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It is heart - breaking work member the saying of the men creeping through the tangled of old, Be economical before underwood parallel to the track. thy substance is wasted; have On the left,
in fitful a care before thou art smitten.' flashes, is the open valley, with To repent too late, 'tis to repent the footpath showing like a too long." brown thread winding through The white man lies down its centre. On the right is under the shrubs and lights a forest untouched by the hand cigarette. The afternoon is of man. In front and on all waning, and the forest is sides is a maze of twining green humming with song of bird things, thorns, creepers, sturdy and ape and insect. The bushes, the trunks of vast trees. soft sunlight is kissing the The forest arrests the intruders earth a tender good night. The with countless persistent hands. valley spread before him is filled The thorns rip their clothing, with a great peace. With such the tendrils and creepers bind
a sight before his eyes it is themselves about their limbs, impossible for him to believe the boughs of shrubs force them that any danger is near at hand. on to their hands and knees, the After five minutes he leaps roots trip and throw them. It impulsively to
It impulsively to his feet, and is nearly two hours, hours spent steps out of cover.
His men in desperate but cautious effort, linger behind; but as they see before the short half mile has him stride down the bank been traversed, and the white towards the road unmolested, man peeps above the bushes at they gain confidence and fall in the place of the crossing roads. behind him. With the made Down a hill in front of him bridle-path once more under his comes the end of the six-foot feet, a delightful contrast to the bridle-track, the beginning of villainous jungle - track which which he had quitted on the he has followed for so many previous evening; the footpath miles, the white man forces the joins it at his feet; then they pace, and his Malays pant and melt into one, and run away lag in his wake. Soon they into the distance through a wide are half a mile behind, and valley set here and there with when he turns a sharp corner sparse groves of palm-trees. and runs violently against an The place is empty of all signs armed native, he is alone. The of life.
man leaps clear, and his hand “There is not any man,” says goes to his dagger-hilt; then, the European to his followers. as he catches a full view of the “Come, let us go down on to white man, his eyes bulge, and the road.”
he turns grey under his brown The Malay nearest to him skin. He mumbles all the pious lays a detaining hand upon his words he can remember, and
“Have patience, Túan,” backs into the jungle on the
“Perchance they are edge of the road. The white lying concealed in the under man stares at him and laughs. wood, even
Re- It is Jēlâyang, a foreign Malay
who is chiefly remarkable be- and together they walk rapidly cause he has only a red-rimmed in the direction of the camp. hole, like a gunshot wound, At dusk they reach it, and the where his nose should be, and white man is greeted noisily by the white man knows that he is a host of his race-mates, who a scout in the employ of the assail him with countless quesGovernment.
tions. They have lost several “What ails thee, Jělâyang ?” men in passing over the mounhe asks.
tains, but have seen nothing of The native expels his breath their enemies save the smoke in a half-hissing, half-whistling hanging low against the greenmanner through his teeth. ery, have heard only the shrill “ Then it is in truth the war-yells. To them the Malays Túan!” he ejaculates.
against whom they are fighting “What else didst thou look are mysterious beings, wholly for?”
unlike the natives around them, “Ya, Allah! Thy servant took with whom they have been thee for a wraith! A runner familiar for years. A foe that hath but just now arrived bear. deals death without showing ing tidings that the chief of itself always impresses the imSěgâ slew thee at mid-day. agination of those who contend Mat Kilau sent the word to those against it. It ceases to be a of his men who were awaiting body of men; it is a devilish thy coming at the cross-roads, force, endowed with diabolical and he bade them return to powers, diabolical cunning; it is Bûdu, there to eat of the meat a thing illusive, baffling, fearof the buffalo which he hath inspiring, even to the bravest. killed in honour of thy death!”
