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Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 659 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 12.

SECTION XV.

An Expedition of Mr Banks to trace the River:  Marks of Subterraneous Fire:  Preparations for leaving the Island:  An Account of Tupia.

On the 3d, Mr Banks set out early in the morning with some Indian guides, to trace our river up the valley from which it issues, and examine how far its banks were inhabited.  For about six miles they met with houses, not far distant from each other, on each side of the river, and the valley was every where about four hundred yards wide from the foot of the hill on one side, to the foot of that on the other; but they were now shewn a house which they were told was the last that they would see.  When they came up to it, the master of it offered them refreshments of cocoa-nuts and other fruits, of which they accepted; after a short stay, they walked forward for a considerable time; in bad way it is not easy to compute distances, but they imagined that they had walked about six miles farther, following the course of the river, when they frequently passed under vaults, formed by fragments of the rock, in which they were told people who were benighted frequently passed the night.  Soon after they found the river banked by steep rocks, from which a cascade, falling with great violence, formed a pool, so steep, that the Indians said they could not pass it.  They seemed, indeed, not much to be acquainted with the valley beyond this place, their business lying chiefly upon the declivity of the rocks on each side, and the plains which extended on their summits, where they found plenty of wild plantain, which they called Vae.  The way up these rocks from the banks of the river, was in every respect dreadful; the sides were nearly perpendicular, and in some places one hundred feet high; they were also rendered exceeding slippery by the water of innumerable springs which issued from the fissures on the surface:  Yet up these precipices a way was to be traced by a succession of long pieces of the bark of the hibiscus tiliaceus, which served as a rope for the climber to take hold of, and assisted him in scrambling from one ledge to another, though upon these ledges there was footing only for an Indian or a goat.  One of these ropes was nearly thirty feet in length, and their guides offered to assist them in mounting this pass, but recommended another at a little distance lower down, as less difficult and dangerous.  They took a view of this “better way,” but found it so bad that they did not chuse to attempt it, as there was nothing at the top to reward their toil and hazard, but a grove of the wild plantain or vae tree, which they had often seen before.

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