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´╗┐Title: The Castaways
Author: Reid, Mayne, 1818-1883
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Castaways" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

The Castaways

By Captain Mayne Reid
This is certainly not a very long book, being about a half to a third of
most books of this genre.  It starts off with a group of people in a
ship's boat, the ship itself having foundered in a typhoon in the
Celebes sea.  The ship's captain and his two children, the Irish ship's
carpenter, and the Malay pilot, are all that finally come to shore,
though when the book starts there are a body that has to be thrown
overboard, and a seaman who has gone mad and who throws himself there.

Thereafter we are introduced to one natural history topic per chapter,
be it a plant, a tree or an animal.  There are various perils that have
to be overcome--the upas tree, an ourang-outang, a tree that drops its
fruit like a heavy bomb, a python, and quite a few more.  Luckily they
don't meet any unfriendly Dyaks during the journey they undertake to get
from their landing-place to the town of Bruni, many hundreds of miles

On the whole they are saved by the courage, knowledge and skill of the
co-hero, the Malay pilot, who is one of the best in that region with a
blow-pipe. He makes himself one, and it is just as well he did, as you
will see.

The book is well-written, and as it will only take you five hours or
less, you could probably find the time to read it.  NH





A boat upon the open sea--no land in sight!

It is an open boat, the size and form showing it to be the pinnace of a

It is a tropical sea, with a fiery sun overhead, slowly coursing through
a sky of brilliant azure.

The boat has neither sail nor mast.  There are oars, but no one is using
them.  They lie athwart the tholes, their blades dipping in the water,
with no hand upon the grasp.

And yet the boat is not empty.  Seven human forms are seen within it,--
six of them living, and one dead.

Of the living, four are full-grown men; three of them white, the fourth
of an umber-brown, or _bistre_ colour.  One of the white men is tall,
dark and bearded, with features bespeaking him either a European or an
American, though their somewhat elongated shape and classic regularity
would lead to a belief that he is the latter, and in all probability a
native of New York.  And so he is.

The features of the white man sitting nearest to him are in strange
contrast to his, as is also the colour of his hair and skin.  The hair
is of a carroty shade, while his complexion, originally reddish, through
long exposure to a tropical sun exhibits a yellowish, freckled
appearance.  The countenance so marked is unmistakably of Milesian type.
So it should be, as its owner is an Irishman.

The third white man, of thin, lank frame, with face almost beardless,
pale cadaverous cheeks, and eyes sunken in their sockets, and there
rolling wildly, is one of those nondescripts who may be English, Irish,
Scotch, or American.  His dress betokens him to be a seaman, a common

He of the brown complexion, with flat spreading nose, high cheek-bones,
oblique eyes, and straight, raven black hair, is evidently a native of
the East, a Malay.

The two other living figures in the boat are those of a boy and girl.
They are white.  They differ but little in size, and but a year or two
in age, the girl being fourteen and the boy about sixteen.  There is
also a resemblance in their features.  They are brother and sister.

The fourth white, who lies dead in the bottom of the boat, is also
dressed in seaman's clothes, and has evidently in his lifetime been a
common sailor.

It is but a short time since the breath departed from his body; and
judging by the appearance of the others, it may not be long before they
will all follow him into another world.  How weak and emaciated they
appear, as if in the last stage of starvation!  The boy and girl lie
along the stern-sheets, with wasted arms, embracing each other.  The
tall man sits on one of the benches, gazing mechanically upon the corpse
at his feet; while the other three also have their eyes upon it, though
with very different expressions.  That upon the face of the Irishman is
of sadness, as if for the loss of an old shipmate; the Malay looks on
with the impassive tranquillity peculiar to his race; while in the
sunken orbs of the nondescript can be detected a look that speaks of a
horrible craving--the craving of cannibalism.

The scene described, and the circumstances which have led to it, call
for explanation.  It is easily given.  The tall dark-bearded man is
Captain Robert Redwood, the skipper of an American merchant-vessel, for
some time trading among the islands of the Indian Archipelago.  The
Irishman is his ship-carpenter, the Malay his pilot, while the others
are two common sailors of his crew.  The boy and girl are his children,
who, having no mother or near relatives at home, have been brought along
with him on his trading voyage to the Eastern Isles.  The vessel passing
from Manilla, in the Philippines, to the Dutch settlement of Macassar,
in the island of Celebes, has been caught in a _typhoon_ and swamped
near the middle of the Celebes Sea; her crew have escaped in a boat--the
pinnace--but saved from death by drowning only to find, most of them,
the same watery grave after long-procrastinated suffering from thirst,
from hunger, from all the agonies of starvation.

One after another have they succumbed, and been thrown overboard, until
the survivors are only six in number.  And these are but skeletons, each
looking as if another day, or even another hour, might terminate his
wretched existence.

It may seem strange that the youthful pair in the stern-sheets, still
but tender children, and the girl more especially, should have withstood
the terrible suffering beyond a period possible to many strong men,
tough sailors every one of them.  But it is not so strange after all, or
rather after knowing that, in the struggle with starvation, youth always
proves itself superior to age, and tender childhood will live on where
manhood gives way to the weakness of inanition.

That Captain Redwood is himself one of the strongest of the survivors
may be due partly to the fact of his having a higher organism than that
of his ship-comrades.  But, no doubt, he is also sustained by the
presence of the two children, his affection for them and fear for their
fate warding off despair, and so strengthening within him the principle
of vitality.

If affection has aught to do with preserving life, it is strong enough
in the Irishman to account also for the preservation of his; for
although but the carpenter in Captain Redwood's ship, he regards the
captain with a feeling almost fraternal.  He had been one of his oldest
and steadiest hands, and long service has led to a fast friendship
between him and his old skipper.

On the part of the Irishman, this feeling is extended to the youthful
couple who recline, with clasped hands, along the sternmost seat of the

As for the Malay, thirst and hunger have also made their marks upon him;
but not as with those of Occidental race.  It may be that his bronze
skin does not show so plainly the pallor of suffering; but, at all
events, he still looks lithe and life-like, supple and sinewy, as if he
could yet take a spell at the oar, and keep alive as long as skin and
bone held together.  If all are destined to die in that open boat, he
will certainly be the last.  He with the hollow eyes looks as if he
would be the first.

Down upon this wretched group, a picture of misery itself, shines the
hot sun of the tropics; around it, far as eye could reach, extends the
calm sea, glassed, and glancing back his lays, as though they were
reflected from a sheet of liquid fire; beneath them gleams a second
firmament through the pellucid water, a sky peopled with strange forms
that are not birds: more like are they to dragons; for among them can be
seen the horrid form of the devil-fish, and the still more hideous
figure of the hammer-headed shark.  And alone is that boat above them,
seemingly suspended in the air, and only separated from these dreadful
monsters by a few feet of clear water, through which they can dart with
the speed of electricity.  Alone, with no land in sight, no ship or
sail, no other boat--nothing that can give them a hope.

All bright above, around, and beneath; but within their hearts only
darkness and the dread of death!



For some time the castaways had been seated in moody silence, now and
then glancing at the corpse in the bottom of the boat, some of them no
doubt thinking how long it might be before they themselves would occupy
the same situation.

But now and then, also, their looks were turned upon one another, not
hopefully, but with a mechanical effort of despair.

In one of these occasional glances, Captain Redwood noticed the
unnatural glare in the eyes of the surviving sailor, as also did the
Irishman.  Simultaneously were both struck with it, and a significant
look was exchanged between them.

For a period of over twenty hours this man had been behaving oddly; and
they had conceived something more than a suspicion of his insanity.  The
death of the sailor lying at the bottom of the boat, now the ninth, had
rendered him for a time more tranquil, and he sat quiet on his seat,
with elbows resting on his knees, his cheeks held between the palms of
his hands.  But the wild stare in his eyes seemed to have become only
more intensified as he kept them fixed upon the corpse of his comrade.
It was a look worse than wild; it had in it the expression of _craving_.

On perceiving it, and after a moment spent in reflection, the captain
made a sign to the ship-carpenter, at the same time saying,--

"Murtagh, it's no use our keeping the body any longer in the boat.  Let
us give it such burial as the sea vouchsafes to a sailor,--and a true
one he was."

He spoke these words quietly, and in a low tone, as if not intending
them to be heard by the suspected maniac.

"A thrue sailor!" rejoined the Irishman.  "Truth ye're roight there,
captin.  Och, now! to think he's the ninth of them we've throwed
overboard, all the crew of the owld ship, exceptin' our three selves,
widout countin' the Malay an' the childer.  If it wasn't that yer
honour's still left, I'd say the best goes first; for the nigger there
looks as if he'd last out the whole lot of--"

The captain, to whom this imprudent speech was torture, with a gesture
brought it to an abrupt termination.  He was in fear of its effect not
on the Malay, but on the insane sailor.  The latter, however, showed no
sign of having heard or understood it; and in a whisper Murtagh received
instructions how to act.

"You lay hold of him by the shoulders," were the words spoken, "while I
take the feet.  Let us slip him quietly over without making any stir.
Saloo, remain you where you are; we won't need your help."

This last speech was addressed to the Malay, and in his own language,
which would not be understood by any other than himself.  The reason for
laying the injunction upon him was, that he sat in the boat beyond the
man deemed mad, and his coming across to the others might excite the
latter, and bring about some vaguely dreaded crisis.

The silent Malay simply nodded an assent, showing no sign that he
comprehended why his assistance was not desired.  For all that, he
understood it, he too having observed the mental condition of the
sailor.  Rising silently from their seats, and advancing toward the dead
body, the captain and carpenter, as agreed upon, laid hold of and raised
it up in their arms.  Even weak as both were, it was not much of a lift
to them.  It was not a corpse, only a skeleton, with the skin still
adhering, and drawn tightly over the bones.

Resting it upon the gunwale of the boat, they made a moment's pause,
their eyes turned heavenward, as if mentally repeating a prayer.

The Irishman, a devout believer in the efficacy of outward observances,
with one hand detached from the corpse, made the sign of the cross.

Then was the body again raised between them, held at arm's length
outward, and tenderly lowered down upon the water.

There was no plunge, only a tiny plashing, as if a chair, or some other
piece of light wood-work, had been dropped gently upon the surface of
the sea.  But slight as was the sound, it produced an effect, startling
as instantaneous.  The sailor, whose dead comrade was thus being
consigned to the deep, as it were, surreptitiously, all at once sprang
to his feet, sending forth a shriek that rang far over the tranquil
water.  With one bound, causing the pinnace to heel fearfully over, he
placed himself by the side over which the corpse had been lowered, and
stood with arms upraised, as if intending to plunge after it.

The sight underneath should have awed him.  The dead body was slowly,
gradually sinking, its garb of dark blue Guernsey shirt becoming lighter
blue as it went deeper down in the cerulean water; while fast advancing
to meet it, as if coming up from the darkest depths of the ocean, was a
creature of monstrous shape, the very type of a monster.  It was the
hideous hammer-headed shark, the dreaded _zygaena_ of the Celebes Sea.

With a pair of enormous eyes glaring sullenly out from two immense
cheek-like protuberances, giving to its head that singular sledge-hammer
appearance whence it has its name, it advanced directly toward the
slow-descending corpse, itself, however, moving so rapidly that the
spectators above had scarce taken in the outlines of its horrid form,
when this was no longer visible.  It was hidden in what appeared a
shower of bluish pearls suddenly projected underneath the water, and
enveloping both the dead body of the sailor and the living form of the
shark.  Through the dimness could be distinguished gleams of a pale
phosphoric sheen like lightning flashes through a sky cloud; and soon
after froth and bubbles rose effervescing upon the surface of the sea.

It was a terrible spectacle, though only of an instants duration.  When
the subaqueous cloud cleared away, and they again looked with peering
eyes down into the pellucid depths, there was nothing there, neither
dead body of man, nor living form of monster.  The _zygaena_ had secured
its prey, and carried the skeleton corpse to some dark cavern of the
deep!  [Note 1.]


Note 1.  The hammer-headed shark, in common language, is rightly
designated one of the most hideous of marine animals.  We mean hideous
in outward appearance, for, of course, there is much both wonderful and
beautiful in its internal organisation, and in the exquisite fitness of
its structure for its peculiar part in the economy of nature.  In the
general outline of its body, which is something like that of a cylinder,
it resembles the ordinary sharks; and its distinctive feature is its
head, which, on either side, expands like a double-headed hammer.  The
eyes are very large, and placed at each extremity.  It is found in the
Mediterranean Sea, as well as in the Indian Ocean, and is noted for its
fierceness and voracity.



Captain Redwood and the Irishman were horrified at the sight that had
passed under their eyes.  So, too, were the children, who had both
started up from their reclining attitude, and looked over the side of
the boat.  Even the impassive Malay, all his life used to stirring
scenes, in which blood was often shed, could not look down into those
depths, disturbed by such a tragical occurrence, without having aroused
within him a sensation of horror.

All of them recoiled back into the boat, staggering down upon their
seats.  One alone remained standing, and with an expression upon his
face as if he was desirous of again beholding the sight.  It was not a
look that betrayed pleasure, but one grim and ghastly, yet strong and
steady, as if it penetrated the profoundest depths of the ocean.  It was
the look of the insane sailor.

If his companions had still held any lingering doubts about his
insanity, it was sufficient to dispel them.  It was the true stare of
the maniac.

It was not long continued.  Scarce had they resumed their seats when the
man, once more elevating his arms in the air, uttered another startling
shriek, if possible louder and wilder than before.  He had stepped upon
one of the boat seats, and stood with body bent, half leaning over the
gunwale, in the attitude of a diver about to make his headlong plunge.

There could be no mistaking his intention to leap overboard, for his
comrades could see that his muscles were strained to the effort.

All three--the captain, Murtagh, and the Malay--suddenly rose again, and
leant forward to lay hold on him.  They were too late.  Before a finger
could touch him he had made the fatal spring; and the next moment he was
beneath the surface of the sea!

None of them felt strong enough to leap after and try to save him.  In
all probability, the effort would have been idle, and worse; for the mad
fancy that seemed urging him to self-destruction might still influence
his mind, and carry another victim into the same vortex with himself.
Restrained by this thought, they stood up in the boat, and watched for
his coming up again.

He did so at length, but a good distance off.  A breeze had been
gradually springing up, and during his dive the pinnace had made some
way, by drifting before it.  When his head was again seen above the
curling water, he was nearly a hundred yards to windward of the boat.
He was not so far off as to prevent them from reading the expression
upon his face, now turned toward them.  It had become changed, as if by
magic.  The wild look of insanity was gone, and in its place was one
almost equally wild, though plainly was it an expression of fear, or
indeed terror.  The immersion into the cold, deep sea, had told upon his
fevered brain, producing a quick reaction of reason; and his cries for
help, now in piteous tones sent back to the boat, showed that he
understood the peril in which he had placed himself.

They were not unheeded.  Murtagh and the Malay rushed, or rather
tottered, to the oars; while the captain threw himself into the stern,
and took hold of the tiller-ropes.

In an instant the pinnace was headed round, and moving through the water
in the direction of the swimmer; who, on his side, swam toward them,
though evidently with feeble stroke.  There seemed not much doubt of
their being able to pick him up.  The only danger thought of by any of
them was the _zygaena_; but they hoped the shark might be still occupied
with its late prey, and not seeking another victim.  There might be
another shark, or many more; but for some time past one only had been
seen in the neighbourhood of the boat; the shark, as they supposed,
which had but recently devoured the dead body of the sailor.  Trusting
to this conjecture, they plied the oars with all the little strength
left in their arms.  Still, notwithstanding their feeble efforts, and
the impediment of pulling against the wind, they were nearing the
unfortunate man, surely, if slowly.

They had got over half the distance; less than half a cable's length was
now between the boat and the struggling swimmer.  Not a shark was to be
seen on the water, nor beneath it--no fish of any kind--nothing whatever
in the sea.  Only, in the sky above, a large bird, whose long
scimitar-shaped wings and grand curving beak told them what it was--an
albatross.  It was the great albatross of the Indian seas, with an
extent of wing beyond that of the largest eagle, and almost equalling
the spread of the South American condor.  [Note 1.]

They scarce looked at it, or even glanced above, they were looking below
for the _zygaena_--scanning the surface of the water around them, or
with their eyes keenly bent, endeavouring to penetrate its indigo depths
in search of the monstrous form.

No shark in sight.  All seemed well; and despite the piteous appeals of
the swimmer, now toiling with feebler stroke, and scarce having power to
sustain himself they in the pinnace felt sure of being able to rescue

Less than a quarter cable's length lay between.  The boat, urged on by
the oars, was still lessening the distance.  Five minutes more, and they
would be close to their comrade, and lift him over the gunwale.

Still no _zygaena_ in sight--no shark of any kind.

"Poor fellow! he seems quite cured; we shall be able to save him."

It was Captain Redwood who thus spoke.  The Irishman was about making a
little hopeful rejoinder, when his speech was cut short by a cry from
Saloo, who had suspended his stroke, as if paralysed by some sudden

The Malay, who, as well as Murtagh, had been sitting with his back
toward the swimmer, had slewed himself round with a quick jerk, that
told of some surprise.  The movement was caused by a shadow flitting
over the boat; something was passing rapidly through the air above.  It
had caught the attention of the others, who, on hearing Saloo's cry,
looked up along with him.

They saw only the albatross moving athwart the sky, no longer slow
sailing as before, but with the swift-cutting flight of a falcon
pouncing down upon its prey.  It seemed descending not in a straight
line, but in an acute parabolic curve, like a thunderbolt or some
aerolite projected toward the surface of the sea.  But the bird, with a
whirr like the sound of running spindles, was going in a definite
direction, the point evidently aimed at being the head of the swimmer!

A strange commingled shout arose over the ocean, in which several voices
bore part.  Surprise pealed forth from the lips of those in the boat,
and terror from the throat of the struggling man, while a hoarse croak
from the gullet of the albatross, followed by what appeared a mocking
scream of triumph.  Then quick succeeded a crashing sound, as the sharp
heavy beak of the bird broke through the skull of the swimmer, striking
him dead, as if by the shot of a six-pounder, and sending his lifeless
body down toward the bottom of the sea!

It came not up again--at all events, it was never more seen by his
castaway companions; who, dropping the oars in sorrowful despair,
allowed the boat to drift away from the fatal spot--in whatever
direction the soft-sighing breeze might capriciously carry it.


Note 1.  The albatross Is the largest of the ocean-birds.  Its wings,
when extended, measuring fifteen feet, and its weight sometimes
exceeding twenty to twenty-four pounds.  The common albatross is the
_Diomedea exulans_ of naturalists.  It plumage, except a few of the wing
feathers, is white; its long, hard beak, which Is very powerful, is of a
pale yellow colour; and its short, webbed feet are flesh coloured.  It
is frequently met with in the Southern Ocean.  The species mentioned in
the text is the black-beaked albatross, which frequents the India
waters.  The albatross Is a formidable enemy to the sailor, for if one
falls overboard, he will assuredly fall a victim to this powerful bird,
unless rescued immediately by his comrades.  Its cry has some
resemblance to that of the pelican; but it will also, when excited, give
rent to a noise not unlike the braying of an ass.  The female makes a
rude nest of earth on the sea-shore, and deposits therein her solitary
egg, which is about four inches long, white, and spotted at the larger



Until the day on which the ninth sailor had died of starvation, and the
tenth had been struck dead by the sea-bird, the castaways had taken an
occasional spell at the oars.  They now no longer touched, nor thought
of them.  Weakness prevented them, as well as despondency.  For there
was no object in continuing the toil; no land in sight, and no knowledge
of any being near.  Should a ship chance to come their way, they were as
likely to be in her track lying at rest, as if engaged in laboriously
rowing.  They permitted the oars, therefore, to remain motionless
between the thole pins, themselves sitting listlessly on the seats, most
of them with their heads bent despairingly downward.  The Malay alone
kept his shining black eyes on the alert, as if despair had not yet
prostrated him.

The long sultry day that saw the last of their two sailor comrades, at
length came to a close, without any change in their melancholy
situation.  The fierce hot sun went down into the bosom of the sea, and
was followed by the short tropic twilight.  As the shades of night
closed over them, the father, kneeling beside his children, sent up a
prayer to Him who still held their lives in His hand; while Murtagh said
the Amen; and the dark-skinned Malay, who was a Mohammedan, muttered a
similar petition to Allah.  It had been their custom every night and
morning, since parting from the foundered ship, and during all their
long-protracted perils in the pinnace.

Perhaps that evening's vesper was more fervent than those preceding it;
for they felt they could not last much longer, and that all of them were
slowly, surely dying.

This night, a thing something unusual, the sky became obscured by
clouds.  It might be a good omen, or a bad one.  If a storm, their frail
boat would run a terrible risk of being swamped; but if rain should
accompany it, there might be a chance of collecting a little water upon
a tarpaulin that lay at the bottom.

As it turned out, no rain fell, though there arose what might be called
a storm.  The breeze, springing up at an early hour of the day,
commenced increasing after sunset.

It was the first of any consequence they had encountered since taking to
the boat; and it blew right in the direction whither they intended

With the freshening of the wind, as it came cool upon his brow, the
castaway captain seemed to become inspired with a slight hope.  It was
the same with Murtagh and the Malay.

"If we only had a sail," muttered the captain, with a sigh.

"Sail, cappen--lookee talpolin!" said Saloo, speaking in "pigeon
English," and pointing to the tarpaulin in the bottom of the boat.  "Why
no him makee sail?"

"Yis, indade; why not?" questioned the Irishman.

"Comee, Multa! you help me; we step one oal--it makee mass--we lig him
up little time."

"All roight, Sloo," responded Murtagh, leaning over and seizing one of
the oars, while the Malay lifted the tarpaulin from where it lay folded
up, and commenced shaking the creases out of it.

With the dexterity of a practised sailor, Murtagh soon had the oar
upright, and its end "stepped," between two ribs of the boat, and firmly
lashed to one of the strong planks that served as seats.  Assisted by
the captain himself, the tarpaulin was bent on, and with a "sheet"
attached to one corner rigged sail-fashion.  In an instant it caught the
stiff breeze, and bellied out; when the pinnace feeling the impulse,
began to move rapidly through the water, leaving in her wake a stream of
sparkling phosphorescence that looked like liquid fire.

They had no compass, and therefore could not tell the exact direction in
which they were being carried.  But a yellowish streak on the horizon,
showing where the sun had set, was still lingering when the wind began
to freshen, and as it was one of those steady, regular winds, that
endure for hours without change, they could by this means guess at the
direction--which was toward that part of the horizon where the yellowish
spot had but lately faded out; in short, toward the west.

Westward from the place where the cyclone had struck the ship, lay the
great island of Borneo.  They knew it to be the nearest land, and for
this had they been directing the boat's course ever since their
disaster.  The tarpaulin now promised to bring them nearer to it in one
night, than their oars had done with days of hopeless exertion.

It was a long twelve-hour night; for under the "Line"--and they were
less than three degrees from it--the days and nights are equal.  But
throughout all its hours, the wind continued to blow steadily from the
same quarter; and the spread tarpaulin, thick and strong, caught every
puff of it acting admirably.  It was, in fact, as much canvas as the
pinnace could well have carried on such a rough sea-breeze, and served
as a storm-try sail to run her before the wind.

Captain Redwood himself held charge of the tiller; and all were cheered
with the fine speed they were making--their spirits rising in proportion
to the distance passed over.  Before daylight came to add to their
cheerfulness, they must have made nearly a hundred miles; but ere the
day broke, a sound fell upon their ears that caused a commotion among
them--to all giving joy.  It came swelling over the dark surface of the
deep, louder than the rush of the water or the whistling of the wind.
It resembled a human voice; and although like one speaking in agony,
they heard it with joy.  There was hope in the proximity of human
beings, for though these might be in trouble like themselves, they could
not be in so bad a state.  They might be in danger from the storm; but
they would be strong and healthy--not thirsting skeletons like the
occupants of the pinnace.

"What do you think it is, captin?" asked the Irishman.  "Moight it be
some ship in disthriss?"

Before the captain could reply, the sound came a second time over the
waters, with a prolonged wail, like the cry of a suffering sinner on his

"The _dugong_!" exclaimed Saloo, this time recognising the melancholy
note, so like to the voice of a human being.

"It is," rejoined Captain Redwood.  "It's that, and nothing more."

He said this in a despairing tone, for the dugong, which is the
_manatee_, or sea-cow of the Eastern seas, could be of no service to
them; on the contrary, its loud wailings spoke of danger--these being
the sure precursors of a storm.  [Note 1.]

To him and Murtagh, the presence of this strange cetaceous animal gave
no relief; and, after hearing its call, they sank back to their seats,
relapsing into the state of half despondency, half hopefulness, from
which it had startled them.

Not so with Saloo, who better understood its habits.  He knew they were
amphibious, and that, where the dugong was found, land could not be a
long way off.  He said this, once more arousing his companions by his
words to renewed expectancy.

The morning soon after broke, and they beheld boldly outlined against
the fast-clearing sky the blue mountains of Borneo.

"Land!" was the cry that came simultaneously from their lips.

"Land--thank the Lord!" continued the American skipper, in a tone of
pious gratitude; and as his pinnace, still obedient to the breeze and
spread tarpaulin, forged on toward it, he once more knelt down in the
bottom of the boat, caused his children to do the same, and offered up a
prayer--a fervent thanksgiving to the God alike of land and sea, who was
about to deliver him and his from the "dangers of the deep."


Note 1.  We are unwilling to interrupt the course of our narrative by
disquisitions on subjects of natural history, and, therefore, relegate
to a note the following particulars about the dugong.  This strange
mammal belongs to a genus of the family _Manatidae_, or Herbivorous
Cetacea.  The species of which a member was discovered by our castaways,
is the _Halicore Indicus_, or dugong of the Indian Archipelago; and, as
we have said, is never found very far from land.  Its dentition
resembles, in some respects, that of the elephant; and from the
structure of its digestible organs it can eat only vegetable food; that
is, the _algae_, or weeds, growing on submarine rocks in shallow water.
When it comes to the surface to breathe, it utters a peculiar cry, like
the lowing of a cow.  Its length, when full-grown, is said to be twenty
feet, but few individuals seem to exceed twelve feet.  In its general
appearance it is very much like the _manatee_, or manatus, which haunts
the mouths of the great South American rivers.



The Almighty Hand that had thus far helped the castaways on their
course, with a favouring wind bringing them in sight of Borneo's isle,
was not going to crush the sweet hopes thus raised by wrecking their
boat upon its shores.

And yet for a time it seemed as if this were to be their fate.  As they
drew near enough to the land to distinguish its configuration, they saw
a white line like a snow-wreath running between it and them, for miles
to right and left, far as the eye could reach.  They knew it to be a
barrier of coral breakers, such as usually encircle the islands of the
Indian seas--strong ramparts raised by tiny insect creatures, to guard
these fair gardens of God against the assaults of an ocean that,
although customarily calm, is at times aroused by the _typhoon_, until
it rages around them with dark scowling waves, like battalions of

On drawing near these reefs, Captain Redwood, with the eye of an
experienced seaman, saw that while the wind kept up there was no chance
for the pinnace to pass them; and to run head on to them would be simply
to dash upon destruction.  Sail was at once taken in, by letting go the
sheet, and dropping the tarpaulin back into the bottom of the boat.  The
oar that had been set up as a mast was left standing, for there were
five others lying idle in the pinnace; and with four of these, Saloo and
Murtagh each taking a pair, the boat was manned, the captain himself
keeping charge of the tiller.  His object was not to approach the land,
but to prevent being carried among the breakers, which, surging up
snow-white, presented a perilous barrier to their advance.

