TO reach the Argentine, which is only a little over 6,000
miles from home, takes twenty-one days of comfortable and
leisurely travelling, but if the great steamship companies
would consent to run fast tourist steamers from London,
the great city of Buenos Ayres could easily be reached in
We were in " B.A.," as it is familiarly known
to its British friends, for over four years, and during
that time got to know and like it well. It is in extent
and population not only the premier city of South America,
but, after Paris, the premier city of the Latin world. Our
first days after arriving there on Christmas Day, 1906,
were spent in exploring our new surroundings.
opera house, called the Teatro Colon, one of many beautiful
buildings in Buenos Ayres, is probably the largest theatre
in the world, and equipped most luxuriously. The musical
performances are first class, as all the European "
star " artists visit the Argentine capital and receive
remuneration which even in a land of millionaires is startling.
Florida, the Bond Street of Buenos Ayres, contains the jewel
of the town, the magnificent and wealthy Jockey Club, perhaps
the finest club-house in the world. The magnificence of
this building, with its wide, pillared, green marble staircase,
its luxurious banqueting-rooms (the furniture of one of
these was taken over in its entirety from an old French
chateau), its library, Turkish baths, fencing-hall, gymnasium,
and roof garden, must be seen to be appreciated. The entrance
fee is 300, and when we were in Buenos Ayres there was some
talk of raising it still higher to try, if possible, to
cope with the numbers of aspirant members. The income of
the club is enormous, depending as it does not only on the
race-course, but also on the takings of the pari mutuel
at the bi-weekly meetings at Palermo.
everybody attends the races, and probably everybody present
has a bet on each of the seven races on the card. Racing
is one of the most delightful pastimes of this gay city.
Some of the best of our English thoroughbred sires have
found their way to Buenos Ayres, notably Diamond Jubilee,
belonging to Mr. Correas; Val D'Or, owned by Mr. Saturnino;
Unzue, Cyllene, bought by the Ojo de Agua stud; Craganour,
by Mr. Martinez de Hoz. Huge prices are given for these
horses. When Ormonde went to the Argentine he fetched the
then record sum of 30,000.
The Avenida Alvear, the drive from the town to the race-course,
is a broad, shaded avenue through the Hyde Park of Palermo,
flanked, when it is dear of the town, by green lawns and
brilliant flowerbeds. The crowd of vehicles of all kinds
that congests the road on a race day beggars description.
The race-course at Palermo is the last word in luxury. The
buildings, all white in their setting of green, are very
attractive, and the Jockey Club stand, chiefly made of white
marble, is the most sumptuous building of the kind I have
seen in any country.
racing in the Argentine is easier and more comfortably done
than anywhere else in the world. One sits in one of the
luxuriously furnished rooms at the back of the stand, or
on the balcony when the time for the racing arrives, and
one bets on the pan mutuel through one of the Jockey Club
servants, who buys one's tickets, and afterwards collects
one's money if one has been fortunate enough to pick a winner.
Then one sits and watches the parade of the horses, which,
with their numbers plainly embroidered on both sides of
their saddlecloths, walk past the stand and canter back
to the starting-post. (An innovation lately introduced on
English race-courses.) One can thus see the horses moving
before betting, and can back one's own judgment. I was rather
good at this, and once was lucky enough to pick out a winner
at the handsome price of 270 to i. I believe that was a
The Argentines are a very sporting people, and it is probably
this inborn feature of their character which has attracted
so many British people to their country. Football is a favourite
pastime with them also rowing.
A fashionable rowing centre called the Tigre, a summer resort
about twenty miles from the city, has been called the Henley
of the Argentine, and anyone who has witnessed the brilliant
scene and vast crowds at the annual regattas there must
admit that the description is not inept.
Cricket and golf are making great strides. Firstclass polo
is played, not only in the vicinity of Buenos Ayres, at
Palermo and the English Club called Hurlingham, but all
over the country. Nearly all the principal estancias have
their polo teams, and many interesting meetings are held.
