singing sopranos, alternately and combined in a way to interest and distract every unaccustomed listener.

The dinner was, in itself, a most interesting novelty. We had beef roasted in a fashion which the natives call "meat with skin." The ribs of a steer had been wrapped in the skin of the animal, and then impaled on a long iron rod, which was thrust into the ground so that the wrapped-up meat leaned directly above a small open fire. Here it had remained for about three hours, while a patient native fed the flames with brush, and occasionally turned the bundle of meat. It was then removed, the skin was stripped off, and it was brought, dripping with hot juice, in a big pan to the table, where the hungry passengers awaited it, knives in hand.

The knives were of a class novel to an American, and, in fact, so was everything about the table. Each knife blade was a triangle, an inch broad at the handle, and tapered to an acute point, four and a half inches away. This was a good shape for the usual purpose for which it was designed – the skinning of animals, but it was not a good table knife. Even at that the ranch man had not enough to go round, and three of us had to use the knives we had carried, in anticipation of such a lack. Shallow tins served as plates. And yet, in spite of so great poverty in table furniture, we had an abundance of very good claret, served in glasses of a proper shape.

The food, too, was as surprisingly good as the wine. No better roast was ever carved than that and it was flanked with baked armadillos, the most toothsome morsel I had ever seen. Both kinds of meat were seasoned with salt and pepper only. With these we had hard biscuit of the Buenos Ayres sort – an oblong, globular little loaf, say two by three inches large in its longest and shortest diameters. The absence of garlic and Italian sauces completed our pleasure, and black coffee, served in tin cups, ended the meal.

The next port at which we called was Santa Cruz. The great profits made by the sheep owners who brought their stock from the Falklands to the Strait of Magellan, induced many of the young men of the Falklands to come over and try their luck in Patagonia. The Argentine Government encouraged them by giving ten-year leases on pasture land at the rate of $60 national money per year per league, and at the average one league would hold 1200 sheep. The traveller will hear all about the increase in the flocks on the Santa Cruz River before he gets there, and the stories of the wool shipments will prepare him to see a small but bustling community when he arrives. I really expected to see a large as well as a bustling place.

When the steamer had anchored in the stream about ten miles above the mouth there were seen in the distance at the south bank, under what is known as Weddell's Bluff, several new frame shanties which the ship's officers called the presidio. I went up there in a boat, and found enough of the little shanties to house at least 3000 soldiers, while an old hulk moored at the beach would have accommodated 200 sailors easily enough. There were a dozen sailors with two officers on board the hulk as shipkeepers, while the barracks were in charge of two officers and a score of soldiers, some of whom were keeping house with their families. The building of these barracks in that locality could have but one signification: The Argentine Government expects trouble, sooner or later, with Chili, and this is to be a base for operations against the Strait of Magellan possessions of the Western republic.

The buildings were not all completed, and some of the soldiers were at work as carpenters and painters. This show of business activity only added to my mental picture of the town itself, and it was with considerable pleasure that I returned down stream to land near the ship, and make my first visit there.

Climbing to the low table land that borders the stream, I looked back into a wedge-shaped valley between the hills, the Valley of the Missionaries, and saw Santa Cruz – in all nine buildings, of which two were unoccupied, and not a human being in sight anywhere, nor any other evidences of life than a small flock of sheep and a thin red mare grazing idly. The buildings stood on three sides of a surveyed plaza – that is, there was one house on each of two sides, one stood back up the valley a few hundred yards, and the rest were on a third side of the plaza. Among them was the inevitable long low iron structure built for the home and office of the Sub-Prefect. There was also a one-story adobe-walled house that was a combined hotel and general store, having four rooms, while another was a pink wooden building, one story and a quarter high, having five rooms that served the same useful purpose.

Among the buildings was an old adobe-walled structure, about ten by twenty feet large, with two places for doors, and the remains of a couple of glazed windows. The earth served as a floor, and the usual iron for a roof. In one corner was a depression that looked like a dry hog wallow, and a porker grunted about outside the building. They said this had been the church that missionaries preached in long ago.

In the pink hotel I found a well-dressed young man who was glad to see all strangers, and particularly one who wrote for a newspaper. He accepted an invitation to take a cup of coffee, and when I asked him if he was acquainted with the region he said he had been just at the point of asking me if I would be interested in hearing something about it. Then the coffee came, and with it a Dutchess County, N. Y., brand of condensed milk, and a blue-print map. We combined the milk and coffee, and then spread out the map and weighted the corners with our cups, the coffee pot, and the milk can.

