A More Complete Destruction Could Not
Overtake The Unfortunate Traveller Than To Be Caught By This
Remorseless Foe, For Not Even His Ashes Could Be Found By Mourning
The ground thus burnt retains its heat for days.
I have had
occasion to cross blackened wastes a week after this most destructive
force in nature had done its work, and my horse has frequently reared
in the air at the touch of the hot soil on his hoofs.
The Gaucho has a strange method of fighting these fires. Several
mares are killed and opened, and they, by means of lassos, are
dragged over the burning grass.
The immensity of the pampas is so great that one may travel many
miles without sighting a single tree or human habitation. The weary
traveller finds his only shade from the sun's pitiless rays under the
broad brim of his sombrero. At times, with ears forward and extended
nostrils, the horse gazes intently at the rippling blue waters of the
mirage, that most tantalizingly deceptive phenomenon of nature. May
it never be the lot of my reader to be misled by the illusive mirage
as I have been. How could I mistake vapor for clear, gurgling water?
Yet, how many times was I here deceived! Visions of great lakes and
broad rivers rose up before me, lapping emerald green shores, where I
could cool my parched tongue and lave in their crystal depths; yet
to-day those waters are as far off as ever, and exist only in my
hopes of Paradise.
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