Followers of the game in England will probably remember
the successes at Ranelagh, Roehampton and Hurlingham of
the Argentine teams " Wild Horse Ranch " and "Baguel,"
in which figured such names as Scott- Robson, Traill, [and
Schwind. Soon genuine homebred Argentines will take their
place in the polo world.
Tennis, hockey, boxing and fencing are also favourite pastimes
of the Argentines, who take even their games seriously,
and for practically all their sports have the services of
English professional trainers.
Argentine women are extremely beautiful, with dark hair
and velvet eyes to match. They dress very well, and get
most of their wardrobe in Paris, that beloved second home
of most of them, from which they are seldom absent more
than a year at a time. I am speaking, of course, of the
wealthier women. They have the Southerners' charm also,
and are so hospitably inclined that they carry out almost
to the letter the ideal hospitality of the old Spanish hidalgo
typified in the words still so generally heard in the Argentine,
" Mi casa es a su disposicion " (" My house
is at your disposal").
women are famed for their magnificent jewels, even in such
bejewelled social centres as Paris and London. Yet in Buenos
Ayres these jewels are seldom en evidence even at the opera.
The reason is that, being so valuable, their care necessitates
precautions which are difficult to take in a town where
much that is primitive still exists and where burglars and
bad characters escaped from Europe abound. The ladies prefer
to have their beautiful jewels in the safe keeping of a
London or Paris bank, where they can easily be claimed on
their owners' arrival in Europe. Another cause for this
habit is to be found, I think, in the very damp atmosphere
prevailing in Buenos Ayres during a long portion of the
year. This makes it difficult to keep the jewels as brilliant
and brightly polished as we keep them in England. Dimmed
jewels lose half their charm.
the United States women must give points to the Argentines
in the matter of diamonds and pearl necklaces.
The Argentine Senora relies much upon artificial help for
enhancing her natural charms. I remember it was at dinner
in the restaurant of one of the smartest Buenos Ayres hotels
that I saw for the first time what has now become, alas!
a common sight at our own dinner-tables, namely, a society
woman taking out her mirror, powder-puff, and lip-salve
to " titivate " her face between two courses.
This was in the year 1908, and it was the first time I had
ever seen it done at home or abroad.
That a custom now so universal in some circles should have
shocked me so genuinely at the time shows how much society
manners have changed in the last few years. I remember speaking
of this little incident to an Argentine woman who had been
present (with some irony, I admit, as she was herself highly
"got up"), and I recollect still with a smile
the ingenuous answer she made: "Oui, chere madame,
c'etait vraiment choquant! Ma chere mere m'a tou jours dit
qu'il ne fallait toucher la figure qu'avec le coude!"
It amused me at the races to meet a really smart woman with
fair curls one day and auburn locks the next. But I was
told that this was a licence permitted to women in that
country where, until a short time before, the " fringe
" had formed part of the hat, these being attached
to each other and combined to form the best colour scheme.
This habit has passed away now and my Argentine friends,
resting on their laurels as the best-dressed women in the
world, will pardon my allusion to it.
have heard it said that Buenos Ayres is the wickedest city
in the world. So it may be for all I know, and I daresay
it would not mind pleading guilty to so fashionable an indictment.
But certainly I never saw anything of this, and I am quite
sure that the Argentine woman in Society had no part in
making this reputation for Buenos Ayres.
Argentine women are the best wives and mothers in the world,
and have in this dual capacity only one fault namely, that
they spoil their menfolk and their children. At that they
really do excel! The atmosphere of a Buenos Ayres "
home " is quite delightful, and it is a pleasure to
be admitted to its intimacy. But as for anything in the
way of "fastness," I never knew a genuine case
of it that was not socially ostracized in that country.
The Argentine's wife is like Caesar's, " above reproach,"
or she ceases to figure in the social gatherings of Society.
my husband used to consider it rather a drawback that the
ladies were too strait-laced to allow him to frequent their
charming society on the racecourse or at their own tea-parties.
