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Title: Where the Strange Trails Go Down - Sulu, Borneo, Celebes, Bali, Java, Sumatra, Straits - Settlements, Malay States, Siam, Cambodia, Annam, - Cochin-China
Author: Powell, E. Alexander (Edward Alexander), 1879-1957
Language: English
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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.

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  _BY E. ALEXANDER POWELL_

    WHERE THE STRANGE TRAILS GO DOWN

    THE NEW FRONTIERS OF FREEDOM

    THE ARMY BEHIND THE ARMY

    THE LAST FRONTIER

    GENTLEMEN ROVERS

    THE END OF THE TRAIL

    FIGHTING IN FLANDERS

    THE ROAD TO GLORY

    VIVE LA FRANCE!

    ITALY AT WAR

  _CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS_



WHERE THE STRANGE TRAILS GO DOWN


[Illustration: A _real_ wild man of Borneo

A Dyak head-hunter using the _sumpitan_, or blow-gun, in the jungle of
Central Borneo]



  WHERE
  THE STRANGE TRAILS
  GO DOWN

  SULU, BORNEO, CELEBES, BALI, JAVA,
  SUMATRA, STRAITS SETTLEMENTS,
  MALAY STATES, SIAM, CAMBODIA,
  ANNAM, COCHIN-CHINA


  BY
  E. ALEXANDER POWELL


  WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAP


  NEW YORK
  CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
  1921



  COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY
  CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

  Published October, 1921


  PRINTED AT
  THE SCRIBNER PRESS
  NEW YORK, U. S. A.



  To

  THE WINSOME WIDOW
  MARGARET CAMPBELL McCUTCHEN
  WHO, DESPITE COUNTLESS DISCOMFORTS,
  ALWAYS KEPT SMILING



FOREWORD


It is a curious thing, when you stop to think about it, that, though of
late the public has been deluged with books on the South Seas, though
the shelves of the public libraries sag beneath the volumes devoted to
China, Japan, Korea, next to nothing has been written, save by a
handful of scientifically-minded explorers, about those far-flung,
gorgeous lands, stretching from the southern marches of China to the
edges of Polynesia, which the ethnologists call Malaysia. Siam,
Cambodia, Annam, Cochin-China, the Malay States, the Straits
Settlements, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Celebes, Borneo, Sulu ... their very
names are synonymous with romance; the sound of them makes restless the
feet of all who love adventure. Sultans and rajahs ... pirates and
head-hunters ... sun-bronzed pioneers and white-helmeted _legionnaires_
... blow-guns with poisoned darts and curly-bladed krises ... elephants
with gilded howdahs ... tigers, crocodiles, orang-utans ... pagodas and
palaces ... shaven-headed priests in yellow robes ... flaming
fire-trees ... the fragrance of frangipani ... green jungle and
steaming tropic rivers ... white moonlight on the long white beaches
... the throb of war-drums and the tinkle of wind-blown
temple-bells....

But it is not for all of us to go down the strange trails which lead
to these magic places. The world's work must be done. So, for those who
are condemned by circumstance to the prosaic existence of the office,
the factory, and the home, I have written this book. I would have them
feel the hot breath of the South. I would convey to them something of
the spell of the tropics, the mystery of the jungle, the lure of the
little, palm-fringed islands which rise from peacock-colored seas. I
would introduce to them those picturesque and hardy figures planters,
constabulary officers, consuls, missionaries, colonial administrators
who are carrying civilization into these dark and distant corners of
the earth. I would have them know the fascination of leaning through
those "magic casements, opening on the foam of perilous seas, in faery
lands forlorn."

I had planned, therefore, that this should be a light-hearted,
care-free, casual narrative. And so, in parts, it is. But more serious
things have crept, almost imperceptibly, into its pages. The
achievements of the Dutch empire-builders in the Insulinde, the
conditions which prevail under the rule of the chartered company in
Borneo, the opening-up of Indo-China and the Malay Peninsula, the
regeneration of Siam, the epic struggle between civilization and
savagery which is in progress in all these lands--these are phases of
Malaysian life which, if this book is to have any serious value, I
cannot ignore. That is why it is a mélange of the frivolous and the
serious, the picturesque and the prosaic, the superficial and the
significant. If, when you lay it down, you have gained a better
understanding of the dangers and difficulties which beset the
colonizing white man in the lands of the Malay, if you realize that
life in the eastern tropics consists of something more than sapphire
seas and bamboo huts beneath the slanting palm trees and native maidens
with hibiscus blossoms in their dusky hair, if, in short, you have been
instructed as well as entertained, then I shall feel that I have been
justified in writing this book.


  E. ALEXANDER POWELL.


  York Harbor, Maine,
  October first, 1921.



AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT


For the courtesies they showed me, and the assistance they afforded me
during the long journey which is chronicled in this book, I am deeply
indebted to many persons in many lands. I welcome this opportunity of
expressing my gratitude to the Hon. Francis Burton Harrison, former
Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, and to the Hon. Manuel
Quezon, President of the Philippine Senate, for placing at my disposal
the coastguard cutter _Negros_, on which I cruised upward of six
thousand miles, as well as for countless other courtesies.
Brigadier-General Ralph W. Jones, Warren H. Latimer, Esq., and Major
Edwin C. Bopp shamefully neglected their personal affairs in order to
make my journey comfortable and interesting. Dr. Edward C. Ernst, of
the United States Quarantine Service at Manila, who served as volunteer
surgeon of the expedition; John L. Hawkinson, Esq., the man behind the
camera; James Rockwell, Esq., and Captain A. B. Galvez, commander of
the _Negros_, by their unfailing tactfulness and good nature, did much
to add to the success of the enterprise. I am likewise under the
deepest obligations to Colonel Ole Waloe, commanding the Philippine
Constabulary in Zamboanga; to the Hon. P. W. Rogers, Governor of Jolo;
to Captain R. C. d'Oyley-John, formerly Chief Police Officer of
Sandakan, British North Borneo; to M. de Haan, Resident at Samarinda,
Dutch Borneo; and to his colleagues at Makassar, Singaradja,
Kloeng-Kloeng, Surabaya, Djokjakarta, and Surakarta; to the Hon. John
F. Jewell, American Consul-General at Batavia; to the Hon. Edwin N.
Gunsaulus, American Consul-General at Singapore; to J. D. C. Rodgers,
Esq., American Chargé d'Affaires at Bangkok; to his late Royal Highness
the Crown Prince of Siam; to his Serene Highness Prince Traidos
Prabandh, Siamese Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; to his
Serene Highness Colonel Prince Amoradhat, Chief of Intelligence of the
Siamese Army, who constituted himself my guide and cicerone during our
stay in his country; to the French Resident-Superior at Pnom-Penh; and
to the other French officials who aided me during my travels in
Indo-China. His Excellency J. J. Jusserand, French Ambassador at
Washington and his Excellency Phya Prabha Karavongse, Siamese Minister
at Washington, provided me with letters which obtained for me many
facilities in French Indo-China and in Siam. Nor am I unappreciative of
the many kindnesses shown me by James R. Bray, Esq., of New York City;
by Austin Day Brixey, Esq., of Greenwich, Conn.; and by Dr. Eldon R.
James, General Adviser to the Siamese Government. I also wish to
acknowledge my indebtedness to A. Cabaton, Esq., from whose extremely
valuable study of Netherlands India I have drawn freely in describing
the Dutch system of administration in the Insulinde. I have also
obtained much valuable data from "_Java and Her Neighbors_" by A. C.
Walcott, Esq., and from "_The Kingdom of the Yellow Robe_" by Ernest
Young, Esq.


  E. ALEXANDER POWELL.



  CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                 PAGE

     I.  MAGIC ISLES AND FAIRY SEAS                          1

    II.  OUTPOSTS OF EMPIRE                                 25

   III.  "WHERE THERE AIN'T NO TEN COMMANDMENTS"            50

    IV.  THE EMERALDS OF WILHELMINA                         74

     V.  MAN-EATERS AND HEAD-HUNTERS                        99

    VI.  IN BUGI LAND                                      126

   VII.  DOWN TO AN ISLAND EDEN                            143

  VIII.  THE GARDEN THAT IS JAVA                           163

    IX.  PROSPECT RULERS AND COMIC OPERA COURTS            189

     X.  THROUGH THE GOLDEN CHERSONESE TO ELEPHANT LAND    208

    XI.  To PNOM-PENH BY THE JUNGLE TRAIL                  246

   XII.  EXILES OF THE OUTLANDS                            270



  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  A _real_ wild man of Borneo                   _Frontispiece_

                                                   FACING PAGE

  Hawkinson taking motion-pictures while descending the
    rapids of the Pagsanjan River in Luzon                  10

  Members of Major Powell's party landing on the south
    coast of Bali                                           10

  The bull-fight at Parang                                  22

  Dusun women                                               60

  Dyak head-hunters of North Borneo                         60

  The Jalan Tiga, Sandakan                                  70

  A patron of a Sandakan opium farm                         70

  Catching a man-eating crocodile in a Borneo river        112

  Major Powell talking to the Regent of Koetei on the
    steps at Tenggaroeng                                   124

  State procession in the Kraton of the
    Sultan of Djokjakarta                                  124

  Some strange subjects of Queen Wilhelmina                130

  The volcano of Bromo, Eastern Java, in eruption          170

  A Dyak girl at Tenggaroeng, Dutch Borneo                 200

  A Dyak head-hunter, Dutch Borneo                         200

  The captain of the body-guard of "The Spike of the
    Universe"                                              200

  A clown in the royal wedding procession at Djokjakarta   200

  An elephant hunt in Siam                                 228

  King Sisowath of Cambodia                                234

  Rama VI, King of Siam                                    234

  Colorful ceremonies of Old Siam                          238

  Transportation in the Siamese jungle                     248

  The head of the pageant approaching the camera in
  the palace at Pnom-Penh                                  266

  Dancing girls belonging to the royal ballet of the
  King of Cambodia                                         268


  MAP

  Malaysia                                                  28



WHERE THE STRANGE TRAILS GO DOWN



CHAPTER I

MAGIC ISLES AND FAIRY SEAS


When I was a small boy I spent my summers at the quaint old
fishing-village of Mattapoisett, on Buzzard's Bay. Next door to the
house we occupied stood a low-roofed, unpretentious dwelling, white as
an old-time clipper ship, with bright green blinds. I can still catch
the fragrance of the lilacs by the gate. The fine old doorway,
brass-knockered, arched by a spray of crimson rambler, was flanked on
one hand by a great conch-shell, on the other by an enormous specimen
of branch-coral, thus subtly intimating to passers-by that the owner of
the house had been in "foreign parts." A distinctly nautical atmosphere
was lent to the broad, deck-like verandah by a ship's barometer, a
chart of Cape Cod, and a highly polished brass telescope mounted on a
tripod so as to command the entire expanse of the bay. Here Cap'n
Bryant, a retired New Bedford whaling captain, was wont to spend the
sunny days in his big cane-seated rocking-chair, puffing meditatively
at his pipe and for my boyish edification spinning yarns of adventure
in far-distant seas and on islands with magic names--Tawi Tawi,
Makassar Straits, the Dingdings, the Little Paternosters, the Gulf of
Boni, Thursday Island, Java Head. Of cannibal feasts in New Guinea, of
head-hunters in Borneo, of strange dances by dusky temple-girls in
Bali, of up-country expeditions with the White Rajah of Sarawak, of
desperate encounters with Dyak pirates in the Sulu Sea, he discoursed
at length and in fascinating detail, while I, sprawled on the verandah
steps, my knees clasped in my hands, listened raptly and, when the
veteran's flow of reminiscence showed signs of slackening, clamored
insistently for more.

Then and there I determined that some day I would myself sail those
adventurous seas in a vessel of my own, that I would poke the nose of
my craft up steaming tropic rivers, that I would drop anchor off towns
whose names could not be found on ordinary maps, and that I would go
ashore in white linen and pipe-clayed shoes and a sun-hat to take
tiffin with sultans and rajahs, and to barter beads and brass wire for
curios--a curly-bladed Malay kris, carved cocoanuts, a shark's-tooth
necklace, a blow-gun with its poisoned darts, a stuffed bird of
paradise, and, of course, a huge conch-shell and an enormous piece of
branch-coral--which I would bring home and display to admiring
relatives and friends as convincing proofs of where I had been.

But school and college had to be gotten through with, and after them
came wars in various parts of the world and adventurings in many
lands, so that thirty years slipped by before an opportunity presented
itself to realize the dream of my boyhood. But when at last I set sail
for those far-distant seas it was on an enterprise which would have
gladdened the old sailor's soul--an expedition whose object it was to
seek out the unusual, the curious, and the picturesque, and to capture
them on the ten miles of celluloid film which we took with us, so that
those who are condemned by circumstance to the humdrum life of the
farm, the office, or the mill might themselves go adventuring o'nights,
from the safety and comfort of red-plush seats, through the magic of
the motion-picture screen. When I set out on my long journey the old
whaling captain whose tales had kindled my youthful imagination had
been sleeping for a quarter of a century in the Mattapoisett graveyard,
but when our anchor rumbled down off Tawi Tawi, when, steaming across
Makassar Straits, we picked up the Little Paternosters, when our tiny
vessel poked her bowsprit up the steaming Koetei into the heart of the
Borneo jungle, I knew that, though invisible to human eyes, he was
standing beside me on the bridge.

       *       *       *       *       *

Until I met the young-old man to whom those magazines which devote
themselves to the gossip of the film world admiringly refer as "the
Napoleon of the movies," it had never occurred to me that adventure has
a definite market value. At least I had never realized that there are
people who stand ready to buy it by the foot, as one buys real estate
or rope. I had always supposed that the only way adventure could be
capitalized was as material for magazine articles and books and for
dinner-table stories.

"What we are after" the film magnate began abruptly, motioning me to a
capacious leather chair and pushing a box of cigars within my reach,
"is something new in travel pictures. Like most of the big producers,
we furnish our exhibitors with complete programmes--a feature, a
comedy, a topical review, and a travel or educational picture. We make
the features and the comedies in our own studios; the weeklies we buy
from companies which specialize in that sort of thing. But heretofore
we have had to pick up our travel stuff--where we could get it from
free lances mostly--and there is never enough really good travel
material to meet the demand. For quite ordinary travel or educational
films we have to pay a minimum of two dollars a foot, while really
unusual pictures will bring almost any price that is asked for them.
The supply is so uncertain, however, and the price is so high that we
have decided to try the experiment of taking our own. That is what I
wanted to talk to you about."

"Before the war," he continued, "there was almost no demand in the
United States for travel pictures. In fact, when a manager wanted to
clear his house for the next show, he would put a travel picture on the
screen. But since the boys have been coming back from France and
Germany and Siberia and Russia the public has begun to call for travel
films again. They've heard their sons and brothers and sweethearts tell
about the strange places they've been, and the strange things they've
seen, and I suppose it makes them want to learn more about those parts
of the world that lie east of Battery Place and west of the Golden
Gate. But we don't want the old bromide stuff, mind
you--mountain-climbing in Switzerland, cutting sugar-cane in Cuba,
picking cocoanuts in Ceylon. That sort of thing goes well enough on the
Chautauqua circuits, but it's as dead as the corner saloon so far as
the big cities are concerned. What we are looking for are unusual
pictures--tigers, elephants, pirates, brigands, cannibals, Oriental
temples and palaces, war-dances, weird ceremonies, curious customs,
natives with rings in their noses and feathers in their hair, scenes
that are spectacular and exciting--in short, what the magazine editors
call 'adventure stuff.' We want pictures that will make 'em sit up in
their seats and exclaim, 'Well, what d'ye know about that?' and that
will send them away to tell their friends about them."

"Like the publisher," I suggested, "who remarked that his idea of a
good newspaper was one that would cause its readers to exclaim when
they opened it, 'My God!'?"

"That's the idea," he agreed. "And if the pictures are from places that
most people have never heard of before, so much the better. I'm told
that you've spent your life looking for queer places to write about. So
why can't you suggest some to take pictures of?"

"But I've had no practical experience in taking motion-pictures," I
protested. "The only time I ever touched a motion-picture camera was
when I turned the crank of Donald Thompson's for a few minutes during
the entry of the Germans into Antwerp in 1914."

"Were the pictures a success?" the Napoleon of the Movies queried
interestedly. "I don't recall having seen them."

"No, you wouldn't," I hastened to explain. "You see, it wasn't until
the show was all over that Thompson discovered that he had forgotten to
take the cap off the lens."

"Don't let that worry you," he assured me. "We'll take care of the
technical end. We'll provide you with the best camera man to be had and
the best equipment. All you will have to do is to show him what to
photograph, arrange the action, decide on the settings, obtain the
permission of the authorities, the good-will of the officials, the
co-operation of the military, engage interpreters and guides, reserve
hotel accommodations, arrange for motor-cars and boats and horses and
special trains, and keep everyone jollied up and feeling good
generally. Aside from that, there won't be anything for you to do
except to enjoy yourself."

"It certainly sounds alluring," I admitted. "The trouble is that you
are looking for something that can't always be found. You don't find
adventure the way you find four-leaf clovers; it just happens to you,
like the measles or a blow-out. Still, if one has the time and money
to go after them, there are a lot of curious things that might pass for
adventure when they are shown on the screen."

"Where are they?" the film magnate asked eagerly, spreading upon his
mahogany desk a map of the world.

It was a little disconcerting, this request to point out those regions
where adventure could be found, very much as a visitor from the
provinces might ask a New York hotel clerk to tell him where he could
see the Bohemian life of which he had read in the Sunday supplements.

"There's Russian Central Asia, of course," I suggested tentatively.
"Samarkand and Bokhara and Tashkent, you know. But I'm afraid they're
out of the question on account of the Bolsheviki. Besides, I'm not
looking for the sort of adventure that ends between a stone wall and a
firing-party. Then there are some queer emirates along the southern
edge of the Sahara: Sokoto and Kanem and Bornu and Wadai. But it would
take at least six months to obtain the necessary permission from the
French and British colonial offices and to arrange the other details of
the expedition."

"But that doesn't exhaust the possibilities by any means," I continued
hastily, for nothing was farther from my wish than to discourage so
fascinating a plan. "There ought to be some splendid picture material
among the Dyaks of Borneo--they're head-hunters, you know. From there
we could jump across to the Celebes and possibly to New Guinea. And I
understand that they have some queer customs on the island of Bali,
over beyond Java; in fact, I've been told that, in spite of all the
efforts of the Dutch to stop it, the Balinese still practise _suttee_.
A picture of a widow being burned on her husband's funeral pyre would
be a bit out of the ordinary, wouldn't it? That reminds me that I read
somewhere the other day that next spring there is to be a big royal
wedding in Djokjakarta, in middle Java, with all sorts of gorgeous
festivities. At Batavia we would have no difficulty in getting a
steamer for Singapore, and from there we could go overland by the new
Federated Malay States Railway, through Johore and Malacca and Kuala
Lumpur, to Siam, where the cats and the twins and the white elephants
come from. From Bangkok we might take a short-cut through the Cambodian
jungle, by elephant, to Pnom-Penh and----"

"Hold on!" the Movie King protested. "That's plenty. Let me come up for
air. Those names you've been reeling off mean as much to me as the
dishes on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. But that's what we're
after. We want the people who see the pictures to say: 'Where the
dickens _is_ that place? I never heard of it before.' They get to
arguing about it, and when they get home they look it up in the family
atlas, and when they find how far away it is, they feel that they've
had their money's worth. How soon can you be ready to start?"

"How soon," I countered, "can you have a letter of credit ready?"

Owing to the urgent requirements of the European governments, vessels
of every description were, as I discovered upon our arrival at Manila,
few and far between in Eastern seas; so, in spite of the assurance that
I was not to permit the question of expense to curtail my itinerary, it
is perfectly certain that we could not have visited the remote and
inaccessible places which we did had it not been for the lively
interest taken in our enterprise by the Honorable Francis Burton
Harrison, Governor-General of the Philippines, and by the Honorable
Manuel Quezon, President of the Philippine Senate. When
Governor-General Harrison learned that I wished to take pictures in the
Sulu Archipelago, he kindly offered, in order to facilitate our
movements from island to island, to place at my disposal a coast-guard
cutter, just as a friend might offer one the use of his motor-car.
There was at first some question as to whether the Governor-General had
the authority to send a government vessel outside of territorial
waters, but Mr. Quezon, who, so far as influence goes, is a Henry Cabot
Lodge and a Boies Penrose combined, unearthed a law which permitted him
to utilize the vessels of the coast-guard service for the purpose of
entertaining visitors to the islands in such ways as the Government of
the Philippines saw fit. And, in a manner of speaking, Mr. Quezon is
the Government of the Philippines. Thus it came about that on the last
day of February, 1920, the coast-guard cutter _Negros_, 150 tons and
150 feet over all--with a crew of sixty men, Captain A. B. Galvez
commanding, and having on board the Lovely Lady, who accompanies me on
all my travels; the Winsome Widow, who joined us in Seattle; the
Doctor, who is an officer of the United States Health Service stationed
at Manila; John L. Hawkinson, the efficient and imperturbable man
behind the camera; three friends of the Governor-General, who went
along for the ride; and myself--steamed out of Manila Bay into the
crimson glory of a tropic sunset, and, when past Cavite and Corregidor,
laid her course due south toward those magic isles and fairy seas which
are so full of mystery and romance, so packed with possibilities of
high adventure.

[Illustration: Hawkinson taking motion-pictures while descending the
rapids of the Pagsanjan River in Luzon

His camera is set up astride of two native dugouts lashed together]

[Illustration: Members of Major Powell's party landing on the south
coast of Bali

Mrs. Powell being carried ashore by sailors. The _Negros_ in the
distance]

       *       *       *       *       *

Governor-General Harrison believed, by methods that are legitimate, in
adding to the American public's knowledge of the Philippines, and it
was owing to his broad-minded point of view and to the many cablegrams
which he sent ahead of us, that at each port in the islands at which we
touched we found the local officials waiting on the pier-head to bid us
welcome and to assist us. At Jolo, which is the capital of the Moro
country, two lean, sun-tanned, youthful-looking men came aboard to
greet us: one was the Honorable P. W. Rogers, Governor of the
Department of Sulu; the other was Captain Link, a former officer of
constabulary who is now the Provincial Treasurer. In the first five
minutes of our conversation I discovered that they knew exactly the
sort of picture material that I wanted and that they would help me to
the limit of their ability to get it. For that matter, they themselves
personify adventure in its most exciting form.

Rogers, who was originally a soldier, went to the Philippines as
orderly for General Pershing long before the days when "Black Jack" was
to win undying fame on battlefields half the world away. The young
soldier showed such marked ability that, thanks to Pershing's
assistance, he obtained a post as stenographer under the civil
government, thence rising by rapid steps to the difficult post of
Governor of Sulu. A better selection could hardly have been made, for
there is no white man in the islands whom the Moros more heartily
respect and fear than their boyish-looking governor. Mrs. Rogers is the
daughter of a German trader who lived in Jolo and died there with his
boots on. A year or so prior to her marriage she was sitting with her
parents at tiffin when a Moro, with whom her father had had a trifling
business disagreement, knocked at the door and asked for a moment's
conversation. Telling the native that he would talk with him after he
had finished his meal, the trader returned to the table. Scarcely had
he seated himself when the Moro, who had slipped unobserved into the
dining room, sprang like a panther, his broad-bladed _barong_
describing a glistening arc, and the trader's head rolled among the
dishes. Another sweep of the terrible weapon and the mother's hand was
severed at the wrist, while the future Mrs. Rogers owes her life to the
fact that she fainted and slipped under the table. I relate this
incident in order to give you some idea of the local atmosphere.

A few weeks before our arrival at Jolo, Governor Rogers, in compliance
with instructions from Manila, had ordered a census of the inhabitants.
But the Moros are a highly suspicious folk, so, when some one started
the rumor that the government was planning to brand them, as it brands
its mules and horses, it promptly gained wide credence. By tactful
explanations the suspicions of most of the natives were allayed, but
one Moro, notorious as a bad man, barricaded himself, together with
five of his friends, three women and a boy, in his house--a nipa hut
raised above the ground on stilts--and defied the Governor to enumerate
_them_. Now, if the Governor had permitted such open defiance to pass
unnoticed, the entire population of Jolo, always ready for trouble,
promptly would have gotten out of hand. So, accompanied by five
troopers of the constabulary, he rode out to the outlaw's house and
attempted to reason with him. The man obstinately refused to show
himself, however, even turning a deaf ear to the appeals of the village
_imam_. Thereupon Rogers ordered the constabulary to open fire, their
shots being answered by a fusillade from the Moros barricaded in the
house. In twenty minutes the flimsy structure looked more like a sieve
than a dwelling. When the firing ceased a six-year-old boy descended
the ladder and, approaching the Governor, remarked unconcernedly: "You
can go in now. They're all dead." Then Rogers called up the
census-taker and told him to go ahead with his enumeration.

The provincial treasurer, Captain Link, is a lean, lithe South
Carolinian who has spent fifteen years in Moroland. He is what is known
in the cattle country as a "go-gitter." It is told of him that he once
nearly lost his commission, while in the constabulary, by sending to
the Governor, as a Christmas present, a package which, upon being
opened, was found to contain the head of a much-wanted outlaw.

"I knew he wanted that fellow's head more than anything else in the
world," Captain Link said naïvely, in telling me the story, "so it
struck me it would be just the thing to send him for a Christmas
present. I spent a lot of time and trouble getting it too, for the
fellow sure was a bad hombre. It would have gotten by all right, but
the Governor's wife, thinking it was a present for herself, had to go
and open the package. She went into hysterics when she saw what was
inside and the Governor was so mad he nearly fired me. Some people have
no sense of humor."

Atop of the bookcase in Captain Link's study--the bookcase, by the way,
contains Burton's _Thousand and One Nights_, the _Discourses_ of
Epictetus, and President Eliot's tabloid classics--is the skull in
question, surmounted by a Moro fez. Across the front of the fez is
printed this significant legend:

        THIS IS JOHN HENRY
  JOHN HENRY DISOBEYED CAPTAIN LINK
    _Sic Transit Gloria Mundi_

While we are on the subject, let me tell you about another of these
advance-guards of civilization who, single-handed, transformed a
worthless island in the Sulu Sea into a veritable Garden of the Lord
and its inhabitants from warlike savages into peaceful and prosperous
farmers. In 1914 a short, bespectacled Michigander named Warner was
sent by the Philippine Bureau of Education to Siassi, one of the
islands of the Sulu group, to teach its Moro inhabitants the rudiments
of American civilization. Warner's sole equipment for the job
consisted, as he candidly admitted, of a medical education. He took
with him a number of Filipino assistants, but as they did not get along
with the Moros, he shipped them back to Manila and sent for an Airedale
dog. He also sent for all the works on agriculture and gardening that
were to be had in the bookshops of the capital. For five years he
remained on Siassi, the only white man. As even the little inter-island
steamers rarely find their way there, months sometimes passed without
his hearing from the outside world. But he was too busy to be lonely.
His jurisdiction extended over two islands, separated by a narrow
channel, but this he never crossed at night and in the daytime only
when he was compelled to, as the narrow channel was the home of giant
crocodiles which not infrequently attacked and capsized the frail
native _vintas_, killing their occupants as they struggled in the
water.

Warner, who had spent four years among the Visayans before going to
Siassi, and who was, therefore, eminently qualified to compare the
northern islanders with the Moros, told me that the latter possess a
much higher type of intelligence than the Filipinos and assimilate new
ideas far more quickly. He added that they have a highly developed
sense of humor; that they are quick to appreciate subtle stories, which
the Tagalogs and Visayans are not; and that they are much more ready to
accept advice on agricultural and economic matters than the Christian
Filipinos, who have a life-sized opinion of their own ability. When the
day's work was over, he said, he would seat himself in the doorway of
his hut, surrounded by a group of Moros, and discuss crops and weather
prospects, swap jokes and tell stories, just as he might have done with
lighter skinned sons of toil around the cracker-barrel of a cross-roads
store in New England. He added that he was sadly in need of some new
stories to tell his Moro protegés, as, after six years on the island,
his own fund was about exhausted. But he was growing weary of life on
Siassi, he told me; he wanted action and excitement; so he was
preparing to move, with his Airedale, to Bohol, in the Visayas, where,
he had heard it rumored, there was another white man.

Still another of the picturesque characters with whom I foregathered
nightly on the after-deck of the _Negros_ during our stay at Jolo was a
former soldier, John Jennings by name. He was an operative of the
Philippine Secret Service, being engaged at the time in breaking up the
running of opium from Borneo across the Sulu Sea to the Moro islands.
Jennings is a short, thickset, powerfully-built man, all nerve and no
nerves. Adventure is his middle name. He has lived more stories than I
could invent. Shortly before our arrival at Jolo Jennings had learned
from a native in his pay that a son of the Flowery Kingdom, the
proprietor of a notorious gambling resort situated on the
quarter-mile-long ramshackle wharf known as the Chinese pier, was
driving a roaring trade in the forbidden drug. So one afternoon
Jennings, his hands in his pockets and in each pocket a service
automatic, sauntered carelessly along the pier and upon reaching the
reputed opium den, knocked briskly on the door. The Chinese proprietor
evidently suspected the purpose of his visit, however, for he was
unable to gain admittance. So that night, wearing the huge straw
sun-hat and flapping garments of blue cotton of a coolie, he tried
again. This time in response to his knock the heavy door swung open.
Within all was black and silent as the tomb. The lintel was low and
Jennings was compelled to stoop in order to enter. As he cautiously set
foot across the threshold there was a sudden swish of steel in the
darkness and the blade of a _barong_ whistled past his face, slicing
off the front of his hat and missing his head by the width of an
eyelash. As he sprang back the door slammed in his face and he heard
the bolts shot home, followed by the sound of a weapon clattering on
the floor and the patter of naked feet. Realizing that the men he was
after were making their escape by another exit, Jennings hurled
himself against the door, an automatic in either hand. It gave way
before his assault and he was precipitated headlong into the inky
blackness of the room. Taking no chances this time, he raked it with a
stream of lead from end to end. Then, there being no further sound, he
swept the place with a beam from his electric torch. Stretched on the
floor were three dead Chinamen and beside them was enough opium to have
drugged everyone on the island. That little episode, as Jennings
remarked dryly, put quite a crimp in the opium traffic in Jolo.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cockfighting, which is as popular throughout the Philippines as
baseball is in the United States, finds its most enthusiastic devotees
among the Moros, every community in the Sulu islands having its cockpit
and its fighting birds, on whose prowess the natives gamble with
reckless abandon. Gambling is, indeed, the _raison d'être_ of
cockfighting in Moroland, for, as the birds are armed with four-inch
spurs of razor sharpness, and as one or both birds are usually killed
within a few minutes after they are tossed into the pit, very little
sport attaches to the contest. The villagers are inordinately proud of
their local fighting-cocks, boasting of their prowess as a Bostonian
boasts of the Braves or a New Yorker of the Giants, and are always
ready to back them to the limit of their means.

Some years ago, according to a story that was told me in the
islands--for the truth of which I do not vouch--an American destroyer
dropped anchor off Cebu, the second largest city in the Philippines.
That night a shore party of bluejackets, wandering about the town in
quest of amusement, dropped in at a cockpit where a main was in
progress. Noting the large wagers laid by the excited natives on their
favorite birds, the sailors offered to back a "chicken" which they had
aboard the destroyer against all the cocks in Cebu. The natives,
smiling in their sleeves at the prospect of taking money so easily from
the Americanos, promptly accepted the challenge and some hundreds of
pesos were laid against the unknown bird. At the hour set for the fight
the grinning sailors appeared at the cockpit with their "chicken," the
mascot of the destroyer--a large American eagle! Ensued, of course, a
torrent of protest and remonstrance, but the money was already up and
the bluejackets demanded action. So the eagle was anchored by a chain
in the center of the pit, where it sat motionless and apathetic, head
on one side, eyelids drooping, apparently half asleep--until a cock was
tossed into the pit. Then there was a lightning-like flash of the
mighty talons and all that was left of the Cebuan champion was a heap
of bloodied feathers. The "match" was quickly over and the triumphant
sailors, collecting their bets, departed for their ship. Ever since
then there has been a proverb in Cebu--"Never match your cock against
an American chicken."

Governor Rogers informed me that, in compliance with a cablegram from
the Governor-General, he had arranged a "show" for us at a village
called Parang, on the other side of the island. The "show," I gathered,
was to consist of a stag-hunt, shark-fishing, war-dances, and pony
races, and was to conclude with a native bull-fight. One of the
favorite sports of the Moros is hunting the small native stag on
horseback, tiring it out, and killing it with spears. As it developed,
however, that there was no certainty of being able so to stage-manage
the affair that either the hunters or the hunted would come within the
range of the camera, we regretfully decided to dispense with that
number of the programme.

When we arrived at Parang it looked as though the entire population of
the island had assembled for the occasion. The native police were
keeping clear a circle in which the dances were to take place, while
the slanting trunks of the cocoanut-palms provided reserved seats for
scores of tan and chocolate and coffee-colored youngsters. We were
greeted by the Panglima of Parang, the overlord of the district, who
explained, through Governor Rogers, that he had had prepared a little
repast of which he hoped that we would deign to partake. Now, after you
know some of the secrets of Moro cooking and have had a glimpse into a
Moro kitchen, even the most robust appetite is usually dampened. But
the Governor whispered "The old man has gone to a lot of trouble to
arrange this show and if you refuse to eat his food he'll be mortally
offended," so, purely in the interests of amity, we seated ourselves at
the table, which had been set under the palms in the open. I don't know
what we ate and I don't care to know--though I admit that I had some
uneasy suspicions--but, with the uncompromising eye of the old Panglima
fixed sternly upon us, we did our best to convince him that we
appreciated his cuisine.

But the dancing which followed made us forget what we had eaten. During
the ensuing months we were to see dances in many lands--in Borneo and
Bali and Java and Siam and Cambodia--but they were all characterized by
a certain monotony and sameness. These Moro dancers, however, were in a
class by themselves. If they could be brought across the ocean and
would dance before an audience on Broadway with the same savage abandon
with which they danced before the camera under the palm-trees of
Parang, there would be a line a block long in front of the box-office.
One of the dances was symbolical of a cock-fight, the cocks being
personified by a young woman and a boy. It was sheer barbarism, of
course, but it was fascinating. And the curious thing about it was that
the hundreds of Moros who stood and squatted in a great circle, and who
had doubtless seen the same thing scores of times before, were so
engrossed in the movements of the dance, each of which had its subtle
shade of meaning, that they became utterly oblivious to our presence or
to Hawkinson's steady grinding of the camera. In the war-dance the
participants, who were Moro fighting men, and were armed with spears,
shields, and the vicious, broad-bladed knives known as _barongs_, gave
a highly realistic representation of pinning an enemy to the earth with
a spear, and with the _barong_ decapitating him. The first part of the
dance, before the passions of the savages became aroused, was, however,
monotonous and uninteresting.

"Can't you stir 'em up a little?" called Hawkinson, who, like all
camera men, demands constant action. "Tell 'em that this film costs
money and that we didn't come here to take pictures of Loie Fuller
stuff."

"I think it might be as well to let them take their time about it,"
remarked Captain Link. "These Moros always get very much worked up in
their war-dances, and occasionally they forget that it is all
make-believe and send a spear into a spectator. It's safer to leave
them alone. They're very temperamental."

"That would make a corking picture," said Hawkinson enthusiastically,
"if I only knew which fellow was going to be speared so that I could
get the camera focussed on him."

"The only trouble is," I remarked dryly, "that they might possibly pick
out _you_."

       *       *       *       *       *

In Spanish bull-fights, after the banderillos and picadores have
tormented the bull until it is exhausted, the matador flaunts a scarlet
cloak in front of the beast until it is bewildered and then despatches
it with a sword. In Moroland, however, the bulls, which are bred and
trained for the purpose, do their best to kill each other, thus making
the fight a much more sporting proposition. The bull-fight which was
arranged for our benefit at Parang was staged in a field of about two
acres just outside the town, the spectators being kept at a safe
distance by a troop of Moro horsemen under the direction of the old
Panglima. After Hawkinson had set up his camera on the edge of this
extemporized arena the bulls were brought in: medium-sized but
exceptionally powerful beasts, the muscles rippling under their sleek
brown coats, their short horns filed to the sharpness of lance-tips.
Each animal was led by its owner, who was able to control it to a
limited degree during the fight by means of a cord attached to the ring
in its nose. When the signal was given for the fight to begin, the
bulls approached each other cautiously, snorting and pawing the ground.
They reminded me of two strange dogs who cannot decide whether they
wish to fight or be friends. For ten minutes, regardless of the jeers
of the spectators and the proddings of their handlers, the great brown
beasts rubbed heads as amicably as a yoke of oxen. Then, just as we had
made up our minds that it was a fiasco and that there would be no
bull-fight pictures, there was a sudden angry bellow, the two great
heads came together with a thud like a pile-driver, and the fight was
on. The next twenty minutes Hawkinson and I spent in alternately
setting up his camera within range of the panting, straining animals
and in picking it up and running for our lives, in order to avoid being
trampled by the maddened beasts in their furious and unexpected
onslaughts. The men at the ends of the nose-ropes were as helpless to
control their infuriated charges as a trout fisherman who has hooked a
shark. With horns interlocked and with blood and sweat dripping from
their massive necks and shoulders, they fought each other, step by
step, across the width of the arena, across a cultivated field which
lay beyond, burst through a thorn hedge surrounding a native's patch of
garden, trampled the garden into mire, and narrowly escaped bringing
down on top of them the owner's dwelling, which, like most Moro houses,
was raised above the ground on stilts. It looked for a time as though
the fight would continue over a considerable portion of the island, but
it was brought to an abrupt conclusion when one of the bulls,
withdrawing a few yards, to gain momentum, charged like a tank
attacking the Hindenburg Line, driving one of its horns deep into its
adversary's eye-socket, whereupon the wounded animal, half-blinded and
mad with pain, turned precipitately, jerked the nose-rope from its
owner's grasp, and stampeding the spectators in its mad flight,
disappeared in the depths of the jungle.

[Illustration: The bull-fight at Parang

There was a sudden bellow, the two great heads came
together with a thud like a pile-driver, and the fight was on

The spectators were kept at a distance by Móró horsemen
under the Panglima]

"That," announced the Governor, "concludes the morning performance.
This afternoon we will present for your approval a programme consisting
of pony races, a carabao fight, a shark-fishing expedition, and, if
time permits, a visit to the pearl-fisheries to see the divers at work.
This evening we will call on the Princess Fatimah, the daughter of the
Sultan, and tomorrow I have arranged to take you to Tapul Island to
shoot wild carabao. After that----"

"After that," I interrupted, "we go away from here. If we stayed on in
this quiet little island of yours much longer, we shouldn't have any
film left for the other places."



CHAPTER II

OUTPOSTS OF EMPIRE


We sailed at sunset out of Jolo and all through the breathless tropic
night the _Negros_ forged ahead at half-speed, her sharp prow cleaving
the still bosom of the Sulu Sea as silently as a gondola stealing down
the Canale Grande. So oppressive was the night that sleep was out of
the question, and I leaned upon the rail of the bridge, the hot land
breeze, laden with the mysterious odors of the tropics, beating softly
in my face, and listlessly watched the phosphorescent ostrich feathers
curling from our bows. Behind me, in the darkened chart-room, the
Filipino quartermaster gently swung the wheel from time to time in
response to the direction of the needle on the illuminated
compass-dial. So lifeless was the sea that our foremast barely swayed
against the stars. The smoke from our funnel trailed across the purple
canopy of the sky as though smeared with an inky brush.

How long I stood there, lost in reverie, I have no idea: hours no
doubt. I must have fallen into a doze, for I was awakened by the brisk,
incisive strokes of the ship's bell, echoed, a moment later, by eight
fainter strokes coming from the deck below. Then the soft patter of
bare feet which meant the changing of the watch. Though the velvety
darkness into which we were steadily ploughing had not perceptibly
decreased, it was now cut sharply across, from right to left, by what
looked like a tightly stretched wire of glowing silver. Even as I
looked this slender fissure of illumination widened, almost
imperceptibly at first, then faster, faster, until at one burst came
the dawn. The sombre hangings of the night were swept aside by an
invisible hand as are drawn back the curtains at a window. As you have
seen from a hill the winking lights of a city disappear at daybreak,
so, one by one, the stars went out. Masses of angry clouds reared
themselves in ominous, fantastic forms against a sullen sky. The hot
land breeze changed to a cold wind which made me shiver. Suddenly the
mounting rampart of clouds, which seemed about to burst in a tempest,
was pierced by a hundred flaming lances coming from beyond the
horizon's rim. Before their onslaught the threatening cloud-wall
crumbled, faded, and abruptly dropped away to reveal the sun advancing
in all that brazen effrontery which it assumes in those lawless
latitudes along the Line. Now the sky was become a huge inverted bowl
of flawless azure porcelain, the surface of the Sulu Sea sparkled as
though strewn with a million diamonds, and, not a league off our bows,
rose the jungle-clothed shores of Borneo.

Scattered along the fringes of the world are certain places whose names
ring in the ears of youth like trumpet-calls. They are passwords to
romance and high adventure. Their very mention makes the feet of the
young men restless. They mark the places where the strange trails go
down. Of them all, the one that most completely captivated my boyish
imagination was Borneo. To me, as to millions of other youngsters, its
name had been made familiar by that purveyor of entertainment to
American boyhood, Phineas T. Barnum, as the reputed home of the wild
man. In its jungles, through the magic of Marryat's breathless pages, I
fought the head-hunter and pursued the boa-constrictor and the
orang-utan. It was then, a boyhood dream come true when I stood at
daybreak on the bridge of the _Negros_ and through my glasses watched
the mysterious island, which I had so often pictured in my imagination,
rise with tantalizing slowness from the sapphire sea.

We forged ahead cautiously, for our charts were none too recent or
reliable and we lacked the "Malay Archipelago" volume of _The Sailing
Directions_--the "Sailor's Bible," as the big, orange-covered book,
full of comforting detail, is known. As the morning mists dissolved
before the sun I could make out a pale ivory beach, and back of the
beach a band of green which I knew for jungle, and back of that, in
turn, a range of purple mountains which culminated in a majestic,
cloud-wreathed peak. An off-shore breeze brought to my nostrils the
strange, sweet odors of the hot lands. A Malay _vinta_ with widespread
bamboo outriggers and twin sails of orange flitted by an enormous
butterfly skimming the surface of the water. I was actually within
sight of that grim island whose name has ever been a synonym for
savagery. For never think that piracy, head-hunting, poisoned darts
shot from blow-guns are horrors extinct in Borneo today, for they are
not. Ask the mariners who sail these waters; ask the keepers of the
lonely lighthouses, the officers who command the constabulary outposts
in the bush. They know Borneo, and not favorably.

You will picture Borneo, if you please, as a vast, squat island the
third largest in the world, in fact--half again as large as France,
bordered by a sandy littoral, moated by swamps reeking with putrid
miasmata and pernicious vapors, covered with dense forests and
impenetrable jungles, ridged by mile-high mountain ranges, seamed by
mighty rivers, inhabited by the most savage beasts and the most bestial
savages known to man. Lying squarely athwart the Line, the sun beats
down upon it like the blast from an open furnace-door. The story is
told in Borneo of a dissolute planter who died from sunstroke. The day
after the funeral a spirit message reached the widow of the dear
departed. "Please send down my blankets" it said. But it is the
terrible humidity which makes the climate dangerous; a humidity due to
the innumerable swamps, the source of pestilence and fever, and to the
incredible rainfall, which _averages over six and a half feet a year_.
No wonder that in the Indies Borneo is known as "The White Man's
Graveyard."