Being thus ready for business, the young man pointed at the map. It was the plan of a great city – a city with plazas connected by wide avenues and boulevards, with streets running at right angles between. Figures and letters scattered here and there on it showed sites for Government and other important buildings, while long broken lines showed the location of many street railways. The young man explained the peculiarities and advantages of the disposition of plazas and boulevards and street car lines, and eventually, from the lay of the land, I grasped the situation. This was the plan of the city of Santa Cruz, the great Patagonian metropolis that was to grow up right there in the valley, where now one could see nine houses all told, of which two were unoccupied. It would grow just as surely as the sun would set behind Weddell Bluff, to quote the words of the young man; and then he went on, in a way to make even a Kansas town-site boomer rub his eyes, to tell of the shipments of wool "aggregating 2,000,000 pounds last year," of the good pasture to be had "at £3 per square league annual rental," of the "traces of gold found on Lake Argentine, where good mineral developments will be made," of the "experiments in wheat culture to be made, which will doubtless succeed." All of this was said to show that I had arrived at just the right time to get in on the ground floor of a great real estate deal. I did not need to buy the lots. I could have all I would build on free of cost, save for the usual charges of making out and recording the papers.

I have frequently heard men who had done business with Spanish-American nations talk despairingly of the lack of enterprise to be found there. They speak of the depreciated currency there as "adobe money," and call the nations "the land of poco tiempo" and "the mañana country." As to many of these nations the terms are well applied, but the Argentine must be excepted. Neither in the suburbs of Brooklyn, nor on the plains of Oklahoma, nor among the orange groves of California have I seen a boomer who could tell his story in better form than the young man with a blue-print map of the future metropolis of Patagonia.

It is perhaps worth noting here that while the young man was talking I could see an ordinance on the wall above his head that prohibited the killing of either ostriches or guanacos "within the city limits," even with bolas, while the shooting of such game was prohibited in all the districts south of the river.

And yet I am not sure but a large town will grow there eventually, although Gallegos was made the capital town some time ago. The place certainly has some natural advantages. The Santa Cruz River is a wonder. Being absolutely unobstructed throughout its course, large, deep-draught river steamers could run easily to the source, Lake Argentine, and beyond. It is really likely that gold mines will be developed in the Andes there, and it is certain that a large lumber business will be done there sooner or later, for the forests produce cedars and other valuable saw timber of the best quality and great size. There are no trees immediately on Lake Argentine, but it is connected with other lakes by navigable channels where the timber is found. When I was in Santa Cruz a party of capitalists familiar with lumber had gone up to the lakes to look into the business. Driving the logs in rafts to the port of Santa Cruz would be so inexpensive that once a proper mill were established there the great markets of Buenos Ayres and Rio Janeiro, not to mention the smaller ports, would be supplied at prices to make serious inroads on the business of those who now supply them from the United States.

Of the value of the sheep and cattle ranches as a support for a town nothing need be said to readers in the United States, who have object lessons in the matter scattered over the prairie States, but the Patagonia ranches will scarcely make as good a support for a town as the Yankee ranches do, for the reason that the land system of the Argentine promotes great estates and discourages small owners. The capitalist in Argentine territory can buy all the land he wants. Gov. Mayer of Santa Cruz territory, for instance, owns thirty square leagues of land along the Santa Cruz and Chico rivers. In owning the water front, he controls all the range back of it, for no one will take up land that has no water. For all practical purposes, he controls say one hundred square leagues. The firm of Hamilton & Saunders of Gallegos, Scotchmen, own fifty-eight leagues, and so control three times as much. Of course, it would be much better for the country if fifty-eight families owned and lived on the land these two men have, nevertheless the country is filling up with shepherds, and a month after the two French merchants mentioned had landed in Santa Cruz with the wholesale stock of goods, they were doing a profitable business with their original packages.

There is but one drawback to the value of the valley in which Santa Cruz city is located that would operate against it seriously, and that is the lack of drinking water. The young boomer did not say a word about water. There is a scant supply from wells even for the seven occupied houses with their stock, and that is brackish. Of course, should the place become a great city, the supply would be drawn from the swift Santa Cruz, but while the settlement is growing to a village of a few thousand people the cost of twenty odd miles of pipe line would prohibit tapping the river. The tide rises over forty feet every day in the river mouth, so there is salt water a long way upstream.

