Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/28

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22
COLYMBIA.

Shrubs laden with flowers of resplendent colours, of every shade of scarlet, crimson, yellow, blue and white, formed a thick undergrowth, while climbing plants threw their shoots and tendrils from trunk to trunk and branch to branch. The air teemed with insect life. Butterflies of gorgeous colours and flies of all sorts and sizes danced among the branches, and hovered in countless myriads about us as we walked. In fact, their attentions were extremely annoying, and I observed that each of my companions used a broad palm-leaf by way of flapper, to ward off their attacks.

The noise made by the feathered beauties, and the hum and buzz of the winged insects, rendered it utterly impossible for me to converse with my strange attendants; so we walked on without speaking until we arrived at the mouth of a cave or grotto, excavated, whether by nature or art I could not decide, in a precipitous rock that barred our further progress.

Entering this cave, which extended a considerable way into the hill, I was struck with its agreeable coolness compared with the broiling heat of the external air.

A portly personage, clad in a loose blue cotton robe, rose from a bed of green leaves at our entrance, and I was formally presented to him by my original captor, and given to understand that he was the Inspector we were in search of.

He seated himself at a table, strewed with large books and writing materials. He demanded my name, and questioned me as to whence I came, how I was wrecked, the name of the ship, of the captain, the number of passengers, the cargo, &c., &c., and cross-examined me minutely as to the circumstances