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rades have been holding for the From the first there is no past three months. He has doubt in his mind as to the with him a European doctor necessity that calls him to the and a police officer. His
aid of the little force. The only rison is composed of a handful question is the manner in which of Sikhs and a few scared he can best cross the dangerous Malay constables, the former zone of hostile country without
—the calm, obedient, invaluable as losing his life in the process, and sentries; the latter drawn from this is a matter for anxious the scum of Singapore and thought. The men in the stockMalacca, utterly useless, seek- ade are few enough already, and ing only for a safe means of he cannot reduce their number escape from a position which in by taking an escort with him. no way appeals to them. The Also, he knows that his best stockade is a big one, surround- chance of safety lies in the swifting three large buildings, and ness of his movements, and that until the white men set to the pace of a body of men is work to strengthen it against that of the most halting of its attack, it was aptly described members. An hour is occupied by their chief as one you could in making the necessary arspit through. But the hostile rangements with the police
. Malays outside are chary of officer who is to be left in comassaulting any fortified place mand, in snatching a hasty where men are for ever on the meal, and in rolling up a small alert, and so long as the de- bundle of kit. By this time fenders remain within their night has fallen, and the white walls they know themselves to man slips out of the stockade be safe. Beyond the stockade into the black darkness with a fence there lie hundreds of couple of Malays at his heels. square miles of forest, cut He makes his way, falteringly across and across by narrow at first, for his eyes are not yet rivers of varying size, on the accustomed to the gloom, to the banks of which native villages point whence a little six-foot are sparsely scattered. In the bridle-track leads into the forest. white man's head there is a It is the only made road in the chart of this country, with its district, and if followed to its winding streams, its threads of end it will take the white man footpath, its hills, its passes, its to the place where the column villages, hostile or friendly. is now lying forty miles away. But there is no survey,
As he settles down into a long printed map in existence, and swinging stride, he calculates it is impossible for him to con- that he cannot hope to get vey his knowledge to others with through in less than twelve accuracy by means of written hours, that it is now description or a rude sketch. o'clock in the evening, and that Therefore he is needed to act as dawn will find him still upon the eye of the column of advanc- the track. He has been feeling ing police which now lies on the unwell all day, and after his border awaiting his coming. long confinement in the stock
ade his condition is not quite him safely past all dangers beup to its usual standard. None fore the coming of the dawn. the less, he has little anxiety as A second path is open to him, a to his ability to do the tramp, native foot-track which leads if only he can elude the vigi- up the left bank of the river, lance of his enemies. The know- crosses it fifteen miles higher, ledge that this is certainly not and rejoins the bridle-road some more than an even chance in- miles beyond the hostile kamspires him. It adds an element pongs. His Malay companions of excitement to the dull exer- now plead with him to follow cise; makes the march an en- this longer but safer route, and terprise full of vivid interest at length he reluctantly agrees.
-an adventure, a romance. During the past two hours he Young blood is pulsing in his has been conscious of a growing veins; the spring, the energy of sense of illness, and this, peryouth, are in his movements. haps, makes him less stubborn Looked at through his boyish than is his wont. He turns off eyes the risk is a precious thing, the bridle-track and enters the
- he would not part with it for forest on his right. The path anything on earth.
and down a succession Mile after mile he trudges of low hills, after the manner of along with his brown comrades a switchback, and each ascent behind him, one carrying his tries him more than the last. magazine-rifle, the other with a His head begins to ache and small bundle slung upon his sing, his limbs pain him at every back. They are silent, dogged, movement, he can hardly kick persistent, drawing their breath his feet before him. He owns evenly, walking well within to himself with an acute surthemselves.