It is worth noting that the Santa Cruz people draw water from their wells as the people in the cowboy parts of the United States often do. A pulley is suspended over the well. When water is wanted a horse is saddled, and one end of a lasso fastened to the saddle. The other end of the lasso is passed through the pulley and made fast to a pail, which is then lowered and filled. Then the water drawer mounts the horse, and rides away till the pail is up to the pulley. Next the rider dismounts, walks back to the well, takes the pail from the lasso and carries it to the house. Last of all he unsaddles the horse. I saw this done myself. I must admit that this description of the Patagonian way of drawing a pail of water reads like a traveller's untrue tale, but it is literally true.

Gallegos, the capital of Santa Cruz territory, the next port visited, stands on the south bank of the Gallegos River, several miles above the mouth, The Gallegos is a very interesting stream. Its head is in the Cordilleras, of course, and the head is made up of a number of small streams which unite in the foot hills to make a river never less than 180 feet wide and three feet deep in the dryest of seasons. The current is fair, and although there are three fording places along its route, large steamers drawing 2 ½ feet of water could navigate it to the forks the year round. But that steamers will ever be found there is a matter of doubt, although the country is rapidly filling up with settlers. There are several reasons for this. All branches of the stream rise within a few miles of the Pacific Ocean, the south heads being almost within sight of Skyring Water, just northwest from Punta Arenas, while between the north and the south forks there is a complete and a wide break in the Andes through which one may drive a wagon as easily as one can drive over the mesa of Patagonia anywhere. By cutting a road five miles long through a belt of timber a highway to the bays of Chili will be formed, and so the traffic of at least half the length of the Gallegos River will go to the west instead of down stream to the Argentine town of Gallegos. I say at least half, but it is not unlikely that more than half will go west, for the reason that the entire population of the territory south of the Gallegos, and about all between Rio Gallegos and Rio Santa Cruz have a strong feeling of friendship for Chili.

"In Chili, if you have right, you can get justice every time," said a Frenchman owning 100,000 sheep on the border line between Argentine and Chili. "In the Argentine you must have the judge for your friend or you will be beaten, right or wrong."

As to the Rio Gallegos lands, the traveller finds lava beds and pasture lands alternating, but the pasture has the greater area, and it is simply perfect pasture. The low bottom lands are flooded in September and October when the Andes snow melts, but there is plenty of good upland pasture. Nearly all the land south of it is now taken up by shepherds, while the north side is being rapidly absorbed, the chief obstacle to rapid settlement being the lack of fuel. It is almost a bushless region.

On the whole, the town of Gallegos has a very good cattle country back of it. Along the sea-coast to the south it has some placer gold mines. The layer of black sand carrying gold crops out richer in some places than others, and there are places where the lack of drinking water makes mining impossible, but quite a number of men – perhaps fifty – can be found working the beach for gold between Gallegos and Cape Virgins.

What the traveller sees in the territorial capital now is a score or less of corrugated iron buildings, with half a dozen houses of wood and three of adobe. One of the adobe-walled houses is the territorial prison. Any smart rascal could burrow out in an hour. About one-third of the houses are hotels and stores, the outer appearance of these buildings being like that of a Yankee mining camp. Every store carries a considerable stock of liquors and tobacco, a moderate stock of hardware and cutlery likely to attract ranchmen, a small stock of wool and cotton fabrics, and a few samples of groceries. The stocks were not arranged to make anything like an attractive display, and, because sand storms were likely to come at any time to dust over the interior of every building, nobody thought it worth while to sweep or in any way clean house.

As hotels (every store was a hotel) the places were most unattractive; worse, for instance, than any I saw when The Sun sent me through the wilds of southern Mexico. In Mexico all of a party of travellers, men, women, children, and servants, would be lodged in a single room, with nothing but the tile floor or a bench to sleep on, but it was always a clean floor, while one could have a hammock under a veranda if he chose, and that was about the best kind of bed. Moreover, food was always abundant and good. At some Gallegos hotels one could not be certain of either quantity or quality of the food, while the blankets were neither washed nor aired nor changed.