[Map: Malaysia]

Imbedded in the northern coast of the island, like a row of
semi-precious stones set in a barbaric brooch, are the states of
British North Borneo, Brunei, and Sarawak. Their back-doors open on the
wilderness of mountain, forest and jungle which marks the northern
boundary of Dutch Borneo; their front windows look out upon the Sulu
and the China Seas. Of these three territories, the first is under the
jurisdiction of the British North Borneo Company, a private
corporation, which administers it under the terms of a royal charter.
The second is ruled by the Sultan of Brunei, whose once vast dominions
have steadily dwindled through cession and conquest until they are now
no larger than Connecticut. On the throne of the last sits one of the
most romantic and picturesque figures in the world, His Highness James
Vyner Brooke, a descendant of that Sir James Brooke who, in the middle
years of the last century, made himself the "White Rajah" of Sarawak,
and who might well have been the original of _The Man Who Would Be
King_. Though all three governments are permitted virtually a free hand
so far as their domestic affairs are concerned, they are under the
protection of Great Britain and their foreign affairs are controlled
from Westminster. The remaining three-quarters of Borneo, which
contains the richest mines, the finest forests, the largest rivers,
and, most important of all, the great oil-fields of Balik-Papan, forms
one of the Outer Possessions, or Outposts, of Holland's East Indian
Empire.

Long before the yellow ribbon of the coast, with its fringe of palms,
became visible we could make out the towering outline of Kina Balu, the
sacred mountain, fourteen thousand feet high, which, seen from the
north, bears a rather striking resemblance in its general contour to
Gibraltar. The natives regard Kina Balu with awe and veneration as the
home of departed spirits, believing that it exercises a powerful
influence on their lives. When a man is dying they speak of him as
ascending Kina Balu and in times of drought they formerly practised a
curious and horrible custom, known as _sumunguping_, which the
authorities have now suppressed. When the crops showed signs of failing
the natives decided to despatch a messenger direct to the spirits of
their relatives and friends in the other world entreating them to
implore relief from the gods who control the rains. The person chosen
to convey the message was usually a slave or an enemy captured in
battle. Binding their victim to a post, the warriors of the tribe
advanced, one by one, and drove their spears into his body, shouting
with each thrust the messages which they wished conveyed to the spirits
on the mountain.

With the coming of day we pushed ahead at full speed. Soon we could
make out the precipitous sandstone cliffs of Balhalla, the island which
screens the entrance to Sandakan harbor. But long before we came
abreast of the town signs of human habitation became increasingly
apparent: little clusters of nipa-thatched huts built on stilts over
the water; others hidden away in the jungle and betraying themselves
only by spirals of smoke rising lazily above the feathery tops of the
palms. Sandakan itself straggles up a steep wooded hill, the Chinese
and native quarters at its base wallowing amid a network of
foul-smelling and incredibly filthy sewers and canals or built on
rickety wooden platforms which extend for half a mile or more along the
harbor's edge. A little higher up, fronting on a parade ground which
looks from the distance like a huge green rug spread in the sun to air,
are the government offices, low structures of frame and plaster,
designed so as to admit a maximum of air and a minimum of heat; the
long, low building of the Planters Club, encircled by deep, cool
verandahs; a Chinese joss-house, its facade enlivened by grotesque and
brilliantly colored carvings; and a down-at-heels hotel. Close by are
the churches erected and maintained by the Protestant and Roman
Catholic missions--the former the only stone building in the
protectorate. At the summit of the hill, reached by a steeply winding
carriage road, are the bungalows of the Europeans, their white walls,
smothered in crimson masses of bougainvillæa and shaded by stately
palms and blazing fire-trees, peeping out from a wilderness of tropic
vegetation. Viewed from the harbor, Sandakan is one of the most
enchanting places that I have ever seen. It looks like a setting on a
stage and you have the feeling that at any moment the curtain may
descend and destroy the illusion. It is not until you go ashore and
wander in the native quarter, where vice in every form stalks naked
and unashamed, that you realize that the town is like a beautiful
harlot, whose loveliness of face and figure belie the evil in her
heart. Even after I came to understand that the place is a sink of
iniquity, I never ceased to marvel at its beauty. It reminded me of the
exclamation of a young English girl, the wife of a German merchant, as
their steamer approached Hong Kong and the superb panorama which
culminates in The Peak slowly unrolled.

"Look, Otto! Look!" she cried. "You must say that it is beautiful even
if it _is_ English."

       *       *       *       *       *

Of those lands which have not yet submitted to the bit and bridle of
civilization--and they can be numbered on the fingers of one's two
hands--Borneo is the most intractable. Of all the regions which the
predatory European has claimed for his own, it is the least submissive,
the least civilized, the least exploited and the least known. Its
interior remains as untamed as before the first white man set foot on
its shores four hundred years ago. The exploits of those bold and hardy
spirits--explorers, soldiers, missionaries, administrators--who have
attempted to carry to the natives of Borneo the Gospel of the Clean
Shirt and the Square Deal form one of the epics of colonization. They
have died with their boots on from fever, plague and snake-bite, from
poisoned dart and Dyak spear. Though their lives would yield material
for a hundred books of adventure, their story, which is the story of
the white man's war for civilization throughout Malaysia, is epitomized
in the few lines graven on the modest marble monument which stands at
the edge of Sandakan's sun-scorched parade ground:

                        In
                      Memory
                        of
               Francis Xavier Witti
           Killed near the Sibuco River
                    May, 1882
                        of
                   Frank Hatton
           Accidentally shot at Segamah
                   March, 1883
                        of
               Dr. D. Manson Fraser
                       and
                Jemadhar Asa Singh
    the two latter mortally wounded at Kopang
                    May, 1883
                      and of
              Alfred Jones, Adjutant
      Shere Singh, Regimental Sergeant-Major
     of the British North Borneo Constabulary
             Killed at Ranau 1897-98
                      and of
               George Graham Warder
          District Officer, Tindang Batu
             Murdered at Marak Parak
                  28th July 1903
  This Monument Is Erected as a Mark of Respect
            by their Brother Officers

Though Sandakan is the chief port of British North Borneo, with a
population of perhaps fifteen thousand, it has barely a hundred
European inhabitants, of whom only a dozen are women. Girls marry
almost as fast as they arrive, and the incoming boats are eagerly
scanned by the bachelor population, much in the same spirit as that in
which a ticket-holder scans the lists of winning numbers in a lottery,
wondering when his turn will come to draw something. If the bulk of the
men are confirmed misogynists and confine themselves to the club bar
and card-room it is only because there are not enough women to go
round. The sacrifice of the women who, in order to be near their
husbands, consent to sicken and fade and grow old before their time in
such a spot, is very great. With their children at school in England,
they pass their lonely lives in palm-thatched bungalows, raised high
above the ground on piles as a protection against insects, snakes and
floods, without amusements save such as they can provide themselves,
and in a climate so humid that mushrooms will grow on one's boots in a
single night during the rains. They are as truly empire-builders as the
men and, though the parts they play are less conspicuous, perhaps, they
are as truly deserving of honors and rewards.

There is no servant problem in Borneo. Cooks jostle one another to cook
for you. They will even go to the length of poisoning each other in
order to step into a lucrative position, with a really big master and a
memsahib who does not give too much trouble. But there are other
features of domestic life for which the plenitude of servants does not
compensate. Because existence is made almost unendurable by mosquitoes
and other insects, within each sleeping room is constructed a
rectangular framework, covered with mosquito-netting and just large
enough to contain a bed, a dressing-table and an arm-chair. In these
insect-proof cells the Europeans spend all of their sleeping and many
of their waking hours. So aggressive are the mosquitoes, particularly
during the rains, that, when one invites people in for dinner or
bridge, the servants hand the guests long sacks of netting which are
drawn over the feet and legs, the top being tied about the waist with a
draw-string. Were it not for these mosquito-bags there would be neither
bridge nor table conversation. Everyone would be too busy scratching.

The houses, as I have already mentioned, are raised above the ground on
brick piles or wooden stilts. Though this arrangement serves the
purpose of keeping things which creep and crawl out of the house
itself, the custom of utilizing the open space beneath the house as a
hen-roost offers a standing invitation to the reptiles with which
Borneo abounds. While we were in Sandakan a python invaded the
chicken-house beneath the dwelling of the local magistrate one night
and devoured half a dozen of the judge's imported Leghorns. Gorged to
repletion, the great reptile fell asleep, being discovered by the
servants the next morning. The magistrate put an end to its predatory
career with a shot-gun. It measured slightly over twenty feet from nose
to tail and in circumference was considerably larger than an inflated
fire-hose. Imagine finding such a thing coiled up at the foot of your
cellar-stairs after you had been indulging in home-brew!

One evening a party of us were seated on the verandah of the Planters
Club in Sandakan. The conversation, which had pretty much covered the
world, eventually turned to snakes.

"That reminds me," remarked a constabulary officer who had spent many
years in Malaysia, "of a queer thing that happened in a place where I
was stationed once in the Straits Settlements. It was one of those
deadly dull places--only a handful of white women, no cinema, no race
course, nothing. But the Devil, you know, always finds mischief for
idle hands to do. One day a youngster--a subaltern in the battalion
that was stationed there--returned from a leave spent in England. He
brought back with him a young English girl whom he had married while he
was at home. A slender, willowy thing she was, with great masses of
coppery-red hair and the loveliest pink-and-white complexion. She
quickly adapted herself to the disagreeable features of life in the
tropics--with one exception. The exception was that she could never
overcome her inherent and unreasoning fear of snakes. The mere sight of
one would send her into hysterics.

"One afternoon, while she was out at tea with some friends, the Malay
gardener brought to the house the carcass of a hamadryad which he had
killed in the garden. The hamadryad, as you probably know, is perhaps
the deadliest of all Eastern reptiles. Its bite usually causes death in
a few minutes. Moreover, it is one of the few snakes that will attack
human beings without provocation. The husband, with two other chaps,
both officers in his battalion, was sitting on the verandah when the
snake was brought in.

"'I say,' suggested one of the officers, 'here's a chance to break
Madge of her fear of snakes. Why not curl this fellow up on her bed?
She'll get a jolly good fright, of course, but when she discovers that
he's dead and that she's been panicky about nothing, she'll get over
her silly fear of the beggars. What say, old chap?'

"To this insane suggestion, in spite of the protests of the other
officer, the husband assented. Probably he had been having too many
brandies and sodas. I don't know. But in any event, they put the
witless idea into execution. Toward nightfall the young wife returned.
She had on a frock of some thin, slinky stuff and a droopy garden hat
with flowers on it and carried a sunshade. She was awfully pretty. She
hadn't been out there long enough to lose her English coloring, you
see.

"'Oh, I say, Madge,' called her husband, 'There's a surprise for you in
your bedroom.'

"With a little cry of delighted anticipation she hurried into the
house. She thought her husband had bought her a gift, I suppose. A
moment later the trio waiting on the verandah heard a piercing shriek.
The first shriek was followed by another and then another. Pretty soon,
though, the screams died down to a whimper--a sort of sobbing moan.
Then silence. After a few minutes, as there was no further sound from
the bedroom and his wife did not reappear, the husband became uneasy.
He rose to enter the house, but the chap who had suggested the scheme
pulled him back.

"'She's all right,' he assured him. 'She sees it's a joke and she's
keeping quiet so as to frighten you. If you go in there now the laugh
will be on you. She'll be out directly.'

"But as the minutes passed and she did not reappear all three of the
men became increasingly uneasy.

"'We'd better have a look,' the one who had demurred suggested after a
quarter of an hour had passed, during which no further sound had come
from the bedroom. 'Madge is very high-strung. She may have fainted from
the shock. I told you fellows that it was an idiotic thing to do.'

"When they opened the door they thought that she had fainted, for she
lay in an inert heap on the floor at the foot of the bed. But a hasty
examination showed them, to their horror, that the girl was dead--heart
failure, presumably. But when they raised her from the floor they
discovered the real cause of her death, for a _second hamadryad_, which
had been concealed by her skirts, darted noiselessly under the bed. It
was the mate of the one that had been killed--for hamadryads always
travel in pairs, you know--and had evidently entered the room in quest
of its companion."

"What happened to the husband and to the man who suggested the plan?"
I asked. "Were they punished?"

"They were punished right enough," the constabulary officer said dryly.
"The chap who suggested the scheme tried to forget it in drink, was
cashiered from the army and died of delirium tremens. As for the
husband, he is still living--in a madhouse."

       *       *       *       *       *

Even in so far-distant a corner of the Empire as Borneo, ten thousand
miles from the lights of the restaurants in Piccadilly, the men
religiously observe the English ritual of dressing for dinner, for when
the mercury climbs to 110, though the temptation is to go about in
pajamas, one's drenched body and drooping spirits need to be bolstered
up with a stiff shirt and a white mess jacket. That the stiffest
shirt-front is wilted in an hour makes no difference: it reminds them
that they are still Englishmen. Nor, in view of the appalling
loneliness of the life, is it to be wondered at that the Chinese
bartenders at the club are kept busy until far into the night, and that
every month or so the entire male white population goes on a terrific
spree. The government doctor in Sandakan assured me very earnestly
that, in order to stand the climate, it is necessary to keep one's
liver afloat--in alcohol. He had contributed to thus preserving the
livers and lives of his fellow exiles by the invention of two drinks,
of which he was inordinately proud. One he had dubbed "Tarantula
Juice;" the other he called "Whisper of Death." He told me that the
amateur who took three drinks of the latter would have no further need
for his services; the only person whose services he would require would
be the undertaker.

There is something of the pathetic in the eagerness with which the
white men who dwell in exile along these forgotten seaboards long for
news from Home. After dinner they would cluster about me on the club
verandah and clamor for those odds-and-ends of English gossip which are
not important enough for inclusion in the laconic cable despatches
posted daily on the club bulletin-board and which the two-months-old
newspapers seldom mention. They insisted that I repeat the jokes which
were being cracked by the comedians at the Criterion and the
Shaftesbury. They wanted to know if toppers and tailcoats were again
being worn in The Row. They pleaded for the gossip of the clubs in Pall
Mall and Piccadilly. They begged me to tell them about the latest books
and plays and songs. But after a time I persuaded them to do the
talking, while I lounged in a deep cane chair, a tall, thin glass, with
ice tinkling in it, at my elbow, and listened spellbound to strange
dramas of "the Islands" recited by men who had themselves played the
leading roles. At first they were shy, as well-bred English often are,
but after much urging an officer of constabulary, the glow from his
cigar lighting up his sun-bronzed face and the rows of campaign ribbons
on his white jacket, was persuaded into telling how he had trailed a
marauding band of head-hunters right across Borneo, from coast to
coast, his only companions a handful of Dyak police, themselves but a
degree removed in savagery from those they were pursuing. A
bespectacled, studious-looking man, whom I had taken for a scientist or
a college professor, but who, I learned, had made a fortune buying
bird-of-paradise plumes for the European market, described the strange
and revolting customs practised by the cannibals of New Guinea. Then a
broad-shouldered, bearded Dutchman, a very Hercules of a man, with a
voice like a bass drum, told, between meditative puffs at his pipe, of
hair-raising adventures in capturing wild animals, so that those smug
and sheltered folk at home who visit the zoological gardens of a Sunday
afternoon might see for themselves the crocodile and the
boa-constrictor, the orang-utan and the clouded tiger. When, after the
last tale had been told and the last glass had been drained, we
strolled out into the fragrant tropic night, with the Cross swinging
low to the morn, I felt as though, in the space of a single evening, I
had lived through a whole library of adventure.

       *       *       *       *       *

I once wrote--in _The Last Frontier_, if I remember rightly--that when
the English occupy a country the first thing they build is a
custom-house; the first thing the Germans build is a barracks; the
first thing the French build is a railway. As a result of my
observations in Malaysia, however, I am inclined to amend this by
saying that the first thing the English build is a race course. Lord
Cromer was fond of telling how, when he visited Perim, a miserable
little island at the foot of the Red Sea, inhabited by a few Arabs and
many snakes, his guide took him to the top of a hill and pointed out
the race course.

"But what do you want with a race course?" demanded the great
proconsul. "I didn't suppose that there was a four-footed animal on the
island."

The guide reluctantly admitted that, though they had no horses on the
island at the moment, if some were to come, why, there was the race
course ready for them. Though I don't recall having seen more than a
dozen horses in Borneo, the British have been true to their traditions
by building two race courses: one at Sandakan and one at Jesselton. On
the latter is run annually the North Borneo Derby. It is the most
brilliant sporting and social event of the year, the Europeans flocking
into Jesselton from the little trading stations along the coast and
from the lonely plantations in the interior just as their friends back
in England flock to Goodwood and Newmarket and Epsom. The Derby is
always followed by the Hunt Ball. In spite of the fact that there are
at least twenty men to every woman this is always a tremendous success.
It usually ends in everyone getting gloriously drunk.

Almost the only other form of entertainment is provided by a company of
Malay players which makes periodical visits to Sandakan and Jesselton.
Though the actors speak only Malay, this does not deter them from
including a number of Shakesperian plays in their repertoire (imagine
Macbeth being played by a company of piratical-looking Malays in a nipa
hut on the shores of the Sulu Sea!) but they attain their greatest
heights in _Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves_. There are no programmes,
but, in order that the audience may not be left in doubt as to the
identity of the players, the manager introduces the members of his
company one by one. "This is Ali Baba," he announces, leading a fat and
greasy Oriental to the footlights. "This is Fatimah." "These are the
Forty Thieves." When the latter announcement is made four actors stalk
ten times across the stage in naïve simulation of the specified number.
After the thieves have concealed themselves behind pasteboard
silhouettes of jars, Ali Baba's wife waddles on the stage bearing a
Standard Oil tin on her shoulder and with a dipper proceeds to ladle a
few drops of cocoanut oil on the head of each of the robbers. While she
is being introduced one of the thieves seizes the opportunity to take a
few whiffs from a cigarette, the smoke being plainly visible to the
audience. Another, wearying of his cramped position, incautiously shows
his head, whereupon Mrs. Ali Baba raps it sharply with her dipper,
eliciting from the actor an exclamation not in his lines. During the
intermissions the clown who accompanies the troupe convulses the
audience with side-splitting imitations of the pompous and frigid
Governor, who, as someone unkindly remarked, "must have been born in an
ice-chest," and of the bemoustached and bemonocled officer who commands
the constabulary, locally referred to as the Galloping Major. Compared
with the antics of these Malay comedians, the efforts of our own
professional laugh-makers seem dull and forced. Until you have seen
them you have never really laughed.

       *       *       *       *       *

His Highness Haji Mohamed Jamalulhiram, Sultan of Sulu, was temporarily
sojourning in Sandakan when we were there, having come across from his
capital of Jolo for the purpose of collecting the monthly subsidy of
five hundred pesos paid him by the British North Borneo Company for
certain territorial concessions. The company would have sent the money
to Jolo, of course, but the Sultan preferred to come to Sandakan to
collect it; there are better facilities for gambling there.

Because I was curious to see the picturesque personage around whom
George Ade wrote his famous opera, _The Sultan of Sulu_, and because
the Lovely Lady and the Winsome Widow had read in a Sunday supplement
that he made it a practise to present those American women whom he met
with pearls of great price, upon our arrival at Sandakan I invited the
Sultan to dinner aboard the _Negros_. When I called on him at his hotel
to extend the invitation, I found him clad in a very soiled pink
kimono, a pair of red velvet slippers, and a smile made somewhat gory
by the betel-nut he had been chewing, but when he came aboard the
_Negros_ that evening he wore a red fez and irreproachable dinner
clothes of white linen. As the crew of the cutter was entirely composed
of Tagalogs and Visayans, from the northern Philippines, who, being
Christians, regard the Mohammedan Moro with contempt, not unmixed with
fear, when I called for side-boys to line the starboard rail when his
Highness came aboard, there were distinctly mutinous mutterings.
Captain Galvez tactfully settled the matter, however, by explaining to
the crew that the Sultan was, after all, an American subject, which
seemed to mollify, even if it did not entirely satisfy them. The
armament of the _Negros_ had been removed after the armistice, so that
we were without anything in the nature of a saluting cannon, but, as we
wished to observe all the formalities of naval etiquette, the Doctor
and Hawkinson volunteered to fire a royal salute with their automatic
pistols as the Sultan came over the side. That, in their enthusiasm,
they lost count and gave him about double the number of "guns"
prescribed for the President of the United States caused Haji Mohamed
no embarrassment; on the contrary, it seemed to please him immensely.
(Donald Thompson, who was my photographer in Belgium during the early
days of the war, always made it a point to address every officer he met
as "General." He explained that it never did any harm and that it
always put the officer in good humor.)

When the cocktails were served the Sultan gravely explained through the
interpreter that, being a devout Mohammedan and a Haji, he never
permitted alcohol to pass his lips, an assertion which he promptly
proceeded to prove by taking four Martinis in rapid succession. Now
the chef of the _Negros_ possessed the faculty of camouflaging his
dishes so successfully that neither by taste, looks nor smell could one
tell with certainty what one was eating. So, when the meat, smothered
in thick brown gravy, was passed to the Sultan, his Highness, who, like
all True Believers, abhors pork, regarded it dubiously. "Pig?" he
demanded of the steward. "No, sare," was the frightened answer. "Cow."

Over the coffee and cigarettes the Lovely Lady and the Winsome Widow
tactfully led the conversation around to the subject of pearls,
whereupon the Sultan thrust his hand into his pocket and produced a
round pink box, evidently originally intended for pills. Removing the
lid, he displayed, imbedded in cotton, half a dozen pearls of a size
and quality such as one seldom sees outside the window of a Fifth
Avenue jeweler. I could see that the Lovely Lady and the Winsome Widow
were mentally debating as to whether they would have them set in
brooches or rings. But when they had been passed from hand to hand,
accompanied by the customary exclamations of envy and admiration, back
they went into the royal pocket again. "And to think," one of the party
remarked afterward, "that we wasted two bottles of perfectly good gin
and a bottle of vermouth on him!"

It was after midnight when our guest took his departure, the ship's
orchestra playing him over the side with a selection from _The Sultan
of Sulu_, which, in view of my ignorance as to whether Sulu possessed
a national anthem, seemed highly appropriate to the occasion. As the
launch bearing the Sultan shot shoreward Hawkinson set off a couple of
magnesium flares, which he had brought along for the purpose of taking
pictures at night, making the whole harbor of Sandakan as bright as
day. I heard afterward that the Sultan remarked that we were the only
visitors since the Taft party who really appreciated his importance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two hours steam off the towering promontory which guards the entrance
to Sandakan harbor lies Baguian, a sandy islet covered with
cocoanut-palms, which is so small that it is not shown on ordinary
maps. Though the island is, for some unexplained reason, under the
jurisdiction of the British North Borneo Company, it is a part of the
Sulu Archipelago and belongs to the United States. Baguian is famed
throughout those seas as a rookery for the giant tortoise--_testudo
elephantopus_. Toward nightfall the mammoth chelonians--some of them
weigh upward of half a ton--come ashore in great numbers to lay their
eggs in nests made in the edge of the jungle which fringes the beach,
the old Chinaman and his two assistants, who are the only inhabitants
of the island, frequently collecting as many as four thousand eggs in a
single morning. The eggs, which in size and color exactly resemble
ping-pong balls and are almost as unbreakable, are collected once a
fortnight by a junk which takes them to China, where they are
considered great delicacies and command high prices. As we had brought
with us a supply of magnesium flares for night photography, we decided
to take the camera ashore and attempt to obtain pictures of the turtles
on their nests.

As we were going ashore in the gig we caught sight of a huge bull, as
large as a hogshead, which was floating on the surface. Ordering the
sailors to row quietly, we succeeded in getting within a hundred yards
before I let go with my .405, the soft-nosed bullet tearing a great
hole in the turtle's neck and dyeing the water scarlet. Almost before
the sound of the shot had died away one of the Filipino boat's crew
went overboard with a rope, which he attempted to attach to the monster
before it could sink to the bottom, but the turtle, though desperately
wounded, was still very much alive, giving the sailor a blow on his
head with its flapper which all but knocked him senseless. By the time
we had hauled the man into the boat the turtle had disappeared into the
depths.

Waiting until darkness had fallen, we sent parties of sailors, armed
with electric torches, along the beach in both directions with orders
to follow the tracks made by the turtles in crossing the sand, and to
notify us by firing a revolver when they located one. We did not have
long to wait before we heard the signal agreed upon, and, picking up
the heavy camera, we plunged across the sands to where the sailors were
awaiting us in the edge of the bush. While the bluejackets cut off the
retreat of the hissing, snapping monster, Hawkinson set up his camera
and, when all was ready, some one touched off a flare, illuminating
the beach and jungle as though the search-light of a warship had been
turned upon them. In this manner we obtained a series of
motion-pictures which are, I believe, from the zoological standpoint,
unique. Before leaving the island we killed two tortoises for food for
the crew--enough to keep them in turtle soup for a month. The larger,
which I shot with a revolver, weighed slightly over five hundred pounds
and lived for several days with three .45 caliber bullets in its
brain-pan. Everything considered, it was a very interesting expedition.
The only person who did not enjoy it was the old Chinese who held the
concession for collecting the turtle-eggs. Instead of recognizing the
great value of the service we were rendering to science, he acted as
though we were robbing his hen-roost. He had a sordid mind.



CHAPTER III

"WHERE THERE AIN'T NO TEN COMMANDMENTS"


Until I went to British North Borneo I had considered the British the
best colonial administrators in the world. And, generally speaking, I
hold to that opinion. But what I saw and heard in that remote and
neglected corner of the Empire disclosed a state of affairs which I had
not dreamed could exist in any land over which flies the British flag.
It was not the iniquitous character of the administration which
surprised me, for I had seen the effects of bad colonial administration
in other distant lands--in Mozambique, for example, and in Germany's
former African possessions--but rather that such an administration
should be carried on by Englishmen, by Anglo-Saxons. Were you to read
in your morning paper that an ignorant alien had been arrested for
brutally mistreating one of his children you would not be particularly
surprised, because that is the sort of thing that might be expected
from such a man. But were you to read that a neighbor, a man who went
to the same church and belonged to the same clubs, whom you had known
and respected all your life, had been arrested for mistreating one of
_his_ children, you would be shocked and horrified.

Save on the charge of indifference and neglect, neither the British
people nor the British government can be held responsible for the
conditions existing in North Borneo, for strictly speaking, the country
is not a British colony, but merely a British protectorate, being owned
and administered by a private trading corporation, the British North
Borneo Company, which operates under a royal charter. But the idea of
turning over a great block of territory, with its inhabitants, to a
corporation whose sole aim is to earn dividends for its absentee
stockholders, is in itself abhorrent to most Americans. What would we
say, I ask you, if Porto Rico, which is only one-tenth the size of
North Borneo, were to be handed over, lock, stock and barrel, to the
Standard Oil Company, with full authorization for that company to make
its own laws, establish its own courts, appoint its own officials,
maintain its own army, and to wield the power of life and death over
the natives? And, conceiving such a condition, what would we say if the
Standard Oil Company, in order to swell its revenues, not only
permitted but officially encouraged opium smoking and gambling; if, in
order to obtain labor for its plantations, it imported large numbers of
ignorant blacks from Haiti and permitted the planters to hold those
laborers, through indenture and indebtedness, in a form of servitude
not far removed from slavery; if it authorized the punishment of
recalcitrant laborers by flogging with the cat-o'nine-tails; if it
denied to the natives as well as to the imported laborers a system of
public education or a public health service or trial by jury; and
finally, if, in the event of insurrection, it permitted its soldiery,
largely recruited from savage tribes, to decapitate their prisoners and
to bring their ghastly trophies into the capital and pile them in a
pyramid in the principal plaza? Yet that would be a fairly close
parallel to what the chartered company is doing in British North
Borneo. As I have already remarked, North Borneo is a British
protectorate. And it is in more urgent need of protection from those
who are exploiting it than any country I know. But the voices of the
natives are very weak and Westminster is far away.

With the exception of Rhodesia, and of certain territories in
Portuguese Africa, North Borneo is the sole remaining region in the
world which is owned and administered by that political anachronism, a
chartered company. It was in the age of Elizabeth that the chartered
company, in the modern sense of the term, had its rise. The discovery
of the New World and the opening out of fresh trading routes to the
Indies gave a tremendous impetus to shipping, commercial and industrial
enterprises throughout western Europe and it was in order to encourage
these enterprises that the British, Dutch and French governments
granted charters to various trading associations. It was the Russia
Company, for example, which received its first charter in 1554, which
first brought England into intercourse with an empire then unknown. The
Turkey Company--later known as the Levant Company--long maintained
British prestige in the Ottoman Empire and even paid the expenses of
the embassies sent out by the British Government to the Sublime Porte.
The Hudson's Bay Company, which still exists as a purely commercial
concern, was for nearly two centuries the undisputed ruler of western
Canada. The extraordinary and picturesque career of the East India
Company is too well known to require comment here. In fact, most of the
thirteen British colonies in North America were in their inception
chartered companies very much in the modern acceptation of the term.
But, though these companies contributed in no small degree to the
commercial progress of the states from which they held their charters,
though they gave colonies to the mother countries and an impetus to the
development of their fleets, they were all too often characterized by
misgovernment, incompetence, injustice and cruelty in their dealings
with the natives. Moreover, they were monopolies, and therefore,
obnoxious, and almost without exception the colonies they founded
became prosperous and well-governed only when they had escaped from
their yoke. The existence of such companies today is justified--if at
all--only by certain political and economic reasons. It may be
desirable for a government to occupy a certain territory, but political
exigencies at home may not permit it to incur the expense, or
international relations may make such an adventure inexpedient at the
time. In such circumstances, the formation of a chartered company to
take over the desired territory may be the easiest way out of the
difficulty. But it has been demonstrated again and again that a
chartered company can never be anything but a transition stage of
colonization and that sooner or later the home government must take
over its powers and privileges.

The story of the rise of the British North Borneo Company provides an
illuminating insight into the methods by which that Empire On Which the
Sun Never Sets has acquired many of its far-flung possessions. Though
the British had established trading posts in northern Borneo as early
as 1759, and had obtained the cession of the whole northeastern
promontory from the Sultan of Sulu, who was its suzerain, the hostility
of the natives, who resented their transfer to alien rule, was so
pronounced that the treaty soon became virtually a dead letter and by
the end of the century British influence in Borneo was to all intents
and purposes at an end. Nor was it resumed until 1838, when an
adventurous Englishman, James Brooke, landed at Kuching and eventually
made himself the "White Rajah" of Sarawak. In 1848 the island of
Labuan, off the northwestern coast of Borneo, was occupied by the
British as a crown colony and some years later the Labuan Trading
Company established a trading post at Sandakan. In an attempt to open
up the country and to start plantations the company imported a
considerable number of Chinese laborers, but it did not prosper and its
financial affairs steadily went from bad to worse. As long as the
company kept its representative in Sandakan supplied with funds he
managed to maintain a certain authority among the natives. But one day
he received a letter bearing the London postmark from the company's
chairman. It read:

    "Sir: We are sorry to inform you that we cannot send you further
    funds, but you should not let this prevent you from keeping up
    your dignity."

To which the agent replied:

    "Sir: I have on a pair of trousers and a flannel shirt--all I
    possess in the world. I think my dignity is about played out."

Another syndicate for the exploitation of North Borneo was formed in
England in 1878, however, to which the Sultan of Sulu was induced to
transfer all his rights in that region, of which he had been from time
immemorial the overlord. Four years later this syndicate, now known as
the British North Borneo Company, took over all the sovereign and
diplomatic rights ceded by the original grants and proceeded to
organize and administer the territory. In 1886 North Borneo was made a
British protectorate, but its administration remained entirely in the
hands of the company, the Crown reserving only control of its foreign
relations, though it was also agreed that governors appointed by the
company should receive the formal sanction of the British Colonial
Secretary. To quote the chairman of the board of directors: "We are not
a trading company. We are a government, an administration. The
Colonial Office leaves us alone as long as we behave ourselves."

The government is vested primarily in a board of directors who sit in
London and few of whom have ever set foot in the country which they
rule. The supreme authority in Borneo is the governor, under whom are
the residents of the three chief districts, who occupy positions
analogous to that of collector or magistrate. The six less important
districts are administered by district magistrates, who also collect
the taxes. Though there is a council, upon which the principal heads of
departments and one unofficial member have seats, it meets irregularly
and its functions are largely ornamental, the governor exercising
virtually autocratic power. Unfortunately, there is no imperial
official, as in Rhodesia, to supervise the company's activities. As was
the case with the East India Company, the minor posts in the North
Borneo service are filled by cadets nominated by the board of
directors, a system which provides a considerable number of positions
for younger sons, poor relations and titled ne'er-do-wells. Most of the
officials go out to Borneo as cadets, serve a long and arduous
apprenticeship in one of the most trying climates in the world, are
miserably paid (I knew one official who held five posts at the same
time, including those of assistant magistrate and assistant protector
of labor and who received for his services the equivalent of $100. a
month), and eventually retire, broken in health, on a pension which
permits them to live in a Bloomsbury lodging-house, to ride on a
tuppenny bus, and to occasionally visit the cinema.

There is no trial by jury in North Borneo, all cases being decided by
the magistrates, who are appointed by the company and who must be
qualified barristers. Nor are there mixed courts, as in Egypt and other
Oriental countries, though in the more important cases five or six
assessors, either native or Chinese, according to the nationality of
those involved, are permitted to listen to the evidence and to submit
recommendations, which the magistrate may follow or not, as he sees
fit. Neither is there a court of appeal, the only recourse from the
decision of a magistrate being an appeal to the governor, whose
decision is final.

The country is policed by a force of constabulary numbering some six
hundred men, comprising Sikhs, Pathans, Punjabi Mohammedans, Malays,
and Dyaks, officered by a handful of Europeans. Curiously enough, the
tall, dignified, deeply religious Sikhs and the little, nervous,
high-strung Dyak pagans get on very well together, eating, sleeping and
drilling in perfect harmony. Though the Dyak members of the
constabulary are recruited from the wild tribes of the interior, most
of them having indulged in the national pastime of head-hunting until
they donned the company's uniform, they make excellent soldiers,
courageous, untiring, and remarkably loyal. Upon King Edward's
accession to the throne a small contingent of Dyak police was sent to
England to march in the coronation procession. When, owing to the
serious illness of the king, the coronation was indefinitely postponed
and it was proposed to send the Dyaks home, the little brown fighters
stubbornly refused to go, asserting that they would not dare to show
their faces in Borneo without having seen the king. They did not wish
to put the company to any expense, they explained, so they would give
up their uniforms and live in the woods on what they could pick up if
they were permitted to remain until they could see their ruler.

Though the Dyaks make excellent soldiers, as I have said, they are
always savages at heart. In fact, when they are used in operations
against rebellious natives, their officers permit and sometimes
actively encourage their relapse into the barbarous custom of taking
heads. An official who was stationed in Sandakan during the
insurrection of 1908 told me that for days the police came swaggering
into town with dripping heads hanging from their belts and that they
piled these grisly trophies in a pyramid eight feet high on the parade
ground in front of the government buildings. Imagine, if you please,
the storm of indignation and disgust which would have swept the United
States had American officers permitted the Maccabebe Scouts, who served
with our troops against the insurgents in the Aguinaldo insurrection,
to decapitate their Filipino prisoners and to bring the heads into
Manila and pile them in a pyramid on the Luneta!

Though the term Dyak is often carelessly applied to all the natives of
North Borneo, as a matter of fact the Dyaks form only a small minority
of the population, the bulk of the inhabitants being Bajows, Dusuns and
Muruts. The Bajows, who are Mohammedans and first cousins of the Moros
of the southern Philippines, are found mainly along the east coast of
Borneo. They are a dark-skinned, wild, sea-gipsy race, rovers,
smugglers and river thieves. Though, thanks to the stern measures
adopted by the British and the Americans, they no longer indulge in
piracy, which was long their favorite occupation, they still find
profit and excitement in running arms and opium across the Sulu Sea to
the Moro Islands, in attacking lonely light-houses, or in looting
stranded merchantmen. It is the last coast in the world that I would
choose to be shipwrecked on.

The Dusuns and the Muruts, who are generally found in widely scattered
villages in the jungles of the interior, represent a very low stage of
civilization, being unspeakably filthy in their habits and frequently
becoming disgustingly intoxicated on a liquor of their own
manufacture--the Bornean equivalent of home brew. A Murut or Dusun
village usually consists of a single long hut divided into a great
number of small rooms, one for each family--a jungle apartment house,
as it were. These rooms open out into a common gallery or verandah
along which the heads taken by the warriors of the tribe are festooned.
It is as though the tenants of a New York apartment house had the heads
of the landlord and the rent-collector and the janitor swinging over
the front entrance. I should add, perhaps, that the practise of
head-hunting of which I shall speak at greater length when we reach
Dutch Borneo is fostered and encouraged by the unmarried women, for
every self-respecting Bornean girl demands that her suitor shall
establish his social position in the tribe by acquiring a respectable
number of heads, just as an American girl insists that the man she
marries must provide her with a solitaire, a flat and a flivver.

Though the chartered company has ruled in North Borneo for more than
forty years, it has only nibbled at the edges of the country. The
interior is still uncivilized and largely unexplored, the home of
savage animals and still more savage men. Though a railway has been
pushed up-country from Jesselton for something over a hundred miles,
both road and rolling-stock leave much to be desired, the little
tin-pot locomotives not infrequently leaving the rails altogether and
landing in the river. Some years ago an attempt was made to build a
highway across the protectorate, from coast to coast, but after sixty
miles had been completed the project was abandoned. It was known as the
Sketchley Road and ran through a rank and miasmatic jungle, it being
said that every hundred yards of construction cost the life of a
Chinese laborer and that those who were left died at the end. Today it
is only a memory, having long since been swallowed up by the
fast-growing vegetation.

[Illustration: Dusun women

The Dusuns, who are found in the jungles of the interior. represent a
very low state of civilization]

[Illustration: Dyak head-hunters of North Borneo

Every Bornean girl demands that her suitor shall establish his social
position by acquiring a few heads]

The company has taken no steps toward establishing a system of public
schools, as we have done in the Philippines, for it holds to the
outworn theory that, so far as the natives are concerned, a little
learning is a dangerous thing. Perhaps the company is right. Were the
natives to acquire a little learning it might prove dangerous--for the
company. There are a few schools in North Borneo, but they are
maintained by the Protestant and Roman Catholic missions and are
attended mainly by Chinese. Whether they have proved as potent an
influence in the propagation of the Christian faith as their founders
anticipated is open to doubt. When I was in Sandakan I made some
purchases in the bazaars from a Chinese lad who addressed me quite
fluently in my own tongue.

"How does it happen that you speak such good English?" I asked him.

"Go to school," he grunted, none too amiably.

"Where? To a public school?"

"No public school. Church school."

"So you're a good Christian now, I suppose?" I remarked.

"To hell with Clistianity," he retorted. "Me go to school to learn
English."

       *       *       *       *       *

The chartered company maintains no public health service, nor, so far
as I was able to discover, has it adopted the most rudimentary sanitary
or quarantine precautions. It is, indeed, so notoriously lax in this
respect that when we touched at ports in Dutch Borneo, the Celebes, and
Java, the mere fact that we had come from British North Borneo caused
the health officers to view us with grave suspicion. When we were in
Sandakan the town was undergoing a periodic visitation of that
deadliest and most terrifying of all Oriental diseases, bubonic plague.
As it is transmitted by the fleas on plague-infested rats, we took the
precaution, when we went ashore, of wearing boots and breeches or of
tying the bottoms of our trousers about our ankles with string, so as
to prevent the fleas from biting us. It being necessary to go alongside
the coal-wharves in order to replenish the bunkers of the _Negros_,
orders were given that rat-guards--circular pieces of tin about the
size of a barrel-top--should be fixed to our hawsers, thus making it
difficult, if not impossible, for rats to invade the ship by that
route, while sailors armed with clubs were posted along the landward
rail to despatch any rodents that might succeed in gaining the deck. As
the native and Chinese laborers had fled in terror from the wharves,
where the dreaded disease had first manifested itself through the
deaths of several stevedores, the authorities offered their freedom to
those prisoners in the local jail who would volunteer for the hazardous
work of cleaning up the wharves and warehouses and sprinkling them with
petroleum. Six prisoners volunteered, but they might better have served
out their terms, for the next day four of them were dead. Though the
stout Cockney, harbormaster, known as "Pinkie" because of his rosy
complexion, was pallid with fear, the other European residents of
Sandakan seemed utterly indifferent to the danger to which they were
exposed. But life in a land like Borneo breeds fatalism. As an
official remarked, with a shrug of his shoulders, "After you have spent
a few years out here you don't much care how you die, or how soon.
Plague is as convenient a way of going out as any other."

       *       *       *       *       *

The greatest obstacle to the successful development of Borneo's
enormous natural resources is the labor problem. The truth of the
matter is that life in these tropical islands is too easy for the
natives' own good. In a land where a man has no need for clothing,
being, indeed, more comfortable without it; where he can pick his food
from the trees or catch it with small effort in the sea; and where
bamboos and nipa are all the materials required for a perfectly
satisfactory dwelling, there is no incentive for work. It being
impossible, therefore, to depend on native labor, the company has been
forced to import large numbers of coolies from China. These coolies,
whom the labor agents attract with promises of high wages, a delightful
climate, unlimited opium, and other things dear to the Chinese heart,
are employed under an indenture system, the duration of their contracts
being limited by law to three hundred days. That sounds, on the face of
it, like a safeguard against peonage. The trouble is, however, that it
is easily circumvented. Here is the way it works in practise. Shortly
after the laborer reaches the plantation where he is to be employed he
is given an advance on his pay, frequently amounting to thirty
Singapore dollars, which he is encouraged to dissipate in the opium
dens and gambling houses maintained on the plantation. Any one who has
any knowledge of the Chinese coolie will realize how temperamentally
incapable he is of resistance where opium and gambling are concerned.
This pernicious system of advances has the effect, as it is intended to
have, of chaining the laborer to the plantation by debt. For the first
advance is usually followed by a second, and sometimes by a third, and
to this debit column are added the charges made for food, for medical
attendance, for opium, and for purchases made at the plantation store,
so that, upon the expiration of his three-hundred-day contract, the
laborer almost invariably owes his employer a debt which he is quite
unable to pay. As he cannot obtain employment elsewhere in the colony
under these conditions, he is faced with the alternative of being
shipped back to China a pauper or of signing another contract. There is
no breaking of the law by the planter, you see: the laborer is
perfectly free to leave when his contract has expired--as free as any
man can be who is absolutely penniless.

Let me quote from a letter from the former Assistant Protector of Labor
of British North Borneo. From the very nature of his duties he knows
whereof he speaks:

"One sees a large number of healthy, able-bodied Chinese coming into
the country as laborers and, at the end of a year or two, instead of
going back to their homes with money in their pockets and healthy with
outdoor work, they go back as broken beggars, pitifully saturated with
disease or confirmed drug fiends. It is really sad to see some of them
return home after a struggle of four or five years to save money--a
struggle not only against themselves and their acquired opium habit,
but against the numerous parasites which always fatten on laborers."

During the term of his indenture the laborer is to all intents and
purposes a prisoner, his only appeal against any injustices practised
on the plantation being to the Protector of Labor, who is supposed to
visit each estate once a month. In theory this system is admirable, but
in practise it does not afford the laborer the protection which the law
intends, for it frequently happens that laborers who have been brutally
mistreated have been coerced into silence by the plantation managers by
threats of what will happen to them if they dare to lay a complaint
before the inspecting official. Moreover, many of the plantations are
so remotely situated, so far removed from civilization, that a manager
can treat his laborers as he pleases with little fear of detection or
punishment. If negroes are held in peonage, flogged, and even murdered
on plantations in our own South, within rifle-shot of courthouses and
sheriffs' offices and churches, is it to be wondered at that similar
conditions can and do exist in the world-distant jungles of Borneo.
Mind you, I do not say that such conditions exist on all or most of the
estates in British North Borneo, but I have the best of reasons for
believing that they exist on some of them.

One of the most serious defects in the labor laws of North Borneo is
that trivial actions or omissions on the part of ignorant coolies, such
as misconduct, neglect of work, or absence from the estate without
leave, are punishable by imprisonment. As a result, the illiterate and
incoherent coolie does not know where he stands. He can never be sure
that some trivial action on his part, no matter how innocent his
intent, will not bring him within reach of the criminal law. He is,
moreover, denied the right of trial by jury, his case usually being
decided off-hand by a bored and unsympathetic magistrate who has no
knowledge of the defendant's tongue. Moreover, the company's laws
permit the punishment of unruly laborers by flogging, with a maximum of
twelve lashes. In view of the remoteness of most of the estates, it is
scarcely necessary for me to point out that this is a form of
punishment open to the gravest abuse.

