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lower ground, the footmarks of the tapir are very frequent, especially along the small paths, where I have sometimes traced them for more than a mile. They are harmless beasts. One of our men came across one near Peña Blanca, and attacked and killed it with his knife. He brought in the head to me. It was as large as that of a bullock. I often tried to track them, but never succeeded in seeing one. One day in my eagerness to get near what I believed to be one, I rushed into rather unpleasant proximity with a jaguar, the “tigre" of the natives. I had just received a fresh supply of cartridge cases for my breech-loader, and wishing to get some specimens of the small birds that attend the armies of the foraging ants, I made up three or four small charges of No. 8 shot, putting in only a quarter of an ounce of shot into each charge, so as not to destroy their plumage. I went back into the forest along a path where I had often seen the great footmarks of the tapir. After riding about a couple of miles, I heard the notes of some birds, and, dismounting, tied up my mule, and pushed through the bushes. The birds were shy, and in following them I had got about fifty yards from the path, to a part where the big trees were more clear of brushwood, when I heard a loud hough in a thicket towards the left. It was something between a cough and a growl, but very loud, and could only have been produced by a very large animal. Never having seen or heard a jaguar before in the woods, and having often seen the footprints of the tapir, I thought it was the latter, and thinking I would have to get very close up to it to do it any damage with my little charge of small shot, I ran along towards the sound, which

Ch. VIII.] ENCOUNTER WITH A JAGUAR. 145

was continued at intervals of a few seconds. Seeing a large animal moving amongst the thick bushes, only a few yards from me, I stopped, when, to my amazement, out stalked a great jaguar (like the housekeeper's rat, the largest I had ever seen), in whose jaws I should have been nearly as helpless as a mouse in those of a cat. He was lashing his tail, at every roar showing his great teeth, and was evidently in a bad humour, . Notwithstanding I was so near to him, I scarcely think he saw me at first, as he was crossing the open glade about twenty yards in front of me. I had not even a knife with me to show fight if he attacked me, and my small charge of shot would not have penetrated beyond his skin, unless I managed to hit him when he was very near to me. To steady my aim, if he approached me, I knelt down on one knee, supporting my left elbow on the other. He was just opposite to me at the time, the movement caught his eye, he turned half round, and put down his neck and head towards the ground as if he was going to spring, and I believe he could have cleared the ground between us at a single bound, but the next moment he turned away from me, and was lost sight of amongst the bushes. I half regretted I had not fired and taken my chance; and when he disappeared, I followed a few yards, greatly chagrined that in the only chance I had ever had of bagging a jaguar, I was not prepared for the encounter, and had to let “I dare not,” wait upon “I would.” I returned the next morning with a supply of ball cartridges, but in the night it had rained heavily, so that I could not even find the jaguar's tracks, and although afterwards I was always prepared,

I never met with another. From the accounts of the L

natives, I believe that in Central America he never attacks man unless first interfered with, but when wounded is very savage and dangerous. Velasquez told me that his father had mortally wounded one, which, however, sprang after him, and had got hold of him by the leg, when it fortunately fell down dead. The path up Peña Blanca hill gets steeper and steeper, until about fifty yards from the rock it is too precipitous and rugged to ride with safety, so that the rest of the ascent must be made on foot. Tying my mule to a sapling, I scrambled up the path, and soon emerging from the dark forest, stood under the grey face of the rock towering up above me. The rock has two peaks, of which the highest is accessible, footholds having been cut into the face of it, and the most difficult part being surmounted by a rude ladder made by cutting notches in a pole. Above it the rock is shelving, and the top is easily reached. I found a strong northeast wind blowing, which made it rather uncomfortable on the top, but the view was very fine and varied. To the south-east and east the eye roams over range beyond range all covered with dark forest, that partly hides the inequalities of the ground, the trees in the hollows growing higher than those on the hills. On this side the rock is a sheer precipice, going down perpendicularly for more than three hundred feet; the face of the cliff all weathered white. The tops of the trees are far below, and as one looks down upon them, hearing the various cries and whistles of the birds: come up, and marking the vultures wheeling round in aërial circles over the trees far below one's feet, one realises that at last the forest, with its world of foliage,

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has been surmounted. Tooking down on the tops of the trees, every shade of green from nearly brown to yellow meets the eye, here light as grass, there dark as holly, whilst the fleecy clouds above cast lines of dark shadows over hill and dale. JDirectly south-east is a high rock, about three miles distant, and beyond it the Carca and the Artigua rivers must meet, judging from the fall of the country. The course of the Carca is marked by some patches of light green, that look like grass, and are probably clearings made by the Indians. To the south the eye first passes over about six miles of forest, then savannahs and grassy ranges stretching to the lake, which is only dimly seen, with the peaks of Madera and Ometepec more distinct, the latter bearing south-west by west. Alone on the summit of a high peak, with surging green billows of foliage all around, dim misty mountains in the distance below, and above the blue heavens, checkered with fleecy clouds, that have travelled up thousands of miles from the north-east, thoughts arise that can be only felt in their full intensity amid solitude and nature's grandest phases. Then man’s intellect strives to grapple with the great mysteries of his existence, and like a fluttering bird that beats itself against the bars of its cage, falls back baffled and bruised. Another shower of rain came on, quickly followed by sunshine again. Great banks of vapour began to rise from the forest, and fill the valleys, and now looking down over the precipice, instead of foliage there was a glisteriing white cloud spread out below, up through which came the cries of birds. The hills stood up through

the cloud of mist like islands. To the south-west, over

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