However, there were exceptions to the rule, at least one exception. Doña Philomena, a rotund and jolly woman of middle age, with her son, a lad of about sixteen, kept a boarding-house in an adobe hut of one room, twelve by eighteen feet. She had a stove that smoked at every crevice on one side of the door, a rude table with benches at the other, a spare bed just beyond, and beyond this bed heaps and piles of boxes and bags and bundles, containing vegetables, groceries, clothing, Indian curios, saddles, and horse gear generally. There were three kinds of meat hanging from the rafters. There was but one tiny window, and that yielded light enough only for the table. In the extreme rear of the room all was concealed by impenetrable gloom. A Yankee wife would have said she never did see such a cluttered up place. Nevertheless, the mud walls had been whitewashed until they looked like the dried up bottom of a pool in an alkali desert. The mud floor was neatly swept. The spare bed had clean white sheets, and the blankets smelled sweet. The rude table was covered with a snowy cloth, and there was a stainless napkin at each plate. Doña Philomena wore a clean dress, with a bright-colored shawl over her shoulders. The picture of her as she worked over the stove in a thin halo of blue smoke, giving a stir to the potatoes frying in the pan or a peek at the mutton roasting in the oven, or cutting fresh bread, or opening Yankee condensed milk, while she smiled and joked and gossiped in a continuous flow of words, was something that the traveller would carry with him for a long time after. And when the meal was over and we all smoked and lingered over the coffee the boy got out an old guitar and played the tunes the Spanish lover plays to win a sweetheart – tunes that alternately swelled with importunate passion and faded into murmurs of hopeless longing, so that everybody stopped talking to stare into space and think of somebody else a long way off.

The Captain of the steamer introduced me to Gov. Edelmiro Mayer. The Governor lived in a large frame one-story building that had a glass-enclosed veranda overlooking the river. On the whole, this was a most remarkable home, considering the locality. Though like a mining-camp house, as the rest were in outward appearance, there were within Oriental rugs of great value on the floor; a grand piano of American make that cost $1500 in gold in New York stood in one corner of the parlor; a great organ such as professional musicians prefer was in another; a library of 5000 volumes, made up of standard works of science and literature, was in the glass-enclosed veranda, while the furniture and hangings and bric-a-brac were everything that a cultivated taste could ask for. So was the sideboard, with its old Kentucky whiskey. Having very little governing to do, the Governor devoted himself to literature and music, occupations in which he was ably assisted by his wife, a charming Argentina.

Gov. Mayer's name is not unknown to American history. Just for the love of adventure and free republican institutions he came to the United States to help during the war of the rebellion. He commanded a negro regiment with conspicuous success. Afterward, while down on the Rio Grande, he crossed over to help patriotic Mexicans overthrow Maximilian.

Although small in the number of its houses and its people, Gallegos is in full plumage as a territorial capital. A two-story frame building was in course of construction that will eventually be the White House of Santa Cruz territory. Besides the Governor, there was the usual list of other officials necessary for the dignity of such a place. As at Ushuaia, already described, no official had anything to do worth mention. Indeed, the Captain of Police, who in a United States territorial capital would need to be a man of nerve and muscle, was here a cripple who could neither sit on a horse nor walk unaided the length of the town's one street. Still, courts were held sometimes to decide conflicting claims of shepherds, and a gaucho who had slashed a comrade in a drunken brawl was arrested just before I arrived. Gallegos will be a favored stopping place for criminals when the country gets filled up, I guess, for it is very handy to the Chili line, and extradition treaties between two such countries as Chili and Argentine are of little value.

A peculiarity of the climate is the southwest wind of summer. It begins at 8 in the morning and increases in violence until after noon, when it occasionally blows hard enough to lift a man from the saddle. At 3 in the afternoon it moderates, and at 6 o'clock and thence on through the night there is usually a calm. This wind blows every day in spring and summer, and on many days it brings hail and sleet that no man can face. The winter season, though colder, is by far the most pleasant of the year. But in spite of wind and cold, Patagonia is pre-eminently a healthful region now. Every human being that I saw there carried the glow of health in his face and the spring of youth in his muscles. But there are zymotic diseases just as there are in Yankee villages, because of the juxtaposition of wells and cesspools, and these diseases will prevail wherever settlements are made, because of the utter indifference of Spanish-Americans to the rules of hygiene as applied in such matters.

