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BY HUGH CLIFFORD.
AN EXPEDITION INTO THE BENIGHTED LANDS.
the Creation, shall be laid bare to your probe; when you shall at last be suffered to enter the stronghold which has so long withstood the assaults of progress and civilisation. Until you have yourself experienced these desires, you cannot conceive the measure of their potency. The men, military or civil, whose duty takes them to the border - lands, cannot escape the contagion. It is in the air they breathe, the sounds they hear, the sights which fill their seeing. The restlessness, which under Elizabeth drove men Westward Ho! sets our fellows itching to cross the borders of the Queen in this later day, there to seek for new countries, to see new things, to experience new dangers, excitements, privations. Our borderfolk are the gentlemen adventurers of our age. They are glorified tramps every man of them, and the song of the tramp is their war-song :— Since the day when I played in the squalid street,
AN expedition into the Be- it from the white races since nighted Lands! Until you have served your apprenticeship on the outskirts of the empire, breathed frontier air, heard frontier talk, dreamed frontier dreams, you cannot realise the splendour, the magic, the thrill of that idea. For years you have heard tales without number of the States beyond the border-fragmentary echoes of deeds that have their counterparts only in the 'Arabian Nights.' For years you have speculated with your fellows concerning all that goes forward in that dim back-ofbeyond where no white man has hitherto set foot. Now and again you have caught a passing glimpse of the blue line of distant mountains which separate a nineteenth-century protectorate from a kingdom of the middle ages, and the faint haze upon the hill-tops has seemed to you to be the visible cloud of mystery which hovers over the untrodden land. Earnestly you have longed for the day when the Government will step on and out; when the barrier of frontier will be removed when the new d; country, which is yet so old, so unchanged, shall be forced to yield its secrets to you; when the mystery which has surrounded it, which has severed
And dreamed that I'd go to sea, No place in the world was dear or sweet,
Or good in itself to me!
The Land I loved was the Land I saw
Just dipping below the sky,
So forward again trudged I!
If the matter were left in the hands of the frontier-men, the expansion of the empire would proceed at a rate positively terrific, and England would have more little wars on her hands than she owns men to fight them. But the folk who sit in the offices of Downing Street - 'tis an atmosphere little calculated to breed excitement or enthusiasm enthusiasm know this well; and the men on the frontier hold their posts only so long as they curb their desires and their restlessness. That is what frontier - men mean when they say that energetic action on their part does not receive the support it deserves from Government.
But when the word goes forth that an expedition into the Benighted Lands is sanctioned, there is mighty delight among the the men upon border. Every soul thinks that he has especial claims or qualifications which render his inclusion in the expedition a mere matter of common-sense. The Resident is bombarded with applications, is pleaded with, almost tearfully, by disappointed men, and is presented with an embarras de choix that might well be bewildering were it not that he knows exactly what he wants, and which of his officers most accurately fulfil the conditions which he requires. The expedition will probably occupy several months; its way will lie through vast uninhabited forests for many days, and later it will pass villages scantily populated. Supplies must be taken to tide the men over
these barren zones; and since the staple of the bulk of the force is rice, without which Malays cannot live, it is necessary that the white men should conform as far as possible to the native custom, and should satisfy themselves with food such as the natives use. The Resident gathers together a hundred fighting Malaysvillagers of his State, who follow him willingly at his invitation without pay or fee. The old feudal feeling, so strongly rooted in the people, has now been transferred from the native chiefs to himself, and since the raiding of the rebels has broken the peace which the Malays have learned to love under British rule, they have a personal object to serve in aiding their white friend to remove all possibility of future trouble from them by carrying the war into the enemy's country. But each of these fighting-men consumes a quarter of a bushel of rice every twenty four hours; and Malay bearer can only carry five bushels of rice upon his back, if he is to move swiftly through jungle in the wake of the fighters. Also, the bearer needs an equal quantity of food, in order that he may do his work efficiently; and this means that he carries supplies for himself for ten days, and rations for a similar period for one fighting-man. In addition to rice there are other burdens that must be borne, such as ammunition, sleeping-mats for the white men and the chiefs, the medical stores and instruments, and sundry inevitable
impedimenta; and each bearer employed in this duty requires a man to carry his rations for ten days. The Resident and his aide work the problem out on paper after the manner of their kind, and the figures representing the number of men needed reach alarming dimensions. When the jungle march begins the supplies must be cut down as much as possible; dried fish and salt must be the only luxuries allowed in addition to the necessary rice; and the white men must take their chance with the natives. These are the conclusions at which the Resident arrives. In anticipation, with the glow of excitement engendered by the thought of the expedition still upon them, the prospect does not dismay the Europeans; but none the less their chief selects as his comrades only those in whose physique he has the greatest confidence. The moral qualities needed courage, patience, devotion to duty, energy, good temper, and good sense are things of course. A man lacking these had hardly won his spurs in the trying districts of the border-land.