Although, as I have shown, the British North Borneo Company permits the
existence of a system not far removed from slavery, a far more serious
indictment of the company's administration lies in its systematic
debauchery of its laborers by encouraging them to indulge in opium
smoking and gambling for the purpose of swelling its revenues. Nor does
its heartless exploitation of the laborer end there, for when a coolie
has dissipated all his earnings in the opium dens and gaming houses,
which are run under government concessions, he can usually realize a
little more money for the same purpose by pawning his few poor
belongings at one of the pawnshops controlled by the company. In other
words, from the day a laborer sets foot in Borneo until the day he
departs, he is systematically separated from his earnings, which are
diverted, through the channels provided by the opium dens, the gambling
houses and the pawn shops, into a stream which eventually empties into
the company's coffers. For, mark you, the chartered company did not go
to North Borneo from any altruistic motives. It is animated by no
desire to ameliorate the condition of the natives or to increase the
well-being and happiness of its imported laborers. It is there with one
object in view, and one alone--to pay dividends to its stockholders. As
the chairman of the company said at a recent North Borneo dinner in
London: "They have acted the parts of Empire makers and yet they are
filling their own pockets, for the golden rain is beginning to fall."

Let me show you where this "golden rain" comes from. The two principal
sources of revenue of the British North Borneo Company are opium and
gambling. Suppose that you come with me for a stroll down the Jalan
Tiga in Sandakan and see the gaming houses and the opium dens for
yourself. Jalan Tiga (literally "Number Two Street") is a moderately
broad thoroughfare, perhaps a quarter of a mile in length, which is
solidly lined on both sides with gambling houses, or, as they are
called in Borneo, gambling farms, the term being due to the fact that
the gambling privileges are farmed out by the government. There may be
wickeder streets somewhere in the East than the Jalan Tiga, but I do
not recall having seen them. It, and the thoroughfares immediately
adjoining, in which are situated the opium dens and the houses of
prostitution, form a district which represents the very quintessence of
Oriental vice. Over virtually every door are signs in Chinese, Malay
and English announcing that games of chance are played within. Such
resorts are not camouflaged in Borneo. They are as open as a railway
station or a public library in the United States. From afternoon until
sunrise these resorts are crowded to the doors with half-naked,
perspiring humanity, brown skins and yellow being in about equal
proportions, for the Malay is as inveterate a gambler as the Chinese.
The downstairs rooms, which are frequented by the lower classes, are
thickly sprinkled with low tables covered with mats divided into four
sections, each of which bears a number. A dice under a square brass cup
is shaken on the table and the cup slowly raised. Those players who
have been lucky enough to place their bets on the square whose number
corresponds to the number uppermost on the dice have their money
doubled, the others see their earnings swept into the lap of the
croupier, a fat and greasy Chinaman, usually stripped to the waist. In
this system the chances against the player are enormous. The play is
very rapid, the dice being shaken, the cup raised, the winners paid
and the wagers of the losers raked in too quickly for the untrained eye
to follow. The players seldom quit as long as they have any money left
to wager, but as soon as one drops out there is another ready to take
his place. The upstairs rooms, which are usually handsomely decorated
and luxuriously furnished, are reserved for the wealthier patrons, it
being by no means uncommon for a player to lose several thousand
dollars in a single night. Here cards are generally used instead of
dice to separate the players from their money, fan-tan being the
favorite game. I was told that the monthly subsidy paid by the British
North Borneo Company to the Sultan of Sulu, who comes over from Jolo
with great regularity to collect it, never leaves the country, as he
invariably loses it over a Sandakan gaming-table. Gambling is a
government monopoly in Borneo, the company farming out the privilege
each year to the highest bidder. In 1919 the gambling rights for the
entire protectorate were sold for approximately $144,000.

Crossing the Jalan Tiga at right angles and running from the heart of
the town down to the edge of the harbor is the street of the
prostitutes. It is easy to recognize the houses of ill-fame by their
scarlet blinds and by the scarlet numbers over their doors. Should you
stroll down the street during the day you will find the sullen-eyed
inmates seated in the doorways, brushing their long and lustrous
blue-black hair or painting their faces in white and vermillion
preparatory to the evening's entertainment. Probably four-fifths of
the _filles de joie_ in Sandakan are Chinese, the others are products
of Nippon--quaint, dainty, doll-like little women with faces so heavily
enameled that they would be cracked by a smile. When a Chinese merchant
wants a wife he usually visits a house of prostitution, selects one of
the inmates, drives a hard bargain with the hard-eyed mistress of the
establishment, and, the transaction concluded, brusquely tells the girl
to pack her belongings and accompany him to his home. I might add that
the girls thus chosen invariably make good wives and remain faithful to
their husbands.

[Illustration: The Jalan Tiga, Sandakan

A moderately broad thoroughfare, lined on both sides with
gambling-houses]

[Illustration: A patron of a Sandakan opium farm

Each smoker is provided with a lamp for heating his "pill" and a wooden
head-rest]

Running parallel to the Jalan Tiga is another street--I do not recall
its name--in which are the opium farms. Far from being veiled in
secrecy, they are operated as openly as American soda fountains. A
typical opium farm consists of a two-story wooden house, one of a long
row of similar buildings, containing a number of small, ill-lighted
rooms which reek with the sickly sweet fumes of the drug. The furniture
consists of a number of so-called beds, which in reality are wooden
platforms or tables, their tops, which are raised about three feet
above the floor, providing space on which two smokers can recline. Each
smoker is provided with a block of wood which serves as a pillow and a
small lamp for heating his "pill." The number of patrons who may be
accommodated at one time is prescribed by law and rigidly enforced,
signs denoting the authorized capacity of the house being posted at the
door, like the signs in elevators and on ferry-boats in America. For
example, the door of one farm that I visited bore the notice "Only
fifteen beds. Room for thirty persons." Over-crowding is forbidden by
the authorities, not, as in the case of elevators and ferry-boats, for
reasons of safety, but for financial reasons. The more opium farms
there are, you see, the greater the company's profits.

The opium is purchased by the chartered company from the Government of
the Straits Settlements for $1.20 a tael (about one-tenth of a pound
troy) and, after being adulterated with various substances, is sold to
the opium farmers, nearly all of whom are Chinese, for $8.50 a tael,
the company thus making a very comfortable margin of profit on the
transaction. The opium farmers either keep opium dens themselves or
sell the drug to anyone wishing to buy it, just as a tobacconist sells
cigars and cigarettes. The sale of the opium privilege in Sandakan
alone nets the government, so I was informed, something over $500,000
annually.

Now, iniquitous and deplorable as such a traffic is, the British North
Borneo administration is not the only government engaged in the sale of
opium. But it is the only government, so far as I am aware, which
virtually forces the drug on its people by insisting that it shall be
purchasable in localities which might otherwise escape its malign
influence. A planter who, actuated either by moral scruples or by a
desire to maintain the efficiency of his laborers, opposes the opening
of an opium farm on his estate, might as well sell out and leave
Borneo, for the company will promptly retaliate for such interference
with its revenues by cutting off his supply of labor. It will defend
its action by naïvely asserting that, as the coolies would contrive to
obtain the drug any way, the planter, in refusing to permit the opening
of an opium farm on his property, is guilty of conniving at the illegal
use of the drug!

The British North Borneo Company professes to find justification for
engaging in the opium traffic by insisting that, as the Chinese will
certainly obtain opium clandestinely if they cannot obtain it openly,
it is better for everyone concerned that its sale and use should be
kept under government control. The fact remains, however, that China,
decadent though she may be and desperately in need of increased
revenues, has succeeded, in spite of the powerful opposition of the
British-owned Opium Ring, in putting an end to the traffic within her
borders, while Siam, likewise under Oriental rule, is about to do the
same. It is a curious commentary on European civilization that this
vice, which the so-called "backward" races are vigorously attempting to
stamp out, should be not only permitted but encouraged in a country
over which flies the flag of England. Its effects on the population are
summed up in this sentence from a letter written me by a former high
official of the chartered company: "Fifty per cent of the thefts and
robberies committed during the period that I was magistrate in that
territory can be directly traced to opium and gambling."

There is held each year, at one of the great London hotels, the North
Borneo Dinner. It is one of the most brilliant affairs of the season.
At the head of the long table, banked with flowers and gleaming with
glass and silver, sits the chairman of the chartered company, flanked
by cabinet ministers, archbishops, ambassadors, admirals, field
marshals. The speakers work the audience into a fervor of patriotic
pride by their sonorous word-pictures of England's services to humanity
in bearing the white man's burden, and of the spread of enlightenment
and progress under the Union Jack. But the heartiest applause
invariably greets the announcement that the North Borneo Company has
declared a dividend. Whence the money to pay the dividend was derived
is tactfully left unsaid. The dinner always concludes with the singing
of the anthem _Land of Hope and Glory_. Yet they say that the English
have no sense of humor!



CHAPTER IV

THE EMERALDS OF WILHELMINA


In Singapore stands one of the most significant statues in the world.
From the centre of its sun-scorched Esplanade rises the bronze figure
of a youthful, slender, clean-cut, keen-eyed man, clad in the
high-collared coat and knee-breeches of a century ago, who, from his
lofty pedestal, peers southward, beyond the shipping in the busy
harbor, beyond the palm-fringed straits, toward those mysterious,
alluring islands which ring the Java Sea. Though his name, Thomas
Stamford Raffles, doubtless holds for you but scanty meaning, and
though he died when only forty-five, his last years shadowed by the
ingratitude of the country whose commercial supremacy in the East he
had secured and to which he had offered a vast, new field for colonial
expansion, he was one of the greatest architects of empire that ever
lived. He combined the vision and administrative genius of Clive and
Hastings with the audacity and energy of Hawkins and Drake. It was his
dream, to use his own words, "to make Java the center of an Eastern
insular empire" ruled "not only without fear but without reproach"; an
empire to consist of that great archipelago--Sumatra, Java, Borneo, the
Celebes, New Guinea, and the lesser islands--which sweeps southward
and eastward from the Asian mainland to the edges of Australasia.
Though this splendid colonial structure was erected according to the
plans that Raffles drew, by curious circumstance the flag that flies
over it today is not his flag, not the flag of England, for, instead of
being governed from Westminster, as he had dreamed, it is governed from
The Hague, the ruler of its fifty million brown inhabitants being the
stout, rosy-cheeked young woman who dwells in the Palace of Het Loo.

Though in area Queen Wilhelmina's colonial possessions are exceeded by
those of Britain and France, she is the sovereign of the second largest
colonial empire, in point of population, in the world. But, because it
lies beyond the beaten paths of tourist travel, because it has been so
little advertised by plagues and famines and rebellions, and because it
has been so admirably and unobtrusively governed, it has largely
escaped public attention--a fact, I imagine, with which the Dutch are
not ill-pleased. Did _you_ realize, I wonder, that the Insulinde, as
Netherlands India is sometimes called, is as large, or very nearly as
large, as all that portion of the United States lying east of the
Mississippi? Did you know that in the third largest island of the
archipelago, Sumatra, the State of California could be set down and
still leave a comfortable margin all around? Or that the fugitive from
justice who turns the prow of his canoe westward from New Guinea must
sail as far as from Vancouver to Yokohama before he finds himself
beyond the shadow of the Dutch flag and the arm of Dutch law?

Until the closing years of the sixteenth century, European trade with
the Far East was an absolute monopoly in the hands of Spain and
Portugal. Incredible as it may seem, the two Iberian nations alone
possessed the secret of the routes to the East, which they guarded with
jealous care. In 1492, Columbus, bearing a letter from the King of
Spain to the Khan of Tartary, whose power and wealth had become
legendary in Europe through the tales of Marco Polo and other overland
travelers, sailed westward from Cadiz in search of Asia, discovering
the islands which came to be known as the West Indies. Five years later
a Portuguese sea-adventurer, Vasco da Gama, turned the prow of his
caravel south from the mouth of the Tagus, skirted the coast of Africa,
rounded the Cape of Good Hope, crossed the Indian Ocean, and dropped
his anchor in the harbor of Calicut--the first European to reach the
beckoning East by sea. For a quarter of a century the Portuguese were
the only people in Europe who knew the way to the East, and their
secret gave them a monopoly of the Eastern trade. Lisbon became the
richest port of Europe. Portugal was mistress of the seas. But in 1519
another Portuguese seafarer, Hernando de Maghallanes--we call him
Ferdinand Magellan--who, resenting his treatment by the King of
Portugal, had shifted his allegiance to Spain, sailed southwestward
across the Atlantic, rounded the southern extremity of America by the
straits which bear his name, crossed the unknown Pacific, and raised
the flag of Spain over the islands which came in time to be called the
Philippines. Spain had reached the Indies by sailing west, as Portugal
had reached them by sailing east.

Though the fabulous wealth of the lands thus discovered was discussed
around every council table and camp-fire in Europe, the routes by which
that wealth might be attained were guarded by Portugal and Spain as
secrets of state. The charts showing the routes were not intrusted to
the captains of vessels in the Eastern trade until the moment of
departure, and they were taken up immediately upon their return; the
silence of officers and crews was insured by every oath that the church
could frame and every penalty that the state could devise. For more
than three-quarters of a century, indeed, the two Iberian nations
succeeded in keeping the secret of the sea roads to the East, its
betrayal being punishable by death. In 1580, however, the English
freebooter, Francis Drake, nicknamed "The Master Thief of the Unknown
World," duplicated the voyage of Magellan's expedition of threescore
years before, thus discovering the route to the Indies used by Spain.

At this period the Dutch, "the waggoners of the sea," possessed, as
middlemen, a large interest in the spice trade, for the Portuguese,
having no direct access to the markets of northern Europe, had made a
practise of sending their Eastern merchandise to the Netherlands in
Dutch bottoms for distribution by way of the Rhine and the Scheldt. As
a result, the enormous carrying trade of Holland was wholly dependent
upon Lisbon. But when Spain unceremoniously annexed Portugal in 1580,
the first act of Philip, upon becoming master of Lisbon, was to close
the Tagus to the Dutch, his one-time subjects, who had revolted eight
years before. As a result of the revenge thus taken by the Spanish
tyrant, the Dutch were faced by the necessity of themselves going in
quest of the Indies if their flag was not to disappear from the seas.
Their opportunity came a dozen years later when a venturesome
Hollander, Cornelius Houtman, who was risking imprisonment and even
death by trading surreptitiously in the forbidden city on the Tagus,
succeeded in obtaining through bribery a copy of one of the secret
charts. The Spanish authorities scarcely could have been aware that he
had learned a secret of such immense importance, or his silence would
have been insured by the headsman. As it was, he was thrown into prison
for illegal trading, where he was held for heavy ransom. But he managed
to get word to Amsterdam of the priceless information which had come
into his possession, whereupon the merchants of that city promptly
formed a syndicate, subscribed the money for his ransom, and obtained
his release. Thus it came about that shortly after his return to
Holland there was organized the Company of Distant Lands, a title as
vague, grandiose and alluring as the plans of those who founded it. In
1595, then, nearly a century after da Gama had shown the way, four
caravels under the command of Houtman, the banner of the Netherlands
flaunting from their towering sterns, sailed grandly out of the Texel,
slipped past the white chalk cliffs of Dover, sped southward before the
trades, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and laid their course across the
Indian Ocean for the Spice Islands. When the adventurers returned, two
years later, they brought back tales of islands richer than anything of
which the Dutch burghers had ever dreamed, and produced cargoes of
Eastern merchandise to back their stories up.

The return of Houtman's expedition was the signal for a great outburst
of commercial enterprise in the Low Countries, seekers after fortune or
adventure flocking to the Indies as, centuries later, other
fortune-seekers, other adventurers, flocked to the gold-diggings of the
Sierras, the Yukon, and the Rand. On those distant seas, however, the
adventurers were beyond the reach of any law, the same lawless
conditions prevailing in the Indies at the beginning of the seventeenth
century which characterized Californian life in the days of '49. The
Dutch warred on the natives and on the Portuguese, and, when there was
no one else to offer them resistance, they fought among themselves. By
1602 conditions had become so intolerable that the government of
Holland, in order to tranquillize the Indies, and to stabilize the
spice market at home, decided to amalgamate the various trading
enterprises into one great corporation, the Dutch East India Company,
which was authorized to exercise the functions of government in those
remote seas and to prosecute the war against Spain. When Philip shut
the Dutch out of Lisbon, he made a formidable enemy for himself, for,
though the burghers went to the East primarily in order to save their
commerce from extinction, they were animated in a scarcely less degree
by a determination to even their score with Spain.

The history of the Dutch East India Company is not a savory one. It was
a powerful instrument for extracting the wealth of the Indies, and, so
long as the wealth was forthcoming, the stockholders at home in Holland
did not inquire too closely as to how the instrument was used. The
story of the company from its formation in 1602 until its dissolution
nearly two centuries later is a record of intrigue, cruelty and
oppression. It exercised virtually sovereign powers. It made and
enforced its own laws, it maintained its own fleet and army, it
negotiated treaties with Japan and China, it dethroned sultans and
rajahs, it established trading-posts and factories at the Cape of Good
Hope, in the Persian Gulf, on the coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, and
in Bengal; it waged war against the Portuguese, the Spaniards and the
English in turn. When at the summit of its power, in 1669, the company
possessed forty warships and one hundred and fifty merchantmen,
maintained an army of ten thousand men, and paid a forty per cent
dividend.

Meanwhile a formidable rival to the Dutch company, the English East
India Company, had arisen, but the accession of a Dutchman, William,
Prince of Orange, to the throne of England in 1688 turned the rivals
into allies, the trade of the eastern seas being divided between them.
But toward the close of the eighteenth century there came another
change in the _status quo_, for the Dutch, by allying themselves with
the French, became the enemies of England. By this time Great Britain
had become the greatest sea power in the world, so that within a few
months after the outbreak of hostilities in 1795 the British flag had
replaced that of the Netherlands over Ceylon, Malacca, and other
stations on the highway to the Insulinde. When the Netherlands were
annexed to the French Empire by Napoleon in 1810 the British seized the
excuse thus provided to occupy Java, Thomas Stamford Raffles, the
brilliant young Englishman who was then the agent of the British East
India Company at Malacca, in the Malay States, being sent to Java as
lieutenant-governor. Urgent as were his appeals that Java should be
retained by Britain as a jewel in her crown of empire, the readjustment
of the territories of the great European powers which was effected at
the Congress of Vienna, in 1816, after the fall of Napoleon, resulted
in the restoration to the Dutch of those islands of the Insulinde,
including Java, which the British had seized. But, though Raffles ruled
in Java for barely four and a half years, his spirit goes marching on,
the system of colonial government which he instituted having been
continued by the Dutch, in its main outlines, to this day. He won the
confidence and friendship of the powerful native princes,
revolutionized the entire legal system, revived the system of village
or communal government, reformed the land-tenure, abolished the
abominable system of forcing the natives to deliver all their crops,
and gave to the Javanese a rule of honesty, justice and wisdom with
which, up to that time, they had not had even a bowing acquaintance. As
a result of the lessons learned from Stamford Raffles, the Dutch
possessions in the East are today more wisely and justly administered
than those of any other European nation.

The Dutch had not seen the last of Raffles, however, for in 1817 he
returned from England, where he had been knighted by the Prince Regent,
to take the post of lieutenant-governor of Sumatra, to which the
British did not finally relinquish their claims until half a century
later. His administration of that great island was characterized by the
same breadth of vision, tact, and energy which had marked his rule in
Java. It was during this period that Raffles rendered his greatest
service to the empire. The Dutch, upon regaining Java, attempted to
obtain complete control of all the islands of the archipelago, which
would have resulted in seriously hampering, if not actually ending,
British trade east of Malacca. But Raffles, recognizing the menace to
British interests, defeated the Dutch scheme in January, 1819, by a
sudden _coup d'etat_, when he seized the little island at the tip of
the Malay Peninsula which commands the Malacca Straits and the entrance
to the China seas, and founded Singapore, thereby giving Britain
control of the gateway to the Farther East and ending forever the
Dutch dream of making of those waters a _mare clausum_--a Dutch lake.

The thousands of islands, islets, and atolls which comprise Netherlands
India--the proper etymological name of the archipelago is
Austronesia--are scattered over forty-six degrees of longitude, on both
sides of the equator. Although in point of area Java holds only fifth
place, Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea and the Celebes being much larger,
it nevertheless contains three-fourths of the population and yields
four-fifths of the produce of the entire archipelago. Though scarcely
larger than Cuba, it has more inhabitants than all the Atlantic Coast
States, from Maine to Florida, combined. This, added to the strategic
importance of its situation, the richness of its soil, the variety of
its products, the intelligence, activity and civilization of its
inhabitants, and the fact that it is the seat of the colonial
government, makes Java by far the most important unit of the Insulinde.
Because of its overwhelming importance in the matters of position,
products and population, it is administered as a distinct political
entity, the other portions of the Dutch Indies being officially
designated as the Outposts or the Outer Possessions.

Westernmost and by far the most important of the Outposts is Sumatra,
an island four-fifths the size of France, as potentially rich in
mineral and agricultural wealth as Java, but with a sparse and
intractable population, certain of the tribes, notably the Achinese,
who inhabit the northern districts, still defying Dutch rule in spite
of the long and costly series of wars which have resulted from
Holland's attempt to subjugate them. The unmapped interior of Sumatra
affords an almost virgin field for the explorer, the sportsman and the
scientist. It has ninety volcanoes, twelve of which are active (the
world has not forgotten the eruption, in 1883, of Krakatu, an island
volcano off the Sumatran coast, which resulted in the loss of forty
thousand human lives); the jungles of the interior are roamed by
elephants, tigers, rhinoceroses, panthers and occasional orang-utans,
while in the scattered villages, with their straw-thatched, highly
decorated houses, dwell barbarous brown men practising customs so
incredibly eerie and fantastic that a sober narration of them is more
likely than not to be greeted with a shrug of amused disbelief. One who
has no first-hand knowledge of the Sumatran tribes finds it difficult
to accept at their face value the accounts of the customs practised by
the Bataks of Tapanuli, for example, who, when their relatives become
too old and infirm to be of further use, give them a pious interment by
eating them. When the local Doctor Oslers have decided that a man has
reached the age when his place at the family table is preferable to his
company, the aged victim climbs a lemon-tree, beneath which his
relatives stand in a circle, wailing the deathsong, the weird,
monotonous chant being continued until the condemned one summons the
courage to throw himself to the ground, whereupon the members of his
family promptly despatch him with clubs, cut up his body, roast the
meat, and eat it. Thus every stomach in the tribe becomes, in effect, a
sort of family burial-plot. I was unable to ascertain why the victim is
compelled to throw himself from a lemon-tree. It struck me that some
taller tree, like a palm, would better accomplish the desired result. A
matter of custom, doubtless. Perhaps that explains why we dub persons
who are passé "lemons." Then there are the Achinese, whose women
frequently marry when eight years old, and are considered as well along
in life when they reach their teens; and the Niassais, who are in
deadly fear of albino children and who kill all twins as soon as they
are born. Or the Menangkabaus, whose tribal government is a matriarchy:
lands, houses, crops and children belonging solely to the wife, who
may, and sometimes does, sell her husband as a slave in order to pay
her debts.

Trailing from the eastern end of Java in a twelve-hundred-mile-long
chain, like the wisps of paper which form the tail of a kite, and
separated by straits so narrow that artillery can fire across them, are
the Lesser Sundas--Bali, noted for its superb scenery and its alluring
women; Lombok, the northernmost island whose flora and fauna are
Australian; Sumbawa, where the sandalwood comes from; Flores, whose
inhabitants consider the earth so holy that they will not desecrate it
by digging wells or cultivation; Timor, the northeastern half of which,
together with Goa in India and Macao in China, forms the last remnant
of Portugal's once enormous Eastern empire; Rotti, Kei, and Aroo, the
great chain thus formed linking New Guinea, the largest island in the
world, barring Australia, with the mainland of Asia. Of the last-named
island, the entire western half belongs to Holland, the remaining half
being about equally divided between British Papua, in the southeast,
and in the northeast the former German colony of Kaiser Wilhelm Land,
now administered by Australia under a mandate from the League of
Nations.

The population of Dutch New Guinea is estimated at a quarter of a
million, but the predilection of its puff-ball-headed inhabitants for
human flesh has discouraged the Dutch census-takers from making an
accurate enumeration, as the Papuan cannibal does not hesitate to
sacrifice the needs of science to those of the cooking-pot. Though New
Guinea is believed to be enormously rich in natural resources, and has
many excellent harbors, the secrets of its mysterious interior can only
be conjectured. The natives are as degraded as any in the world; their
principal vocation is hunting birds of paradise, whose plumes command
high prices in the European markets; their chief avocation in recent
years has been staging imitation cannibal feasts for the benefit of
motion-picture expeditions. But, unknown and unproductive as it is at
present, I would stake my life that New Guinea will be a great colony
some day.

To the west of New Guinea and to the south of the Philippines lie the
Moluccas--Ceram, Amboin, Ternate, Halmahera, and the rest--the Spice
Islands of the old-time voyagers, the scented tropic isles of which
Camoens sang. Amboin, owing to the fact that Europeans have been
established there for centuries on account of its trade in spices, is
characterized by a much higher degree of civilization than the rest of
the Moluccas, a considerable proportion of its inhabitants professing
to be Christians. The flower of the colonial army is recruited from the
Amboinese, who regard themselves not as vassals of the Dutch but as
their allies and equals, a distinction which they emphasize by wearing
shoes, all other native troops going barefoot. Beyond the Moluccas,
across the Banda Sea, sprawls the Celebes,[1] familiar from our
school-days because of its fantastic outline, the plural form of its
name being due to the supposition of the early explorers that it was a
group of islands instead of one. And finally, crossing Makassar
Straits, we come to Borneo, the habitat of the head-hunter and the
orang-utan. Though Borneo is a treasure-house for the naturalist, the
botanist, and the ethnologist, the Dutch, as in New Guinea, have merely
scratched its surface, almost no attempt having thus far been made to
exploit its enormous natural resources. Thus I have arrayed for your
cursory inspection the congeries of curious and colorful islands which
constitute Netherlands India in order that you may comprehend the
problems of civilization and administration which Holland has had to
solve in those distant seas, and that you may be better qualified to
judge the results she has achieved.

    [Footnote 1: Pronounced as though it were spelled Cel-lay-bees,
    with the accent on the second syllable.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The Insulinde has eight times the population and sixty times the area
of the mother country, from which it is separated by ten thousand miles
of sea, yet the sovereignty of Queen Wilhelmina is upheld among the
cannibals of New Guinea, the head-hunters of Borneo, and the savages of
Achin, no less than among the docile millions of Java, by less than ten
thousand European soldiers. That a territory so vast and with so
enormous a population, should be so admirably administered, everything
considered, by so small a number of white men, is in itself proof of
the Dutch genius for ruling subject races.

From the day when Holland determined to organize her colonial empire
for the benefit of the natives themselves, instead of exploiting it for
the benefit of a handful of Dutch traders and settlers, as she had
previously done, she has employed in her colonial service only
thoroughly trained officials of proved ability and irreproachable
character. The Dutch officials whom I met in Java and the Outposts
impressed me, indeed, as being men of altogether exceptional capacity
and attainments, better educated and qualified, as a whole, than those
whom I have encountered in the British and French colonial possessions.
Since the war, owing to the difficulty of obtaining men of sufficient
caliber and experience to fill the minor posts, which are not
particularly well paid, Holland has given employment in her colonial
service to a considerable number of Germans, most of whom had been
trained in colonial administration in Germany's African and Pacific
possessions, but they are appointed, of course, only to posts of
relative unimportance.

Every year the Minister of the Colonies ascertains the number of
vacancies in the East Indian service, and every year the Grand
Examination of Officials is held simultaneously in The Hague and
Batavia, the results of this examination determining the eligibility of
candidates for admission to the colonial service and the fitness of
officials already in the service for promotion. With the exception of
the Governor-General and two or three other high officials, who are
appointed by the crown, no official can evade this examination, to pass
which requires not only an intimate knowledge of East Indian languages,
politics and customs, but real scholarship as well. The names of those
candidates who pass this examination are certified to the Minister of
the Colonies, who thereupon directs them to report to the
Governor-General at Batavia and provides them with funds for the
voyage. Upon their arrival in the Indies the Governor-General appoints
them to the grade of _controleur_ and tests their capacity by sending
them to difficult and trying posts in Sumatra, Borneo, the Celebes, or
New Guinea, where they must conclusively prove their ability before
they can hope for promotion to the grades of assistant resident and
resident, and the relative comfort of official life in Java. In the
Outposts they at once come face to face with innumerable difficulties
and responsibilities, for the _controleur_ is responsible, though
within narrower limits than the resident, for everything: justice,
police, agriculture, education, public works, the protection of the
natives, and the requirements of the settlers in such matters as labor
and irrigation. He is, in short, an administrator, a police official, a
judge, a diplomatist, and an adviser on almost every subject connected
with the government of tropical dependencies. The officials in the
Outposts are given more authority and greater latitude of action than
their colleagues in Java, for they have greater difficulties to cope
with, while the intractability, if not the open hostility of the
natives whom they are called upon to rule demands greater tact and
diplomacy than are required in Java, where the officials are inclined
to become spoiled by their easy-going life and the semi-royal state
which they maintain.

Though Holland demands much of those who uphold her authority in the
Indies, she is generous in her rewards. The Governor-General draws a
salary of seventy thousand dollars together with liberal allowances for
entertaining, and is provided with palaces at Batavia and Buitenzorg,
while at Tjipanas, on one of the spurs of the Gedei, nearly six
thousand feet above the sea, he has a country house set in a great
English park. Wherever he is in residence he maintains a degree of
state scarcely inferior to that of the sovereign herself. The residents
are paid from five thousand dollars to nine thousand dollars according
to their grades, the assistant residents from three thousand five
hundred dollars to five thousand dollars, and the _controleurs_ from
one thousand eight hundred dollars to two thousand four hundred
dollars. Though officials are permitted leaves of absence only once in
ten years, those who complete twenty-five years' service in the
Insulinde may retire on half-pay. Even at such salaries, however, and
in a land where living is cheap as compared with Europe, it is almost
impossible for the officials to save money, for they are expected to
entertain lavishly and to live in a fashion which will impress the
natives, who would be quick to seize on any evidence of economy as a
sign of weakness.

Netherlands India is ruled by a dual system of administration--European
and native. By miracles of patience, tact, and diplomacy, the Dutch
have succeeded in building up in the Indies a gigantic colonial empire,
which, however, they could not hope to hold by force were there to be a
concerted rising of the natives. Realizing this, Holland--instead of
attempting to overawe the natives by a display of military strength, as
England has done in Egypt and India, and France in Algeria and
Morocco--has succeeded, by keeping the native princes on their thrones
and according them a shadowy suzerainty, in hoodwinking the ignorant
brown mass of the people into the belief that they are still governed
by their own rulers. Though at first the princes, as was to be
expected, bitterly resented the curtailment of their prerogatives and
powers, they decided that they might better remain on their thrones,
even though the powers remaining to them were merely nominal, and
accept the titles, honors and generous pensions which the Dutch offered
them, than to resist and be ruthlessly crushed. In pursuance of this
shrewd policy, every province in the Indies has as its nominal head a
native puppet ruler, known as a regent, usually a member of the house
which reigned in that particular territory before the white man came.
Though the regents are appointed, paid, and at need dismissed by the
government, and though they are obliged to accept the advice and obey
the orders of the Dutch residents, they remain the highest personages
in the native world and the intermediaries through whom Holland
transmits her wishes and orders to the native population.

In order to lend color to the fiction that the natives are still ruled
by their own princes, the regents are provided with the means to keep
up a considerable degree of ceremony and pomp; they have their
opera-bouffe courts, their gorgeously uniformed body-guards, their
gilded carriages and golden parasols, and some of the more important
ones maintain enormous households. But, though they preside at
assemblies, sign decrees, and possess all the other external attributes
of power, in reality they only go through the motions of governing, for
always behind their gorgeous thrones sits a shrewd and silent Dutchman
who pulls the strings. Though this system of dual government has the
obvious disadvantage of being both cumbersome and expensive, it is,
everything considered, perhaps the best that could have been devised to
meet the existing conditions, for nothing is more certain than that,
should the Dutch attempt to do away with the native princes, there
would be a revolt which would shake the Insulinde to its foundations
and would gravely imperil Dutch domination in the islands.

The most interesting examples of this system of dual administration are
found in the _Vorstenlanden_, or "Lands of the Princes," of Surakarta
and Djokjakarta, in Middle Java. These two principalities, which once
comprised the great empire of Mataram, are nominally independent, being
ostensibly ruled by their own princes: the Susuhunan of Surakarta and
the Sultan of Djokjakarta, who are, however, despite their
high-sounding titles and their dazzling courts, but mouthpieces for the
Dutch residents. The series of episodes which culminated in the Dutch
acquiring complete political ascendency in the _Vorstenlanden_ form one
of the most picturesque and significant chapters in the history of
Dutch rule in the East. Until the last century these territories were
undivided, forming the kingdom of the Susuhunan of Surakarta, who,
being threatened by a revolt of the Chinese who had settled in his
dominions, called in the Dutch to aid him in suppressing it. They came
promptly, helped to crush the rebellion, and so completely won the
confidence of the Susuhunan that he begged their arbitration in a
dispute with one of his brothers, who had launched an insurrection in
an attempt to place himself on the throne. Certain historians assert,
and probably with truth, that this insurrection was instigated and
encouraged by the Dutch themselves, who foresaw that it would be easier
to subjugate two weak states than a single strong one. In pursuance of
this policy, they suggested that, in order to avoid a fratricidal and
bloody war, the kingdom be divided, two-thirds of it, with Surakarta as
the capital, to remain under the rule of the Susuhunan; the remaining
third to be handed over to the pretender, who would assume the title of
Sultan and establish his court at Djokjakarta. This settlement was
reluctantly accepted by the Susuhunan because he realized that he could
hope for nothing better and by his brother because he recognized that
he might do much worse.

In principle, at least, the Sultan remained the vassal of the
Susuhunan, in token of which he paid him public homage once each year
at Ngawen, near Djokjakarta, where, in the presence of an immense
concourse of natives, he was obliged to prostrate himself before the
Susuhunan's throne as a public acknowledgment of his vassalage. But as
the years passed the breach thus created between the Susuhunan and the
Sultan showed signs of healing, which was the last thing desired by the
Dutch, who believed in the maxim _Divide ut imperes_. So, before the
next ceremony of homage came around, they sent for the Sultan, pointed
out to him the humiliation which he incurred in kneeling before the
Susuhunan, and offered to provide him with a means of escaping this
abasement. Their offer was as simple as it was ingenious--permission
to wear the uniform of a Dutch official. This was by no means as empty
an honor as it seemed, as the Sultan was quick to recognize, for one of
the tenets of Holland's rule in the Indies is that no one who wears the
Dutch uniform, whether European or native, shall impair the prestige of
that uniform by kneeling in homage. The Sultan, needless to say,
eagerly seized the opportunity thus offered, and, when the date for the
next ceremony fell due he arrived at Ngawen arrayed in the blue and
gold panoply of a Dutch official, but, instead of prostrating himself
before the Susuhunan in the grovelling _dodok_, he coolly remained
seated, as befitted a Dutch official and an independent prince.

The animosity thus ingeniously revived between the princely houses
lasted for many years, which was exactly what the Dutch had foreseen.
But, though the Susuhunan and the Sultan had been goaded into hating
each other with true Oriental fervor, they hated the Dutch even more.
In order to divert this hostility toward themselves into safer
channels, the Dutch evolved still another scheme, which consisted in
installing at the court of the Susuhunan, as at that of the Sultan, a
counter-irritant in the person of a rival prince, who, though
theoretically a vassal, was in reality as independent as the titular
ruler. And, as a final touch, the Dutch decreed that the cost of
maintaining the elaborate establishments of these hated rivals must be
defrayed from the privy purses of the Susuhunan and the Sultan. The
"independent" prince at Surakarta is known as the Pangeran Adipati
Mangku Negoro; the one at Djokjakarta as the Pangeran Adipati Paku
Alam. Both of these princes have received military educations in
Holland, hold honorary commissions in the Dutch army, and wear the
Dutch uniform; their handsome palaces stand in close proximity to those
of the Susuhunan and the Sultan, and both are permitted to maintain
small but well-drilled private armies, armed with modern weapons and
organized on European lines. The "army" of Mangku Negoro consists of
about a thousand men, and is a far more efficient fighting force than
the fantastically uniformed rabble maintained by his suzerain, the
Susuhunan. In certain respects this arrangement resembles the plan
which is followed at West Point and Annapolis, where, if the appointee
fails to meet the entrance requirements, the appointment goes to an
alternate, who has been designated with just such a contingency in
view. Both the Susuhunan and the Sultan are perfectly aware that the
first sign of disloyalty to the Dutch on their part would result in
their being promptly dethroned and the "independent" princes being
appointed in their stead. So, as they like their jobs, which are well
paid and by no means onerous--the Susuhunan receives an annual pension
from the Dutch Government of some three hundred and fifty thousand
dollars and has in addition one million dollars worth of revenues to
squander each year--their conduct is marked by exemplary obedience and
circumspection.

Ever since the Dipo Negoro rebellion of 1825, which was caused by the
insulting behavior of an incompetent and tactless resident toward a
native prince, to suppress which cost Holland five years of warfare and
the lives of fifteen thousand soldiers, the Dutch Government has come
more and more to realize that most of the disaffection and revolts in
their Eastern possessions have been directly traceable to tactlessness
on the part of Dutch officials, who either ignored or were indifferent
to the customs, traditions, and susceptibilities of the natives. It is
the recognition and application of this principle that has been
primarily responsible for the peace, progress, and prosperity which, in
recent years, have characterized the rule of Holland in the Indies.
When a nation with a quarter the area of New York State, and less than
two-thirds its population, with a small army and no navy worthy of the
name, can successfully rule fifty million people of alien race and
religion, half the world away, and keep them loyal and contented, that
nation has, it seems to me, a positive genius for colonial
administration.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some one has described the Dutch East Indies as a necklace of emeralds
strung on the equator. To those who are familiar only with colder, less
gorgeous lands, that simile may sound unduly fanciful, but to those who
have seen these great, rich islands, festooned across four thousand
miles of sea, green and scintillating under the tropic sun, the
description will not appear as far-fetched as it seems. A necklace of
emeralds! The more I ponder over that description the better I like it.
Indeed, I think that that is what I will call this chapter--The
Emeralds of Wilhelmina.



CHAPTER V

MAN-EATERS AND HEAD-HUNTERS


There is no name between the covers of the atlas which so smacks of
romance and adventure as Borneo. Show me the red-blooded boy who, when
he sees that magic name over the wild man's cage in the circus sideshow
or over the orang-utan's cage in the zoo, does not secretly long to go
adventuring in the jungles of its mysterious interior. So, because
there is still in me a good deal of the boy, thank Heaven, I ordered
the course of the _Negros_ laid for Samarinda, which, if the charts
were to be believed, was the principal gateway to the hinterland of
Eastern Borneo. There are no roads in Borneo, you understand, only
narrow foot-trails through the steaming jungle, so that the only
practicable means of penetrating the interior is by ascending one of
the great rivers. The Koetei, which has its nativity somewhere in the
mysterious Kapuas Mountains, winds its way across four hundred miles of
unmapped wilderness, and, a score of miles below Samarinda, empties
into Makassar Straits, answered my requirements admirably, providing a
highroad to the country of my boyish dreams. Though I told the others
that I was going up the Koetei in order to see the strange tribes who
dwell along its upper reaches, I admitted to myself that I had one
object in view and one alone--to see the Wild Man.

Viewed from the deck of the _Negros_, Samarinda, which is the capital
of the Residency of Koetei, was entirely satisfying. It corresponded in
every respect to the mental picture which I had drawn of a Bornean
town. It straggles for two miles or more along a dusty road shaded by a
double row of flaming fire-trees. Facing on the road are a few-score
miserable shops kept by Chinese and Arabs and the somewhat more
pretentious buildings which house the offices of the European trading
companies. Further out, at the edge of the town, are the dwellings of
the Dutch officials and traders--comfortable-looking, one-story,
whitewashed houses with deep verandahs, peering coyly out from the
midst of fragrant, blazing gardens. The Residency, the Custom House,
the Police Barracks and the Koetei Club can readily be distinguished by
the Dutch flags that droop above them. The river-bank itself is one
interminable street. Here dwells the brown-skinned population--Malays,
Bugis, Makassars, and a sprinkling of Sea Dyaks. Sometimes the flimsy,
cane-walled, leaf-thatched huts, perched aloft on bamboo stilts, stand,
like flocks of storks, in clusters. Again they stray a little apart,
seeking protection from the pitiless sun beneath clumps of palms.
Malays in short, tight jackets and long, tight breeches of
kaleidoscopic colors were sauntering along the yellow road, oblivious
of the sun. On the shelving beach naked brown men were mending their
nets or pottering about their dwellings. Now and then I caught a
glimpse of a European, cool and comfortable in topee and white linen.
It was all exactly as I had expected. It was, indeed, almost too
story-booky to be true. Here, at last, was a green and lovely land,
unspoiled by noisy, prying tourists, where one could lounge the lazy
days away beneath the palm-trees or stroll with dusky beauties on a
beach silvered by the tropic moon. I was impatient to go ashore.

Changing from pajamas to whites, I ordered the launch to the gangway
and went ashore to pay my respects to the Resident. To leave your card
on the local representative of Queen Wilhelmina is the first rule of
etiquette to be observed by the foreigner traveling in the Outer
Possessions. In Java, which is more highly civilized, it is not so
necessary. Unlike the Latin races, the Dutch are not by nature a
suspicious people, but political unrest is prevalent throughout the
East, and with Bolshevists, Chinese agitators and other fomenters of
disaffection surreptitiously at work among the natives, it is the part
of prudence to establish your respectability at the start. To gain a
friendly footing with the authorities is to save yourself from possible
annoyance later on.

As I approached the shore the glamor lent by distance disappeared. The
river-bank, which had looked so alluring from the cutter's deck, proved
on closer inspection to be as squalid as the back-yard of a Neapolitan
tenement. It was littered with dead cats and fowls and fish and
castaway vegetables and rotten fruit and tin cans and greasy ashes and
refuse from fishing nets and decaying cocoanuts by the million and
sodden rags. This stewing garbage was strewn ankle-deep upon the sand
or was floating on the surface of the river, not drifting seaward, as
one would expect, but languidly following the tide up and down, forever
lolling along the bank. Above this putrefying feast swarmed myriads of
flies, their buzzing combining in a drone like that of an electric fan.
The sun struck viciously down upon the yellow foreshore, its glare
reflected by the hard-packed sands as by a sheet of brass; the
heat-waves danced and flickered. Sending the launch back to the cutter,
I picked my way across this noisome place to the shelter of the trees
along the road. But the shade that had appeared so inviting from the
river proved as illusory as everything else. Grass? There was none. The
earth was baked to the hardness of asphalt.

To make matters worse, I found that I had landed too far down the
beach. The building that I had assumed was the Residency proved to be
the Custom House. The Harbor Master, whom I encountered there, seized
the opportunity to present me with a bill for a hundred
guilders--something over forty dollars--for port dues. It seemed a high
price to pay for the privilege of lying in the stream, a quarter-mile
off-shore. In all the Dutch ports at which we touched I noted this same
disposition on the part of the authorities to charge all that the
traffic would bear--and then some. Foreign vessels are rarely seen at
Samarinda, and one would suppose that they would be welcomed
accordingly, but the Dutch are a business people and do not permit
sentiment to interfere with a chance to make a few honest guilders.

