Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest HTML version

Chapter III
I was not disappointed on my next visit to the forest, nor on several succeeding
visits; and this seemed to show that if I was right in believing that these strange,
melodious utterances proceeded from one individual, then the bird or being,
although still refusing to show itself, was always on the watch for my appearance
and followed me wherever I went. This thought only served to increase my
curiosity; I was constantly pondering over the subject, and at last concluded that
it would be best to induce one of the Indians to go with me to the wood on the
chance of his being able to explain the mystery.
One of the treasures I had managed to preserve in my sojourn with these
children of nature, who were always anxious to become possessors of my
belongings, was a small prettily fashioned metal match-box, opening with a
spring. Remembering that Kua-ko, among others, had looked at this trifle with
covetous eyes--the covetous way in which they all looked at it had given it a
fictitious value in my own--I tried to bribe him with the offer of it to accompany me
to my favourite haunt. The brave young hunter refused again and again; but on
each occasion he offered to perform some other service or to give me something
in exchange for the box. At last I told him that I would give it to the first person
who should accompany me, and fearing that someone would be found valiant
enough to win the prize, he at length plucked up a spirit, and on the next day,
seeing me going out for a walk, he all at once offered to go with me. He
cunningly tried to get the box before starting--his cunning, poor youth, was not
very deep! I told him that the forest we were about to visit abounded with plants
and birds unlike any I had seen elsewhere, that I wished to learn their names and
everything about them, and that when I had got the required information the box
would be his--not sooner. Finally we started, he, as usual, armed with his
zabatana, with which, I imagined, he would procure more game than usually fell
to his little poisoned arrows. When we reached the wood I could see that he was
ill at ease: nothing would persuade him to go into the deeper parts; and even
where it was very open and light he was constantly gazing into bushes and
shadowy places, as if expecting to see some frightful creature lying in wait for
him. This behaviour might have had a disquieting effect on me had I not been
thoroughly convinced that his fears were purely superstitious and that there could
be no dangerous animal in a spot I was accustomed to walk in every day. My
plan was to ramble about with an unconcerned air, occasionally pointing out an
uncommon tree or shrub or vine, or calling his attention to a distant bird-cry and
asking the bird's name, in the hope that the mysterious voice would make itself
heard and that he would be able to give me some explanation of it. But for
upwards of two hours we moved about, hearing nothing except the usual bird
voices, and during all that time he never stirred a yard from my side nor made an
attempt to capture anything. At length we sat down under a tree, in an open spot
close to the border of the wood. He sat down very reluctantly, and seemed more
troubled in his mind than ever, keeping his eyes continually roving about, while
he listened intently to every sound. The sounds were not few, owing to the