« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
crafts which have capsized, front of it. The Malays labour baling water from those which manfully, yelling in chorus have been swamped in the with the excitement of their rapids, punting forward over exertions, battling with the
, the short smooth reaches which current as though it were some separate obstruction from ob- living thing. Once more the struction. There is no eight boat creeps onward ; again it hours' theory here, and white hangs in suspense; then, with men and brown toil
a final rush, it leaps to the plainingly and with a marvel- top of the rapid into stiller lous energy during all the hours water. A great roar goes up; of daylight.
the men who have been pushing “Aren't they splendid fel- lustily fall forward when the lows?” says the Resident, en- resistance is so suddenly rethusiastically. “Look at them! moved, and one of them is
, Would you ever get white jammed between the boat's side labourers to work like that? and the jagged surface of a You would think that they piece of protruding rock. The enjoyed it, and not
Resident gives a sharp cry and among them is getting any- leaps forward to his aid, but thing except his food !”
the man extricates himself and As he speaks, a mob of fifty limps ashore laughing. yelling Malays rush the biggest does not signify, Túan," he says of the boats against the foam- cheerfully. Two other ing wave of a rapid. The river scramble on to the bank and is only waist-deep; but the dance wildly with grotesque current is mighty, and no one gesticulations. They have but a Malay could keep his overcome an enemy, and they footing amid
the roaring are tingling with excitement no waters. On the punting-plat- less real than that of the triform forward six men, with umphant warrior. “They are knees and bodies bent, stagger wonderful fellows,” says the under the fearful strain as they Resident again. "I had rather essay to hold the boat in posi- have them to work with than tion by the poles with which any men I know, yet people they are grappling the rocks will tell you that the Malays upon the bank. The remainder are the laziest animals on the of those engaged in pushing the face of the earth.” boat up the rapid struggle on “There's a good deal in the either side, holding the gun- way you work them," says the wale with their hands. The second in command. charging volume of the torrent will do their best for you or me, disputes every inch of the way. because we can talk to them, Little by little the boat forges understand them, and show ahead, then slides back a foot them that we wish to consider or two, then moves forward their comfort. The Malay reagain, hangs poised and mo- quires the personal motive to tionless, then thrusts its nose set him going
He will only deeper into the white wave in work like this because it pleases
“They him to serve a friend; he can tive food-supplies became exsee no point in toiling for a hausted. To him all the interior master or for a wage.
districts of the Peninsula form “That's just it; and it is why one state—the jungle-kingdom the Malay when he works for —a land without definite limits, one who knows him works as where all men are free to come no other man can do."
and go at will, and with its
obscure byways he has been At the end of a week a spot familiar from infancy. Without is reached on the banks of the the aid of his knowledge—the little river where the Resident knowledge of a creature who means to leave his boats and take
wears his scanty loin-cloth of to the shore. The loads are rough bark ungladly, and can apportioned, the men whose aid count no higher than the is no longer required are told numeral three-the white men, off and given leave to return the “heirs of all the ages," and to their villages, arms are in- the semi-civilised brown folk, spected, rations are doled out to their companions, would be unthe fighting-men, and all the able to prosecute their journey ; necessary preparations are made without his help the great for an early start on the morrow. engine of empire, which, work