To keep the boat from driving on the dangerous reef, was just as much as
the oarsmen could accomplish.  Weakened as they were, by long suffering
and starvation, they had a tough struggle to hold the pinnace as it were
in _statu quo_--all the tougher from the disproportion between such a
heavy craft and the light oar-stroke of which her reduced and exhausted
crew were capable.

But as if taking pity upon them, and in sympathy with their efforts, the
sun, as he rose above the horizon, seemed to smile upon them and hush
the storm into silence.  The wind, that throughout the night had been
whistling in their ears, all at once fell to a calm, as if commanded by
the majestic orb of day; and along with the wind went down the waves,
the latter subsiding more gradually.  It was easier now to hold the
pinnace in place, as also to row her in a direction parallel to the line
of the breakers; and, after coasting for about a mile, an opening was at
length observed where the dangerous reef might perhaps be penetrated
with safety.

Setting the boat's head toward it, the oars were once more worked with
the utmost strength that remained in the arms of the rowers, while her
course was directed with all the skill of which an American skipper is

Yet the attempt was one of exceeding peril.  Though the wind had
subsided, the swell was tremendous; billow after billow being carried
against the coral reefs with a violence known only to the earthquake and
the angry ocean.  Vast volumes of water surged high on either side,
projecting still higher their sparkling shafts of spray, like the
pillars of a waterspout.

Between them spread a narrow space of calm sea--yet only comparatively
calm, for even there an ordinary boat, well managed, would be in danger
of getting swamped.  What then was the chance for a huge pinnace, poorly
manned, and therefore sure of being badly trimmed?  It looked as if
after all the advantages that had arisen--that had sprung up as though
providentially in their favour--Captain Redwood and the small surviving
remnant of his crew were to perish among the breakers of Borneo, and be
devoured by the ravenous sharks which amidst the storm-vexed reefs find
their congenial home.

But it was not so to be.  The prayer offered up, as those snow-white but
treacherous perils first hove in sight, had been heard on high; and He
who had guided the castaways to the danger, stayed by their side, and
gave strength to their arms to carry them through it.

With a skill drawn from the combination of clear intelligence and long
experience, Captain Redwood set the head of his pinnace straight for the
narrow and dangerous passage; and with a strength inspired by the peril,
Murtagh and the Malay pulled upon their oars, each handling his
respective pair as if his life depended on the effort.

With the united will of oarsmen and steerer the effort was successful;
and ten seconds later the pinnace was safe inside the breakers, moving
along under the impulse of two pairs of oars, that rose and fell as
gently as if they were pulling her over the surface of some placid lake.

In less than ten minutes her keel touched bottom on the sands of Borneo,
and her crew, staggering ashore, dropped upon their knees, and in words
earnest as those uttered by Columbus at Cat Island, or the Pilgrims on
Plymouth Rock, breathed a devout thanksgiving for their deliverance.



"Water! water!"

The pain of hunger is among the hardest to endure, though there is still
a harder--that of thirst.  In the first hours of either, it is doubtful
which of the two kinds of suffering is the more severe; but, prolonged
beyond a certain point, hunger loses its keenness of edge, through the
sheer weakness of the sufferer, while the agony of thirst knows no such

Suffering, as our castaways were, from want of food for nearly a week,
their thirst was yet more agonising; and after the thanksgiving prayer
had passed from their lips, their first thought was of water--their cry,
"Water! water!"

As they arose to their feet they instinctively looked around to see if
any brook or spring were near.

An ocean was flowing beside them; but this was not the kind of water
wanted.  They had already had enough of the briny element, and did not
even turn their eyes upon it.  It was landward they looked; scanning the
edge of the forest, that came down within a hundred yards of the shore--
the strip of sand on which they had beached their boat trending along
between the woods and the tide-water as far as the eye could trace it.
A short distance off, however, a break was discernible in the line of
the sand-strip--which they supposed must be either a little inlet of the
sea itself, or the outflow of a stream.  If the latter, then were they
fortunate indeed.

Saloo, the most active of the party, hastened toward it; the others
following him only with their eyes.

They watched him with eager gaze, trembling between hope and fear--
Captain Redwood more apprehensive than the rest.  He knew that in this
part of the Bornean coast months often pass without a single shower of
rain; and if no stream or spring should be found they would still be in
danger of perishing by thirst.

They saw Saloo bend by the edge of the inlet, scoop up some water in his
palms, and apply it to his lips, as if tasting it.  Only for an instant,
when back to them came the joyful cry,--

"_Ayer! ayer manis! sungi_!"  (Water! sweet water!  A river!)

Scarce more pleasantly, that morning at day-break, had fallen on their
ears the cry of "Land!" than now fell the announcement of the Malay
sailor, making known the proximity of water.  Captain Redwood, who was
acquainted with the Malay language, translated the welcome words.  Sweet
water, Saloo had described it.  Emphatically might it be so termed.

All hastened, or rather rushed, toward the stream, fell prostrate on
their faces by its edge, and drank to a surfeit.  It gave them new life;
and, indeed, it had given them their lives already, though they knew it
not.  It was the outflow of its current into the ocean that caused the
break in the coral reef through which their boat had been enabled to
pass.  Otherwise they might have found no opening, and perished in
attempting to traverse the surging surf.  The madrepores will not build
their subaqueous coral walls where rivers run into the ocean; hence the
open spaces here and there happily left, that form deep transverse
channels admitting the largest ships.

No longer suffering from thirst, its kindred appetite now returned with
undivided agony, and the next thought was for something to eat.

They again turned their eyes toward the forest, and up the bank of the
stream that came flowing from it.  But Saloo had seen something in the
sea, near the spot where the pinnace had been left; and, calling upon
Murtagh to get ready some dry wood and kindle a fire, he ran back toward
the boat.

Murtagh, the rest accompanying him, walked to the edge of the woods
where the stream issued from the leafy wilderness.

Just beyond the strip of sand the forest abruptly ended, the trees
standing thick together, and rising like a vast vegetable wall to a
height of over a hundred feet.  Only a few straggled beyond this line.
The very first of them, that nearest the sea, was a large elm-like tree,
with tall trunk, and spreading leafy limbs that formed a screen from the
sun, now well up in the sky, and every moment growing more sultry.  It
offered a convenient camping-place; and under its cool shadow they could
recline until with restored strength they might either seek or build
themselves a better habitation.

An ample store of dry faggots was lying near; and Murtagh having
collected them into a pile, took out his flint and steel, and commenced
striking a light.

Meanwhile their eyes were almost constantly turned toward Saloo, all of
them wondering what had taken him back to the boat.  Their wonder was
not diminished when they saw him pass the place where the pinnace had
been pulled up on the sand, and wade straight out into the water--as if
he were going back to the breakers!

Presently, after he had got about knee-deep, they saw him stoop down,
until his body was nearly buried under the sea, and commence what
appeared to be a struggle with some creature still concealed from their
observation.  Nor was their wonder any the less, when at length he rose
erect again, holding in his hands what for all the world looked like a
huge rock, to which a number of small shells and some sea-weed adhered.

"What does the Malay crather want wid a big stone?" was the
interrogatory of the astonished Irishman.  "And, look, captin, it's that
same he's about bringin' us.  I thought it moight be some kind of
shill-fish.  Hungry as we are, we can't ate stones?"

"Not so fast, Murtagh," said the captain, who had more carefully
scrutinised the article Saloo had taken up.  "It's not a stone, but what
you first supposed it--a shell-fish."

"That big thing a shill-fish!  Arrah now, captin, aren't you jokin'?"

"No, indeed.  What Saloo has got in his arms, if I'm not mistaken, is an

"An oysther?  Two fut in length and over one in breadth.  Why, it's as
much as the Malay can carry.  Don't yez see that he's staggerin' under

"Very true; but it's an oyster for all that.  I'm now sure of it, as I
can see its shape, and the great ribs running over it.  Make haste, and
get your fire kindled; for it's a sort of oyster rather too
strong-flavoured to be eaten raw.  Saloo evidently intends it to be

Murtagh did as requested, and by the time the Malay, bearing his heavy
burden, reached the tree, smoke was oozing through a stack of faggots
that were soon after ablaze.

"Tha, Cappen Ledwad," said the Malay, flinging his load at the captain's
feet.  "Tha plenty shell-fiss--makee all we big blakfass.  Inside find
good meat.  We no need open him.  Hot coalee do that."

They all gathered around the huge shell, surveying it with curiosity,
more especially the young people.

It was that strange testaceous fish found in the Indian seas, and known
to sailors as the "Singapore oyster"--of which specimens are not rare
measuring a yard in length, and over eighteen inches in breadth at the
widest diameter.

Their curiosity, however, was soon satisfied; for with stomachs craving
as theirs, they were in no very fit condition for the pursuit of
conchological studies; and Saloo once more lifting the large oyster--
just as much as he could do--dropped it among the faggots, now fairly
kindled into a fire.

More were heaped around and over it, until it was buried in the heart of
a huge pile, the sea-weeds that still clung to it crackling, and the
salt water spurting and spitting, as the smoke, mingled with the bright
blaze, ascended toward the overshadowing branches of the tree.

In due time Saloo, who had cooked Singapore oysters before, pronounced
it sufficiently roasted; when the faggots were kicked aside, and with a
boat-hook, which Murtagh had brought from the pinnace, the oyster [Note
1.] was dragged out of the ashes.

Almost instantly it fell open, its huge valves displaying in their
concave cups enough "oyster-meat" to have afforded a supper for a party
of fifteen individuals instead of five--that is, fifteen not so famished
as they were.

With some knives and other utensils, which the Irishman had also brought
away from the boat, they seated themselves around the grand bivalve; nor
did they arise from their seats until the shells were scraped clean, and
hunger, that had so long tortured them, was quite banished from their


Note 1.  Strictly speaking, the Singapore oyster is a gigantic species
of Clam, (_Tridacna_).



After their ample meal of oyster "roasted in the shell," which was a
breakfast instead of a supper, they rested for the remainder of the day,
and all through the following night.  They required this lengthened
period of repose, not because they stood in need of sleep, but from the
exhaustion of weakness, consequent upon their long spell of hunger and

They slept well, considering that they had no couch, nor any covering,
but the tattered clothes they wore upon their bodies.  But they had
become accustomed to this kind of bed; as to one even less comfortable,
and certainly not safer--on the hard planks of the pinnace.  Nor did the
cold discomfort them; for although the nights are colder on land than at
sea, and in the tropics sometimes even chilly, that night was warm
throughout; and nothing interfered with their slumbers except some
horrid dreams, the sure sequence of suffering and perils such as they
had been passing through.

The morning rose bright and beautiful, as nearly all Bornean mornings
do.  And the castaways rose from their recumbent position, feeling
wonderfully restored both in strength and spirits.  Henry and Helen--
these were the names of the young people--were even cheerful, inclined
to wander about and wonder at the strange objects around: the beautiful
beach of silvery sand; the deep blue sea; the white breakers beyond,
rising over it like along snow-wreath; the clear fresh-water stream
alongside, in which they could see curious fish disporting themselves;
the grand forest-trees, among them stately palms and tall lance-like
bamboos;--in short, a thousand things that make tropical scenery so

Notwithstanding the scenic beauty, there was something needed before it
could be thoroughly enjoyed, and this was breakfast.  The contents of
the great oyster had given full satisfaction for the time; but that was
nearly twenty-four hours ago, and the appetites of all were once more
keenly whetted.  What was to take the edge off them?  This was the
question that occupied their thoughts, and the answer was not so easy.

Saloo went in search of another Singapore oyster; Murtagh started along
the bank of the stream, in the hope of beguiling some of the red and
gold fish he saw playing "backgammon" in it, as he had seen the trout
and salmon in his native Killarney; while the captain, having procured a
rifle, that had been brought away in the boat, and which he well knew
how to handle, wandered off into the woods.

Henry and Helen remained under the tree, as their father did not think
there could be any danger in leaving them alone.  He was well enough
acquainted with the natural history of Borneo to know that there were
neither lions nor tigers in the island.  Had it been on the neighbouring
island of Sumatra, or some desert coast of the mainland--in Malacca,
Cochin-China, or Hindustan--he might have dreaded exposing them to the
attack of tigers.  But as there was no danger of encountering these
fierce creatures on the shores of Borneo, he told the children to stay
under the tree until he and the others should return.

The young people were by this time rather tired of remaining in a
recumbent position.  It was that to which they had been too long
constrained while in the boat, and it felt irksome; moreover, the
oyster, wonderfully restoring their strength, had brought back their
wonted juvenile vigour, so that they felt inclined for moving about a
bit.  For a time they indulged this inclination by walking to and fro
around the trunk of the tree.

Soon, however, weariness once more came upon them, and they desired to
have a seat.  Squatting upon the ground is an attitude only easy to
savages, and always irksome to those accustomed to habits of civilised
life, and to sitting upon chairs.  They looked about for something upon
which they might sit but nothing appeared suitable.  There were neither
logs nor large stones; for the beach, as well as the adjacent shore, was
composed of fine drift sand, and no trees seemed to have fallen near the

"I have it!" exclaimed Henry, after puzzling his brains a bit, his eye
guiding him to a settlement of the difficulty.  "The shells--the big
oyster shells--the very things for us to sit upon, sister Nell."

As he spoke, he stooped down and commenced turning over one of the
shells of the immense bivalve--both of which had been hitherto lying
with their concave side uppermost.  It was nigh as much as the boy,
still weak, could do to roll it over, though Helen, seeing the
difficulty, laid hold with her little hands and assisted him.

Both the huge "cockles" were speedily capsized; and their convex
surfaces rising nearly a foot above the level of the ground, gave the
young people an excellent opportunity of getting seated.

Both sat down--each upon a shell--laughing at the odd kind of stools
thus conveniently provided for them.

They had not been long in their sedentary attitude, when a circumstance
occurred which told them how unsafe a position they had chosen.  They
were conversing without fear, when Henry all at once felt something
strike him on the arm, and then, with a loud crash, drop down upon the
shell close under his elbow, chipping a large piece out of it.

His first impression was that some one had thrown a stone at him.  It
had hit him on the arm, just creasing it; but on looking at the place
where he had been hit, he saw that the sleeve of his jacket was split,
or rather torn, from shoulder to elbow, as if a sharp-tooth curry-comb
had been drawn violently along it.  He felt pain, moreover, and saw
blood upon his shirt underneath!

He looked quickly around to ascertain who had thus rudely assailed him--
anxiously, too, for he was in some dread of seeing a savage spring from
the bushes close by.  On turning, he at once beheld the missile that had
rent his jacket-sleeve lying on the sand beside him.  It was no stone,
but a round or slightly oval-shaped ball, as big as a ten-pound shot, of
a deep-green colour, and covered all over with spurs like the skin of a

He at once saw that it had not been thrown at him by any person; for,
with the sharp, prickly protuberances thickly set all over it, no one
could have laid hand upon it.  Clearly it had fallen from the tree
overhead.  Helen had perceived this sooner than he; for sitting a little
way off, she had seen the huge ball drop in a perpendicular direction--
though it had descended with the velocity of lightning.

Beyond doubt, it was some fruit or nut, from the tree under which they
were seated.  From the way in which the jacket-sleeve had suffered, as
well as the skin underneath--to say nothing of the piece chipped out of
the shell--it was evident, that had the ponderous pericarp fallen upon
Henry's skull, it would have crushed it as a bullet would the shell of
an egg.

Young as the two were, they were not so simple as to stay in that spot
an instant longer.  On the tree that could send down such a dangerous
missile there might be many more--equally ready to rain upon them--and
with this apprehension both sprang simultaneously to their feet, and
rushed out into the open ground, not stopping till they believed
themselves quite clear of the overshadowing branches that so ill
protected them.  They looked back at the seats they had so abruptly
vacated, and the green globe lying beside them, and then up to the tree;
where they could see other similar large globes, only at such a vast
height looking no bigger than peaches or apricots.

They did not dare to venture back to their seats, nor, although tempted
by a strong curiosity to examine it, to approach the fallen fruit.  In
fact, the arm of Henry was badly lacerated; and his little sister, on
seeing the blood upon his shirt sleeve, uttered an alarm that brought
first Saloo, and then the others, affrighted to the spot.

"What is it?" were the interrogations of the two white men, as they came
hurrying up, while the impressive Malay put none--at once comprehending
the cause of the alarm.  He saw the scratched arm, and the huge green
globe lying upon the ground.

"_Dulion_!" he said, glancing up to the tree.

"Durion!" echoed the captain, pronouncing the word properly, as
translated from Saloo's pigeon English.

"Yes, cappen; foolee me no think of him befole.  Belly big danger.  It
fallee on skull, skull go clashee clashee."

This was evident without Saloo's explanation.  The lacerated arm and
broken shell were evidences enough of the terrible effects that would
have been produced had the grand pericarp in its downward descent fallen
upon the heads of either of the children, and they all saw what a narrow
escape Henry had of getting his "cocoa-nut" crushed or split open.



As soon as the three men had got well up to the ground and ascertained
the cause of Helen's alarm, and the damage done to Henry's jacket and
skin, Murtagh was the first to make a demonstration.  He did so by
running in under the tree, and stooping to lay hold of the fruit that
had caused the misfortune.  Saloo saw him do this without giving a word
of warning.  He was, perhaps, a little piqued that the Irishman should
make himself so conspicuous about things he could not possibly be
supposed to understand, and which to the Malay himself were matters of
an almost special knowledge.  There was a twinkle of mischief in his eye
as he contemplated the meddling of Murtagh, and waited for the

The latter, rashly grasping the spiny fruit, did not get it six inches
above the ground, before he let go again, as if it had been the hottest
of hot "purtatees."

"Och, and what have I done now!" he cried, "I'm jagged all over.  There
isn't a smooth spot upon it--not so much as a shank to take howlt of!"

"You takee care, Multa," cautioned Saloo.  "You lookee aloff.  May be
you get jagee in de skull!"

Murtagh took the hint, and, giving one glance upward, ran back with a
roar from under the shadow of the tree.

The Malay, seemingly satisfied with his triumph, now glided underneath
the durion, and keeping his eye turned upward, as if intently watching
something, he struck the fruit with the piece of pointed stick which he
had been using in the search after Singapore oysters, and sent it
spinning out upon the open sand beach.  Then following, he took out his
knife, and inserting the blade among its thickly set spines, cleft it
open, displaying the pulp inside.

There was enough to give each person a taste of this most luscious of
fruits, and make them desirous of more; even had they not been hungry.
But the appetites of all were now keen, and neither the chase nor the
fishery had produced a single thing to satisfy them.  All three had
returned empty-handed.  There were many more nuts on the durion-tree.
They could see scores of the prickly pericarps hanging overhead, but so
high as to make the obtaining of them apparently impossible.  They were
as far away as the grapes from the fox of the fable.

The stem of the tree rose over seventy feet before throwing out a single
branch.  It was smooth, moreover, offering neither knot nor excrescence
for a foothold.  For all this Saloo could have climbed it, had he been
in proper strength and condition.  But he was not so.  He was still weak
from the effects of his suffering at sea.

Something more must be had to eat--whether game, fish or shell-fish.

The one great oyster appeared to be a stray.  Saloo had begun to despair
of being able to find another.  The fruit of the durion proved not only
pleasant eating, but exceedingly nutritious.  It would sustain them,
could they only get enough of it.  How was this to be obtained?

For a time they stood considering; when Captain Redwood became impressed
with an original idea.

In addition to his own rifle, a large ship's musket had been put into
the pinnace.  He thought of chain-shot, and its effects; and it occurred
to him that by this means the durions might be brought down from their
lofty elevation.

No sooner conceived than carried into execution.  The musket was loaded
with a brace of balls united by a piece of stout tarred string.  A shot
was fired into the tree, aimed at a place where the fruit appeared
thickest.  There was havoc made among the adjacent leaves; and five or
six of the great pericarps came crashing to the earth.  A repetition of
the firing brought down nearly a dozen, enough to furnish the whole
party with food for at least another twenty-four hours.

Having collected the fallen pericarps, they carried them to another tree
that stood near, amid whose leafy branches appeared to be no fruits
either so sweet to the lips or dangerous to the skull.

Thither also they transferred their quarters, along with the
paraphernalia brought up from the boat, intending to make a more
permanent encampment under the newly chosen tree.

For the time they kindled no fire, as the weather was warm enough, and
the durions did not require cooking; and while making their mid-day meal
of the raw fruit, Saloo interested them by relating some particulars of
the tree from which it had been obtained.

We shall not follow the Malay's exact words, for, as spoken in "pigeon
English," they would scarce be understood; but shall lay before our
readers some account of this strange and valuable fruit-tree, culled
partly from Saloo's description and partly from other sources.

The durion is a forest tree of the loftiest order, bearing resemblance
to the elm, only with a smooth bark, which is also scaly.  It is found
growing throughout most of the islands of the Indian Archipelago; and,
like the mangosteen, does not thrive well in any other part of the
world.  This is perhaps the reason its fruit is so little known
elsewhere, as when ripe it will not bear transportation to a great
distance.  The fruit is nearly globe-shaped, though a little oval, and
in size equals the largest cocoa-nut.

As the reader already knows, it is of a green colour, and covered with
short stout spines, very sharp-pointed, whose bases touch each other,
and are consequently somewhat hexagonal in shape.  With this
_chevaux-de-frise_ it is so completely armed, that when the stalk is
broken close off it is impossible to take up the fruit without having
one's fingers badly pricked.  The outer rind is so tough and strong,
that no matter from what height the fruit fall it is never crushed or
broken.  From the base of the fruit to its apex, five faint lines may be
traced running among the spines.  These form the divisions of the
carpels where the fruit can be cut open with a sharp knife, though
requiring a considerable exertion of strength.  The five cells found
within are of a silken white colour, each filled with an oval-shaped
mass of cream-coloured pulp containing several seeds of the size of
chestnuts.  The pulp forms the edible portion of the fruit, and its
consistence and flavour are both difficult to be described.  Mr
Wallace, the celebrated hunter naturalist, thus quaintly describes it:--

"A rich, butter-like custard, highly flavoured with almonds, gives the
best general idea of it; but intermingled with it come wafts of flavour
that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, brown-sherry, and other
incongruities.  Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp,
which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy.  It is
neither acid, nor sweet, nor juicy; yet one feels the want of none of
these qualities, for it is perfect as it is.  It produces no nausea, or
other bad effects; and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined
to stop.  In fact, to eat durions is a new sensation, worth a voyage to
the East to experience.  When the fruit is ripe it falls of itself; and
the only way to eat durions to perfection is to get them as they fall,
and the smell is then less overpowering.  When unripe, it makes a very
good vegetable if cooked, and it is also eaten by the Dyaks raw.  In a
good fruit season large quantities are preserved salted, in jars and
bamboos, and kept the year round, when it acquires a most disgusting
odour to Europeans, but the Dyaks appreciate it highly as a relish with
their rice.  There are in the forest two varieties of wild durions with
much smaller fruits, one of them orange-coloured inside.  It would not
perhaps be correct to say that the durion is the best of all fruits,
because it cannot supply the place of a sub-acid juicy kind; such as the
orange, grape, mango, and mangosteen, whose refreshing and cooling
qualities are so wholesome and grateful; but as producing a food of the
most exquisite flavour, it is unsurpassed.  If I had to fix on two only
as representing the perfection of the two classes, I should certainly
choose the durion and the orange as the king and queen of fruits.

"The durion is however sometimes dangerous.  When the fruit begins to
ripen it falls daily and almost hourly, and accidents not unfrequently
happen to persons walking or working under the trees.  When the durion
strikes a man in its fall it produces a dreadful wound, the strong
spines tearing open the flesh, whilst the blow itself is very heavy; but
from this very circumstance death rarely ensues, the copious effusion of
blood preventing the inflammation which might otherwise take place.  A
Dyak chief informed me that he had been struck by a durion falling on
his head, which he thought would certainly have caused his death, yet he
recovered in a very short time."

Both the natives of the Malayan Archipelago and strangers residing there
regard the durion as superior to all other kinds of fruit--in short, the
finest in the world.  The old traveller, Luischott, writing of it as
early as 1599, says that in flavour it surpasses all other fruits.
While another old traveller, Doctor Paludanus, thus speaks of it: "This
fruit is of a hot and humid nature.  To those not used to it, it seems
at first to smell like rotten onions, but immediately they have tasted
it they prefer it to all other food.  The natives give it honourable
titles, exalt it, and make verses on it."  [Note 1.]


Note 1.  To these particulars we may add that the durion (_Durio
zibethinus_) belongs to the natural family of _Sterculiaceae_, of the
same sub-order (_Bombaceae_) as the silk-cotton tree.  It grows to a
great stature; its leaves are like those of the cherry, and its pale
yellow flowers hang in large bunches.  Each tree yields about two
hundred fruit in a year.  The fruit contains ten to twelve seeds, as
large as pigeons' eggs, and these, when roasted, are as good as, and
taste very much like, roasted chestnuts.



After finishing their dinner of durions, the three men again sallied
forth, to see whether something more substantial could be found for a
later repast--either flesh, fowl, or fish.  As before, they went in
different directions--Captain Redwood into the forest, Murtagh up the
stream, and Saloo along the sea-beach, where he waded out into the
water, still in the hope of picking up another large oyster.  He took
with him a stalk of bamboo, pointed at one end, to be used as a probe in
the soft bottom in case any oysters might be lying _perdu_ beneath the

Henry and Helen were again left to themselves, but this time they were
not to remain seated under any tree--at least, not all the time.  The
father, before leaving, had enjoined upon both of them to take a bath;
ablution having become very necessary on account of their having been so
long cribbed up in the somewhat dirty pinnace.  It would be also of
service in promoting their restoration to health and strength.  They
went into the water, not together, but at some distance apart--Henry
choosing to go down to the sea, while Helen entered the stream close by,
as it had clear water with a smooth, sandy bed; besides, she thought it
was safer, being free from surf or currents.

It was only safer in appearance, as the sequel proved; for the hunters
and fisherman had scarce scattered off out of hearing, when a cry broke
upon the still air of noon that startled the bright-winged birds of the
Bornean forest, and stopped their songs as quickly as would have done a
shot from Captain Redwood's rifle.  It was heard by the captain himself,
strolling among the tree trunks, and looking aloft for game; by Murtagh
on the river bank, endeavouring to beguile the sly fish to his baited
hook; by Saloo, wading knee-deep in search of Singapore oysters; and by
Henry swimming about upon the buoyant incoming tide.  More distinctly
than all the rest, the little Helen heard it--since it was she who gave
it utterance.

It was a cry of distress, and brought all the others together, and
running toward the point whence it came.  There was no difficulty about
their knowing the direction, for one and all recognised Helen's voice,
and knew where she had been left.

In less than sixty seconds' time they stood together upon the bank of
the stream, on the same spot from which they had parted; and there
beheld a spectacle that thrilled them with fear, and filled them with

The girl, finding it not deep enough by the edge of the stream--at this
point nearly a hundred yards in width--had waded midway across, where it
came quite up to her neck; and there she stood, her head alone showing
above the surface.  Beyond her, and coming from the opposite side,
showed another head, so hideous it was no wonder that, on first
perceiving it, she had given way to affright, and voice to her terror.

It was the head of an enormous reptile, of lizard shape, that had
crawled out from a reedy covert on the opposite side of the river, and
having silently let itself down into the water, was now swimming toward
the terrified bather.  There could be no mistaking the monster's intent,
for it was coming straight toward its victim.

"_A gavial_!" cried Saloo, as his eyes rested on the body of the huge
saurian, full twenty feet in length, with its head over a yard long, and
jaws nearly the same, the upper one surmounted by a long knob-like
protuberance, that distinguishes it from all other reptiles.

