Excerpt: ...over her rails. Each looked as though once it had peered into the eyes of doom, and then was but waiting, caring nothing. There, ahead, was the Madeira now for us. We were then nearly a thousand miles from the sea, well within South America. But that meeting-place of the Amazon and its chief tributary was an expanse of water surprising ...Read MoreExcerpt: ...over her rails. Each looked as though once it had peered into the eyes of doom, and then was but waiting, caring nothing. There, ahead, was the Madeira now for us. We were then nearly a thousand miles from the sea, well within South America. But that meeting-place of the Amazon and its chief tributary was an expanse of water surprising in its immensity. As much light was reflected from the floor as at sea. The water was oceanic in amplitude. The forest boundaries were so far away that one could not realise, even when the time we had been on the river was remembered as a prolonged monotony, that this was the centre of a continent. The forest on our port side was near enough for us to see its limbs and its vines; but to the south-west, where we were heading for Bolivia, and to the north, the way to the Guianas, and to the east, out of which we had come, and to the west, where was Peru, the land was but a low violet barrier, varying in altitude with distance, and with silver sections in it, marking the river 187 roads. In the north-west there was a broad silver path through the wall, the way to the Rio Negro, Manaos, and the Orinoco. In the south the near forest, being flooded, was a puzzle of islands. As we progressed they opened out as a line of green headlands. The Madeira appeared to have three widely separated mouths, with a complexity of intermediate and connective minor ditches. Indeed, the gate of the river was a region of inundated jungle. One began to understand why travellers here sometimes find themselves on the wrong river. Our bows turned in to the forest wall, and for a few minutes I could not see any way for us there. The jungle parted, and we were on a narrow turgid flood, the colour of the main river, but swifter; a majestic forest was near to either beam. We were enclosed. And after we entered the Madeira my dark thoughts of our future at once left me. If they returned, it was only to be joked about, in the dry way one does refer to...Read Less
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