The story

The Letter of Pero Vaz de Caminha (part 6)

The Letter of Pero Vaz de Caminha (part 6)

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And, according to those who went there, they played with them. On this day we saw them more closely and more comfortable as we walked almost all together. There, some walked from those quenched dyes; others of halves; others of as much shape as in cloth, and all with pierced lips, and many with bones in them, and others without bones.

Some had green tree hedgehogs, which in color wanted to look like chestnut trees, though smaller. And they were full of small red grains, which, crushing them between their fingers, made very red tincture of which they walked red. And the more they got wet, the more red they became.

Everyone walks shaved up to their ears; and so the eyebrows and eyelashes.

They bring every forehead, from source to source, inks of black dye, which looks like a black ribbon, the width of two fingers.

And the Captain sent that ex-officio Afonso Ribeiro and two other ex-officies to go and walk among them; and so to Diogo Dias, being a ledo man, with which they played. The exiled sent to stay there tonight.

They all went out and walked among them. And, they said, it was quite a league and a half to a village, in which there would be nine or ten houses, each as long as this one in the flagship. They were of wood, and of flanks of plank, and covered with straw, of reasonable height; all in one piece, without any division, had many pillars within; and from support to support a high, cable-bound net in which they slept. Below, to warm themselves, they made their fires. And each house had two small doors, one on a cable, and one on the other.

They said that in every house thirty or forty persons were gathered, and found them thus; and they fed them from that way, which they had, namely, much yam and other seeds, which are in the land, and they eat. But when it was late they soon made us all return and did not want any to stay there. Yet, they said, they wanted to come with them.

They were rescued there by rattlesnakes and other little things, which they carried, very large and beautiful red parrots, and two tiny green and green feathered headdresses, and a cloth of many colors, a pretty pretty fabric, according to Yours. Your Highness, all these things you will see, because the Captain will send them to you, he said. And with it came; and we become the ships.

On Tuesday, after eating, we went ashore to keep firewood and do laundry.

They were on the beach when we arrived, a work of sixty or seventy without bows and nothing. So much so that we arrived, they soon came to us, without shying away. Then came many, who were well two hundred, all without bows; and they all mingled with us so much, that some helped us to bring in wood and to put in the bars. And they fought with ours and took great pleasure.

While we were cutting the wood, two carpenters made a large cross of a stick, which yesterday was cut.

Many of them came to be with the carpenters. And I think they did it more because they saw the iron tool with which they made it, than because they saw the Cross, because they have nothing of iron, and cut their wood and sticks with stones made like wedges, stuck in a stick. between two splints, very tightly bound and so strong that they walk, according to the men, that yesterday they went to their houses, because they saw them there.

It was already their conversation with us so much that they almost hindered us in what we were going to do.

The Captain sent two deportees and Diogo Dias to go to the village (and others if they had news of them) and not come to sleep anyway, even if they sent them. And so they were gone.

As we walked through the woods chopping wood, some parrots passed through these trees, green and brown, large and small, so it seems to me that there will be many on this earth. But I would see no more than nine or ten.

Other birds then we did not see, just a few dove-doves, and they seemed to me much larger than those of Portugal. Some said they saw turtledoves; I did not see them. But, according to the groves, they are very many and large, and in countless ways, I do not doubt that there are many birds in this wilderness!

Around night we turned to the ships with our firewood.