Women cluster together at the races, and few are the men
brave enough to break their magic circle. As for the "
paddock," they are never seen there, the idea being
that they ought not to expose themselves to the possible
contact of the Longchamps " mannequin " type,
who on their part are confined to that part of the racecourse
instead of being allowed, as with us, to flaunt their charms
in the enclosures.
Marriages in the Argentine are to a great extent "arranged
" as in France, and to me it appears that this often
answers well and conduces to happiness. For the parents
on both sides study the characters, disposition, and financial
prospects of the couple, and so are admirably qualified
to bring them together under the happiest auspices. But
the young people ought to be left, I think, after the parents'
blessing has been given, to become engaged or not as they
please, and there should be no reflection on either party
if, after nearer acquaintance, they fail to embark on matrimony.
In the Argentine, although marriages are often arranged
on these lines, a curious latitude is given in one
respect which makes courtship in that country unique. At
the opera or in a big theatre or other place of
entertainment the custom is for all the unmarried girls
to be placed in the front row of the boxes, their parents
and male friends sitting behind. This habit, which results
in a very brilliant and delightful display of youthful charm,
has an object which becomes apparent only when one notes
the young men in the house, between the acts, leaning against
the exits, staring these young women out of countenance,
sometimes even using their operaglasses.
young women, fully aware of the scrutiny they are being
subjected to, and nothing loth, permit their gaze also to
wander over the floor of the house, until the glance of
one of them is suddenly "arrested" by a young
man more well-favoured or pleasing to her than the rest.
If the girl then allows her eye to be "caught,"
and the young man can hold it, there is ipso facto established
between them what is known in the Argentine as telegrafia
sin hilos (wireless telegraphy). Once the young man is satisfied
that he has established this, he makes it his business to
find out the number of the box in which the fair one sits,
and having previously secured an older friend to accompany
him in the probable event of his not knowing the family,
he is introduced to the parents of the girl, who in their
turn present him to her.
The two young people are then allowed to converse together
alone. If, at the end of the entertainment, they wish to
continue the acquaintance, the young man asks her parents'
permission to call and pay his respects, and this being
granted, he becomes a friend of the house and the acquaintance
often ends in matrimony.
never heard of this custom in any other country, and I think
it must be of Spanish origin and must have much in it of
the sentiment attaching to a balcony courtship in fair Granada.
The national trait of "hospitality" was carried,
in our case, to its finest point by Don Miguel Martinez
de Hoz and his charming wife, who entertained us for one
whole summer in their delightful home near Mar del Plata.
Don Miguel Alfredo is well known in English hunting, coaching
and racing circles. He was educated in
England, for which he has a great affection, so great that
he and his wife, Dona Julie Helena, actually
transplanted their home to London for seven years, so that
their two boys should be entirely educated at Eton.
It proves, I think, how very deep-rooted are the national
traits in the Argentine character that these boys, brought
over here young enough to begin their education at a private
school, and kept here through an Eton and University career,
nevertheless returned to their own country at the end of
that time, having lost nothing of their national character
and patriotism. Although they both speak English perfectly,
and distinguished themselves at polo, being perfect horsemen,
as most Argentines are, although they had made scores of
friends here and could have lived in ease and luxury in
the land of their education, they nevertheless returned
with enthusiasm to the country of their birth, where they
are now living on their vast estancias, helping their father,
our original friend, to carry on the old traditions.
Chapadmalal, where we spent a happy summer as their guest,
is admittedly one of the best of the estancias in the country.
The Argentine, descended from Spanish hidalgos, has never
mixed in business. His wealth in most cases comes chiefly
from the land. He lives on it, as in the case of these friends
of ours, in a manner more simple and economical than we
do in England under much less favourable financial circumstances.