prise that he is faint and sick, At the end of the first seven that there is something strangemiles they reach a point where ly wrong with him, but still he the bridle-track ceases on the struggles forward doggedly. brink of a river. On the op- At midnight he confesses posite bank it is visible, in the himself beaten. He halts for light of the moon, which has the first time since he changed now risen, running in a white his route, seats himself upon a streak up from the river's brink, log with his head in his hands, and falling headlong into thick and growls to his Malays that jungle. If followed farther it he can go no farther. At the leads, it is true, to the camp for foot of the hill on which they which the white man is bound; sit a spark of light shows fitbut for nearly twenty miles it fully in the centre of a small passes through the heart of the clearing. Towards this the most hostile villages in the dis- little party makes its way, the trict. When he started it had white man stumbling painfully, been the white man's intention exhausted and incapable of to run the gauntlet, trusting to further effort, now that he has the Malays' respect for their once given in. He finds a tiny unbroken rest at night to carry hut perched upon high stilts in
the centre of a crop of standing smiling plain. In the distance rice, and into this he and his blue mountains rise, a faint untwo Malays crawl for shelter. dulating line against the sky. The squalid place is crammed At their feet is a sea of forest with human beings, men and almost black in colour, extendwomen, and one of their num- ing to the edge of the cropber
says that they are all suffer- land. Through the heart of ing from influenza. He does the valley wanders a river, blue not call it by that name, and as steel, dotted with yellow indeed the epidemic is popularly sand-banks, glinting blindingly supposed by the Malays to be in places where the sunlight due to the magic of the white smites it. Its banks are fringed men, who have sent their devils by groves of tall cocoanut-trees, forth to work ravages amongst with dusty thatched roofs showtheir enemies; but his meaning ing indistinctly below the droopis clear, and his visitor begins ing fronds. Behind them spread to understand what is the cause broad sheets of standing rice, of of his own swimming eyes and a greenness which seems too aching limbs. He lies down as
He lies down as vivid for Nature, and in the best he can
near foreground half-a-dozen flooring of green boughs. The gigantic blocks of granite hunch sick folk around him hem him their grey shoulders above the in on all sides. He is feeling crops. It is with the aid of miserably ill, and the position these rocks that the white man in which he finds himself is not and his two Malays make their encouraging. The stockade lies way unseen to the edge of the fifteen miles in his rear; the nearest village. For aught camp for which he is bound is they know to the contrary, twice that distance ahead; to word may have been brought remain where he is even for a that they are on the road, and day will mean certain death; their enemies may be lying in even to trust to the good faith wait for them. of villagers who are nominally From behind the last boulder friendly is very risky; also, the the white man looks out caunight has been wasted, and he tiously. The village sleeps can no longer hope to seek peacefully beneath its shade of shelter under the cloak of dark- palm-fronds. No soul is stirness. Again youth comes to ring: only the brown fowls his aid. Sufficient for the day pick and scratch and wallow is the evil thereof, he feels. The in the dust, a few lean goats morrow shall decide. For the browse indolently, a cur barks present he is only concerned to and scuttles under one of the rest, so he shuffles down to houses with its tail pressed sleep, in spite of the uneasy tightly between its legs. The movements of his bedfellows, white man comes out from beand the dawn finds him able to hind his shelter and walks into continue his march.
the village, climbing the clumsy It is nearly noon when he stile, and wading through the comes out of the forest on to a rank grass. He makes his way to the house which belongs to The white man goes up the the chief, and, as he reaches ladder-way, stoops low to pass the trodden space which lies under the lintel, and seats himbetween its front and the self upon a mat in the commonriver, a shrill clamour breaks room. The chief squats before out, and a mob of excited men him, and the villagers group and women tumble through the themselves around them in an doorway and down the rickety irregular circle. The old chief ladder, whooping and yelling, is as stolid as though no event beating drums and gongs, clash- of any consequence had recently ing metal pots together, while occurred; and well he may be, a band of little boys and girls for the new arrival has some run hither and thither under twenty elder brothers and sistheir elders' feet, shrieking dis- ters whose various mothers are cordantly. For a moment the scattered broadcast up and white man's hand flies to the down the valley. The white stock of his pistol, and his face man offers his congratulations, is tense. Then he relaxes his and the chief begs him to give grip shamefacedly.