not easy to find in this junglesmothered land. A stockaded police - station rises from the centre of a small parade-ground high on the river - bank above the spread of sand. At a distance of a couple of hundred yards in front of it the forest shuts down upon the edge of the running water. In middistance a sharp point of land, swaddled in thick, secondary growths, juts out, dividing the Jělai from the Těmběling. The edge of the sandbank is fringed with moored boats of many shapes and sizes, from the dugout canoe fashioned from single charred log to the great mat-covered freight barges which can be punted no higher up the rapid-beset stream. On the sand itself temporary huts -mere lean-to roofs supported on rude uprights or puntingpoles-are scattered about without order or plan. Some of these are thatched rudely with green palm-leaves cut in the neighbouring jungle; others are roofed in with sheets of menkuang - palm mats, borrowed from the boats; others again are sheltered by lengths of bamboo, split in half, and cunningly It chances that it is on laid side by side, the concave St Patrick's Day the start is surfaces uppermost, with conmade. During the past week vex pieces protecting the joins, natives have been flocking from draining during rainy weather all parts of the interior district into the hollows on either hand, to Kuâla Těmběling, where the and rendering the whole waterunited waters of the Tembeling proof. The contents of the and the Jělai form the noble huge freight-barges have been Pahang river. At this place a packed into smaller covered wide spread of golden sand, set boats during the last few days; with silver shingle, flanks the the bearers who are to carry left bank of the river for several the burdens when the marching hundreds of yards, furnishing a begins are now manning the camping-ground such as it is punting-platforms, for the Ma
VOL. CLXVII.-NO. MXIII.
lays of the expedition have all been born on the river-banks and bred to paddle and pole; the warriors, with their rifles, cartridges, and bundles of personal gear, are fitting themselves into the dug-outs, taking their turn to steer or work the boat; the white men, with their slender stock of baggage, are crawling each into the slim craft which is to be his home for the next ten days. The huts are being rapidly dismantled of mat roofs and punting - poles, many of them collapsing into confused rubbish-heaps as their supports are dragged away from them. The whole scene is one of extraordinary bustle and confusion, of flitting figures clothed in gay garments, of pattering bare feet, of brown arms waving, of brown faces, some excited and eager, others stolid and expressionless. Men bear the last loads riverwards sturdily with bowed backs, moving methodically; methodically; others noisily shouting directions to which no one pays heed, stamping and gesticulating wildly, and impeding the busy workers. At last the boats are ready. A Malay who enjoys some reputation among his fellows as a man of learning stands on the platform in the stern of the Resident's boat and lifts up his voice in shrill Muhammadan invocation. The sonorous words of the prayer end with the Prophet's name, and the crowd of natives chimes in, repeating "Muhammad!" in a crashing roar. "Peace be to thy journeying!" screams an old chief from the bank as the Resident's boat gets under way; "Peace be to thee
tarrying!" comes the answering shout. The phrases are repeated from boat to shore, from shore to boat again as the whole flotilla crawls off in an irregular line, the steermen seeking the shallower parts of the stream. Then boat after boat vanishes round the bend into the Těmběling valley, till the last dugout disappears with its freight of armed men, and a great hush falls upon those who stand watching from the sandbank. The expedition has started on its way to the Benighted Lands.
All day long the fleet of boats struggles up-stream, puntingpoles creaking and complaining, their metal tips grinding in the shingle of the river-bed, water splashing and dripping from their ends in a jewelled shower; the men, whooping, groaning, grunting at each fresh effort, labour and strain with bent bodies combating the current, their bare wet soles stamping on the poling-platforms. All day long the sharp noses of the boats are thrust forward fretting the river, cleaving its waters with a delicious sound suggestive of the coolness for which all are craving. All day long the white men lie stretched upon their mats under the thin low awnings, grilling in the merciless heat. At every village a party goes ashore and comes back laden with miscellaneous supplies noisy fowls which have resolutely resisted capture and now protest furiously, yams, brinjals white or purple, cocoanuts, long stalks of sugar-cane, preserved dûri-an wrapped in palm-leaves, bananas, oleagin
ous rice drenched in molasses, scious of a sense of most comand all the other unspeakable plete wellbeing. luxuries of an up-country village, from putrid fish to the salted yolks of last year's eggs newly disinterred. Transport presents no difficulties so long as the journey can be made by boat, so the Resident, at whose charges all these purchases are made, encourages his men to eat of the best that can be procured so long as the opportunity is theirs.
At dusk here, so close to the equator, the day ends always soon after six o'clock the flotilla halts, the boats being made fast alongside a sandbank. The boatmen camp ashore, and fires are soon blazing, rice-pots boiling, fish and other things roasting in the embers. The white men walk about and stretch their legs, swim in the cool waters of the river, and then gather in the Resident's boat for the evening meal. Thereafter they smoking, filled with a great a great content. From the sandbank there comes a continuous hum of soft, melodious voices, for Malay is a musical tongue; the splash of feet wading to or from one of the moored boats sounds frequently; the river croons gently, like a mother soothing her child to sleep; from the forest the note of nightbird, insect, and tree-frog is heard ceaselessly, the background, as it were, against which all the other noises are revealed. The coolness of the Malayan night in the quiet up-country places comes gratefully after the fever of the day, comforting the white men, making them actively con
For many days the flotilla forces its way up-river, penetrating farther and farther into the bosom of the Tembeling valley. The range of mountains, which forms the barrier between the empire and the waste beyond, grows hourly more near. At last a point is reached where a river, falling into the Těmběling on its right bank, opens the way to the most frequented route leads into the settled districts of the Benighted Lands. Here the Resident calls a halt, and sends messengers forward to spread the news of his coming; but next morning, to the genuine surprise of the whole expedition, the order is suddenly given to continue the ascent of the main river. Late in the afternoon the mouth of another stream is reached, and into this the flotilla is steered. For a week the expedition labours up this shallow river,-now poling along straight reaches of an oily smoothness; now dragging the unloaded boats up flights of noisy rapids, where waters leap furiously around the wallowing canoes and the drenched straining men; now carrying the crafts over belts of rock, or running them on wooden rollers; now pushing them through the shrieking shingle-beds. From early in the morning until the darkness comes every soul is labouring unceasingly, loading and unloading the boats, tugging, dragging, pushing, pulling, lifting and heaving, righting