So it is that the de Hoz, who are very wealthy, live in
a patriarchal manner in a beautiful house built by themselves
and filled with beautiful things, set down in a park belted
by fir and eucalyptus trees, but with no show whatever in
the way of liveried servants and smart carriages.
estancia covers 64,000 acres of land, 100 square miles,
and is not far from Mar del Plata, the fashionable watering-place
of the country. It took us a whole night's journey by train
to get there from Buenos Ayres. We were met at the Mar del
Plata station by an omnibus with four horses, and soon after
leaving the town found ourselves on the outskirts of the
Chapadmalal estate, whence a good twelve-mile drive lay
before us to the house.
This drive was over a very wide grass track, very bumpy
in places and hedged off with barbed wire from the immense
grass lands on either side. A private telephone wire connected
the estancia with Mar del Plata.
The whole country was slightly undulating, like the Berkshire
Downs, and everywhere immense herds of horses, cattle and
sheep wandered about apparently untended. Just as we were
beginning to feel tired and hungry, we saw a big belt of
fir-trees in the distance, which the driver pointed out
to us as being our destination, and, soon after, we entered
through a five-barred gate into a fine avenue of trees,
which led us through a park up to the house itself, a charming
white castellated villa. Our host and hostess were waiting
on the doorstep to welcome us. We found ourselves in a quite
English house, filled with lovely Queen Anne and Chippendale
furniture, with English prints on the walls and a good wood
fire blazing on the hearth.
So began one of the most delightful visits we ever enjoyed,
even in the extensive and varied wanderings in many lands
which has been our lot. We had every variety of sport imaginable.
One day we shot partridges and duck; another day we had
some deep-sea fishing, for the estancia runs along the seashore;
another day we mounted, and coursed hares.
inspected fat pedigree cattle, prize shire horses, hackneys
and sheep. We saw hundreds of breeding mares and polo ponies;
we were taken to see the pedigree shire horse sires, all
imported from England, the pedigree shorthorn bull, also
imported from here, and the pedigree racing sires, among
which figured Craganour.
The riding was what pleased me most. Don Miguel Alfredo
had numberless thoroughbred horses for riding, all grass
fed and all undipped! Not smart if you like, but beneath
a dirty, thick coat was a really well-broken animal. He
tries all sorts of combinations in horsebreeding.
In one case the union between a hackney sire and a Shetland
mare, both pedigree animals, produced a i2-hand pony with
very big bone, immensely high action, and a sweeping mane
and tail. Don Miguel drove four of these little beggars,
who were very strong and pulled like the devil, in a double
He gave me my first lesson in four-in-hand driving, sitting
behind them. He afterwards brought them to London. After
being clipped and properly got up, they were as smart a
little team in their double dogcart as one could wish to
drive. I used often to have them out in Hyde Park, where
they created quite a sensation.
The bulls were much more carefully tended as far as appearances
went, especially those being got up for show. Their horns
were trimmed, sand-papered and polished, and they were washed
every morning with a hose with soap and soft water, and
afterwards brushed and combed. Don Miguel had a theory that
rainwater made their coats more silky, and certainly they
responded to the treatment.
many friends we made in the Argentine was a family of British
estancieros, to visit whom we
embarked upon a three days' ride from Neuquen, through a
desert so hot that we suffered terribly in traversing it.
The hospitable estancia, in which we stayed in comparative
clover, having plenty to eat and a roof over our heads,
belonged to four brothers who drifted into this part of
the world with their father and mother as boys.
The father must have been very eccentric. He was at one
time a fashionable London doctor. He came of a Devonshire
family and had possessed an annual income of 10,000, which
he squandered. Eventually he married a charming, gentle
and cultured lady, who possessed a highly developed artistic
temperament, and was the author of many songs and verses
which were at one time very popular. They lived for some
time at Brighton, then in London, and four children were
born, all of them boys.
