The herculean native gave an extra sweep of his paddle which sent his boat slightly in advance of the other, and, striking the shore, he sprang out and turned about to wait for them to disembark.
The scene was an impressive one, which every member of the company was sure to remember the rest of his life.
The huts in which these strange people made their homes were similar in structure to those of the Aryks, but instead of being built around the three sides of a rectangle, composed one row, numbering more than a hundred, and facing the river. They stood a hundred yards from the water, and being at the top of the sloping bank were above the reach of the most violent freshet that ever came down from the mountain-fed sources of the mighty Xingu.
The ground in front of this novel town was cleared of all trees and undergrowth, but for most of the space was covered with bright green grass; the whole having the appearance of a well-kept lawn that had been artificially sodded or strewn with seed, which flourished with the luxuriance of every species of vegetation in that tropic country.
Not only in front, but on the sides and to the rear, for an extent of more than a hundred acres, the earth had been cleared with equal thoroughness and was growing abundant crops of cotton, tobacco, and edibles peculiar to the region.
The houses were separated by a space of several rods, so that the town itself extended a long way along the water. The dwellings, like those of the Aryks, consisted of a single story, with the door in the middle of the front, a window-like opening on each side of the same, roofed over with poles, covered with earth, leaves and grass, that were impervious to wind and storm.
It seemed to the astonished whites that the entire population had gathered along the shore to receive them. Several strange sights impressed them. The men were large, sinewy, bushy-haired and athletic. Some sported bows and arrows, but the majority by far carried the spears which the explorers held in such dread. There was no native, so far as they could see, who was the equal in size and strength of Ziffak, but they were so much the superiors of any natives encountered since leaving the Amazon, that it was easy to understand how they were the lords and masters of all the tribes with which they came in conflict.
We have spoken of the Murhapa houses as being but a single story in height. There was a single exception. In the middle of the town was a broader and larger structure than the others. It was two stories high and so much more marked in every respect that it was easy to decide that it was the residence or palace of Haffgo, the king of these people.
Another singular feature was noticed by our friends as they stepped from their canoe. Among the natives, who were mostly as dark of skin as Africans, was a sprinkling so different that the inference was that they belonged to some other race, or that nature was accustomed to play some strange freak in this almost unknown part of the world.