The Residency, I found upon inquiry, was two miles away, in the
outskirts of the town. And, as there are neither rickshaws nor
carriages for hire in Samarinda, I was compelled to walk. It was really
too hot to move. In five minutes my clothes were as wet as though I had
fallen in the river. The green silk lining of my sun-hat crocked and
ran down my face in emerald rivulets. When I had covered half the
distance I paused beneath a waringin tree to rest. A breath of breeze
from the river, sighing through the palms, brought to my streaming
cheeks a hint of coolness and to my nostrils more than a hint of the
garbage broiling on the beach. Anyone who could be romantic in Borneo
_must_ be in love.

The Assistant Resident, Monsieur de Haan, was as glad to see me as a
banker away from home is to see a copy of _The Wall Street Journal_. I
brought him a whiff of that great outside world from which he was an
exile, with whose doings he kept in touch only through the meager
despatches in the papers brought by the fortnightly mail-boat from
Java, or through occasional travelers like myself. Dutch officials in
the Indies can obtain leave only once in ten years and Monsieur de Haan
had not visited the mother country for nearly a decade, so that when he
learned I had recently been in Holland he was pathetically eager to
hear the gossip of the homeland. For an hour I lounged in a Cantonese
chair beneath the leisurely swinging punkah--the motive power for the
punkah being provided by a native on the verandah outside, who
mechanically pulled the cord even while he slept--and chatted of homely
things: of a restaurant which we both knew on the Dam in Amsterdam, of
bathing on the sands of Scheviningen, of band concerts on summer
evenings in the Haagsche Bosch. Only when his long-pent curiosity as to
happenings in Europe had been appeased did I find an opportunity to
mention the reasons which had brought me to Samarinda. I wished to go
up country, I explained. I wanted to see the real jungle and the
strange tribes which dwell in it; particularly I wished to see the
head-hunters. Now in this I was fully prepared for discouragement and
dissuasion, for head-hunters are not assets to a country; to a visitor
they are not displayed with pride. When, in the Philippines, I wished
to see the head-hunting Igorots; when I asked the Japanese for
permission to visit the head-hunters of Formosa, I met only with
excuses and evasions. At my taste the officials pretended to be
surprised and grieved. But Monsieur de Haan, doubtless because he had
lived so long in the wilds that head-hunters were to him a commonplace,
not only made no objection, he even offered to accompany me.

"We can go up the Koetei on your cutter," he suggested. "It is
navigable as far as Long Iram, two hundred miles up-country, which is
the farthest point inland that one of our garrisons is stationed. Thus
you will be able to see the Dyak country as comfortably as you could
see Holland from the deck of a canal boat. On our way we might pay a
visit to the Sultan of Koetei, who has a palace at Tenggaroeng. Though
he has no real power to speak of, he exercises considerable influence
among the wild tribes, of which he is the hereditary ruler. He's the
very man to put you in touch with the head-hunters."

The suggestion sounded fine. Moreover, in visiting savages as
temperamental as the Dyaks, there would be a certain comfort in having
the head of the government along. So, as Monsieur de Haan did not
appear to be pressed with business, we arranged to start up-river the
following morning.

It was late afternoon when I returned to the _Negros_. I was completely
wilted by the terrible humidity, and, as the river looked cool and
inviting in the twilight, I decided to refresh my body and my spirits
by a swim. But when I suggested to the Doctor that he join me he shook
his head gloomily.

"Nothing doing," he said. "I've been wanting to go in all day but the
port surgeon tells me that I'd be committing suicide."

"But why?" I demanded irritably, for I was ill-tempered from the heat.
"It's perfectly clean out here in mid-stream and there is no danger
from sharks here, as there was at Zamboanga and Jolo."

By way of replying he pointed to a black object, which I took to be a
log, that was floating on the surface of the river, perhaps fifty yards
off the cutter's gangway.

"That's why," he said dryly.

As he spoke a dugout, driven by half-a-dozen paddles in the hands of
lusty natives, came racing down stream. As the canoe drew abreast of
us, the paddlers chanting a barbaric chorus, there was a sudden swirl
in the water and the object which I had taken for a log abruptly
dropped out of sight.

"A crocodile!" I ejaculated, a little shiver chasing itself up and down
my spine.

The Doctor nodded.

"The river is alive with them," he said. "Man-eaters, too. The port
surgeon told me that they get a native or so every day."

"I've changed my mind about wanting a swim," I remarked, heading for
the ship's shower-bath.

       *       *       *       *       *

(Dusk is settling on the great river and the palm fronds are gently
stirring before the breeze that comes with nightfall on the Line. If
you have nothing better to do, suppose you sit down beside me in a
deck-chair and let me tell you something about these cruel and cunning
monsters and the curious methods by which they are captured. _Boy! Pass
the cheroots and bring us something cold to drink._)

Though crocodiles are found everywhere in Malaysia, they attain their
greatest size and ferocity in the rivers of Borneo, it being no
uncommon thing for them to attack and capsize the frail native canoes,
killing their occupants as they flounder in the water. I suppose that
the crocodile of Borneo more nearly approaches the giant saurians of
prehistoric times than anything alive to-day. Imagine, if you please, a
creature as large as a ship's launch, with the swiftness and ferocity
of a man-eating shark, the cunning of a snake, a body so heavily
armored with scales that it is impervious to everything save the most
high-powered bullets, a tail that is capable of knocking down an ox,
and a pair of jaws that can cut a man in two at a single snap. How
would you like to encounter that sort of thing when you were having a
pleasant swim, I ask you? Compared to the crocodile of Malaysia, the
Florida alligator is about as formidable as a lizard. One was captured
while we were at Sandakan which measured slightly over twenty-eight
feet from the end of his ugly snout to the tip of his vicious tail.
Before you raise your eyebrows incredulously you might take a look at
the accompanying photograph of this monster. Nor was this a record
crocodile, for, shortly before our arrival at Samarinda, one was caught
in the Koetei which measured ten metres, or within a few inches of
thirty-three feet.

The crocodile obtains its meals by the simple expedient of lying
motionless just beneath the surface of a pool where the natives are
accustomed to bathe or where they go for water. The unsuspecting brown
girl trips jauntily down to the river-bank to fill her
amphora--usually a battered Standard Oil tin. As she bends over the
stream there comes without the slightest warning the lightning swish of
a scaly tail, a scream, the crunch of monster jaws, a widening eddy, a
scarlet stain overspreading the surface of the water--and there is one
less inhabitant of Borneo. But instead of proceeding to devour its
victim then and there, the crocodile carries the body up a convenient
creek, where it has the self-control to leave it until it is
sufficiently gamey to satisfy its palate. For the crocodile, like the
hunter, does not like freshly killed meat. Hence, a crocodile swimming
up-stream with a native in its mouth is by no means an uncommon sight
on Borne an rivers.

"But it is a quick death," as an Englishman whom I met in Borneo
philosophically observed. "They don't play with you as a cat plays with
a mouse--they just hold you under the water until you are drowned."

Yet, in spite of the hundreds who fall victim to the terrible jaws each
year, the natives seem incapable of observing the slightest
precautions. For superstitious reasons they will not disturb the
crocodile until it has shown itself to be a man-eater. If the crocodile
will live at peace with him the native has no wish to start a quarrel.
But the day usually comes when a native who has gone down to the river
fails to return. In America, under such circumstances, the relatives of
the missing man would send for grappling irons and an undertaker. But
in Borneo they summon a professional crocodile hunter. The idea of this
is not so much to obtain revenge as to recover the brass ornaments
which the dear departed was wearing at the moment of his taking off,
for, though human life is the cheapest thing there is in Borneo, brass
is extremely dear.

The professional crocodile hunters are usually Malays. One of the best
known and most successful in Borneo is an old man who runs a ferry
across the Barito at Bandjermasin. He has capitalized his skill and
cunning by organizing himself into a sort of crocodile liability
company, as it were. Anyone may secure a policy in this company by
paying him a weekly premium of 2-1/2 Dutch cents. When one of his
policy holders is overtaken by death in the form of a pair of four-foot
jaws the old man turns the ferry over to one of his children and sets
out to fulfill the terms of his contract by capturing the offending
saurian, recovering from its stomach the weighty bracelets, anklets and
earrings worn by the deceased, and restoring them to the next of kin.
In order to make good he sometimes has to kill a number of crocodiles,
but he keeps on until he gets the right one. This is not as difficult
as it sounds, for the big man-eaters usually have their recognized
haunts in certain deep pools in the rivers, many of them, indeed, being
known to the natives by name. The old ferryman at Bandjermasin has been
so successful in the conduct of his curious avocation that, so the
Dutch Resident assured me, he has several hundred policy holders who
pay him their premiums with punctilious regularity, thereby giving him
a very comfortable income.

The method pursued by the crocodile hunters of Borneo is as effective
as it is ingenious. Their fishing tackle consists of a hook, which is a
straight piece of hard wood, about the size of a twelve-inch ruler,
sharpened at both ends; a ten-foot leader, woven from the tough,
stringy bark of the baru tree; and a single length of rattan or cane,
fifty feet or so in length, which serves as a line. One end of the
leader is attached to a shallow notch cut in the piece of wood, the
other end is fastened to the rattan. With a few turns of cotton one end
of the stick is then lightly bound to the leader, thus bringing the two
into a straight line. Then comes the bait, which must be chosen with
discrimination. Though the body of a dog or pig will usually answer,
the morsel that most infallibly tempts a crocodile is the carcass of a
monkey. But it must not be a freshly killed monkey, mind you. A
crocodile will only swallow meat that is in an advanced stage of
decomposition, the more overpowering its stench the greater the
likelihood of the bait being taken. The bait is securely lashed to the
pointed stick, though anyone but a Malay would require a gas-mask to
perform this part of the operation.

Everything now being ready, the bait is suspended from the bough of a
tree overhanging the pool which the crocodile is known to frequent,
being so arranged that the carcass swings a foot or so above the
surface of the stream at high water level, the end of the rattan being
planted in the bank. Lured by the smell of the bait, which in that
torrid climate quickly acquires a bouquet which can be detected a mile
to leeward, the crocodile is certain sooner or later to thrust its long
snout out of the water and snap at the odoriferous bundle dangling so
temptingly overhead, the slack line offering no resistance until the
bait has been swallowed and the brute starts to make off. Then the
man-eater gets the surprise of its long and checkered life, for the
planted end of the rattan holds sufficiently to snap the threads which
bind the pointed stick to the leader. The stick, thus caused to resume
its original position at right angles to the line, becomes jammed
across the crocodile's belly, the pointed ends burying themselves in
the tender abdominal lining.

The next morning the hunter finds bait and tackle missing, but a brief
search usually reveals the coils of rattan floating on the surface of
some deep pool at no great distance from the spot where the bait was
taken. At the bottom of the pool Mr. Crocodile is writhing in the
throes of acute indigestion. Taking the end of the line ashore, the
hunter summons assistance. A score of jubilant natives lay hold on the
rattan. Then ensues a struggle that makes tarpon fishing as tame in
comparison as catching shiners. At first the monster tries to resist
the straining line, its tail flailing the water into foam. The great
jaws close on the leader like a bear-trap, but the loosely braided
strands of baru fiber slip between the pointed teeth. The leader holds.
The natives haul at the line as sailors haul at a halliard. Soon there
emerges from the churning waters a long and incredibly ugly snout,
followed by a low, reptilian head, with venomous, heavy-lidded, scarlet
eyes, a body as broad as a row-boat and armored with horny scales, and
finally a tremendous tail, twice as long as an elephant's trunk and
twice as powerful, that spells death for any human being that comes
within its reach. Sometimes it happens that the hunters momentarily
become the hunted, for the infuriated beast, catching sight of its
enemies, may come at them with a rush and a bellow, but more often it
has to be dragged to land, fighting every inch of the way.

Now comes the most hazardous part of the whole proceeding--the securing
of the monster. By means of a noose, deftly thrown, the great jaws are
rendered harmless. Another noose encircles the lashing tail and binds
it securely to a tree. The front legs are next lashed behind the back
and the hind legs treated in the same fashion. Thus deprived of the
support of its legs, the crocodile is helpless and it is safe to
release its tail. A stout bamboo is then passed between the bound legs
and a score of sweating natives bear the captive in triumph to the
nearest government station, where the bounty is claimed. The crocodile
is then killed, the stomach cut open and its contents examined, any
brassware or other ornaments worn by its victim at the time of his
demise being handed over to the heirs.

[Illustration: Catching a man-eating crocodile in a Borneo river]

The method of fishing pursued by the Dyaks of Borneo is quite as
curious, in its way, as their manner of catching crocodiles. Instead of
netting the fish, or catching them with hook and line, they asphyxiate
them, using for the purpose a poison obtained from the tuba root, known
to scientists as _Cocculus indicus_. When a Dyak village is in need of
food the entire community, men, women and children, repairs to a stream
in which fish are known to be plentiful. Across the stream a sort of
picket fence is erected by planting bamboos close together. In the
center of this fence is a narrow opening leading into an enclosure like
a corral, the walls of which are made in the same fashion. When this
part of the preparations has been completed a party of natives proceeds
up-stream by canoe for a dozen, or more miles, taking with them a
plentiful supply of tuba root. Early the next morning the canoes are
filled with water, in which the tuba root is beaten until the water is
as white and frothy as soapsuds. When a sufficient quantity of this
highly toxic liquid has thus been obtained, it is emptied into the
stream and, after a brief wait, the canoes are again launched and the
fishermen drift slowly down the current in the wake of the poison. Many
of the fish are stupefied by the tuba and, as they rise struggling to
the surface, are speared by the Dyaks. Other, seeking to escape the
poisonous wave, dart down-stream and, when halted by the barrier, pour
through the opening into the corral, where they are captured by the
thousands. I might add that the tuba does not affect the flesh of the
fish, which can be eaten with safety. As a means of obtaining food in
wholesale quantities fishing with tuba is perhaps justified. As a sport
it is in the same class with shooting duck from airplanes with
machine-guns.

       *       *       *       *       *

Monsieur de Haan, wearing the brass-buttoned white uniform and
gold-laced conductor's cap which is the garb prescribed for Dutch
colonial officials, came abroad the _Negros_ shortly after breakfast.
The gangway was hoisted, Captain Galvez gave brisk orders from the
bridge, there was a jangle of bells in the engine-room, and we were off
up the Koetei, into the mysterious heart of Borneo. Above Samarinda the
great river flows between solid walls of vegetation. The density of the
Bornean jungle is indeed almost unbelievable. It is a savage tangle of
bamboos, palms, banyans, mangroves, and countless varieties of shrubs
and giant ferns, the whole laced together by trailers and creepers.
Contrary to popular belief, there is little color to relieve the somber
monotony of dark brown trunks and dark green foliage. It is as gloomy
as the nave of a cathedral at twilight. Here and there may be seen some
vine with scarlet berries and many orchids swing from the higher
branches like incandescent globes of colored glass. But it is usually
impossible for one on the ground to see the finest blooms, which turn
their faces to the sunlight above the canopy of green. Gray apes
chatter in the tree-tops; strange tropic birds of gorgeous plumage flit
from bough to bough, monstrous reptiles slip silently through the
undergrowth; insects buzz in swarms above the putrid swamps;
occasionally the jungle crashes beneath the tread of some heavy
animal--a rhinoceros, perhaps, or a wild bull, or an orang-utan. (I
might mention, parenthetically, that _orang-utan_ means, in the Malay
language, "man of the forest," while _orang-outang_, the name which we
incorrectly apply to the great red-haired anthropoid, means "man in
debt.") The Bornean jungle is a place of indescribable dismalness and
dread, its gloom seldom dissipated by the sun, its awesome silence
broken only by the stirrings of the unseen creatures which lurk
underfoot and overhead and all around.

The palace of the Sultan of Koetei stands in the edge of the jungle at
a horseshoe bend in the river. You come on it with startling
abruptness--miles and miles of primeval wilderness and then, quite
unexpectedly, a bit of civilization. In no respect does its exterior
come up to what you would expect the palace of an Oriental ruler to be.
It is a great barn of a place, two stories in height, painted a bright
pink, with the arms of Koetei emblazoned above the entrance. It
reminded me of a Coney Island dance hall or one of the tabernacles
built for Billy Sunday.

A broad flight of white marble steps leads to a wide, covered terrace
of the same incongruous material. This terrace opens directly into the
great throne-hall, a lofty apartment of impressive proportions, though
its furnishings are a bizarre mixture of Oriental taste and Occidental
tawdriness. Its marble floor is strewn with splendid rugs and
tiger-skins; hanging from the ceiling are enormous cut-glass
chandeliers; set in the walls, on either side of the scarlet-and-gold
throne, are life-size portraits of the present Sultan's father and
grandfather done in glazed Delft tiles, which seem more appropriate for
a bathroom than a throne-hall. From each end of the apartment
scarlet-carpeted staircases, with gilt balustrades, lead to the second
floor. Under one of these staircases is a sort of closet, with glass
doors, which looks for all the world like a large edition of a
telephone booth in an American hotel. The doors were sealed with strips
of paper affixed by means of wax wafers, but, peering through the
glass, I could made out a large table piled high with trays of precious
stones, ingots of virgin gold and silver, vessels, utensils and images
of the same precious metals. It was the state treasure of Koetei and
was worth, so the Resident told me, upward of a million dollars.

When I was at Tenggaroeng the young Sultan, an anaemic-looking youth in
the early twenties, had not yet been permitted by the Dutch authorities
to ascend the throne, the country being ruled by his uncle, the Regent,
an elderly, affable gentleman who, in his white drill suit and round
white cap, was the image of a Chinese cook employed by a Californian
friend of mine. Upon the formal accession of the young Sultan the seals
of the treasury would be broken, I was told, and the treasure would be
his to spend as he saw fit. I rather imagine, however, that the Dutch
_controleur_ attached to his court in the capacity of adviser will
have something to say should the youthful monarch show a disposition to
squander his inheritance.

Up-stairs we were shown through a series of apartments filled to
overflowing with the loot of European shops--ornate brass beds, inlaid
bureaus and chiffoniers, toilet-sets of tortoise-shell and ivory,
washbowls and pitchers of Sèvres, Dresden and Limoges, garnish vases,
statuettes, music-boxes, mechanical toys, models of all ships and
engines, and a thousand other useless and inappropriate articles, for,
when the late Sultan paid his periodic visits to Europe, the
shopkeepers of Paris, Amsterdam and The Hague seized the opportunity to
unload on him, at exorbitant prices, their costliest and most unsalable
wares. Opening a marquetry wardrobe, the Regent displayed with great
pride his collection of uniforms and ceremonial costumes, most of
which, the Resident told me, had been copied from pictures which had
caught his fancy in books and magazines. That wardrobe would have
delighted the heart of a motion-picture company's property-man, for it
contained everything from a Dutch court dress, complete with sword and
feathered hat, to a state costume of sky-blue broadcloth edged with
white fur and trimmed with diamond buttons. I expressed a desire to see
the royal crown, for I had noticed that the pictures of former sultans,
which I had seen in the throne-room, showed them wearing crowns of a
peculiar design, strikingly similar to those worn by the Emperors of
Abyssinia. My request resulted in a whispered colloquy between the
Resident, the Controleur, the Regent and the young Sultan. After a
brief discussion the Resident explained that the Controleur kept the
crown locked up in his safe, but that he would get it if I wished to
see it. To the obvious relief of everyone except the young Sultan I
assured them that it did not matter. He seemed distinctly disappointed.
I imagine that he would have liked to have gotten his hands on it.

Outside the palace--just below its windows, in fact--is a long, low,
dirt-floored, wooden-roofed shed, such as American farmers build to
keep their wagons and farm machinery under. This was the royal
cemetery. Beneath it the former rulers of Koetei lie buried, their
resting-places being marked by a most curious assortment of
fantastically carved tombs and headstones. Some of the tombs hold the
ashes of men who sat on the throne of Koetei when it was one of the
great kingdoms of the East, long before the coming of the white man.

Lady luck was kind to me, for shortly after our arrival at Tenggaroeng
a delegation of Dyaks from one of the tribes of the far interior
appeared at the palace to lay some tribal dispute before the Regent for
his adjudication. There were about a score of them, including a rather
comely young woman, whose comeliness was somewhat marred, however,
according to European standards at least, by the lobes of her ears
being stretched until they touched her shoulders by the great weight of
the brass earrings which depended from them. The warriors were the
finest physical specimens of manhood that I saw in all Malaysia--tall,
slim, muscular, magnificently developed fellows, with bright, rather
intelligent faces. They had the broad shoulders and small hips of Roman
athletes and when the sun struck on their oiled brown skins they looked
like the bronzes in a museum. Unlike the natives we had seen along the
coast, whose garments made a slight concession to the prejudices of
civilization, these children of the wild "wore nothing much before and
rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind." Several of them were armed with
the sumpitan, or blow-gun, which is the national weapon of the Dyaks,
and each of them carried at his waist a _parang-ilang_, the terrible
long-bladed knife which the head-hunter uses to kill and decapitate his
victims.

Monsieur de Haan, as well as the other Dutch officials whom I
questioned on the subject, attributed the prevalence of head-hunting in
Borneo to the vanity of the Dyak women. He explained that, just as
American girls expect candy and flowers from the young men who are
attentive to them, so Dyak maidens expect freshly severed human heads.
The warrior who refused to present his lady-love with such grisly
evidences of his devotion would be rejected by her and ostracized by
his tribe. Nor does head-hunting end with marriage, for the standing of
both the man and his wife in the community depends upon the number of
grinning skulls which swing from the ridgepole of their hut. Heads are
to a Dyak what money is to a man in civilized countries--the more he
has, the greater his importance. The Controleur at Tenggaroeng assured
me very earnestly that his Dyak charges were by no means ferocious or
bloodthirsty by nature and that they practised head-hunting less from
pleasure than from force of custom. But I am compelled to accept such
an estimate of the Dyak character with reservations. From all that I
could learn, head-hunting is a sport, like fox-hunting in England. Nor
does it, as a rule, involve any great risk to the hunters, for the
head-hunting raids are usually mere butcheries of defenceless people,
the Dyaks either stalking their victim in the bush and killing him from
behind, or attacking a village when the warriors are absent and
slaughtering everyone whom they find in it--old, men, women, and
children. The head of an orang-utan, by the way, is as highly prized in
many of the Dyak tribes as that of a human being. Nor is this
surprising, for the warrior who single-handed can kill one of the
mighty anthropoids is deserving of the trophy.

During my stay in Borneo I heard many theories advanced in explanation
of head-hunting. Some authorities claimed that it is the Dyak's way of
establishing a reputation for prowess. Others asserted that he takes
heads merely to gratify the vanity of his women. There are still others
who hold the opinion that the Dyak believes that he inherits the
courage and cunning of those he kills. In certain of the Dyak tribes
the heads are treated with profound reverence, being wreathed with
flowers, offered the choicest morsels of food, and sometimes being
given a place at the table, while in other tribes they are hung from
the ridgepole and displayed as trophies of the chase. My own opinion is
that, though prestige and vanity and superstition all contribute to the
prevalence of head-hunting, in the inherent savagery of the Dyak is
found the true explanation of the custom.

I have already made passing mention of that characteristic weapon of
the Dyaks, the sumpitan, or, as it is called by foreigners, the
blow-gun. The sumpitan is a piece of hard wood, from six to eight feet
in length and in circumference slightly larger than the handle of a
broom. Running through it lengthwise is a hole about the size of a
lead-pencil. A broad spear-blade is usually lashed to one end of the
sumpitan, like a bayonet, thus providing a weapon for use at close
quarters. The dart is made from a sliver of bamboo, or from a
palm-frond, scraped to the size of a steel knitting-needle. One end of
the dart is imbedded in a cork-shaped piece of pith which fits the hole
in the sumpitan as a cartridge fits the bore of a rifle; the other end,
which is of needle-sharpness, is smeared with a paste made from the
milky sap of the upas tree dissolved in a juice extracted from the root
of the tuba. With the possible exception of curare, this is the
deadliest poison known, the slightest scratch from a dart thus poisoned
paralyzing the respiratory center and causing almost instant death. The
dart is expelled from the sumpitan by a quick, sharp exhalation of the
breath. In fact, M. de Haan told me that among certain of the Dyak
tribes virtually all of the men suffer from rupture as a result of the
constant use of the blow-gun. Though I have heard those who have never
seen the sumpitan in use sneer at it as a toy, it is, at short
distances, one of the most accurate weapons in existence and, when its
darts are poisoned, one of the deadliest. In order to show me what
could be done with the sumpitan, the Regent stuck in the earth a bamboo
no larger than a woman's little finger, and a Dyak, taking up his
position at a distance of thirty paces which I stepped off myself, hit
the almost indistinguishable mark with his darts twelve times running.
That, as the late Colonel Cody would have put it, "is some shooting."

In Borneo the use of the blow-gun is not confined to the Dyaks. They
are also used by fish! That is to say, by a certain species of fish.
This fish, which is remarkable neither in size nor color, seldom being
larger than our domestic goldfish, is known to the natives as _ikan
sumpit_ (literally "fish with a sumpitan") and to science as _Toxodes
jaculator_. But it is unique among the finny tribe in possessing the
curious power, on corning to the surface, of being able to squirt from
its mouth a tiny jet of water. This it uses with unerring aim against
insects, such as flies, grasshoppers and spiders, resting on plants
along the edge of the streams, causing them to fall into the water,
where they become an easy prey to these Dyaks of the deep. It was lucky
for us that the crocodiles were not armed with blow-guns!

When Latins engage in a serious quarrel they are prone to decide it
with the stiletto, or, if they belong to the class which subscribes to
the code, they meet on the field of honor with rapiers or pistols;
Anglo-Saxons are accustomed to settle their disputes in a court of law
or with their fists; but when Dyaks become involved in a controversy
which cannot be adjusted by the tribal council, they have recourse to
the _s'lam ayer_, or trial by water. This curious method of deciding
disputes is conducted with great formality, according to the rules of
an established code. For example, should two husky young head-hunters
become involved in a lovers' quarrel over a village belle--the lobes of
whose ears are probably pulled down to her shoulders by the weight of
her brass earrings--they adjourn, with their seconds and their friends,
to what might appropriately be called the pool of honor. Almost any
place where there are four or five feet of water will do. Into the
bottom of the pool the seconds drive two stout bamboo poles, a few
yards apart. The rivals then wade out into the water and take up their
positions, each grasping a pole. At a signal from the chief who is
acting as umpire they plunge beneath the water, each duelist keeping
his nostrils closed with one hand while with the other he clings to the
pole so as to keep his head below the surface. As both of them would
drown themselves rather than acknowledge defeat by coming to the
surface voluntarily, at the first sign either of the two gives of being
asphyxiated, the seconds, who are watching their principals closely,
drag the rivals from the water. They are then held up by the heels,
head downward, in order to drain off the water they have swallowed, the
one who first recovers consciousness being declared the victor and
awarded the hand of the lady fair. It is a quaint custom.

As I have no desire to strain your credulity to the breaking-point, I
will touch on only one more Dyak custom--the disposal of the dead. It
seems a fitting subject with which to bring this account of the wild
men to a close. Certain of the Dyak tribes expose their dead in trees,
some burn them, while still others bury them until the flesh has
disappeared, when they exhume the skeletons, disarticulate them, and
seal the bones in the huge jars of Chinese porcelain which are a Dyak's
most prized possession. Sometimes these burial-jars are kept in the
family dwelling--a rather gruesome article of furniture to the European
mind--but more often they are deposited in a grave-house, a small,
fantastically decorated hut or shed which serves as a family vault. But
I doubt if any people on the face of the globe have so weird a custom
of disposing of their dead as the Kapuas of Central Borneo, who hollow
out the trunk of a growing tree and in the space thus prepared insert
the corpse of the departed. The bark is carefully replaced over the
opening and the tree continues to grow and flourish--literally a living
tomb.

[Illustration: Major Powell talking to the Regent of Koetei on the
steps of the palace at Tenggaroeng

From left to right: the regent, Major Powell, the prime minister, the
Sultan of Koetei (who has since ascended the throne), and the Dutch
resident, M. de Haan]

[Illustration: State procession in the Kraton of the Sultan of
Djokjakarta]

Noticing that I was interested in the equipment of the Dyaks, the
Regent of Koetei called up their chief and, without so much as a
by-your-leave, presented me with his sumpitan and the quiver of
poisoned darts, his wooden shield--a long, narrow buckler of some
light wood, tastily trimmed with seventy-two tufts of human hair,
mementoes of that number of enemies slain on head-hunting
expeditions--a peculiar coat of mail, composed of overlapping pieces of
bark, capable of turning an arrow, and his imposing head-dress, which
consisted of a cap formed from a leopard's head, with a sort of visor
made from the beak of a hornbill, the whole surmounted by a bunch of
yard-long tail-feathers from some bright-plumaged bird. When the
presentation was concluded all the chieftain had left was his
breech-clout. He did not share in my enthusiasm. From the murderous
glance which he shot at me when the Regent was not looking, I judged
that if he ever met me alone in the jungle he would get his shield
back, with another scalp to add to his collection. And I could guess
whose head that scalp would come from.



CHAPTER VI

IN BUGI LAND


The _Negros_ was not fast--thirteen knots was about the best she could
do--so that it took us two days to cross from Samarinda, in Borneo, to
Makassar, the capital of the Celebes. Our course took us within sight
of "the Little Paternosters, as you come to the Union Bank," where, as
you may remember, Sir Anthony Gloster, of Kipling's ballad of _The Mary
Gloster_, was buried beside his wife. Before our hawsers had fairly
been made fast to the wharf at Makassar it became evident that among
the natives our arrival had created a distinct sensation. The wharf was
crowded with Bugis, as the natives of the southern Celebes are known,
who tried in vain to make themselves understood by our Filipino crew.
Instead of the boisterous curiosity which had marked the attitude of
the natives at the other ports, the Bugis appeared to be laboring under
a suppressed but none the less evident excitement. When I went ashore
to call on the American Consul they made way for me with a respect
which verged on reverence. This curious attitude was explained by the
Consul.

"Your coming has revived among the natives a very curious and ancient
legend," he told me. "When the Dutch established their rule in the
Celebes, something over three centuries ago, the King of the Bugis
mysteriously disappeared. Whether he fled or was killed in battle, no
one knows. In any event, from his disappearance arose a tradition that
he had founded another kingdom in some islands far to the north, but
that, when the time was propitious, he would return to free his people
from foreign domination. Thus he came in time to be regarded as a
divinity, a sort of Messiah. Curiously enough, the natives refer to him
by a name which, translated into English, means 'the King of Manila.'
Some months ago it was reported in the Makassar papers that the
Governor-General of the Philippines expected to visit the Celebes upon
his way to Australia, whereupon the rumor spread among the Bugis like
wild-fire that 'the King of Manila' was about to return to his ancient
kingdom, but the excitement gradually subsided when the
Governor-General failed to appear. But when the _Negros_ entered the
harbor this morning, and it was reported that she was from Manila and
had on board a white man who had some mysterious mission in the
interior of the island, the excitement flamed up again. The natives,
you see, who are as simple and credulous as children, believe that you
are the Messiah of their legend and that you have come to liberate them
from Dutch rule."[2]

    [Footnote 2: Owing to my ignorance of Dutch and Buginese, I was
    unable to obtain a dependable account of this curious legend,
    but the several versions which I heard agreed in the main with
    that given above.]

"But look here," said I, annoyance in my tone, "this isn't as funny as
it seems. Tying me up to this fool tradition may result in spoiling my
plans for taking pictures in the Celebes. Of course the Dutch
authorities know perfectly well that I haven't come here to start a
revolution, but, on the other hand, they may not want a person whom the
natives regard as a Messiah to go wandering about in the interior,
where Dutch rule is none too firmly established anyway, for fear that
my presence might be used as an excuse for an insurrection."

"Don't let that worry you," the Consul reassured me. "I'll take you
over now to call on the Governor. He's a good sort and he'll do
everything he can to help you. Then I'll send the editors of the
vernacular papers around to the _Negros_ this afternoon to call on you.
You can explain that you're here to get motion-pictures to illustrate
the progress and prosperity of the Celebes, and it might be a good idea
to tell them that some of your ancestors were Dutch. That will help to
make you solid with the authorities. The interview will appear in the
papers tomorrow and in twenty-four hours the news will have spread
among the Bugis that you're not their Messiah after all."

"But I'm not Dutch," I protested. "All my people were Welsh and
English. The only connection I have with Holland is that the house in
which I was born is on a street that has a Dutch name."

"Fine!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. "Born on Van Rensselaer street,
you say? Be sure and tell 'em that. That's the next best thing to
having been born in Holland."

"I know now," I said, "how it feels to refuse a throne."

At tiffin that noon on the _Negros_ I told the story to the others. "So
you see," I concluded, "if I had been willing to take a chance, I might
have been King of the Bugis."

"They wouldn't have called you that at home," the Lovely Lady said
unkindly. "There they would have called you the King of the Bugs."

       *       *       *       *       *

Nature must have created Celebes in a capricious moment, such a medley
of bold promontories, jutting peninsulas, deep gulfs and curving bays
does its outline present. Indeed, its coast line is so irregular and so
deeply indented by the three great gulfs or bays of Tomini, Tolo, and
Boni that it is small wonder that the first European explorers assumed
it was a group of islands and gave it the name of plural form which
still perpetuates the very natural mistake. Its length is roughly about
five hundred miles but its width is so varying that while it is over a
hundred miles across the northern part of the island at the middle it
is a scant twenty miles from coast to coast.

Though the census of 1905 gave the population of the island as less
than nine hundred thousand, the latest official estimate places it at
about three millions. The actual number of inhabitants is probably
midway between these figures. But, to tell the truth, the temperament
of the savages who inhabit the interior is not conducive to an accurate
enumeration, the Dutch census-takers being greeted with about the same
degree of cordiality that the moonshiners of the Kentucky mountains
extend to United States revenue agents.

The three most important peoples of Celebes are the Bugis, the
Makassars, and the Mandars. The medley of more or less savage tribes
dwelling in the island are known as Alfuros--literally "wild"--which is
the term applied by the Malays to all the uncivilized non-Mohammedan
peoples in the eastern part of the archipelago. For the Bugis to refer
to the tribes of the interior as wild is like the pot calling the
kettle black. The Bugis, a passionate, half-savage, extremely
revengeful people, originally occupied only the kingdom of Boni, in the
southwestern peninsula, but from this district they have spread over
the whole of Celebes and have founded settlements on many of the
adjacent islands. They are the seamen of the archipelago, the greatest
navigators and the most enterprising tradesmen, and were, in times gone
by, the greatest pirates as well. In fact, the harbor master at
Makassar told us that the crews of many of the rakish looking sailing
craft which were anchored in close proximity to the _Negros_ were
reformed buccaneers. Certainly they looked it. They may have reformed,
but that did not prevent Captain Galvez from doubling the deck-watch at
night while we were in Celebes waters. He believed in safety first.

[Illustration: Some strange subjects of Queen Wilhelmina

Native women of the interior of Dutch Borneo]

The Winsome Widow had been very enthusiastic about going to the Celebes
because Makassar is the greatest market in the world for those
ornaments so dear to the feminine heart--bird-of-paradise plumes. I
explained to her that it was against the law to bring them into the
United States, but no matter, she wanted to buy some. To visit Makassar
without buying bird-of-paradise plumes, she said, would be like
visiting Japan without buying a kimono. The bird is usually sold
entire, the prices ranging from twenty-five to thirty dollars,
according to size and condition, though, owing to the ruthless
slaughter of the birds to meet the demands of the European market,
prices are steadily advancing. The Winsome Widow bought four of the
finest birds I have ever seen--gorgeous, flame-colored things with
plumes nearly two feet long. How she proposed getting them into the
United States she did not tell me, and I thought it as well not to ask
her. She had them carefully packed in a wooden box made for the purpose
which she did not open until nearly two months later, when we were
steaming down the coast of Siam on a cargo boat, long after I had sent
the _Negros_ back to Manila. Imagine her feelings when, upon opening
the box to feast her eyes on her contraband treasures, she found it to
contain nothing but waste paper! I suspect that the sweetheart of one
of our Filipino cabin-boys is now wearing a hat fairly smothered in
bird-of-paradise plumes.

The Bugis' love of the sea has given them almost a monopoly of the
trade around Celebes. Despite their fierce and warlike dispositions
they are industrious and ingenious--qualities which usually do not go
together; they practise agriculture more than the neighboring tribes
and manufacture cotton cloth not only for their own use but for export.
They also drive a thriving trade in such romantic commodities as gold
dust, tortoise shell, pearls, nutmegs, camphor, and bird-of-paradise
plumes. They dwell for the most part in walled enclosures known as
_kampongs_, in flimsy houses built of bamboo and thatched with grass or
leaves. But as diagonal struts are not used the walls soon lean over
from the force of the wind, giving to the villages a curiously
inebriated appearance. In several of the eight petty states which
comprise the confederation of Boni the ruler is not infrequently a
woman, the female line having precedence over the male line in
succession to the throne. The women rulers of the Bugis have invariably
shown themselves as astute, capable and warlike as the men, the
princess who ruled in Boni during the middle of the last century having
defeated three powerful military expeditions which the Dutch sent
against her. Everything considered, the Bugis are perhaps the most
interesting race in the entire archipelago.

The Bugis are said to be more predisposed toward "running amok" than
any other Malayan people. Having been warned of this unpleasant
idiosyncrasy, I took the precaution, when among them, of carrying in
the right-hand pocket of my jacket a service automatic, loaded and
ready for instant action. For when a Bugi runs amok he will almost
certainly get you unless you get him first. Running amok, I should
explain, is the native term for the homicidal mania which attacks
Malays. Without the slightest warning, and apparently without reason, a
Malay, armed with a kris or other weapon, will rush into the street and
slash at everybody, friends and strangers alike, until he is killed.
These frenzies were formerly regarded as due to sudden insanity, but it
is now believed that the typical _amok_ is the result of excitement due
to circumstances, such as domestic jealousy or gambling losses, which
render the man desperate and weary of life. It is, in fact, the Malay
equivalent of suicide. Though so intimately associated with the Malay,
there are good grounds for believing the word to have an Indian origin.
Certainly the act is far from unknown in Indian history. In Malabar,
for example, it was long the custom for the zamorin or king of Calicut
to cut his throat in public after he had reigned twelve years. But in
the seventeenth century there was inaugurated a variation in this
custom. After a great feast lasting for nearly a fortnight the ruler,
surrounded by his bodyguard, had to take his seat at a national
assembly, on which occasion it was lawful for anyone to attack him,
and, if he succeeded in killing him the murderer himself assumed the
crown. In the year 1600, it is recorded, thirty men who would be king
were killed while thus attempting to gain the throne. These men were
called _Amar-khan_, and it has been suggested that their action was
"running amok" in the true sense of the term. From this it would appear
that a king of Calicut was about as good an insurance risk as a
president of Haiti.

The act of running amok is probably due to causes over which the
culprit has some measure of control, as the custom has now virtually
died out in the Philippines and in the British possessions in Malaysia,
owing to the drastic measures adopted by the authorities. Among the
Mohammedans of the southern Philippines, where the custom is known as
_juramentado_, it was discouraged by burying the carcass of a pig--an
animal abhorred by all Moslems--in the grave with the body of the
assassin. When I was in Jolo the governor told me of a novel and highly
effective method which had been adopted by the officer commanding the
American forces in that island for discouraging the custom. A number of
American soldiers had been killed by Moros running amok. The American
commander took up the matter with the local priests but they only
shrugged their shoulders with true Oriental stoicism, saying that when
a man went _juramentado_ it was the will of Allah and that nothing
could be done. The next day an American soldier, a revolver in either
hand, burst into a Moro village, notorious for its _juramentados_,
firing at everyone whom he saw and yelling like a mad man. The
terrified villagers took to the bush, where they remained in fear and
trembling until the crazy Americano had taken his departure. That
evening the village priests appeared at headquarters to complain to the
American commander.

"But Americans have just as much right to go _juramentado_ as the
Moros," said the general. "I can do nothing. The man is not
responsible. It is the will of Allah." That was the end of
_juramentado_ in Jolo.

       *       *       *       *       *

The wharves and godowns which line Makassar's water-front form an
unattractive screen to a picturesque and charming town. Though, owing
to its commercial importance as a half-way station on the road from
Asia to Australia, Makassar promises to become a second Singapore, it
has as yet neither an electric lighting, gas, nor water system. It is,
however, very beautifully laid out, the streets, which are broad and
well-kept, being lined by double rows of magnificent canarium trees or
tamarinds, whose branches interlace high overhead in a canopy of green.
The European life of Makassar centers in the great grass-covered
_plein_, or common, where band concerts, reviews, horse races,
festivals, and similar events are held. Facing on the _plein_ is the
palace of the Governor of the Celebes, a one-story, porticoed building
with white walls and green blinds, in the Dutch colonial style, a type
of architecture which is admirably adapted to the tropics. Next to the
palace is the Oranje Hotel, a well-kept and comfortable hostelry as
hotels go in Malaysia. On its terrace the homesick Europeans gather
toward twilight to sip _advocat_--a drink which is a first cousin to
the egg-nogg of pre-Volstead days, very popular in the Indies--and to
listen to the military band playing on the _plein_.

Diagonally across the _plein_ rise the massive walls of Fort Rotterdam,
erected by one of the native rulers, the King of Goa, with the
assistance of the Portuguese, when the seventeenth century was still in
its infancy and when the settlement on the lower end of Manhattan
Island was still called Nieuw Amsterdam. The capture of the fort by the
Dutch in 1667 signalized the passing of Portuguese power in Asia. Pass
the slovenly native sentry at the outer gate, cross the creaking
drawbridge, and, were it not for the tropical vegetation and the
oppressive heat, you might think yourself in the Low Countries instead
of a few degrees below the Line, for the crenelated ramparts, the
shaded, gravelled paths, the ancient garrison church, the officers'
quarters with their steep-pitched, red-tiled roofs, make the interior a
veritable bit of Holland, transplanted to a tropic island half the
world away.

Makassar has a population of about fifty thousand, including something
over a thousand Europeans and some five thousand Chinese, but as most
of the natives live in their walled kampongs in the environs, the city
appears much smaller than it really is. The retail trade is almost
wholly in the hands of the Chinese, many of whom are men of great
wealth and influence. There was also a small colony of Japanese, but,
as a result of the boycott which the Chinese had instituted against
them in reprisal for Japan's refusal to evacuate Shantung, they were
unable to find markets for their wares or to obtain employment and,
in consequence, were being forced to leave the island. The only
American in the Celebes when we were there was the representative of
the Standard Oil Company--a desperately homesick youngster from
Missouri who had been a lieutenant of aviation. He introduced himself
to us on the terrace of the Oranje Hotel, begged the privilege of
buying the drinks, and pleaded with an eagerness that was almost
pathetic for the latest news from God's Country. At almost every place
of importance which we visited in Malaysia we found these agents of
Standard Oil--alert and clean-cut young fellows, who, far from home and
friends, are helping to build up a commercial empire for America
oversea.

The native soldiery, who form the bulk of the Makassar garrison, are
quartered, with their families, in long, stone barracks--ten couples to
a room. For every soldier of the colonial forces, whether European or
native, is permitted to keep a woman in the barracks with him. If she
is the soldier's wife, well and good, but the authorities do not frown
if the couple have omitted the formality of standing up before a
clergyman. The rooms in which the soldiers and their families live have
no partitions, to each couple being assigned a space about eight feet
square, which is chalk-marked on the floor. The only article of
furniture in each of these "apartments" is a bed, which is really a
broad, low platform covered with a grass-mat, for in a land where the
mercury not infrequently climbs to 120 in the shade, there is no need
for bedding. Here they eat and sleep and make their toilets, the women
preparing the meals for their men and for themselves in ovens
out-of-doors. At night the beds may be separated by drawing the
flimsiest of cotton curtains--the only concession to privacy that I
could discover. As Malays invariably have large families, the barrack
room usually has the appearance of a day nursery, with naked brown
youngsters crawling everywhere, but at night they are disposed of in
fiber hammocks which are slung over the parents' heads. The colonel in
command at Fort Rotterdam told me that in the new type of barracks
which were being built in Java each family would be assigned a separate
room, but he seemed to regard such provisions for privacy as wholly
unnecessary and a shameful waste of money.