To sum it all up, the settlements on the coast of Patagonia are small, the buildings are of the temporary or mine-camp class, and life in them is decidedly tranquil. The towns are new, and the bad name the country has borne in the matter of climate and sterility has kept foreigners away. "There has been no boom – just a slow, healthy growth," as the Kansas boomers' paper would put it, and in this case the statement is true. Santa Cruz territory now has 800,000 sheep. Its Governor expects to see 10,000,000 there in ten years more, besides some millions of horses and cattle. Settlements will very likely spring up in the interior, and the vast region over which the Tehuelche Indians held undisputed sway during the 350 years after the land was discovered by white men will become a peaceful, thinly populated pastoral land, whose people will grow comfortably rich supplying Europe and the United States with wool, hides, and tallow. But there are no indications worth mentioning that, as a whole, it will ever be anything else than this, and at present it is of interest to the Yankee nation chiefly as a region out of the way for tourists to visit.

After leaving Port Desire we had a variation in our meals on board ship. The sailors had gone fishing with a net, and with success. There were two kinds – one rather like a Yankee smelt, only more slender, and the other somewhat like a Lake Erie pickerel. Both were excellent, but the little fellow boiled and made into a salad was particularly fine.

Then, too, a species of ducks had become very abundant. They were so dark above as to appear black while the under parts were pure white. Their curiosity led them to hover about the ship in twos and threes sometimes flying along, say fifty feet above the weather rail. On such occasions Captain Chwaites brought out a light shotgun. On the day we entered Santa Cruz he knocked so many down on deck that the passengers had roast duck for one course at dinner. In fact for a citizen of South America, the captain was a remarkably fine sportsman. He never used a shotgun on a sitting bird. He could kill gulls at long range with a rifle when they were bobbing about on the waves. While we lay in Rio Gallegos he rode out on the table-land one day with a man living there and killed three guanacos, using the bolas Indian fashion to bring them down. The tourist who sails with Captain Chwaites can expect to have game at the table frequently during the voyage.

But it should not be inferred from what has been said so far that the table was beyond criticism during my voyage. For instance, the napkins were not changed at any time oftener than once a week, and at the last the interval increased to ten days. The table-cloth remained unchanged an equal period; this, too, during the home voyage, when the number of first-class passengers had increased to twenty-five and the table had to be set twice.

The captain was not unaware of the condition of affairs. He stood beside me one day while the steward shook the table-cloth over the rail. It looked as one could expect a cloth to look after ten days' use at sea.

"Look at that cloth," said the bold skipper. "Did you ever see such a dirty lot of passengers?"

I was eating in those days in the Captain's sitting-room, and his remark had no personal application. I replied:

"Looks vile, don't it? But why don't you order the steward to wash it?"

"I cannot. There is so little soap. Look at my hands. I have no soap to wash them with. The passengers know we have no soap. They ought to be careful, like gentlemen."

His hands certainly showed the lack of soap. So did those of the steward. We got a cup of coffee with a handful of sweet crackers in lieu of the meal called breakfast in the United States. One did not want even that many if he happened to see the steward serving them with his unwashed hands.

Then the vegetables, which were abundant on leaving Buenos Ayres, dwindled away before we entered the Straits of Magellan. At Punta Arenas cabbages, turnips, potatoes, and some other roots are grown and sold at low prices, but we got such a scant supply that for the last three weeks of the voyage our food consisted chiefly of meat, dried peas and beans, and hard bread.

Worse yet, the bed linen was not changed during the entire voyage of nine and a half weeks. Complaints were of no avail, so I was at last glad to leave my bunk and roll up in a fur robe of Indian manufacture that I bought when in the Rio Gallegos. With a lounge in place of a bunk, I was as dry and comfortable as I had been damp and miserable in the bunk. Should any reader of this try the voyage he will need to take a large supply of woollen under- and night-wear, including socks. The proper changes of these will serve in place of changes of bedding.

Nor is the list of discomforts complete. When leaving the River Plate the air in the saloon and state-rooms was insufferably close. There was no ventilation for the state-rooms save through the doors into the saloon. The saloon was ventilated through the doors at the head of the companion-way and through the skylight, but there was no sort of wind sailor device to force the air down. In the summer time in the River Plate, where the thermometer sometimes marks 110° in the shade, that saloon is to be compared only with a Turkish bath. In winter, while coasting along Tierra del Fuego, that same saloon becomes like the vault of a cold storage company. The air is saturated with moisture, and the temperature barely above the freezing point. The moisture gathered like dew on the walls of the saloon as well as of the state-rooms and sometimes trickled down to form little pools in the bunks and on the floor. There was no device for heating or drying the cabin, neither stove nor steam-coil. We were dressed continually in the heaviest flannels, and wore heavy overcoats, but the chill air penetrated everything, even to the marrow of the bones.