"A gavial!" echoed the others, though not inquiringly; for they knew too
well both the shape and character of the creature that was crossing the

As all four first reached the bank--arriving nearly at the same instant
of time--there were about twenty yards between the hideous saurian and
her who seemed destined to destruction.  On first perceiving her danger,
the girl had made a few plunges to get back to the bank; but, hindered
by the depth to which she had unwarily waded, and overcome by terror,
she had desisted from the attempt; and now stood neck-deep, giving
utterance to cries of despair.

What was to be done?  In less than a minute more the jaws of the saurian
would close upon her crashing her fair, tender form between its teeth as
though she were only some ordinary prey--a fish, or the stem of some
succulent water-plant!

Her father stood on the bank a very picture of distress.  Of what use
the rifle held half-raised in his hands?  Its bullet, not bigger than a
pea, would strike upon the skull of such a huge creature harmlessly, as
a drop of hail or rain.  Even could he strike it in the eye--surging
through the water as it was, a thing so uncertain--that would not hinder
it from the intent so near to accomplishment.  The Irishman, with only
fish-hooks in his hand, felt equally impotent; and what could the boy
Henry do, not only unarmed but undressed--in short, just as he had been
bathing--_in puris naturalibus_!

All three were willing to rush into the water, and getting between the
reptile and its victim, confront the fierce creature, even to their own
certain sacrifice.

And this, one, or other, or all of them, would have done, had they not
been prevented by Saloo.  With a loud shout the Malay, hitherto
apparently impassive, called upon them to hold back.  They obeyed,
seeing that he intended to act, and had already taken his measures for
rescuing the girl.  They could not tell what these were, and only
guessed at them by what they saw in his hands.  It was nothing that
could be called a weapon--only a piece of bamboo, pointed at one end,
which he had taken from among the embers of last night's fire and
sharpened with his knife, when he went off in search of the Singapore
oysters.  It was the same stick he had been using to probe for them
under the sand.  On seeing the gavial as it started toward the girl, he
had quickly drawn out his knife, and sharpened the other end of the
stake while coming across the beach.

With this sorry apology for a weapon, and while they were still
wondering, he dashed into the stream; and almost before any of the
others had recovered from their first surprise, they saw him plunge past
the spot where stood the affrighted girl.  In another instant his black
head, with the long dark hair trailing behind it, appeared in close
juxtaposition to the opened jaws of the reptile.  Then the head was seen
suddenly to duck beneath the surface, while at the same time a
brown-skinned arm and hand rose above it with a pointed stake in its
grasp--like the emblematic representation seen upon some ancient crest.
Then was seen an adroit turning of the stick, so quick as to be scarce
perceptible--immediately followed by a backward spring upon the part of
the lizard, with a series of writhings and contortions, in which both
its body and tail took part, till the water around it was lashed into

In the midst of this commotion, the head of the Malay once more appeared
above the surface, close to that of the girl; who, under the guidance of
her strangely-skilled and truly courageous rescuer, was conducted to the
bank, and delivered safe into her father's arms; stretched open to
embrace her.

It was some time, however, before the stream recovered its wonted
tranquillity.  For nearly half an hour the struggles of the great
saurian continued, its tail lashing the water into foam, as through its
gagged jaws a stream rushed constantly down its throat, causing
suffocation.  But, in spite of its amphibious nature, drowning was
inevitable; and soon after became an accomplished fact--the huge
reptilian carcass drifting down stream, towards the all-absorbing ocean,
to become food for sharks, or some other marine monster more hideous and
ravenous than itself.

If, indeed, a more hideous and ravenous monster is to be found!  It is
sometimes called the Gangetic crocodile, but it is even uglier than
either crocodile or alligator, and differs from both in several
important particulars.

As, for instance, in its mouth--its jaws being curiously straight, long,
and narrow; and in the shape of its head, which has straight
perpendicular sides, and a quadrilateral upper surface.  It has double,
or nearly double, the number [Note 1.] of the teeth of the crocodile of
the Nile, though the latter is well enough supplied with these potent
implements of destruction!

It is an amphibious animal, and fond of the water, in which its webbed
hind feet enable it to move with considerable celerity.

The huge reptile which threatened Helen's safety was twenty feet in
length, but the gavial sometimes attains the extraordinary dimensions of
eight to nine yards.

Sincere was the gratitude of Captain Redwood for the address and courage
displayed by the Malay in rescuing his daughter, and his regret was
great that he had no means of rewarding his faithful follower.


Note 1.  As many as one hundred and twenty.



The fruit diet, however delicious, was not strengthening.  Saloo said
so, and Murtagh agreed with him.  The Irishman declared he would rather
have a meal of plain "purtatees and buttermilk," though a bit of bacon,
or even ship's "junk," would be more desirable.

All agreed that a morsel of meat--whether salted or fresh--would be
highly beneficial; indeed, almost necessary to the complete restoration
of their strength.

How was animal food to be procured?  The forest, so far as Captain
Redwood had explored it, seemed altogether untenanted by living
creature.  He had now been tramping for upwards of an hour among the
trees without seeing either bird or quadruped.  And although there were
fish in the stream, and should have been shell-fish along the sea-beach,
neither Murtagh nor Saloo had succeeded in procuring any.  A keen
craving for animal food had grown upon them, and they were not without
some regretful thoughts at having permitted the dead gavial to drift out
to sea.  Even from the carcass of the saurian they might have obtained
steaks that, if not very dainty or delicate, would at least have been

Discouraged by their want of success, and still feeling feeble, they did
not go out again that day, but remained resting under the tree.

While they were munching their evening meal--of durions, as the dinner
had been--the Malay commenced discoursing upon eggs, which set them all
thinking about them.  If they only had a few, it would be just the very
thing to nourish and give them strength.  But where were the eggs to be
obtained?  This was the question asked him by the Irishman, who could at
that moment have eaten a dozen, boiled, fried, poached, in omelette, or
even, as he said himself, have "sucked" them.

"Iggs indade!" he exclaimed, as Saloo made mention of the article; "I'd
loike to see one, an could ate a basketful of them, if they were as big
as swans'.  What puts iggs in your head, nigger?"

"Eggs no long way off," rejoined the Malay.  "Plenty egg if we knowee
whale find 'em."

"How do you know that?  Ye're ravin', Saloo."

"No lavin, Multa.  You heal lass night the malee?  All night longee he
cly wail."

"Hear the malee.  What's that?"

"Biggee fowl like tulkey.  Saloo heal him.  Make moan likee man go die."

"Och, thair was that, thrue enough.  I heerd something scramin' all the
night.  I thought it might be a banshee, if thair is that crayther in
this counthry.  A bird, you say?  What of that?  Its squalling won't
give us any iggs, nor lade to its nest nayther."

"Ness not belly fal way.  Malee make ness in sand close to sea-shole.
Mollow mornin' I go lookee, maybe findee."

All throughout the previous night they had heard a voice resounding
along the shore in loud, plaintive wailings, and Captain Redwood had
remarked its being a strange note to him, never having heard the like
before.  He believed the cries to come from some species of sea-fowl
that frequented the coast, but did not think of the probability of their
nests being close at hand.  As day broke he had looked out for them in
hopes of getting a shot.  Even had they been gulls, he would have been
glad of one or two for breakfast.  But there were no birds in sight, not
even gulls.

Saloo now told them that the screams heard during the night did not come
from sea-fowl, but from birds of a very different kind, that had their
home in the forest, and only came to the sea-coast during their season
of breeding; that their presence was for this purpose, and therefore
denoted the proximity of their nests.

While they were yet speaking on the subject, their eyes were suddenly
attracted to a number of the very birds about which they were in
converse.  There was quite a flock of them--nearly fifty in all.  They
were not roosted upon the trees, nor flying through the air, but
stepping along the sandy beach with a sedate yet stately tread, just
like barn-door fowl on their march toward a field of freshly-sown grain,
here and there stooping to pick up some stray seed.  They were about the
size of Cochin-Chinas, and from their flecked plumage of glossy black
and rose-tinted white colour, as well as from having a combed or
helmeted head, and carrying their tails upright, they bore a very
striking resemblance to a flock of common hens.

They, in fact, belonged to an order of birds closely allied to the
gallinaceous tribe, and representing it on the continent of Australia as
also in several of the Austro-Malayan islands, where the true
gallinaceae do not exist.  There are several distinct species of them;
some, as the _tallegalla_ or "brush turkey" of Australia, approaching in
form and general appearance to the turkey, while others resemble the
common fowl, and still others might be regarded as a species of
pheasant.  They have the singular habit of depositing their eggs in
mounds of rubbish, which they scrape together for this purpose, and then
leave them to what might appear a sort of spontaneous incubation.  Hence
they are usually called "mound-builders," though they do not all adhere
to the habit; some of them choosing a very different though somewhat
analogous mode of getting their eggs hatched.  Naturalists have given
them the name of _megapoda_, on account of their very large feet, which,
provided with long curved claws, enable them to scratch the ground
deeply and rake together the rubbish into heaps for the safe deposit of
their eggs.

Sometimes these megapodes, as the Australians call them, for they are as
common in Australia as Borneo, raise heaps of fifteen feet in height,
and not less than sixty feet in circumference at the base.

They are large and heavy birds, unwieldy in their motions, slow and
lumbering in their flight.  Their legs are thick, and their toes are
also thick and long.

There is some difference between their nest-building ways and those of
the tallegalla; yet, on the whole, the similarity is very striking, as
may be seen from the following account.

Tracing a circle of considerable radius, says Mr Wood, the birds begin
to travel round it, continually grasping with their large feet the
leaves, and grasses, and dead twigs which are lying about, and flinging
them inwards towards the centre.  Each time they finish their rounds
they narrow their circle, so that they soon clear away a large circular
belt, having in its centre a low, irregular heap.  By repeating the
operation they decrease the _diameter_ of the mound while increasing its
_height_, until at length a large and rudely conical mound is formed.

Next they scrape out a cavity of about four feet in the middle of the
heap, and here deposit the eggs, which are afterwards covered up, to be
hatched by the combined effects of fermentation and the sun.  But the
bird does not thus escape any of the cares of maternity, for the male
watches the eggs carefully, being endowed with a wonderful instinct
which tells him the temperature suitable for them.  Sometimes he covers
them thickly with leaves, and sometimes lays them nearly bare, repeating
these operations frequently in the course of a single day.

The eggs at last are hatched, but when the young bird escapes from the
shell it does not leave the mound, remaining therein for at least twelve
hours.  Even after a stroll in the open air it withdraws to its mound
toward evening, and is covered up, like the egg, only not to so great a
depth.  It is a singular fact that in all cases a nearly cylindrical
hole, or shaft, is preserved in the centre of the heap, obviously
intended to admit the cooling air from without, and to allow of the
escape of the gases fermenting within.

In each nest as much as a bushel of eggs is frequently deposited.  As
these are of excellent flavour, they are quite as much esteemed by the
white man as by the aborigine.  The tallegalla has a habit of scratching
large holes in the ground while dusting itself, says Mr Wood, after the
manner of gallinaceous birds; and these holes often serve to guide the
egg-hunter towards the nest itself.

After this digression let us return to the megapodes of Borneo, whose
appearance had strongly excited the curiosity of Captain Redwood and his

The birds that had now displayed themselves to the eyes of our party of
castaways were of the species known as "maleos," by Saloo called malee.
They had not just then alighted, but came suddenly into view around the
spur of a "dune," or sand-hill, which up to that moment had hindered
them from being observed.

As the spectators were quietly reclining under the obscure shadow of the
tree, the birds did not notice them, but stalked along the shore about
their own business.

What this business was soon became apparent; for although one or another
of the birds made occasional stop to pick up some worm, weed, or seed,
it was evident they were not making their evening promenade in search of
food.  Now and again one would dart quickly away from the flock, running
with the swiftness of a pheasant, then suddenly stop, survey the ground
in every direction, as if submitting it to examination, and finally,
with a cackling note, summon the others to its side.  After this a
general cackle would spring up, as if they were engaged in some
consultation that equally regarded the welfare of all.

It was noticed that those taking the initiative in these prospecting
rushes and summonings, differed a little from the others.  The casque or
bonnet-shaped protuberance at the back of their heads was larger, as
were also the tubercles at their nostrils; the red upon their naked
cheeks was of brighter and deeper hue; while their plumage was gayer and
more glossy, the rufous-white portion of it being of a more pronounced
rose or salmon colour.  These were the male birds or "cocks" of the
flock, though the difference between them and the hens was much less
than that between chanticleer and the ladies of his barn-yard harem, and
only noticeable when they drew very near to the spectators.

They were still two hundred yards from the spot where the latter lay
watching them, and by the direction in which they were going it was not
likely they would come any nearer.  Captain Redwood had taken hold of
the musket, intending to load it with some slugs he chanced to have, and
try a long shot into the middle of the flock; but Saloo restrained him
with a word or two spoken in a whisper.  They were,--

"Don't try shot, cappen.  Too long way off.  You miss all.  Maybe they
go lookee place for billy eggs.  Much betta we waitee while."

Thus cautioned, the captain laid aside the gun, while they all remained
silently watching the maleos, which continued their course, with its
various divergences, still unconscious of being observed.

When they were nearly in front of the camping-place, at a spot where the
sand lay loose and dry, above the reach of the ordinary tidal influx,
all made a stop at the summons of one who, from the superior style of
his plumage and the greater grandeur of his strut, appeared a very
important individual of the tribe--in all likelihood the "cock of the

Here a much longer period was spent in the cackling consultation, which
at length came to an end, not as before in their passing on to another
place, but by the whole flock setting to, and with their great clawed
feet scratching up the sand, which they scattered in clouds and showers
all around them.

For a time they were scarce visible, the sand dust flying in every
direction, and concealing the greater portion of them beneath its dun
cloud; and this sort of play was continued for nearly half an hour.  It
was not intended for play, however, for when it at length came to a
termination the spectators under the tree could perceive that a large
cavity had been hollowed out in the sand, of such extent, as to diameter
and depth, that more than half the flock, when within its circumference,
were invisible from their point of observation.

From that moment it could be noted that several birds were always down
in the pit thus excavated, some going in, others coming out, as if
taking their turn in the performance of a common duty; and it was
further noticed that the ones so occupied were those of less conspicuous
plumage--in fact the hens; while the cocks strutted around, with their
tails elevated high in the air, and with all the pride and importance
usually assumed by masters of a grand ceremonial.

For another hour this singular scene was kept up, Saloo hindering his
companions from making any movement to interrupt it, by promising them a
great reward for non-interference.

The scene at length terminated in another grand scraping match, by which
the sand was flung back into the pit with the accompanying storm of
dust, and then emerging from the cloud there commenced a general
stampede of the megapodes, the birds separating into parties of two and
three, and going in different directions.  They rushed away at lightning
speed, some along the smooth sand beach, while others rose right up into
the air, and on loud whirring wings flew off into the forest.

"Now!" said Saloo, with joy gleaming in his dark, Oriental eyes.  "Now
we getee pay for patient waitee--we hab egg--better than dulion--belly
bess solt of egg malee."

As there was no need for further concealment or caution, all started to
their feet and hastened out to the spot where the departed fowls had
been at work.  There was no longer any signs of a hollow, but a level
surface corresponding with that around, and but for the fresh look of
the recently disturbed sand, and the scoring that told of claws having
disturbed it, no one could have thought that a flock of birds resembling
barn-door fowl had just made such a large cavity in the ground, and then
filled it up again.

Saloo and Murtagh ran down to the pinnace, and each brought back an oar.
With these used as shovels, the loose sand was once more removed, and
nearly three dozen large eggs of a reddish or brick colour were exposed
to view, lying in a sort of irregular stratification.  They were of the
usual ovoid form, smaller at one end than the other, though but slightly
elongated.  What was most notable was their immense size, considering
the bulk of the birds that voided them; for while the latter were not
larger than common hens, the eggs were as big as those of a goose.  The
contents of one which Murtagh, in his careless Hibernian way,
accidentally broke--and which were caught in a tin pannikin that held as
much as a good-sized breakfast cup--filled the pannikin to its brim.

It was quite a seasonable supply.  These fine eggs proved not inferior
to those of the common hen; indeed they were thought superior, and in
flavour more like the eggs of a guinea-fowl or turkey.

About a dozen of them were cooked for breakfast, and in more ways than
one.  Some were boiled, one of the half shells of the same Singapore
oyster serving for a saucepan; while in the other, used as a frying-pan,
an immense omelette was frittered to perfection.  It was quite a change
from the fruit diet of the durion, reversing our present as well as the
old Roman fashion of eating, though not contrary to the custom of some
modern nations--the Spaniards, for example.  Instead of being _ab ovo ad
malum_, it was _ab malo ad ovum_.  [Note 2.]


Note 1.  The Banshee, or Benshie, sometimes called the Shrieking Woman,
is an imaginary being, supposed by the Irish to predict, by her shrieks
and wails, the death of some member in the family over which she
exercises a kind of supervision.  To this fable Moore alludes in one of
his songs--

  "How oft has the Benshee cried."

Note 2.  The Romans began their noonday meal with eggs, and ended with a
dessert; _ab ovo ad malum_.



Certainly the most nutritious of all things eatable or drinkable is the
substance, or fluid, called milk.  It becomes blood almost immediately,
and then flesh, or muscle, as was designed by the Creator.  Hence it is
the first food given to all animated creatures--not alone to the
_mammalia_, but to the oviparous animals--even to the infantile forms of
the vegetable itself.  To the first it is presented in the form of
simple milk, or "lacteal fluid;" to the second in the "white" of the
egg; while the young tree or plant, springing from its embryo, finds it
in the farina, or succulent matter, with which it is surrounded, and in
which it has hitherto lain embedded and apparently lifeless, till the
nursing sun calls it into a growing existence.  It is albumen, gluten,
and other substances combined, all existing in the udder, in the
egg-shell, in the seed, root, or fruit; from which springs the progeny,
whether it be man or beast, flying bird or swimming fish, creeping
reptile or fast-rooted forest tree.

The meal of oyster-meat had restored to healthy action the long-fasting
stomachs of the castaways; the durion fruit, coming like a _dessert_,
had no doubt acted with an exceedingly beneficial effect; but not till
they had partaken of the true "staff of life"--represented in one of its
elementary forms, the egg--did they feel their blood running in its
right channels, alike restoring their vigour and strength.

Murtagh was one of the first to feel revivified, and declare himself
ready for anything.  But they were all much invigorated, and began to
think and talk of plans for the future.  The question, of course, was,
how they should quit the shore on which shipwreck, and afterwards a
chance wind, had cast them?  So far the coast appeared to be
uninhabited, and although not so very inhospitable, as their experience
had proved, still it would never do for them to remain there.

The American merchant-skipper had no ambition to match the Scotchman
Selkirk, and make a second Crusoe of himself.  Neither would Murtagh or
the Malay have cared to act as his man Friday for any very prolonged
period of hermitage, so long as there was a mode of escaping from it.

During the remainder of that evening, therefore, they talked of a change
of quarters, and discussed various plans for bringing this about.  It
was a question whether they should take to their boat and again put out
to sea, or endeavour, by an overland expedition, to reach some part of
the coast where they might find a European, and therefore a civilised,
settlement.  Captain Redwood knew there were more than one of these on
the great island of Borneo.  There were the Dutch residencies of Sambas
and Sarabang; the English government depot on the islet of Labuan; and
the strange heterogeneous settlement--half colony, half kingdom--then
acknowledging the authority of the bold British adventurer, Sir James
Brooke, styled "Rajah of Sarawak."  If any of these places could be
attained, either coastwise or across country, our castaways might
consider their sufferings at an end; and it was only a question which
would be the easiest to reach, and what the best way of reaching it.

After due consideration, Labuan was the point decided upon.  From that
part of the coast Captain Redwood supposed himself to be, it was by far
the nearest civilised settlement--in fact, the only one that offered a
chance of being reached by travellers circumstanced as they.  Of course
they had no intention to start immediately.  Their strength was not
sufficiently restored, and they were only discussing the question of a
journey to be undertaken before long, and the probabilities of their
being able to accomplish it.

Although they were now safe on land, and need no longer dread the
"dangers of the deep," they did not yet believe themselves delivered
from all peril.  The part of the coast on which they had landed appeared
uninhabited; but it was not this that made them uneasy.  On the
contrary, human beings were the very things they did not desire just
then to see.  From the place where his ship had been struck by the
typhoon, and the distance and direction in which they had since drifted,
Captain Redwood conjectured--was indeed almost sure of it--that they
were on some part of the north-eastern coast of Borneo, where it fronts
the Celebes Sea; and he had traded long enough among the islands of the
Malayan Archipelago to know that this was a most dangerous locality, not
from beasts of prey, but fierce, predatory men; from pirates, in short.

These sea-robbers, issuing from their hiding-places and strongholds
among the lagoons of many of the Malayan islands--more especially
Mindanao--are to be met with all through the Indian Archipelago; but
their most favourite cruising-grounds are in the seas lying around the
Sooloo isles, and stretching between Borneo and New Guinea.

They are usually known as "Lanoons," from Illanon, the southern
peninsula of Mindanao, their principal place of refuge and residence.
But they have also other haunts and ports where they make rendezvous--
many on the shores of the Celebes Sea, in the island of Celebes itself,
and also along the eastern and northern coast of Borneo.  In this last
they are usually known as "Dyak pirates," a name not very correct; since
most of these freebooters are of pure Malayan race, while the Bornean
Dyaks take but little part in their plundering, and are themselves often
its victims.

The craft in which they carry on their nefarious calling are large
junk-like vessels termed "praus," with short, stumpy masts and huge
square sails of woven matting stuff.  But they place more dependence
upon their broad paddle-bladed oars and skilled oarsmen, each prau
having from thirty to forty rowers, and some very large ones a much
greater number.  These, seated in double rows along each side of the
vessel, take no part in the fighting, which is done by the chiefs and
warriors stationed above on a sort of platform or upper deck that
extends nearly the whole length of the prau.  The advantage derived from
the oars is, that in the tropical seas very light winds and calms are of
common occurrence, during either of which the prau can easily overtake
an ordinary sailing-ship.  And when a brisk wind arises, and it is
desirable to avoid any vessel that may be endeavouring to come up with
them, they can, by means of their strong rowing force, get to windward
of the chasing craft, and so out of harm's way.

Ships are not always the objects of their piratical cruisings, or they
might at times find it but an unprofitable business.  Combined with sea
piracy, they make frequent land expeditions along the coasts of the
different islands, going up the inlets and rivers, and plundering the
towns or other settlements situated on their banks.  And their booty
does not always consist of goods, chattels, and money, but of men,
women, and children; for they are men-robbers as well as murderers and
pirates.  Their captives are carried off to their places of rendezvous,
and there kept until they can be sold into slavery--a market for this
kind of commodity being easily found in almost every island of the
Malayan Archipelago--whether it be Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, or under
the dominion of its own native rulers, the sultans and rajahs.

Well aware of all these circumstances, Captain Redwood knew the danger
he and his party would incur should they fall into the hands of the
Lanoons.  So long as they were out upon the open sea, and in fear of
perishing by starvation, they had never had a thought about pirates.
Then the sight of a prau--even with the certainty of its being a
piratical craft--would have been welcome; since death by the Malay kris,
or slavery to the most cruel taskmaster, would have been a relief from
the sufferings they were enduring, from hunger as from thirst.  Now,
however, that these were things of the past, and they were not only safe
delivered from the perils of the deep, but seemed in no farther danger
of starvation, the pirates had become the subject of their gravest
fears, and their eyes were habitually on the alert--now scanning the
sea-shore on both sides, and now directed toward the forest, whenever
any noise from that quarter occurred to excite suspicion.

While in this frame of mind, the boat which had brought them safely
ashore caused them a good deal of apprehension.  They might themselves
have easily found concealment among the trees that stood thickly on the
land-side; but the large pinnace lying upon the open beach was a
conspicuous object, and could be seen miles off by any one straying
along the shore, or coming abruptly out of the forest.  If there were
any pirates' nest near, the boat would surely betray them, and the
question arose as to what should be done with it.

To have dragged it up the sand, and hidden it among the underwood, is
probably what they would have done had they been possessed of sufficient
strength.  But they knew that they were not, and therefore the thing was
not thought of.  It was as much as they could yet do to drag their own
bodies about, much less a heavy ship's boat.

Murtagh suggested breaking it up, and letting the fragments float off
upon the waves.  But Captain Redwood did not approve of this mode.  The
craft that had so long carried them through an unknown sea, and at
length set them safely ashore, deserved different treatment.  Besides,
they might again stand in need of it; for it was not yet certain whether
they were on the coast of the Bornean mainland, or one of the numerous
outlying islets to be found along its eastern side.  If an island, the
boat would still be required to carry them across to the main.

While they were engaged in discussing this subject on the day they had
made discovery of the maleos' eggs, Saloo's sharp eye, wandering about,
caught sight of something that promised a solution of the difficulty.
It was the little stream not far off, or rather, the estuary formed by
its current, which, flowing out through the sands, had cut a channel
deep enough for the keel of a much larger craft than a ship's pinnace.

"Why we no blingee boat up libba?" he asked.

"Saloo is right; it may be done," assented the captain.

"Troth an' that may it.  It's clivver of the nigger to be the first of
us to think of that same.  Then we'd betther set about it at once--
hadn't we, captin?"

"By all means," was the reply; and the three men, rising to their feet,
walked off toward the boat, leaving the young people under the tree.



It took them nearly an hour to get the pinnace round into the stream,
and opposite the place they had fixed upon for their temporary
encampment.  The current acting against their feeble efforts at rowing,
was the cause of delay.  They succeeded, however, and the boat was made
safe from being observed by the eye of any one going along the beach.
But, to make it still more secure, they poled it in under the branches
of an over-hanging tree not far off--a large Indian fig, or _banyan_,
whose umbrageous top overshadowed the water nearly half-way across the

To one of its numerous root-stems the craft was made fast by means of
the tiller-ropes; and they were stepping out of it to return to their
camping-place, when a shout from Saloo warned them of some danger ahead.

It was not ahead, but _overhead_; for, as his companions looked up--
following the example of the Malay--they saw what at first appeared to
be one of the stems of the banyan in motion, as if endowed with life!

They were soon convinced of their mistake; for instead of the moving
thing being part of the fig-tree, its supple, cylindrical body and
glittering scales showed it to be a serpent.

It was a python, and one of enormous dimensions, as they could tell by
what they saw of it, knowing that this was only a portion of the whole;
at least ten feet of it were depending from the tree, while, judging by
the taper of its body, and applying the ordinary rule as to serpent
shape, there could not be less than ten or twelve other feet concealed
among the branches above.

As Saloo first caught sight of it, it was descending from the tree, no
doubt having been disturbed by the noise made in mooring the boat, and
tempted to forsake its perch for some purpose unknown.  It was coming
down head foremost--not along any of the stems, but in an open space
between them--its tail coiled round a branch above, affording it a
support for this descent, monkey or 'possum-fashion.

Its snout had already touched the ground, and perhaps its whole body
would soon have been elongated upon the earth but for the shout of
Saloo.  At this it suddenly jerked up its head, but without taking in
any of its coils above; and with jaws agape and tongue protruding, it
commenced oscillating around as if trying its range, and ready to pounce
upon any creature that came within the radius of that wide circle of
which its forked tongue was describing the circumference.

The warning of the Malay was given soon enough to save Captain Redwood,
but not the ship-carpenter.  Murtagh was either too long in hearing, or
too slow in giving heed to it.  He was a step or two in advance of the
others, carrying in his arms some implements from the boat.  In looking
around and above he saw the snake sweeping about in its grand circular
vibrations, and at the same time perceived that he was within their

It was but the simple obedience of instinct to leap to one side, which
he did; but as ill luck would have it, hampered by the _impedimenta_
carried in his arms, he came in violent collision with one of the stems
of the banyan, which not only sent him back with a rebound, but threw
him down upon the earth, flat on his face.  He would have done better by
lying still, for in that position the snake could not have coiled around
and constricted him.  And the python rarely takes to its teeth till it
has tried its powers of squeezing.