The military authorities not only permit, but encourage the Dutch
soldiers to contract alliances of a temporary character with native
women during their term of service in the Insulinde, with the idea, no
doubt, of making them more contented. During operations in the field
the women and children, instead of remaining behind in barracks,
accompany the troops almost to the firing-line, a custom which,
apparently, does not interfere with efficiency or discipline. Indeed,
there are few forces of equal size in the world which have seen as much
active service as the army of Netherlands India, for in the extension
of Dutch dominion throughout the archipelago the native rulers rarely
have surrendered their authority without fighting. Though the
newspapers seldom mention it, Holland is almost constantly engaged in
some little war in some remote corner of her Indian empire, in certain
districts of Sumatra, for example, fighting having been almost
continuous these many years.

Though the flag of Holland was first hoisted over the Celebes more than
three centuries ago, Dutch commercial interests are still virtually
confined to the four chief towns--Makassar, Menado, Gorontalo, and
Tondano--and this in spite of the fact that the interior of the island
is known to be immensely rich in natural resources. In the native
states Dutch authority is little more than nominal, the repeated
attempts which have been made to subjugate them invariably having met
with discouragement and not infrequently with disaster. Hence the
island is still without railways, though it is being slowly opened up
by means of roads, some of which are practicable for motor-cars. Most
of the roads in the Celebes were originally built by means of the
Corvée, or forced labor, the natives being compelled to spend one month
out of the twelve in road construction. But, though they were taken for
this work at a season when they could best be spared from their fields,
it was an enormous tax to impose upon an agricultural population,
resulting in grave discontent and in seriously retarding the
development of the island. For, ever since Marshal Daendels, "the Iron
Marshal," who ruled the Indies under Napoleon, utilized forced labor to
build the splendid eight-hundred-mile-long highway which runs from one
end of Java to the other, the corvée has been a synonym for
unspeakable cruelty and oppression throughout the Insulinde. Each
_dessa_, or district, through which the great trans-Java highway runs
was forced to construct, within an allotted period, a certain section
of the road, the natives working without pay while their crops rotted
in the fields and their families starved. As a final touch of tyranny,
the grim old Marshal gave orders that if a _dessa_ did not complete its
section of the road within the allotted time the chiefs of that
district were to be taken out and hung.

When the Dutch determined to open up Celebes by the construction of a
highway system they realized the wisdom of obtaining the cooperation of
the native rulers. But when they outlined their scheme to the King of
Goa, the most powerful chieftain in the southern part of the island,
they encountered, if not open opposition, at least profound
indifference. This was scarcely a matter for surprise, however, for the
King quite obviously had no use for roads, first, because when he had
occasion to journey through his dominions he either rode on horseback
or was carried in a palanquin along the narrow jungle trails; secondly,
because he was perfectly well aware that by aiding in the construction
of roads he would be undermining his own power, for roads would mean
white men. To attempt to build a road across Goa in the face of the
King's opposition, would, as the Dutch realized, probably precipitate a
native uprising, for, without his cooperation, it would be necessary
to make use of the corvée to obtain laborers.

But the Governor of the Celebes had been trained in a different school
from the Iron Marshal. He believed that with an ignorant and suspicious
native, such as the King of Goa, tact could accomplish more than
threats. So, instead of attempting to build the road by forced labor,
he sent to Batavia for a fine European horse and a luxurious carriage,
gaudily painted, which he presented to the King as a token of the
government's esteem and friendship. Now the King of Goa, as the
governor was perfectly aware, had about as much use for a wheeled
vehicle in his roadless dominions as a Bedouin of the Sahara has for a
sailboat. But the King did precisely what the governor anticipated that
he would do: in order that he might display his new possession he
promptly ordered his subjects to build him a carriage road from his
capital to Makassar. Thus the government of the Celebes obtained a
perfectly good highway for the price of a horse and carriage, and won
the friendship of the most powerful of the native rulers into the
bargain. After some years, however, the road began to fall into
disrepair, but as by this time the novelty of the horse and carriage
had worn off, the King took little interest in its improvement. So the
governor again had recourse to diplomacy to gain his ends, this time
presenting his Goanese Majesty with a motor-car, gorgeous with scarlet
paint and polished brass. And, in order that the King might be brought
to realize that the roads were not in a condition conducive to
comfortable motoring, a young Dutch officer took him for his first
motor ride. That ride evidently jolted the memory as well as the body
of the dusky monarch, for the next day a royal edict was issued
summoning hundreds of natives to put the road in good repair. And, as
the King quickly acquired a taste for speeding, in good repair it has
remained ever since.

I have related this episode not because it is in itself of any great
importance, but because it serves to illustrate the methods used by the
Dutch officials in handling recalcitrant or stubborn natives. Though
Holland rules her fifty million brown subjects with an iron hand, she
has long since learned the wisdom of wearing over the iron a velvet
glove.



CHAPTER VII

DOWN TO AN ISLAND EDEN


I went to Bali, which is an island two-thirds the size of Porto Rico,
off the eastern extremity of Java, because I wished to see for myself
if the accounts I had heard of the surpassing beauty of its women were
really true. The Dutch officials whom I had met in Samarinda and
Makassar had depicted the obscure little isle as a flaming, fragrant
garden, overrun with flowers, a sort of unspoiled island Eden, where
bronze-brown Eves with faces and figures of surpassing loveliness
disported themselves on the long white beaches, or loitered the lazy
days away beneath the palms. But I went there skeptical at heart, for,
ever since I journeyed six thousand miles to see the women for whom
Circassia has long been undeservedly famous, I have listened with doubt
and distrust to the tales told by returned travelers of the nymphs whom
they had found, leading an Arcadian existence, on distant tropic isles.

Yet I must admit that, when the anchor of the _Negros_ splashed into
the blue waters off Boeleleng, on the northern coast of the island, and
a boat's crew of white-clad Filipinos rowed me ashore, I half expected
to find a Balinese edition of the Ziegfeld Follies chorus waiting to
greet me with demonstrations of welcome and garlands of flowers. What I
did find on the wharf was a surly Dutch harbor-master, who, judging
from his breath and disposition, had been on a prolonged carouse. Of
the women whose beauty I had heard chanted in so many ports, or,
indeed, of a native Balinese of any kind, there was no sign. Barring
the harbor-master and a handful of Chinese, Boeleleng, which is a place
of some size, appeared to be deserted. Yet, as I strolled along its
waterfront, I had the uncomfortable feeling that I was being watched by
many pairs of unseen eyes.

"Where has everyone gone?" I demanded of the impassive Chinese steward
who served me liquid refreshment at the Concordia Club. (Every town in
the Insulinde has its Concordia Club, just as every Swiss town has its
Grand Hotel.)

"Menjepee," he answered mystically, shrugging his shoulders. "Evlyone
stay in house."

"Menjepee, eh?" I repeated. "Never heard of it. Some sort of disease, I
suppose, like cholera or plague. If that's why everyone has run away I
think that I'd better be leaving."

A ghost of a smile flitted across the Celestial's impassive
countenance.

"No clolra. No pleg," he assured me. "Menjepee make by pliest."

Before I could elucidate this curious statement there entered the club
a young Hollander immaculate in pipe-clayed topée and freshly starched
white linen.

"It's not a disease; it's a religious observance," he explained in
perfect English, overhearing my last words. "They call it Menjepee,
which, literally translated, means 'silence.' The Balinese are Hindus,
you know--about the only ones left in the Islands--and they observe the
Hindu festivals very strictly. Their priests raise the very devil with
them if they don't. During Menjepee, which lasts twenty-four hours, no
native is permitted to set foot outside the wall of his kampong except
for the most urgent reasons, and even then he has to get permission
from his priest. If he is caught outside his kampong without permission
he is heavily fined, to say nothing of being given the cold shoulder by
his neighbors."

"I was told in Samarinda," I remarked carelessly, by way of introducing
the topic in which I was most interested, "that some of the native
girls here in Bali are remarkably good looking."

"I thought you'd be asking about them," the Hollander commented dryly.
"That's usually the first question asked by everyone who comes to Bali.
But you won't find them on this side of the island. If you want to see
them you'll have to cross over to the south side. The prettiest girls
are to be found in the vicinity of Den Pasar and Kloeng Kloeng."

"So I had heard," I told him. "I am going to cross the island by motor
and have my boat pick me up on the other side. How far is it to Den
Pasar?"

"Only about sixty miles and you'll have a tolerably good mountain road
all the way. But you can't go today."

"Why not?"

"Menjepee," was the laconic answer. "You won't be able to get anyone to
take you. There are only four or five motor cars in Boeleleng and their
drivers are all Hindus."

I smothered an expletive of annoyance, for my time was limited and the
_Negros_ had already sailed.

"Surely you don't mean to tell me that there is no way in which I can
get across the island today?" I demanded. "This Menjepee business is as
infernal a nuisance as a taxicab strike in New York."

"Perhaps the Resident might be able to do something for you," my
acquaintance suggested after a moment's consideration. "He's a good
sort and he's always glad to meet visitors. We don't have many of them
here, heaven knows. Look here. I've a sado outside. Suppose you hop in
and I'll drive you up to the Residency and you can ask the Resident to
help you out."

As we rattled in a sort of governess-cart, called sado, up the broad,
palm-lined avenue which leads from Boeleleng to Singaradja, the seat of
government, three miles away, I caught fleeting glimpses of natives
peering at me furtively over the mud walls which surround their
kampongs, but the instant they saw that they were observed they
disappeared from view. The Resident I found to be a man of charm and
culture who had twice crossed the United States on his way to and from
Holland. At first he was dubious whether anything could be done for me,
explaining that Menjepee is as devoutly observed by the Hindus of Bali
as the fasting month of Ramadan is by the Mohammedans of Turkey, and
that the Dutch officials make it a rule never to interfere with the
religious observances of the natives. He finally consented, however, to
send for the chief priest and see if he could persuade him, in view of
my limited time, to grant a special dispensation to a native who could
drive a car. I don't know what arguments he used, but they must have
been effective, for within the hour we heard the honk of a motor-horn
at the Residency gate.

"We have no hotels in Bali," the Resident remarked as I was taking my
departure, "but I'll telephone over to the Assistant Resident at Den
Pasar to have a room ready for you at the passangrahan--that's the
government rest-house, you know. And I'll also send word to the
Controleur at Kloeng Kloeng that you are coming and ask him to arrange
some native dances for you. He's very keen about that sort of thing and
knows where to get the best dancers in the island."

"Tell me," I queried, as I was about to enter the car, "are these girls
I've heard so much about really pretty?"

The Resident smiled cynically.

"Well," he replied, and I thought that I could detect a note of
homesickness in his voice, "it depends upon the point of view. When you
first arrive in Bali you swear that they are the prettiest
brown-skinned women in the world. But after you have been here a year
or so you get so tired of everything connected with the tropics that
you don't give the best of them a second glance. For my part, give me a
plain, wholesome-looking Dutch girl with a lusty figure and
corn-colored hair and cheeks like apples in preference to all the
cafe-au-lait beauties in Bali."

"Au revoir," I called, as I signaled to the driver and the car leaped
forward. "If I listen to you any longer I shall have no illusions
left."

       *       *       *       *       *

Save only its western end, which is covered with dense jungle inhabited
by tigers and boa-constrictors, Bali is a vast garden, ablaze with the
most gorgeous flowers that you can imagine and criss-crossed by a
net-work of hard, white roads which alternately wind through huge
cocoanut plantations or skirt interminable paddy fields. From the coast
the ground rises steadily to a ridge formed by a central range of
mountains, which culminate in the imposing, cloud-wreathed Peak of
Bali, two miles high. Streams rushing down from the mountains have cut
the rich brown loam of the lowlands into deep ravines, down which the
brawling torrents make their way to the sea between high banks
smothered in tropical vegetation. The most remarkable feature of the
landscape, however, are the rice terraces, built by hand at an
incredible cost of time and labor, which climb the slopes of the
mountains, tier on tier, like the seats in a Roman ampitheatre,
sometimes to a height of three thousand feet or more, constituting one
of the engineering marvels of the world.

The southern slope of the divide appeared to be much more thickly
peopled than the northern, for, as we sped down the steep grades with
brakes a-squeal, villages of mud-walled, straw-thatched huts became
increasingly frequent, nor did the natives appear to be observing
Menjepee as strictly as in the vicinity of Boeleleng, for they stood in
the gateways of their kampongs and waved at us as we whirled past, and
more than once we saw groups of them squatting in a circle beside the
road, engaged in the national pastime of cock-fighting. Now we began to
encounter the women whose beauty is famous throughout Malaysia:
glorious, up-standing creatures with great masses of blue-black hair, a
faint _couleur de rose_ diffusing itself through their skins of brown
satin. They were taller than any other women I saw in Malaysia, lithe
and supple as Ruth St. Denis, and bearing themselves with a quiet
dignity and lissome grace. From waist to ankle they were tightly
wrapped in _kains_ of brilliant batik, which defined, without
revealing, every line and contour of their hips and lower limbs, but
from the waist up they were entirely nude, barring the flame-colored
flowers in their dusky hair.

Unlike most Malays, the eyes of the Balinese, instead of being oblique,
are set straight in the head. The nose, which frequently mars what
would otherwise be well-nigh perfect features, is generally small and
flat, with too-wide nostrils, though I saw a number of Balinese women
with noses which were distinctly aquiline--the result of a strain of
European blood, perhaps. The lips are thick, yet well formed; the teeth
are naturally regular and white but are all too often stained scarlet
with betel-nut, which is to the Balinese girl what chewing-gum is to
her sister of Broadway. The complexion ranges from a deep but rosy
brown to a _nuance_ no darker than that of a European brunette, but in
the eyes of the Balinese themselves a golden-yellow complexion, the
color of weak tea, is the perfection of female beauty. But the chief
charm of these island Eves is found, after all, not in their faces but
in their figures--slender, rounded, willowy, deep-bosomed, such as
Botticelli loved to paint.

Despite the alluring tales brought back by South Sea travelers of the
radiant creatures who go about unclad as when they were born, I have
myself found no spot, save only Equatorial Africa, where women dispense
with clothing habitually and without shame. Indeed, I have seen girls
far more scantily clad on the stage of the Ziegfeld Roof or the Winter
Garden than I ever have in those distant lands which have not yet
received the blessings of civilization. In most of the Polynesian
islands the painter or photographer can usually bribe a native girl to
disrobe for him, just as in Paris or New York he can find models who
for a consideration will pose in the nude, but when the picture is
completed she promptly resumes the shapeless and hideous garments of
Mother Hubbard cut which the missionaries were guilty of introducing
and whose all-enveloping folds, they naïvely believe, form a shield and
a buckler against temptations of the flesh. But there are no
missionaries in Bali, not one--though the Board of Foreign Missions may
interest itself in the islanders after this book appears--and the women
continue to dress as they should with such figures and in such a
climate.

Because of a flat tire, the driver stopped the car beside a little
stream in which two extremely pretty girls were bathing. With the
evening sun glinting on their brown bodies and their piquant, oval
faces framed by the dusky torrents of their loosened hair, they looked
like those bronze maidens which disport themselves in the fountain of
the Piazza delle Terme in Rome, come to life. I felt certain that they
would take to flight when Hawkinson unlimbered his motion-picture
camera and trained it upon them, but they continued their joyous
splashing without the slightest trace of self-consciousness or
confusion. In fact, when a Balinese girl becomes embarrassed, she does
not betray it by covering her body but by drawing over her face a veil
which looks like a piece of black fishnet. Their bath completed, the
maidens emerged from the water on to the farther bank, paused for a
moment to arrange their hair, like wood nymphs of the Golden Age, then
wound their gorgeous _kains_ about them and vanished amid the trees.
From somewhere on the distant hillside came the sweet, shrill quaver of
a reed instrument. The driver said it was a native flute, but I knew
better. It was the pipes of Pan....

       *       *       *       *       *

Rather than that you should be scandalized when you visit Bali, let me
make it quite clear that in matters of morality the Balinese women are
as easy as an old shoe. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that
they are unmoral rather than immoral. This is one of the conditions of
life in the Insulinde which must be accepted by the traveler, just as
he accepts as a matter of course the heat and the insects and the dirt.
Though polygamy is practised, it is confined, because of the expense
involved in maintaining a matrimonial stable, to the wealthier chiefs
and other men of means. A Turkish pasha who maintained a large harem
once told me that polygamy is as trying to the disposition as it is to
the pocketbook, because of the incessant jealousies and bickerings
among the wives. And I suppose the same conditions obtain in the
seraglios of Bali. The former rajah of Kloeng Kloeng, now known as the
Regent, a stout and jovial old gentleman arrayed in a cerise _kain_, a
sky-blue head-cloth, and a white jacket with American twenty-dollar
gold pieces for buttons, told me with a touch of pride that he had
twenty-five wives in his harem. But his pride subsided like a pricked
toy balloon when the Controleur, who had overheard the boast, mentioned
that another regent, the ruler of a district at the western end of the
island, possessed upward of three hundred wives--of the exact number he
was not certain as it was constantly fluctuating. To my great regret I
could not spare the time to pay a visit to this Balinese Brigham Young.
There were a number of questions relative to domestic economy and
household administration which I should have liked to have asked him.

Until very recent years, the young Balinese girl who married an old
husband incurred the risk of meeting an untimely and extremely
unpleasant end, for the island was the last stronghold of that strange
and dreadful Hindu custom, _suttee_--the burning of widows. The last
public _suttee_ in Bali was held as recently as 1907, but, in spite of
the stern prohibition of the practise by the Dutch, it is said that
some women faithful to the old customs and to their dead husbands
continue to join the latter on the funeral pyre. In fact, the
Controleur at Kloeng Kloeng told me that, only a few weeks before my
arrival, two women had begged him on their knees for permission to be
burned with the body of the dear departed, whom they wished to share in
death as in life.

The Balinese, being devout Hindus, burn their dead, but the cremations
are held only twice yearly, being observed as holidays, like
Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. If a man dies shortly before the
cremation season is due, his remains are kept in the house until they
can be incinerated with befitting ceremony--though I imagine that, in
view of the torrid climate, the members of his family perforce move
elsewhere for the time being--but if he is so inconsiderate as to
postpone his dying until after one of these semi-annual burnings, it
becomes necessary to bury him. In a land where the thermometer
frequently registers 100 and above, you couldn't keep a corpse around
the house for several months, could you? When cremation day comes round
again, however, he is dug up, taken to a temple and burned. There is no
escaping the funeral-pyre in Bali. As we were leaving one of the
cremation places I overheard the Doctor irreverently humming a
paraphrase of a song which was very popular in the army during the war:

    "Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,
    If the grave don't get you the wood-pile must."

       *       *       *       *       *

Unlike the South Sea islanders, who are rapidly dying out as the result
of diseases introduced by Europeans, the population of Bali--which is
one of the most densely peopled regions in the world, with 325
inhabitants to the square mile--is rapidly increasing, having more than
doubled in the last fifteen years. This is due in some measure, no
doubt, to the climate, which, though hot, is healthy save in certain
low-lying coastal districts, but much more, I imagine, to the fact that
there are scarcely a hundred Europeans on the island, and that, as
there are no harbors worthy the name, European vessels rarely touch
there. It is well for the Balinese that their enchanted island has no
harbors, for harbors mean ships, and ships mean white men, and white
men, particularly sailors, all too often leave undesirable mementoes
of their visits behind them.

The men of Bali are a fine, strong, dignified, rather haughty race, fit
mates in physique for their women. They are considerably taller than
any other Malays whom I saw and possess less Mongoloid and Negroid
characteristics, these being subdued by some strong primeval alien
strain which is undoubtedly Caucasian. Though now peaceable enough,
every Balinese man carries in his sash a kris--the long, curly-bladed
knife which is the national weapon of Malaysia. Most of the krises that
I examined were more ornamental than serviceable, some of them having
scabbards of solid gold and hilts set with precious stones. Moreover,
they are worn against the middle of the back, where they must be
difficult to reach in an emergency. I imagine that the kris, universal
though it is, serves as a symbol of former militancy rather than as a
fighting weapon, just as the buttons at the back of our tailcoats serve
to remind us that their original purpose was to support a sword-belt.
But, though the Balinese have made no serious trouble for their Dutch
rulers for upward of a decade, they long resisted European domination,
as evidenced by the four bloody uprisings in the last three-quarters of
a century--the last was in 1908--which were suppressed only with
difficulty and considerable loss of life. When the shells from the
gunboats began to burst over their towns, the rajahs, recognizing that
their cause was lost, nerved themselves with opium and committed the
traditional _puputan_, or, with their wives, threw themselves on the
Dutch bayonets. But, though the Balinese have bowed perforce to the
authority of the stout young woman who dwells in The Hague, they have
none of the cringing servility, that look of pathetic appeal such as
you see in the eyes of dogs which have been mistreated, so
characteristic of the Javanese.

Though the three-quarters of a million natives in Bali have behind them
the traditions of countless wars, the Dutch, who seem to possess an
extraordinary talent for governing brown-skinned peoples, maintain
their authority with a few companies of native soldiery officered by a
handful of Europeans. The success of the Dutch in ruling Malays, who
are notoriously turbulent and warlike, is largely due to the fact that,
so long as the customs of the natives are not inimical to good
government or to their own well-being, they studiously refrain from
interfering with them. Nor is there the same social chasm separating
Europeans and natives in the Insulinde which is found in Britain's
Eastern possessions. Were a British official in India to marry a native
woman he would be promptly recalled in disgrace; if a Dutch official
marries a native woman she is accorded the same social recognition as
her husband. Though in the old days probably ninety per cent of the
Dutch officials and planters in the Insulinde lived with native women,
these unions are constantly decreasing, today probably not more than
ten per cent of the Europeans thus solving their domestic problems. It
struck me, moreover, that the Dutch are more in sympathy with their
native subjects, that they understand them better, than the British. It
is a remarkable thing, when you stop to think of it, that a little
nation like Holland, with a colonial army of less than thirty-five
thousand men and no fleet worthy of the name, should be able to
maintain its authority over fifty millions of natives, ten thousand
miles away, with so little friction.

We passed the night in the small rest-house at Den Pasar which the
government maintains for the use of its officials. I have said that we
_passed_ the night, mark you; I refuse to toy with the truth to the
extent of saying that we slept. Why they call it a rest-house I cannot
imagine. Never that I can recall, save only in a zoo, have I found
myself on such intimate terms with so many forms of animal life as in
that _passangrahan_. Cockroaches nearly as large as mice (before you
raise your eyebrows at this statement talk with anyone who has traveled
in Malaysia), spiders, centipedes, ants and beetles made my bedroom an
entomologist's paradise. Some large winged animal, presumably a
fruit-bat or a flying-fox, entered by the window and circled the room
like an airplane; and, judging from the sounds which proceeded from
beneath the bed, I gathered that the room also harbored a snake or a
large rat, though which I was not certain as I saw no reason for
investigating. A family of lizards disported themselves on the ceiling
and when I menaced them with a stick they departed so hastily that one
of them abandoned his tail, which dropped on the wash-stand. A
squadron of mosquitoes--a sort of _escadrille de chasse_, as it
were--kept me awake until daybreak, when they were relieved by a
skirmishing party of _cimex lectulariae_, which are well known in
America under a shorter and less polite name. Fishes only were absent,
but I am convinced that their neglect of me was due to ignorance of my
presence. Had they known of it I feel certain that the climbing fish,
which is one of the curiosities of these waters, would have flopped on
to my pillow.

Upon our arrival at Kloeng Kloeng I found the Controleur, who had been
notified by the Resident at Singaradja of our coming, had made
arrangements for an elaborate series of native dances to be given that
afternoon on the lawn of the residency. It is a simple matter to
arrange a dance in Bali, for every village, no matter how small,
supports a ballet, and usually a troupe of actors as well, just as an
American community supports a baseball team. The money for the gorgeous
costumes worn by the dancers is raised by local subscription and the
ballet frequently visits the neighboring towns to give exhibitions or
to engage in competitions, contingents of the dancers' townspeople
usually going along to root for them.

The Balinese dances require many years of arduous and constant
training. A girl is scarcely out of the sling by which Balinese
children are carried on the mother's back before, under the tutelage of
her mother, who has herself perhaps been a dancing-girl in her time,
she begins the severe course of gymnastics and muscle training which
are the foundations of all Eastern dances. From infancy until, not yet
in her teens, she becomes a member of the village ballet or enters the
harem of a local rajah, she is as assiduously trained and groomed as a
race-horse entered for the Derby. From morning until night, day after
day, year after year, the muscles of her shoulders, her back, her hips,
her legs, her abdomen are suppled and developed until they will respond
to her wishes as readily as her slender, henna-stained fingers.

The lawn on which the dances were held sloped down, like a great green
rug, from the squat white residency to an ancient Hindu temple, whose
walls, of red-brown sandstone, were transformed by the setting sun into
rosy coral. The Bali temples are but open courtyards enclosed within
high walls, their entrances flanked by towering gate-posts, grotesquely
carved. Within the courtyards, which have arrangements for the
cremation of the dead as well as for the refreshment of the living, are
numerous roofed platforms and small, elevated shrines, reached by steep
flights of narrow steps, every square inch being covered with intricate
and fantastic carvings. These carvings are for the most part
beautifully colored, so that, when illuminated by the sun, they look
like those porcelain bas-reliefs which one buys in Florence, or, if the
colors are undimmed by age, like Persian enamel. In some of the temples
which I visited, the colorings had been ruthlessly obliterated by coats
of whitewash, but in those communities where Hinduism is still a
living force, the inhabitants frequently impoverish themselves in
order to provide the gold-leaf with which the interiors of the shrines
are covered, just as the congregations of American churches praise God
with carven pulpits and windows of stained glass.

       *       *       *       *       *

The stage setting for the dances consisted of a small, portable pagoda,
heavily gilded and set with mirrors--nothing more, unless you include
the backdrop provided by the Indian Ocean. On either side of the
pagoda, which was set in the centre of the lawn, squatted a motionless
native holding a long-handled parasol of gold, known as a _payong_. So
far as I could discover, the purpose of these parasol holders was
purely ornamental, like the palms that flank a concert stage, for they
never stirred throughout the four hours that the dancing lasted. The
dancers themselves were extremely young--barely in their teens, I
should say--but I could only guess their ages as their faces were so
heavily enameled that they might as well have been wearing masks. Their
costumes, faithful reproductions of those depicted in the carvings on
the walls of the temples, were of a gorgeousness which made the
creations of Bakst seem colorless and tame: tightly-wound _kains_ of
cloth-of-gold over which were draped silks in all the colors of the
chromatic scale. Their necks and arms, which were stained a saffron
yellow, were hung with jewels or near-jewels. On their heads were
towering, indescribable affairs of feathers, flowers and tinsel,
faintly reminiscent of those fantastic headdresses affected by the
lamented Gaby. The music was furnished by a _gamelan_, or orchestra, of
half-a-hundred musicians playing on drums, gongs and reeds, with a few
xylophones thrown in for good measure. I am no judge of music, but it
seemed to me that when the _gamelan_ was working at full speed it
compared very favorably with an American jazz orchestra.

All the dances illustrated episodes from the Ramayana or other Hindu
mythologies localized, the story being recited in a monotonous,
sing-song chant, in the old Kawi or sacred language, by a professional
accompanist who sat, cross-legged, in the orchestra. As a result of
constant drilling since babyhood, the Balinese dancers attain a
perfection of technique unknown on the western stage, but the visitor
who expects to see the verve and abandon of the Indian dances as
portrayed by Ruth St. Denis is certain to be disappointed. To tell the
truth, the dances of Bali, like those I saw in Java and Cambodia, are
rather tedious performances, beautiful, it is true, but almost totally
lacking in that fire and spirit which we associate with the East. It is
probable, however, that I am not sufficiently educated in the art of
Terpsichore to appreciate them. It was as though I had been given a
selection from _Die Niebelungen Lied_ when I had looked for rag-time.
But the natives are passionately fond of them, it being by no means
uncommon, I was told, for a dance to begin in the late afternoon and
continue without interruption until daybreak. The Controleur told me
that he planned to utilize his next long leave in taking a native
ballet to Europe, and, perhaps, to the United States. So, should you
see the Bali dancers advertised to appear on Broadway, I strongly
advise you not to miss them.

Instead of going to Palm Beach next winter, or to Havana, or to the
Riviera, why don't you go out to Bali and see its lovely women, its
curious customs, and its superb scenery for yourself? You can get there
in about eight weeks, provided you make good connections at Singapore
and Surabaya. With no railways, no street-cars, no hotels, no
newspapers, no theatres, no movies, it is a very restful place. You can
lounge the lazy days away in the cool depths of flower-smothered
verandahs, with a brown house-boy pulling at the punkah-rope and
another bringing you cool drinks in tall, thin glasses--for the
Volstead Act does not run west of the 160th meridian--or you can stroll
in the moonlight on the long white beaches with lithe brown beauties
who wear passion-flowers in their raven hair. Or, should you weary of
so _dolce far niente_ an existence, you can sail across to Java with
the opium-runners in their fragile _prahaus_, or climb a two-mile-high
volcano, or in the jungles at the western extremity of the island stalk
the clouded tiger. And you can wear pajamas all day long without
apologizing. Everything considered, Bali offers more inducements than
any place I know to the tired business man or the absconding bank
cashier.



CHAPTER VIII

THE GARDEN THAT IS JAVA


I entered Java through the back door, as it were. That is to say,
instead of landing at Batavia, which is the capital of Netherlands
India, and presenting my letters of introduction to the
Governor-General, Count van Limburg Stirum, I landed at Pasuruan, at
the eastern extremity of the six-hundred-mile-long island. It was as
though a foreigner visiting the United States were to land at Sag
Harbor, on the far end of Long Island, instead of at New York. I
learned afterward, from the American Consul-General at Batavia, that in
doing this I committed a breach of etiquette. Though the Dutch make no
official objections to foreigners landing where they please in their
Eastern possessions, they much prefer to have them ring the front
doorbell, hand in their cards, and give the authorities an opportunity
to look them over. In these days, with Bolshevik emissaries stealthily
at work throughout the archipelago, the Dutch feel that it behooves
them to inspect strangers with some care before giving them the run of
the islands.

We landed at Pasuruan because it is the port nearest to Bromo, the most
famous of the great volcanoes of Eastern Java, but as there is no
harbor, only a shallow, unprotected roadstead, it was necessary for
the _Negros_ to anchor nearly three miles offshore. So shallow is the
water, indeed, that it is a common sight at low tide to see the native
fishermen standing knee-deep in the sea a mile from land. Until quite
recently debarkation at Pasuruan was an extremely uncomfortable and
undignified proceeding, the passengers on the infrequent vessels which
touch there being carried ashore astride of a rail borne on the
shoulders of two natives. A coat of tar and feathers was all that was
needed to make the passenger feel that he was a victim of the Ku Klux
Klan. But a narrow channel has now been dredged through the sand-bar so
that row-boats and launches of shallow draught can make their way up
the squdgy creek to the custom house at high tide.

Until half a century ago Pasuruan was counted as one of the four great
cities of Java, but with the extension of the railway system throughout
the island and the development of the harbor at Surabaya, forty miles
away, its importance steadily diminished, though traces of its one-time
prosperity are still visible in its fine streets and beautiful houses,
most of which, however, are now occupied by Chinese. Perhaps the most
interesting feature of the place today is found in the costumes of the
native women, particularly the girls, who wear a kind of shirt and veil
combining all the colors of the rainbow.

From Pasuruan to Tosari, which is a celebrated hill-station and the
gateway to the volcanoes of eastern Java, is about twenty-five miles,
with an excellent motor road all the way. For the first ten miles the
road, here a wide avenue shaded by tamarinds and djati trees, runs
across a steaming plain, between fields of rice and cane, but after
Pasrepan the ascent of the mountains begins. The highway now becomes
extremely steep and narrow, with countless hairpin turns, though all
danger of collision is eliminated by the regulations which permit no
down-traffic in the morning and no up-traffic in the afternoon. During
the final fifteen miles, in which is made an ascent of more than six
thousand feet, one has the curious experience of passing, in a single
hour, from the torrid to the temperate zone. In the earlier stages of
the ascent the road zigzags upward through magnificent tropical
forests, where troops of huge gray apes chatter in the upper branches
and grass-green parrots flash from tree to tree. Palms of all
varieties, orchids, tree-ferns, bamboos, bananas, mangoes, gradually
give way to slender pines; the heavy odors of the tropics are replaced
by a pleasant balsamic fragrance; the hillsides become clothed with
familiar flowers--daisies, buttercups, heliotrope, roses, fuchsias,
geraniums, cannas, camelias, Easter lilies, azaleas, morning glories,
until the mountain-slopes look like a vast old-fashioned garden. In the
fields, instead of rice and cane, strawberries, potatoes, cabbages,
onions, and corn, are seen. As the road ascends the air becomes cold
and very damp; rain-clouds gather on the mountains and there are
frequent showers. At one point the mist became so thick that I could
scarcely discern the figure of my chauffeur and we were compelled to
advance with the utmost caution, for at many points the road, none too
wide at best, falls sheer away in dizzy precipices. But as suddenly as
it came, just as suddenly did the mist lift, revealing the great plain
of Pasuruan, a mile below, stretching away, away, until its green was
blended with the turquoise of the Java Sea. It is a veritable Road of a
Thousand Wonders, but there are spots where those who do not relish
great heights and narrow spaces will explain that they prefer to walk
so that they may gather wild-flowers.

Were it not for the wild appearance of its Tenngri mountaineers,
Tosari, which is the best health resort in Java, might be readily
mistaken for an Alpine village, for it has the same steep and
straggling streets, the same weather-beaten chalets clinging
precariously to the rocky hillsides, the same quaint shops, their
windows filled with souvenirs and postcards, the same glorious view of
green valleys and majestic peaks, the same crisp, cool air, as
exhilarating as champagne. The Sanatarium Hotel, which is always filled
with sallow-faced officials and planters from the plains, consists of a
large main building built in the Swiss chalet style and numerous
bungalows set amid a gorgeous garden of old-fashioned flowers. Every
bedroom has a bath--but such a bath!--a damp, gloomy, cement-lined cell
having in one corner a concrete cistern, filled with ice-cold mountain
water. The only furniture is a tin dipper. And it takes real courage,
let me tell you, to ladle that icy water over your shivering person in
the chill of a mountain morning.

The mountain slopes in the vicinity of Tosari are dotted with the
wretched wooden huts of the native tribe called Tenggerese, the only
race in Java which has remained faithful to Buddhism. There are only
about five thousand of them and they keep to themselves in their own
community, shut out from the rest of the world. They are shorter and
darker than the natives of the plains and, like most savages, are lazy,
ignorant and incredibly filthy. Because the air is cool and dry, and
water rather scarce, they never bathe, preferring to remain dirty. As a
result the aroma of their villages is a thing not soon forgotten. The
doors of their huts, which have no windows, all face Mount Bromo, where
their guardian deity, Dewa Soelan Iloe, is supposed to dwell. Once each
year the Tenggerese hold a great feast at the foot of the volcano, and,
until the Dutch authorities suppressed the custom, were accustomed to
conclude these ceremonies by tossing a living child into the crater as
a sacrifice to their god. Though an ancient tradition forbids the
cultivation of rice by the Tenggerese, they earn a meager living by
raising vegetables, which they carry on horseback to the markets on the
plain, and by acting as guides and coolies. They are incredibly strong
and tireless, the two men who carried Hawkinson's heavy motion-picture
outfit to the summit of Bromo making the round trip of forty miles in a
single day over some of the steepest trails I have ever seen.

Growing on the mountainsides about Tosari are many bushes of thorn
apple, called _Datara alba_, their white, funnel-shaped flowers being
sometimes twelve inches long. From the seeds of the thorn apple the
Tenggerese make a sort of flour which is strongly narcotic in its
effect. Because of this quality, it is occasionally utilized by
burglars, who blow it into a room which they propose to rob, through
the key-hole, thereby drugging the occupants into insensibility and
making it easy for the burglars to gain access to the room and help
themselves to its contents. Which reminds me that in some parts of
Malaysia native desperadoes are accustomed to pound the fronds of
certain varieties of palm to the consistency of powdered glass. They
carry a small quantity of this powder with them and when they meet
anyone against whom they have a grudge they blow it into his face. The
sharp particles, being inhaled, quickly affect the lungs and death
usually results. A friend of mine, for many years an American consul in
the East, once had the misfortune to be next to the victim of such an
attack, and himself inhaled a small quantity of the deadly powder. The
lung trouble which shortly developed hastened, if it did not actually
cause, his death.

That we might reach the Moengal Pass at daybreak in order to see the
superb panorama of Bromo and the adjacent volcanoes as revealed by the
rising sun, we started from Tosari at two o'clock in the morning. Our
mounts were wiry mountain ponies, hardy as mustangs and sure-footed as
goats. And it was well that they were, for the trail was the steepest
and narrowest that I have ever seen negotiated by horses. The Bright
Angel Trail, which leads from the rim of the Grand Canon down to the
Colorado, is a Central Park bridle-path in comparison. In places the
grade rose to fifty per cent and in many of the descents I had to lean
back until my head literally touched the pony's tail. It recalled the
days, long past, when, as a student at the Italian Cavalry School, I
was called upon to ride down the celebrated precipice at Tor di Quinto.
But there, if your mount slipped, a thick bed of sawdust was awaiting
you to break the fall. Here there was nothing save jagged rocks. We
started in pitch darkness and for three hours rode through a night so
black that I could not see my pony's ears. The trail, which in places
was barely a foot wide, ran for miles along a sort of hogback, the
ground falling sheer away on either side. It was like riding
blindfolded along the ridgepole of a church, and, had my pony slipped,
the results would have been the same.

But the trials of the ascent were forgotten in the overwhelming
grandeur of the scene which burst upon us as, just at sunrise, we drew
rein at the summit of the Moengal Pass. Never, not in the Rockies, nor
the Himalayas, nor the Alps, have I seen anything more sublime. At our
feet yawned a vast valley, or rather a depression, like an excavation
for some titanic building, hemmed in by perpendicular cliffs a thousand
feet in height. Wafted by the morning breeze a mighty river of clouds
poured slowly down the valley, filling it with gray-white fleece from
brim to brim. Slowly the clouds dissolved before the mounting sun until
there lay revealed below us the floor of the depression, known as the
Sand Sea, its yellow surface, smooth as the beach at Ormond, slashed
across by the beds of dried-up streams and dotted with clumps of
stunted vegetation. Like the Sahara it is boundless--a symbol of
solitude and desolation. When, in the early morning or toward
nightfall, the conical volcanoes cast their lengthening shadows upon
this expanse of sand, it reminds one of the surface of the moon as seen
through a telescope. But at midday, beneath the pitiless rays of the
equatorial sun, it resembles an enormous pool of molten brass, the
illusion being heightened by the heat-waves which flicker and dance
above it. From the center of the Sand Sea rises the extinct crater of
Batok, a sugar-loaf cone whose symmetrical slopes are so corrugated by
hardened rivulets of lava that they look for all the world like folds
of gray-brown cloth. Beyond Batok we could catch a glimpse of Bromo
itself, belching skyward great clouds of billowing smoke and steam,
while from its crater came a rumble as of distant thunder. And far in
the distance, its purple bulk faintly discernible against the turquoise
sky, rose Smeroe, the greatest volcano of them all.

[Illustration: The volcano of Bromo, Eastern Java, in eruption]

The descent from the Moengal Pass to the Sand Sea is so steep that it
is necessary to make it on foot, even the nimble-footed ponies having
all they can do to scramble down the precipitous and slippery trail. It
is well to cross the Sand Sea as soon after daybreak as possible, for
by mid-morning the heat is like a blast from an open furnace-door. It
is a four mile ride across the Sand Sea to the lower slopes of Bromo,
but the sand is firm and hard and we let the ponies break into a
gallop--an exhilarating change from the tedious crawl necessary in the
mountains. Then came a stiff climb of a mile or more over fantastically
shaped hills of lava, the final ascent to the brink of the crater being
accomplished by a flight of two hundred and fifty stone steps. The
crater of Bromo is shaped like a huge funnel, seven hundred feet deep
and nearly half a mile across. From it belch unceasingly dark gray
clouds of smoke and sulphurous fumes, while now and then large rocks
are spewed high in the air only to fall back again, rolling down the
inside slope of the crater with a thunderous rumble, as though the god
whom the Tenggerese believe dwells on the mountain was playing at
ten-pins. Deep down at the bottom of the crater jets of greenish-yellow
sulphur flicker in a cauldron of molten lava, from which a red flame
now and then leaps upward, like an out-thrust serpent's tongue. No
wonder that the ignorant mountaineers look on Bromo with fear and
veneration, for it huddles there, in the midst of that awful solitude,
like some monster in its death agony, gasping and groaning.

The transition from the lofty solitudes of the Tengger Mountains to the
steaming, teeming thoroughfares of Surabaya, the metropolis of eastern
Java, is not a pleasant one. For Surabaya--there are no less than
half-a-dozen ways of spelling its name--though the greatest trading
port in Java, from the point of view of the visitor is not an
attractive city. Neither is it a healthy place, for it has a hot,
humid, sticky climate, it lacks good drinking water and enjoys no
refreshing breeze; mosquitoes feed on one's body and red ants on one's
belongings; malaria and typhoid are prevalent and even bubonic plague
is not unknown, the combined effect of all these showing in the sallow
and enervated faces of its inhabitants. Yet it is a bustling,
up-and-doing city, as different from phlegmatic, conservative old
Batavia as Los Angeles is from Boston.

Unlike the houses of Batavia, which stand far back from the street in
lovely gardens, the houses of Surabaya are built directly on the
street, with their gardens at the back. Most of the houses of the
better class are in the Dutch colonial style--low and white with green
blinds and across the front a stately row of columns. Every house is
marked with a huge signboard bearing the number and the owner's name,
thus making it easy for the stranger to find the one for which he is
looking. There are no sidewalks and, as a consequence, walking is
anything but pleasant, the streets being deep in dust during the dry
season and equally deep in mud during the rains. I do not recall ever
having seen a city of its size with so much wheeled traffic. Indeed,
the scene on the Simpang Road about three in the afternoon, when the
merchants are returning to their offices after the midday siesta,
resembles that on Fifth Avenue at the rush hour, the broad
thoroughfare being literally packed from curb to curb with vehicles of
every description: the ramshackle little victorias known as _mylords_,
the high, two-wheeled dog-carts, with their seats back to back, called
_sados_, the two-pony cabs termed _kosongs_, creaking bullock carts
with wheels higher than a man, hand-cars and rickshaws hauled by
dripping coolies, and other coolies staggering along beneath the weight
of burdens swinging from the carrying-poles called _pikolans_, and
every make and model of motor-cars from ostentatious, self-important
Rolls-Royces to busybody Fords. Standing in the middle of the roadway,
controlling and directing this roaring river of traffic with surprising
efficiency are diminutive Javanese policemen wearing blue helmets many
sizes too large for them and armed with revolvers, swords and clubs.

The port of Surabaya, which is the busiest in the entire Insulinde, is
four miles from the business section of the city, with which it is
connected by a splendid asphalt highway lined by huge warehouses,
factories, godowns and oil-tanks, many of them bearing familiar
American names. In fact, one of the first things to attract my
attention in Java was the great variety of American articles on sale
and in use--motor cars, tires, typewriters, office supplies, cameras,
phonographs, agricultural machinery of all descriptions.

More than a tenth of Surabaya's population is Chinese and their
commercial influence dominates the whole city. They have the finest
residences, the most luxurious clubs, the largest shops, the
handsomest motor cars. I was shown a row of warehouses extending along
the canal for one long block which are the property of a single
Chinese. Wherever I traveled in the Indies I was impressed by the
business acumen and success of these impassive, industrious sons of the
Flowery Kingdom. They are the Greeks of the Far East but without the
Greek's unscrupulousness and lack of dependability. A Chinese will not
hesitate to take advantage of you in a business deal, but if he once
gives you his word he will always keep it, no matter at what cost to
himself, and if you should leave your pocketbook in his shop he will
come hurrying after you to restore it. The Chinese living in the Indies
are uniformly prosperous--many of them are millionaires--they have
their own clubs and chambers of commerce and charitable organizations;
they not infrequently control the finances of the districts in which
they live and, generally speaking, they make excellent citizens.

