Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest HTML version

Chapter XV
The next day we were early at work. Nuflo had already gathered, dried, and
conveyed to a place of concealment the greater portion of his garden produce.
He was determined to leave nothing to be taken by any wandering party of
savages that might call at the house during our absence. He had no fear of a visit
from his neighbours; they would not know, he said, that he and Rima were out of
the wood. A few large earthen pots, filled with shelled maize, beans, and sun-
dried strips of pumpkin, still remained to be disposed of. Taking up one of these
vessels and asking me to follow with another, he started off through the wood.
We went a distance of five or six hundred yards, then made our way down a very
steep incline, close to the border of the forest on the western side. Arrived at the
bottom, we followed the bank a little further, and I then found myself once more
at the foot of the precipice over which I had desperately thrown myself on the
stormy evening after the snake had bitten me. Nuflo, stealing silently and softly
before me through the bushes, had observed a caution and secrecy in
approaching this spot resembling that of a wise old hen when she visits her
hidden nest to lay an egg. And here was his nest, his most secret treasure-
house, which he had probably not revealed even to me without a sharp inward
conflict, notwithstanding that our fates were now linked together. The lower
portion of the bank was of rock; and in it, about ten or twelve feet above the
ground, but easily reached from below, there was a natural cavity large enough
to contain all his portable property. Here, besides the food-stuff, he had already
stored a quantity of dried tobacco leaf, his rude weapons, cooking utensils,
ropes, mats, and other objects. Two or three more journeys were made for the
remaining pots, after which we adjusted a slab of sandstone to the opening,
which was fortunately narrow, plastered up the crevices with clay, and covered
them over with moss to hide all traces of our work.
Towards evening, after we had refreshed ourselves with a long siesta, Nuflo
brought out from some other hiding-place two sacks; one weighing about twenty
pounds and containing smoke-dried meat, also grease and gum for lighting-
purposes, and a few other small objects. This was his load; the other sack, which
was smaller and contained parched corn and raw beans, was for me to carry.
The old man, cautious in all his movements, always acting as if surrounded by
invisible spies, delayed setting out until an hour after dark. Then, skirting the
forest on its west side, we left Ytaioa on our right hand, and after travelling over
rough, difficult ground, with only the stars to light us, we saw the waning moon
rise not long before dawn. Our course had been a north-easterly one at first; now
it was due east, with broad, dry savannahs and patches of open forest as far as
we could see before us. It was weary walking on that first night, and weary
waiting on the first day when we sat in the shade during the long, hot hours,
persecuted by small stinging flies; but the days and nights that succeeded were
far worse, when the weather became bad with intense heat and frequent heavy
falls of rain. The one compensation I had looked for, which would have
outweighed all the extreme discomforts we suffered, was denied me. Rima was