GUANACOS: LIVING AND DYING 115
all the flesh of the dead animals. The skins fell to the priests.
The guanaco, which is smaller than the llama, and larger than the vicuna, wanders over the whole of South America, and is to be met with on peaks of the Andes more than twenty thousand feet high, as well as in the bare lands of southern Patagonia, where he is most numerous. He is about four feet high from the shoulder, and seven or eight feet in length, and his wool is of a pale reddish colour and very thick. It is shortest and reddest on the top, and is exactly suited to the cold bare places where the guanaco loves to roam. Like the llamas, they are generally to be found several together, but they are very cautious, and never attempt to eat the smallest meal without placing a scout to give warning of the approach of an enemy. If one is seen—or smelt —for the scent of the guanaco is extraordinarily keen, the scout utters a peculiar penetrating cry, something like the bell of a deer, and the flock instantly make off to a place of safety. But if the enemy to be dreaded is a puma, his scent is sharper and his feet swifter than those of a guanaco, and many are the bodies found lying on the pampas, with dislocated necks.
Like many shy people, guanacos are very curious, and, as has happened before now, their curiosity often ends in their undoing. Sometimes a band will unite to explore some special district, and when they have discovered what they are looking for, they will wheel round as cleverly as a troop of soldiers, and return whence they came in a straight line. They are all good swimmers, and of very accommodating habits; if no grass is to be had, they can go without for a surprising length of time, and if fresh water cannot be got, they content themselves with salt. They are lively and excitable, and may be seen giving vent to their feelings just as human beings do, by making strange noises, and jumping about.