But the ship-carpenter, ignorant of this herpetological fact, and as an
Irishman not highly gifted either with patience or prudence, after
scrambling a while upon his hands and knees, stood once more upon his

He had scarcely got into an erect attitude when his body was embraced by
a series of spiral annulations that extended from head to foot--huge
thick rings, slimy and clammy to the touch, which he knew to be the
foldings of the python.

Had there been any Lanoons, or Dyak pirates, within a mile's distance,
they might have heard the cry that escaped him.  The forest birds heard
it afar off, and ceased their chatterings and warblings, so that there
was no sound for some time save the continuous shrieks and ejaculations
that came from Murtagh's lips.

Captain Redwood, altogether unarmed, leaped back into the pinnace to
seize the boat-hook, thinking it the best weapon for the occasion.  It
might have been of service if obtainable in time.  But long before he
could have returned with it the ship-carpenter's ribs would have been
compressed into a mass of broken bones, and the breath crushed out of
his body.

This would certainly have been the lamentable result but for a weapon
with which a Malay is always armed, carrying it on his body nearer than
his shirt, and almost as near as his skin.  It was the _kris_.  As a
matter of course, Saloo had one, and luckily for his old shipmate,
"Multa," he knew how to handle it with skill, so that, in driving its
twisted blade through the python's throat, he did not also impale upon
its point the jugular vein of the Irishman.  He did the one dexterously
without doing the other, and the consequence was that the huge snake,
suffering keenly from having its throat pierced through, quickly
uncoiled itself from the body of its intended victim, glad to let the
latter escape, and only thinking of getting free itself by scuttling off
into the thickest of the underwood, where it disappeared evidently
writhing in pain.

Too anxious about the condition of their comrade, neither Captain
Redwood nor Saloo thought of pursuing it, but stooped down over the
released body of the Irishman, who had fallen prostrate to the earth.

On due examination it proved that there was not much harm done beyond a
terrible fright; and after some congratulations, he was induced to get
once more upon his feet and accompany them to the camp.  But for Saloo
and his kris, beyond doubt he would never have returned to it alive.

For the python in the Old World is quite as formidable as the boa in the
New.  Perhaps it is even more to be dreaded; for, notwithstanding its
great length--twenty-five to thirty feet--it is exceedingly nimble and
its muscular strength is immense.  There are numerous authentic stories
on record of its having crushed the buffalo and the tiger in its huge
constricting folds.  The _python reticulatus_ is probably the largest



Two more days passed without any occurrence of an unusual nature, though
the castaways made several short excursions and explorations into the
forest, and also up and down the shore, keeping, however, close to the
edge of the timber.  These ended without any important discovery being
made, but confirmed them in their conjecture that the coast on which
they had been cast was uninhabited, at least for a considerable distance
on each side of the place where they had landed.

The most disappointing thing about these exploratory trips was their
fruitlessness in obtaining food, the chief object for which they had
been made.  Excepting some stray roots and berries of an esculent
nature, they had nothing to eat after the maleos' eggs were consumed;
and these had lasted them only into the second day.  It is true the
durion stood near, and its fruit would for a time keep them from
starving.  Still it would do little for the restoration of their
strength; and upon such diet it would be a long time before they could
undertake the arduous journey contemplated with any fair prospect of
being able to finish it.  No more Singapore oysters could be found, no
fish caught; and such birds and beasts of the forest as Captain Redwood
had accidentally got a glimpse of, had either flown or fled away without
giving him as much as the chance of a snap shot.

At night they again heard the stridulous clamour of the maleos, and
every morning looked out for them; but these fine fowls did not put in
another appearance, much less deposit three dozen eggs right under their
eyes, and in a convenient spot for being gathered.

Saloo, however, who knew all about their habits, believed he might yet
find another ovarium; and with this view, on the morning of the third
day, after giving up all further attempts at getting shell-fish, he
started upon a "prospecting" expedition after eggs, the others going
with him.

Their route led along the shore, and among the dry sand-wreaths, swirled
up near the selvedge of the woods.  If another egg depository existed,
it was there it should be found.  He told his companions that not only
did different gangs of the maleos bury their eggs in different places,
but the same tribe or flock had the habit of returning to the beach at
different times, each time laying their collected eggs in a new and
separate pit.  That, moreover, these curious birds, guided by instinct
or cunning, are accustomed to conceal the place of deposit, which might
be easily recognised by their tracks and scratchings.  This they do by
scoring the ground in other places, and giving to the surface the same
appearance as it bears over the spot where their eggs have been left to
the hatching of the sun.

In this searching excursion Saloo had brought with him a boat-hook; and
it was not long before he had an opportunity of proving the truth of his
words.  A place where the sand was very much tracked by the huge feet of
the megapodes soon presented itself, exactly resembling the spot where
they had procured the first supply of eggs.  But on probing it with the
boat-hook, Saloo at once pronounced it one of the sham nests.

After all, the creatures did not show too much cunning; for the presence
of this pretended place of deposit told the Malay that a real one would
not be far off; and, sure enough, another was soon after discovered,
which, on being sounded by the iron point of the boat-hook, gave back a
firm feel and a sharp metallic click, that told him there were eggs

The sand as before, was carefully removed--Murtagh having brought with
him an oar for the purpose--when, for the second time, nearly three
dozen beautiful salmon-coloured eggs were disclosed to their view.

These were carefully taken up, and carried back to the place of
encampment, where they were left lying upon the ground, the party
resuming their quest, in hope of being able to lay in a larger and more
permanent supply.

As it chanced, another considerable receptacle was struck, giving back
sweet music to the probing of the boat-hook; and its contents were also
added to the larder.

As the last lot had been found under sand that appeared but recently
stirred, it followed that they were fresher than those of the second
finding, and therefore was it determined upon that they should be first

The egg-gatherers having been now several hours engaged, and again
become almost as hungry as when first cast upon the shore, once more
kindled a fire, set the huge shells upon it, and using the one as a
boiling-pot, and the other as a frying-pan, prepared themselves a meal
of two courses--_oeuf bouille_ and _omelette_.

Next day they again went in search of other eggs, intending to lay in a
store against the eventuality of any possible period of famine.

But although they discovered several scratched places, and carefully
"sounded" them, no more maleos' eggs could be found; and they came to
the conclusion that they had despoiled all the "incubator" beds existing
on that section of the Bornean coast.

By reason of their rapidly-increasing strength, their appetites were by
this time almost insatiable.  They were, therefore, not long in using up
all the "setting" last gathered, and were about to begin upon the other
lot that did not seem so "newly laid."  These had been kept separate,
and permitted to lie where they had first placed them--out on the open
surface of the sand, some fifteen or twenty yards beyond the shadow of
the tree.  Negligently, and somewhat unwisely, had this been done; for
during the day the hot sun shining down upon them would naturally have a
tendency to spoil and addle them.  Still the time had not been very
long; and as no one thought of their being damaged, they were preparing
to turn them into eggs poached, fried, boiled, or otherwise.

Saloo had rekindled the fire, and got ready his pots and pans; while
Murtagh, who had stepped out to the "larder", was about to take up one
of the eggs, and carry it to the "kitchen."  But at that moment a sight
met the eyes of the Irishman, that not only astonished, but caused him
to sing out so excitedly as at once to attract the attention of the
others to the same singular spectacle.

It was that of an egg rolling, as it were, spontaneously over the
ground?  And not only one egg; for, as they continued to gaze a while,
the whole lot, as if taking their cue from it, commenced imitating the
movement, some with a gentle, others a more violent motion!  Murtagh
sprang back affrighted, and stood with his red hair on end, gazing at
the odd and inexplicable phenomenon.  The others were as much puzzled as
he--all except the Malay, who at a glance understood the philosophy of
the movement.

"Young malee inside," he cried in explanation.  "We no eat egg, we get
chickee.  Wait little minnit.  You him see come out full featha."

Truly enough the "chicks" did come out, not as down-covered helpless
creatures, but pults in full plumage, as Saloo had predicted: at all
events, full enough to enable them to fly; for as the shells one after
another commenced crackling--burst outward by the young birds'
strength--each showed a perfect fledgling; that, springing forth from
the shivered encasement, like Jack out of his box, at once flapped its
little wings, and essayed short flights over the surface of the sand.

So much were the spectators taken by surprise, that one and all of the
new-born but completely equipped birds, would have winged their way into
the forest and been lost, had it not been for Saloo, who, accustomed to
such transformations, was in no way discomposed, but preserved his
coolness and equanimity.

Fortified by these, and armed with the boat-hook, which he had suddenly
seized, he struck down the precocious chicks one after another, and put
an end to their aspiring flights by laying them lifeless upon the sand.

In the end it was neither eggs nor omelettes, but tender, delicate
"squabs" the castaways had for their prandial repast.



The castaways having made a repast on chicks instead of eggs, as they
had been expecting, were for the time satisfied, so far as concerned
their appetites.  But aware that these would ere long recommence their
craving, they could not be contented to remain inactive.  It would be
necessary to procure some other kind of provisions, and, if possible, a
permanent stock on which they could rely until ready to set out on their
journey, with a surplus to carry them some way along it.

Although in Borneo there are many kinds of strange birds, and some of
them large ones, they are not to be found everywhere, and when seen, not
so easily caught or shot.  There are some large quadrupeds too, as the
Indian rhinoceros, and the Sumatran tapir; and although the flesh of
these great thick-skinned animals is neither tender nor delicate, yet
men who can get no other soon find themselves in a position to relish
it, despite its toughness and its coarse texture.  But neither
rhinoceros nor tapir was seen by our castaways; neither seemed to
frequent that part of the coast, as no tracks of them were observed
during their excursions.  If they had fallen in with a rhinoceros, they
would have had some difficulty in killing it; seeing that this enormous
brute is as large as a small elephant, its body protected by a thick
hide embossed with hard knob-like protuberances, like those upon
shields, giving to the animal the appearance of being encased in a full
suit of ancient armour.

The Sumatran tapir, too, is a creature that does not readily succumb to
its assailant, being larger and stronger than its namesake of South

There are two species of deer known in Borneo; one of them, the "rusa,"
a fine large animal.

Captain Redwood was in hopes he might meet with an individual of either
species; and with this object in view, he continued to make short
excursions into the woods, taking his rifle along with him, occasionally
accompanied by Murtagh, with the ship's musket.

But they always returned empty-handed, and a good deal down-hearted,
having seen nothing that could be converted into venison.

Saloo had again tried for eggs and shell-fish, but was unsuccessful in
his search after both; evidently there were no more depositories of
maleos' eggs, nor Singapore oysters, nor, indeed, any kind of
shell-fish, on that part of the shore.  They did not again see any of
the mound-making birds--not even those they had despoiled; for it is not
the habit of the megapodes to return to their eggs, but to leave them to
be hatched under the hot sand, and the chicks to scratch their way
upward to the surface, thus taking care of themselves from the very
moment of their birth, and, indeed, we may say, before it, since it can
scarcely be said they are born before breaking through the shell; and
this they have to do for themselves, else they would never see daylight.
Talk of precocious chicks!  There are none anywhere to be compared with
the megapodean pullets of the Malayan Archipelago, no birds half so
"early" as they.

For some days, after eating up the last chicken of the flock, our
castaways could get nothing to live upon but durions; and although these
formed a diet sufficiently agreeable to the palate, they were not very
strengthening.  Besides, they were not so easily gathered; the few they
had found on some trees, which Saloo had conveniently climbed, being
quickly exhausted.  The large durion-tree under which they had first
encamped was well furnished with fruit.  But its tall stem, nearly a
hundred feet, without a branch, and with a bark smooth as that of a
sycamore, looked as if no mortal man could ascend it.  Captain Redwood
had fired several rounds of his chain-shot up into it, and brought down
many of the grand spinous pericarps; but this cost an expenditure of
ammunition; and, circumstanced as they were, they saw it would never do
to waste it in such whimsical fashion.  Still, for want of food, the
fruit must be obtained some way or other, and the question was how to
"pluck" it.

In their dilemma the Malay once more came to their aid.  Fortunately for
all, Saloo was a native of Sumatra, and had been brought up among its
forests, much resembling those of Borneo.  He was skilled in the
wood-craft common to both islands; and, perhaps, of all the crew of the
castaway ship, not one could have survived whose services would have
been of more value to Captain Redwood and his party than those of the
brown-skinned pilot;--especially since it had been their fate to be cast
upon the shores of Borneo.  His companions had already experienced the
benefit to be derived from his knowledge of the country's productions,
and were beginning to consult him in almost every difficulty that
occurred.  He appeared capable of accomplishing almost anything.

For all this, they were no little surprised and somewhat incredulous
when he declared his intention of climbing the great durion-tree.
Murtagh was very much inclined to deny that he could do it.

"The nigger's makin' game of us, captin," he said.  "It would be as much
as a squirrel could do to speel up that tall trunk.  Why, it's as smooth
as the side of a copper-bottomed ship, an' nothin' to lay howlt on.
He's jokin'."

"No jokee, Mista Multa.  Saloo that tlee climb soon.  You help you see."

"Oh, be aisy now!  I'll help you all I can, if that'll do any good.  How
do you mane to set about it?"

To this Saloo made no verbal rejoinder, but laying hold of a small axe,
that had been brought away in the boat, he walked off toward a clump of
bamboos growing near the spot where they had made their camp.

The first thing he did was to cut down five or six of the largest of
these canes, some of them being several inches in diameter, directing
Murtagh to drag them off, and deposit them close to the durion-tree.

As soon as he had felled what he deemed a sufficient number, he returned
to the spot where the Irishman had deposited them, and commenced
chopping them into pieces of about eighteen inches in length.  In this
the ship-carpenter, by reason of his calling, was able to give him
efficient aid; and the ground was soon strewed with disjointed bamboos.
Each of the pieces was then split into two, and sharply pointed at one
end, so as to resemble a peg designed for being driven into the ground.
But it was not into the ground Saloo intended driving them, as will be
presently seen.

While Murtagh was engaged in splitting and sharpening the sections of
bamboo, the Malay went off once more into the woods, and soon came back
again, bearing in his arms what looked like a quantity of rough
packing-cord.  The freshly-cut ends of it, however, with their greenish
colour and running sap, told it to be some species of creeping-plant--
one of the parasites, or epiphytes, that abound everywhere in the
forests of Borneo, as in those of all tropical countries, and render the
trade of the ropemaker altogether superfluous.

Throwing down his bundle of creepers, Saloo now took up one of the
pointed pegs, and, standing by the trunk of the durion, drove it into
the soft sapwood, a little above the height of his own head.  The axe,
which was a light one, and had a flat hammer-shaped head, served him for
a mallet.

As soon as the first peg had been driven to the depth of several inches,
he threw aside the axe, and laid hold of the stake with both hands.
Then drawing his feet from the ground, so that all his weight came upon
the peg, he tried whether it would sustain him without yielding.  It
did, and he was satisfied.

His next movement was another excursion into the forest, where he found
some bamboo stems of a slenderer kind than those already cut, but quite
as tall.  Having selected three or four of these, he chopped them down,
and dragged them up to the durion.  Then taking one, he set it upright
on its butt-end, parallel to the trunk of the tree, and at such a
distance from it as to strike near the outer extremity of the peg
already driven home, close to the end of which he had already cut a
couple of notches.

Some of the vegetable twine was next prepared by him, and taking a piece
of the proper length, he made the upright bamboo fast to the horizontal
peg by a knowing knot, such as only a savage or sailor can tie.

Captain Redwood and his ship-carpenter having now obtained an inkling of
his design, stood by to render every assistance, while the young people
as spectators were very much interested in the proceeding.

As soon as the upright cane was securely lashed to the cross piece, and
also made safe against shifting by having its lower end "stepped" or
embedded in the ground, Saloo prepared to ascend, taking with him
several of the pegs that had been sharpened.  Murtagh "gave him a leg,"
and he stood upon the first "round" of the ladder.

Then reaching up, he drove in a second peg--not quite so far above the
first as this was from the ground.  With another piece of creeper he
made it also fast to the perpendicular pole, and the second round was
formed, upon which he had to climb without any helping hand, and with
the agility of an ape.

A third step was similarly established; then a fourth and fifth, and so
on, till the pegs and cordage carried up with him gave out, when he came
back to the ground to provide himself with a second supply.  Obtaining
this, he once more ascended, and continued to carry aloft his singular

The next thing to be exhausted was the upright piece, which, being only
about thirty feet in length, and requiring a surplus to be left, of
course came far short of reaching to the lowest limbs of the durion.
Another similar stem of bamboo had to be added on by splicing; but for
this he did not need to descend, as Murtagh, stretching to his arm's
length, handed it up to him, so that he was enabled to lay hold of and
draw it up of himself.

Giving the two pieces a good length of double for the splice, he bound
them securely together, and then went on with the driving of his pegs,
to complete the remaining rounds of the ladder.

In a space of time that did not in all exceed twenty minutes, he had got
up to within ten or twelve feet of the lower branches of the durion--to
such a height as caused those looking at him from below to feel giddy as
they gazed.  It was, indeed, a strange and somewhat fearful spectacle--
that slight human form, sixty or seventy feet above their heads, at such
a vast elevation so diminished in size as to appear like a child or a
pigmy, and the more fearful to them who could not convince themselves of
the security of the slender stair upon which he was standing.  They were
half expecting that, at any moment, one of the pegs would give way, and
precipitate the poor fellow to the earth, a crushed and shapeless mass!

It was just as when some courageous workman in a manufacturing town--
bricklayer or carpenter--ascends to the top of one of its tall factory
chimneys, to repair some damage done by fire-crack or lightning, and the
whole populace of the place rushes out of doors, to look up at the
strange spectacle, and admire the daring individual, while trembling in
fear for his fate.

So stood the little party under the tall durion-tree, regarding the
ascent of Saloo.



The Malay had ascended, as already said, to within ten or twelve feet
from the lower limbs of the tree, and was still engaged driving in his
pegs and binding on the upright bamboo to continue his ascent, when all
at once he was seen to start and abruptly suspend operations.  At the
same time an exclamation escaped his lips, in a low tone, but seemingly
in accents of alarm.

They all looked up apprehensively, and also started away from the tree;
for they expected to see him come tumbling down in their midst.  But no;
he was still standing firm upon the last made round of the ladder, and
in an erect attitude, as if he had no fear of falling.  With one hand he
held the axe, the other gently grasping the upright bamboo that served
him for a support.  Instead of looking down to them, to call out or
claim their assistance, they saw that his eyes were turned upward and
fixed, as if on some object directly over his head.  It did not appear
to be among the branches of the durion, but as if in the trunk of the
tree; and in the interval of silence that succeeded his first quick
exclamation, they could hear a hissing sound, such as might proceed from
the throat of a goose when some stranger intrudes upon the domain of the
farmyard.  As it was carried down the smooth stem of the durion, which
acted as a conductor, the spectators underneath guessed it was not a
goose, but some creature of a less innocent kind.

"A snake, be japers!" was the conjecture that dropped from the
ship-carpenter's lips, while the same thought occurred simultaneously to
the others; for they could think of no living thing, other than a
serpent, capable of sending forth such a sibilant sound as that just

"What is it, Saloo?" hailed Captain Redwood; "are you in any danger?"

"No dangee, cappen; only little bit good luck, that all," was the
cheering response that restored their confidence.

"How good luck?" asked the captain, puzzled to think of what fortune
could have turned up in their favour so high above their heads.

"You see soon," rejoined the Malay, taking a fresh peg from his girdle,
and once more resuming his task at stair-making.

While he was engaged in hammering, and between the resounding strokes,
they at the bottom of the tree repeatedly heard the same hissing sound
they had taken for the sibilations of a snake, and which they might
still have believed to be this, but for a hoarse croaking voice,
mingling with the sibilation, which reached their ears at intervals,
evidently proceeding from the same throat.

Moreover, as they continued to gaze upward, watching Saloo at his work,
they caught sight of something in motion on the trunk, and about a foot
above his face.  It was something of a whitish colour and slender shape,
pointed like one of the bamboo pegs he was busily driving at.  Now they
saw it, and now they did not see it; for whatever it was, it was sunk
inside the trunk of the durion-tree, alternately protruding and drawing
back.  It was also clear to them, that from this sharp-pointed thing,
whether beast, bird, or reptile, came the hissing and hoarse croaking
that puzzled them.

"What is it?" again asked the captain, now no longer anxious or alarmed,
but only curious to know what the strange creature could be.

"Buld, cappen--biggee buld."

"Oh, a bird, that's all; what sort of bird?"

"Honbill; ole hen hornbill.  She on ha ness inside, hatchee egg; she
built up in dat; ole cock he shuttee up with mud."

"Oh, a hornbill!" said the captain, repeating the name of the bird for
the information of those around him; and now that they more narrowly
scrutinised the spot where the white-pointed beak was still bobbing out
and in, they could perceive that there was a patch or space of irregular
roundish shape, slightly elevated above the bark, having a plastered
appearance, and of the colour of dry mud.  They had barely time to make
this last observation, when Saloo, having got another peg planted so as
to enable him to ascend high enough, turned the edge of his axe against
the trunk of the durion, and commenced chipping off the mud, that now
fell in flakes to the bottom of the tree.

It took him only a very short time to effect a breach into the
barricaded nest--one big enough to admit his hand with the fingers at
fall spread.

His arm was at once thrust in up to the elbow; and as his digits closed
fearlessly around the throat of the old hen hornbill, she was drawn
forth from her place of imprisonment.

For a time she was seen in Saloo's hands, convulsively writhing and
flopping her great wings, like a turkey gobbler with his head suddenly
cut off.  There was some screaming, hissing, and croaking, but to all
these sounds Saloo quickly put an end, by taking a fresh grasp of the
throat of the great bird, choking the breath out of it until the wings
ceased fluttering; and then he flung its body down at the feet of the

Saloo did not descend immediately, but once more thrust his hand into
the nest, hoping, no doubt, to find an egg or eggs in it.  Instead of
these, the contents proved to be a bird--and only one--a chick recently
hatched, about the size of a squab-pigeon, and fat as a fed ortolan.
Unlike the progeny of the megapodes, hatched in the hot sand, the infant
hornbill was without the semblance of a feather upon its skin, which was
all over of a green, yellowish hue.  There was not even so much as a
show of down upon it.

For a moment Saloo held it in his hand, hissing as it was in his own
tiny way.  Then chucking it down after its murdered mother, where it
fell not only killed, but "squashed," he prepared to descend in a less
hasty manner.  He now saw no particular need for their dining on
durions, at least on that particular day; and therefore discontinued his
task upon the bamboo ladder, which could be completed on the morrow, or
whenever the occasion called for it.



Though the old hen hornbill, after her long and seemingly forced period
of incubation, might not prove such a tender morsel, they were
nevertheless rejoiced at this accession to their now exhausted larder,
and the pilot at once set about plucking her, while Murtagh kindled a
fresh fire.

While they were thus engaged, Henry, who had greatly admired the
ingenuity displayed by Saloo in the construction of his singular ladder,
bethought him of ascending it.  He was led to this exploit partly out of
curiosity to try what such a climb would be like; but more from a desire
to examine the odd nest so discovered--for to him, as to most boys of
his age, a bird's nest was a peculiarly attractive object.  He thought
that Saloo had not sufficiently examined the one first plundered, and
that there might be another bird or an egg behind.  He was not
naturalist enough to know--what the ex-pilot's old Sumatran experience
had long ago taught him--that the hornbill only lays one egg, and brings
forth but a single chick.  Whether or no, he was determined to ascend
and satisfy himself.

He had no fear of being able to climb the tree-ladder.  It did not seem
any more difficult than swarming up the shrouds of a ship, and not half
so hard as going round the main-top without crawling through the
"lubber's hole"--a feat he had often performed on his father's vessel.
Therefore, without asking leave, or saying a word to any one, he laid
hold of the bamboo pegs and started up the tree.

None of the others had taken any notice of him.  Captain Redwood was
engaged in wiping out his gun, with little Helen attending upon him,
while Saloo was playing poulterer, and Murtagh, a little way off in the
woods, gathering faggots for the fire.  Henry kept on, hand over hand,
and foot after foot, till he at length stood upon the topmost round of
the unfinished ladder.  Being almost as tall as Saloo himself, he easily
got his arm into the cavity that contained the nest, and commenced
groping all over it.  He could find no other bird, nor yet an egg.  Only
the dried-up ordure of the denizens that had lately occupied the prison
cell, along with some bits of the shell out of which the young hornbill
had been but recently hatched.

After a moment or two spent in examining the curious cavity, and
reflecting on the odd habit of a bird being thus plastered up and kept
for weeks in close confinement--all, too, done by its own mate, who
surely could not so act from any intention of cruelty--after in vain
puzzling himself as to what could be the object of such a singular
imprisonment, he determined upon returning to the ground, and seeking
the explanation from Saloo.

He had returned upon the topmost step, and was about letting himself
down to that next below, when not only were his ears assailed by sharp
cries, but he suddenly saw his eyes in danger of being dug out of their
sockets by the sharp beak of a bird, whose huge shadowy wings were
flapping before his face!

Although somewhat surprised by the onslaught, so sudden and unexpected--
and at the same time no little alarmed--there was no mystery about the
matter.  For he could see at a glance that the bird so assailing him was
a hornbill; and a moment's reflection told him it was the cock.

Afar off in the forest--no doubt in search of food--catering for his
housekeeper and their new chick, of whose birth he was most probably
aware, he could not have heard her cries of distress; else would he have
rushed to the rescue, and appeared much sooner upon the scene.  But at
length he had arrived; and with one glance gathered in the ruin that had
occurred during his absence.  There was his carefully plastered wall
pulled down, the interior of his domicile laid open, his darlings gone,
no doubt dragged out, throttled and slaughtered, by the young robber
still standing but a step from the door.

The enraged parent did not pause to look downward, else he might have
seen a still more heart-rending spectacle at the bottom of the tree.  He
did not stay for this; on the instant he went swoop at the head of the
destroyer, with a scream that rang far over the forest, and echoed in a
thousand reverberations through the branches of the trees.

Fortunately for Henry, he had on his head a thick cloth cap, with its
crown cotton-padded.  But for this, which served as a helmet, the beak
of the bird would have been into his skull, for at the first dab it
struck right at his crown.

At the second onslaught, which followed quick after, Henry, being
warned, was enabled to ward off the blow, parrying with one hand, while
with the other supporting himself on his perch.  For all this the danger
was not at an end; as the bird, instead of being scared away, or showing
any signs of an intention to retreat, only seemed to become more
infuriated by the resistance, and continued its swooping and screaming
more vigorously and determinedly than ever.  The boy was well aware of
the peril that impended; and so, too, were those below; who, of course,
at the first screech of the hornbill, had looked up and seen what was
passing above them.

They would have called upon him to come down, and he would have done so
without being summoned, if there had been a chance.  But there was none:
for he could not descend a single step without using both hands on the
ladder; and to do this would leave his face and head without protection.
Either left unguarded for a single instant, and the beak of the bird,
playing about like a pickaxe, would be struck into his skull, or buried
deep in the sockets of his eyes.  He knew this, and so also they who
looked from below.  He could do nothing but keep his place, and continue
to fight off the furious assailant with his free arm--the hand getting
torn at each contact, till the blood could be seen trickling from the
tips of his fingers.

It is difficult to say how long this curious contest might have
continued, or how it would have terminated, had the combatants been left
to themselves.  In all probability it would have ended by the boy's
having his skull cleft open or his eyes torn out; or, growing feeble, he
would have lost his hold upon the ladder and fallen to the foot of the
tree--of itself certain death.