       *       *       *       *       *

Java has almost exactly the same area--50,000 square miles--and the
same population--34,000,000--as England. Agriculturally, it is the
richest country of its size in the world. Because I wished to visit the
great tea and coffee and indigo plantations of its interior and to see
its palaces and temples and monuments, I decided to traverse the island
from end to end by train and motor car. Accordingly we left the
_Negros_ at Surabaya, directing Captain Galvez to pick us up a
fortnight later at Batavia, at the other end of the island.

There are at present more than three thousand miles of railways in
operation in Java, about two-thirds of which are the property of the
government. With a few exceptions, the lines are narrow gauge. The
railway carriages are a curious combination of English, Swiss and
American construction, being divided into compartments, which are
separated by swinging half-doors, like those which used to be
associated with saloons. The seats in the second-class compartments,
which are covered with cane, are decidedly more comfortable than those
of the first class, which are upholstered in leather. Owing to the
excessive heat and humidity, the leather has the annoying habit of
adhering to one's clothing, so that you frequently leave the train
after a long journey with a section of the seat-covering sticking to
your trousers or with a section of your trousers sticking to the seat.
To avoid the discomfort of the midday heat, the long-distance express
trains usually start at daybreak and reach their destinations at noon,
which, though doubtless a sensible custom, necessitates the traveler
arising when it is still dark. The express trains have dining cars, in
which a meal of sorts can be had for two guilders (about eighty cents)
and the first and second-class carriages are equipped with electric
fans and screens. In spite of these conveniences, however, travel in
Java is hot and dusty and generally disagreeable. After a railway
journey one needs a bath, a shave, a haircut, a shampoo, a massage, and
a complete outfit of fresh clothes before feeling respectable again.

In many respects, motoring is more comfortable than railway travel. The
roads throughout the island are excellent and have been carefully
marked by the Java Motor Club, though fast driving is made dangerous by
the bullock carts, pack trains and carabaos, which pay no attention to
the rules of the road. Nor is motoring particularly expensive, for an
excellent seven-passenger car of a well-known American make can be
hired for forty dollars a day. Visitors to Java should bear in mind,
however, that all their motoring and sight-seeing must be done in the
morning, as, during the wet season, it invariably rains in torrents
during the greater part of every afternoon.

The hotels of Java, taking them by and large, are moderately good,
while certain of them, such as the Oranje at Surabaya, the Grand at
Djokjakarta, and the Indies at Batavia, are quite excellent in spots,
with orchestras, iced drinks, electric fans, and well-cooked food.
Though every room has a bath--a necessity in such a climate--tubs are
quite unknown, their place being taken by showers, or, in the simpler
hostleries, by barrels of water and dippers. The mattresses and pillows
appeared to be filled with asphalt, though it should be remembered that
a soft bed is unendurable in the tropics. Every bed is provided with a
cylindrical bolster, six feet long and about fifteen inches in
diameter, which serves to keep the sheet from touching the body. They
are known as "Dutch widows."

If you are fond of good coffee, I should strongly advise you to take
your own with you when you go to Java. From my boyhood "Old Government
Java" had been a synonym in our household for the finest coffee grown,
so my astonishment and disappointment can be imagined when, at my first
breakfast in Java, there was set before me a cup containing a dubious
looking syrup, like those used at American soda-water fountains, the
cup then being filled up with hot milk. The Germans never would have
complained about their war-time coffee, made from chicory and acorns,
had they once tasted the Java product. Yet I was assured that this was
the choicest coffee grown in Java. I might add that, as a result of a
blight which all but ruined the industry in the '70s, fifty-two per
cent of the total acreage of coffee plantations in the island is now
planted with the African species, called _Coffea robusta_, and thirteen
per cent with another African species, _Coffea liberia_, and the rest
with Japanese and other varieties. Though the term "Mocha and Java" is
still used by the trade in the United States, few Americans of the
present generation have ever tasted either, for virtually no Mocha
coffee and very little Java have been imported into this country for
many years.

The lazy, leisurely, luxurious existence led by the great Dutch
planters in Java is in many respects a counterpart of that led by the
wealthy planters of our own South before the Civil War. Dwelling in
stately mansions set in the midst of vast estates, waited upon by
retinues of native servants, they exercise much the same arbitrary
authority over the thousands of brown men who work their coffee, sugar
and indigo plantations that the cotton-growers of the old South
exercised over their slaves. Indeed, it was not until 1914 that a form
of peonage which had long been authorized in Java was abolished by law,
for up to that year private landowners had the right to enforce from
all the laborers on their estates one day's gratuitous work out of
seven.

There are no shrewder or more capable business men to be found anywhere
than the Dutch traders and merchants in Java. Many of the great trading
houses of the Dutch Indies have remained the property of the same
family for generations, their staffs being as carefully trained for the
business as the Dutch officials are trained for the colonial service.
The young men come out from Holland as cadets with the intention of
spending the remainder of their lives in the Insulinde, studying the
native languages and acquainting themselves with native prejudices,
predilections and customs. They are usually blessed with a phlegmatic
temperament, well suited to life in the tropics, take life easily, live
in considerable luxury, play a little tennis, grow fat, spend their
afternoons in pajamas and slippers, stroll down to the local Concordia
Club in the evenings to sit at small tables on the terrace and drink
enormous quantities of beer and listen to the band, not infrequently
marry native women, and often amass great fortunes.

Though the Javanese peasant is, from necessity, industrious, the upper
classes, particularly the nobles, are effeminate, indolent, decadent,
and servile. Their amusements are cock-fighting, dancing, shadow
plays, and gambling, and they lead an utterly worthless existence which
the Dutch do nothing to discourage. Their Mohammedanism is decadent and
has none of the virility which distinguishes those followers of Islam
who dwell in western lands. Though there is no denying that the natives
are immeasurably more prosperous, on the whole, than before the white
man came, the Dutch have done little if anything to improve their
living conditions. True, their rule is a just and a not unkind one;
they have built roads and railways, but this was done in order to open
up the island; and they have established a number of industrial and
technical schools, but there is no system of compulsory education, and
no systematic attempt has been made to ameliorate the condition of the
great brown mass of the people. I do not think that I am doing them an
injustice when I assert that the Dutch are administrators rather than
altruists, that they are more concerned in maintaining a just and
stable government in their insular possessions, and in increasing their
productivity, than they are in improving the moral, mental, and
material condition of the natives.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lying squarely in the middle of Java are the _Vorstenlanden_, "the
Lands of the Princes"--Soerakarta and Djokjakarta--the most curious, as
they are the most picturesque, states in the entire Insulinde. But,
because in their form of government and the lives and customs of their
inhabitants they are so vastly different from the other portions of
the island, I feel that they are deserving of a chapter to themselves
and hence shall omit any account of them here.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bandoeng, the prosperous and extremely up-to-date capital of the
Preanger Regencies, is the fifth largest city in Java, being exceeded
in population only by Batavia, Surabaya, Surakarta and Samarang. The
city, which is the healthiest and most modern in Java, stands in the
middle of a great plain, 2300 feet above the sea, having, therefore, a
delightful all-the-year-round climate. It has excellent electric
lighting, water and sanitary systems, miles of well-paved and shaded
streets, and many beautiful residences--the finest I saw in
Malaysia--set in the midst of charming gardens. It is planned to remove
the seat of government from Batavia to Bandoeng in the not far distant
future and the handsome buildings which will eventually house the
various departments are rapidly nearing completion. When they are
completed Bandoeng will be one of the finest, if not the finest
colonial capital in the world. But, attractive though the city is, it
holds nothing of particular interest to the casual visitor unless it be
the quinine factory. This company seems likely to succeed in cornering
the supply of Javanese cinchona bark and is fast building up a world
market for its product. The cinchona tree, from which the bark is
obtained, was first introduced from South America in the middle of the
last century and is now widely grown throughout the Preanger Regencies,
both by the government and by private planters. After six or seven
years the tree is sufficiently matured for the removal of its bark,
which, after being carefully dried, sorted, and baled, is shipped to
the factory in Bandoeng, where it is manufactured into the quinine of
commerce. The process of manufacture is a secret one, which explains,
though it does not excuse, the extreme discourtesy shown by the
management toward foreigners desiring to visit the plant.

It takes three and a half hours by express train from Bandoeng to
Buitenzorg, the summer capital of the Indies, and the journey is one of
the pleasantest in Java, the railway being bordered for miles by
marvellously constructed rice terraces which climb the slopes of the
Gedei, tier on tier, transforming the mountainsides into a series of
hanging gardens. When the shallow, water-filled terraces are
illuminated by the tropic sun, they look for all the world like a
titanic stairway of silver ascending to the heavens. Take my word for
it, the rice terraces of the Preangers are in themselves worth
traveling the length of Java to see.

Though Batavia is the official capital of Netherlands India, the
hill-station of Buitenzorg, some twenty miles inland, is the actual
seat of government and the residence of the Governor-General.
Buitenzorg--the name means "free from care"--is to Java what Simla is
to India, what Baguio is, in a lesser degree, to the Philippines. It
has often been compared to Versailles, and, in its pleasant existence,
in the enchanting effects which have been produced by its landscape
gardeners, in its great white palace even, one can trace some slight
resemblance to the famous home of le Roi Soleil. Buitenzorg is
conspicuously different from other Javanese cities, partly because,
being the seat of government, its European quarter is exceptionally
extensive, but primarily because it boasts the famous Botanical
Gardens, in many respects the finest in the world. Its avenues, shaded
by splendid trees, are lined with charming, white-walled villas, the
residences of the government officials and of retired officers and
merchants, set far back in lovely, fragrant gardens. The palace of the
Governor-General, a huge, white building of classic lines, faintly
reminiscent of the White House in Washington, is superbly situated in
the Botanic Gardens, the rear overlooking a charming lotos pond, its
surface covered with the huge leaves of the water-plant known as
_Victoria Regia_, amid which numbers of white swans drift gracefully;
while the colonnaded front commands a magnificent view of a vast deer
park which reminds one of the stately manor parks of England.

When you arrive at the Hotel Bellevue in Buitenzorg, be sure and ask
for one of the "mountain rooms." The view which is commanded by their
balconies has few equals in all the world. Far in the distance rises
the majestic, cloud-wreathed cone of Salak, its wooded slopes wrapped
in a cloak of purple-gray. From its foot, cutting a way toward
Buitenzorg through a sea of foliage, is a ribbon of brown--the Tjidani
River. Its banks, lined by miles of waving palms, are crowded with the
quaint, thatched dwellings of the natives, hundreds of whom--men, women
and children--are bathing in its water. One of the most curious and
amusing sights in Java is that of the native women bathing in the
streams. They enter the river wearing their sarongs, gradually raise
them as they go deeper into the stream, slip them over their heads when
the water has reached their armpits, and, when they have completed
their ablutions, reverse the process, thus achieving the feat of
bathing in full view of hundreds of spectators without the slightest
improper revelation. Hawkinson set up his camera on the bank of the
Tjidani and spent several hundred feet of film in recording one of
these performances. Even the Pennsylvania State Board of Censors will
be unable to find any objection to _that_ bathing scene.

Though the gardens of Buitenzorg are a veritable treasure-house for the
botanist and the horticulturist--for the Dutch are the best gardeners
in the world--from the standpoint of the casual visitor they cannot
compare, to my way of thinking, with the Peradenya Gardens of Ceylon.
It is beyond all doubt, however, the finest collection of tropical
trees and plants in existence. Here, besides full-grown specimens of
every known tree of the torrid zone, are culture gardens for sugar
cane, coffee, tea, rubber, ilang-ilang; for all the spice, gum, and
fruit trees; for bamboo, rattan, and the hard woods, such as mahogany
and teak--in short, for every variety of tree or plant of commercial,
ornamental, or utilitarian value. There are also gardens for all the
gorgeous flowers of Java: the frangipani, the wax-white, gold-centered
flower of the dead, the red and yellow lantanas, the scarlet poinsetta,
the crimson bougainvillea, and others in bewildering variety. There are
greenhouses to shelter the rarer and more sensitive plants--to shelter
them not, as in our hothouses, from the cold, but, on the contrary,
from the heat and the withering rays of the sun. Here too is one of the
finest collections of orchids in existence, tended by an ancient
Javanese gardener who is as proud of his curious blooms as a trainer is
of his race horses or a collector of his porcelains. As for the palms,
I had no idea that so many varieties existed until I visited
Buitenzorg--emperor palms, Areca palms, Banka palms, cocoanut palms,
fan palms, cabbage palms, sago palms, date palms, feather palms,
travelers' palms, oil palms, Chuson palms, climbing palms over a
hundred feet long--palms without end, Amen. Small wonder that the palm
is regarded with affection wherever it can be grown, for what other
tree can furnish food, shelter, clothing, timber, fuel, building
materials, fiber, paper, starch, sugar, oil, wax, dyes and wine?

But, when all is said and done, nothing in those splendid gardens, not
the stately avenue of kanari trees whose interlacing branches form a
nave as awe-inspiring as that of some great cathedral, not the rare and
curious orchids which would arouse the envy of a millionaire, appealed
to me so powerfully as a little Grecian temple of white marble, all but
hidden by the encircling shrubbery, which marks the sleeping-place of
Lady Raffles, wife of that Sir Stamford Raffles who once was the
British lieutenant-governor of Java. It pleases me to think that it is
toward this little, moss-grown temple that the bronze statue of the
great empire-builder, which stands on the Esplanade in Singapore, is
peering with wistful eyes, for on its base he carved these lines:

    "Oh thou whom ne'er my constant heart
      One moment hath forgot,
    Tho' fate severe hath bid us part
      Yet still--forget me not."

       *       *       *       *       *

Batavia, the capital of the Indies, is built on both banks of the
Jacatra River, in a swampy and unhealthy plain at the head of a
capacious bay. Just as New York is divided into the boroughs of
Manhattan and the Bronx, so the metropolis of Netherlands India is
divided into the districts of Batavia and Weltevreden, the suburb of
Meester Cornelis corresponding to Brooklyn. Batavia is the business
quarter of the city; Weltevreden the residential. The former, which is
built on the edge of the harbor, is very thickly populated and, because
of its lowness, very unhealthy. Only natives, Malays, Chinese and Arabs
live here and the great European houses which were once the homes of
the Dutch officials and merchants have either fallen into decay or have
been converted into warehouses and shops. The Europeans now live in
Weltevreden, or Meester Cornelis, though they have their offices in the
lower town. Both the upper and lower towns are traversed by the
Jacatra--sometimes called the Tjiliwoeng--from which branch canals that
spread through the city in all directions, thereby emphasizing its
distinctly Dutch atmosphere. The streets are for the most part straight
and regular, being paved, as in the mother-country, with cobblestones.
Old Batavia contains very few relics of the early days, but it is
quaint and delightfully picturesque and its canals, though anything but
desirable from the standpoint of health, add much to its individuality
and charm. The most characteristic feature of Batavia, that
distinguishes it from all other colonial cities of the East, is that in
all its construction, both public and private, permanency seems to be
the dominant note. The Dutch do not come to Java, as the English go to
India and the Americans to the Philippines, in order to amass fortunes
in a few years and then go home; they come with the intention of
remaining. When their children grow up they are sent back to Holland to
be educated, but, once their schooling is completed, they almost
invariably return to the East and devote their lives to the development
of the land in which they were born.

Batavia, which means literally 'Fair meadows,' was originally called
Jacatra. The Dutch established a trading post here in 1610, the land
being obtained from the natives by a trick similar to that associated
by tradition with the acquisition of the lower end of Manhattan Island
by the founders of Nieuw Amsterdam. The Javanese, it seems, were
reluctant to sell to the Dutch a parcel of land sufficiently large for
the erection of a fort and trading station, but after much discussion
they finally consented to part with as much land as could be included
within a single bullock's hide, which was their way of saying that
their land was not for sale. This crafty stipulation did not worry the
equally crafty Dutch, however, for they promptly obtained the largest
hide available, cut it into narrow strips, and, placing these end to
end, insisted on their right to the very considerable parcel of ground
thus enclosed under the terms of the bargain.

A relic illustrative of the barbarous punishments which were in vogue
during the colony's earlier days is to be seen by driving a short
distance up Jacatra Road, in the lower town. Close by the ancient
Portuguese church you will find a short section of old wall. Atop the
wall, transfixed by a spear-point, is an object which, despite its many
coats of whitewash, is still recognizable as a human skull. Set in the
wall is a tablet bearing this inscription:

    "In detested memory of the traitor, Peter Erberveld, who was
    executed. No one will be permitted to build, lay bricks or plant
    on this spot, either now or in the future.

                            Batavia, April 14, 1772."

Erberveld was a half-caste agitator who had conspired with certain
disaffected natives to launch a revolt, massacre all the Dutch in
Batavia, and have himself proclaimed king. Fortunately for the Dutch,
the plot was betrayed through the faithlessness of a native girl with
whom Erberveld was infatuated. Because of the imperative need of
safeguarding the little handful of white colonists against massacre by
the natives, it was decided that the half-caste should be punished in
a manner which would strike fear to the hearts of the Javanese, who
have no particular dread of death in its ordinary forms. The judges did
their best to achieve this object, for Erberveld was sentenced to be
impaled alive, broken on the wheel, his hands and head cut off, and his
body quartered. Why they omitted hanging and burning from the list I
can not imagine. The sentence was carried out--the contemporary
accounts record that he endured his fate with silent fortitude--and his
head is on the wall to-day. But I think that, were I the
Governor-General of the Indies, I should have that grisly reminder of
the bad old days taken down. Many nations have family skeletons but
they usually prefer to keep them out of sight.



CHAPTER IX

PUPPET RULERS AND COMIC OPERA COURTS


Hamangkoe Boewoenoe Senopati Sahadin Panoto Gomo Kalif Patelah Kandjeng
VII, Ruler of the World, Spike of the Universe, and Sultan of
Djokjakarta, is an old, old man, yet his brisk walk and upright
carriage betrayed no trace of the worries which might be expected to
beset one who is burdened with the responsibility of supporting three
thousand wives and concubines. When one achieves a domestic
establishment of such proportions, however, he doubtless shifts the
responsibility for its administration, discipline and maintenance to
subordinates, just as the commander of a division delegates his
authority to the officers of his staff. The Sultan, who is now in his
eighty-ninth year, is a worthy emulator of King Solomon, the lowest
estimate which I heard crediting him with one hundred and eighty
children. These are the official ones, as it were. How many unofficial
ones he has, no one knows but himself. The youngest of his children,
now five years old, was, I imagine, a good deal of a surprise, being
sometimes referred to by disrespectful Europeans as "the Joke of
Djokjakarta."

Djokjakarta, or Djokja, as it is commonly called, is set in the middle
of a broad and fertile plain, at the foot of the slumbering volcano of
Merapi, whose occasional awakenings are marked by terrific earthquakes,
which shake the city to its foundations and usually result in
wide-spread destruction and loss of life. It is a city of broad,
unpaved thoroughfares, shaded by rows of majestic waringins, and lined,
in the European quarter, by handsome one-story houses, with white
walls, green blinds and Doric porticos. There are two hotels in the
city, one an excellently kept and comfortable establishment, as hotels
go in Java; a score or so of large and moderately well-stocked European
stores, and many small shops kept by Chinese; an imposing bank of stone
and concrete; and one of the most beautiful race-courses that I have
ever seen, the spring race meeting at Djokja being one of the most
brilliant social events in Java. The busiest part of the city is the
Chinese quarter, for, throughout the Insulinde, commerce, both retail
and wholesale, is largely in the hands of these sober, shrewd,
hard-working yellow men, of whom there are more than three hundred
thousand in Java alone and double that number in the archipelago.
Beyond the European and Chinese quarters, scattered among the palms
which form a thick fringe about the town, are the _kampongs_ of the
Javanese themselves--clusters of bamboo-built huts, thatched with
leaves or grass, encircled by low mud walls. Standing well back from
the street, and separated from it by a splendid sweep of velvety lawn,
is the Dutch residency, a dignified building whose classic lines
reminded me of the manor houses built by the Dutch _patroons_ along
the Hudson. A few hundred yards away stands Fort Vredenburg, a moated,
bastioned, four-square fortification, garrisoned by half a thousand
Dutch artillerymen, whose guns frown menacingly upon the native town
and the palace of the Sultan. Though its walls would crumble before
modern artillery in half an hour, it stands as a visible symbol of
Dutch authority and as a warning to the disloyal that that authority is
backed up by cannon.

Between Fort Vredenburg and the Sultan's palace stretches the broad
_aloun-aloun_, its sandy, sun-baked expanse broken only by a splendid
pair of waringin-trees, clipped to resemble royal _payongs_ or
parasols. In the old days those desiring audience with the sovereign
were compelled to wait under these trees, frequently for days and
occasionally for weeks, until "the Spike of the Universe" graciously
condescended to receive them. Here also was the place of public
execution. In the days before the white men came, public executions on
the _aloun-aloun_ provided pleasurable excitement for the inhabitants
of Djokjakarta, who attended them in great numbers. The method employed
was characteristic of Java: the condemned stood with his forehead
against a wall, and the executioner drove the point of a kris between
the vertebrae at the base of the neck, severing the spinal cord. But
the gallows and the rope have superseded the wall and the kris in
Djokjakarta, just as they have superseded the age-old custom of hurling
criminals from the top of a high tower in Bokhara or of having the
brains of the condemned stamped out by an elephant, a method of
execution which was long in vogue in Burmah.

But, though certain peculiarly barbarous customs which were practised
under native rule have been abolished by the Dutch, I have no intention
of suggesting that life in Djokjakarta has become colorless and tame.
_Au contraire!_ If you will take the trouble to cross the _aloun-aloun_
to the gates of the palace, your attention will be attracted by a row
of iron-barred cages built against the kraton wall. Should you be so
fortunate as to find yourself in Djokjakarta on the eve of a religious
festival or other holiday, each of these cages will be found to contain
a full-grown tiger. For tiger-baiting remains one of the favorite
amusements of the native princes. Nowhere else, so far as I am aware,
save only in East Africa, where the Masai warriors encircle a lion and
kill it with their spears, can you witness a sport which is its equal
for peril and excitement.

On the day set for a tiger-baiting the _aloun-aloun_ is jammed with
spectators, their gorgeous sarongs and head-kains of batik forming a
sea of color, while from a pavilion erected for the purpose the Sultan,
surrounded by his glittering household and a selection of his favorite
wives, views the dangerous sport in safety. In a cleared space before
the royal pavilion several hundred half-naked Javanese, armed only with
spears, stand shoulder to shoulder in a great circle, perhaps ten-score
yards across, their spears pointing inward so as to form a steel fringe
to the human barricade. A cage containing a tiger, which has been
trapped in the jungle for the occasion, is hauled forward to the
circle's edge. At a signal from the Sultan the door of the cage is
opened and the great striped cat, its yellow eyes glaring malevolently,
its stiffened tail nervously sweeping the ground, slips forth on padded
feet to crouch defiantly in the center of the extemporized arena.
Occasionally, but very occasionally, the beast becomes intimidated at
sight of the waiting spearmen and the breathless throng beyond them,
but usually it is only a matter of seconds before things begin to
happen. The long tail abruptly becomes rigid, the muscles bunch
themselves like coiled springs beneath the tawny skin, the sullen
snarling changes to a deep-throated roar, and the great beast launches
itself against the levelled spears. Sometimes it tears its way through
the ring of flesh and steel, leaving behind it a trail of dead or
wounded spearmen, and creating consternation among the spectators, who
scatter, panic-stricken, in every direction. But more often the
spearmen drive it back, snarling and bleeding, whereupon, bewildered by
the multitude of its enemies and maddened by the pain of its wounds, it
hurls itself against another segment of the steel-fringed cordon. After
a time, baffled in its attempts to escape, the tiger retreats to the
center of the circle, where it crouches, snarling. Then, at another
signal from the Sultan, the spearmen begin to close in. Smaller and
smaller grows the circle, closer and closer come the remorseless
spear-points ... then a hoarse roar of fury, a spring too rapid for the
eye to follow, a wild riot of brown bodies glistening with sweat ...
spear-hafts rising and falling above a sea of turbaned heads as the
blades are driven home ... again ... again ... again ... yet again ...
into the great black-and-yellow carcass, which now lies inanimate upon
the sand in a rapidly widening pool of crimson.

       *       *       *       *       *

Like the palaces of most Asiatic rulers, the kraton of the Sultan of
Djokjakarta is really a royal city in the heart of his capital. It
consists of a vast congeries of palaces, barracks, stables, pagodas,
temples, offices, courtyards, corridors, alleys and bazaars, containing
upward of fifteen thousand inhabitants, the whole encircled by a high
wall four miles in length. Everything that the sovereign can require,
every necessity and luxury of life, every adjunct of pleasure, is
assembled within the kraton. As the Sultan's world is practically
bounded by his palace walls, the kraton is to all intents and purposes
a little kingdom in itself, for there dwell within it, besides the
officials of the household and the women of the harem, soldiers,
priests, gold and silversmiths, tailors, weavers, makers of batik,
civil engineers, architects, carpenters, stonemasons, manufacturers of
musical instruments, stage furniture, and puppets, all supported by the
court. The Sultan rarely leaves the kraton save on occasions of
ceremony, when he appears in state, a thin, aristocratic-looking old
man, somewhat taller than the average of his subjects, wrapped in a
sarong of cloth-of-gold, hung with jewels, shaded by a golden parasol,
surrounded by an Arabian Nights court, and guarded--curious
contrast!--by a squadron of exceedingly businesslike-looking Dutch
cavalry in slouch hats and green denim uniforms.

The first impression which one receives upon entering the inner
precincts of the kraton is of tawdriness and dilapidation. Half-naked
soldiers of the royal body-guard, armed with ten-foot pikes and clad
only in baggy, scarlet breeches and brimless caps of black leather,
shaped like inverted flower-pots, lounge beside the gateway giving
access to the Sultan's quarters or snore blissfully while stretched
beneath the trees. The "Ruler of the World" receives his visitors--who,
if they are foreigners, must always be accompanied by the Dutch
Resident or a member of his staff--in the _pringitan_, or hall of
audience, an immense, marble-floored chamber, supported by many marble
columns. The _pringitan_ is open on three sides, the fourth
communicating with the royal apartments and the harem, to which
Europeans are never admitted. At the rear of the _pringitan_ are a
number of ornate state beds, hung with scarlet and heavily gilded,
evidently placed there for purposes of display, for they showed no
evidences of having been slept in. Close by is a large glass case
containing specimens of the taxidermist's art, including a number of
badly moth-eaten birds of paradise. On the walls I noticed a
steel-engraving of Napoleon crossing the Alps, a number of English
sporting prints depicting hunting and coaching scenes, and three
villainous chromos of Queen Wilhelmina, Prince Henry of the
Netherlands, and the Princess Juliana.

Thanks to the courtesy of the Resident, who had notified the
authorities of the royal household of our visit in advance, we found
that a series of Javanese dances had been arranged in our honor. Now
Javanese dancing is about as exciting as German grand opera, and, like
opera, one has to understand it to appreciate it. Personally, I should
have preferred to wander about the kraton, but court etiquette demanded
that I should sit upon a hard and exceedingly uncomfortable chair
throughout a long and humid morning, with the thermometer registering
one hundred and four degrees in the shade, and watch a number of
anaemic and dissipated-looking youths, who composed the royal ballet,
go through an interminable series of posturings and gestures to the
monotonous music of a native orchestra.

Those who have gained their ideas of Javanese dancing from the
performances of Ruth St. Denis and Florence O'Denishawn have
disappointment in store for them when they go to Java. To tell the
truth I found the dancers far less interesting than their audience,
which consisted of several hundred women of the harem, clad in filmy,
semi-transparent garments of the most beautiful colors, who watched the
proceedings from the semi-obscurity of the _pringitan_. I cannot be
certain, because the light was poor and their faces were in the
shadow, but I think that there were several extremely good-looking
girls among them. There was one in particular that I remember--a
slender, willowy thing with an apricot-colored skin and an oval,
piquant face framed by masses of blue-black hair. Her orange sarong was
so tightly wound about her that she might as well have been wearing a
wet silk bathing-suit, so far as concealing her figure was concerned.
Whenever she caught my eye she smiled mischievously. I should have
liked to have seen more of her, but an unamiable-looking sentry armed
with a large scimitar prevented.

By extraordinary good fortune we arrived in Djokjakarta on the eve of
the celebration of a double royal wedding, two of the Sultan's
grandsons marrying two of his granddaughters. Thanks to the cooperation
of the Dutch Resident, Hawkinson was enabled to obtain a remarkable
series of pictures of the highly spectacular marriage ceremonies, it
being the first time, I believe, that a motion-picture camera had been
permitted within the closely guarded precincts of the kraton.

The festivities, which occupied several days, consisted of receptions,
fireworks, reviews, games, dances, and religious ceremonies,
culminating in a most impressive and colorful pageant, when the two
bridegrooms proceeded to the palace in state to claim their brides.
Nowhere outside the pages of _The Wizard of Oz_ could one find such
amazing and fantastic costumes as those worn by the thousands of
natives who took part in that procession. Every combination of colors
was used, every period of European and Asiatic history was
represented. Some of the costumes looked as though they owed their
inspiration to Bakst's designs for the Russian ballet--or perhaps Bakst
obtained his ideas in Djokjakarta; others were strongly reminiscent of
Louis XIV's era, of the courts of the great Indian princes, of the
Ziegfeld Follies.

The procession was led by four peasant women bearing trays of
vegetables and fruits, symbols of fecundity, I assumed. Behind them,
sitting cross-legged in glass cages swung from poles, each borne by a
score of sweating coolies in scarlet liveries, were the four chief
messengers of the royal harem--former concubines of the Sultan who had
once been noted for their influence and beauty. The cages--I can think
of no better description--were of red lacquer, about four feet square,
with glass sides, and, so far as I could see, entirely air-tight. They
looked not unlike large goldfish aquariums. As they were passing us the
procession halted for a few moments and the panting coolies lowered
their burdens to the ground. Whereupon Hawkinson, who is no respecter
of persons when the business of getting pictures is concerned, set up
his camera within six feet of one of the cages and proceeded to take a
"close-up" of the indignant but helpless occupant, who, unable to
escape or even turn away, could only assume an indifference which she
was evidently far from feeling.

Following the harem attendants marched a company of the royal
body-guard, in scarlet cutaway coats like those worn by the British
grenadiers during the American Revolution, pipe-clayed cross-belts,
white nankeen breeches, enormous cavalry boots, extending half-way up
the thigh, and curious hats of black glazed leather, of a shape which
was a cross between a fireman's helmet and the cap of a Norman
man-at-arms. They were armed indiscriminately with long pikes and
ancient flint-locks, and marched to the music of fife and drum. The
leader of the band danced a sort of shimmy as he marched, at the same
time tootling on a flute. He looked like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Perhaps the most curious feature of the procession was provided by the
clowns, both men and women--an interesting survival of the
court-jesters of the Middle Ages--powdered and painted like their
fellows of the circus, and performing many of their stereotyped antics.
One of them, wearing an enormous pair of black goggles, bestrode a sort
of hobby-horse, made of papier-maché, and, when he saw that Hawkinson
was taking his picture, cavorted and grimaced, to the huge delight of
the onlookers. The female clowns, all of whom were burdened by
excessive avoirdupois, wiggled their hips and shoulders as they marched
in a sort of Oriental shimmy.

[Illustration: A Dyak girl at Tenggaroeng, Dutch Borneo]

[Illustration: A Dyak head-hunter, Dutch Borneo]

[Illustration: The Captain of the body-guard of "The Spike of the
Universe"]

[Illustration: A clown in the royal wedding procession at Djokjakarta]

Following a gorgeous cavalcade of mounted princes of the blood, in
uniforms of all colors, periods, and descriptions, their képis
surmounted by towering ostrich plumes, came a long procession of the
great dignitaries of the household--the royal betel-box bearer, the
royal cuspidor-carrier, and others bearing on scarlet cushions the
royal toothpicks, the royal toothbrush, the royal toilet set, and the
royal mirror, all of gold set with jewels. The mothers of the brides,
painted like courtesans and hung with jewels, were borne by in
sedan-chairs, in which they sat cross-legged on silken cushions. Then,
after a dramatic pause, their approach heralded by a burst of barbaric
music, came the brides themselves, each reclining in an enormous
scarlet litter borne by fifty coolies. Beside them sat attendants who
sprinkled them with perfumes and cooled them with fans of
peacock-feathers. In accordance with an ancient Javanese custom, the
faces, necks, arms, and breasts of the brides were stained with saffron
to a brilliant yellow; their cheeks were as stiff with enamel as their
garments were with jewels. Immediately behind the palanquins bearing
the brides--one of whom looked to be about thirteen, the other a few
years older--rode the bridegrooms; one, a sullen-looking fellow who, I
was told, already had five wives and plainly showed it, astride a
magnificent gray Arab; the other, who was still a boy, on a showy bay
stallion, both animals being decked with flowers and caparisoned in
trappings of scarlet leather trimmed with silver. The bridegrooms,
naked to the waist, were, like their brides, dyed a vivid yellow; their
sarongs were of cloth-of-gold and they were loaded with jeweled
necklaces, bracelets, and anklets. Royal grooms in scarlet liveries led
their prancing horses and other attendants, walking at their stirrups,
bore over their heads golden _payongs_, the Javanese symbol of
royalty. Following them on foot was a great concourse of dignitaries
and courtiers, clad in costumes of every color and description and
walking under a forest of gorgeous parasols, the colors of which
denoted the rank of those they shaded. The _payongs_ of the Sultan, the
Dutch Resident, and the royal princes are of gold, those of the
princesses of the royal family are yellow, of the great nobles white,
of the ministers and the higher officials of the country, red; of the
lesser dignitaries, dark gray, and so on. This sea of swaying parasols,
the gorgeous costumes of the dignitaries, the fantastic uniforms of the
soldiery, the richly caparisoned horses, the gilded litters, the
burnished weapons, the jewels of the women, the flaunting banners, and
the rainbow-tinted batiks worn by the tens of thousands of native
spectators combined to form a scene bewildering in its variety,
dazzling in its brilliancy and kaleidoscopic in its coloring. Mr.
Ziegfeld never produced so fantastic and colorful a spectacle. It would
have been the envy and the despair of that prince of showmen, the late
Phineas T. Barnum.

       *       *       *       *       *

A dozen miles or so northwest of Djokjakarta, standing in the middle of
a fertile plain which stretches away to the lower slopes of slumbering
Merapi, are the ruins of Boro-Boedor, of all the Hindu temples of Java
the largest and the most magnificent and one of the architectural
marvels of the world. They can be reached from Djokjakarta by motor in
an hour. The road, which skirts the foothills of a volcanic mountain
range, runs through a number of archways roofed with red tiles which in
the rainy season afford convenient refuges from the sudden tropical
showers and in the dry season opportunities to escape from the blinding
glare of the sun. Leaving the main highway at Kalangan, a quaint hamlet
with a picturesque and interesting market, we turned into a side road
and wound for a few miles through cocoanut plantations, then the road
ascended and, rounding the shoulder of a little hill, we saw, through
the trees, a squat, pyramidal mass of reddish stone, broken, irregular
and unimposing. It was Tjandi Boro-Boedor (the name means "shrine of
the many Buddhas") considered by many authorities the most interesting
Buddhist remains in existence. Though in magnitude it cannot compare
with such great Buddhist monuments as those at Ajunta in India, and
Angkor in Cambodia, yet in its beautiful symmetry and its wealth of
carving it is superior to them all.

Strictly speaking, Boro-Boedor is not a temple but a hill, rising about
one hundred and fifty feet above the plain, encased with terraces
constructed of hewn lava-blocks and crowded with sculptures, which, if
placed side by side, would extend for upwards of three miles. The
lowest terrace now above ground forms a square, each side approximately
five hundred feet long. About fifty feet higher there is another
terrace of similar shape. Then follow four other terraces of more
irregular contour, the structure being crowned by a dome or cupola,
fifty feet in diameter, surrounded by sixteen smaller bell-shaped
cupolas, known as _dagobas_. The subjects of the bas-reliefs lining the
lowest terrace are of the most varied description, forming a picture
gallery of landscapes, agricultural and household episodes and
incidents of the chase, mingled with mythological and religious scenes.
It would seem, indeed, as though it had been the architect's intention
to gradually wean the pilgrims from the physical to the spiritual, for
as they began to ascend from stage to stage of the temple-hill they
were insensibly drawn from material, every-day things to the realities
of religion, so that by the time the _dagoba_ at the top was reached
they had passed through a course of religious instruction, as it were,
and were ready, with enlightened eyes, to enter and behold the image of
Buddha, symbolically left imperfect, as beyond the power of human art
to realize or portray. From base to summit the whole hill is really a
great picture-bible of the Buddhist creed.

The building of Boro-Boedor was probably begun in the ninth century,
when King Asoka was distributing the supposed remains of Buddha
throughout all the countries of the East in an endeavor to spread the
faith. A portion of the remains was brought to Boro-Boedor, which had
been the center of Buddhist influence in Java ever since 603, when the
Indian ruler, Guzerat, settled in Middle Java with five thousand of his
followers. In the sixteenth century, when a wave of Mohammedanism swept
the island from end to end, the Buddhist temples being destroyed by
the fanatic followers of the Prophet and the priests slaughtered on
their altars, the Buddhists, in order to save the famous shrine from
desecration and destruction, buried it under many feet of earth. Thus
the great monument remained, hidden and almost forgotten, for three
hundred years, but during the brief period of British rule in Java, Sir
Stamford Raffles ordered its excavation, the work being accomplished in
less than two months. Since then the Dutch have taken further steps to
restore and preserve it, though unfortunately the stone of which it is
built was too soft to withstand the wear and tear of centuries, many of
the bas-reliefs now being almost effaced. It remains, however, one of
the greatest religious monuments of all time.

       *       *       *       *       *

Conditions at Surakarta--usually called Solo for short--are the exact
counterpart of those in Djokjakarta: the same puppet ruler, who is
called Susuhunan instead of Sultan, the same semi-barbaric court life,
the same fantastic costumes, a Dutch resident, a Dutch fort, and a
Dutch garrison. But the kraton of the Susuhunan is far better kept than
that of his fellow ruler at Djokjakarta, and shows more evidences of
Europeanization. The troopers of the royal body-guard are smart,
soldierly-looking fellows in well-cut uniforms of European pattern, to
which a distinctly Eastern touch is lent, however, by their steel
helmets, their brass-embossed leather shields, their scimitars, and
their shoulder-guards of chain mail. The royal stables, which contain
several hundred fine Australian horses and a number of beautiful
Sumbawan ponies, together with a score or more gilt carriages of state,
are as immaculately kept as those of Buckingham Palace. In the palace
garage I was shown a row of powerful Fiats, gleaming with fresh varnish
and polished brass, and beside them, as among equals, a member of the
well-known Ford family of Detroit, proudly bearing on its panels the
ornate arms of the Susuhunan. I felt as though I had encountered an old
friend who had married into royalty.

As though we had not seen enough dancing at Djokjakarta, I found that
they had arranged another performance for us in the kraton at
Surakarta. This time, however, the dancers were girls, most of them
only ten or twelve years old and none of them more than half-way
through their teens. They wore sarongs of the most exquisite
colors--purple, heliotrope, violet, rose, geranium, cerise, lemon,
sky-blue, burnt-orange--and they floated over the marble floor of the
great hall like enormous butterflies. As a special mark of the
Susuhunan's favor, the performance concluded with a spear dance by four
princes of the royal house--blasé, decadent-looking youths, who spend
their waking hours, so the Dutch official who acted as my cicerone told
me, in dancing, opium-smoking, cock-fighting and gambling, virtually
their only companions being the women of the harem. If the Dutch
Government does not actively encourage dissipation and debauchery among
the native princes, neither does it take any steps to discourage it,
the idea being, I imagine, that Holland's administrative problems in
the _Vorstenlanden_ would be greatly simplified were the reigning
families to die out. The princes, who were armed with javelins and
krises, performed for our benefit a Terpsichorean version of one of the
tales of Javanese mythology. The dance was characterized by the utmost
deliberation of movement, the dancers holding certain postures for
several seconds at a time, reminding me, in their rigid
self-consciousness, of the "living pictures" which were so popular in
America twenty years ago.

All of the dancers, as I have already remarked, were of the blood royal
and one, I was told, was in the direct line of succession. Judging from
the vacuity of his expression, the Dutch have no reason to anticipate
any difficulty in maintaining their mastery in Soerakarta when he comes
to the throne. But the Dutch officials take no chances with the
intrigue-loving native princes; they keep them under close surveillance
at all times. It is one of the disadvantages of Christian governments
ruling peoples of alien race and religion that methods of revolt are
not always visible to the naked eye, and even the Dutch Intelligence
Service in the Indies, efficient as it is, has no means of knowing what
is going on in the forbidden quarters of the kratons. In Java, as in
other Moslem lands, more than one bloody uprising has been planned in
the safety and secrecy of the harem. Potential disloyalty is
neutralized, therefore, by a discreet display of force. Throughout the
performance in the palace a Dutch trooper in field gray, bandoliers
stuffed with cartridges festooned across his chest and a carbine tucked
under his arm, paced slowly up and down--an ever-present symbol of
Dutch power--watching the posturing princes with a sardonic eye. That
is Holland's way of showing that, should disaffection show its head,
she is ready to deal with it.



CHAPTER X

THROUGH THE GOLDEN CHERSONESE TO ELEPHANT LAND


Since the world began the peacock's tail which we call the Malay
Peninsula has swung down from Siam to sweep the Sumatran shore. A
peacock's tail not merely in configuration but in its gorgeousness of
color. Green jungle--a bewildering tangle of trees, shrubs, bushes,
plants, and creepers, hung with ferns and mosses, bound together with
rattans and trailing vines--clothes the mountains and the lowlands, its
verdant riot checked only by the sea. Penetrating the deepest recesses
of the jungle a network of little, dusky, winding rivers, green-blue
because the sky that is reflected in them is filtered through the
interlacing branches. Orchids--death-white, saffron, pink, violet,
purple, crimson--festooned from the higher boughs like incandescent
lights of colored glass. The gilded, cone-shaped towers of Buddhist
temples rising above steep roofs tiled in orange, red, or blue, their
eaves hung with hundreds of tiny bells which tinkle musically in every
breeze. The scarlet splotches of spreading fire-trees against
whitewashed walls. Shaven-headed priests in yellow robes offering
flowers and food to stolid-faced images of brass and clay. Long files
of elephants, bearing men and merchandise beneath their hooded
howdahs, rocking and rolling down the dim and deep-worn forest trails.
Snowy, hump-backed bullocks, driven by naked brown men, splashing
through the shallow water on the rice-fields harnessed to ploughs as
primeval in design as those our Aryan ancestors used. Bronze-brown
women, their lithe figures wrapped in gaily colored cottons, busying
themselves about frail, leaf-thatched dwellings perched high on bamboo
stilts above the river-banks. And, arching over all, a sky as
flawlessly blue as the dome of the Turquoise Mosque in Samarland. Such
is the land that the ancients called the Golden Chersonese but which is
labeled in the geographies of today as Lower Siam and the Malay States.

If you will look at the map you will see that Lower Siam extends
half-way down the Malay Peninsula, running across it from coast to
coast and thus forming a barrier between British Burmah and British
Malaya, precisely as German East Africa formerly separated the British
holdings in the northern and southern portions of the Dark Continent.
And, were I to indulge in prophecy, I should say that the day would
come when the fate of German East Africa will overtake Lower Siam.
History has shown, again and again, that the nation, particularly if it
is as small and feeble as Siam, which forms a barrier between two
portions of a powerful and aggressive empire is in anything but an
enviable position.