Their education seems to have been the object of very misguided
attention on their father's part, and his methods must have
cost many a pang to their sweet mother. That the boys should
be hardened was his main idea. In our days the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Children would undoubtedly
have stepped in to modify his system of education, but in
those days he was left a free hand. To swim out to sea at
Brighton clinging to the tail of a great St. Bernard dog,
to be left on the Strand to the care of the successive policemen
on the beat for fortyeight hours, to be made to jump from
any height on to the hard ground such were his "hardening
Having run through all his fortune and lost his London practice
as a consequence of some unfortunate
spiritualistic experiment, which made much noise at the
time and ended in the mysterious death of the
medium, he decided to leave England with his whole family
and start " treking " in South America. For this
purpose he had four huge caravan wagons constructed and
fitted up regardless of expense as kitchen, study and dormitories.
Books and a piano were considered indispensable furniture,
and all else was taken that might enhance the family's comfort.
in South America, they began their wandering life, moving
at a slow pace, the wagons drawn by oxen and the caravan
accompanied by spare horses and mules for riding purposes.
Six huge St. Bernard dogs also formed part of this curious
menagerie, and a bulldog so fierce that he eventually had
to be destroyed as too expensive on account of the damages
his fighting expeditions resulted in. Fighting cocks also
were included, all these animals tending to indicate by
their own savageness the nature of the man who headed this
seven years the family wandered aimlessly at the beck and
call of their leader. One of his peculiarities was that,
having been for some part of his youth at sea, he had contracted
certain nautical notions. He insisted, for instance, upon
having the wagons drawn up north and south, and would not
rest till they had been shifted by endless labour into the
exact position required. One can imagine the irascible old
man stamping about in the dust, furiously directing operations,
compass in hand, that his quaint whim might be satisfied.
A pole then had to be erected from which the British Flag
was flown. If the Argentine authorities resented this and
requested that their national flag might be flown with it,
he answered them furiously that he was an Englishman and
that if they wished to lower his flag they had better come
and do it.
The night was divided nautical fashion into watches, which
the " peons " (camp servants) had to keep, the
sons being officers of the watch and responsible for any
failure of duty on their part. Their welcome at the pueblos
(villages) they reached in the course of these wanderings
was varied. At one place they would be taken for a travelling
circus and received with the greatest joy; at other places
the gravest suspicions were excited by so unusual a spectacle,
and an armed reception was all that awaited them, blows
being given and received in their efforts to establish a
footing and obtain water and other necessaries. At other
times they were given a grand official welcome as "strangers
of distinction," and on these occasions would be received
to the jubilant strains of the village band.
In conformity with the customs of the country, the four
sons had to be turned into "gauchos" (roughriders)
capable of taming the wildest horse, and shifting for themselves
in the tightest corners. In pursuance of this object they
were placed upon untamed horses by their determined father
and told to stick there. If they fell off, they had to climb
back until they succeeded in sticking there; if they clutched
the mane or tried to cling to the animal with anything but
their legs, their stern parent, who stood by sjambok in
hand, soon loosened their grip. Tears were not allowed at
least no audible lamentation. "If you must cry,"
he would say, " let your eyes leak, but I must hear
Imagine the feelings of the mother who looked on at this
Spartan education, unable to interfere. Seven years passed
thus, and this never-ending " trek " continued
uninterruptedly through province after province. The boys
were educated by tutors who for a short time joined the
caravan and instilled into them what knowledge they could,
but they seem to have been as wild as hawks.
At last the eldest of our hosts, Don Tomaso, grew to man's
estate. He had begun this life at the age of fourteen, and
was thoroughly sick of living in such gipsy fashion. He
determined for his mother's sake, as much as for that of
his brothers, that a change must be made. So he stood up
to his father and boldly spoke his mind, announcing that
he and his brothers were determined to run away sooner than
continue to lead such a life, and that land must be bought
somewhere, he didn't care where, and the family wagons anchored
for good. He expected to be annihilated by his enraged father,
but to his great surprise the proposal was calmly accepted.
" All right, Thomas, if you think so, I suppose it
must be so," said the father. ' You find the land and
I'll find the money."