During the past week the ing from Downing Street, is expedition has been creeping propelling the little force into through forest lands which have the Benighted Lands, would find no inhabitants save the wild its monstrous wheels clogged ! beasts whose cries are heard in The idea has something awful the melancholy night-time, and about it: it exemplifies the imwhose spoor is seen so frequently potence of the mighty in a in the yielding mud near the manner which is humiliating. brink of the river. Native At four o'clock in the morntradition tells that this route ing the camp is astir. An order into the Benighted Lands was has been circulated overnight, used once, long ago, by a little and the word passed for a march band of fugitives flying the which is to occupy all the hours anger of a hostile chief; and the of daylight. The cold winds Resident has selected it as the which herald the dawn are way of all others by which his blowing down the stream from coming will be the least ex- the near mountains; the moon pected. A Sakai, a hill-tribes- has sunk to her rest; the darkman, acts as guide. He is a ness is profound. Suddenly a citizen of the jungle, and owns
voice shouts through the gloom no country as his home. To bidding men arise. The cry is him the States on the fringe of taken up from hut to hut, the empire and the Benighted travels round the camp, and is Lands are all one; he recognises greeted with groans and the no boundaries; he and his inarticulate murmurs of fellows have moved hither and heavy with sleep. Again the thither through the forest, driven shout rings out imperatively this way or that as their primi- from the white men's camp,
and with slow reluctance the total lack of appetite render Malays begin to move. No possible. Natives have this dressing is required, for the advantage over their white natives sleep in
sleep in their day- brethren—they can feed at any clothes; but each man gropes hour, gorge themselves to any his way to the river-brink and extent, take in rations as though washes himself elaborately. they were stoking an engine, Then fires spring into red life and so fortify themselves for here, there, and everywhere. the labours of the day which Against the ruddy smudges lies ahead. A white man may of flame forms are outlined acquire a similar aptitude, but blackly, squatting figures bowed he needs constant practice; and above thecooking-pots, swaddled during the early days of to the chin in shapeless cloaks. jungle march he is apt to eat The heaviness of the waking- too little while the opportunity hour is still upon them, and is his, and to go sorrowing all their speech is broken and the day in consequence. fragmentary, indistinctly heard Presently the daylight comes, above the growing volume of slowly and stealthily, with an sound occasioned by the roar almost imperceptible strengthof fire and the crackling of dry ening of wan light, looking in fuel.
at the men camped under the One by one the white men overhanging trees with as much awake, stretch themselves, creep caution as an urchin uses in down to the river to bathe, and peeping under a flower-pot in stumble back through the dark- which he believes an imprisoned ness to dress. A pair of coarse bird to lie concealed. The jungle trousers, a flannel shirt, Malays, having eaten their fill stout socks, canvas shoes, and and thereafter swilled deep a slouch hat constitute their sim- draughts of cold water, rise to ple costume. Belts, from which their feet, settle their loads upon depend pouches for money, their backs, and form up into pouches for tobacco, watch- an irregular line.
The hillpouches, compass-pouches, car- tribesman leads the way, naked tridge-pouches, a holstered pis- save for a bark girdle through tol, hang about the Europeans' which is thrust all his worldly waists, giving them the air of gear. He steps forward lightly dingy Christmas-trees. Shav- as a stag, and the tread of the ing is postponed until a more bare-footed Malays behind him favourable opportunity presents seems heavy by comparison, itself, and the morning toilet is, while the thin shoes of the therefore, an operation which white folk trample and crash. occupies little time. Before it Civilisation hath ever a weighty is completed the orderlies bring footfall, as those who have huge plates of rice and curry marked the wrecks of old and which they place upon the broken landmarks which it sleeping - mats, and the white leaves in its wake know full men fall to and make as good well. The nearer man is to a meal as the early hour and a the beasts the more active and
catlike his agility; the nearer
track is a mere thread of runhe wins to the Godhead the ning water passing through a more ponderous and vulnerable tunnel of greenery, and as each is the body which weighs upon slow mile is traversed the size and shackles him.