It in reality looked as if this would be the lamentable result, and very
quickly.  Saloo had sprung to the tree, and was already ascending to the
rescue.  But for all that he might be too late; or even if successful in
reaching the elevated point where Henry struggled against danger, he
might still be unable to effect his deliverance.  The alarmed father
seemed to fear this, as he stood gazing, with agony depicted on his
face--agony at the thought of seeing his dear boy exposed to such a
fearful peril, and feeling himself so helpless to rescue him.

All at once a thought flashed into his mind, that at least gave him some
relief through the necessity of action.  His rifle, which fortunately
after cleaning he had reloaded, stood resting against the trunk of the
tree.  He sprang toward and seized hold of it.  In another second it was
raised to his shoulder; its muzzle pointed almost vertically upward, and
circling around to get bearing upon the body of the bird.

It was a dangerous shot to take, like that of Tell with the arrow and
the apple.  But it seemed yet more dangerous not to venture it; and with
this reflection passing through his mind he watched the hornbill through
several of its swoopings, and when at length in one of these it receded
to some distance from Henry's face, he took quick sight upon it, and
pulled trigger.

A splendid shot--a broken wing--a huge bird seen fluttering through the
air to the earth--then flopping and screaming over the ground, till its
cries were stilled and its strugglings terminated by a few blows from a
boat-hook held in the hands of the ship-carpenter;--all this was the
spectacle of only a few seconds!



Saloo had by this time climbed to the topmost rounds of the ladder; and
was able to assist Henry in descending, which he did without further
difficulty or danger.

No great harm had happened to him; he had received only a few scratches
and skin-wounds, that would soon yield to careful treatment and the
surgical skill which his father possessed, along with certain herbal
remedies known to Saloo.

They were soon restored to their former state of equanimity, and thought
nothing more of the little incident that had just flurried them, except
to congratulate themselves on having so unexpectedly added to their
stock of provisions the bodies of two great birds, each of respectable
size; to say nothing of the fat featherless chick, which appeared as if
it would make a very _bonne bouche_ for a gourmand.

As we have said, Saloo did not think any more of ascending the
durion-tree, nor they of asking him to do so.  Its fruits might have
served them for dessert, to come after the game upon which they were now
going to dine.

But they were not in condition to care for following the usual fashion
of dining, and least of all did they desire a dinner of different
courses, so long as they had one sufficiently substantial to satisfy the
simple demands of hunger.  The two hornbills promised, each of them, a
fair _piece-de-resistance_, while the fat pult was plainly a titbit, to
be taken either _hors d'oeuvres_, or as an _entree_.

They were not slow in deciding what should be done with the stock so
unexpectedly added to their larder.  In a trice the cock bird was
despoiled of his plumage; the hen having been well-nigh dismantled of
hers already.  The former was trussed and made ready for the spit, the
latter being intended for the pot, on the supposition that boiling might
be better for her toughness.  Murtagh had taken to finishing the
plucking of the hen, while Saloo set about divesting the old cock of his

The chick needed no plucking, nor even to be singed.  Its skin was as
free of covering as the shell of the egg lately containing it.  It was
tender enough to be cooked in any way.  It could be boiled over the
embers, and would make a nice meal for the two young people, and
doubtless greatly benefit their strength.

When the bodies of the old birds were unmasked of their feathery
envelopment, it was seen that they were much smaller than supposed; and,
moreover, that the hen was by many degrees larger in size and fatter
than the cock.  It was but natural, and was due to her sex, as well as
to her long confinement in a dark cell of but limited dimensions, where
she had nothing to do but to rest.

But as the cock bird, after all, was quite as large as a Cochin-China
fowl, and, moreover, in good condition, there would be enough of him to
supply a full repast, without touching either the hen or chick.  So it
was determined that both should be reserved till the following morning,
when no doubt all hands would be again hungry enough for the toughest of

This point settled, the old cock was staked upon a bamboo spit, and set
over the fire, where he soon began to sputter, sending out a savoury
odour that was charmingly appetising.

The hen was at the same time chopped into small pieces, which were
thrown into one of the great shells, along with some seasoning herbs
Saloo had discovered in the neighbouring woods; and as they could now
give the stew plenty of time to simmer, it was expected that before next
day the toughness would be taken out of the meat, and after all it might
prove a palatable dish to people distressed as they had been, and not
caring much for mere dainties.

As they had nothing else to do but watch the spit, now and then turn it,
and wait till the roast should be done, they fell into conversation,
which naturally turned upon hornbills and their habits, Saloo furnishing
most of the information concerning these curious birds.

Captain Redwood had not only seen them before, in the course of his
voyages among the Malayan Archipelago, but he had read about their
habits, and knew that they were found in various parts of the African

They are there called _Korwe (Tockus erythrorhynchus_), and Dr
Livingstone gives an interesting account of them.

He says,--"We passed the nest of a korwe, just ready for the female to
enter; the orifice was plastered on both sides, but a space left of a
heart shape, and exactly the size of the bird's body.  The hole in the
tree was in every case found to be prolonged some distance above the
opening, and thither the korwe always fled to escape being caught."

The first time that Dr Livingstone himself saw the bird, it was caught
by a native, who informed him that when the female hornbill enters her
nest, she submits to a positive confinement.  The male plasters up the
entrance, leaving only a narrow slit by which to feed his mate, and
which exactly suits the form of his beak.  The female makes a nest of
her own feathers, lays her eggs, hatches them, and remains with the
young till they are fully fledged.  During all this time, which is
stated to be two or three months, the male continues to feed her and her
young family.

Strange to say, the prisoner generally becomes fat, and is esteemed a
very dainty morsel by the natives, while the poor slave of a husband
gets so lean that, on the sudden lowering of the temperature, which
sometimes happens after a fall of rain, he is benumbed, falls down, and

It is somewhat unusual, as Captain Redwood remarked, for the prisoner to
fatten, while the keeper pines!

The toucan of South America also forms her nest in the cavity of a tree,
and, like the hornbill, plasters up the aperture with mud.

The hornbill's beak, added Captain Redwood, is slightly curved,
sharp-pointed, and about two inches long.

While the body of the rooster was sputtering away in the bright blaze,
Saloo entertained the party by telling them what _he_ knew about the
habits of the hornbills; and this was a good deal, for he had often
caught them in the forests of Sumatra.  It may be remarked here, that
many of the natives of the Malayan Archipelago possess a considerable
knowledge of natural history, at least of its practical part.  The
reason is, that the Dutch, who own numerous settlements throughout these
islands, have always been great taxidermists and skin-preservers, and to
procure specimens for them and obtain the reward, has naturally
originated a race of collectors among the native people.  Saloo himself
had been one of these bird-hunters, in early life, before taking to the
sea, which last, as a general thing, is the favourite element and
profession of a Malay.

He told them that he knew of two kinds of hornbill in his native island
of Sumatra, but that he had seen the skins of several other species in
the hands of the taxidermists, brought from various islands, as well as
from the mainland of India, Malacca, and Cochin-China.  They were all
large birds, though some were smaller than the others; mostly black,
with white markings about the throat and breast.  He said that their
nests are always built in the hollow of a tree, in the same way as the
one he had robbed, and the entrance to them invariably plastered up with
mud in a similar fashion, leaving a hole just big enough to allow the
beak of the hen to be passed out, and opened a little for the reception
of the food brought to her by her mate.  It is the cock that does the
"bricking up," Saloo said, bringing the "mortar" from the banks of some
neighbouring pool or stream and laying it on with his beak.  He begins
the task as soon as the hen takes her seat upon her solitary egg.  The
hen is kept in her prison not only during the full period of incubation,
but long after; in fact, until the young chick becomes a full fledgling,
and can fly out of itself.  During all this time the imprisoned bird is
entirely dependent on her mate for every morsel of food required, either
by herself or for the sustenance of the nursling, and, of course, has to
trust to his fidelity, in which he never fails.  The hornbills, however,
like the eagles, and many other rapacious birds, though not otherwise of
a very amiable disposition, are true to the sacred ties of matrimony.
So said Saloo, though not in this exact phraseology.

"But what if the ould cock shud get killed?" suggested Murtagh.
"Supposin' any accident was to prevint him from returnin' to the nest?
Wud the hen have to stay there an' starve?"

Saloo could not answer this question.  It was a theory he had never
thought of, or a problem that had not come under his experience.
Possibly it might be so; but it was more likely that her imprisonment
within the tree cave, being an act agreed to on her part, was more
apparent than real, and that she could break through the mud barricade,
and set herself free whenever she had a mind to do so.

This was the more probable view of the case, and terminated the
discussion on natural history; or rather, it was brought to a close by
their perceiving that the bird upon the bamboo stake was done to a turn,
and they were by this time too hungry to think of anything else than
eating it.

So off it came from the spit, and at it they went with a will, Saloo
acting as carver, and distributing the roast joints all around, taking
care to give the tenderest bits of breast to the children, and to Helen
the liver wing.

They were all very cheerful in commencing their supper, but their strain
was changed to sadness even before they had finished it.



It was near upon sundown when the roast fowl was taken from the spit,
carved, and distributed among them.  The fire over which they had cooked
it was close to the trunk of the tree under whose shade they intended to
pass the night.  It was not the one they had chosen after being driven
from the durion, but another, with far-spreading branches and green
glossy leaves growing thickly upon them, which promised a better
protection from the dews of the night.  They needed this, as they had
not yet thought of erecting any other roof.  The only thing in the shape
of shelter they had set up was the tarpaulin, spread awning fashion over
four uprights, which held it at the four corners; but this was barely
sufficient to furnish the two young people with a sleeping-place.

After removing the roast fowl from the spit, they had not permitted
their fire to die out.  On the contrary, Murtagh, in whose charge it
was, threw on some fresh faggots.  They intended keeping it up through
the night, not to scare away wild beasts, for, as already said, they had
no fear of these; but because the atmosphere toward midnight usually
became damp and chilly, and they would need the fire to keep them warm.

It was quite sunset by the time they had finished eating the roast
hornbill, and as there is but little twilight under or near the equator,
the darkness came down almost instantaneously.  By the light of the
blazing faggots they picked the bones of the bird, and picked them
clean.  But they had scarce dropped the drumsticks and other bones out
of their fingers, when one and all fell violently sick.

A sensation of vertigo had been growing upon them, which, as soon as the
meal was over, became nausea, and shortly after ended in vomiting.  It
was natural they should feel alarmed.  Had only one been ill, they might
have ascribed the illness to some other cause; but now, when all five
were affected at the same time, and with symptoms exactly similar, they
could have no other belief than that it was owing to what they had
eaten, and that the flesh of the hornbill had caused their sickness--
perhaps poisoned them.

Could this be?  Was it possible for the flesh of a bird to be poisonous?
Was that of a hornbill so?  These questions were quickly asked of one
another, but more especially addressed to Saloo.  The Malay did not
believe it was.  He had eaten hornbills before, and more than once; had
seen others eat them; but had never known or heard of the dish being
followed by symptoms similar to those now affecting and afflicting them.

The bird itself might have eaten something of a poisonous nature, which,
although it had not troubled its own stomach, acted as an emetic upon
theirs.  There was some probability in this conjecture; at all events
the sufferers thought so for a time, since there seemed no other way of
accounting for the illness which had so suddenly seized upon them.

At first they were not so very greatly alarmed, for they could not
realise the idea that they had been absolutely poisoned.  A little
suffering and it would be all over, when they would take good care not
to eat roast hornbill again.  No, nor even stewed or broiled; so that
now the old hen and her young one were no longer looked upon as so much
provision ahead.  Both would be thrown away, to form food for the first
predatory creature that might chance to light upon them.

As time passed, however, and the sufferers, instead of feeling relieved,
only seemed to be growing worse--the vertigo and nausea continuing,
while the vomiting was renewed in frequent and violent attacks--they at
length became seriously alarmed, believing themselves poisoned to death.

They knew not what to do.  They had no medicine to act as an antidote;
and if they had been in possession of all the drugs in the
pharmacopoeia, they would not have known which to make use of.  Had it
been the bite of a venomous snake or other reptile, the Malay,
acquainted with the usual native remedies, might have found some
herbaceous balsam in the forest; though in the darkness there would have
been a difficulty about this, since it was now midnight, and there was
no moon in the sky--no light to look for anything.  They could scarcely
see one another, and each knew where his neighbours lay only by hearing
their moans and other exclamations of distress.

As the hours dragged on wearily, they became still more and more
alarmed.  They seriously believed that death was approaching.  A
terrible contemplation it was, after all they had passed through; the
perils of shipwreck, famine, thirst; the danger of being drowned; one of
them escaping from a hideous reptile; another from the coils of a
serpent; a third from having his skull cracked in by a fallen fruit, and
afterwards split open by the beak of an angry bird.  Now, after all
these hairbreadth perils and escapes, to be poisoned by eating the flesh
of this very bird--to die in such simple and apparently causeless
fashion; though it may seem almost ridiculous, it was to them not a whit
the less appalling.  And appalled they were, as time passed, and they
felt themselves growing worse instead of better.  They were surely
poisoned--surely going to die.



Long with the agonising pain--for the sensations they experienced were
exceedingly painful--there was confusion in their thoughts, and
wandering in their speech.  The feeling was somewhat to that of
sea-sickness in its worst form; and they felt that reckless indifference
to death so characteristic of the sufferer from this very common, but
not the less painful, complaint.  Had the sea, seething and surging
against the beach so near them, broken beyond its boundaries, and swept
over the spot where they lay, not one of them, in all probability, would
have stirred hand or foot to remove themselves out of its reach.
Drowning--death in any form--would at that moment have seemed preferable
to the tortures they were enduring.

They did not lie still.  At times one or another would get up and stray
from under the tree.  But the nausea continued, accompanied by the
horrid retching; their heads swam, their steps tottered, and staggering
back, they would fling themselves down despairingly, hoping, almost
praying, for death to put an end to their agonies.  It was likely soon
to do so.

During all, Captain Redwood showed that he was thinking less of himself
than his children.  Willingly would he have lain down and died, could
that have secured their surviving him.  But it was a fate that
threatened all alike.  On this account, he was wishing that either he or
one of his comrades, Murtagh or Saloo, might outlive the young people
long enough to give them the rites of sepulture.  He could not bear the
thought that the bodies of his two beautiful children were to be left
above ground, on the desolate shore, their flesh to be torn from them by
the teeth of ravenous beasts or the beaks of predatory birds--their
bones to whiten and moulder under the sun and storms of the tropics.

Despite the pain he was himself enduring, he secretly communicated his
wishes to Murtagh and the Malay, imploring them to obey what might be
almost deemed a dying request.

Parting speeches were from time to time exchanged in the muttered tones
of despair.  Prayers were said aloud, unitedly, and by all of them
silently in their own hearts.

After this, Captain Redwood lay resignedly, his children, one on each
side of him, nestling within his arms, their heads pillowed upon his
breast close together.  They also held one another by the hand, joined
in affectionate embrace across the breast of their father.  Not many
words were spoken between them; only, now and then, some low murmurs,
which betokened the terrible pain they felt, and the fortitude both
showed in enduring it.

Now and then, too, their father spoke to them.  At first he had essayed
to cheer them with words of encouragement; but as time passed, these
seemed to sound hollow in their ears as well as his own, and he changed
them to speeches enjoining resignation, and words that told of the
"Better Land".  He reminded them that their mother was there, and they
should all soon join her.  They would go to her together; and how happy
this would be after their toils and sufferings; after so many perils and
fatigues, it would be but pleasure to find rest in heaven.

In this way he tried to win their thoughts from dwelling on the terrors
of death, every moment growing darker and seeming nearer.

The fire burned down, smouldered, and went out.  No one had thought of
replenishing it with fuel.  Though there were faggots enough collected
not far off, the toil of bringing them forward seemed too much for their
wasted strength and deadened energies.  Fire could be of no service to
them now.  It had done them no good while ablaze; and since it had gone
out, they cared not to renew it.  If they were to die, their last
moments could scarcely be more bitter in darkness than in light.

Still Captain Redwood wished for light.  He wished for it, so that he
might once more look upon the faces of his two sweet suffering pets,
before the pallor of death should overspread them.  He would perhaps
have made an effort to rekindle the fire, or requested one of the others
to do it; but just then, on turning his eyes to the east, he saw a
greyish streak glimmering above the line of the sea-horizon.  He knew it
was the herald of coming day; and he knew, moreover, that, in the
latitude they were in, the day itself would not linger long behind.

"Thank God!" was the exclamation that came from his lips, low muttered,
but in fervent emphasis.  "Thank God, I shall see them once more!
Better their lives should not go out in the darkness."

As he spoke the words, and as if to gratify him, the streak on the
eastern sky seemed rapidly to grow broader and brighter, its colour of
pale grey changing to golden yellow; and soon after, the upper limb of
the glorious tropical sun showed itself over the smooth surface of the
Celebes Sea.

As his cheering rays touched the trees of the forest, then eyes were
first turned upon one another, and then in different directions.  Those
of Captain Redwood rested upon the faces of his children, now truly
overspread with the wan pallor of what seemed to be rapidly approaching

Murtagh gazed wistfully out upon the ocean, as if wishing himself once
more upon it, and no doubt thinking of that green isle far away beyond
it; while Saloo's glance was turned upward--not toward the heavens, but
as if he was contemplating some object among the leaves of the tree

All at once the expression upon his countenance took a change--
remarkable as it was sudden.  From the look of sullen despair, which but
the moment before might have been seen gleaming out of the sunken orbits
of his eyes, his glance seemed to change to one of joy, almost with the
quickness of the lightning's flash.

Simultaneous with the change, he sprang up from his reclining position,
uttering as he did so an exclamation in the Malayan tongue, which his
companions guessed to be some formula of address to the Deity, from its
ending with the word "Allah."

"De gleat God be thank!" he continued, returning to his "pigeon
English," so that the others might understand.  "We all be save.  Buld
no poison.  We no die yet.  Come away, cappen," he continued, bending
down, and seizing the children by the hands.  Then raising both on their
feet, he quickly added, "Come all away.  Unda de tlee death.  Out yonda
we findee life.  Come away--way."

Without waiting for the consent either of them or their father, he led--
indeed, almost dragged--Helen and Henry from under the shadow of the
tree and out toward the open sea-beach.

Though Captain Redwood did not clearly comprehend the object of Saloo's
sudden action, nor Murtagh comprehend it at all, both rose to their
feet, and followed with tottering steps.

Not until they had got out upon the open ground, and sat down upon the
sand, with the fresh sea-breeze fanning their fevered brows, did Saloo
give an explanation of his apparently eccentric behaviour.

He did so by pointing to the tree under which they had passed the night,
and pronouncing only the one word--"Upas."




A word sufficient to explain all that had passed.  Both Captain Redwood
and his ship-carpenter understood its signification; for what man is
there who has ever sailed through the islands of the India Archipelago
without having heard of the upas?  Indeed, who in any part of the world
has not either heard or read of this poisonous tree, supposed to carry
death to every living thing for a wide distance around it, not even
sparing shrubs or plants--things of its own kind--but inflicting blight
and destruction wherever its envenomed breath may be wafted on the

Captain Redwood was a man of too much intelligence, and too
well-informed, to have belief in this fabulous tale of the olden time.
Still he knew there was enough truth in it to account for all that had
occurred--for the vertigo and vomiting, the horrible nausea and utter
prostration of strength that had come upon them unconsciously.  They had
made their camp under one of these baneful trees--the true upas
(_antiaris toxicaria_); they had kindled a fire beneath it, building it
close to the trunk--in fact, against it; the smoke had ascended among
its leaves; the heat had caused a sudden exudation of the sap; and the
envenomed vapour floating about upon the air had freely found its way
both into their mouths and nostrils.  For hours had this empoisoned
atmosphere been their only breath, nearly depriving them of that upon
which their lives depended.

If still suffering severely from the effects of having inhaled the
noxious vapour, they were now no longer wretched.  Their spirits were
even restored to a degree of cheerfulness, as is always the case with
those who have just escaped from some calamity or danger.  They now knew
that in due time they would recover their health and strength.  The
glorious tropical sun that had arisen was shining benignantly in their
faces, and brightening everything around, while the breeze, blowing
fresh upon them from a serene sapphire-coloured sea, cooled their
fevered blood.  They felt already reviving.  The sensations they
experienced were those of one who, late suffering from sea-sickness,
pent up in the state-room of a storm-tossed ship, with all its vile
odours around him, has been suddenly transferred to _terra firma_, and
laid upon some solid bank, grassy or moss-grown, with tall trees waving
above, and the perfume of flowers floating upon the balmy air.

For a long while they sat upon the sands in this pleasant dreamy state,
gazing upon the white surf that curled over the coral reefs, gazing upon
the blue water beyond, following the flight of large white-winged birds
that now and then went plunging down into the sea, to rise up with a
fish glistening in their beaks, half unconscious of the scene under
their eyes and the strife continuing before them, but conscious,
contented, and even joyous at knowing they still lived, and that the
time had not yet come for them to die.

They no longer blamed the hornbill for what had happened.  The cause was
in their own carelessness or imprudence; for Captain Redwood knew the
upas-tree, and was well aware of its dangerous properties to those
venturing into too close proximity.  He had seen it in other islands;
for it grows not only in Java, with which its name is more familiarly
identified, but in Bali, Celebes, and Borneo.  He had seen it elsewhere,
and heard it called by different names, according to the different
localities, as _tayim, hippo, upo, antijar_, and _upas_; all signifying
the same thing--the "tree of poison."

Had he been more careful about the selection of their camping-place, and
looked upon its smooth reddish or tan-coloured bark and closely-set
leaves of glossy green, he would have recognised and shunned it.  He did
not do so; for who at such a time could have been thinking of such a
catastrophe?  Under a tree whose shade seemed so inviting, who would
have suspected that danger was lurking, much less that death dwelt among
its leaves and branches?

The first had actually arisen, and the last had been very near.  But it
was now far away, or at least no longer to be dreaded from the poison of
the upas.  The sickness caused by it would continue for a while, and it
might be some time before their strength or energies would be fully
restored.  But of dying there was no danger, as the poison of the upas
does not kill, when only inhaled as a vapour; unless the inhalation be a
long time continued.  Its sap taken internally, by the chewing of its
leaves, bark, or root, is certain death, and speedy death.  It is one of
the ingredients used by the Bornean Dyaks for tipping their poisoned
spears, and the arrows of their _sumpitans_ or blow-guns.  They use it
in combination with the _bina_, another deadly poison, extracted from
the juice of a parasitical plant found everywhere through the forests of

It is singular that the upas-tree should belong to the same natural
order, the Artocarpaceae, as the bread-fruit; the tree of death thus
being connected with the tree of life.  In some of the Indian islands it
is called _Popon-upas_; in Java it is known as the _Antijar_.

Its leaves are shaped like spear-heads; the fruit is a kind of drupe,
clothed in fleshy scales.

The juice, when prepared as a poison, is sometimes mixed with black
pepper, and the juice of galanga-root, and of ginger.  It is as thick as
molasses, and will keep for a long time if sheltered from the action of
the air.

The upas does not grow as a gregarious tree, and is nowhere found in
numbers.  Like the precious treasures of nature--gold, diamonds, and
pearls--her poisons, too, happily for man, are sparsely distributed.
Even in the climate and soil congenial to it, the _antiaris toxicaria_
is rare; but wherever discovered is sure to be frequently visited, if in
a district where there are hunters or warriors wishing to empoison and
make more deadly their shafts.  A upas-tree in a well-known
neighbourhood is usually disfigured by seams and scars, where incisions
have been made to extract its envenomed juice.

That there were no such marks upon the one where they had made their
camp, was evidence that the neighbourhood was uninhabited.  So said
Saloo, and the others were but too glad to accept his interpretation of
the sign.



Reclining on the soft silvery sand, inhaling the fresh morning breeze
blowing in from the Celebes Sea, every breath of it seeming to infuse
fresh blood into their veins and renewed vigour into their limbs, the
castaways felt their health and strength fast returning.  Saloo's
prognosis was rapidly proving itself correct.  He had said they would
soon recover, and they now acknowledged the truth of his prediction.

Their cheerfulness came back along with their returning strength, and
with this also their appetites.  Their dinner-supper of roast hornbill
had done them little good; but although for a time scared by such diet,
and determined to eschew it when better could be had, they were now only
too glad to resort to it, and it was agreed upon that the old hen,
stewed as intended, should supply the material of their breakfast.

A fresh fire was kindled far away from the dangerous upas; the huge
shell, with its contents, was hastily snatched from the deadly shade,
and, supported by four large pebbles to serve as feet for the queer
stew-pan, it was placed over the burning embers, and soon commenced to
steam and squeak, spreading around an odorous incense, far pleasanter to
the olfactories of the hungry party than either the fresh saline breeze,
or the perfume of tropical flowers now and then wafted to them from the
recesses of the forest.

While waiting for the flesh of the old hen to get properly and tenderly
stewed, they could not resist the temptation of making an assault upon
the chick; and it, too, was hurriedly rescued from the tainted larder
beneath the upas-tree, spitted upon a bamboo sapling, and broiled like a
squab-pigeon over the incandescent brands.

It gave them only a small morsel each, serving as a sort of prelude to
the more substantial breakfast soon to follow, and for which they could
now wait with greater composure.

In due time Saloo, who was wonderfully skilled in the tactics of the
forest _cuisine_, pronounced the stew sufficiently done; when the
stew-pan was lifted from the fire, and set in the soft sand for its
contents to cool.

Soon gathering around it, each was helped to a share: one to a wing with
liver or gizzard, another to a thigh-joint with a bit of the breast, a
third to the stripped breast-bone, or the back one, with its thin
covering of flesh, a fourth to a variety of stray giblets.

There was still a savoury sauce remaining in the pan, due to the herb
condiments which Saloo had collected.  This was served out in some tin
pannikins, which the castaway crew had found time to fling into the boat
before parting from the sinking ship.  It gave them a soup, which, if
they could only have had biscuits or bread with it, would have been
quite as good as coffee for their breakfast.

As soon as this was eaten, they took steps to change their place of
encampment.  Twice unfortunate in the selection of a site, they were now
more particular, and carefully scrutinised the next tree under whose
shadow they intended to take up their abode.  A spreading fig not far
off invited them to repose beneath its umbrageous foliage; and removing;
their camp paraphernalia from the poison-breathing; upas, they once more
erected the tarpaulin, and recommenced housekeeping under the protecting
shelter of a tree celebrated in the Hindu mythology as the "sacred

  "It was a goodly sight to see
  That venerable tree
  For o'er the lawn, irregularly spread.
  Fifty straight columns propt its lofty head;
  And many a long depending shoot,
  Seeking to strike its root,
  Straight like a plummet grew towards the ground.
  Some on the lower boughs which crost their way,
  Fixing their bearded fibres, round and round,
  With many a ring and wild contortion wound;
  Some to the passing wind at times, with sway
  Of gentle motion swung;
  Others of younger growth, unmoved, were hung
  Like stone-drops from a cavern's fretted height."

The banyan often measures thirty feet in girth; the one selected by
Captain Redwood was probably not less than twenty-five feet.  Its
peculiarity is that it throws out roots from all its branches, so that
as fast as each branch, in growing downwards, touches the ground, it
takes root, and in due time serves as a substantial prop to the
horizontal bough, which, without some such support, would give way
beneath its own weight.

They intended it for only a temporary dwelling-place, until their
strength should be sufficiently established to enable them to start on
their contemplated overland journey, with a prospect of being able to
continue it to its end.

It seemed, at length, as if fortune, hitherto so adverse, had turned a
smiling face toward them; and they were not much longer to be detained
upon that wild and dangerous shore.  For the same day on which they
removed from the upas to the fig-tree, the latter furnished them with an
article of food in sufficient quantity to stock their larder for nearly
a week, and of a quality superior in strengthening powers to either
roast or stewed hornbill, and quite equal to the eggs of the
mound-making birds.

