A Not Unnatural Enterprise This is written from memory , unfortunately .
I 0 could have brought with
me 0 the material
I 0 so carefully prepared , this would be a very different story .
Whole books full of notes , carefully copied records , firsthand descriptions , and the pictures -- that ’s the worst loss .
We 1 had some bird ’s - eyes of
the cities 2 and
parks 3 ; a lot of lovely views of
streets 4 , of
buildings 5 , outside and in , and
, and , most important of all , of
those gorgeous gardens 6 95
the women 7
themselves 7 .
Nobody 8 will ever believe how
they 7 looked .
Descriptions are n’t any good when it comes to
women 9 , and
I 0 never was good at descriptions anyhow .
But it ’s got to be done somehow ; the rest of
the world 10 needs to know about
that country 11 .
I 0 have n’t said where
it 11 was for fear
some self-appointed missionaries 12 , or
traders 13 , or
land-greedy expansionists 14 , will take it upon
themselves 15 to push in .
They 15 will not be wanted ,
I 0 can tell
them 15 that , and will fare worse than
we 1 did if
they 15 do find
it 11 .
It began this way .
three of us 1 ,
classmates 98 and
friends 96 --
Terry O. Nicholson 16 (
we 17 used to call
him 16 the
Old Nick 16 , with good reason ) ,
Jeff Margrave 18 , and
I 0 ,
Vandyck Jennings 99 .
We 1 had known each other years and years , and in spite of
our 1 differences
we 1 had a good deal in common .
All of us 1 were interested in science .
Terry 16 was rich enough to do as
he 16 pleased .
His 16 great aim was exploration .
He 16 used to make all kinds of a row because there was nothing left to explore now , only patchwork and filling in ,
he 16 said .
He 16 filled in well enough --
he 16 had a lot of talents -- great on mechanics and electricity .
Had all kinds of
boats 19 and
motorcars 20 , and was .
We 1 never could have done the thing at all without
Terry 16 .
Jeff Margrave 18 was born to be
a poet 24 ,
a botanist 25 -- or both -- but persuaded
him 18 to be
a doctor 100 instead .
He 18 was a good one , for
his 18 age , but
his 18 real interest was in what
he 18 loved to call “ the wonders of science . ”
me 0 , sociology ’s
my 0 major .
You 27 have to back that up with a lot of other sciences , of course .
I 0 ’m interested in them all .
Terry 16 was strong on facts -- geography and meteorology and those ;
Jeff 18 could beat
him 16 any time on biology , and
I 0 did n’t care what it was
they 28 talked about , so long as it connected with human life , somehow .
There are few things that do n’t .
We 1 three had a chance to join a big scientific expedition .
They 29 needed
a doctor 30 , and that gave
Jeff 18 an excuse for dropping
his 18 just opening practice ;
they 29 needed
Terry 16 ’s experience ,
his 16 machine , and
his 16 money ; and as for
me 0 ,
I 0 got in through
Terry 16 ’s influence .
The expedition was up among
, up where the maps had to be made , savage dialects studied , and all manner of strange flora and fauna expected .
the thousand tributaries and enormous hinterland of
a great river 32 31
But this story is not about that expedition .
That was only the merest starter for ours .
My 0 interest was first roused by talk among .
I 0 ’m quick at languages , know a good many , and pick them up readily .
What with that and
a really good interpreter
us 1 34
I 0 made out quite a few legends and folk myths of
these scattered tribes 35 .
we 1 got farther and farther upstream , in a dark tangle of
rivers 36 ,
lakes 37 ,
morasses 38 , and
dense forests 39 , with here and there
an unexpected long spur running out from
the big mountains beyond 41 40
I 0 noticed that more and more of
these savages 42 had a story about
a strange and terrible Woman Land in the high distance 11 .
“ Up yonder , ” “ Over there , ” “ Way up ” -- was all the direction
they 42 could offer , but
their 42 legends all agreed on the main point -- that there was
this strange country where
no men 91
women 43 and
girl children 44 .
had ever seen
it 11 .
It was dangerous , deadly ,
they 42 said , for
any man 45 to go
there 11 .
But there were tales of long ago , when
some brave investigator 46 had seen
it 11 --
a Big Country 11 ,
Big Houses 47 ,
Plenty People 48 --
All Women 49 .
no one else 50 gone ?
a good many 51 -- but
they 51 never came back .
It 11 was no place for
men 52 -- of that
they 42 seemed sure .
I 0 told
the boys 28 about these stories , and
they 28 laughed at them .
I 0 did
myself 0 .
I 0 knew the stuff that savage dreams are made of .
we 1 had reached
our 1 farthest point , just the day before
we 1 all had to turn around and start for
home 53 again , as the best of expeditions must in time ,
we 1 three made a discovery .
The main encampment 54 was on
a spit of land running out into
the main stream 56
, or what
the main stream 56 55
It 56 had the same muddy color
we 1 had been seeing for weeks past , the same taste .
I 0 happened to speak of
that river 56 to ,
a rather superior fellow with quick , bright eyes 97 .
