Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Siam
Author: Young, Ernest
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Siam" ***

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



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



PEEPS AT MANY LANDS

SIAM



LIST OF VOLUMES IN THE PEEPS AT MANY LANDS SERIES

EACH CONTAINING 12 FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR PRICE +1/6+ EACH
NET POST FREE 1/10

BURMA
CANADA
EGYPT
ENGLAND
FRANCE
HOLLAND
HOLY LAND
ICELAND
INDIA
ITALY
JAPAN
MOROCCO
SCOTLAND
SIAM
SOUTH AFRICA
SOUTH SEAS
SWITZERLAND


THE WORLD

Containing 37 full-page illustrations in colour

PRICE +3/6+ NET
POST FREE 3/10


PUBLISHED BY
ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK
SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.


AGENTS

AMERICA      THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

CANADA       THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LTD.
                27 RICHMOND STREET WEST, TORONTO

INDIA        MACMILLAN & COMPANY, LTD.
                MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
                309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA

AUSTRALASIA OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, MELBOURNE


[Illustration: A TYPICAL CANAL SCENE. _Chapter II._]



PEEPS AT MANY LANDS

SIAM

BY
ERNEST YOUNG, B.SC.

HEAD MASTER OF THE LOWER SCHOOL OF JOHN LYON, HARROW
FORMERLY OF THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT, SIAM
AUTHOR OF "THE KINGDOM OF THE YELLOW ROBE," ETC.

WITH TWELVE FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS
IN COLOUR

BY
EDWIN A. NORBURY, R.C.A.

LONDON
ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK
1908


TO

MY CHILD FRIEND,

SYBIL MARJORIE COOPER,

I AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATE THIS, MY FIRST
BOOK FOR CHILDREN



CONTENTS

CHAPTER                             PAGE
    I. A PEEP INTO SIAMESE HISTORY     1

   II. IN EASTERN VENICE               5

  III. DOWN THE RIVER                 10

   IV. THE CHILDREN                   15

    V. SCHOOLS                        18

   VI. AMUSEMENTS                     22

  VII. THE STORY OF BUDDHA            27

 VIII. THE MONKS                      34

   IX. THE TEMPLES                    39

    X. THE SHAVING OF THE TOP-KNOT    44

   XI. HOUSES                         48

  XII. FOOD AND DRESS                 55

 XIII. FISHING                        56

  XIV. RICE                           60

   XV. A PLOUGHING CEREMONY           65

  XVI. ELEPHANTS                      69

 XVII. WHITE ELEPHANTS                75

XVIII. TRIAL BY ORDEAL                79



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

BY EDWIN A. NORBURY, R.C.A.


A TYPICAL CANAL SCENE                 _frontispiece_

                                         FACING PAGE
A CORNER OF THE GRAND PALACE ENCLOSURE, BANGKOK    4

THE RIVER MARKET, BANGKOK                          9

THE GULF OF SIAM--MOONLIGHT                       16

A BUFFALO CART                                    25

A GROUP OF BUDDHIST MONKS                         32

THE TEMPLE OF WAT POH                             41

MOUNT PRABHAT                                     48

A FISHING-BOAT NEAR THE ISLAND PAGODA, PAKNAM     57

THE ANNUAL RICE-PLOUGHING FESTIVAL                64

AN ELEPHANT HUNT AT AYUTHIA                       73

A RELIGIOUS WATER PROCESSION                      80


_Sketch-Map of Siam on p. viii._


[Illustration: SKETCH-MAP OF SIAM.]



SIAM



CHAPTER I

A PEEP INTO SIAMESE HISTORY


You have doubtless already learned in your history of England that at
one time this island home of ours was peopled by wild, uncivilized
tribes, who were driven away into the hills of the north and the west by
invaders who came to our shores from the lands on the other side of the
North Sea. At different times, Jutes, Saxons, Danes, and Angles poured
their warriors upon our coasts, killed the people, burnt their homes,
and stole their cattle. And one of these invading tribes, the Angles,
gave its name to a part of our island, which is to this day known as
England--that is, Angle-land, the land of the Angles.