a name to the boy. cited crowd has no thought “It were fitting, Túan," he of him.
says, "since at thy coming he “What thing is afoot ?” he first drew breath.” asks a man who is capering “Call him Prang (War),” near him, banging a rice-pot says the white man; “for, bewith the back of a wood- hold, he was born in a season knife.
of strife," and Prang the child The man stops dancing, and is named from that day forturns to him in surprise. “It ward. is the Túan !” he says aloud, An energetic fowl is chased apparently for his own infor- up and down the kampong, mation. “A man-child has been running with muscular legs, this instant born to thy old ser- and screaming lustily. When vant our chief; and since the caught, it is killed according to Spirits of Ill were envious, seek- the rites of the Muhammadans, ing to withhold from him the is roasted in the cleft of a split breath of life, we make clamour stick, and the white man and to drive them far from this his followers devour it with a dwelling, so that the child may few handfuls of boiled rice. live.”
While the rude meal is being A woman emerges from the prepared, the white man talks dark interior of the hut and to the chief and his people, stands outlined in the black seeking to learn from them how doorway. “It is enough!” she the land lies. cries. « Be still !" And at the “This valley hath no cause word a silence falls upon the for strife with the white folk," mob of noisy folk — a silence says the chief. “But Mat Kîlau broken only by a plaintive reedy in Bûdu hath sworn to kill and cry from within the hut, the spare not. One of his warwhimper of the new-born child. parties is even now harrying
the road which leads from over stream running towards him the mountains whence the almost at right angles to his armed men come into the land former
The jungle Another, so folk say, is lying in shuts down around him thick, wait for thee at the junction silent, gloomy. The deadened of the two tracks. It were patter and whisper of his own well for thee to return to thy boots and his men's bare feet stockade. We of these villages upon the carpet of decaying can do nought against the Bûdu leaves is the only sound. After men, since we lack arms, else I the dazzling glare without, the would surely accompany thee dim shade of the forest wellthrough the dangerous district." nigh blinds him. The melanThe white man knows that choly hush gets upon
his the chief desires only to lead a
It seems as though quiet life, with many wives, Nature were holding her breath, uninjured property, and the anxiously awaiting a catasprosperous arrival of his con- trophe. The dark tree-trunks stantly occurring children; that on either hand are like a crowd this talk of active aid would be of mourners standing aside to used alike to him or to his let him by, silent, veiled, and enemies, whichever chanced for awful. Ahead, nearer at each the moment to be the nearer; step he takes, sits Death. He that from him tolerance is the is goaded forward by the restonly thing to be expected. The less irritation of suspense. news of an armed party await- A column of daylight, blinding his coming stirs in him a ingly white, shows through the fresh excitement, nerves him branches in front of him. He for another effort. He never so is nearing the end of the forest; much as considers the possi- open country, with jungle hembility of turning back.
ming it in on eitherflank, extends His scanty meal finished, he before him for nearly ten miles. resumes his march. The heat Again he passes through scatis sweltering, and in this culti- tered villages; the rumour of vated valley there are few trees the waiting enemy gathers to afford protection. He and volume at every step. Half a his fellows are drenched with mile from the cross-roads where perspiration as they trudge the ambush is laid, the white forward at a steady three
man and his Malays creep across miles an hour.
a bog and slink into the jungle. leads up the bank of the river, By this means they hope to across which they are ferried catch a glimpse of their adverafter a two hours' march. At
At saries, while lying themselves each village fresh rumours concealed. At the cross-roads reach them of the waiting they will have no choice but to
come out into the open; but On reaching the right bank if they cannot dislodge their of the river the white man enemies, they can at least wait again makes his way into the till night-fall, and try to steal forest, following the banks of a past unobserved.