And he did find the land, in the very country where the
family now prosperously presides over ten leagues of camp,
the value of which has trebled since they bought it. A house
(the old part of the one we stayed in) was built for the
beloved mother who there peacefully ended her days, to be
followed to the grave shortly afterwards by her eccentric
husband, who through all had tenderly watched over her,
having twice nursed her back to life after she had been
given up by the doctors. They both lie buried close to the
over the country in remote parts of the Argentine, one meets
all sorts of curious and interesting types. I remember once
that in the wilds about Neuquen we were cheered by a meeting
with a character well known thereabouts, a very rich estanciero
named Alezandro S., born in Chili, but naturalized in the
Argentine. A characteristic story is told of how at the
time of the Argentine-Chilian war scare a few years ago
he went to the colonel in charge of a remount division of
one of the belligerent armies and offered him 800 horses
at a certain price.
said the colonel, " but the price mentioned for the
deal in my papers must figure at five dollars higher than
the price you mention, the remaining sum being my commission."
"Not a bit of it," said old Alezandro. "
If you are not patriotic enough to buy my horses at the
price I name for your Government, making an honest deal
of the matter, 1 shall cross the Cordillera and dispose
of them to your country's enemies."
' You can't," said the colonel. " You would not
find a market for them there!"
But the old man was as good as his word, and the matter,
reaching the ear of the colonel's chief, resulted in a scandal
which made a great sensation at the time. Such a man was
Alezandro, whom we met on the road that day, booted and
spurred with gold.
He was mounted on a beautiful black horse with a white star
on its forehead, and followed by a tropilla (troop) of thirteen
other horses exactly like his own, the famous picked tropilla
of oscttros (blacks) known throughout the country as belonging
to this enormously rich and eccentric old man, who twice
a year crossed the Cordillera between Chili and Argentina
to visit his estancias in both countries. The personal "kit
" of this travelling millionaire formed the light load
of one mule, so simple is life in the Argentine "camp
" and so few are the requirements of even the richest.
Riding trips, of which we made so many in the Argentine,
give one a great idea of the vastness and scant population
of this wonderful country. We rode once right across it
from east to west, from Neuquen to a wonderfully beautiful
lake called Nahuel Huapi in Chili. We covered a distance
of 850 miles on horseback, which took us two months, during
which we were all the time out of reach of a post office,
except twice, when we came upon small pueblos, or collections
of houses not amounting to a town. The only people we met
in our long ride were connected with cattle, for the mountains
are uninhabited, except by shepherds and cowherds in charge
of the vast herds of cows and sheep, which pasture in the
valleys and belong to the various estancieros, many of them
English, who have elected to buy ranches in these fertile
The only human habitations we struck were the bolice (a
sort of "general stores"), which seems to flourish
in the remotest spots. The wares offered for sale in them
were few in number, but immensely high in price. They generally
included wearing apparel, such as bombachos and alpagatas
(a sort of canvas shoes), yerba for mate (the national tea),
matches, bread, and occasionally whisky. Little else did
they provide, but they formed a centre and a common meeting-ground
for the few inhabitants of these sparsely populated country
districts, and travellers, few as they were, never failed
to draw rein at their doors.
the course of one of our journeys in the Andes, we came
across two young Englishmen who were as fine types of English
manhood as one would want to see. They were both twenty-three
years old, and had elected to try their luck at estancia
life together in this remote part of the world. Their beginning
was ill-omened. A was thrown from his horse and fractured
his leg very badly above the ankle. They were alone together
in camp and knew nothing of surgery; they had not even the
necessary materials out of which to make a bandage. But
B managed to bind up his friend's injured limb, after which
he decided to take him back to Buenos Ayres.