I once passed two weeks in Greenland in the month of October, and exactly two years later was digging away the snow in the Rocky Mountains nine thousand feet above the sea, that I might have bare ground for my blankets at night. My home is in the Adirondacks, where the snow lies four feet deep all winter long, but I have never suffered from the cold as I did during four weeks of this voyage.

And yet at times, when the conditions were such as to make us all most uncomfortable, we often enjoyed life rather better than at any others. Our greatest trouble when the weather first became cold was to pass the evenings. It was stupid turning into wet bunks at 7 P.M., and wretched work trying to play cards or spin stories in a raw, cold, reeking saloon.

But a happy inspiration struck one of us while standing by the hatch leading to the little store-room abaft the cabin. This store-room was in charge of the shortest and thickest man aboard ship – a person who looked as if he had once been a typical quartermaster on a Yankee man-o'-war – a great tall, broad-shouldered, impassive, full-whiskered man, but through some accident had been telescoped down to a stature of four feet nine. The first cold evening after leaving the River Plate a passenger, while walking the deck for exercise, stopped by the store-room hatch just as the captain's valet came there carrying a plate with a tumbler on it.

"Storekeeper?" said the lackey.

"Yes," replied the thick, short man. "Cocktail."

"Yes, sir. Quickly."

A few minutes later the storekeeper came up the ladder carrying a glass tube about ten inches long and two wide. It was closed at the bottom and had a long-handled silver plunger in it. The tube had about two inches of a light brownish liquor in the bottom over a layer of sugar. Standing the tube on the deck the storekeeper pumped the plunger up and down vigorously. The aroma of gin, bitters, lemon, and something else greeted the nostrils of the passenger. The storekeeper poured the mixture into the glass until the glass was full. Then he looked at the tube. There was a quarter of an inch of the mixture left there. Backing carefully down into the store-room the storekeeper looked up at the passenger. He saw that the passenger was looking at the remnant in the tube. The storekeeper's face was absolutely impassive, as a whole, but when he caught the passenger's eye he looked down at the remnant, moistened his lips with his tongue, looked up slowly at the passenger again, and then his right eyelid trembled expressively as he said:

"It is a cold night, is it not, sir?"

The passenger went down into the saloon and gathered about the table the French merchant, the German count, the miner, the doctor, the Argentine lieutenant, and several others. Then the steward was called. Could he bring some things from the store-room? He would be pleased. What would the gentlemen have?

The order ran something like this: Brandy, sugar, lemons, claret, and a plenty of hot tea to be brought after the other articles were delivered. A hot soup tureen was also included in the order. Some sugar was placed in the tureen and a bottle of brandy poured over it. Then the brandy was fired, and the blazing mixture was stirred with a big spoon till the sugar was dissolved. After that a bottle of claret was stirred in, and then a pot of hot tea, equal in measure to the two bottles previously used, was stirred in also. Last of all a lemon was sliced in, peeling and all, while the stirring was continued.

Possibly this mixture would not be countenanced by the art drink mixers of New York. There may be something wrong with the process or something lacking in the alcoholic values, but for travellers on an Argentine naval transport, who are wearied through idleness and chilled by the mists and the blasts of the Patagonia coast, the drink is a blessing from Bacchus.

It was a temperate crowd, on the whole. The exceptional man was my best friend. I left him early one night on deck and turned in. We were then off Gu[lf] St. George. At 2 o'clock next morning came this man and dragged me from my fur robe and said hoarsely:

"On deck quickly. The ship sinks."

Then he fled on deck. Though but half awake, I could hear the ship's pump throbbing at lightning speed. I fled on deck as he had done. He had disappeared. The Captain tranquilly smoked a cigarette under the bridge.

"My friend So-and-so just told me the ship was sinking," said I. The Captain shrugged his shoulders.

"He has had six bottles to-night," said he. "It is he, not the ship, that is full." The engineer had been testing the pump, and the noise of it had made the fancies of my friend run on disaster at sea.