Politically that portion of the Malay Peninsula which is within the
British sphere is divided into three sections: the colony of the
Straits Settlements, the four Federated Malay States, and the five
non-federated states under British protection. The crown colony of the
Straits Settlements consists of the twenty-seven-mile-long island of
Singapore and the much larger island of Penang; the territory of
Province Wellesley, on the mainland opposite Penang; Malacca, a narrow
coastal strip between Singapore and Penang; and, to the north of it,
the tiny island and insignificant territory known as the Dingdings. By
the acquisition of these small and scattered but strategically
important territories, England obtained control of the Straits of
Malacca, which form the gateway to the China Seas. In 1896, as the
result of a treaty between the British Government and the rajahs of the
native states of Perak, Selangor, Pahang, and Negri Sembilan, these
four states were brought into a confederation under British protection.
Though they are still under the nominal rule of their own rajahs--now
known as sultans--each has a British adviser attached to his court, the
Governor of the Straits Settlements being _ex officio_ the High
Commissioner and administrative head of the confederation. The
non-federated states consist of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, and Trengganu,
the rights of suzerainty, protection, administration, and control of
which were transferred by treaty from Siam to Great Britain in 1909,
and the Sultanate of Johore, which occupies the extreme southern end of
the peninsula, opposite Singapore. In the non-federated, as in the
Federated Malay States, British advisers reside at the courts of the
native sultans.

Starting at Johore, which, some Biblical authorities assert, is
identical with the Land of Ophir, and running through the heart of
British Malaya from south to north, is the Federated Malay States
Railway, which has recently been linked up with the Siamese State
Railways, thus making it possible to travel by rail from Singapore to
Bangkok in about four days. Aside from the heat (in the railway
carriages the mercury occasionally climbs to 120), the insects, the
dust, and the swarms of sweating natives who pile into every
compartment regardless of the class designated on their tickets, the
journey is a comfortable one.

That section of the F. M. S. Railways which traverses the Sultanate of
Johore runs through the greatest tiger country in all Asia. The tiger
is to Johore what the elephant is to Siam and the kangaroo to
Australia--a sort of national trademark. Even the postage stamps bear
an engraving of the striped monarch of the jungle. There is no place in
the world, so far as I am aware, save only a zoo, of course, where one
can get a shot at a tiger so quickly and with such minimum of effort.
In this connection I heard a story at the Singapore Club, the truth of
which is vouched for by those with whom I was having tiffin. Shortly
before the war, it seems, an American business man who had amassed a
fortune in the export business, and who was noted even in down-town New
York as a hustler, was returning from a business trip to China. In the
smoking-room of the home ward bound liner, over the highballs and
cigars, he listened to the stories of an Englishman who had been
hunting big game in Asia. The conversation eventually turned to tigers.

"Johore's the place for tigers," the Englishman remarked, pouring
himself another peg of whiskey. "The beggars are as thick as foxes in
Leicestershire. You're jolly well certain of bagging one the first day
out."

"I've always wanted a tiger skin for my smoking room," commented the
American. "Could buy one at a fur shop on the Avenue, of course, but I
want one that I shot myself. Think I'll run over to Johore while we're
at Singapore and get one."

"But I say, my dear fellow," expostulated the Briton, "you really can't
do that, you know. We only stop at Singapore for half a day--get in at
daybreak and leave again at noon. You can't get a tiger in that time."

"There's no such word as 'can't' in my business. Business methods will
bring results in tiger shooting as quickly as in anything else,"
retorted the American, rising and heading for the wireless room.

A few hours later the American's representative in Singapore, a
youngster who had himself been educated in the school of American
business, received a wireless message from the head of his house. It
read: "Arriving Singapore daybreak Thursday. Leaving noon same day.
Wish to shoot tiger in Johore. Make arrangements."

Now the representative in Singapore knew perfectly well that his
promotion, if not his job, depended upon his employer getting a tiger.
And, as the steamer was due in four days, there was no time to spare.
From the director of the Singapore zoo he purchased for considerably
above the market price, a decrepit and somewhat moth-eaten tiger of
advanced years, which he had transported across the straits to Johore,
whence it was conveyed by bullock cart to a spot in the edge of the
jungle, a dozen miles outside the town, where it was turned loose in an
enclosure of wire and bamboo hastily constructed for the purpose.

When the steamer bearing the American magnate dropped anchor in the
harbor, the local representative went aboard with the quarantine
officer. Ten minutes later, thanks to arrangements made in advance, a
launch was bearing him and his chief to the shore, where a motor car
was waiting. It is barely a dozen miles from the wharf at Singapore to
Woodlands, the ferry station opposite Johore, and the driver had orders
to shatter the speed laws. A waiting launch streaked across the two
miles of channel which separates the island from the mainland and drew
up alongside the quay at Johore, where another car was waiting. The
roads are excellent in the sultanate, and thirty minutes of fast
driving brought the two Americans to the zareba, within which the
tiger, guarded by natives, was peacefully breakfasting on a goat.

"He's a real man-eater," whispered the agent, handing his employer a
loaded express rifle. "We only located him yesterday. Lured him with a
goat, you know ... the smell of blood attracts 'em. You'd better put a
bullet in him before he sees us. One just behind the shoulder will do
the business."

The magnate, trembling with excitement for the first time in his busy
life, drew bead on the tawny stripe behind the tiger's shoulder. There
was a shattering roar, the great beast pawed convulsively at the air,
then rolled on its side and lay motionless.

"Good work," the local man commented approvingly. "It's only an hour
and forty minutes since we left the boat a record for tiger shooting, I
fancy. We'll be back at Raffles' for breakfast by nine o'clock and
after that I'll show you round the city. Don't worry about the skin,
sir. The natives'll tend to the skinning and I'll have it on board
before you sail."

Now--so the story goes--after dinner in the magnate's New York home he
takes his guests into the smoking room for cigars and coffee. Spread
before the fireplace is a great orange and black pelt, a trifle faded
it is true, but indubitably the skin of a tiger.

"Yes," the host complacently in reply to his guests' admiring comments,
"a real man-eater. Shot him myself in the Johore jungle. Easy enough to
get a tiger if you use American business methods."

       *       *       *       *       *

When, upon reaching Singapore, the great seaport at the tip of the
Malay Peninsula which is the gateway to the Malay States and to Siam, I
learned that small but not uncomfortable steamers sail weekly for
Bangkok--a four-day voyage if the monsoon is blowing in the right
direction--or that, by crossing the narrow straits on the ferry to
Johore, we could reach the capital of Siam in about the same time by
the Federated Malay States and Siamese railways, there seemed no valid
excuse for keeping the _Negros_ any longer. So, bidding good-by to
Captain Galvez and his officers, I gave orders that the little vessel,
on which we had cruised upward of six thousand miles, amid some of the
least-known islands in the world, should return to Manila. To leave her
was like breaking home ties, and I confess that when she steamed slowly
out of the harbor, homeward bound, with her Filipino crew lining the
rail and Captain Galvez waving to us from the bridge and the flag at
her taffrail dipping in farewell, I suddenly felt lonely and deserted.

When the people whom I met in Singapore learned that I was
contemplating visiting Siam they attempted to dissuade me. I was warned
that the train service up the peninsula was uncertain, that the
steamers up the gulf were uncomfortable, that the hotel in Bangkok was
impossible, the dirt incredible, the heat unendurable, the climate
unhealthy. And when, desiring to learn whether these indictments were
true, I attempted to obtain reliable information about the country to
which I was going, I found that none was to be had. The latest volume
on Siam which I could find in Singapore bookshops bore an 1886 imprint.
The managers of the two leading hotels in Singapore knew, or professed
to know, nothing about hotel accommodations in Bangkok. Though the
administration of the Federal Malay States Railways generously offered
me the use of a private car over their system, I could obtain no
reliable information as to what connections I could make at the Siamese
frontier or when I would reach Bangkok. And the only guide book on Siam
which I could discover--quite an excellent little volume, by the
way--was published by the Imperial Japanese Railways!

The Siamese are by no means opposed to foreigners visiting their
country, and they would welcome the development of its resources by
foreign capital, but, owing to the insularity, indifference, timidity
and pride which are inherent in the Siamese character, they have taken
no steps to bring their country to the attention of the outside world.
When one notes the energetic advertising campaigns which are being
conducted by the governments of Japan, China, Java, and even
Indo-China, where the visitor is confronted at every turn by
advertisements urging him to "Spend the Week-End at Kamakura," "Go to
the Great Wall," "Don't Miss Boroboedor and Djokjakarta," "Take
Advantage of the Special Fares to the Ruins of Angkor," you wonder why
Siam, which has so much that is novel and picturesque to offer, makes
no effort to swell its revenues by encouraging the tourist industry.
That the royal prince who is the Minister of Communications recently
made a tour of the United States for the purpose of studying American
railway methods suggests, however, that the Land of the White Elephant
is planning to get its share of tourist travel in the future.

I might as well admit frankly that my first impressions of the Siamese
capital were extremely disappointing. I didn't expect to be conveyed to
my hotel atop a white elephant, through streets lined with salaaming
natives, but neither did I expect to make a wild dash through
thoroughfares as crowded with traffic as Fifth Avenue, in a vehicle
which unmistakably owed its paternity to Mr. Henry Ford, or to be
bruskly halted at busy street crossings by the upraised hand of a
helmeted and white-gloved traffic policeman. Nor, upon my arrival at
the hotel--there is only one in Bangkok deserving of the name--did I
expect to find on the breakfast table a breakfast food manufactured in
Battle Creek, or beside my bed an electric fan made in New Britain,
Connecticut, or behind the desk a very wide awake American youth--the
son, I learned later, of one of the American advisers to the Siamese
Government--who eagerly inquired whether I had brought any American
newspapers with me and whether I thought the pennant would be won by
the Giants or the White Sox.

Bangkok, which, with its suburbs, has a population about equal to that
of Boston, is built on the banks of the country's greatest river, the
Menam, some forty miles from its mouth. Though the city has a number of
fine thoroughfares, straight as though laid out with a pencil and
ruler, between them lie labyrinths of dim and evil-smelling bazaars,
their narrow, winding, cobble-paved streets lined on either side by
stalls in which are displayed for sale all the products of the country.
Because of the intense heat these stalls are open in front, so that the
occupants work and eat and sleep in full view of everyone who passes.
The barber shaves the heads of his customers while they squat in the
edge of the roadway. In the licensed gambling houses groups of excited
men and women crowd about gaming tables presided over by greasy,
half-naked Chinese croupiers, and, when they have squandered their
trifling earnings, hasten to the nearest pawnshop with any garment or
article of furniture that is not absolutely indispensable to their
existence in order to obtain a few more coins to hazard and eventually
to lose. As a result of this passion for gambling, the city is full of
pawnshops, some streets containing scarcely anything else. At the far
end of one of the bazaar streets is the largest idol manufactory in
Siam, for the temples whose graceful, tapering towers dot the landscape
are filled with images of Buddha, in all sizes and of all materials
from wood to gold set with jewels, most of them donated by the devout
in order to "make merit" for themselves. As all Buddhists wish to
accumulate as much merit for themselves as possible, in order to be
assured at death of a through ticket to Nirvana, the idol-making
industry is in a flourishing condition.

Pushing their way through the crowded thoroughfares, their raucous
cries rising above the clamor, go the ice cream and curry vendors,
carrying the paraphernalia of their trade slung from bamboo poles
borne upon the shoulders--perambulating cafeterias and soda fountains,
as it were. For a satang--a coin equivalent to about a quarter of a
cent--you can purchase a bowl of rice, while the expenditure of another
satang will provide you with an assortment of savories or relishes,
made from elderly meat, decayed fish, decomposed prawns and other
toothsome ingredients, which you heap upon the rice, together with a
greenish-yellow curry sauce which makes the concoction look as though
it were suffering from a severe attack of jaundice. These relishes are
cooked, or rather re-warmed, by the simple process of suspending them
in a sort of sieve in a pot of boiling water, the same pot and the same
water serving for all customers alike. By this arrangement, the man who
takes his snack at the close of the day has the advantage of receiving
not merely what he orders, but also flavors and even floating remnants
from the dishes ordered by all those who have preceded him. The ice
cream vendors drive a roaring trade in a concoction the basis of which
is finely shaven ice, looking like half-frozen and very dirty slush,
sweetened with sugar and flavored, according to the purchaser's taste
from an array of metal-topped bottles such as barbers use for bay rum
and hair oil. But, being cold and sweet, "Isa-kee," as the Chinese
vendors call it, is as popular among the lower classes in Siam as ice
cream cones are in the United States.

Though the streets of Bangkok are crowded with vehicles of every
description--ramshackle and disreputable rickshaws, the worst to be
found in all the East, drawn by sweating coolies; the boxes of wood and
glass on wheels, called gharries, drawn by decrepit ponies whose
harness is pieced out with rope; creaking bullock carts driven by
Tamils from Southern India; bicycles, ridden by natives whose European
hats and coats are in striking contrast to their bare legs and
brilliant _panungs_; clanging street cars, as crowded with humanity as
those on Broadway; motors of every size and make, from jitneys to
Rolls-Royces--the bulk of the city's traffic is borne on the great
river and the countless canals which empty into it. Bangkok has been
called, and not ineptly, the Venice of the East, for it is covered with
a net-work of canals, or _klongs_, which spread out in every direction.
In sampans, houseboats and other craft, moored to the banks of these
canals, dwells the major portion of the city's inhabitants. The city's
water population is complete in itself and perfectly independent of its
neighbors on land, for it has its own shops and dwellings, its own
markets and restaurants, its own theaters, and gambling establishments,
its own priests and police. When you go to Bangkok, I strongly advise
you to hire a sampan and visit the floating portion of the city after
nightfall. The houseboats are open at both ends and you will see many
things that the guidebooks fail to mention.

The Oriental Hotel, the banks, the shipping offices, the business
houses, and all the legations save only the American, are clustered on
or near the river in a low-lying and unattractive quarter of the town.
But follow the long, dingy, squalid highway known as the New Road, a
thoroughfare lined with third-rate Chinese shops and thronged with
rickshaws, carriages, bicycles, motors, street-cars, and Asiatics of
every religion and complexion, and you will come at length into a
portion of the city as different from the mercantile district as
Riverside Drive is from the Bowery. Here you will find broad
boulevards, shaded by rows of splendid tamarinds, lined by charming
villas which peep coyly from the blazing gardens which surround them,
and broken at frequent intervals by little parks in which are fountains
and statuary. There is a great common, green with grass during the
rainy season, known as the Premane Ground, where military reviews are
held and where the royal cremations take place; a favorite spot in the
spring for the kite-flying contests in which Siamese of all classes and
all ages participate. Fronting on the Premane Ground are the not
unimposing stuccoed buildings which house the Ministries of Justice,
Agriculture and War. Not far away is the new Throne Hall, a huge,
ornate structure of white marble, in the modern Italian style, its
great dome faintly reminiscent of the Capitol at Washington. From the
center of the spacious plaza rises a rather fine equestrian statue of
the late king, Chulalungkorn, and, close by, the really charming Dusit
Gardens, beautifully laid out with walks and lagoons and kiosks and a
great variety of tropical flowers and shrubs and trees. But, most
characteristic and colorful of all, a touch of that Oriental splendor
which one looks for in Siam, is the congeries of palaces, offices,
stables, courtyards, gardens, shrines and temples, the whole encircled
by a crenelated, white-washed wall, which is the official residence of
King Rama VI.

There are said to be nearly four hundred Buddhist temples within a
two-mile radius of the royal palace, of which by far the most
interesting and magnificent is the famous Wat Phra Keo, or Temple of
the Emerald Buddha, which is really a royal chapel, being within the
outer circumference of the palace walls. I doubt if any space of
similar size in all the world contains such a bewildering display of
barbaric magnificence, such a riot of form and color, as the walled
enclosure in which this remarkable edifice and its attendant structures
stand. From the center of the marble-paved courtyard rises an enormous,
cone-shaped _prachadee_, round at the bottom but tapering to a long and
slender spire said to be covered with plates of gold. It certainly
looks like a solid mass of that precious metal, and at daybreak and
nightfall, when it catches the level rays of the sun, it can be seen
from afar, shining and glittering above the gorgeously colored roofs of
the temples and the many-tinted lesser spires which surround it. Close
by the gilded _prachadee_ is the _bote_ or chapel used by the king,
surmounted by a similar spire which is overlaid with sapphire-colored
plates of glass and porcelain, while a little distance away stands the
temple itself, its gilded walls set with mosaics of emerald green.
Flanking the gateways of the temple courtyard are gigantic, grotesque
figures, fully thirty feet in height, carved and colored like the
creatures of a nightmare. They represent demons and are supposed to
guard the approaches to the temple, being so placed that they glare
down ferociously on all who enter the sacred enclosure. Other figures
in marble, bronze, wood and stone, representing dolphins, storks, cows,
camels, monkeys and the various fabulous monsters of the Hindu
mythology, are scattered in apparent confusion about the temple
courtyard, producing an effect as bizarre as it is bewildering. It is
so unreal, so incredibly fantastic, that I felt that I was looking at
the papier-maché setting for a motion picture spectacle, such as
Griffith used to produce, and that the director and the cameraman would
appear shortly and end the illusion.

The interior of the main temple is extremely lofty. The walls and
rafters are of teak and the floor is covered with a matting made of
silver wire. At the far end of this imposing room an enormous,
pyramidal shrine of gold rises almost to the roof, its dazzling
brilliancy somewhat subdued by the semi-obscurity of the interior. Wat
Phra Keo is unique amongst Siamese temples in containing objects of
real value. Everything is genuine and costly, as becomes the gifts of a
king, though it must be admitted that certain of the royal offerings
which are ranged at the foot of the shrine, such as jeweled French
clocks, figurines of Sèvres and Dresden porcelain, and a large marble
statue of a Roman goddess, are of doubtful appropriateness. Ranged on a
table at the back of the altar are seven images of Buddha in pure gold,
the right hand of each pointed upward. On the thumb and fingers of each
hand glitters a king's ransom in rings of sapphires, emeralds and
rubies, while from the center of each palm flashes a rosette of
diamonds. High up toward the rafters, at the apex of the golden
pyramid, in a sort of recess toward which the fingers of the seven
images are pointing, sits an image of Buddha, perhaps twelve inches
high, said to be cut from one enormous emerald--whence the temple's
name. As a matter of fact, it is made of jade and is of incalculable
value. Set in its forehead are three eyes, each an enormous diamond.
The history of this extraordinary idol is lost in the mists of
antiquity. Tradition has it that it fell from heaven into one of the
Laos states, being captured by the Siamese in battle. Since then it has
been repeatedly lost, captured or stolen. Its story, like that of so
many famous jewels, might fittingly be written in blood.

It is the custom in Siam for every man to spend a portion of his life
in a monastery. This rule applies to everyone from the poorest peasant
upward, the king and all the male members of the royal family having at
some period worn the yellow robe of a monk. This curious custom is, no
doubt, an imitation of the so-called Act of Renunciation of Gautama,
the future Buddha, who, at the age of twenty-nine, moved by the
sufferings of humanity, renounced his rights to his father's throne
and, abandoning his wife and child, devoted the remainder of his life
to religion. Just as every American boy is expected to go to school, so
every Siamese youth is expected to enter a monastery, the stern
discipline enforced during this period accounting, I have no doubt, for
the docility which is so noticeable a part of the Siamese character.
While I was in Siam I was the guest one day of the officers' mess of
the crack regiment of the household cavalry. Though my hosts, with few
exceptions, spoke fluent English, though several of them had been
educated at English schools and universities, and though the
conversation over the mess table was of polo and racing and big game
shooting and bridge, I learned to my astonishment that every one of
these debonair young officers, with their worldly manners and their
beautifully cut uniforms, had at one time shaved his head, donned the
yellow robe of a monk, and begged his food from door to door. In view
of the universality of the custom, it is small wonder that Siam has ten
thousand monasteries and that 300,000 of its inhabitants wear the
ocher-colored robe.

The periods of time which men devote to monastic life are not uniform.
Some spend between a month and a year, others their entire lives. Some
enter the monastery in their youth, others in middle age or when old
men. But they all shave their heads and don the coarse yellow robe and
lead practically the same existence. Each morning, carrying their
"begging bowls," they beg their food at the doors of laymen. They come
quietly and stand at the door, and, accepting the offerings, as quietly
depart without expressing thanks for what is given them, the idea being
that they are not begging for their own benefit but in order to evoke a
spirit of charity in the giver. During the dry season it is the custom
of the monks to make long pilgrimages for the purpose of visiting other
monasteries. Each of these itinerant monks is accompanied by a youth
known as a _yom_, who carries the simple requisites of the journey, the
chief of which is a large umbrella. Traveling in the interior one
frequently meets long files of these yellow-clad pilgrims, with their
attendant _yoms_, moving in silence along a forest trail. When night
comes the _yom_ opens the large umbrella which he carries, thrusts its
long handle into the ground, and over it drapes a square of cloth, thus
extemporizing a sort of tent under which his master sleeps.

       *       *       *       *       *

To visit Siam without seeing the royal white elephants would be like
visiting Niagara without seeing the falls. The elephant stables stand
in the heart of the palace enclosure, sandwiched in between the palace
gardens and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Each animal--there were
only three in the royal stables at the time of my visit--has a separate
building to itself, within which it stands on a sort of dais, one hind
leg lashed with a rope to a tall, stout post painted scarlet and
surmounted by a gilded crown. Much as I dislike to shatter cherished
illusions, were I to assert that the elephants I saw in the royal
stables were white, I should be convicting myself of color-blindness.
The best that can be said of two of them, is that they were a dirty
gray, about the color of a much-used wash-rag. The third, had it been a
horse, might have been described as a roan, the whole body being a pale
reddish-brown, with a sprinkling of real white hairs on the back. All
three animals were, in reality, albinos, having the light-colored iris
of the eye, the white toe-nails, and the pink skin at the end of the
trunk which distinguish the albino everywhere. As a matter of fact,
"white elephant" is not a correct translation of the Siamese _chang
penak_, which really means "albino elephant." But most foreigners will
continue, I have no doubt, to use the term made famous by Barnum.

       *       *       *       *       *

Though the albino elephants are never used nowadays save on occasions
of great ceremony, being regarded by the educated Siamese with the same
amused tolerance with which an Englishman regards the great gilt coach,
drawn by eight cream-colored horses, in which the king goes to open
Parliament, the ordinary elephant is of enormous economic value to the
country, being a combination, as it were, of a motor truck, a portable
derrick, and a freight car. Almost anywhere in the back country, where
the only roads are trails through the jungle, one can see "elephants
a-pilin' teak in the sludgy, squdgy creeks" or being loaded with
merchandise for transport into the far interior. Indeed, the traveler
who wishes to take a short cut from Siam to Burmah can hire an
elephant for the journey almost as easily as he could hire a motor car
in America. It is a novel means of travel, but a little of it goes a
long way. A good working elephant is a valuable piece of property,
being worth in the neighborhood of $2,500., but the prospective
purchaser should remember that the possession of one of these giant
pachyderms entails considerable overhead, or rather, internal expense.
De Wolf Hopper was telling only the literal truth when he sang in
_Wang_ of the tribulations of the peasant who had an elephant on his
hands:

    "The elephant ate all night,
    The elephant ate all day;
    Do what he would to furnish food,
    The cry was 'Still more hay!'"

[Illustration: An elephant hunt in Siam

A large herd of wild elephants being driven across a
river

The elephants, herded by domesticated animals, are
driven into the corral]

Although, as I have already remarked, sophisticated Siamese regard the
white elephant with amusement tinged with contempt, there is no doubt
that among the bulk of the people the animals are considered as sacred
and are treated with great veneration. Indeed, when Siam was forced to
cede certain of her eastern provinces to France, the treaty contained a
clause providing that any so-called white elephants which might be
captured in the ceded territory should be considered the property of
the King of Siam and delivered to him forthwith. A number of years ago,
a traveling show known as Wilson's English Circus, gave a number of
exhibitions in Bangkok, which were attended by the King, the nobility,
and members of the European colony. When the proprietor saw that the
popular interest in his exhibition was beginning to wear off, he
distributed broadcast handbills announcing that at the next performance
"a genuine white elephant" would take part in the exhibition. Public
curiosity was reawakened and that evening the circus was crowded. After
the usual bareback riding, in which the Siamese were treated to the
sight of European women in pink tights and tulle skirts pirouetting on
the backs of cantering Percherons, two clowns burst into the ring.

"Hey, you!" bawled one of them, "Have you seen the white elephant?"

"Sure, I have," was the response. "The King has a stable full of them."

"Oh, no, he ain't," shouted the first fun-maker. "The King ain't got
any _white_ elephants. His are all gray ones. I'll show you the only
genuine white elephant in the world," whereupon a small elephant, as
snowy as repeated coats of whitewash could make it, ambled into the
ring. Though a suppressed titter ran through the more sophisticated
portion of the audience when it was observed that the ridiculous
looking animal left white marks on everything it touched, it was quite
apparent that the bulk of the spectators resented fun being made of an
animal which they had been taught to consider sacred, certain of the
more devout asserting that the sacrilegious performance would call down
the wrath of Buddha. Their prophecies proved to be well founded, for
the "white" elephant died at sea a few days later--as the result, it
was hinted, of poison put in its food by the Siamese priests and Wilson
himself, who had been suffering from dysentery, died the day after he
landed at Singapore.

Being a young nation, so far as the adoption of Western methods are
concerned, the Siamese are extremely sensitive, being almost
pathetically eager to win the good opinion of the Occidental world.
Thus, upon Siam's entry into the Great War (perhaps you were not aware
that the little kingdom equipped and sent to France an expeditionary
force composed of aviation, ambulance and motor units, thus being the
only independent Asiatic nation whose troops served on European soil)
the king abolished the white elephant upon a red ground which from time
immemorial had been the national standard, substituting for it a
nondescript affair of colored stripes which at first glance appears to
be a compromise between the flags of China and Montenegro. In doing
this, I think that the king made a mistake, for he deprived his country
of a distinctive emblem which was associated with Siam the whole world
over.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fortune was kind to us in the Siamese capital, for we reached that city
on the eve of a series of royal cremations, the attendant ceremonies
providing enough action and color to satisfy even Hawkinson. It should
be explained that instead of cremating a body immediately, as might be
expected in so torrid a climate, the remains are placed in a large jar
and kept in a temple or in the house of the deceased for a period
determined by the rank of the dead man--the King for twelve months and
so downward. If the relatives are too poor to afford the expenses
incident to cremation, they bury the body, but exhume it for burning
when their financial condition permits. On the day of the cremation,
which is usually fixed by an astrologer, the remains are transferred
from the jar to a wooden coffin and carried with much pomp to the
_meru_, or place of cremation. When the deceased is of royal or noble
blood the _meru_ is frequently a magnificent structure, sometimes
costing many thousands of dollars, built for the purpose and torn down
when that purpose has been served. The coffin is placed on the pyre,
which is lighted by relatives, the occasion being considered one for
rejoicing rather than mourning. The royal _meru_, which had been
erected in a small park in the outskirts of the capital at a cost of
one hundred thousand ticals, was a really beautiful structure of true
Siamese architecture, elaborately decorated in scarlet and gold and
draped with hangings of the same colors. Within the _meru_ were three
pyres, concealed by gilt screens, on which were set the coffins
containing the bodies. As there were a number of bodies to be burned,
the ceremonies lasted upward of a week, King Rama going in state each
afternoon to the _meru_, where he took his place on a throne in an
elaborately decorated pavilion. After brief ceremonies by a large body
of yellow-robed Buddhist priests, the King set fire to the end of a
long fuse, which in turn ignited the three pyres simultaneously, the
ascending clouds of smoke being greeted by the roll of drums and the
crash of saluting cannon.

When I first suggested to friends in Bangkok that I wished to obtain
permission for Hawkinson to take pictures of the cremation, they told
me that it was out of the question.

"But why?" I demanded. "Motion-pictures were taken of the funerals of
the Pope, and of King Edward, and of President Roosevelt, without
anyone dreaming of protesting, so why should there be any objection
here? Nothing in the least disrespectful is intended."

"But this is Siam," my friends replied pessimistically, "and such
things simply aren't done here. No one has ever taken a motion-picture
of a royal cremation."

"It's never too late to begin," I told them.

So I took a rickshaw out to the American Legation and enlisted the
cooperation of our charge d'affaires, Mr. Donald Rodgers, the very
efficient young diplomatist who was representing American interests in
Siam pending the arrival of the new minister.

"I'll do my best to arrange it," Rodgers assured me, "but I'm not
sanguine about meeting with success. The Siamese are fine people,
kindly, hospitable and all that, but they're as conservative as
Bostonians."

Two days later, however, he sent me a letter, signed by the minister of
the royal household, authorizing Hawkinson to take motion-pictures in
the grounds of the _meru_ on the following day prior to the cremation.
I didn't quite like the sound of the last four words, "prior to the
cremation," but I felt that it was not an occasion for quibbling. So
the next day, at the appointed hour--which was two hours ahead of the
time set for the cremation--Hawkinson set out for the _meru_,
accompanied by his interpreter. He did not return until dinner-time.

"What happened?" I inquired, by way of greeting.

"What didn't happen?" he retorted. "They turned me out just as the
cremation was commencing. When we reached the _meru_ I was met by an
official wearing bright-blue pants, who told me that he had been sent
to assist me in taking the pictures. Well, I got a few shots of the
_meru_ itself, and of the royal pavilion, and of some of the priests
and soldiers, but there wasn't much doing because there wasn't any
action. So I sat down to wait for things to happen. Pretty soon the
troops began to arrive--lancers and a battery of artillery and a
company of the royal body-guard in red coats--and after them came the
guests: officials and dignitaries in all sorts of gorgeous uniforms
covered with decorations. A few minutes later I heard someone say, 'The
King is coming,' so I got the camera ready to begin cranking. Just then
up comes my Siamese chaperone. 'You will have to leave now,' says he.
'Leave? What for?' said I. 'Because the cremation is about to begin,'
he tells me. 'But that's what I've come to take pictures of,' I told
him. 'What did you think that I attended this party for?' 'Oh, no,'
says he, very polite; 'your permission says that you can take pictures
_prior to the cremation_.' So they showed me the gate."

"Then you didn't get any pictures?" I queried, deep disappointment in
my tone.

"Sure, I got the pictures," was the answer. "Some of them, at any rate.
That's what I went there for, wasn't it?"

"But how did you work it?" I demanded.

"Easy," he replied, lighting a cigarette. "I told the driver to back
his car up against the iron fence which encircles the _meru_; then I
set up the camera in the tonneau, so that it was above the heads of the
crowd, screwed on the six-inch lens which I use for long-distance
shots, and took the pictures."

[Illustration: King Sisowath of Cambodia

Though the octogenarian King Sisowath maintains a gorgeous court, he is
permitted only a shadow of power]

[Illustration: Rama VI, King of Siam

He is in most respects the antithesis of the popular conception of an
Oriental monarch]

       *       *       *       *       *

The present ruler of Siam, King Rama VI, is in most respects the
antithesis of the popular conception of an Oriental monarch. Though
polygamy has been practised among the upper classes in Siam from time
beyond reckoning, he has neither wife nor concubines. Instead of riding
atop a white elephant, in a gilded howdah, or being borne in a
palanquin, as is always the custom of Oriental rulers in fiction, he
shatters the speed laws in a big red Mercedes. For the flaming silks
and flashing jewels which the movies have educated the American public
to believe are habitually worn by Eastern potentates, King Rama
substitutes the uniform of a Siamese general, or, for evening
functions at the palace, the dress coat and knee-breeches of European
courts. He was educated at Oxford and Cambridge and later graduated
from the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, being commissioned an
honorary colonel in the British Army. He is the founder and chief of an
organization patterned after the Boy Scouts and known as the Wild
Tigers, which has hundreds of branches and carries on its rolls the
name of nearly every youth in the kingdom. Each year the organization
holds in Bangkok a grand rally, when thousands of youngsters, together
with many adults from all walks of life, for membership in the corps is
not confined to boys, are reviewed by the sovereign, who appears in the
gorgeous and original uniform, designed by himself, of
commander-in-chief of the Wild Tigers.

In one respect, however, King Rama lives up to the popular conception
of an Oriental ruler: like his father before him, he is generous to the
point of prodigality. This trait was illustrated not long ago, when he
sent eight thousand pounds to the widow of Mr. Westengaard, the
American who was for many years general adviser to the Government of
Siam, accompanied by a message that it was to be used for the education
of her son. This recalls a characteristic little anecdote of the
present ruler's father, the late King Chulalongkorn. The early youth of
the late king and his brothers was spent under the tutelage of an
English governess, who was affectionately addressed by the younger
members of the royal family as "Mem." Upon her return to England she
wrote a book entitled _An Englishwoman at the Siamese Court_, in which
she depicted her employer, King Mongkut, the father of Chulalongkorn,
in a none too favorable light. Some years later, upon the occasion of
King Chulalongkorn's visit to England, his former governess, now become
an old woman, called upon him.

"Mem," he said, in a course of conversation, "how could you write such
unkind things about my father? He was always very good to you."

"That is true, Majesty," the former governess admitted in some
confusion, "but the publishers wouldn't take the book unless I made it
sensational. And I had to do it because I was in financial
difficulties."

When she had departed the King turned to one of his equerries. "Send
the poor old lady a hundred pounds," he directed. "She meant no harm
and she needs the money."

The chief hobby of the present ruler is, curiously enough, amateur
dramatics, of which his orthodox and conservative ministers do not
wholly approve. In addition to having translated into Siamese a number
of Shakesperian plays, he is the author of several original dramas,
which have been produced at the palace under his personal direction and
in several of which he has himself played the leading parts. As a
result of this predilection for dramatics, he has accumulated an
extensive theatrical wardrobe, to which he is constantly adding. When I
was in Bangkok I had some clothes made by the English tailor who
supplies the court--an excellent tailor, but expensive.

"You'll excuse my taking the liberty, I hope, sir," he said during the
course of a fitting, "but, being as you are an American, perhaps you
could assist me with some information. I've received a very pressing
order for a costume such as is worn by the cowboys in your country,
sir, but, though I've found some pictures in the English illustrated
weeklies, I don't rightly know how to make it."

"A cowboy's costume?" I exclaimed. "In Siam? Who in the name of Heaven
wants it?"

"It's for his Majesty," was the surprising answer. "He's written a play
in which he takes the part of an American cowboy and he's very
particular, sir, that the costume should be quite correct. Seeing as
you come from that country, I thought I'd make so bold, sir, as to ask
if you could give me some suggestions."

It was quite apparent that he believed that when I was at home I
customarily went about in chaps, a flannel shirt and a sombrero, and,
knowing the English mind, I realized that nothing was to be gained by
attempting to disillusionize him.

"Let's see what you've made," I suggested, whereupon he produced an
outfit which appeared to be a compromise between the costume of an
Italian bandit, the uniform of an Australian soldier, and the regalia
of a Spanish bull-fighter. Suppressing my inclination to give way to
laughter, I sketched for the grateful tailor the sort of garments to
which cowpunchers--cowpunchers of the screen, at least--are addicted.
If he followed my directions the King of Siam wore a costume which
would make William S. Hart green with envy.

King Rama's literary efforts have not been confined to playwriting,
however, for his book on the wars of the Polish Succession is one of
the standard authorities on the subject. If you go to Siam expecting to
see an Oriental potentate such as you have read about in novels, His
Majesty, Rama VI, is bound to prove very disappointing.

[Illustration: Colorful ceremonies of old Siam

Once each year the King visits the various temples in
and near Bangkok, travelling in the royal barge, a gorgeously decorated
affair rowed by threescore oarsmen

The rice-planting ceremony. The Minister of Agriculture
ploughs a few furrows in a field outside Bangkok, being fallowed by
four young women of the court who scatter rice grains on the freshly
opened soil]

But, though the monarch and his court are as up-to-the-minute as the
Twentieth Century Limited, many of the spectacular and colorful
ceremonies of old Siam are still celebrated with all their ancient pomp
and magnificence. For example, each year, at the close of the rainy
season, the King devotes about a fortnight to visiting the various
temples in and near Bangkok. On these occasions he goes in the royal
barge, a gorgeously decorated affair, 150 feet in length, looking not
unlike an enormous Venetian gondola, rowed by three-score oarsmen in
scarlet-and-gold liveries. The King, surrounded by a glittering group
of court officials, sits on a throne at the stern, while attendants
hold over his head golden umbrellas. From the landing place to the
temple he is borne in a sedan chair between rows of prostrate natives
who bow their foreheads to the earth in adoration of this short, stout,
olive-skinned, good-humored looking young man whom nearly ten millions
of people implicitly believe to be the earthly representative of
Buddha.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another picturesque observance, the Rice-Planting Ceremony, takes place
early in May, when the Minister of Agriculture, as the deputy of the
King, leads a long procession of officials and priests to a field in
the outskirts of the capital, where a pair of white bullocks, yoked to
a gilded plough, are waiting. Surrounded by a throng of functionaries
glittering like Christmas trees, the Minister ploughs a few furrows in
the field, being followed by four young women of the court who scatter
rice grains on the freshly turned soil. Until quite recent years, the
officials taking part in this procession claimed the privilege of
appropriating any articles which caught their fancy in the shops along
the route. But this quaint practise is no longer followed. It was not
popular with the merchants. The Siamese, like all Orientals, place much
reliance on omens, the position of the lower hem of the _panung_ worn
by the Minister of Agriculture on this occasion indicating, it is
confidently believed, the sort of weather to be expected during the
ensuing year. If the edge of the _panung_ comes down to the ankles a
dry season is anticipated, even a drought, perhaps. If, on the
contrary, the garment is pulled up to the knees--a raining-in-London
effect, as it were,--it is freely predicted that the country will
suffer from floods. But if the folds of the silk reach to a point
midway between knee and ankle, then the farmers look forward to a
moderate rainfall and a prosperous season. It is as though the United
States Weather Bureau were to base its forecasts on the height at which
the Secretary of Agriculture wore his trousers.

The _panung_--a strip of silk or cotton about three yards long is the
national garment of Siam and among the poorer classes constitutes the
only article of clothing. It is admirably adapted to the climate, being
easy to wash and easy to put on: all that is necessary is to wind it
about the waist, pass the ends between the legs, and tuck them into the
girdle, thus producing the effect of a pair of knickerbockers. As both
sexes wear the _panung_, and likewise wear their hair cut short, it is
somewhat difficult to distinguish between men and women. Siamese women
keep their hair about four or five inches long and brush it straight
back, like American college students, without using any comb or other
ornament, thus giving them a peculiarly boyish appearance. In
explanation of this fashion of wearing the hair there is an interesting
tradition. Once upon a time, it seems, a Siamese walled city was
besieged by Cambodians while the men of the city were fighting
elsewhere and only women and children remained behind. A successful
defense was out of the question. In this emergency, a woman of militant
character--the Sylvia Pankhurst of her time--proposed to her terrified
sisters that they should cut their hair short and appear upon the walls
in men's clothing on the chance of frightening away the Cambodians. The
ruse succeeded, for, while the invaders were hesitating whether to
carry the city by storm, the Siamese warriors returned and put the
enemy to flight. The Siamese prince who told me the story, an officer
who had spent much of his life in Europe, remarked that he understood
that American women were also cutting off their hair.

"True enough," I admitted. "In the younger set bobbed hair is all the
vogue. But they don't cut off their hair, as your women did, to
frighten away the men."

       *       *       *       *       *

If you will take down the family atlas and turn to the map of Southern
Asia you will see that Siam, with an area about equivalent to that of
Spain, occupies the uncomfortable and precarious position of a fat
walnut clinched firmly between the jaws of a nut-cracker, the jaws
being formed by British Burmah and French Indo-China. And for the past
thirty years those jaws have been slowly but remorselessly closing.
Until 1893 the eastern frontier of Siam was separated from the China
Sea by the narrow strip of Annam, at one point barely thirty miles in
width, which was under French protection. Its western boundary was the
Lu Kiang River, which likewise formed the eastern boundary of the
British possessions in Burmah. On the south the kingdom reached down to
the Grand Lac of Cambodia, while on the north its frontiers were
coterminous with those of the great, rich Chinese province of Yunnan.
Now here was a condition of affairs which was as annoying as it was
intolerable to the land-hungry statesmen of Downing Street and the
Quai d'Orsay. That a small and defenseless Oriental nation should be
permitted to block the colonial expansion of two powerful and
acquisitive European nations was unthinkable.

The first step in the spoilation of the helpless little kingdom was
taken by France in 1893, when, claiming that the Mekong--which the
French were eager to acquire under the impression that it would provide
them with a trade-route into Southern China--formed the true boundary
between Siam and Annam, she demanded that the Siamese evacuate the
great strip of territory to the east of that river. Greatly to the
delight of the French imperialists, the Siamese refused to yield,
whereupon, in accordance with the time-honored rules of the game of
territory grabbing, French gunboats were dispatched to make a naval
demonstration off Bangkok. The forts at the mouth of the Menam fired
upon the gunboats, whereupon the French instituted a blockade of the
Siamese capital and at the same time enormously increased their
demands. England, which had long professed to be a disinterested friend
of the Siamese, shrugged her shoulders whereupon they yielded to the
threat of a French invasion and ceded to France the eastern marches of
the kingdom. Meanwhile the frontier between Siam and the new British
possessions in Burmah had been settled amicably, though, as might have
been expected, in Britain's favor, Siam being shorn of a small strip of
territory on the northwest. In 1904 the French again brought pressure
to bear, their territorial booty on this occasion amounting to some
eight thousand square miles, comprising the Luang Prabang district
lying east of the Mekong and the provinces of Malupré and Barsak.
Seeing that the process of filching territory from the Siamese was as
safe and easy as taking candy from children, the French tried it again
in 1907, this time obtaining the provinces of Battambang, Sisophon and
Siem-Reap, constituting a total of some seven thousand square miles,
thus bringing within French territory the whole of the Grand Lac and
the wonderful ruins of Angkor. In 1909 it was England's turn again,
but, disdaining the crude methods of the French, she informed the
Siamese Government that she was prepared to relinquish her rights to
maintain her own courts in Siam, the Siamese being expected to show
their gratitude for this concession to their national pride by ceding
to England the states of Kelantan, Trengganu and Kedah, in the Malay
Peninsula, with a total area of about fifteen thousand square miles. It
was a costly transaction for the Siamese, but they assented. What else
was there for them to do? When a burly and determined person holds you
up in a dark alley with a revolver and intimates that if you will hand
over your pocketbook he will refrain from hitting you over the head
with a billy, there is nothing to do but accede with the best grace
possible to his demands. In a period of only sixteen years, therefore,
France and England, by methods which, if used in business, would lead
to an investigation by the Grand Jury, succeeded in stripping Siam of
about a third of her territory. The history of Siam during that period
provides a striking illustration of the methods by which European
powers have obtained their colonial empires.

It was the Great War which, by diverting the attention of France and
England, probably saved Siam from complete dismemberment. Now, in
robbing her, they would be robbing an ally and a friend, for in July,
1917, Siam declared war on the Central Powers, despatched an
expeditionary force to France, interned every enemy alien in the
kingdom and confiscated their property, thus ridding France and England
of the last vestige of Teutonic commercial rivalry in southeastern
Asia. The Siamese, moreover, have had a national house-cleaning and
have set their country in thorough order. Their national finances are
now in admirable condition; they have accomplished far-reaching
administrative reforms; they are opening up their territory by the
construction of railway lines in all directions; and they have obtained
the practical abolition of French and British jurisdiction over certain
of their domestic affairs, while a treaty which provides that the
United States shall likewise surrender its extra territorial rights and
permit its citizens to be tried in Siamese courts has recently been
signed.

The future of Siam should be of interest to Americans if for no other
reason than that it is the one remaining independent state of tropical
Asia. Indeed, it is known to its own people as Muang-Thai--the
"Kingdom of the Free." Whether it will remain so only the future can
tell. I should be more sanguine about the continued independence of the
Land of the White Elephant, however, were it not for the colonial
records of its two nearest neighbors, which heretofore, in their
dealings with Asiatic peoples, have usually followed

    "The good old rule ... the simple plan,
    That they should take who have the power,
    And they should keep who can."



