A new and agreeable sensation is a pleasant thing. It was on as bright a_vening as ever shone upon Brazil, and in as fair a scene as one could wish t_ehold, that Martin Rattler and his friend Barney experienced a new sensation.
On the wide campos, on the flower-bedecked and grassy plains, they eac_estrode a fiery charger; and, in the exultation of health, and strength, an_iberty, they swept over the green sward of the undulating campos, as light a_he soft wind that fanned their bronzed cheeks, as gay in heart as the buzzin_nsects that hovered above the brilliant flowers.
"Oh, this is best of all!" shouted Martin, turning his sparkling eyes t_arney, as he reined up his steed after a gallop that caused its nostril t_xpand and its eye to dilate. "There's nothing like it! A fiery charger tha_an't and _won't_ tire, and a glorious sweep of plain like that! Huzza!
whoop!" And loosening the rein of his willing horse, away he went again in _ild headlong career.
"Och, boy, pull up, or ye'll kill the baste!" cried Barney, who thundere_long at Martin's side enjoying to the full the spring of his powerful horse; for Barney had spent the last farthing of his salary on the two best steed_he country could produce, being determined, as he said, to make the las_verland voyage on clipper-built animals, which, he wisely concluded, woul_etch a good price at the end of the journey. "Pull up! d'ye hear? They can'_tand goin' at that pace. Back yer topsails, ye young rascal, or I'll board y_n a jiffy."
"How can I pull up with _that_ before me?" cried Martin, pointing to a wid_itch or gully that lay in front of them. "I must go over that first."
"Go over that!" cried Barney, endeavouring to rein in his horse, and lookin_ith an anxious expression at the chasm. "It's all very well for you to tal_' goin' over, ye feather; but fifteen stun—Ah, then, _won't_ ye stop? Ba_uck to him, he's got the bit in his teeth! Oh then, ye ugly baste, go, and m_lissin' go with ye!"
The leap was inevitable. Martin went over like a deer. Barney shut his eyes, seized the pommel of the saddle, and went at it like a thunder-bolt In th_xcitement of the moment he shouted, in a stentorian voice, "Clap on all sail!
d'ye hear? Stu'n-sails and sky-scrapers! Kape her steady! Hooray!"
It was well for Barney that he had seized the saddle. Even as it was h_eceived a tremendous blow from the horse's head as it took the leap, and wa_hrown back on its haunches when it cleared the ditch, which it did nobly.
"Hallo! old boy, not hurt, I hope," said Martin, suppressing his laughter a_is comrade scrambled on to the saddle. "You travel about on the back of you_orse at full gallop like a circus rider."
"Whist, darlint, I do belave he has damaged my faygurhead. What a nose I've got! Sure I can see it mesilf without squintin'."
"So you have, Barney. It's a little swelled, but never mind. We must all lear_y experience, you know. So come along."
"Hould on, ye spalpeen, till I git my wind!"
But Martin was off again at full speed; and Barney's horse, scorning to b_eft behind, took the bit again in its teeth and went—as he himself expresse_t,—"screamin' before the wind."
A new sensation is not always and necessarily an agreeable thing. Martin an_arney found it so on the evening of that same day, as they reclined (the_ould not sit) by the side of their fire on the campo under the shelter of on_f the small trees which grew here and there at wide intervals on the plain.
They had left the diamond mine early that morning, and their first day o_orseback proved to them that there are shadows as well as lights i_questrian life. Their only baggage was a single change of apparel and a smal_ag of diamonds,—the latter being the product of the mine during the Baro_agoni's reign, and which that worthy was conveying faithfully to hi_mployer. During the first part of the day they had ridden through a hilly an_oody country, and towards evening they emerged upon one of the smalle_ampos, which occur here and there in the district.
"Martin," said Barney, as he lay smoking his pipe, "'tis a pity that there'_o pleasure in this world without _something_ cross-grained into it. My ow_eelin's is as if I had been lately passed through a stamping machine."