6 How in the world did you “Then the villagers did not get through ?” they ask the lie,” says the white man. The white man. news comes to him as a relief. “Oh, I got through all right,” Since he passed the cross-roads replies the white man. “I left he has been conscious of a feel- the stockade yesterday evening, ing of humiliation. His nerves
and there wasn't a soul upon have been strung to a pitch of the road.
as easy as intensity all through the day, falling off a log." And he feels and the absence of all reason for that that is all there is to be fear has made his precautions said about what, at the outset, appear ridiculous. What for so he had thought to be an advenmany hours he has regarded as ture! an adventure has been turned in a moment into a hopeless Once more as I gaze at the piece of bathos. He needs the kaleidoscope of my memory the knowledge that he has to thank picture splits up suddenly, its the merest chance for bringing fragments falling this way and him scathless through the that, the little pieces of light enemy's country to restore his and colour shuffling together self-respect.
in complete confusion, dropping Jělâyang falls in behind him, into their places after a moment
to form a new scene. Again begins to fall, gently at first and again these changes are in a penetrating drizzle, then wrought, showing me things with the relentless energy of slight and insignificant, things the tropical downpour. The ugly, things humorous, till at men creep under their blankets
, last there arises something and curse their luck in halfmore striking than its prede- a-dozen different dialects. The cessors, and I keep it before political agent bids one of the me while I
it. officers lie back to back with A column of armed police is him for the sake of warmth, camping at sundown in a tiny and pulls his own and his hollow. There are a hundred friend's blanket over both of bearded Sikhs, a small band of them. This gives a double Malay scouts, four European protection against the rain, officers, and the white man and the atmosphere under the who is the political agent—the coverlets is
hot and eyes and ears of the force. muggy. By the aid of The hollow is a grassy place strong imagination it is even on the banks of a stream which possible to think that the posiruns down a long and narrow tion is comfortable. Now and valley, hemmed in by forest. again a little wandering stream In the evening light a few of cold water finds its way scattered Malay villages can through the blar.kets, and be seen peeping through groves trickles down the back of the of cocoanuts; bright green agent's neck. The threshing strips of grazing-ground and of the rain beats a tattoo overrice-swamp lie on either hand; head. Sleep comes fitfully, overhead the low clouds are sleep that is three parts nightdull grey in colour. in colour. The Sikhs mare, sleep that is
is rudely squat in little clusters eating broken by fresh rivulets of their cooked rations; the Ma- water finding their way into lays and the Chinese coolies inconvenient places, that comes who are carrying the baggage again, then vanishes suddenly, are busy boiling their rice over leaving the agent very wide
score of fires. Pickets of awake, with a cold rawness in Sikhs surround the camp, his bones, and an insufferable guarding it at a little distance. sense of discomfort. With diffi
The meal eaten, the men culty he lights a match beneath stretch themselves to rest upon the blanket and looks at his the ground, using their rolled- watch. It is barely midnight. up blankets as pillows. They He crawls out, and the puddles are ordered to rest while they which have formed the may, for it is the intention of surface of the double coverlet their commanders to make a empty themselves upon him in night-march-a thing to which a single douche. The little the strategy of the Malays is river is babbling angrily in its little used — with a view to bed; the night is intensely nonplussing the enemy.
dark; overhead the sky reWith the darkness the rain veals no rift; the rain comes VOL. CLXVII.-NO. MXI.
down in a solid sheet as though Sikhs in single file. A 7some sea in the sky had of a pounder gun on a light carsudden been tapped.
The bowed The political officer stumbles figures of the Chinese coolies over the bodies of sprawling stream away into the darkness, men, and makes his way to the and a second body of Sikhs commander of the force. He brings up the rear. The force finds him lying under his crosses the river without misblanket cursing softly to him- hap - nothing can make the self, and bemoaning the suffer- men wetter than they are alings of his men.
ready—and their leader follows “It's no good stopping here a narrow track that runs down any longer," says the political the valley. The rain continues officer. “ You'll have all your to fall pitilessly ; every hollow fellows down with fever and through which the path passes ague before the dawn if you is a pool of water, in which the don't get them moving.” men wade and wallow blindly.