CHAPTER XI

TO PNOM-PENH BY THE JUNGLE TRAIL


Indo-China is a great bay-window bulging from the southeastern corner
of Asia, its casements opening on the China Sea and on the Gulf of
Siam. Of all the countries of the Farther East it is the most
mysterious; of them all it is the least known. Larger than the State of
Texas, it is a land of vast forests and unexplored jungles in which
roam the elephant, the tiger and the buffalo; a land of palaces and
pagodas and gilded temples; of sun-bronzed pioneers and priests in
yellow robes and bejeweled dancing girls. Lured by the tales I had
heard of curious places and strange peoples to be seen in the interior
of the peninsula, I refused to content myself with skirting its edges
on a steamer. Instead, I determined to cross it from coast to coast.

I had looked forward to covering the first stage of this journey, the
four hundred-odd miles of jungle which separate Bangkok, in Siam, from
Pnom-Penh, the capital of Cambodia, on an elephant. Everyone with whom
I had discussed the matter in Singapore had assured me that this was
perfectly feasible. And as a means of transportation it appealed to me.
It seemed to fit into the picture, as a wheel-chair accords with the
spirit of Atlantic City, as a caléche is congruous to Quebec. To my
friends at home I had planned to send pictures of myself reclining in a
howdah, rajah-like, as my ponderous mount rocked and rolled along the
jungle trails. To me the idea sounded fine. But it was not to be. For,
in shaping my plans, I had been ignorant of the fact that during the
dry season, which was then at hand, Asiatic elephants are seldom
worked--that they become morose and irritable and are usually kept in
idleness until their docility returns with the rains. I was greatly
disappointed.

The overland route thus proving impracticable, so far as the first part
of the journey was concerned, the sea road alone remained. Of vessels
plying between Bangkok and the ports of French Indo-China there were
but two--the _Bonite_, a French packet slightly larger than a Hudson
River tugboat, which twice monthly makes the round trip between the
Siamese capital and Saigon; and a Danish tramp; the _Chutututch_, an
unkempt vagrant of the seas which wanders at will along the Gulf Coast,
touching at those obscure ports where cargo or passengers are likely to
be found. The _Bonite_ swung at her moorings in the Menam, opposite my
hotel windows, so, made cautious by previous experiences on other
coastwise vessels, I went out in a sampan to make a preliminary survey.
But I did not go aboard. The odors which assailed me as I drew near
caused me to decide abruptly that I wished to make no voyage on _her_.
The _Chutututch_, I reasoned, _must_ be better; it certainly could not
be worse. And when I approached her owners they offered no objections
to earning a few-score extra ticals by extending her itinerary so as to
drop me at the tiny Cambodian port of Kep. The next day, then, saw me
on the bridge of the _Chutututch_, smoking for politeness' sake one of
the genial captain's villainous cigars, as we steamed slowly between
the palm-fringed, temple-dotted banks of the Menam toward the Gulf.

[Illustration: Transportation in the Siamese jungle

Long files of elephants, bearing men and merchandise beneath the hooded
howdahs, rocking and rolling down the dim and deep-worn jungle trails]

On many kinds of vessels I have voyaged the Seven Seas. I once spent
Christmas on a Russian steamer, jammed to her guards with lousy
pilgrims bound for the Holy Land, in a tempest off the Syrian coast. On
another memorable occasion I skirted the shores of Crete on a Greek
schooner which was engaged in conveying from Canea to Candia a
detachment of British recruits much the worse for rum. But that voyage
on the _Chutututch_ will linger longest in my memory. From stem to
stern she was packed with yellow, half-naked, perspiring
humanity--Siamese, Laos, Burmans, Annamites, Cambodians, Malays,
Chinese--journeying, God knows why, to ports whose very names I had
never before heard. They lay so thick beneath the awnings that the
sailors literally had to walk upon them in order to perform their work.
From the glassy surface of the Gulf the heat rose in waves--blasts from
an opened furnace door. The flaming ball of molten brass that was the
sun beat down upon the crowded decks until they were as hot to the
touch as a railway station stove at white heat. The odors of crude,
sugar, copra, tobacco, engine oil, perspiration and fish frying in the
galley mingled in a stench that rose to heaven. In the sweat-box which
had been allotted to me, called by courtesy a cabin, a large gray
ship's rat gnawed industriously at my suit-case in an endeavor to
ascertain what it contained; insects that shall be nameless disported
themselves upon the dubious-looking blanket which formed the only
covering of the bed; cockroaches of incredible size used the wash-basin
as a public swimming-pool.

The other cabin passengers were all three Anglo-Saxons--a young
Englishman and an American missionary and his wife. These last, I
found, were convoying a flock of noisy Siamese youngsters, pupils at an
American school in Bangkok, to a small bathing resort at the mouth of
the Menam, where, it was alleged, the mercury had been known to drop as
low as 90 on cold days. Because of its invigorating climate it is a
favorite hot weather resort for the well-to-do Siamese. Here, in a
bungalow that had been placed at their disposal by the King, the
missionary and his charges proposed to spend a glorious fortnight away
from the city's heat. Now do not draw a mental picture of a
sanctimonious person with a Prince Albert coat, a white bow tie and a
prominent Adam's apple. He was not that sort of a missionary at all. On
the contrary, he was a very human, high-spirited, likeable fellow of
the type that at home would be a Scout Master or in France would have
made good as a welfare worker with the A. E. F. Once, when a
particularly obstreperous youngster drew an over-draft on his stock of
patience, he endorsed his disapproval with an extremely vigorous
"_Damn!_" I took to him from that moment.

When, their energy temporarily exhausted, his charges had fallen asleep
upon the deck and pandemonium had given place to peace, he told me
something of his story. For four years he had labored in the Vineyard
of the Lord in Chile, but, feeling that he "was having too good a
time," as he expressed it, he applied to the Board of Missions for
transfer to a more strenuous post. He obtained what he asked for, with
something over for good measure, for he was ordered to a post in the
northeastern corner of Siam, on the Annam frontier. If there is a more
remote or inaccessible spot on the map it would be hard to find it.
Here he and his wife spent ten years preaching the Word to the "black
bellied Laos," as the tattooed savages of that region are known. Then
he was transferred to Bangkok. There are no roads in Siam, so he and
his wife and their five small children made the long journey by river,
in a native dugout of less than two feet beam, in which they traveled
and ate and slept for upwards of two weeks.

I asked him if he wasn't becoming weaned of Bangkok, which, as a place
of residence, leaves much to be desired.

"Yes, I've had about enough of it," he admitted. "I'm anxious to get
away."

"Back to the Big Town?" I suggested. "To God's Country?"

"Oh, no; not back to the States," he hastened to assure me. "I haven't
finished my job out here. I want to get back to my people in the
interior again."

Whether you approve of foreign missions or not, it is impossible to
withhold your respect and admiration from such men as that. Though at
home they are too often the butts of ignorant criticisms and cheap
witticisms, they are carrying civilization, no less than Christianity,
into the world's dark places. They are the real pioneers. You might
remember this the next time an appeal is made in your church for
foreign missions.

The young Englishman was likewise an outpost of progress, though in a
different fashion. For seven years he had worn the uniform of an
officer in the Royal Navy. At the close of the war, seeing small
prospect of promotion, he had entered the employ of a British company
which held a vast timber concession in the teak forests of northern
Siam, far up, near the Chinese border. He was, he explained, a
"girdler," which meant that his duties consisted in riding through the
forest area allotted to him, selecting and girdling those trees which,
three years later, would be cut down. To girdle a tree, as everyone
knows, is to kill it, which is what is wanted, there being no market
for green teak, which warps. He remained in the forest for four weeks
at a stretch, he told me, without seeing a white man's face, his only
companions his coolies and his Chinese cook. His domain comprised a
thousand square miles of forest through which he moved constantly on
horseback, followed by elephants bearing his camp equipage and
supplies. Once each month he spent three days in the village where the
company maintains its field headquarters. Here he played tennis and
bridge with other girdlers--young Englishmen like himself who had come
in from their respective districts to make their monthly reports--and
in gleaning from the eight-weeks-old newspapers the news of that great
outside world from which he was a voluntary exile. One would have
supposed that, after seven years spent in the jovial atmosphere of a
warship's wardroom, his solitary life in the great forests would
quickly have become intolerable, and I expressed myself to this effect.
But he said no, that he was neither lonely nor unhappy in his new life,
and that his fellow foresters, all of whom had seen service in the
Army, the Navy or the Royal Air Force, were equally contented with
their lot. I could understand, though. The wilderness holds no terrors
for anyone who went through the hell of the Great War.

We dropped anchor at midnight off Chantaboun, where a launch was
waiting to take him ashore. He was going up-country, he told me, to
inspect a timber concession recently acquired by the company that
employed him. Yes, he would be the only white man, but he would not be
lonely. Besides, he would only be in the interior a couple of months,
he said. He followed the coolies bearing his luggage down the gangway
and dropped lightly into the tossing launch, then looked up to wave me
a farewell.

"Good luck," he called cheerily.

"Good luck to _you_!" said I.

That is the worst of this gadding up and down the earth--it is
always--"How d'ye do?" and "Good-by."

Three days out of Bangkok the anchor of the _Chutututch_ rumbled down
off Kep, on the coast of Cambodia. Kep consists of a ramshackle wooden
pier that reaches seaward like a lean brown finger, an equally decrepit
custom house, a tin-roofed bungalow which the French Government
maintains for the use of those fever-stricken officials who need the
tonic of sea air, a cluster of bamboo huts thatched with nipa--nothing
more. You will not find the place on any map; it is too small.

It is in the neighborhood of three hundred kilometers from Kep to
Pnom-Penh, the capital of Cambodia, and for nearly the entire distance
the highway has been hewn through the most savage jungle you can
imagine. There was only one motor car in Kep and this I hired for the
journey. I say hired, but bought would be nearer the truth. It was an
aged and decrepit Renault, held together with string and wire, and
suffering so badly from asthma and rheumatism that more than once I
feared it would die on my hands before I reached my destination. It had
as nurses two Annamites, who took unwarranted liberties with the truth
by describing themselves as _mechaniciens_. Accompanying them were two
sullen-faced Chinese. All four of them, I found, proposed to accompany
me to Pnom-Penh. At this I protested vigorously, on the ground that, as
the lessee of the machine, I had the right to choose my traveling
companions, but my objections were overruled by the _Chef des Douanes_,
the only French functionary in Kep, who assured me that if the car went
the quartette must go, too. One of the Annamites, he explained, was the
chauffeur, the other was the cranker, for in Indo-China automobiles are
not equipped with self-starters and the chauffeurs firmly refuse to
crank their own cars. They thus "save their face," which is a very
important consideration in the estimation of Orientals, and they also
provide easy and pleasant jobs for their friends. It is an idea which
some of the labor unions in America might adopt to advantage. I make no
charge for the suggestion. The two Chinese, it appeared, were the joint
owners of the machine, and both insisted on going along because neither
would trust the other with the hire-money. Thus it will be seen, we
made quite a cozy little party.

The road to Pnom-Penh, as I have already remarked, leads through a
peculiarly lonely and savage region. And it is very narrow, bordered on
either side by walls of almost impenetrable jungle. A place better
adapted for a hold-up could hardly be devised. And of the reputations
or antecedents of my four self-imposed companions, I knew nothing. Nor
was there anything in their faces to lend me confidence in the honesty
of their intentions. As we were about to start a native gendarme
beckoned me to one side.

"Beaucoup des pirats sur la route, M'sieu," he warned me in execrable
French.

"Brigands, you mean?" I asked him.

"Oui, M'sieu."

That was reassuring.

"How about these men?" I inquired, indicating the motley crew who were
to accompany me. "Are they to be trusted?"

He shrugged his shoulders non-commitally. It was evident that he did
not hold of them a high opinion.

Producing my .45 caliber service automatic, I slipped a clip into the
magazine and ostentatiously laid it beside me on the seat. It is the
most formidable weapon carried by any civilized people. True, the
German Lüger is larger....

"Tell them," I said to the policeman, "that this gun will shoot through
twenty millimeters of pine. Tell them that they had better dispose of
their property and burn a few joss-sticks before they start to argue
with it. And tell them that, no matter what happens, the car is to keep
going."

But I was by no means as confident as I sounded, for the road was
notoriously unsafe, nor did I put much trust in my companions. I
confess that I felt much happier when that portion of my journey was
over.

As the road to Pnom-Penh is quite uninteresting--just a narrow yellow
highway chopped through a dense tangle of tropic vegetation--suppose I
take advantage of the opportunity to tell you something of this
little-known land in which we find ourselves.

French Indo-China occupies perhaps two-thirds of that great
bay-window-shaped peninsula which protrudes from the southeastern
corner of Asia. In area it is, as I have already remarked, somewhat
larger than Texas; its population is about equal to that of New York
and Pennsylvania combined. It consists of five states: the colony of
Cochin-China, the protectorates of Cambodia, Annam and Tongking, and
the unorganized territory of Laos, to which might be added the narrow
strip of borderland, known as Kwang Chau Wan, leased from China. In
1902 the capital of French Indo-China was transferred from Saigon, in
Cochin-China, to Hanoi, in Tongking.

By far the most interesting of these political divisions is Cambodia,
which, for centuries an independent kingdom, was forced in 1862 to
accept the protection of France. An apple-shaped country, about the
size of England, with a few score miles of seacoast and without railway
or regular sea communications, it lies tucked away in the heart of the
peninsula, its southern borders marching with those of Cochin-China,
its frontier on the north co-terminous with that of Siam. Though the
octogenarian King Sisowath maintains a gorgeous court, a stable of
elephants, upwards of two-hundred dancing-girls, and one of the most
ornate palaces in Asia, he is permitted only a shadow of power, the
real ruler of Cambodia being the French Resident-Superior, who governs
the country from the great white Residency on the banks of the Mekong.

I know of no region of like size and so comparatively easy of access
(the great liners of the _Messageries Maritimes_ touch at Saigon,
whence the Cambodian capital can be reached by river-steamer in two
days) which offers so many attractions to the hunter of big game.
Unlike British East Africa, where, as a result of the commercialization
of sport, the cost of going on _safari_ has steadily mounted until now
it is a form of recreation to be afforded only by war profiteers,
Cambodia remains unexploited and unspoiled. It is in many respects the
richest, as it is almost the last, of the world's great
hunting-grounds. It is, indeed, a vast zoological garden, where such
formalities as hunting licenses are still unknown. In its jungles roam
elephants, tigers, rhinoceroses, leopards, panthers, bear, deer, and
the savage jungle buffalo, known in Malaya as the seladang and in
Indo-China as the gaur--considered by many hunters the most dangerous
of all big game.

Nailed to the wall of the Government rest-house at Kep was the skin of
a leopard which had been shot from the veranda the day before my
arrival, while raiding the pig-pen. The day that I left Kampot an
elephant herd, estimated by the native trackers at one hundred and
twenty head, was reported within seven miles of the town. Twice during
the journey to Pnom-Penh I saw tracks of elephant herds on the road--it
looked as though a fleet of whippet tanks had passed.

Nevertheless, I should have put mental question-marks after some of the
big game stories I heard while I was in Indo-China had I not been
convinced of the credibility of those who told them. Only a few days
before our arrival at Saigon, for example, an American engaged in
business in that city set out one morning before daybreak, in a small
car, for the paddy-fields, where there is excellent bird-shooting in
the early dawn. The car, which, owing to the intense heat, had no
wind-shield, was driven by the Annamite chauffeur, the American, a
double-barrel loaded with bird-shot across his knees, sitting beside
him on the front seat. Rounding a turn in the jungle road at thirty
miles an hour, the twin beams of light from the lamps fell on a tiger,
which, dazzled and bewildered by the on-coming glare, crouched snarling
in the middle of the highway. There was no time to stop the car, and,
as the jungle came to the very edge of the narrow road, there was no
way to avoid the animal, which, just as the car was upon it, gathered
itself and sprang. It landed on the hood with all four feet, its
snarling face so close to the men that they could feel its breath. The
American, thrusting the muzzle of his weapon into the furry neck of the
great cat, let go with both barrels, blowing away the beast's throat
and jugular vein and killing it instantly. With the aid of his badly
frightened driver, he bundled the great striped carcass into the
tonneau of the car and imperturbably continued on his bird-shooting
expedition. Some people seem to have a monopoly of luck.

Though Saigon and Pnom-Penh do not possess the facilities for equipping
shooting expeditions afforded by Mombasa or Nairobi, and though in
Indo-China there are no professional European guides, such as the late
Major Cunninghame; the elaborate and costly outfits customary in East
Africa, with their mile-long trains of bearers, are as unnecessary as
they are unknown. The arrangements for a tiger hunt in Indo-China are
scarcely more elaborate and certainly no more expensive, than for a
moose hunt in Maine. A dependable native _shikari_ who knows the
country, a cook, half-a-dozen coolies, a sturdy riding-pony, two or
three pack-animals, a tent and food, that is all you need. With such an
outfit, particularly in a region so thick with game as, say, the Dalat
Plateau, in Annam, the hunter should get a shot at a tiger before he
has been forty-eight hours in the bush. In a clearing in a jungle known
to be frequented by tigers, the carcass of a bullock, or, if that is
unavailable, of a pig, is fastened securely to a stake and left there
until it smells to high heaven. When its odor is of sufficient potency
to reach the nostrils of the tiger, the hunter takes up his position in
the edge of the clearing, or on a platform built in a tree if he
believes in Safety First. For investigating the kill the tiger usually
chooses the dimness of the early dawn or the semi-darkness which
precedes nightfall. With no warning save a faint rustle in the
undergrowth a lean and tawny form slithers on padded feet across the
open--and the man behind the rifle has his chance. I have found,
however, that even in tiger lands, tigers are by no means as plentiful
as one's imagination paints them at home. It is easy to be a big-game
hunter on the hearth-rug.

Pnom-Penh, the capital of Cambodia, stands on the west bank of the
mighty Mekong, one hundred and seventy miles from the sea. Pnom,
meaning "mountain," refers to the hill, or mound, ninety feet high, in
the heart of the city; Penh was the name of a celebrated Cambodian
queen. Until twenty years ago Pnom-Penh was a filthy and unsanitary
native town, its streets ankle-deep with dust during the dry season and
ankle-deep with mud during the rains. But with the coming of the French
the flimsy, vermin-infested houses were torn down, the hog-wallows
which served as thoroughfares were transformed into broad and
well-paved avenues shaded by double rows of handsome trees, and the
city was provided with lighting and water systems. The old-fashioned
open water sewers still remain, however, lending to the place, a rich,
ripe odor. Pnom-Penh possesses a spacious and well ventilated
motion-picture house, where Charlie Chaplin known to the French as
"Charlot" and Fatty Arbuckle convulse the simple children of the jungle
just as they convulse more sophisticated assemblages on the other side
of the globe.

But all that is most worth seeing in Pnom-Penh is cloistered within the
mysterious walls of vivid pink which surround the Royal Palace. Here is
the residence of His Majesty Prea Bat Samdach Prea Sisowath, King of
Cambodia; here dwell the twelve score dancing-girls of the famous royal
ballet and the hundreds of concubines and attendants comprising the
royal harem; here are the stables of the royal elephants and the sacred
zebus; here a congeries of palaces, pavilions, throne halls, dance
halls, temples, shrines, kiosks, monuments, courtyards, and gardens the
like of which is not to be found outside the covers of _The Thousand
and One Nights_. It is an architectural extravaganza, a bacchanalia of
color and design, as fantastic and unreal as the city of a dream. The
steep-pitched, curiously shaped roofs are covered with tiles of every
color--peacock blue, vermilion, turquoise, emerald green, burnt orange;
no inch of exposed woodwork has escaped the carver's cunning chisel;
everywhere gold has been laid on with a spendthrift hand. And in this
marvelous setting strut or stroll figures that might have stepped
straight from the stage of _Sumurun_--fantastically garbed
functionaries of the Household, shaven-headed priests in yellow robes,
pompous mandarins in sweeping silken garments, bejeweled and bepainted
dancing-girls. It is not real, you feel. It is too gorgeous, too
bizarre. It is the work of stage-carpenters and scene-painters and
costumers, and you are quite certain that the curtain will descend
presently and that you will have to put on your hat and go home.

From the center of the great central court rises the famous Silver
Pagoda. It takes its name from its floor, thirty-six feet wide and one
hundred and twenty long, which is covered with pure silver. When the
sun's rays seep through the interstices of the carving it leaps into a
brilliancy that is blinding. On the high walls of the room are depicted
in startling colors, scenes from the life of Buddha and realistic
glimpses of hell, for your Cambodian artist is at his best in
portraying scenes of horror. The mural decorations of the Silver Pagoda
would win the unqualified approval of an oldtime fire-and-brimstone
preacher. Rearing itself roofward from the center of the room is an
enormous pyramidal altar, littered with a heterogeneous collection of
offerings from the devout. At its apex is a so-called Emerald
Buddha--probably, like its fellow in Bangkok, of translucent
jade--which is the guardian spirit of the place. But at one side of the
altar stands the chief treasure of the temple--a great golden Buddha
set with diamonds. The value of the gold alone is estimated at not far
from three-quarters of a million dollars; at the value of the jewels
one can only guess. It was made by the order of King Norodom, the
brother and predecessor of the present ruler, the whole amazing
edifice, indeed, being a monument into which that monarch poured his
wealth and ambition. Ranged about the altar are glass cases containing
the royal treasures--rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds of a size
and in a profusion which makes it difficult to realize that they are
genuine. It is a veritable cave of Al-ed-Din. The covers of these cases
are sealed with strips of paper bearing the royal cypher--nothing
more. They have never been locked nor guarded, yet nothing has ever
been stolen, for King Sisowath is to his subjects something more than a
ruler; he is venerated as the representative of God on earth. For a
Cambodian to steal from him would be as unthinkable a sacrilege as for
a Roman Catholic to burglarize the apartments of the Pope. And should
their religious scruples show signs of yielding to temptation, why,
there are the paintings on the walls to warn them of the torments
awaiting them in the hereafter. It struck me, however, that the Silver
Pagoda offers a golden, not to say a jeweled opportunity to an
enterprising American burglar.

On the south side of the courtyard containing the Silver Pagoda is a
relic far more precious in the eyes of the natives, however, than all
the royal treasures put together--a footprint of Buddha. It was left,
so the priests who guard it night and day reverently explain, by the
founder of their faith when he paid a flying visit to Cambodia. Over
the footprint has been erected a shrine with a floor of solid gold.
Buddha did not do as well by Cambodia as by Ceylon, however, for
whereas at Pnom-Penh he left the imprint of his foot, at Kandy he left
a tooth. I know, for I have seen it.

In an adjacent courtyard is the Throne Hall, a fine example of
Cambodian architecture, the gorgeous throne of the monarch standing on
a dais in the center of a lofty apartment decorated in gold and green.
Close by is the Salle des Fêtes, or Dance Hall, a modern French
structure, where the royal ballet gives its performances. Ever since
there have been kings in Cambodia each monarch has chosen from the
daughters of the upper classes two hundred and forty showgirls and has
had them trained for dancing. These girls, many of whom are brought to
the palace by their parents when small children and offered to the
King, eventually enter the monarch's harem as concubines. Admission to
the royal ballet is to a Cambodian maiden what a position in the
Ziegfeld Follies is to a Broadway chorus girl. It is the blue ribbon of
female pulchritude. Unlike Mr. Ziegfeld's carefully selected beauties,
however, who frequently find the stage a stepping-stone to independence
and a limousine, the Cambodian show-girl, once she enters the service
of the King, becomes to all intents and purposes a prisoner. And
Sisowath, for all his eighty-odd years, is a jealous master. Never
again can she stroll with her lover in the fragrant twilight on the
palm-fringed banks of the Mekong. Never again can she leave the
precincts of the palace, save to accompany the King. The bars behind
which she dwells are of gold, it is true, but they are bars just the
same.

When I broached to the French Resident-Superior, who is the real ruler
of Cambodia, the subject of taking motion-pictures within the royal
enclosure, he was anything but encouraging.

"I'm afraid it's quite impossible," he told me. "The King is at his
summer palace at Kampot, where he will remain for several weeks.
Without his permission nothing can be done. Moreover, the royal
ballet, which is the most interesting sight in Cambodia, is never under
any circumstances permitted to dance during his Majesty's absence."

"But why not telegraph the King?" I suggested, though with waning hope.
"Or get him on the telephone. Tell him how much the pictures would do
to acquaint the American public with the attractions of his country;
explain to him that they would bring here hundreds of visitors who
otherwise would never know that there is such a place as Pnom-Penh.
More than that," I added diplomatically, "they would undoubtedly wake
up American capitalists to a realization of Cambodia's natural
resources. That's what you particularly want here, isn't it--foreign
capital?"

That argument seemed to impress the shrewd and far-seeing Frenchman.

"Perhaps something can be done, after all," he told me. "I will send
for the Minister of the Royal Household and ask him if he can
communicate with the King. As soon as I learn something definite, you
will hear from me."

The second day following I received a call from the chief of the
political bureau.

"Everything has been arranged as you desired," was the cheering news
with which he greeted me. "The _défilé_ will take place in the grounds
of the palace tomorrow morning. Already the necessary orders have been
issued. Thirty elephants with their state housings; eighty ceremonial
cars drawn by sacred bullocks; the royal body-guard in full uniform; a
delegation of mandarins in court-dress; a hundred Buddhist priests
attached to the royal temple; and, moreover, his Majesty has granted
special permission an unheard-of thing, let me tell you!--for the royal
ballet to give a performance expressly for you to-morrow afternoon on
the terrace of the throne-hall. It will be a marvelous spectacle."

"Bully!" I exclaimed. "Won't you have a drink?"

"There is one thing I forgot to mention," the official remarked
hesitatingly, as he sipped the gin sling which is the favorite drink of
the tropics. "There will be a small charge for expenses--tips, you
know, for the palace officials."

"Oh, that's all right," I replied lightly. "How much will the tips
amount to?"

"Only about two hundred piastres," was the somewhat startling answer,
for, at the then current rate of exchange a piastre was worth about
$1.50 gold. "The resident will pay half of it, however, as he believes
that the pictures will prove of great value to the country."

Yet most people think that tipping has reached its apogee in the United
States!

[Illustration: The head of the pageant approaching the camera in the
palace at Pnom-Penh

_Photo by the Goldwyn-Bray-Powell Malaysian Expedition_]

When we entered the gate of the palace the next morning, I felt as
though I had been translated to the days of Haroun-al-Raschid, for the
vast courtyard, flanked on all sides by marble buildings with tiled
roofs of cobalt blue, of emerald green, of red, of brilliant yellow,
was literally crowded with elephants, bullocks, horses, chariots,
palanquins, soldiers, priests, and officials all the pomp and panoply
of an Asiatic court, in short. Though close examination revealed the
gold as gilt and the jewels as colored glass, the general effect was
undeniably gorgeous. In spite of the brilliance of the scene, Hawkinson
was as blasé as ever. He issued orders to the Minister of the Household
as though he were directing a Pullman porter.

"Have those elephants come on in double file," he commanded. "Then
follow 'em with the bullock-carts and the palanquins. I'll shoot the
priests and the mandarins later."

"But the priests must be taken at once," the minister protested. "They
have been waiting a long time, and they are already late for the
morning service in the royal temple."

"Well, they'll have to wait still longer," was the unruffled answer.
"Tell them not to get impatient. I'll get round to them as soon as I
finish with the animals. Think what it will mean to them to have their
pictures shown on the same screen with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas
Fairbanks and Mary Pickford! I know lots of people who would be willing
to wait a year for such a chance."

Just then there approached across the courtyard a trio of youths in
white uniforms and gold-laced képis, their breasts ablaze with
decorations. At sight of them the minister doubled himself in the
middle like a jack-knife. They were, it appeared, some of the royal
princes--sons of the King.

There ensued a brief colloquy between the minister and the eldest of
the princes, the conversation evidently relating, as I gathered from
the gestures, to the Lovely Lady and the Winsome Widow, who at the
moment were delightedly engaged in feeding candies to a baby elephant.

"His Highness wishes to know," the minister interpreted, "when the
ladies of your company are to appear. His Highness is a great admirer
of American actresses; he saw your most famous one, Mademoiselle Theda
Bara, at a cinema in Singapore."

It seemed a thousand pities to destroy the prince's delusion.

"Tell his Highness," I said, "that the ladies will not act in this
picture. They only play comedy parts."

The princes received the news with open disappointment. If the Lovely
Lady and the Winsome Widow had only consented to appear on the back of
an elephant, or even in a palanquin, I imagine that they might have
received a mark of the royal favor in the form of a Cambodian
decoration. It is a gorgeous affair and is called, with great
appropriateness, the "Order of a Million Elephants and Parasols."

[Illustration: Dancing girls belonging to the royal ballet of the King
of Cambodia

The dancers ranged in age from twelve to fifteen. The costumes were
wonderful creations of cloth-of-gold heavily embroidered with jewels

_Photo by the Goldwyn-Bray-Powell Malaysian Expedition_]

That afternoon, on the broad marble terrace of the throne-hall, which
had been covered with a scarlet carpet for the occasion, the royal
ballet gave a special performance for our benefit. The dancers were
much younger than I had anticipated, ranging in age from twelve to
fifteen. Dancing has ever been a great institution in Cambodia, the
dances, which have behind them traditions of two thousand years, being
illustrative of incidents in the poem of the Râmâyana and adhering
faithfully to the classical examples which are depicted on the walls of
the great temple at Angkor, such as the dancing of the goddess Apsaras,
her gestures, and her dress. The costumes worn by the dancing-girls
were the most gorgeous that we saw in Asia: wonderful creations of
cloth-of-gold heavily embroidered with jewels. Most of the dancers wore
towering, pointed head-dresses, similar to the historic crowns of the
Cambodian kings, though a few of them wore masks, one representing the
head of a fox, another a fish, a third a lion, which could be raised or
lowered, like the visors of medieval helmets. The faces of all of the
dancers were so heavily coated with powder and enamel that they would
have been cracked by a smile. It was a performance which would have
astonished and delighted the most blasé audience on Broadway, but there
in the heart of Cambodia, with the terrace of a throne-hall for a
stage, with palaces, temples, and pagodas for a setting, with a blazing
tropic sun for a spot-light, and with actors and audience clad in
costumes as curious and colorful as those worn at the court of the
Queen of Sheba, it provided a spectacle which we who were privileged to
see it will remember always. What a pity that Cap'n Bryant was not
alive so that I might sit on the steps of his Mattapoisett cottage and
tell him all about it.



CHAPTER XII

EXILES OF THE OUTLANDS


From Pnom-Penh, the capital of Cambodia, to Saigon, the capital of
Cochin-China, is in the neighborhood of two hundred miles and two
routes are open to the traveler. The most comfortable and considerably
the cheapest is by the bi-weekly steamer down the Mekong. The
alternative route, which is far more interesting, consists in
descending the river to Banam, a village some twenty miles below
Pnom-Penh, on the opposite bank of the Mekong, where, if a car has been
arranged for, it is possible to motor across the fertile plains of
Cochin-China to Saigon in a single day. That was the way that we went.

Though separated only by the Mekong, that mighty waterway which, rising
in the mountains of Tibet, bisects the whole peninsula, Cochin-China is
as dissimilar from Cambodia as the ordered farmlands of Ohio are from
the Florida Everglades. In Cambodia, stretches of sand covered with
low, scraggy, discouraged-looking scrub alternate with tangled and
impenetrable jungles. It is a savage, untamed land. Cochin-China, on
the other hand, is one great sweep of plain, green with growing rice
and dotted with the bamboo poles of well-sweeps, for water can be found
everywhere at thirty to forty feet. These striking contrasts in
contiguous states are due in some measure, no doubt, to differences in
their soils and climates and to the industry of their inhabitants, but
more largely, I imagine, to the fact that while the Frenchman has been
at work in Cochin-China for upwards of sixty years, Cambodia is still
on the frontier of civilization.

The roads which the French have built in Indo-China deserve a paragraph
of mention, for, barring the rivers and the three short unconnected
sections of railway on the East coast of the peninsula, they form the
country's only means of communication. The national highways consist of
two great systems. The Route Coloniale, which was the one I followed,
has its beginning at Kep, on the Gulf of Siam, runs north-eastward
through the jungles of Cambodia to Pnom-Penh, and, recommencing at
Banam, swings southward across the Cochin-China plain to Saigon. The
Route Mandarine, beginning at Saigon, hugs the shores of the China Sea
and, after traversing twelve hundred miles of jungle, forest and
mountain land in Annam and Tongking, comes to an end at Hanoi, the
capital of Indo-China. The entire length of the Route Mandarine may now
be traversed by auto-bus--an excellent way to see the country provided
you are inured to fatigue, do not mind the heat, and are not
over-particular as to your fellow passengers. A motor car is, of
course, more comfortable and more expensive; a small one can be rented
for ninety dollars a day.

Nowhere has the colonizing white man encountered greater obstacles
than those which have confronted the French road-builders in
Indo-China; nowhere has Nature turned toward him a sterner and more
forbidding face. But, though their coolies have died by the thousands
from cholera and fever, though their laboriously constructed bridges
have been swept away in a night by rivers swollen from the torrential
rains, though the fast-growing jungle persistently encroaches on the
hard-won right-of-way, though they have had to combat savage beasts and
still more savage men, they have prosecuted with indomitable courage
and tenacity the task of building a road "to Tomorrow from the Land of
Yesterday."

Saigon, the capital of Cochin-China and the most important place in
France's Asiatic possessions, is a European city set down on the edge
of Asia. So far as its appearance goes, it might be on the Seine
instead of the Saigon. The original town was burned by the French
during the fighting by which they obtained possession of the place and
they rebuilt it on European lines, with boulevards, shops, cafés, a
Hôtel de Ville, a Théâtre Municipal, a Musée, a Jardin Botanique, all
complete. The general plan of the city, with its regular streets and
intersecting boulevards, has evidently been modeled on that of the
French capital and the Saigonnese proudly speak of it as "the Paris of
the East." In certain respects this is taking a considerable liberty
with the truth, but they are very lonely and homesick and one does not
blame them. Most of the streets, which are paved after a fashion, are
lined with tamarinds, thus providing the shade so imperatively
necessary where the mercury hovers between 90 and 110, winter and
summer, day and night. At almost every street intersection stands a
statue of some one who bore a hand in the conquest of the country, from
the cassocked figure of Pigneau de Behaine, Bishop of Adran, the first
French missionary to Indo-China, to the effigy of the dashing Admiral
Rigault de Genouilly, flanked by charging marines, who took Saigon for
France.

The most characteristic feature of Saigon is its café life. During the
heat of the day the Europeans keep within doors, but toward nightfall
they all come out and, gathering about the little tables which crowd
the sidewalks before the cafés in the Boulevard Bonnard and the Rue
Catinat, they gossip and sip their absinthes and smoke numberless
cigarettes and mop their florid faces and argue noisily and with much
gesticulation over the news in the _Courrier de Saigon_ or the
six-weeks-old _Figaro_ and _Le Temps_ which arrive fortnightly by the
mail-boat from France. They wear stiffly starched white linen--though
the jackets are all too often left unfastened at the neck--and enormous
mushroom-shaped topées which come down almost to their shoulders and
are many sizes too large for them, and they consume vast quantities of
drink, the evening usually ending in a series of violent altercations.
When the disputants take to backing up their arguments with blows from
canes and bottles, the café proprietor unceremoniously bundles them
into _pousse-pousses_, as rickshaws are called in Saigon, and sends
them home.

Along the Rue Catinat in the evenings saunters a picturesque and
colorful procession--haggard, slovenly officers of the _troupes
coloniales_ and of the Foreign Legion, the rows of parti-colored
ribbons on their breasts telling of service in little wars in the
world's forgotten corners; dreary, white-faced Government employees,
their cheeks gaunt from fever, their eyes bloodshot from heavy
drinking; sun-bronzed, swaggering, loud-voiced rubber planters in
riding breeches and double Terais, down from their plantations in the
far interior for a periodic spree; women gowned in the height of Paris
fashion, but with too pink cheeks and too red lips and too ready smiles
for strangers, equally at home on the Bund of Shanghai or the
boulevards of Paris; shaven-headed Hindu money-lenders from British
India, the lengths of cotton sheeting which form their only garments
revealing bodies as hairy and repulsive as those of apes; barefooted
Annamite tirailleurs in uniforms of faded khaki, their great round hats
of woven straw tipped with brass spikes like those on German helmets;
slender Chinese women, tripping by on tiny, thick-soled shoes in
pajama-like coats and trousers of clinging, sleazy silk; naked
_pousse-pousse_ coolies, streaming with sweat, graceful as the bronzes
in a museum; friars of the religious orders in shovel-hats and linen
robes; sailors of the fleet and of the merchant vessels in the harbor,
swaggering along with the roll of the sea in their gait; Armenian
peddlers with piles of rugs and embroideries slung across their
shoulders; Arabs, Indians, Malays, Cambodians, Laos, Siamese, Burmese,
Chinese, world without end, Amen.

But, beneath it all, a paralysis is on everything--the paralysis of the
excessive administration with which the French have ruined Indo-China.
There are too many people in front of the cafés and too few in the
offices and shops. There is too much drinking and too little work. The
officials are alternately melancholy and overbearing; the natives
cringing and sullen. It is not a wholesome atmosphere. Corruption, if
not universal, is appallingly common. Foreigners engaged in business in
Saigon told me that it is necessary to "grease the palms" of everyone
who holds a Government position. As a result of this practise,
officials who are poor men when they arrive in the colony retire after
four or five years' service with comfortable fortunes--and France does
not pay her public servants highly either. And there are other vices.
The manager of a great American corporation doing business in Saigon
told me that ninety per cent of the city's European population are
confirmed users of opium. And, judging from their unhealthy pallor and
lacklustre eyes, I can well believe it. But what else could you expect
in a country where the drug is sold to anyone who has money to pay for
it; where it is one of the Government's chief sources of revenue?

On the native population the hand of the French lies heavily. In 1916
there was an attempted jail delivery of political prisoners in Saigon,
but the plot was discovered before it could be put into execution, the
ring-leaders arrested, and thirty-eight of them condemned to death.
They were executed in batches of four, kneeling, blind-folded, lashed
to stakes. The firing party consisted of a platoon of Annamite
tirailleurs. Behind them, with machine guns trained, was drawn up a
battalion of French infantry. The occasion was celebrated in Saigon as
a public holiday, hundreds of Frenchmen, accompanied by their wives and
children, driving out to see the sight. The next day picture postcards
of the execution were hawked about the streets. But the authorities in
Paris evidently disapproved of the proceeding, for the governor of the
colony and the commander of the military forces were promptly recalled
in disgrace. The terrible object-lesson doubtless had the desired
effect, for the natives cringe like whipped dogs when a Frenchman
speaks to them. But there is that in their manner which bodes ill for
their masters if a crisis ever arises in Indo-China. I should not like
to see our own brown wards, the Filipinos, look at Americans with the
murderous hate with which the Annamites regard the French. In Africa,
by moderation and tolerance and justice, France has built up a mighty
colonial empire whose inhabitants are as loyal and contented as though
they had been born under the Tricolor. But in far-off Indo-China French
administration seems, even to as staunch a friend of France as myself,
to be very far from an unqualified success.

During the ten days that I spent in Saigon I stayed at the Hôtel
Continental. I shall remember it as the place where they charged a
dollar and a half for a highball and fifty cents for a lemonade. It was
insufferably hot. I can sympathize now with the recalcitrant convict
who is punished by being sent to the sweat-box. Battalions of ferocious
mosquitoes launched their assaults against my unprotected person with
the persistence that the Germans displayed at Verdun. In the next room
the tenor of the itinerant grand opera company that was giving a series
of performances at the Théâtre Municipal squabbled unceasingly with his
woman companion. Both were generally much the worse for drink. One
particularly sultry afternoon, when the whole world seemed like the
steam room of a Turkish bath, their voices rose to an unprecedented
pitch of violence. Through the thin panels of the door came the sound
of scuffling feet. Some heavy article of furniture went over with a
crash. Then came the thud of a falling body.

"Thou accurst one!" I heard the tenor groan. Then "Help me!... I'm
dying!"

"She's done it now!" I exclaimed, springing from my bed.

"Are you stifling with blood?" the woman hissed, fierce exultation in
her tone.

"Help me!... I'm dying!" moaned the man. "And done to death by a
woman!"

It was murder--no doubt about that. Clad only in my pajamas though I
was, I prepared to throw myself against the door.

"Die, thou accurst one! Perish!" shrieked the woman.

I was on the point of bursting into the room when I was arrested by the
sound of the tenor's voice speaking in normal tones. There followed a
woman's laugh. I paused to listen. It was well that I did so. They were
rehearsing for the evening's performance the murder scene from _La
Tosca_!

On another occasion, long after midnight, I was aroused from sleep by a
terrific racket which suddenly burst forth in the streets below. I
heard the crash of splintering bottles followed by the steps of the
native gendarmes beating a hasty retreat. Then, from throats that spoke
my own tongue, rose the rollicking words of a long-familiar chorus:

    "I was drunk last night,
    I was drunk the night before,
    I'll get drunk tomorrow night
    If I never get drunk any more;
    For when I'm drunk
    I'm as happy as can be,
    For I am a member of the Souse Fam-i-lee!"

Leaning from my casement, I hailed a passing Frenchman.

"Who are they?" I asked him.

"Les touristes Americains sont arrivés, M'sieu," he answered dryly.

By the light of the street-lamps as he turned away I could see him
shrug his shoulders.

Thinking it over, it struck me that I had been overharsh in my judgment
of the homesick exiles who in this far corner of the earth are
clinching the rivets of France's colonial empire.

The next morning I set sail from Saigon for China. Leaving the mouth of
the river in our wake, we rounded the mighty promontory of Cap St.
Jacques and headed for the open sea. The palm-fringed shore line of
Cochin-China dropped away; the blue mountains of Annam turned pale and
ghostly in the evening mists. A sun-scorched, pestilential land.... I
was glad to leave it. But already I am longing to return. I want once
more to sit at a café table beneath the awnings of the Rue Catinat,
before me a tall glass with ice tinkling in it. I want to hear the
_pousse-pousse_ coolies padding softly by in the gathering twilight. I
want to see the little Annamite women in their sleazy silken garments
and the boisterous, swaggering _legionnaires_ in their white helmets. I
want to stroll once more beneath the tamarinds beside the Mekong, to
smell the odors of the hot lands, to hear again the throbbing of the
tom-toms and the soft music of the wind-blown temple bells. For

    "When you've 'eard the East a-callin'
    You won't never 'eed naught else."



Transcriber's Notes:


Inconsistencies in the hyphenation of words preserved. (blind-folded,
blindfolded; body-guard, bodyguard; coast-guard, coastguard;
co-operation, cooperation; co-terminous, coterminous; cock-fighting,
cockfighting; harbour-master, harbourmaster; head-dresses, headdresses;
light-houses, lighthouses; net-work, network; off-shore, offshore;
old-time, oldtime; three-score, threescore; to-day, today; to-morrow,
tomorrow; water-front, waterfront; white-washed, whitewashed;
wide-spread, widespread)

Table of Contents, heading for Chapter IX says "PROSPECT RULERS AND
COMIC OPERA COURTS" while the chapter heading in the main text says
"PUPPET RULERS AND COMIC OPERA COURTS". "PUPPET" is more likely to have
been the word intended by the author but the original words have been
preserved in both cases.

Pg. 73, opening double quote mark at beginning of paragraph removed as
text here does not appear to be quoted speech and there is no closing
quote at the end. (There is held each year)

Pg. 79, "Portgual" changed to "Portugal". (King of Portugal, had
shifted)

Pg. 148, "ampitheatre" is more commonly spelled "amphitheatre".
Author's original text preserved.

Pg. 209, "Turquoise Mosque in Samarland". "Samarland" is more likely to
be "Samarkand" but the author's original text is preserved.

Pg. 221, "Chulalungkorn" is spelled elsewhere in the text
"Chulalongkorn". Author's original text preserved.

Pg. 237, inserted closing double quote mark. (know how to make it.")

Pg. 265, inserted opening double quote mark. (he greeted me. "The)





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