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The Lost Golden City of Manos
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In the Jungle there is but one law:
the bloody rule of claw and fang . . .




Sleepy rivers writhe sinuously between the deep green of tropical undergrowth covering muddy banks. Great trees, giants of the jungle, arched overhead, their thick limbs heavy with foliage. Somewhere downstream, the slimy coils of a giant anaconda, largest of living reptiles, slips into the dark, mysterious waters of the river. A vagrant ray of sunshine picks out a spot between the shadows, and finds a trace of movement, the black and gold body of a jaguar, the tiger of the Amazonian jungles. Without a sound he slinks by, his dappled body blending almost indistinguishably with sunlight and shadow.

This is not the forest. This is something threatening, something evil, something ominous with unknown danger. This is something fever-haunted and poisonous, streaming in the tropical heat of Brazil, a bizarre pageant of exotic beauty suspending a veil over lurking death. This is the jungle. The jungle as it must have been in those dim, prehistoric ages when great reptiles roamed the earth. Here, even now, there is but one law: the bloody rule of claw and fang. It is a court of no appeal. The coils of a great snake, the jaws of a giant saurian whose snout seems no more than the end of a sunken log in the muddy water; the creeping jaguar or the more insidious death of fever, all await the wanderer whose temerity leads him to dare these strange wildernesses. Birds of gorgeous plumage flit through the trees overhead, and somewhere off in the distance there is the crashing of a giant tapir as he bolts through the jungle.

About the name of this fabled city
are fashioned legends strange and vague . . .

Somewhere, in a vast, lonely region of Brazilian jungle, in a curious blend of beauty and sudden death, is a ruined city. The fabulous Golden City of Manos, the lost religious capital of a vanished civilization. Somewhere, a heap of broken idols, fallen columns, vast walls and temples; great masses of sculptured visions dreaming through the centuries of a dead world's beauty, a beauty that still speaks with all the voiceless eloquence of stone. About the name of this fabled city are fashioned legends strange and vague, which in our historic day had their origin with the travels of Columbus.


Beau's Notes:

LANDS OF ROMANCE was a magazine published by some of the same group of Oklahoma City publishers that printed Louis book of poetry, Smoke from this Altar. It had hoped to be a competitor to National Geographic but lasted only a few years. The Lost Golden City of Manos was one of a series of travel articles that Louis wrote for LANDS OF ROMANCE during the days when he was first struggling to make a living as a writer. Back then, Louis was billing himself as a writer of adventure stories, and building a reputation as someone who had both studied about, and traveled in many exotic environments. The LANDS OF ROMANCE series gave Louis a terrific opportunity to build that reputation.

In Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures we will present the entire series.

After Columbus came the conquistadors, those swash- buckling adventures who thronged to the New World on the heels of the Genoese navigator. With their pointed beards and rapiers, their prancing horses and glittering armor, they rode into the black wilderness of unknown lands as though to a knightly tourney. A thousand legends, gave them enchanting visions of the vast wealth to be won by valor. Whatever else these adventurers may have had, they did possess all the color and glamour one usually associates with adventure. In Mexico and Peru they destroyed civilizations of greater cultural value than their own, they looted and killed with abandon, and thought of nothing but gold. De Soto and Coronado sought for the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola. Ponce de Leon sought the Fountain of Eternal Youth.

De Soto found a dark grave in the waters of the Mississippi; Coronado found wide, unbroken prairies; Ponce de Leon found misfortune, death, and at last a grave on Puerto Rico. It remained for Cortez and Pizarro alone to find the gold they sought. Cortez, landing on a swampy coast of southern Mexico, found a great civilization with temples and cities, a religion and a court. Like Caesar the conquistadors came, saw, and conquered, leaving behind them a trail of looted cities drenched with the blood of native peoples. But the stories of the vast wealth they found remained to haunt the imagination of all who still possess a spirit of adventure. Montezuma gave to Cortez, among many other vast treasures, a disk of gold as large as a cartwheel, computed to be worth more than a quarter of a million dollars.

In Peru, Pizarro found even greater treasures, and another civilization, distinct from that of the Aztecs. A civilization ruled by an Inca, where no poverty was known, where they had cities, bridges, and extensive irrigation projects. Pizarro captured the Inca and held him for a ransom that would have caused present day kidnappers to turn as green as corroded gold. Pizarro was offered a room full of gold, a room twenty-two feet long, seventeen feet wide, and filled to a height of nine feet. This vast treasure was estimated at no less than fifteen and a half million dollars!

All of which proves that there was gold in those countries--that great civilization mined and stored that gold, leaving the belief that if such great treasures were freely given, still greater ones remained hidden. And thus is blazed the trail for the story of the lost City of Gold.

While the Amazon is surpassed in length by the Nile, it carries the largest volume of freshwater in the world, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the Earth's discharge into the oceans. Millions of cubic feet of water empty into the Atlantic every second, and the effluent is transported across very large distances from shore. You can actually dip fresh water out of the ocean up to 200 miles off shore!
The Amazon river flows from the foot of the Andes to empty into the Atlantic on the northeast coast of Brazil, not far from 300-year old Para, founded by the Portuguese. The river, 180 miles wide at its mouth, drains 4,200,000 square miles of territory, most of it jungle. Of all this vast expansive practically nothing is known. Here and there it has been scratched; there are cities, villages, and plantations. Rubber cruisers have wandered through many miles hitherto unexplored.

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