It was not the fruit of the fig that had done this; but an animal they
had discovered crawling along one of its branches.  It was a reptile of
that most hideous and horrid shape, the _saurian_; and only the
hungriest man could ever have looked upon, with thoughts of eating it.
But Saloo felt no repugnance of this kind; he knew that the huge lizard
creeping along the limb of the banyan-tree, over five feet long, and
nearly as thick as the body of a man, would afford flesh not only
eatable, but such as would have been craved for by Apicius, had the
Roman epicure ever journeyed through the islands of the Malayan
Archipelago, and found an opportunity of making trial of it.

What they saw slowly traversing the branch above them was one of those
huge lizards of the genus _Hydrosaurus_, of which there are several
species in Indian climes--like the _iguanas_ of America--harmless
creatures, despite their horrid appearance, and often furnishing to the
hunter or forester a meal of chops and steaks both tender and delicious.

With this knowledge of what it would afford them, Saloo had no
difficulty in persuading Captain Redwood to send a bullet through the
skull of the _hydrosaurus_, and it soon lay lifeless upon the ground.

The lizard was nigh six feet from snout to tail; and Saloo, assisted by
Murtagh, soon slipped a piece of his vegetable rope around its jaws, and
slung it up to a horizontal branch for the purpose of skinning it.  Thus
suspended, with limbs and arms sticking out, it bore a very disagreeable
resemblance to a human being just hanged.  Saloo did not care anything
about this, but at once commenced peeling off its skin; and then he cut
the body into quarters, and subdivided them into "collops," which were
soon sputtering in the blaze of a bright fire.  As the Malay had
promised, these proved tender, tasting like young pork steaks, with a
slight flavour of chicken, and just a _soupcon_ of frog.  Delicate as
they were, however, after three days' dieting upon them all felt
stronger--almost strong enough, indeed, to commence their grand journey.

Just then another, and still more strengthening, kind of food was added
to their larder.  It was obtained by a mere accident, in the form of a
huge wild boar of the Bornean species, which, scouring the forest in
search of fruits or roots, had strayed close to their camp under the
fig-tree.  He came too close for his own safety; a bullet from Captain
Redwood's rifle having put an abrupt stop to his "rootings."

Butchered in proper scientific fashion, he not only afforded them food
for the time in the shape of pork chops, roast ribs, and the like; but
gave them a couple of hams, which, half-cooked and cured by smoking,
could be carried as a sure supply upon the journey.

And so provisioned, they at length determined on commencing it, taking
with them such articles of the wreck-salvage as could be conveniently
transferred, and might prove beneficial.  Bidding adieu to the pinnace,
the dear old craft which had so safely carried them through the dangers
of the deep, they embarked on a voyage of a very different kind, in the
courses of which they were far less skilled, and of whose tracks and
perils they were even more apprehensive.  But they had no other
alternative.  To remain on the eastern coast of Borneo would be to stay
there for ever.  They could not entertain the slightest hope of any ship
appearing off shore to rescue them.  A vessel so showing itself would
be, in all probability, a prau filled with bloodthirsty pirates, who
would either kill or make captives of them, and afterwards sell them
into slavery: and a slavery from which no civilised power could redeem
them, as no civilised man might ever see them in their chains.

It was from knowing this terrible truth that Captain Redwood had
resolved upon crossing the great island overland at that part where he
supposed it to be narrowest,--the neck lying between its eastern coast
and the old Malayan town of Bruni on the west, adjacent to the islet of
Labuan, where he knew an English settlement was situated.

In pursuance of this determination, he struck camp, and moved forward
into a forest of unknown paths and mysterious perils.



In undertaking the journey across Borneo, Captain Redwood knew there
would be many difficulties to encounter, as well as dangers.  There was
first the great distance, which could not be much less than two hundred
and fifty miles, even if they should succeed in making it in a straight
line--as the crow flies.  But, no doubt, obstructions would present
themselves along the route to cause many a detour.  Still this was an
obstacle which time would overcome.  At the rate of ten miles a day, it
would be conquered in a month; and if two months should have to be
spent, it would not be a very formidable hardship, considering that it
was a journey overtaken to carry them through a savage wilderness, and
restore them to civilisation--nay, almost to life.

That it was to be made on foot did not dismay them, they had quite
recovered from the effects of their sea-suffering, as also from the
poisonous breath of the upas, and felt strong enough to undertake any
great feat of pedestrianism.  And, as they were under no limits as to
time, they could adopt such a rate of speed as the nature of the paths
would permit.  On this score there was neither apprehension nor
uneasiness; there might have been about provisions, as the cured hams of
the wild boar could not possibly last longer than a week; and what were
they to eat after these were consumed?

Saloo set their minds at rest on this matter, by telling them that the
interior forests of Borneo--which he did not know--if they at all
resembled those of Sumatra--which he did know--would be found full of
fruit-bearing trees; and, besides, numerous chances would arise for
killing or capturing birds and other small game, even if a deer or a
second wild boar did not present himself.  In order to be prepared for
any such that might come in his way, as well as to save their
ammunition, of which they had but a limited supply, Saloo had spent the
last few days of their sojourn upon the coast in the manufacture of a
weapon well suited for such a purpose, even better than musket or rifle.
It was the "Sumpitan," or blow-gun.  This the Malay had made, along
with a complete set of "sumpits," or arrows, and a quiver to contain
them.  The sumpitan itself--eight feet in length--he fashioned from a
straight sapling of the beautiful _casuarina_ tree, which grows
throughout the islands of the Malayan Archipelago; while the little
arrows, only eight inches long, he obtained from the medium of the
leaflets of the _nibong_ palms, many of which were found near the spot
where they had encamped.  The pith of the same palm served him for the
swell of the arrow, which, being compressible like cork, fills up the
tube of the sumpitan, and renders the shaft subject to propulsion from
the quick puff of breath which the blow-gun marksman, from long
practice, knows how to give it.

Saloo had been one of the best sumpitan shooters in all Sumatra, and
could send an arrow with true aim a distance of a hundred and fifty
yards.  But to make its effect deadly at this distance, something more
than the mere pricking of the tiny "sumpit" was needed.  This something
was a strong vegetable poison which he also knew how to prepare; and the
upas-tree, that had so nearly proved fatal to all of them, was now
called into requisition to effect a friendly service.  Drawing upon its
sap, and mixing it with that of another poisonous plant--the _bina_--
Saloo gave the points of his sumpits a coating of the combined juices,
so that they would carry death into the veins of any animal having the
ill-fortune to be pierced by them.

Thus armed and equipped, he had little fear on the score of a scarcity
of provisions during the journey.  On the contrary, he declared himself
confident of being able to keep the commissariat up to a point of supply
sufficient for the whole party.

It may be thought strange that they did not speculate on the chances of
arriving at some town or settlement of the natives.  Indeed they did so,
but only with the thought of avoiding them; for the minds of all--the
Malay not excepted--were filled with apprehensions respecting the Dyak
and other savage tribes, which report places in the interior of Borneo,
and to whom long accredited, though perhaps only imaginative, stories
have given a character alike terrible and mysterious.  They could think
of them only as savages--wild men of the woods--some of them covered
with hair, and whose chief delight and glory are the cutting off men's
heads, and not unfrequently feasting on men's flesh!  No wonder that,
with these facts, or fancies, acting upon their imagination, our
travellers set forth upon their journey determined to give a wide berth
to everything that bore the shape of a human being.  It was a strange
commentary on man's superiority to the lower animals, and not very
creditable to the former, that he himself was the thing they most feared
to meet with in the wooded wilderness.  And yet, humiliating as the
reflection may appear, it depressed the minds of the castaways, as,
looking their last upon the bright blue sea, they turned their faces
toward the interior of the forest-covered land of Borneo.

For the first day they pursued a course leading along the bank of the
stream at whose mouth they had been sojourning ever since their arrival
on the island.  They had more than one reason for keeping to the stream.
It seemed to flow in a due easterly direction, and therefore to ascend
it would lead them due west--the way they wanted to go.  Besides, there
was a path along its banks, not made by man, but evidently by large
animals; whose tracks, seen here and there in soft places, showed them
to be tapirs, wild-boars, and the larger but more rare rhinoceros.

They saw none of these animals during their day's journey, though many
of the traces were fresh.  Generally nocturnal in their habits, the huge
pachydermatous creatures that had made them were, during daylight,
probably lying asleep in their lairs, amid the thick underwood of the
adjacent jungles.

The travellers might have brought the pinnace up the river--so far it
was deep enough to be navigated by a row-boat; and they had at first
thought of doing so.  But for several reasons they had changed their
minds, and abandoned their boat.  It was too heavy to be easily
propelled by oars, especially against the current of a stream which in
many places was very rapid.  Besides, if there should be a settlement of
savages on the bank, to approach in a boat would just be the way to
expose themselves to being seen, without first seeing.

But to Captain Redwood the chief objection was, that a mountain-range
rose only a short distance off, and the stream appeared to issue from
its steep sloping side; in which case it would soon assume the character
of a headlong torrent utterly unfit for navigation.  Even had water
travel been easier, it could not have been long continued--perhaps not
beyond a single day; and it was not deemed worth while to bring the
pinnace with them.  So thought the captain, and the others agreeing, the
boat was left where they had long since concealed her--under the

The captain's conjectures proved correct.  The evening of the first
day's march brought them to the base of the mountain-ridge, down whose
rocky flank the stream poured with the strength and velocity of a
torrent.  No boat could have further ascended it.

As the path leading along its edge, and hitherto comparatively level and
smooth, now changed to a difficult ascent up a rough rock-strewn ravine,
they encamped at the mountain-foot for the first night of their journey.

Next day was spent in ascending the mountain; following the ravine up to
its head, where were found the sources of the stream.  Staying only for
a short noon-tide rest, they kept upward, and reached the highest point
of the ridge just as the sun was again sinking into the depths of the
forest before them.

At their camping-place on the second night no water was near; and they
might have suffered from the want of it, had they not taken the
precaution to provide against such a deficiency.  Their experience as
castaways, especially the memory of their sufferings from thirst, had
rendered them wary of being again subjected to so terrible a torture.
Each of the three men carried a "canteen" strung to his waist--the joint
of a large bamboo that held at least half a gallon; while the boy and
girl also had their cane canteens, proportioned to their size and
strength.  All had been filled with cool clear water before leaving the
last source of the stream, a supply sufficient to serve during their
transit of the dry mountain-ridge.

The remainder of that night was spent upon its summit; but as this
proved of considerable breadth, and was covered with a thick growth of
jungle-trees, it was near sunset the next day before they arrived at the
edge of its eastern declivity, and obtained a view of the country

The sun was descending behind the crest of another mountain-ridge,
apparently parallel with that upon which they were, and not less than
twenty miles distant from it.  Between the two extended a valley, or
rather a level plain, thickly covered with forest, except where a sheet
of water gleamed in the setting sun like a disc of liquid gold.

Nor was the plain all level.  Here and there, above the wooded surface,
rose isolated hills, of rounded mound-like shape, also clothed with
timber, but with trees whose foliage, of lighter sheen, showed them to
be of species different from those on the plain below.

Through a break among the branches of those now shadowing them on the
mountain brow, the travellers for some time contemplated the country
before them, and across which, upon the morrow, they would have to make
their way.

At this moment Saloo muttered some words, which, coupled with the
expression upon his countenance as he gave utterance to them, alarmed
his companions.  The words were,--

"It lookee like countly of _mias lombi_.  Cappen Ledwad, if dat wild
debbel lib in dem wood below, bettel we go all lound.  We tly closs it,
may be we get eat up.  Singapo tiga not so dang'lous as _mias_--he not
common kind, but gleat _mias lombi_--what Poltugee people callee `_led

"The _red gorilla_!" ejaculated Captain Redwood.  "Is it the
_ourang-outang_ you mean?"

"Same ting, Sahib cappen.  Some call him _oolang-ootang_, some say _led
golilla_.  One kind belly big--belly bad--he call _mias lombi_.  He
cally away women, childen; take 'em up into top ob de highest tallee
tlee.  Nobody know what he do then.  Eat 'em up may be.  What fol else
he want 'em?  Ah!  Cappen Ledwad, we dlead de oolang-Dyak.  He no half
dang'lous like oolang-ootang led golilla."

Notwithstanding the _patois_ of his speech, what Saloo said was well
enough understood by his companions, for in the _led golilla_ or
_oolang-ootang_ of his peculiar pronunciation, they recognised the long
known and world-renowned ape of Borneo, which, although safe enough when
seen inside the cage of the showman, is a creature to be dreaded--at
least the species spoken of--when encountered in its native haunts, the
forests of Sumatra and Borneo.



Next morning they did not start so early, because the great plain before
them was shrouded under a fog, and they waited for it to pass off.

It was not dispelled until the sun had risen in the heavens behind them,
for their backs were still to the east, their route lying due westward.

During the night, and again in the morning, they had discussed the
question of striking straight across the plain, or making a circuitous
march around it.  When the fog at length lifted, this point was
definitely settled by what they saw before and on each side of them,
that the great valley plain extended both to right and left beyond the
limits of their vision.  To go round it might add scores of miles and
many days to their journey.  They could not think of taking such a
circuitous route, even with the fear of the wild men before them; a
danger Captain Redwood believed to be greatly exaggerated by the Malay,
who in such matters was of a somewhat imaginative turn.  Throwing aside
all thought of such an encounter, they struck down the mountain slope,
determined on crossing the plain.

It was sunset when they arrived at the mountain-foot, and another night
was passed there.

On the following morning they commenced the passage of the plain; which
introduced them to a very different and much more difficult kind of
travelling than any they had experienced since leaving the sea-coast.
Some parts of their journey, both in the ascent and descent, had been
toilsome enough; but the slopes, as well as the summits, were
comparatively clear of underwood.  On the low level it was quite another
affair.  The huge forest-trees were loaded with parasitical creepers,
which, stretching from trunk to trunk in all directions, formed here and
there an impenetrable net or trellis-work.  In such places the kris of
Saloo, and the ship's axe carried by Murtagh, were called into
requisition, and much time was expended in cutting a way through the
tangled growth.

Another kind of obstacle was also occasionally met with, in the brakes
of bamboo, where these gigantic canes, four or five inches in diameter,
and rising to a height of over fifty feet, grew so close together that
even a snake would have found difficulty in working its way through
them.  Fortunately, their stems being hollow, they are easily brought
down, and a single stroke from the axe, or even Saloo's sharp kris,
given slantingly, would send one of them crashing over, its leafy top
bearing along with it the long ribbon-like leaves of many others.

One of these cane brakes proved to be upwards of a mile in width, and
its passage delayed them at least three hours.  They might have
attempted to get round it, but they did not know how far it extended.
Possibly ten or twenty miles--for the bamboo thickets often run in
belts, their growth being due to the presence of some narrow water
track, or the course of a stream.  In the Indian Archipelago are several
species of these tall canes, usually known by the general name of
_bamboo_, though differing from each other in size and other respects.
They furnish to the inhabitants of these islands the material for almost
every article required for their domestic economy--as the various
species of palms do to the natives of South America--more especially the
denizens of the great Amazon valley.  Not only are their houses
constructed of bamboo, but the greater portion of their praus; while
utensils of many kinds, cups, bottles, and water-casks of the best make,
are obtained from its huge joints, cheaply and conveniently.  A bare
catalogue of bamboo tools and utensils would certainly occupy several

Notwithstanding its valuable properties, our travellers hated the sight
of it; and more than once the Irishman, as he placed his axe upon the
silicious culms, was heard to speak disrespectfully about it, "weeshin'
that there wasn't a stalk of the cane in all Burnayo."

But another kind of obstruction vexed Murtagh even more than the brakes
of bamboo.  This was the webs of huge spiders--ugly tarantula-looking
animals--whose nets in places, extending from tree to tree, traversed
the forest in every direction, resembling the seines of a
fishing-village hung out to dry, or miles of musquito-curtain depending
from the horizontal branches.  Through this strange festoonery they had
to make their way, often for hundreds of yards; the soft silky substance
clutching disagreeably around their throats and clinging to their
clothes till each looked as though clad in an integument of ragged
cotton, or the long loose wool of a merino sheep yet unwoven into cloth.
And as they forced their way through it--at times requiring strength to
extricate them from its tough retentive hold--they could see the hideous
forms of the huge spiders who had spun and woven these strangely
patterned webs scuttling off, and from their dark retreats in the
crevices of the trees looking defiant and angry at the intruders upon
their domain--perhaps never before trodden by man.

Yet another kind of obstruction our travellers had to encounter on their
way across the great plain.  There were tracts of moist ground,
sometimes covered with tall forest-trees, at others opening out into a
sedgy morass, with perhaps a small lake or water-patch in the centre.
The first required them to make way through mud, or thick stagnant water
covered with scum, often reaching above their knees.  These places were
especially disagreeable to cross; for under the gloomy shadow of the
trees they would now and then catch a glimpse of huge newt-like lizards
of the genus _hydrosaurus_--almost as large as crocodiles--slowly
floundering out of the way, as if reluctant to leave, and
half-determined to dispute the passage.

Moreover, while thus occupied, they lived in the obscurity of an eternal
twilight, and could travel only by guess-work.  They had no guide save
the sun, which in these shadows is never visible.  Through the thick
foliage overhead its disc could not be seen; nor aught that would enable
them to determine its position in the sky, and along with it their
direction upon the earth.  It was, therefore, not only a relief to their
feelings, but a positive necessity for their continuance in the right
direction, that now and then a stretch of open swamp obstructed their
track.  True, it caused them to make a detour, and so wasted their time;
but then it afforded them a glimpse of the sun's orb, and enabled them
to pursue their journey in the right course.

During the mid-day hours they were deprived of even this guidance: for
the meridian sun gives no clue to the points of the compass.  They did
not much feel the disadvantage; as at noon-tide the hot tropical
atmosphere had become almost insupportable, and the heat, added to their
fatigue from incessant toiling through thicket and swamp, made it
necessary for them to take several hours of rest.

They resumed their journey in the evening, as the sun, declining toward
the western horizon, pointed out to them the way they were to go.  They
aimed to reach the sheet of water seen by them from the brow of the
mountain.  They wished to strike it at its southern end, as this was
right in the direction westward.  It appeared to lie about midway
between the two mountain-ranges; and, in such a case, would be a proper
halting-place on their journey across the plain.  On starting from the
higher ground, they expected to reach it in a few hours, or at the
latest by sunset of that same day.  But it was twilight of the third
day, when, with exhausted strength and wearied limbs, their clothing
torn and mud-stained, they stood upon its nearest shore!  They did not
stand there long, but dropping down upon the earth, forgetful of
everything--even the necessity of keeping watch--they surrendered
themselves over to sleep.



They slept until a late hour of the morning; when, rousing themselves
with difficulty, they kindled a fire and cooked a breakfast of the
boar's ham cured by them before leaving the coast.  It was the second,
and of course the last, already becoming rapidly reduced to a "knuckle;"
for their journey was now entering upon the second week.

They bethought them of making a halt on the bank of the lake; partly to
recruit their strength after the long-continued fatigue, and partly, if
possible, to replenish their larder.

Saloo got ready his blow-gun and poisoned arrows; Captain Redwood looked
to his rifle; while the ship-carpenter, whose speciality was fishing,
and who for this purpose had brought his hooks and lines along with him,
determined on trying what species of the finny tribe frequented the
inland lake, in hopes they might prove less shy at biting than their
brethren of the sea-coast stream.

Again the three men started off, Murtagh traversing in solitude the edge
of the lake, while Captain Redwood, with his rifle--accompanied by
Saloo, carrying his sumpitan and quiver of poisoned arrows--struck
direct into the woods.

Henry and Helen remained where they had passed the night, under the
shadow of a spreading tree; which, although of a species unknown to the
travellers, had been cautiously scrutinised by them, and seemed to be
neither a durion nor a upas.  They were cautioned not to stir a step
from the spot till the others should return.

Though in other respects a good, obedient boy, Henry Redwood was not
abundantly gifted with prudence.  He was a native-born New Yorker, and
as such, of course, precocious, courageous, daring, even to a fault--in
short, having the heart of a man beating within the breast of a boy.  So
inspired, when a huge bird, standing even taller than himself on its
great stilt-like legs--it was the adjutant stork of India (_ciconia
argalia_)--dropped down upon the point of a little peninsula which
projected into the lake, he could not resist the temptation of getting a
shot at it.

Grasping the great ship's musket--part of the paraphernalia they had
brought along with them, and which was almost as much as he could
stagger under--he started to stalk the great crane, leaving little Helen
under the tree.

Some reeds growing along the edge of the lake offered a chance by which
the game might be approached, and under cover of them he had crept
almost within shot of it, when a cry fell upon his ear, thrilling him
with a sudden dread.

It was the voice of his sister Helen, uttered in tones of alarm?

Turning suddenly, he wondered not that her cries were continued in the
wildest terror, mingled with convulsive ejaculations.  A man had drawn
near her, and oh! such a man!  Never in all his experience, nor in his
darkest and most distorted dreams, had he seen, or dreamt of, a human
being so hideous, as that he now saw, half-standing, half-crouching,
only a short distance from his sister's resting-place.

It was a man who, if he had only been in an erect attitude, would have
stood at least eight feet in height, and this would have been in an
under-proportion to the size of his head, the massive breadth of his
body across the breast and shoulders, and the length of his arms.  But
it was not his gigantic size which made him so terrible, or which
electrified the heart of the boy, at a safe distance, as it had done
that of the girl, nearer and in more danger.  It was the _tout ensemble_
of this strange creature in human shape--a man apparently covered all
over with red hair, thick and shaggy, as upon the skin of a wolf or
bear; bright red over the body and limbs, and blacker upon the face,
where it was thinnest--a creature, in short, such as neither boy nor
girl had ever before seen, and such as was long believed to exist only
in the imagination of the ancients, under the appellation of "satyr."



At first sight of the brute, notwithstanding its strangely monstrous
appearance, Henry had really mistaken it for a man; but a moment's
reflection convinced him that he was looking upon an ape instead of a
man, and one of such gigantic size as to make him certain it must be the
animal spoken of by Saloo under the various appellations of _mias
rombi_, _ourang-outang_, and _red gorilla_.  Saloo's remarks concerning
this ape, and his emphatic warnings, were not at all pleasant to be now
recalled.  Though brave as a young lion, he looked upon the shaggy
monster with fear and trembling.  Far less for himself than for his
sister; who, being nearer to it, was, of course, in greater peril of an
attack.  This, indeed, seemed imminent, and his first thought was to
rush to the spot and discharge his musket into the monster's face.  He
was restrained only by seeing that Helen, moved by an instinct of
self-preservation, had made an effort to save herself by gliding round
the trunk of the tree, and seeking concealment on its opposite side.  At
the same time she had prudently ceased her cries; and as the animal did
not show any intention of following her, but rather seemed inclined to
keep toward the edge of the lake, the boy bethought him that his best
course would be not to discharge his musket until the ape should make
some hostile demonstration.

Saloo had told them that the brute is not always disposed to commence
the attack upon man.  If left alone, it will go its own way, except
during certain seasons, when the females are fearful for their young
offspring.  Then they will assail every intruder that comes near,
whether man or animal.  But when wounded or enraged they will not only
act on the defensive, but attack their enemies in the most spiteful and
implacable manner.

Remembering these things, and hoping the huge creature might take a
peaceful departure from the place, Henry, who had already held his
musket at the level, lowered its muzzle, at the same time dropping upon
his knees among some tall grass, which, in this attitude, tolerably well
concealed him.

He soon saw that he had acted wisely.  The hairy monster seemed
altogether to ignore the presence of his sister and himself; and as if
neither were within a thousand miles of the spot, kept on its course
toward the margin of the water.  Fortunately for Henry, it went quite
another way, which, widening diagonally, did not bring the creature at
all near him.  It was evidently directing its course toward some
liliaceous plants with large succulent stems, which formed a patch or
bed, standing in the water, but close to the brink of the lake.

In all probability there was not enough fruit in the neighbourhood to
satisfy the hirsute gentleman now passing before their eyes; or else he
had a fancy to vary his diet by making a meal upon simple vegetables.
He soon reached the patch of tall water-plants; waded in nearly
knee-deep; and then with arms, each of which had the sweep of a mower's
scythe, drew in their heads toward him, and with a mouth wide as that of
a hippopotamus, cropped off the succulent shoots and flower-stems, and
munched them like an ox in the act of chewing its cud.

Seeing the huge hairy creature thus peaceably disposed, and hoping it
would for some time continue in this harmless disposition, Henry rose
from his kneeling attitude, and glided silently, but swiftly, toward the
tree.  Joining his sister Helen, he flung his arms around her as he rose
erect, and kissed her to chase away the effects of the terrible fright
she had sustained.



The kiss which Henry gave his little sister was not one of
congratulation.  He was not yet sure of her safety, or of his own.  The
hairy monster was still in sight--not more than a hundred yards off--and
though apparently busy with his banquet on the tender shoots of the
water-plants, might at any moment discontinue it, and spring upon them.

What was the best thing to be done in order to escape him?  Run off into
the forest, and try to find their father and Saloo?  They might go the
wrong way, and by so doing make things worse.  The great ape itself
would soon be returning among the trees, and might meet them in the
teeth; there would then be no chance of avoiding an encounter.

To go after Murtagh would be an equally doubtful proceeding; they were
ignorant of the direction the ship-carpenter had taken.

Young as they were, a moment's reflection admonished them not to stir
from the spot.

But what, then?  Cry out, so that the absent ones might hear them?  No;
for this might also attract the attention of the ourang-outang, and
bring it upon them.  Besides, Helen had shrieked loudly on the first
alarm.  If any of the hunters had been within hearing, they would have
needed no further signal to tell them that some danger threatened her.
If not within hearing, it would be worse than idle for either of them to
cry out again.  They determined, therefore, to remain silent, and keep
to their position, in the hope that either their father, the Malay, or
Murtagh, might come to their speedy relief.

But they were prudent enough not to expose themselves to any wandering
glance of the red gorilla's.  The moment Henry had joined his sister he
had hurried her behind the trunk of the tree, and they were now on the
side facing toward the forest.  There, by looking through the leaves of
some orchideous creepers that wreathed the great stem, they could see
the dreaded creature without being seen by it.  Hand in hand, still
trembling, they stood silently and cautiously regarding the gorilla and
its movements.

Under other and safer circumstances it would have been a curious and
interesting spectacle: this gigantic, human-like ape, stretching forth
its hairy arms, each full four feet in length--gathering in the heads of
the tall water-plants, and munching them in great mouthfuls, then
letting the stalks go and sweeping round to collect a fresh sheaf, at
intervals wading a pace or two to reach some that were more tempting to
its taste.  For several minutes they remained looking at this rare
sight, which would have absorbed the attention of the spectators could
it have been witnessed in a menagerie.

But they regarded it with fear and awe.  Their eyes and ears were at the
same time more occupied in looking and listening for some sign that
might veil them of the return of their protectors.

Time passed; none was seen, none heard.

A long time passed, and no sound from the forest; no murmur of men's
voices, or cry of scared bird, to proclaim that any one was approaching
the spot.

The brute was still browsing, but with less apparent voracity.  He drew
the shoots toward him with a gentler sweep of his arms, selecting only
the most succulent.  His appetite was on the wane; it was evident he
would soon leave off eating and return to his roosting or resting-place.
In the forest, of course, though they knew not where.  It might be on
the tree over their heads, or on one close at hand; or it might be afar
off.  In any case, they felt that a crisis was approaching.

Both trembled, as they thought how soon they might be face to face with
the hideous creature--confronting it, or perhaps enfolded in its long
hairy arms.  And in such an embrace, how would it fare with them?  What
chance of escape from it?  None!  They would be crushed, helpless as
flies in the grasp of a gigantic spider.  If the creature should come
that way, and resolve upon assailing them, one or other, or both of
them, would surely be destroyed.