Now, in the same way, the people who live in Siam at the present time
are the descendants of invaders who swept into the country and drove the
original inhabitants into the hills. No one is quite certain where the
Siamese actually came from, but it is likely that their home was upon
the mountain-slopes of Tibet. Their ancestors were a wild and vigorous
race who tattooed themselves. They descended from the mountains and
settled in China, where they became a peaceable people, living upon
their farms, rearing their crops and tending their herds, and perhaps
thinking little of war and bloodshed any more. These people are known as
the _Shans_. Then, one day, there came down upon them a great horde of
invaders, who drove most of them away from their homes. Some stayed
behind as slaves; other wanderers travelled to the west and settled in
the country we now call Burma; and, finally, some of the exiles pushed
on to the valleys and hill-sides of Northern Siam, and these are the
people whose descendants we call the Siamese. The word "Siam" is really
the word "Shan," the name of the earliest settlers in the land. Amongst
the first of the European nations to visit this little-known country
were the Portuguese; and when they came home to Europe again, and told
their story of the people they had found in Further India, they both
spelled and pronounced the word "Shan" as "Siam," and that is how we get
the name. The Siamese never call themselves by this name. The native
name for the people is "Thai," which means "free," and the country of
Siam is to them always "Muang Thai"--that is, "the Land of the Free."

We shall not stay here to tell the long story of how the Siamese, in the
course of many hundreds of years, have fought all the people upon their
borders--those who live in Cambodia, Pegu, Annam, and Burma. This
history is full of curious stories of brave and cruel men, two of whom
deserve just a word or two here.

About the time when Charles II. was reigning in England, a Greek named
Constantine Phaulkon arrived in Siam. He had been wrecked, together with
a number of Siamese officials, upon the coast of India, and they had
invited him to visit their country. He accepted the invitation, and they
introduced him to the King. Phaulkon was a very clever man, and he
became the chief friend and adviser of the Sovereign. He built a fort
and a palace, and round the town that was then the capital he erected a
wall, which was strengthened at intervals by small towers. The ruins of
the palace built by this Greek are still to be seen in the old city.
Phaulkon grew so powerful that the Siamese princes and nobles got
jealous, and when the King became sick, so that he could no longer hold
the reins of power, the angry princes and their friends made up their
minds to get rid of the King's foreign favourite. One dark night
Phaulkon was summoned to attend a meeting of the chief men of the
country. He hurried to the palace, little thinking what was in store for
him. On his arrival he was seized and thrown into prison, and finally he
was tortured to death.

Now, about a hundred years later, at a time when George III. was on the
throne of England, and when we were fighting the American colonists
because they would not pay the taxes we tried to impose upon them,
another foreigner rose to great power in Siam. This foreigner was a
Chinaman, named Phya Tak. The Burmese had invaded Siam, and had done a
great deal of damage. So Phya Tak got together an army, composed chiefly
of robbers and outlaws, and with these fierce soldiers he drove all the
Burmese away. When he had achieved this great victory, he came to
Bangkok, and caused himself to be crowned King of the country; and ever
since his day Bangkok has been the capital of Siam. Phya Tak did not
reign very long, for after a time he became mad. He fled to a monastery
and donned the robes of a priest. But this did not help him very much,
for the man who had been his chief friend and general murdered the mad
King and reigned in his stead. The usurper assumed the crown in 1782,
and the Sovereign who now rules over the country is his great-grandson.
The present King's full name and title is His Majesty Phrabat Somdetch
Phra Paramindr Maha Chula Lon Kawn Phra Chula Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua. He
became King when he was not quite seventeen years of age, and his health
at that time was so delicate that at first it was feared he would not
live. However, on the day that he was crowned it rained very heavily,
and then all his subjects felt very happy indeed; for if it rains when
the King is crowned, then will he certainly live for many years. And so
it has happened, for he is still alive, having reigned now about
twenty-nine years.

[Illustration: A CORNER OF THE GRAND PALACE ENCLOSURE, BANGKOK.]



CHAPTER II

IN EASTERN VENICE


Bangkok, the present capital of Siam, has been called "the Venice of the
East," on account of its innumerable waterways. The whole place is
threaded with canals of every possible size and description. There are
canals that are like great broad thoroughfares, where huge boats may be
seen carrying to and fro rice, fruit, and other products of the fields
and orchards; and tiny little water-lanes, where the broad fronds of the
graceful coco-nut palm sweep down over the sluggish stream, where green
parrots scream at you from amongst green branches, and ugly dark
crocodiles lie asleep in the thick and sticky mud.