The curios which a traveller may gather on a voyage like this are not many in variety, but they are very interesting as far as they go. Most people would call the Patagonia guanaco skin robe or blanket the most valuable product of native industry. The pelage of the young guanaco is a soft and beautiful fur – red on the back like that of a Virginia deer, and shading into pure white underneath. The skins of the young that are just about to be born or have just been born are preferred, because the fur is then exquisitely fine and the skin never gets hard and stiff. The Patagonia squaws cut the young skins into pieces, which they set together in the form of a great blanket in which the colors of the fur are shown to the greatest advantage. The sewing is done with sinews. These robes are everywhere used for beds in that region, while no desert man or sheep herder would, think of living without one in lieu of any other kind of a blanket for his protection when sleeping in the open air. In Punta Arenas the price was $35 paper each, or not far from $9.50 gold. In Patagonia ports at the north they can be had for a little less. There is no difficulty in finding them on sale. They would probably bring from $60 to $75 gold each in the States.

The Patagonia squaw weaves as well as sews furs. The long hair is sheared from the guanaco skin and twisted into threads, which are woven much as the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico weave their threads of wool. The Patagonian makes small woven blankets called ponchos, which are used as neck and shoulder wraps and as saddle blankets, but would look very well as rugs on a Northern carpet. By the use of dyes, bought of the whites, a variety of bright colors are obtained, but these are intermingled only in plain stripes. When compared with the blankets produced by the Indians of Guatemala – blankets whose figures of fighting beasts and birds have a savage beauty that is marvellous to behold – the art of the Patagonia squaw makes but a sorry showing. Nevertheless, a special saddle blanket, woven with a long nap of twisted threads that is designed to fill in the hollow spaces on each side of the too-prominent backbone of the desert horses, is at once novel and pleasing to the eye.

Other things likely to please the tourist are ostrich feathers and eggs; the bolas and lassos used by the plainsmen of all kinds when hunting; bows and arrows and spears of the Indians, and boots made of the skin of a colt's hind legs. The ostrich feathers are gray, with a little white mixed in, and are but little handsomer in their native state than a turkey's feathers. Of course, they may be dyed and dressed up by a competent worker.

Then there are shells of beautiful color and forms which the tourist can gather for himself, together with feathery white seaweed, and, if he have good luck, he may find in one of the perpendicular alluvial banks which the people there call barrancas, something more interesting still – the petrified remains of the kangaroo, the opossum, the monkey, and possibly other and stranger forms of life that once roamed under a tropical sky, where now the weather varies between that of a New York day early in March and another very late in November. I saw an Italian naturalist who had found the remains of two birds, which, he said, were different from any birds ever yet discovered, and belonged to that period of history when birds had teeth, and were just beginning to grow feathers on their bat-like wings.

In making a collection of shells, the tourist would probably wonder how it happened that a very pretty mussel shell found in New Gulf, Port Desire, and the Straits of Magellan should be almost entirely absent at Santa Cruz. And if he did not include an antediluvian oyster shell, say fifteen inches long, in this collection, it would be for lack of room and not because the bivalve was not interesting.

At Punta Arenas and at Ushuaia a new class of curios appears. Most prominent are rugs of mingled otter skins, of seal fur, and swan's down. The snow-white down beside the dark fur is so beautiful that few, indeed, can resist the desire to buy in spite of the high prices asked. A lovelier present for a dainty sweetheart could scarcely be imagined.

Though less beautiful, the basket woven from rushes the Yahgan Indians – a pearl-shaped affair to hold from two to four gallons – would be more interesting to the tourist who is a naturalist. The arrow-heads made by the Ona Indians of Tierra del Fuego from pieces of glass bottles that have been cast over from Cape Horn ships are equally interesting. The bows and arrows are not of a form to attract special attention, except that the arrows are very light. One wonders how such a weapon could pierce a guanaco or a lone prospector, as they are said to do. That the arrow points are usually a genuine Indian product I presume there is no doubt, though not necessarily Ona made, for the Tehuelches of Patagonia can make a glass arrow-head. But one finds so many new bows on sale at Punta Arenas, bows that show the mark of a jack-knife, too, that a doubt is thrown over the whole collection.

The Onas, too, are continually at war with the whites. The two races go hunting each other with considerable success on both sides. The whites of course capture some bows and arrows, but they do not usually bring them in as trophies. The whites of Tierra del Fuego are sheep herders or gold diggers, who do not want to be bothered with such stuff. Besides, bows from the battlefields are never new and clean, nor do they show marks of a jack-knife.