"Wrong, Barney, as usual," said Martin, who was busily engaged concludin_upper with an orange. "If we had pleasures without discomforts we wouldn'_alf enjoy them. We need lights and shadows in life—what are you grinning at, Barney?"
"Oh! nothin', only ye're a remarkable philosopher, when ye're in the vein."
"Tis always in vain to talk philosophy to you, Barney, so good-night t' ye.
Oh, dear me, I wish I could sit down! but there's no alternative,—either bol_pright or quite flat."
In a quarter of an hour they both forgot pleasures and sorrows alike in sleep.
Next day the sun rose on the edge of the campo as it does out of the ocean, streaming across its grassy billows, and tipping the ridges as with rudd_old. At first Martin and Barney did not enjoy the lovely scene, for they fel_tiff and sore; but after half an hour's ride they began to recover; and whe_he sun rose in all its glory on the wide plain, the feelings of joyou_ounding freedom that such scenes always engender obtained the mastery, an_hey coursed along in silent delight.
The campo was hard, composed chiefly of a stiff red clay soil and covered wit_hort grass in most places; but here and there were rank bushes of long hair_rasses, around and amongst which grew a multitude of the most exquisitel_eautiful flowerets and plants of elegant forms. Wherever these flower_lourished very luxuriantly there were single trees of stunted growth an_hick bark, which seldom rose above fifteen or twenty feet. Besides thes_here were rich flowering myrtles, and here and there a grotesque cactus o_wo.
Under one of these trees they reined up after a ride of two hours, an_iqueting their horses, prepared breakfast. It was soon despatched, and the_emounting, away they went once more over the beautiful plains.
About mid-day, as they were hasting towards the shelter of a grove whic_ppeared opportunely on the horizon, Barney said suddenly,—
"Martin, lad, we're lost! We're out of our course, for sartin."
"I've been thinking that for some time, Barney," replied Martin; "but you hav_our compass, and we can surely make the coast by dead reckoning—eh?"
"True, lad, we can; but it'll cost us a dale o' tackin' to make up for lee- way. Ah, good luck to ye! here's a friend 'll help us."
As he spoke a herd of wild cattle dashed out of the grove and scampered ove_he plain, followed by a herdsman on horseback. Seeing that he was in eage_ursuit of an animal which he wished to lasso, they followed him quietly an_atched his movements. Whirling the noose round his head, he threw it adroitl_n such a manner that the bull put one of its legs within the coil. Then h_eined up suddenly, and the animal was thrown on its back. At the same momen_he lasso broke, and the bull recovered its feet and continued its wil_light.
"Good-day, friend," said Barney, galloping towards the disappointed herdsma_nd addressing him in Portuguese, "could you show us the road to Rio? We'v_ost it intirely."
The man pointed sulkily in the direction in which they were going, and, havin_ended his lasso, he wheeled about and galloped after the herd of cattle.
"Bad luck to yer manners!" said Barney, as he gazed after him. "But what ca_e expect from the poor critter? He niver larned better Come along, Martin, we'll rest here a while."
They were soon under the shelter of the trees, and having fastened thei_orses to one of them, they proceeded to search for water. While thu_mployed, Barney shouted to his companion, "Come here, lad; look here."
There was something in the tone of the Irishman's voice that startled Martin, and he sprang hastily towards him. Barney was standing with his arms crosse_pon his chest and his head bowed forward, as he gazed with a solem_xpression on the figure of a man at his feet.
"Is he ill?" inquired Martin, stooping and lifting his hand. Starting back a_e dropped it, he exclaimed, "Dead!"
"Ah, boy, he has gone to his last account. Look at him again, Martin. It wa_e who came to the mine a week ago to buy a horse, and now—" Barney sighed a_e stooped and turned the body over in order to ascertain whether he had bee_urdered; but there were no marks of violence to be seen. There was bread to_n his wallet; so they could come to no other conclusion than that the unhapp_an had been seized with fatal illness in the lonesome wood and died there.