Along the sides of the "streets" there are long lines of floating houses
in which the people live. Each house floats on a big raft, made of
separate bundles of bamboo. Thus, when the floating foundation begins to
rot, the bundles can be replaced one by one without disturbing the
people on the raft. The raft is loosely moored to big wooden stakes,
which are driven deep in the bed of the river, so that the houses rise
and fall with the tide. In front of the house there is always a little
platform or veranda, on which the people pass most of their time, and
where, if they pretend to keep a shop, they display the goods which they
wish to sell. It is on this platform that all the members of the family
take their bath. They dip a bucket or can into the water, draw it up,
and then pour the contents over their heads.

When the occupant of one of these floating dwellings wishes to move, he
sends for no furniture van or cart; but he simply shifts his house, his
furniture, and his family all at the same time. If he be fairly
well-to-do, he hires a steam-launch, and the little vessel goes puffing
and screaming up or down the river or the canal, as the case may be,
dragging behind it the miniature Noah's ark, while on the platform the
little ones of the household are to be seen, bubbling over with
merriment at the novelty of their experience. If the owner of the house
be too poor to hire a steam-launch, he calls to his aid a number of
muscular friends and relatives, and then, with the aid of great
shovel-shaped paddles, they coax the home away to its new locality.

Some of the people who live on the water do not inhabit floating houses,
but boats, and in these they can travel about from time to time as fancy
or business may direct. Many people spend the whole of their lives on
boats. They are born on a boat, reared on a boat, get their education
neglected on a boat, go a-courting on a boat, get married on a boat, and
never forsake the water till life is over and they set out on that long
mysterious journey, from which no boat or carriage will ever bring them
back. There is not much room in a boat, but the inhabitants thereof seem
perfectly contented with their lot; in fact, the Siamese seem to be
always and everywhere perfectly happy and contented: they are one of
the merriest and most cheerful people upon the face of the earth.

The water population is quite complete in itself, and does not depend
upon those who dwell upon the land for any assistance whatever. There
are not only floating houses, but floating restaurants, floating
theatres, and even floating jails. The water population has its own
market-place upon the broad bosom of the great river that sweeps through
the centre of the capital. In the market the buyers and sellers are
chiefly women, for the women are much cleverer and much more energetic
than men. The market begins soon after midnight, and lasts till seven or
eight in the morning. During the dark hours of the night the boats are
massed together in such a way that scarcely an inch of water can be
seen. They are laden with fish, eggs, rice, and fruit. Each boat has a
little lamp at the prow, and in the soft yellow light that twinkles
above the polished surface of the stream, you can catch glimpses of the
black-haired, dark-skinned women busy with the vending of their
merchandise, and all the time laughing and chattering with the glee of a
carefree people. They are just like a party of merry children out on a
big picnic. As soon as the sun rises, off home they go, leaving a broad
and empty expanse of river where formerly there was a dense crowd of
little boats and busy women.

[Illustration: THE RIVER MARKET, BANGKOK. _Page 7._]

It very seldom happens that anyone falls overboard; and even if a person
does fall into the water it matters but little, for there is no Siamese
who cannot swim. When the children are ever so tiny, their mothers
fasten under their arms a big tin float. Then they throw the babies--for
they are nothing more--into the warm waters of the canal or river, where
they bob up and down like so many animated bits of brown cork upon the
surface of the stream.

There are, of course, many people who, in the capital especially, live
upon land, and of their houses we shall say something in a later
chapter. The land part of the capital, except for the palace and the
temples, is not very interesting. The new brick houses and streets are
very ugly, and the old wooden houses and streets are very smelly.

Some years ago there was an old horse-tram that used to run from the
palace to the place where the steamers are moored. But one day some
European engineers changed all that: they put up electric wires, and ran
electric trams. The natives were more than a little astonished. They
could see a car running along the road, and yet there was neither horse
nor man pushing or pulling. It completely passed their understanding to
make out how the tramcar managed to get along. At last they came to the
conclusion that it must be propelled by spirits. So they knelt down on
the ground, and prayed to the spirit in the wheels of the car as they
went swiftly and smoothly round. But not many of them ventured to get
inside. One evening the King and Queen came out of the palace, and went
for a ride in the new tram. And what the King had honoured was good
enough for his subjects. To-day the cars carry thousands of people in
many directions, for tram-lines have been laid through all the
principal streets of the capital.