of the path shrinks and the The string of laden stream is diminished in volume. wriggles into the forest. Here The sun which now is soaring the highways of even semi- high above the forest is powerbarbarous men have ceased to less to warm the dank atmosbe. The world is in its prim- phere in this natural vault. eval condition, and human Shortly after mid-day a halt beings must share with their is called, and the white men brothers the brutes the roads of and their followers seat themNature's contrivance. A little selves on boulders, with their stream splutters down through drenched legs drawn up out of lichened rocks and shingles to reach of the running water, and the river by the camp, and up wait for the straggling bagits bed the Sâkai steps with the gage-bearers to arrive. A busy whole expedition trailing behind search is made in every fold of him. The waters vary from a each man's clothes for lurking depth of two feet to as many leeches, and the brown or green inches; they come leaping and creatures, with their bodies squabbling from the mountains, erect and their pointed tips and they are bitterly cold. The waving inquiringly in every rocks and shingles past or over direction, are hacked into pieces which the stream rushes are of with wood-knives, or are shriva glassy slipperiness, and bare- elled up for ever by a drop of shod men trip and flounder tobacco-juice. Here and there along with their skin turned to a brown leg, or showing goose-flesh, their marching ac- dimly through coarse trousers, a companied by the sound of smudge of dirty red leaves stones grating loudly sure traces of a leech which has against the other, and a great feasted heartily. The men are splashing of disturbed water. sweating from their toil, for in Hour after hour passes away. a tropical climate it is never so Each one's legs are numbed to cold that exertion can be underthe knee, the heels and the balls taken with a dry skin; but the of his feet are sore and bruised; perspiration is cold and clammy, even through their shoes the and is not accompanied by any white men can feel the tender- sensation of warmth. Slowly ness in the hollow beneath the the baggage-coolies straggle in, instep which comes from bal- and when all have arrived the ancing on insufficient foot-rests Sâkai resumes his march upof hard rock. Overhead the stream. Half a mile farther on branches of the trees join hands he suddenly turns off, leaving above the stream, in some places the rivulet on his right, and spreading downwards so lowly begins to scramble up a hill that men are forced to crawl which has a gradient steep as under them on all-fours. The that of a thatched roof. The
armed Malays, the Europeans, guard strain and toil, panting and the baggage-coolies follow, slightly. Behind them again clinging with hands and feet, come the white men, blowing pulling themselves up by means like winded buffaloes. The burof the thick underwood, and dened baggage-bearers straggle wriggling through the tangles over half a mile of hillside in of thorns and interlaced rattans. the rear. Another hogsback, Ahead the Sâkai wields his another brief stretch of level knife restlessly, and at a touch ground, and then another ascent. the boughs and palm-fronds, Will the summit of the mounthe vines and the trailing tain never be attained ? The creepers, part and fall asunder Sâkai does not even seem to as though by magic. Each think of halting, and the Malays man makes the way a trifle are unwilling to lose sight of easier for those behind him, so their guide. The Englishmen
, that the last to pass finds a will not confess themselves to well-trodden track stretching be beaten. The line wriggles before him up the mountain- upwards, and the trees grow side, although, when the Sâkai sparse and few. Another hogsturned aside from the river, back and another ascent, this there was nothing to be seen- time the last and the worst, and no sign or token to guide any- then the white men throw themthing less keen than his jungle- selves down upon the drumminginstinct, marking the existence ground which crowns the ridge, of a possible ascent.
and pant as though they would The summit of the first hill burst their lungs. Their hearts reached, the Sâkai leads the are leaping and racketing about way along a spur, or hogsback, within them, and the coldness which has been much trodden of the wind which plays around by big game, and is studded the mountain tops, at a height here and there with the bare of near 3000 feet above seaand twig-strewn circles where level, chills them horribly, catchthe argus pheasants strut and ing their breath. drum for the entertainment of After a few minutes the white their admiring hens. Half a men rise and look around. From mile farther on the Sâkai again the peak on which they stand a faces the steep hill upon his view of the surrounding country right, and climbs swiftly sky- is commanded : great billows of wards. As the Resident toils mountains rise on every side and scrambles up the ascent he shutting out the plain--mounlooks aloft and sees almost over tains smothered from base to his head the brown limbs of the crest in impenetrable jungle, of guide running through the a dark even green, which fades brush wood on all-fours, swing- to a blur of blue in the distance. ing himself from shrub to shrub, There is not a single well-defined darting nimbly between tree- peak among them all. Everytrunks, and breasting the sheer where, as far as the eye can hill without effort. Behind him reach, there are great round the Malays of the advance- sweeps of hill-top, curve after