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The pilot, a Mameluco of Ega, whom I knew very well, exhibited a knowledge of the river and powers of endurance which were quite remarkable.
The captain or supercargo, called in Portuguese cabo, was a mameluco, named Manoel, a quiet, good-humoured person, who treated me with the most unaffected civility during the three days' journey. The pilot was also a mameluco, named John Mendez, a handsome young fellow, full of life and spirit.
The Indian and mameluco women certainly do make excellent managers; they are more industrious than the men, and most of them manufacture farinha for sale on their own account, their credit always standing higher with the traders on the river than that of their male connections.
The colour of her skin approached the light tanned shade of the Mameluco women; her figure was almost faultless, and the blue mouth, instead of being a disfigurement, gave quite a captivating finish to her appearance. Her neck, wrists, and ankles were adorned with strings of blue beads.
The narrow brook-watered valleys, with which the land is intersected, alone have remained clothed with primaeval forest, at least near the town. The houses along these beautiful roads belong chiefly to Mameluco, mulatto, and Indian families, each of which has its own small plantation. There are only a few planters with larger establishments, and these have seldom more than a dozen slaves.
The streets were irregularly laid out, and overrun with weeds and bushes swarming with "mocuim," a very minute scarlet acarus, which sweeps off to one's clothes in passing, and attaching itself in great numbers to the skin causes a most disagreeable itching. The few whites and better class of mameluco residents live in more substantial dwellings, white- washed and tiled.
With the exception of three Mameluco families and a stray Portuguese trader, all the inhabitants of the village and neighbourhood are semi-civilised Indians of the Shumana and Passe tribes.
It seemed to be full of children, and the aspect of the household was improved by a number of good-looking mameluco women, who were busily employed washing, spinning, and making farinha.
All look upon a religious holiday as an amusement, in which the priest takes the part of director or chief actor. Almost every unusual event, independent of saints' days, is made the occasion of a holiday by the sociable, easy-going people of the white and Mameluco classes funerals, christenings, weddings, the arrival of strangers, and so forth. The custom of "waking" the dead is also kept up.
A young Mameluco, named Soares, an Escrivao, or public clerk, took me into his house to show me his library. I was rather surprised to see a number of well-thumbed Latin classics: Virgil, Terence, Cicero's Epistles, and Livy.