Page:Darwin Journal of Researches.djvu/43

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1832.]
21
LIVING AT A VENDA.

to unsaddle the horses and give them their Indian corn ; then, with a low bow, to ask the senhôr to do us the favour to give us something to eat. “Any thing you choose, sir,” was his usual answer. For the few first times, vainly I thanked providence for having guided us to so good a man. The conversation proceeding, the case universally became deplorable. “Any fish can you do us the favour of giving?”—“Oh! no, sir.”—“Any soup?”—“No, sir.”—“Any bread?”—“Oh! no, sir.”—”Any dried meat?”—“Oh! no, sir.” If we were lucky, by waiting a couple of hours, we obtained fowls, rice, and farinha. It not unfrequently happened, that we were obliged to kill, with stones, the poultry for our own supper. When, thoroughly exhausted by fatigue and hunger, we timorously hinted that we should be glad of our meal, the pompous, and (though true) most unsatisfactory answer was, “It will be ready when it is ready.” If we had dared to remonstrate any further, we should have been told to proceed on our journey, as being too impertinent. The hosts are most ungracious and disagreeable in their manners ; their houses and their persons are often filthily dirty; the want of the accommodation of forks, knives, and spoons is common; and I am sure no cottage or hovel in England could be found in a state so utterly destitute of every comfort. At Campos Novos, however, we fared sumptuously ; having rice and fowls, biscuit, wine, and spirits, for dinner; coffee in the evenings and fish with coffee for breakfast. All this, with good food for the horses, only cost 2s. 6d. per head. Yet the cost of this vênda, being asked if he knew any thing of a whip which one of the party had lost, gruffly answered, “How should I know? why did you not take care of it?—I suppose the dogs have eaten it.”

Leaving Mandetiba, we continued to pass through an intricate wilderness of lakes; in some of which were fresh, in others salt water shells. Of the former kind, I found a Limnæa in great numbers in a lake, into which, the inhabitants assured me that the sea enters once a year, and sometimes oftener, and makes the water quite salt. I have no doubt many interesting facts, in relation to marine and fresh water animals, might be observed in this chain of lagoons, which skirt the coast of Brazil. M. Gay[1] has stated that he found in the neighbourhood of Rio,

  1. Annales des Sciences Naturelles for 1833.