If only one, Henry had fully made up his mind who it should be.  The
brave boy had determined to sacrifice his own life, if need be, to save
his sister.  Firmly grasping the great musket, he said:--

"Sister Nell, if it come this way and offer to attack us, you keep out
of the scrape.  Leave everything to me.  Go a good way off when you see
me preparing to fire.  I shan't draw trigger till it is close up to the
muzzle of the gun.  Then there'll be no fear of missing it.  To miss
would only make it all the madder.  Saloo said so.  If the shot
shouldn't kill it right off, don't mind me.  The report may be heard,
and bring father or some of the others to our assistance.  Dear sis, no
matter what happens, keep out of the way, and wait till they come up.
Promise me you will do so!"

"Henry!  I will not leave you.  Dear, dear brother, if you should be
killed I would not care to live longer.  Henry!  I will die with you!"

"Don't talk that way, sis.  I'm not going to be killed; for I fancy that
we can run faster than it can.  It don't appear to make much speed--at
least along the ground; and I think we might both escape it if we only
knew which way it was going to take.  At any rate, you do as I say, and
leave the rest to me."

While they were thus discussing the course to be pursued--Henry urging
his sister to retreat in the event of his being attacked, and Helen
tearfully protesting against leaving him--a movement on the part of the
mias claimed all their attention.  It was not a movement indicating any
design to leave the spot where it had been browsing; but rather a start,
as if something caused it a surprise.  The start was quickly followed by
a gesture, not of alarm, but one that plainly betokened anger.  Indeed,
it spoke audibly of this, being accompanied by a fierce growl, and
succeeded by a series of hoarse barkings, just like those of a bull-dog
or angry mastiff, whose mouth, confined in a muzzle, hinders him from
giving full vent to his anger.  At the same time, instead of rising
erect, as a human being under similar circumstances would have done, the
frightful ape, that had been already in the most upright position
possible to it, dropped down upon all fours, which still, however, from
the great length of its arms, enabled it to preserve a semi-erect

With its huge cheek callosities puffed out beyond their natural
dimensions--(they far exceed a foot in breadth)--its crested hair thrown
forward in a stiff coronal ruff; underneath a pair of eyes, gleaming
like two coals of fire, and, further down, its mouth wide agape,
displaying two rows of great glistening teeth, it stood--or rather
crouched--as if awaiting for the onset of some well-known enemy; a
dangerous enemy, but yet not so dangerous that it need be avoided.  On
the contrary, the attitude now assumed by the red gorilla, as also its
voice and gestures, told them that it was affected by no fear, but
breathed only fury and defiance.

Why should it fear?  Was there any living thing in the forests of
Borneo--biped, quadruped, or reptile possessed of sufficient powers to
cope with the hairy colossus now before their eyes, which seemed to
partake of the characters of all three, and twice the strength of any of
them individually?  Saloo had said there was none.

But it was not from the forests of Borneo its enemy was to come.  Out of
its waters was approaching the antagonist that had caused it to assume
its attitude of angry defiance; and the spectators now saw this
antagonist in the shape of an enormous lizard--a crocodile larger than
they had ever seen before.



When the huge reptile first unfolded itself to their view, it was
already close to the spot where the ourang-outang, knee-deep in the
water, stood awaiting it.  They naturally expected to see the land
animal effect a retreat from an antagonist even more formidable-looking
than itself.

And in reality it did give ground at first; but only for a few long
scrambling strides, made as much on its arms as legs--just far enough to
place itself high and dry upon the bank.  There it came to a stop, and
stood firmly facing the foe.

They now perceived the truth of what Saloo had been telling them: that
there is no animal in all Borneo, either in its forests or its rivers,
of which the mias feels fear.  Certainly there is none more to be
dreaded than the gavial crocodile; yet the great ape, judging by its
present attitude, was in no sense afraid of it.  Had it been so, it
would have retreated into the woods, where, by climbing a tree, it might
easily have shunned the encounter.  Even if it had retired a little upon
_terra firma_, the amphibious animal would not have thought of following
it, and it could at once have avoided the conflict, if desirous of doing
so.  On the contrary, it seemed rather to court it; for not only did it
take a firm stand on the approach of the saurian, but continued to emit
its hoarse cough and bark, which, as we have said before, closely
resembled the growlings of an angry mastiff with his jaws held half-shut
by the straps of a muzzle.  At the same time it struck the ground
repeatedly with its fore-paws, tearing up grass and weeds, and flinging
them spitefully toward the crocodile, and into its very teeth, as if
provoking the latter to the attack.

Undismayed, the scaly reptile continued to advance.  Neither the strange
noises nor the violent gesticulations of its four-handed enemy seemed to
have any effect upon it.  To all appearance, nothing could terrify the
gigantic saurian.  Confident in its great size and strength--above all,
in the thick impenetrable skin that covered its body like a coat of
shale armour--conscious of being so defended, the crocodile also
believed that there was no living thing in all the land of Borneo, or in
its waters either, that could withstand its terrible onslaught.  It
therefore advanced to the attack with no idea of danger to itself, but
only the thought of seizing upon the half-crouching, half-upright form
that had intruded upon its domain, and which possibly appeared to it
only a weak human being--a poor Dyak, like some of its former victims.

In this respect it was woefully deceiving itself; and the slight retreat
made by the mias toward the dry land no doubt further misled its
assailant.  The reptile paused for a moment, lest the retreat should be
continued, at the same time sinking its body beneath the water as low as
the depth would allow.

Remaining motionless for a few seconds, and seeing that its victim was
not only not going any further, but maintained its defiant attitude, the
gavial crawled silently and cautiously on till the reeds no longer
concealed it.  Then suddenly rising on its strong fore-arms, it bounded
forward--aiding the movement by a stroke of its immense tail--and
launched the whole length of its body on the bank, its huge jaws flying
agape as they came in contact with the shaggy skin of its intended prey.
For an instant of time its snout was actually buried in the long red
hair of the gorilla, and the spectators expected to see the latter
grasped between its jaws and dragged into the lake.

They were even congratulating themselves on the chance of thus getting
rid of it, when a movement on the part of the mias warned them they were
not to be so conveniently disembarrassed of its dangerous proximity.
That movement was a leap partly to one side, and partly upward into the
air.  It sprang so high as completely to clear the head of its
assailant, and so far horizontally, that when it came to the ground
again, it was along the extended body of the crocodile, midway between
its head and its tail.  Before the unwieldy reptile could turn to
confront it, the ape made a second spring, this time alighting upon the
gavial's back, just behind his shoulders.  There straddling, and taking
a firm hold with its thick short legs, it threw its long arms forward
over the crocodile's shoulder-blades, as with the intent to throttle it.
And now commenced a struggle between the two monstrous creatures--a
conflict strange and terrible--such as could only be seen in the depths
of a Bornean or Sumatran forest, in the midst of those wild solitudes
where man rarely makes his way.  And even in such scenes but rarely
witnessed; and only by the lone Dyak hunter straying along the banks of
some solitary stream, or threading the mazes of the jungle-grown swamp
or lagoon.

On the part of the crocodile the strife consisted simply in a series of
endeavours to dismount the hairy rider who clung like a saddle to its
back.  To effect this purpose, it made every effort in its power;
turning about upon its belly as upon a pivot; snapping its jaws till
they cracked like pistol shots; lashing the ground with its long
vertebrated tail, till the grass and weeds were swept off as if cut with
the blade of a scythe; twisting and wriggling in every possible

All to no purpose.  The ape held on as firmly as a Mexican to a restive
mule, one of its fore-arms clutching the shoulder-blade of the reptile,
while the other was constantly oscillating in the air, as if searching
for something to seize upon.

For what purpose it did this, the spectators could not at first tell, it
was not long, however, before they discovered its intention.  All at
once the disengaged arm made a long clutch forward and grasped the upper
jaw of the gavial.  During the struggle this had been frequently wide
agape, almost pointing vertically upward, as is customary with reptiles
of the lizard kind, the singular conformation of the cervical vertebrae
enabling them to open their jaws thus widely.  One might have supposed
that, in thus taking hold, the gorilla had got its hand into a terrible
trap, and that in another instant its fingers would be caught between
the quickly-closing teeth of the saurian, and snapped off like
pipe-stems, or the tender shoots of a head of celery.  The inexperienced
and youthful spectators expected some such result; but not so the
cunning old man-monkey, who knew what he was about; for, once he had
gained a good hold upon the upper jaw, at its narrowest part, near the
snout, he made up his mind that those bony counterparts, now asunder,
should never come together again.  To make quite sure of this, he bent
himself to the last supreme effort.  Supporting his knees firmly against
the shoulders of the saurian, and bending his thick muscular arms to the
extent of their great strength, he was seen to give one grand wrench.
There was a crashing sound, as of a tree torn from its roots, followed
by a spasmodic struggle; then the hideous reptile lay extended along the
earth, still writhing its body and flirting its tail.

The red gorilla saw that it had accomplished its task; victory was
achieved, the danger over, and the hated enemy lay helpless, almost
nerveless, in its hairy embrace.

At length, detaching itself from the scaly creature, whose struggles
each moment grew feebler and feebler, it sprang to one side, squatted
itself on its haunches, and with a hoarse laughter, that resembled the
horrid yell of a maniac, triumphantly contemplated the ruin of its
prostrate foe!



The reader may suppose the strange conflict we have described to be a
thing of the author's imagination.  Some will, no doubt, pronounce it a
story of the sensational and fabulous kind--in short, a "sailor's yarn."
So may it seem to those who give but little attention to the study of
nature.  To the naturalist, however, this chapter of animal life and
habits will cause no astonishment; for he will know it to be a true one;
and that the spectacle described, although perhaps not one coming every
day under the eye of man, and especially civilised man, has nevertheless
been witnessed by the inhabitants of the recesses of the Bornean forest.

Ask any old Bornean bee-hunter, and he will tell you just such a tale as
the above; adding that the ourang-outang, or red gorilla, which he calls
_mias_, is a match, and more than a match, for any animal it may
encounter in forest or jungle; and that the only two creatures which
dare attack it are the crocodile and the great _ular_ or _python_, the
latter a serpent of the boa-constructor kind, with one of which our
castaways had already formed acquaintance.  But the Bornean bee-hunter,
usually a Dyak, will also tell you that in these conflicts the red
gorilla is the victor, though each of the two great reptile antagonists
that attack it is often thirty feet in length, with a girth almost
equalling its own.  Only fancy a snake ten yards long, and a lizard the
same; either of which would reach from end to end of the largest room in
which you may be seated, or across the street in which you may be
walking!  You will seldom find such specimens in our museums; for they
are not often encountered by our naturalists or secured by our
travellers.  But take my word for it, there are such serpents and such
lizards in existence, ay, and much larger ones.  They may be found not
only in the tropical isles of the Orient, but in the Western world, in
the lagoons and forests of Equatorial America.  Many of the "sailors'
yarns" of past times, which we have been accustomed so flippantly to
discredit, on account of their appearing rather tough, have under the
light of recent scientific exploration been proved true.

And although some of them may seem to be incorporated in this narrative,
under the guise of mere romance, the reader need not on this account
think himself misled, or treat them with sublime contempt.  If it should
ever be his fate or fortune to make a tour through the East Indian
Archipelago, he will cease to be incredulous.

Henry Redwood and his sister Helen had no such tranquil reflections, as
they stood under the shadow of the great tree, concealing themselves
behind its trunk, and watching the terrible conflict between the two
huge creatures, both in their eyes equally hideous.

Giving way to an instinct of justice, they would have taken sides with
the party assailed and against the assailant.  But, under the
circumstances, their leanings were the very reverse; for in the
triumphant conqueror they saw a continuance of their own danger;
whereas, had the amphibious animal been victorious, this would have been
at an end.  The strife now terminated, they stood trembling and
uncertain as ever.

The crocodile, although crushed, and no longer dangerous for any
offensive manoeuvre, was not killed.  Its body still writhed and
wriggled upon the ground; though its movements were but the agonised
efforts of mortal pain, excited convulsively and each moment becoming

And the red gorilla stood near, squatted on its haunches; at intervals
tossing its long hairy arms around its head, and giving utterance to
that strange coughing laughter, as if it would never leave off exulting
over the victory it had achieved.  How long was this spectacle to last?
It was sufficiently horrid for the spectators to desire its speedy

And yet they did not; they were in hopes it might continue till a voice
coming from the forest, or the tread of a foot, would tell them that
help was near.

Tremblingly but attentively they listened.  They heard neither one nor
the other--neither voice nor footstep.  Now and then came the note of a
bird or the cry of some four-footed creature prowling through the
glades; but not uttered in accents of alarm.  The hunters must have
wandered far in their search for game.  They might not return in time.

Again Henry bethought him of firing the musket to give them a signal.
But even if heard, it might not have this effect.  They knew that he was
able to hold and handle the great gun, and might think some bird or
animal had come near and tempted him to take a shot at it.

On the other hand, the report would strike upon the ears of the mias,
might distract it from the triumph in which it was indulging, and bring
it to the spot where they were standing.  Then, with an empty gun in his
hand, what defence could the youth make, either for himself or for his

To fire the gun would never do.  Better leave the trigger unpulled, and
trust to Providence for protection.

And then, as the brave boy reflected on the many dangers through which
they had passed, and how they had always been delivered by some
fortunate interposition, he knew it must be the hand of Providence, and
was content to rely upon it again.

He said so to his little sister, whispering consolation, as with one
hand he drew her close to him, the other resting upon the musket.  And
Helen whispered back a pious response, as she nestled upon the breast of
her brother.

A moment more, and the faith of both was submitted to a severe trial.

The red gorilla, after gloating for a long time over the agonised
contortions of its disabled enemy, seemed at length satisfied that it
was disabled to death, and facing toward the forest, showed signs of an
intention to take its departure from the spot.

Now came the crisis for Henry and Helen.  Which way would the animal

They had not time to exchange question and answer--scarce time even to
shape them in their thoughts--when they saw the red satyr turn to the
tree behind which they were standing, and come directly toward them.



"We are lost!" were the words that rushed from Henry Redwood's lips.
They came involuntarily; for, as soon as said, he regretted them, seeing
how much they added to the alarm of his sister.  It was a crisis in
which she needed rather to be inspired to confidence by words of

They were said, however, and he could not recall them.  He had no time
to speak of anything, or to think of what course they should now pursue.
Coming straight toward the tree with an awkward, shambling, but speedy
gait withal, the monster would soon reach the spot where they stood.
Its movements showed it to be in a state of excitement--the natural
consequence of its late conflict with the crocodile.  If seen, they
would come in for a share of its anger, already roused.

If seen!  They were almost sure of being seen.  They were endeavouring
to avoid it by keeping on the other side of the tree, and screening
themselves among the parasitical plants.  But the concealment was
slight, and would not avail them if the animal should pass the trunk and
look around after passing.  And now it was making straight for the tree,
apparently with the design of ascending it.

At this crisis Henry once more bethought him of running away and taking
Helen with him.  He now regretted not having done so sooner.  Even to be
lost in the forest would have been a less danger than that which now
threatened them.

A glance told him it would be too late.  There was an open space beyond
and all around the trunk behind which they had taken shelter.  Should
they attempt to escape, the ape would be certain of seeing them before
they could get under cover of the woods, and, as they supposed, might
easily overtake them in their flight.

Another tree was near, connecting that under which they stood with the
adjoining forest.  But it was in a side direction, and they would be
seen before reaching it.  There was no alternative but to risk a chase,
or stay where they were, and take the chances of not being seen by the
horrid creature that was approaching.  They chose the latter.

Silently they stood, hands clasped and close to the stem of the tree, on
the side opposite to that on which the gorilla was advancing.  They no
longer saw it; for now they dared not look around the trunk, or even
peep through the leaves of the orchids, lest their faces might betray

After all, the ape might pass into the forest without observing them.
If it did, the danger would be at an end; if not, the brave boy had
summoned up all his energies to meet and grapple with it.  He held the
loaded musket in his hand, ready at a moment's notice to raise it to the
level and fire into the face of the red-haired satyr.

They waited in breathless silence, though each could hear the beating of
the other's heart.

It was torture to stand thus uncertain; and, as if to continue it, the
animal was a long time in getting to the tree.  Had it stopped, or
turned off some other way?

Henry was tempted to peep round the trunk and satisfy himself.  He was
about to do this, when a scratching on the other side fell upon their
ears.  It was the claws of the mias rasping against the bark.  The next
moment the sound seemed higher up, and they were made aware that the
creature was ascending the tree.

Henry was already congratulating himself on this event.  The ape might
go up without seeing them; and as the tree was a very tall one, with a
thick head of foliage and matted creepers, once among these, it might no
longer think of looking down.  Then they could steal away unobserved,
and, keeping at a safe distance, await the return of the hunters.

At this moment, however, an incident arose that interfered with this
desirable programme, in an instant changing the position of everything
that promised so well into a sad and terrible catastrophe.

It was Murtagh who caused, though innocently, the lamentable diversion.

The ship-carpenter, returning from his excursion, had just stumbled upon
the crocodile where it lay upon the shore of the lake, which, though
helpless to return to its proper element, was not yet dead.  With jaw
torn and dislocated, it was still twisting its body about in the last
throes of the death-struggle.

Not able to account for the spectacle of ruin thus presented, it caused
the Irishman much surprise, not unmingled with alarm--the latter
increasing as he looked towards the tree where Henry and Helen had been
left, and saw they were no longer there.

Had he prudently held his peace, perhaps all might have been well; but,
catching sight of the huge hairy monster ascending the trunk, the
thought flashed across his mind that the young people had been already
destroyed, perhaps devoured, by it; and, giving way to this terrible
fancy, he uttered a dread cry of despair.

It was the worst thing he could have done; for, despite the discouraging
tone of his voice, it seemed joyful to those crouching in concealment;
and, yielding to an instinct that they were now saved by the presence of
a stanch protector, they rushed from their ambuscade, and in so doing
discovered themselves to the ourang-outang.

Its eyes were upon them--dark, demon-like orbs, that seemed to
scintillate sparks of fire.  The gorilla had only gone up the trunk to a
height of about twenty feet, when the cry of the alarmed ship-carpenter
brought its ascent to a sudden stop; then, bringing its body half round,
and looking below, it saw the children.

As if connecting them with the enemy it had just conquered, its angry
passions seemed to rekindle; and once more giving utterance to that
strange barking cough, it glided down the tree, and made direct for the
one who was nearest.

As ill luck would have it, this chanced to be the little Helen,
altogether defenceless and unarmed.  Murtagh, still shouting, rushed to
the rescue; while Henry, with his musket raised to his shoulder,
endeavoured to get between the ape and its intended victim, so that he
could fire right into the face of the assailant, without endangering the
life of his sister.

He would have been in time had the gun proved true, which it did not.
It was an old flint musket, and the priming had got damp during their
journey through the moist tropical forest.  As he pulled trigger, there
was not even a flash in the pan; and although he instinctively grasped
the gun by its barrel, and, using it as a club, commenced belabouring
the hairy giant over the head, his blows were of no more avail than if
directed against the trunk of the tree itself.

Once, twice, three times the butt of the gun descended upon the skull of
the satyr, protected by its thick shock of coarse red hair; but before a
fourth blow could be given, the ape threw out one of its immense arms,
and carrying it round in a rapid sweep, caught the form of the girl in
its embrace, and then, close hugging her against its hairy breast,
commenced reascending the tree.

Shouts and shrieks were of no avail to detain the horrid abductor.  Nor
yet the boy's strength, exerted to its utmost.  His strength alone; for
Murtagh was not yet up.  Henry seized the gorilla's leg, and clung to it
as long as ever he could.  He was dragged several feet up the trunk; but
a kick from the gorilla shook him off, and he fell, stunned and almost
senseless, to the earth.



It would be impossible to paint the despair that wrung her brother's
heart, as he stood with upturned face and eyes bent upon a scene in
which he had no longer the power to take part.

Not much less intense was the agonised emotion of Murtagh; for little
Helen was almost as dear to the Irishman as if she had been his own

Neither could have any other thought than that the child was lost beyond
hope of recovery.  She would either be torn to pieces by the claws of
the monster, or by its great yellow teeth, already displayed to their
view, and flung in mangled fragments to the ground.  They actually stood
for some time in expectation of seeing this sad catastrophe; and it
would be vain to attempt any description of their emotions.

It was no relief when the two hunters came up, as they did at that
instant, on their return from the chase.  Their approach for the last
two or three hundred yards had been hastened into a run by the shrieks
of Helen and the shouts of Henry and Murtagh.  Their arrival only added
two new figures to the tableau of distress, and two voices to its

The ape could still be seen through the foliage ascending to the top of
the tree; but Captain Redwood felt that the rifle he held in his hands,
though sure of aim and fatal in effect, was of no more use than if it
had been a piece of wood.

Saloo had the same feeling in regard to his blow-gun.  The rifle might
send a deadly bullet through the skull of the gorilla, and the latter
pierce its body with an arrow that would carry a quick-spreading poison
through its veins.

But to what purpose, even though they could be certain of killing it?
Its death would be also the death of the child.  She was still living,
and apparently unhurt; for they could see her moving, and hear her
voice, as she was carried onward and upward in that horrible embrace.

Captain Redwood dared not send a bullet nor Saloo an arrow.  Slight as
the chances were of saving the girl, either would have made them
slighter.  A successful shot of the rifle or puff of the blow-gun would
be as fatal to the abducted as the abductor; and the former, with or
without the latter, would be certain to fall to the foot of the tree.
It was a hundred feet sheer from the point which the ape had attained to
the ground.  The child would not only be killed, but crushed to a
shapeless mass.

Ah me! what a terrible scene for her father!  What a spectacle for him
to contemplate!

And as he stood in unutterable agony, his companions gathered around,
all helpless and irresolute as to how they should act, they saw the ape
suddenly change his direction, and move outward from the trunk of the
tree along one of its largest limbs.  This trended off in a nearly
horizontal direction, at its end interlocking with a limb of the
neighbouring tree, which stretched out as if to shake hands with it.

A distance of more than fifty feet lay between the two trunks, but their
branches met in close embrace.

The purpose of the ape was apparent.  It designed passing from one to
the other, and thence into the depths of the forest.

The design was quickly followed by its execution.  As the spectators
rushed to the side by which the gorilla was retreating, they saw it lay
hold of the interlocking twigs, draw the branch nearer, bridge the space
between with its long straggling arm, and then bound from one to the
other with the agility of a squirrel.

And this with the use of only one arm, for by the other the child was
still carried in the same close hug.  Its legs acted as arms, and for
travelling through the tree-tops three were sufficient.

On into the heart of the deep foliage of the second tree, and without a
pause on into the next; along another pair of counterpart limbs, which,
intertwining their leafy sprays and boughs, still further into the
forest, all the time bearing its precious burden along with it.

The agonised father ran below, rifle in hand.  He might as well have
been without one, for all the use he dared to make of it.

And Henry, too, followed with the ship's musket.  True, it had missed
fire, and the damp priming was still in the pan.  Damp or dry, it now
mattered not.  Saloo's sumpitan was an equally ineffective weapon.
Murtagh with his fishing-hooks might as well have thought of capturing
the monster with a bait.

On it scrambled from tree to tree, and on ran the pursuers underneath,
yet with no thought of being able to stay its course.  They were carried
forward by the mere mechanical instinct to keep it in sight, with
perhaps some slight hope that in the end something might occur--some
interruption might arise by which they would be enabled to effect a
rescue of the child from its horrible captor.

It was at best but a faint consolation.  Nor would they have cherished
it, but for their trust in a higher power than their own.  Of themselves
they knew they could not let or hinder the abductor in its flight.

All felt their own helplessness.  But it is just in that supreme moment,
when man feels his utter weakness, that his vague trust in a superior
Being becomes a devout and perfect faith.

Captain Redwood was not what is usually called a religious man, meaning
thereby a strict adherent to the Church, and a regular observer of its
ordinances.  For all this he was a firm believer in the existence of a
providential and protecting power.

His exclamations were many, and not very coherent; but their burden was
ever a prayer to God for the preservation of his daughter.

"Helen, my child!  Helen!  What will become of her?  O Father!  O God,
protect her!"



From branch to branch, and tree to tree, the red gorilla continued its
swift advance; still bearing with it the little Helen.

From trunk to trunk, the pursuers crawled through the underwood beneath,
feeling as helpless as ever.

What was to be the end of this strangely singular pursuit they could not
tell, for they had never before--and perhaps no man at any time had--
taken part in such a chase, or even heard of one so terrible.

They could offer no conjecture as to what might be its termination; but
moved forward mechanically, keeping the gorilla in sight.

Was Helen yet living, or was she dead?  No cry came from her lips, no
word, no sound!  Had the life been crushed out of her body by the
pressure of that strong muscular arm, twined round her like the limb of
an oak?  Or was the silence due to temporary loss of feeling?

She might well have swooned away in such a situation; and her father,
struggling with faint hopes, would have been glad to think this was
indeed the case.

No signs could be gained from what they heard, and none from what they
saw.  They were now passing through the very depth of the forest--a
tropical forest, with the trees meeting overhead, and not a speck of sky
visible through the interwoven branches, loaded with their thick
festoons of leaves and lianas.

They were gliding through dense arcades, lit up with just sufficient
sunshine to wear the sombre shadows of a dusky twilight.  There were
even places where the retreating form of the ape could not have been
distinguishable in the obscurity, but for the white drapery of the
child's dress, now torn into shreds, and flaunting like streamers behind
it.  These luckily served as a beacon to guide them on through the

Now and then the chase led them into less shady depths, where the
sunlight fell more freely through the leafy screen above.  At such
points they could obtain a better view, both of the red abductor and its

But even then only a glimpse--the speed at which the gorilla was going,
as well as the foliage that intervened, preventing any lengthened

Nor were the pursuers at any time able to get sight of the child's face.
It appeared to be turned toward the animal's breast, her head buried in
its coarse shaggy hair, with which her own tresses were mingled in
strange contrast.

Even her form could not be clearly distinguished.  As far as they could
decide by their occasional glimpses, they thought she was still alive.
The brute did not seem to treat her with any malevolent violence.  Only
in a rude uncouth way; which, however, might suffice to cause the death
of one so young and frail.

To depict the feelings of her father, under such circumstances, would be
a task the most eloquent pen could not successfully attempt.  Agony like
his can never be described.  Language possesses not the power.  There
are thoughts which lie too deep for words; passions whose expression
defies the genius of the artist or the poet.

Perhaps he was hindered from realising the full measure of his
bereavement during the first moments of the pursuit.  The excitement of
the chase, and the incidents attending it--the hope still remaining that
some chance would arise in their favour--the certainty, soon
ascertained, that they could keep up with the ape, which, despite its
agility in the trees, cannot outstrip a man pursuing it along the
ground,--all these circumstances had hitherto withheld him from giving
way to utter despair.

But the time had come when even these slight supports were to fail.

It was when they arrived upon the brink of a lagoon, and a water-surface
gleamed before their eyes; reflected by a daylight that struggled dimly
down through the tops of the tall trees.

The trees rose out of the water, their trunks wide apart, but their
branches intermingling.

The path of our pursuers was interrupted--they saw it at once--but that
of the pursued seemed continuous as before.

They were arrested suddenly on the brink of the lagoon, apparently with
no chance of proceeding farther.  They saw the red gorilla still
climbing among the trees, with the white drapery streaming behind it.

Soon they saw it not--only heard the crackle of twigs, and the swishing
recoil of the branches, as its huge body swung from tree to tree.

The monster was now out of sight, along with its victim--a victim, in
very truth, whether living or dead!