The commander sits up and The political officer can hear looks about him, forlorn the tramp of heavy feet on the figure in dim outline. sodden earth behind him, the “There ought to be a moon,
creak of sword-belts, the jingle he says resentfully, as though of accoutrements, the steady the missing luminary had been beat of the rain, the splashing stolen from him by a pick- of men through water, and an pocket.
occasional involuntary ejacula“It's no good crying for the tion at some new misfortune or moon,” says the other grimly. surprise. For the rest, the The weather is not calculated column is silent, and the Engto improve men's tempers. lishman who is guiding it finds
“But can we see to march?” it hard to tell whether the asks the commander.
are straggling widely or Yes, I think we can,” re- keeping together as they ought plies the agent. Anyhow, to do. anything is better than lying An hour passes, and the rain out here in the rain, and every falls less heavily. The moon, little creek in the district will albeit still obscured by clouds, be in spate in a few hours. gives out a watery light. To Listen to the river!”
eyes already accustomed to the Through the gloom comes gloom it seems in comparison the angry murmur of the waters, as clear as daylight. At the sounding like the mutter of a edge of some broken country distant crowd. The commander the political agent halts. Lookdrags himself up and gives ing backwards, he can see the the necessary instructions. In line of the path showing through twenty minutes the column has the low rhododendron scrub in formed up in marching order. detached fragments. At all The political officer, with three points it is covered with men of his Malay scouts, leads the stumbling onwards in knots of way. Behind him come sixty three or four, all walking in
single file. Here and there ing past bushes and trees, they are glimpsed between the through drenching wastes of shrubs : sometimes only their grass, plodding doggedly forheads are visible, again they ward. Two hours before the are swallowed up by the under- dawn the political officer calls wood. Over the brow of a a halt once more. The broad low hill they straggle in fresh stream of the Dong, swollen by detachments; then the stream the rain, stretches before him. of men ceases ; then a single He is on the brink of the usual Chinese coolie is outlined against ford; but the waters are angry, the sky-line; then there is an- and the place is obviously imother long gap.
passable. He searches his “The column is all over the memory for some other ford, place,” says the political officer and at last remembers several to himself. “Do not suffer any years before having crossed the man to go forward until I re- river in flood-time at a point turn to thee,” he adds to one of half a mile farther down-stream. his Malays, and then pushes Can he find that place after his way back through the this lapse of time, and in the Sikhs to the rear of the column. dark? He wonders; but the He finds the gun coated thickly column must across the with mire, with one wheel of stream before the day breaks its carriage cocked in the air, or the game is lost. He asks and the other deep sunken in a the commander to keep his pool of mud. The gunners are men where they are while he straining at it lustily, and it goes forward to explore. resists their efforts with a sulky He slips into the darkness obstinacy. The Chinese coolies, and is swallowed up by it, a damp and depressed, with their couple of his Malays at his wet pigtails in draggled knots, heels. Painfully he makes his straggle down the road in an way through the thick scrub irregular line, covering more which fringes the left bank of than half a mile. The Sikhs the stream. The rank bushes and the European officer who rise high above his head ; on his are shepherding the rear are right hand the river growls and working hard to hurry their roars in angry spate; on its charges forward. At last the far side, a mile distant across column forms up again, the the grazing-grounds, the rebel gun is taken to pieces and car- village which is the objective of ried on the shoulders of the the column is visible, a huddle gunners, and the march is of cocoanut-tops outlined against resumed.
the sky. For all the white man Through the dense scrub, knows the ford may be guarded over uneven ground, up small by the enemy; but the dislike hills, down into the soaking which all Malays have for a valleys the column crawls, halt- drenching makes him think that ing now and again to re-form this is improbable. In any
slipping, sliding, splashing case there will be a gay little through mud and water, crush- fight if only the force can get