As they searched his clothes they found a small leathern bag, which, to thei_mazement, was filled with gold-dust; and in the midst of the gold was anothe_maller bag containing several small diamonds.
"Ha!" exclaimed Martin, "that explains his hurry. No doubt he had made of_ith these, and was anxious to avoid pursuit."
"No doubt of it," said Barney. "Well, thief or no thief, we must give the poo_ratur' dacent burial. There's not a scrap o' paper to tell who he is or wher_e came from,—a sure sign that he wasn't what he should ha' been. Ah! Martin, what will we not do for the sake o' money! and, after all, we can't keep i_ong. May the Almighty niver let you or me set our hearts on it."
They dug a shallow grave with their hands in a sandy spot where the soil wa_oose, in which they deposited the body of the unfortunate man; and the_emounting their horses, rode away and left him in his lonely resting-place.
For many days did Martin and Barney travel through the land on horseback, no_alloping over open campos, anon threading their way through the forest, an_ometimes toiling slowly up the mountain sides. The aspect of the countr_aried continually as they advanced, and the feelings of excessive hilarit_ith which they commenced the journey began to subside as they becam_ccustomed to it.
One evening they were toiling slowly up a steep range of hills which had bee_he prospect in front of them the whole of that day. As they neared the summi_f the range Martin halted at a stream to drink, and Barney advanced alone.
Suddenly Martin was startled by a loud cry, and looking up he saw Barney o_is knees with his hands clasped before him! Rushing up the hill, Martin foun_is comrade with his face flushed and the tears coursing down his cheeks as h_tared before him!
"Look at it, Martin, dear!" he cried, starting up and flinging his cap in th_ir, and shouting like a madman. "The say! my own native illiment! th_eautiful ocean! Och, darlint, my blessing on ye! Little did I think to se_ou more,—hooray!"
Barney sang and danced till he sank down on the grass exhausted; and, to sa_ruth, Martin felt much difficulty in restraining himself from doing likewise, for before him was spread out the bright ocean, gleaming in the light of th_inking sun, and calm and placid as a mirror. It was indeed a glorious sigh_o these two sailors, who had not seen the sea for nearly two years. It wa_ike coming suddenly face to face—after a long absence—with an old and muc_oved friend.
Although visible, the sea, however, was still a long way off from the Serr_os Orgos on which they stood. But their steeds were good, and it was not lon_re they were both rolling like dolphins in the beautiful bay of Rio d_aneiro.
Here Barney delivered up the gold and diamonds to his employer, who paid hi_iberally for his services and entertained them both hospitably while the_emained in the city. The bag of gold and diamonds which had been found on th_ody of the dead man they appropriated, as it was absolutely impossible t_iscover the rightful owner. Barney's friend bought it of them at full price; and when they embarked, soon after, on board a homeward bound ship, each ha_our hundred pounds in his pocket!
As they sailed out of the noble harbour Martin sat on the poop gazing at th_eceding shore while thick-coming memories crowded on his brain.
His imagination flew back to the day when he first landed on the coast an_scaped with his friend Barney from the pirates,—to the hermit's cottage i_he lonely valley, where he first made acquaintance with monkeys, iguanas, jaguars, armadillos, and all the wonderful, beautiful, and curious birds, beasts, and reptiles, plants, trees, and flowers, that live and flourish i_hat romantic country. Once more, in fancy, he was sailing up the might_mazon, shooting alligators on its banks, spearing fish in its waters, paddling through its curious gapo, and swinging in his hammock under it_uxuriant forests. Once again he was a prisoner among the wild Indians, and h_tarted convulsively as he thought of the terrible leap over the precipic_nto the stream that flowed into the heart of the earth. Then he wandered i_he lonely forest. Suddenly the diamond mines were before him, and Barney'_ovial voice rang in his ears; and he replied to it with energy, for now h_as bounding on a fiery steed over the grassy campos. With a deep sigh h_woke from his reverie to find himself surrounded by the great wide sea.