There are no native vehicles in the streets. Outside the capital there
are no roads, and the people travel everywhere by water. When roads were
first made in Bangkok, and carriages were wanted, the Siamese got their
vehicles from other countries. From Japan they got the _rickshaw_, a
kind of big mailcart, with a Chinaman between the shafts. The human pony
trots along very swiftly, and will carry you quite a long way for a
halfpenny.

From India they got the _gharry_, a kind of four-wheeler, which is
fitted all the way round with sliding windows, something like those in
the door of a railway carriage, except that the frames of the windows
are oftener filled with Venetian shutters than with glass. The driver of
the _gharry_ is either a Malay or a Siamese. He wears a red fez cap and
a white linen jacket. When it rains he takes off his clothes and puts
them under the seat to keep them dry. As soon as the rain leaves off and
the sun comes out again, he stops the carriage, and dresses himself once
more. The harness is made of rope, and, as often as not, it breaks. Then
you have to wait while your coachman goes to the nearest shop or house
in order to beg a bit of string wherewith to repair the damage.



CHAPTER III

DOWN THE RIVER


Siam has only one great river that is entirely her own. It is marked on
English maps as the "Menam," but its real name is the "Menam Chow Phya."
The word "Menam" is made up of two words, _maa_ and _nam_, and means the
"mother of the waters." It is the name of every river and stream in the
country, and corresponds to our word "river." The Menam is not merely
the mother of the waters, but of the land also, for all the lower part
of Siam is one extensive plain, which has been built up by the mud,
gravel, and sand brought down from the mountains by the river.

Suppose we get on board a steamer and sail from Bangkok down to the
mouth of the Menam. The distance from Bangkok to the mouth of the river,
measured as the crow flies, is only twelve miles, but so much does the
river twist and turn that we shall be three hours before we reach the
sea. But there is much to be seen in those three hours, and the time
passes away merrily enough.

[Illustration: THE GULF OF SIAM--MOONLIGHT. _Page 10._]

Everywhere there are boats--boats of all sizes and shapes, and without
number. Many of these belong to the Chinese, and bear upon the prow a
very realistic representation of an eye; for, says John Chinaman, "If
boat no got eye, how can him see?" Siamese boats are chiefly canoes, or
long, narrow, heavy _rua-changs_. Both classes of boats are built of
teak, a wood which is plentiful and cheap, and which is not attacked by
the so-called "white ant." The canoes are paddled in the ordinary way,
but they are very upsettable. Many of these will not even sit upright in
the water unless someone gets inside. Yet great fat men, whose weight
sinks the boat to the very edge of the water, and tiny children, whose
weight looks little more than nothing, can be seen at all hours of the
day darting here and there, like so many flies, on the surface of the
water.

The _rua-changs_ are larger, and are used for carrying people about from
one part of the river to another. They serve the same purpose as our
omnibuses. The boatman, who is naked except for a cloth round the loins,
stands to his work like a Venetian gondolier. He has only one oar, which
works in a groove cut in the side of a short pole that is fixed on the
edge of the boat. With long graceful sweeps of the heavy oar the boatman
both steers and propels his craft at the same time. The passengers are
squatting under paper umbrellas, which keep off a little of the heat of
the sun, and blinking behind the blue spectacles that guard their eyes
from the powerful and painful reflection of the sun upon the shining
waters.

As the capital is left behind the houses get fewer and fewer along the
banks, and the trees come right down to the edge of the river. On either
side of us, as the mouth is neared, there are dreary salt marshes, which
are often flooded by the sea when the tides are high. On the banks, the
fern-like attap-palm, that lover of the mud, bends over in graceful
curves to dip the ends of its long fronds in the dirty water. Just
behind, on firmer ground, rise the stately coco-nut and areca-nut
palms. An eastern saying states: "The coco-nut will not thrive far from
the sound of the human voice." Whether the coco-nut loves the sound of
the Siamese voice or not it is, perhaps, not possible to say, but
certain it is that the Siamese loves the coco-nut palm, on account of
the many useful things that he can get from it. The young coco-nut is
quite a different thing from that seen in our shops about
Christmas-time. In its early stages it resembles a huge, unripe green
plum. Outside there is a smooth green skin, like that on the outside of
the plum. Under the skin is a layer of thick white woody fibres, that
corresponds to the unripe part of the plum; and inside all there is a
kernel, corresponding to the kernel of the plum. At this stage there is
very little flesh in the nut, but a large supply of cool, sweet milk,
which makes a very delicious drink. If you want a coco-nut, you just
climb up a tree and take one. The owner of the tree will not mind, and
he would be neither surprised nor angry if you were even to go and ask
him for the loan of a knife wherewith to cut down his own coco-nuts.
When the fruit is ripe, the woody mass changes to a tangle of brown
fibres, that are stripped off to make coco-nut matting and other
articles, and the kernel ripens into the nut as we know it in the
English market.

