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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/569

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SAVAGE LIFE IN SOUTH AMERICA.

used for blocks and bushings, is so full of resinous matter that it will burn like a candle.

Among the useful plants is the caraguatá, of the family of the Bromeliaceæ, which grows generally within the range of the forests, and from which the Indian obtains a strong fiber useful for many domestic purposes. It is said to be the fiber known to European manufacturers as Batista Anana. The caraguatá has also a faculty of catching and retaining water, whereby the Indians are afforded means of slaking their thirst in seasons of drought. Among a hundred edible wild fruits may be named the chañar; the vinal; the guayabo, a fine fruit; the ubagay, a passion-flower, which gives a large but rather insipid fruit; and the manduvira, a wild almond. Several Lacteas produce a fine fruit, and the woods are full of the wild pineapple.

The exploitation of the timber industry has occupied several thousand people, and has been the means of reducing to a quasi-civilization many hundreds of the aborigines. This has led to the development of the Austral Chaco along the borders of the Paraná, where are now many small towns and large agricultural colonies, prosperous beyond their own hopes, and connected by rail and telegraph. Two of these colonies are owned by Englishmen; and the word of the proprietor of one of them is given that the Indians are of the best laborers, being the most docile and steady, although a trifle more indolent than the civilized workmen. As I continued my ascent of the Bermejo, with but little other interruption than was occasioned by the draught of my vessel, I always found large masses of Indians at the low passes, which are indeed their fishing-grounds; at these points, which were numerous in the upper Teuco, they would wait, evidently in expectation of some catastrophe or something giving them a chance to make an attack. They were usually on these occasions made up with their war-paint, and many of them decorated with ostrich-feathers, but they generally kept their arms out of sight, though doubtless handily within reach; and they would come to us with articles for barter, consisting of dried fish, necklaces, a few bows and arrows and war-clubs, the skins of wild animals, and the animals themselves. I was never attacked, though often threatened.

It is a safe prediction that this region has a great future, possessing as it does an equable climate, tempered by the prevailing southeast and southwest winds, with just enough of the warm and relaxing weather to give a zest to the enjoyment of the other kind and stimulate vegetable growth; a climate which throughout the whole extent of its territories suits admirably the sons of southern Italy, and in its southern section has been proved to suit the hardier men of England and the United States. The soil is