The journey was performed in a bullock-wagon and took twenty-three
days. B nursed his friend devotedly during that trying time,
besides driving the cart and doing the cooking. They reached
Buenos Ayres, where A was conveyed to the British Hospital,
there to spend five months on his back, while B hurried
home to resume work on their estancia. As soon as he was
able, A rejoined him, but with one leg considerably shorter
than the other, so that he could only ride with difficulty,
and there we met them, working away, full of courage and
of hope, building magnificent castles in the air, having
already pegged out their claim, so to speak, and stocked
their couple of leagues with cattle.
such stuff are Englishmen made. And I am proud to bear witness
to it, who have seen it not once, but many times, not only
in the Argentine, but all over the world, and in places
quite retired from the light of civilization.
When one first starts wandering on horseback, as we did,
in every part of the Argentine (I am talking now more especially
of the south), it strikes one as incomprehensible that owners
and breeders do not annually lose scores of cows and sheep,
for the animals roam about, apparently ownerless and unrestrained,
over vast tracks of mountain country measuring often a hundred
miles or more in extent. Where a man's property abuts upon
"fiscal " land (land belonging to the Government
and waiting to be sold) the owner seizes advantage of this
to let his horses, cattle and sheep run over that land also,
so that, say a man's property covers ten leagues and adjoins
a Government lot of the same dimensions, his animals may
be found roaming over all that space. Yet comparatively
few are lost, for owners constantly ride about driving them
in towards a centre, where they can be counted.
I remember meeting a Welshman in charge of 3,000 cattle,
who told me that he had never lost an animal. How he managed
to arrive at this fact or to count them passed my understanding,
until he explained to me that it is done by driving the
animals through a narrow place past five or six men who
check them in tens, the units being represented by pebbles
and the tens by bigger stones, which they drop into their
pockets as the cattle pass. Notes are afterwards compared
to arrive at the correct result. They can count five or
six thousand sheep in this way with practically perfect
accuracy, and in a very short time. Cattle, of course, are
much easier. One of the features of camp life which bears
hardest on its votaries is the enormous distance from town,
and the consequent solitude, broken only by the society
of those who form its members.
course, in glorified estancias like Chapadmalal, the women
solace the loneliness of spare hours by gardening, French
novels and needlework. But under rougher conditions they
have no leisure for reading everything to do with children,
cooking, and cleaning and the care of the " backyard
" animals naturally falls upon the women in a country
where there are no servants except of the expensive "
imported " brand, and no man help, every available
hand being at work outside.
Many an anxious hour must the mother and wife spend under
such conditions. In moments of emergency, such as accidents
to man or beast and cases of fire, she very often has to
depend entirely on herself to save the situation.
found that as regards health and " first-aid "
the camp women I am now speaking of the native so-called
estancias were extraordinarily ignorant. When we were in
Buenos Ayres I got up a " firstaid " class to
try and teach them what to do in sudden emergencies. But
there appears to be a Providence that rules over these denizens
of Argentina's vast spaces, and I do not suppose my classes
really did much to help. They probably preferred their old
reckless way, even if it did entail an enormously high percentage
of infantile deaths.
In the Argentine nowadays one sees very little of the Indians,
who were for a long time being systematically exterminated.
Up in Jujuy, where we stayed with some friends of ours,
the Leeches, who are great sugar growers and manufacturers,
the Indians come down every year to harvest the sugar canes.
They have to be fetched from their village fastnesses by
one of the Leech brothers, who goes up himself to invite
them to come down to the estancia. They know and like him,
and come at his bidding, doing their work well under his
fatherly guidance and care. But they are very wild and fearful
of strangers. If any one of them dies during the period
of their service, the body is stuck up in the branches of
a tree that the vultures may prepare the skeleton for removal
home when the time comes for their trek back to their virgin
forests. They are paid in " kind," preferring
a yard of red flannel to a piece of money.
English have always been very popular in the Argentine,
where, fortunately, our record is a good one.
The British estancieros are a credit to us. Scattered more
or less all over the country, their dealings with the natives
have been so honourable that Palabra d'Ingles (word of an
Englishman) has become a current expression throughout the
land. What greater compliment could be paid us as a nation?