Like the Eskimos of the west coast of Greenland, the Yahgans of the Cape Horn region have learned that the whites will buy curios, and they supply the market by making models of their canoes and weapons. At first thought a model of either is an abomination to one who has a proper love of specimens of aboriginal handicraft, but these models, if genuine, are really good exhibits of what the Indians can do, and they are usually of such perfect form as to portray, in a convenient form for handling, the articles used by the natives in their daily lives. The weapons of full size may readily be had – I saw offered for sale one spear reeking with the blood of a bird the Indian had just slain, but in place of a canoe the tourist may very well be content with a model.

Gold dust can be had at both Punta Arenas and Ushuaia, where Storekeeper Fique of Ushuaia commonly has nuggets as well as dust. The Tierra del Fuego gold is very pure, and the usual way of buying is to exchange a British sovereign for its weight in dust – a very good trade for the buyer.

The scenery along the Patagonia coast, and until one has passed the first narrows in Magellan Strait, is not likely to please the ordinary tourist. At every point one finds steep alluvial bluffs or rounded hills and ridges, with wide arid mesas above and beyond that are of dull colors and without variety. Nevertheless, there is something about the desert that fascinates the lover of nature unmarred by human hands. What it may be I cannot tell, but that it is always powerful and sometimes irresistible I do not doubt. I saw men there who had travelled the world over had had the best of education, had enjoyed the luxuries of life in civilized countries, and had the means of returning to them at any time, but, nevertheless, could not shake off the spell. They were content to live in a floorless mud hut, even in no shelter at all save that of a clump of the thorny brush in some wild gulch, where their only companions were the horses and dogs, with an occasional visit from one like themselves or a family of ill-smelling Indians.

South from Punta Arenas, through Cockburn Channel and east through the channels below Tierra del Fuego, the scenery is wholly different. Snow-capped mountains rise out of the sea, barren and gray just below the snow, and green with perpetual verdure for a thousand feet above the water. There are black gulfs and inlets, and narrow channels that seem to end abruptly, crags where the sea birds build their nests, gulches and cañons where torrents come roaring and sprawling down. Elsewhere, as told in the story of the Yahgans, there are rolling foot-hills with green meadows among groves of trees that wave and flash in the sunlight on a pleasant day.

There are glaciers that lie in hollows on the mountain side, and here and there push little moraines before them in their heavy course down the valleys to the water. A couple reach to the water's edge and throw off tiny icebergs that go drifting about with the tide and wind. Better yet, if one really loves nature, are the storms. Seen from a sailing-vessel in danger of drifting on the rocks that are a hundred leagues from help, the storms are fearsome; but when seen from the deck of a well-found steamer, when wrapped in water-proofs and furs, they are magnificent. The gale goes roaring up the mountain, carrying the snow in fluffy masses to the very crest and hurls it thence in smoky, quivering tongues, 1200 feet into the air. The same phenomenon may be seen on the Coast of Greenland, but in the Beagle Channel the mountains are nearer at hand, their sides more precipitous, and the winds fiercer. And then there are the "williwaws" the whalers tell about, the whirling squalls that pick up the water, as the sand is picked up on the plains of New Mexico to form writhing columns a thousand feet high. There is something in the whizz and swish of wind and water, as one of these passes the ship, that stirs the blood as nothing else in nature, short of a tornado or live volcano, can do.

American art students go to Europe to complete their education by copying old-time paintings of apostles – apostles standing erect in a boat not large enough to accommodate their feet without pinching – and then come home to gabble about the beauties of nature. The picture of a saint, regardless of surroundings, may inspire the soul with religious fervor and teach the struggling youth to put that fervor on the canvas, but if one would paint a landscape that will at once thrill the soul with terror and awake it to an appreciation of the wildest scene in nature, let him make studies of the williwaws in the Cape Horn region, with frozen volcanoes vomiting flames of snow for a background.

The Ushuaia sailed out of Buenos Ayres on Wednesday, April 18th. She arrived back on Saturday, June 23d. I should say there is probably no other voyage in the world that a tourist could make in which he would suffer more physical discomforts. The most of these as I saw them were due to the wretched design of the remodelled lighter, but some were inseparable from such a voyage because due to the climate and the distance one goes from civilized communities.

Nevertheless the liking for North Americans which the Argentines everywhere professed, their hearty efforts to make me comfortable because I was a North American, the delights of visiting the old-time ports and waters of which one reads in the thrilling tales of early exploration, these, with many other things that come to mind, combine to crowd from the memory everything disagreeable, and I can think of the voyage, as a whole, only with the greatest pleasure.


[end of Chapter XIV]