But for the support of Murtagh and Saloo, Captain Redwood would have
fallen to the earth.  In their arms he sobbed and gasped,--

"Helen! my child, Helen!  What will become of her?  O Father!  O God,
protect her!"



For some seconds Captain Redwood was powerless in a frenzy of despair.
Henry was equally overcome by grief truly agonising.  It was to both
father and son a moment of the most unutterable anguish.

Helen, the dear daughter and sister, carried out of their sight,
apparently beyond reach of pursuit.  And in the arms of a hideous
creature which was neither wholly man nor wholly beast, but combined the
worst attributes of each.

Perhaps she was already dead within the loathsome embrace--her tender
body soon to be torn to pieces, or tossed from the top of some tall
tree; to be crushed and mangled on the earth, or thrown with a plunge
into the cold dark waters of that dismal lagoon, never more to be seen
or heard of.

These were horrid thoughts and hideous images which rushed rapidly
through their minds as they stood in the sombre shadow, picturing to
themselves her too probable fate.  It was no longer a question about her

They knew, or believed, her to be dead.  They only thought of what was
to become of her body; what chance there might be of recovering and
giving it the sacred rights of sepulture.  Even this slight consolation
occupied the mind of the distracted father.

The Malay, well acquainted with the habits of the great man-ape, could
give no answer.  He only knew that the child's body would not be eaten
up by it; since the red gorilla is never known to feed upon flesh--fruit
and vegetables being its only diet.

The whole thing was perplexing him, as an occurrence altogether unusual.
He had known of people being killed and torn to pieces by the animal in
its anger; but never of one being carried up into the trees.

Usually these animals will not volunteer an attack upon man, and are
only violent when assailed.  Then, indeed, are they terrible in their
strength as in their ferocity.

The one now encountered must have been infuriated by its fight with the
crocodile; and coming straight from the encounter, had in some way
connected the children with its conquered enemy.  Murtagh's shout might
have freshly incensed it; or, what to Saloo seemed more probable than
all, the seizure of the child might be a wild freak suddenly striking
the brain of the enraged satyr.

He had heard of such eccentricities on the part of the ourang-outang,
and there is a belief among the Dyak hunters that the mias sometimes
goes _mad_, just as men do.

This reasoning did not take place on the edge of the lagoon, nor any
discussion of such questions.  They were thoughts that had been
expressed during the pursuit, at no time hurried.  The captain and his
companions had easily kept pace with the pursued, while passing through
the dry forest; and time enough was allowed them to think and talk of
many things.

Now that they could no longer follow, scarce a word was exchanged
between them.  Their emotions were too sad for utterance, otherwise than
by exclamations which spoke only of despair.

It was well they were silent, for it gave Saloo the opportunity of
listening.  Ever since the ape had passed from their sight, his ear had
been keenly anxious to catch every sound, as he still entertained a hope
of being able to trace its passage through the trees.

Thoroughly conversant with the animal's habits, he knew that it must
have an abiding-place--a nest.  This might be near at hand.  The
proximity of the lagoon almost convinced him that it was so.

The mias makes a temporary roost for his repose anywhere it may be
wandering--constructing it in a few moments, by breaking off the
branches and laying them crosswise on a forked limb; but Saloo was aware
that, for its permanent residence, it builds a much more elaborate nest,
and this, too, always over water or marshy ground, where its human enemy
cannot conveniently follow it.

Moreover, it chooses for the site of its dwelling a low tree or bush
with umbrageous boughs, and never retires among the taller trees of the

This it does to avoid exposure to the chill winds, and the inconvenience
of being shaken to and fro during storms or typhoons.

With all this knowledge in his memory, the Malay had conceived a hope
that the monster's nest might not be far off, and they would still be
able to follow and find it--not to rescue the living child, but recover
her dead body.

Keenly and attentively he listened to every sound that came back through
the water-forest--cautioning the others to be silent.  A caution scarce
needed, for they too stood listening, still as death, with hushed
voices, and hearts only heard in their dull sad beatings.

But for a short time were they thus occupied; altogether not more than
five minutes.  They still detected the crackling of branches which
indicated the passage of the ape through the tree-tops.

All at once these sounds suddenly ceased, or rather were they drowned
out by sounds louder and of a very different intonation.  It was a
chorus of cries, in which barking, grunting, growling, coughing,
cachinnation and the squalling of children seemed all to have a share.
There were evidently more than one individual contributing to this
strange _fracas_ of the forest; and the noises continued to come
apparently from the same place.

"Allah be thank!" exclaimed Saloo, in a subdued tone.  "He home at lass.
Him family makee welcome.  Maybe chile be live yet.  Maybe mias no
killee after all.  Trust we in Allah, what you Inglees people callee
God.  Who know he yet help us!"

These last words came like a renewal of life to the despairing father.
He started on hearing them; fresh hope had sprung up in his breast, at
the thought that his beloved child might yet be alive, and that a chance
of rescuing her might still be possible.

"In thy mercy, O God, grant it may be so!" were the words that fell from
his lips: Murtagh, with equal fervour, saying "Amen!"



Inspired to renewed energy, Captain Redwood rushed to the edge of the
lagoon, with the view of ascertaining its depth, and seeing whether it
might possibly be waded.

He soon discovered that it could not.  In less than ten paces from the
edge he was up to the arm-pits, and from thence it seemed to deepen
still more abruptly.  Another step forward, and the water rose over his
shoulders, the bottom still sloping downwards.  The lagoon was evidently

He drew back despairingly, though not to return to the shore.  He stood
facing the centre of the lagoon, whence still came the strange noises:
though scarce so loud or varied as before, they did not appear to be any
more distant.  Whatever creatures were making them, it was evident they
were stationary, either in the trees or upon the ground.  They did not
sound as if they came from on high; but this might be a deception,
caused by the influence of the water.  One of the voices bore a singular
resemblance to that of a child.  It could not be Helen's; it more
resembled the squalling of an infant.  Saloo knew what it was.  In the
plaintive tones he recognised the scream of a young ourang-outang.

It was a proof his conjecture was true, and that the mias had reached
its home.

All the more anxious was Captain Redwood to reach the spot whence the
sounds proceeded.  Something like a presentiment had entered his mind
that there was still a hope, and that his child lived and might be

Even if torn, injured, disfigured for life, she might survive.  Any sort
of life, so long as she could be recovered; and if she could not be
restored, at least she might breathe her last breath in his arms.  Even
that would be easier to bear than the thought that she had gone to rest
in the grasp of the hirsute gorilla, with its hideous offspring grinning
and gibbering around her.

The lagoon could not be waded on foot; but a good swimmer might cross
it.  The captain was an experienced and accomplished swimmer.  The
voices came from no great distance--certainly not above half a mile.  On
one occasion he had accomplished a league in a rough sea!  There could
be no difficulty in doing as much on the smooth, tranquil water of that
tree-shaded lake.

He had opened his arms and prepared to strike out, when a thought stayed
him.  Saloo, who had waded to his side, also arrested him by laying a
hand on his shoulder.

"You try swimmee, cappen, no good without weapon; we both go togedder--
muss take gun, sumpitan, kliss, else no chance killee mias."

It was the thought that had occurred to Captain Redwood himself.

"Yes, you are right, Saloo.  I must take my rifle, but how am I to keep
it dry?--there's not time to make a raft."

"No raff need, cappen; givee me you gun--Saloo swim single-hand well as
two; he cally the gun."

Captain Redwood knew it to be true that Saloo, as he said, could swim
with one hand as well as he himself with both.

He was a Malay, to whom swimming in the water is almost as natural as
walking upon the land.  His old pilot could scarcely have been drowned
if he had been flung into the sea twenty miles from shore.

He at once yielded to Saloo's counsel; and both hastily returned to the
edge of the lagoon to make preparations.

These did not occupy long.  The captain threw off some of his clothes,
stowed his powder-flask and some bullets in the crown of his hat, which
he fastened firmly on his head.  He retained a knife--intended in case
of necessity--to be carried between his teeth, giving his gun to Saloo.

The Malay, having less undressing to do, had already completed the
arrangements.  On the top of his turban, safely secured by a knotting of
his long black hair, he had fastened his bamboo quiver of poisoned
arrows; while his kris--with which a Malay under no circumstances thinks
of parting--lay along his thigh, kept in position by the waist-strap
used in suspending his _sarong_.  With his sumpitan and the captain's
gun in his left hand, he was ready to take to the water.  Not another
moment was lost; the voices of the ourangs seemed to be calling them;
and plunging through the shallow, they were soon out in deep water, and
striking steadily but rapidly, silently but surely, towards the centre
of the lagoon.

Henry and Murtagh remained on the shore looking after them.  The
ship-carpenter was but an indifferent swimmer, and the youth was not
strong enough to have swam half a mile.  It was doubtful if either could
have reached the spot where the apes seemed to have made their
rendezvous.  And if so, they would have been too exhausted to have
rendered any service in case of a sudden conflict.

The brave Irishman, devoted to his old skipper, and Henry, anxious to
share his father's fate, would have made the attempt; but Captain
Redwood restrained them, directing both to await his return.

They stood close to the water's edge, following the swimmers with their
eyes, and with prayers for their success, scarcely uttered in words, but
fervently felt; Murtagh, according to the custom of his country and
creed, sealing the petition by making the sign of the cross.



Silently and swiftly the two swimmers continued their course through the
shadowy aisles of the forest.  Twilight, almost darkness, was above and
around them; for the trees meeting overhead caused an obscurity sombre
as night itself.  No ray of sunlight ever danced upon the surface of
that dismal lagoon.

They would have lost their way, had not the noises guided them.  Should
these be discontinued, their exertions might be all in vain.

They thought of this as they proceeded, and reflected also on the course
to be adopted when they reached the rendezvous of the gorillas.
Supposing there could be no footing found, how were they to use either
gun or sumpitan?

The question passed between them in a whisper as they swam side by side.
Neither knew how to answer it.

Saloo only expressed a hope that they might get upon the limb of a tree
near enough to send a bullet or arrow into the body of the mias, and
terminate his career.

There seemed no other chance, and they swam on, keeping it before their

About the direction, they had no difficulty whatever.  Although the
surface of the water was of inky blackness, from the shadowing trees
above, and the huge trunks standing out of it now and then forced them
into an occasional deviation, they advanced without any great

They swam around the tree trunks, and, guided by the voices of the
gorillas, easily regained their course.  The noises were no longer sharp
screams or hoarse coughs, but a kind of jabbering jargon, as if the apes
were engaged in a family confabulation.

The swimmers at length arrived so near, that they no longer felt any
fear about finding the way to the place where the reunion of the
_quadrumana_ was being held; and which could not be more than a hundred
yards distant.

Silently gliding through the water, the eyes of both peered intently
forward, in an endeavour to pierce the obscurity, and, if possible,
discover some low limb of a tree, or projecting buttress, on which they
might find a foothold.  They had good hope of success, for they had seen
many such since starting from the shore.  Had rest been necessary, they
might have obtained it more than once by grasping a branch above, or
clinging to one of the great trunks, whose gnarled and knotted sides
would have afforded sufficient support.

But they were both strong swimmers, and needed no rest.  There was none
for the bereaved father--could be none--till he should reach the
termination of their strange enterprise, and know what was to be its

As they swam onward, now proceeding with increased caution, their eyes
scanning the dark surface before them, both all of a sudden and
simultaneously came to a stop.  It was just as if something underneath
the water had laid hold of them by the legs, checking them at the same
instant of time.

And something _had_ impeded their farther progress, but not from behind.
In front was the obstruction, which proved to be a bank of earth, that,
though under the water, rose within a few inches of its surface.  The
breast of each swimmer had struck against it, the shock raising them
into a half-erect attitude, from which they had no need to return to the
horizontal.  On the contrary, they now rose upon their feet, which they
felt to be resting on a firm hard bottom.

Standing in pleased surprise, they could better survey the prospect
before them; and after a minute spent in gazing through the gloom, they
saw that dry land was close to the spot where they had been so abruptly

It appeared only a low-lying islet, scarce rising above the level of the
lagoon, and of limited extent--only a few rods in superficial area.  It
was thickly covered with trees; but, unlike those standing in the water,
which were tall and with single stems, those upon the islet were
supported by many trunks, proclaiming them to be some species of the
Indian fig or _banyan_.

One near the centre, from its greater width and more numerous supporting
pillars, seemed the patriarch of the tribe; and to this their eyes were
especially directed.  For out of its leafy shadows came the strange
sounds which had hitherto guided them.

Among its branches, without any doubt, the red gorilla had his home; and
there he would be found in the bosom of his family.

Grasping his gun, and whispering to Saloo to follow him, Captain Redwood
started towards the tree so clearly indicated as the goal of their



Soon after the intended assailants stood among the rooted branches of
the banyan.  The gloom underneath its umbrageous branches was deepened
by what appeared to be an immense scaffolding constructed near the top
of the tree, and extending far out along the horizontal limbs.

Saloo at once recognised the permanent nest or roosting-place of a _mias
rombi_--such as he had often seen in the forests of Sumatra, where the
same, or a closely allied species, has its home.

The tree was not a tall one, but low and widespreading; while the broad
platform-like nest, formed by interwoven branches, upon which lay a
thick layer of grass and leaves, was not more than twenty feet above the
surface of the earth.

The obscurity which prevailed around favoured their stealthy approach;
and like a pair of spectres gliding through the upright pillars, Captain
Redwood and his old pilot at length found a position favourable for a
survey of the platform erected by the gorilla.

The father's heart was filled with strange indescribable emotions, as
with eye keenly bent he stood upon a projecting branch, that brought his
head on a level with this curious structure.

There he saw a scene which stirred his soul to its deepest depths.

His daughter, appearing snow-white amid the gloom, was lying upon the
scaffold, her golden hair dishevelled, her dress torn into ribbons--
portions of it detached and scattered about.

To all appearance she was dead; for, scanning her with the earnest
anxious glance of a keen solicitude, he could not detect any movement
either in body or limbs; and it was too dark for him to tell whether her
eyes were open or closed.

But he had now very little hope.  He was indeed too certain they were
closed in the sleep of death.

Around her were assembled three human-like forms, monstrous withal, and
all alike covered with a coating of red hair, thick, long, and shaggy.
They were of different sizes, and in the largest one he recognised the
abductor of his child.

The second in size, whose form proclaimed it to be a female, was
evidently the wife of the huge man-ape; while the little creature, about
eighteen inches in height--though a perfect miniature likeness of its
parents--was the infant whose squalling had contributed more than
anything else to guide them through the shades of the lagoon.

The old male, perhaps suffering fatigue from its fight with the
crocodile, as well as from the chase he had sustained, crouched upon the
scaffold, seemingly asleep.

The other two were still in motion, the mother at intervals seizing her
hairy offspring, and grotesquely caressing it; then letting it go free
to dance fantastically around the recumbent form of the unconscious
captive child.  This it did, amusing itself by now and then tearing off
a strip of the girl's dress, either with its claws or teeth.

It was a spectacle wild, weird, altogether indescribable; and by Captain
Redwood not to be looked upon a moment longer than was necessary to
embrace its details.

Having satisfied himself, he raised his rifle to fire upon the family
party, intending first to aim at the father, whose death he most
desired, and who living would no doubt prove by far the most dangerous

In another instant his bullet would have sped towards the breast of the
sleeping giant, but for Saloo, who, grasping his arm, restrained him.

"Tay, cappen," said the Malay in a whisper; "leave me kill em.  Sumpit
bettel dun bullet.  De gun makee noise--wake old mias up, an' maybe no
killee em.  De upas poison bettel.  It go silent--quick.  See how Saloo
slay dem all tlee!"

There was something in Saloo's suggestions which caused Captain Redwood
to ground his rifle and reflect.  His reflections quickly ended in his
giving place to his old pilot, and leaving the latter to work out the
problem in his own way.

Stepping up to the branch assigned to him, which commanded a view of the
spectacle so torturing to his master, the Malay took a brief glance at
the scene--only a very brief one.  It enabled him to select the first
victim for his envenomed shaft, the same which Captain Redwood had
destined to receive the leaden missile from his gun.

Bringing to his mouth the sumpitan, in whose tube he had already placed
one of his poisoned arrows, and compressing the trumpet-shaped
embouchure against his lips, he gave a puff that sent the shaft on its
deadly way with such velocity, that even in clear daylight its exit
could only have been detected like a spark from a flint.

In the obscurity that shrouded the gorilla's roost, nothing at all was
seen, and nothing heard; for the sumpit is as silent on its message as
the wing of an owl when beating through the twilight.

True, there was something heard, though it was not the sound of the

Only a growl from the great red gorilla, that had felt something sting
him, and on feeling it threw up his paw to scratch the place, no doubt
fancying it to be but the bite of a mosquito or hornet.  The piece of
stick broken off by his fingers may have seemed to him rather strange,
but not enough so to arouse him from his dreamy indifference.

Not even when another and another sting of the same unusual kind caused
him to renew his scratching--for by this time he was beginning to
succumb to the narcotic influence that would soon induce the sleep of

It did thus end: for after a time, and almost without a struggle, the
red-haired monster lay stretched upon the platform which had long been
his resting-place, his huge limbs supple and tremulous with the last
throes of life.

And beside him, in the same condition, was soon after seen his wife,
who, of weaker conformation, had more quickly yielded to the soporific
effect of the upas poison, from which, when it has once pervaded the
blood, there is no chance of recovery.

Saloo did not deem the infant mias worthy a single arrow, and after its
parents had been disposed of, he sprang upon the scaffold, followed by
Captain Redwood, who, the moment after, was kneeling by his child, and
with ear closely pressed to her bosom, listened to learn if her heart
was still beating.

_It was_!



"She lives! thank God, she lives!"

These were the words that fell upon the ears of Henry and Murtagh, when
Saloo, swimming back to the shore, related to them what had transpired.
And more too.  She had recovered from her swoon, a long-protracted
syncope, which had fortunately kept her in a state of unconsciousness
almost from the moment of her capture to that of her rescue.

With the exception of some scratches upon her delicate skin, and a
slight pain caused by the compression to which she had been subjected in
that hideous hug, no harm had befallen her--at least no injury that
promised to be of a permanent nature.

Such was the report and prognosis of Saloo, who had swam back to the
shore to procure the ship-carpenter's axe, and his aid in the
construction of a raft.

This was to carry Helen from the islet--from a spot which had so nearly
proved fatal to her.

A bamboo grove grew close at hand, and with Saloo's knowledge and the
ship-carpenter's skill, a large life-preserver was soon set afloat on
the water of the lagoon.  It was at once paddled to the islet, and
shortly after came back again bearing with it a precious freight--a
beautiful young girl rescued by an affectionate father, and restored to
an equally affectionate brother.

Long before the raft had grounded against the shore, Henry, plunging
into the shallow water, had gone to meet it, and mounting upon the
buoyant bamboos, had flung his arms around the form of his little

How tender that embrace, how fond and affectionate, how different from
the harsh hostile hug of the monster, whose long hairy arms had late so
cruelly encircled her delicate form!

As the child was still weak--her strength prostrated more by her first
alarm when seized, than by aught that had happened afterwards--Captain
Redwood would have deemed it prudent to make some stay upon the shore of
the lagoon.

But the place seemed so dismal, while the air was evidently damp and
unhealthy, to say naught of the unpleasant thoughts the scene suggested,
he felt desirous to escape from it as soon as possible.

In this matter the Malay again came to his assistance, by saying they
could soon provide a litter on which the child might be transported with
as much ease to herself as if she were travelling in the softest
sedan-chair that ever carried noble lady of Java or Japan.

"Construct it then," was the reply of Captain Redwood, who was
altogether occupied in caressing his restored child.

Saloo needed no further directions: he only requested the assistance of
Murtagh, along with what remained to him of his tools; and these being
as freely as joyfully furnished, a score of fresh bamboos soon lay
prostrate on the ground, out of which the palanquin was to be built up.

Lopped into proper lengths, and pruned of their great leaf-blades, they
were soon welded into the shape of a stretcher, with a pair of long
handles projecting from each end.

The palanquin was not yet complete, and by rights should have had a roof
over it to shelter its occupant from rain or sun; but as there was no
appearance of rain, and certainly no danger of being scorched by the sun
in a forest where its glowing orb was never seen nor its rays permitted
to penetrate, a roof was not thought necessary, and Saloo's task was
simplified by leaving it a mere stretcher.

He took pains, however, that it should be both soft and elastic.  The
latter quality he obtained by a careful choice of the bamboos that were
to serve as shafts; the former requisite he secured by thickly bedding
it with the lopped-off leaves, and adding an upper stratum of cotton,
obtained from a species of bombyx growing close at hand, and soft as the
down of the eider-duck.

Reclining upon this easy couch, borne upon its long shafts of elastic
bamboo, Saloo at one end and Murtagh at the other, Helen was transported
like a queen through the forest she had lately traversed as a captive in
a manner so strange and perilous.

Before the sun had set, they once more looked upon its cheering light,
its last declining rays falling upon her pale face as she was set down
upon the shore of the lake, beside that same tree from which she had
taken her involuntary departure.



The captain's daughter, with the natural vigour of youth, soon recovered
from the slight injuries she had sustained in her singular journey
through the maze of boughs.  The previous perils of shipwreck, and the
various hairbreadth escapes through which she had more recently passed,
made her last danger all the lighter to bear; for by these her child's
spirit had become steeled to endurance, and her courage was equal to
that of a full-grown woman.  Otherwise the fearful situation in which
she had been placed, if leaving life, might have deprived her of reason.

As it happened, no serious misfortune had befallen, and with Helen's
strength and spirits both fully restored, her companions were able on
the third day to resume their overland journey.

And, still more, they started with a fresh supply of provisions--enough
to last them for many long days.  Captain Redwood and Saloo in their
hunting excursion had been very successful.  The captain had not been
called upon to fire a single shot from his rifle, so that his slender
store of ammunition was still good for future eventualities.  Saloo's
silent sumpits had done all the work of the chase, which resulted in the
death of a deer, another wild pig, and several large birds, suitable for
the pot or spit.  The hunters had been returning from their last
expedition heavily loaded with game, when the cries of Helen, Henry, and
Murtagh, had caused them to drop their booty and hasten to the rescue.

Now that all was over, and they were once more reminded of it, Saloo and
Murtagh went in search of the abandoned game, soon found it, gathered it
again, and transported it to their camping-place by the side of the

Here, during the time they stayed to await the recovery of Helen's
health, the pork and venison were cut up and cured in such a manner as
to ensure its keeping for a long time--long enough indeed to suffice
them throughout the whole duration of their contemplated journey; that
is, should no unexpected obstacle arise to obstruct or detain them.

The fowls that had fallen to Saloo's arrows were sufficient to serve
them for a few days, and with the fine supply of lard obtained from the
carcass of the pig, they could be cooked in the most sumptuous manner.

In the best of spirits they again set forth; and it seemed now as if
fate had at last grown weary of torturing them, and daily, almost
hourly, involving one or other of them in danger of death.

From the edge of the lake, where their journey had been so strangely
interrupted, they found an easy path across the remaining portion of the
great plain.

Several times they came upon the traces of red gorillas, and once they
caught sight of a member of the horrid tribe speeding along the branches
above their heads.

But they were not so much afraid of them after all; for Saloo admitted
that he did not deem the _mias pappan_ so dangerous; and he had
ascertained that it was this species of ourang-outang they had

He confessed himself puzzled at the behaviour of the one that had caused
them so much fear and trouble.  It was another species, the _mias
rombi_, of which he stood in dread; and he could only account for the
_mias pappan_ having acted as it had done, by supposing the animal to
have taken some eccentric notion into its head--perhaps caused, as we
have already hinted, by its conflict with the crocodile.

Dangerous these gigantic _quadrumana_ are, nevertheless;--their
superhuman strength enabling them to make terrible havoc wherever and
whenever their fury becomes aroused.  But without provocation this
rarely occurs, and a man or woman who passes by them without making a
noise, is not likely to be molested.

Besides the large species, to which belonged the ape that had attacked
them, the travellers saw another kind while passing across the plain.
This was the _mias kassio_, much smaller in size, and more gentle in its

But they saw nothing of those, tallest of all, and the most dreaded by
Saloo--the _mias rombis_--although the old bee-hunter still maintained
his belief that they exist in the forests of Borneo as well as in the
wilds of Sumatra.

The plain over which they were making their way, here and there
intersected with lagoons and tracts of tree-covered swamp, was the very
locality in which these great apes delight to dwell; their habit being
to make their huge platforms, or sleeping-places, upon bushes that grow
out of boggy marsh or water--thus rendering them difficult of access to
man, the only enemy they have need to dread.



The travellers had taken their departure from the lake-shore at an early
hour of the morning; and before sunset they had traversed the remaining
portion of the plain, and ascended a considerable distance up the
sloping side of the mountains beyond.

Another day's journey, during which they accomplished a very long and
tiresome march, brought them to the summit of the ridge, the great
dividing chain which strikes longitudinally across the whole island of
Borneo, so far as the geographers yet know it.

They could see far to the northward, dimly outlined against the sky, the
immense mountain of Kini-Balu--which rises to a height of nearly 12,000
feet; but they derived their principal gratification from the fact that,
in the country stretching westward, appeared nothing likely to prevent
them from reaching the destined goal of their journey, the old Malay
capital town of Bruni--or rather the isle of Labuan, which lies along
the coast a little to the north of it, where Captain Redwood knew that a
flag floated, which, if not that of his own country, would be equally as
certain to give him protection.

From the position of Kini-Balu, whose square summit they could
distinguish from all others, he could see the point to steer for as
well, or even better, than if he had brought his ship's compass with
him, and they would no longer be travelling in any uncertainty as to
their course.  From where they were it could be distinguished to a
pointy without any variation; and after a good night's rest upon the
mountain-ridge, they commenced descending its western slope.

For a time they lost sight of the sun's orb, that, rising behind their
backs, was hidden by the mountain mass, and casting a purple shadow over
the forest-clad country before them.  Soon, however, the bright orb,
soaring into the sky, sent its beams before them, and they continued
their journey under the cheering light.

Had it not been for fear of their fellow-beings, they would have
advanced on without much further apprehension; for one and all were now
rejoicing in a plentitude of restored health, and their spirits were
consequently fresh and cheerful.

But they still had some dread of danger from man--from those terrible
enemies, the Dyaks, of whom Bornean travellers have told such ghastly

It seemed, however, as if our adventurers were not destined to discover
whether these tales were true or false, or in any way to realise them.
The evil star that had hung over their heads while on the eastern side
of the island, must have stayed there; and now on the west nothing of
ill appeared likely to befall them.

For all this they did not trust to destiny, but took every precaution to
shun an encounter with the savages, travelling only at such times as
they were certain the "coast was clear;" and lying in concealment
whenever they saw a sign of danger.  Saloo, who could glide through the
trees with the stealth and silence of a snake, always led the advance;
and thus they progressed from hill to hill, and across the intervening
valleys, still taking care that their faces should be turned westward.

At length, after many days of this cautious progress, they ascended a
steep ridge, which, rising directly across their route, made it
necessary for them to climb it.

It caused them several hours of toil; but they were well rewarded for
the effort.  On reaching its summit, and casting their glances beyond,
they saw below, and at a little to the left, the strange old
wooden-walled town of Bruni; while to the right, across a narrow arm of
the sea, lay the island of Labuan, and on its conspicuous buildings
waved the glorious old banner of Britannia.

Captain Redwood hailed it with almost as much joy as if it had been the
flag of his native land.

He was not then in the mood to dwell on any distinction between them;
but, flinging himself on his knees, with Henry on one side, and Helen
upon the other--Murtagh and the Malay a few paces in the rear--he
offered up a prayer of devout and earnest gratitude for their great
deliverance to Him who is ever powerful to save, their Father and their

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