Part 9 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
Longwell and his trusty man servant Tipton recover from the giant spider attack and continue on their quest for the Golden Pants!
F.H. Longwell III was a gentleman explorer, a renowned naturalist and a scholar who traveled with his manservant Tipton on behalf of The World’s Most Curious Curiosities Museum in the early hours of the 19th century.
Over the river and through the woods.
July 12, 1830
As soon as the sun shone we packed quickly and got out of there. No need to await more visits from our 8-legged friends. Tipton issued forth a long tale of the dream he had that evening. Most likely made more visceral because of the large amounts of toxic venom in his system. It was more or less a typical Tipton dream. He related how he had been eating handfuls of marshmallow candies. I made sure I had all my fingers and toes and then counted Tiptons. I shiver a bit considering what bits of jungle he may have actually been ingesting.
It would have been a half-days walk to come face to face with a mud swirling, splish-splashing, pee inducing river. However, we accomplished the trek in under 25 minutes as Tipton slipped and we slid down approximately 1,400 feet and landed at the river bank.
Westward! I exclaimed. Tipton’s eyes blinked and quivered. He knew the routine. He quickly constructed a raft from fallen timber and after I made a few notes in this journal he pushed us off.
The river is a swift and relaxing portion of our adventure. I can almost see the golden pants and the platinum or silver or bronze underwear.
Tipton took time to soak his feet in the soothing if somewhat murky waters. We watched with amusement as tiny fish swam up to nibble on his toes. He laughed like a child and then screamed like one as a mass of fish so quickly assembled I could hardly believe my eyes, stripped several of his toes to the bone!
He shrieked as he pulled his feet from the water, with several of the fish, well toothed, still clinging. But amazement filled me! Think of it, fish that would actually stand to have Tipton’s feet in their mouths. (10) What kind of creature are they? Tipton wrapped his feet to stem the bleeding.
But really, I was shocked, quite blown-over, that any creature could do such a thing and live. The look in Tipton’s eyes let me know that he was not interested in running the experiment again, but I made note of it.
These toothy fish that have no taste buds are truly a miracle of nature.
The day passed into a humid, relatively bug free night. I fell in and out of slumber. Awake just long enough to whack Tipton and make sure he was still standing watch. It was devil difficult work to make sure he stayed on duty all night. There was but a sliver of moon and the jungle noise grew intense. Surrounded we were by ringing whistles and chortling calls. It grew louder as the hours passed. Turning into a constant screaming buzz of noise.
But alas, my earplugs went missing. Instead of simply complaining, or blaming Tipton, I stood resolved to enjoy the full onslaught of the wilds. (Note: I am confident I now know what Tipton digested in his previous nights dream. How 70 pairs of ear plugs will effect his digestion may be something worth studying.)
July 13, 1830
In the pitch-blackness I could pick out what sounded like the angry calls of a Capuchin monkey and the roar of a toothed beast. But mostly it was a swarm of noise not unlike the sound of insects from our first nights ashore near the inlet only magnified 10,000 times.
Tipton had a curious look on his face as he studied the water and watched us speedily bobbing westward. He began to talk to me, but I couldn’t hear him. He was yelling now, splashing in the water, trying to paddle. Creating a typical Tipton ruckus. No need to worry good fellow, I told him. It’s just the magnificence of nature you hear! Perhaps a tropical storm rumbling in the distance.
Tipton kept yelling and it took my utmost concentration to enjoy the roaring sound of nature over his caterwauling. Soon his voice couldn’t be heard over the sweet thunder of nature. The sun had just peeked from behind the craggy mountains when we went over the waterfalls.
10- For many years thereafter, these fish were referred to as Tipton Toe Fish by explorers and adventurers alike. It wasn’t until many decades later that piranha became common nomenclature.