He 57 told
me 0 that there was
another river 58 -- “ over there ,
short river 58 , sweet water , red and blue . ”
I 0 was interested in this and anxious to see if
I 0 had understood , so
I 0 showed
him 57 a red and blue pencil
I 0 carried , and asked again .
he 57 pointed to
the river 56 , and then to the southwestward .
River 58 -- good water -- red and blue . ”
Terry 16 was close by and interested in
the fellow 57 ’s pointing .
“ What does
he 57 say ,
Van 0 ? ”
I 0 told
him 16 .
Terry 16 blazed up at once .
him 57 how far it is . ”
The man 57 indicated a short journey ;
I 0 judged about two hours , maybe three .
“ Let ’s go , ” urged
Terry 16 .
us 1 three .
we 1 can really find something .
May be cinnabar in it . ”
“ May be indigo , ”
Jeff 18 suggested , with
his 18 lazy smile .
It was early yet ;
we 1 had just breakfasted ; and leaving word that
we 1 ’d be back before night ,
we 1 got away quietly , not wishing to be thought too gullible if
we 1 failed , and secretly hoping to have some nice little discovery all to
ourselves 1 .
It was a long two hours , nearer three .
I 0 fancy
the savage 57 could have done it alone much quicker .
a desperate tangle of wood and water 59 and
a swampy patch
never should have found
way across alone 60
But there was one , and
I 0 could see
Terry 16 , with compass and notebook , marking directions and trying to place landmarks .
We 1 came after a while to
a sort of marshy lake 61 , very big , so that
the circling forest 62 looked quite low and dim across
it 61 .
us 1 that
boats 63 could go from
there 61 to -- but “ long way -- all day . ”
This water was somewhat clearer than that
we 1 had left , but
we 1 could not judge well from the margin .
We 1 skirted
it 61 for another half hour or so , the ground growing firmer as
we 1 advanced , and presently
we 1 turned the corner of
a wooded promontory 64 and saw
a quite different country 65 -- a sudden view of
mountains , steep and bare 66 .
One of those long easterly spurs 67 , ”
Terry 16 said appraisingly .
“ May be hundreds of miles from the range .
They 68 crop out like that . ”
we 1 left
the lake 61 and struck directly toward
the cliffs 69 .
We 1 heard running water before
we 1 reached it , and
the guide 57 pointed proudly to .
It 58 was short .
We 1 could see where
it 58 poured down
a narrow vertical cataract from an opening in the face of
the cliff 71 70
It was sweet water .
The guide 57 drank eagerly and so did
we 1 .
“ That ’s snow water , ”
Terry 16 announced .
“ Must come from way back in
the hills 72 . ”
But as to being red and blue -- it was greenish in tint .
The guide 57 seemed not at all surprised .
He 57 hunted about a little and showed
a quiet marginal pool where there were smears of red along the border 73 ; yes , and of blue .
Terry 16 got out
his 16 magnifying glass and squatted down to investigate .
“ Chemicals of some sort --
I 16 ca n’t tell on the spot .
me 16 like dyestuffs .
Let ’s get nearer , ”
he 16 urged , “ up there by
the fall 74 . ”
We 1 scrambled along
the steep banks 75 and got close to
the pool that foamed and boiled beneath the falling water 76 .
we 1 searched the border and found traces of color beyond dispute .
Jeff 18 suddenly held up an unlooked-for trophy .
It was only a rag , a long , raveled fragment of cloth .
But it was a well-woven fabric , with a pattern , and of a clear scarlet that the water had not faded .
No savage tribe that
we 1 had heard of made such fabrics .
The guide 57 stood serenely on
the bank 77 , well pleased with
our 1 excitement .
“ One day blue -- one day red -- one day green , ”
he 57 told
us 1 , and pulled from
his 57 pouch another strip of bright-hued cloth .
“ Come down , ”
he 57 said , pointing to
the cataract 70 .
Woman Country 11 -- up there . ”
we 1 were interested .
We 1 had
our 1 rest and lunch right
there 78 and pumped
the man 57 for further information .
He 57 could tell
us 1 only what
the others 79 had -- --
no men 81 --
babies 83 , but
all girls 82 .
No place for
men 84 -- dangerous .
Some 94 had gone to see --
none 93 had come back .
I 0 could see
Terry 16 ’s jaw set at that .
No place for
men 85 ?
He 16 looked as if
he 16 might shin up
the waterfall 74 on the spot .
the guide 57 would not hear of going up , even if there had been any possible method of scaling
that sheer cliff 70 , and
we 1 had to get back to before night .
They 86 might stay if
we 1 told
them 86 , ”
I 0 suggested .
Terry 16 stopped in
his 16 tracks .
“ Look here ,
fellows 87 , ”
he 16 said .
“ This is
our 1 find .
Let ’s not tell
those cocky old professors 88 .
Let ’s go on
home 89 with ‘ em , and then come back -- just
us 1 -- have a little expedition of
our 1 own . ”