By this time we are at the mouth of the river. Here the current of the
river meets the sea. That current is bearing with it tons of fine sand
and soil. But the sea seems to say to the river, "Thus far, and no
farther." And so here all the muddy stuff in the river water is
deposited. In this way a bar has been formed, which blocks the river
mouth. At low tide there are only three feet of water over it, and even
during the highest tides there is never more than fifteen feet of water
on the bar. Hence very big steamers can never enter the Chow Phya, but
have to load and unload their cargoes by means of smaller boats, called
"lighters." About fifty years ago, when the Siamese were fighting the
people of Cambodia, they filled four large junks with stones, and sank
them in the river mouth to prevent the ships of their enemy from
reaching the capital. The junks have long since decayed, but the stones
have become welded together into such a heavy, solid mass that it would
take several charges of dynamite to remove the obstruction.

The first steamer ever seen on the Menam belonged to a Scotchman, who
imported it from England because the King wanted to see one of the
"fire-ships" that he had heard so much about. When it arrived, the
Scotchman and the King quarrelled about the price, and the boat was sent
away again. But the next year the King's brother built a "steamer"
without the help of any European at all, just to show how clever he was,
and how they could do quite well without the Scotchman's boat. The new
vessel was forty-two feet long, and she had a funnel like a steamer; but
this was all a sham, for there were no fires or boilers. Instead, there
were paddle-wheels hidden inside the boat, and these were turned round
by Siamese serfs, who worked them after the fashion of a treadmill.
Everybody was hugely delighted, and the people were quite sure that the
boat was far superior to that which any European could possibly have
made.

However, in 1855 the Siamese did really build a steamboat, though they
obtained the engines from New York. When the vessel was launched they
had a grand ceremony. The stern was decorated with the crown and the
royal umbrellas, and the deck-house was set apart for His Majesty's use.
The paddle-wheels were decorated with gold, and on the main mast flew
the royal standard. The builder was appointed captain, and so pleased
was the King with his new ship that he ordered three more vessels to be
built, one of which carried guns and was used for hunting pirates.

The chief attraction at the mouth of the river is a magnificent pagoda,
known as "the Shrine in the Middle of the Waters." It stands on a little
island, is built of whitewashed stone and bricks, and is surrounded by
the buildings of the temple of which it forms a part. Here every year
boat-races are held, which provide a great deal of amusement, for by the
rules of the game you are allowed to upset your opponent if you can.
Hence the main idea is first to ram your rival's boat, and then, while
the crew are struggling in the water, to scuttle off as fast as you can
go.



CHAPTER IV

THE CHILDREN


Siamese children can only be described in the language that an English
mother uses about her own small ones as they tumble over one another in
the nursery or in the garden--they are just "little dears." They laugh
merrily, avoid quarrelling, either in words or with blows, and are most
unselfish. The boy who has a new bicycle or a new watch will lend it in
turn to each of his playmates, quite content to see them enjoying what
was given to him for his own personal amusement.

At first sight the children, with their straight black hair and their
brown faces, strike the white man as being rather funny-looking little
creatures. But after a while, when one has seen more of them, it is
recognised that they possess a distinct charm and beauty of their own.
Their features are quite different from those of the European, because
they belong to a different race of people. The Siamese are _Mongols_, as
are also the people of Japan, China, Burma, and Tibet. Their complexion
varies from a lightish yellow to dark brown. Their faces are rather
broad and flat; their cheek-bones stand out prominently; their noses are
small; their hair is long, lank, and jet-black; and their eyes are small
and set obliquely. Most Siamese children have very merry eyes--eyes that
have got a perpetual twinkle in them, and more than a suggestion of
mischief and roguishness.

About a month after a child is born the little hair that is upon the
head is shaved off. A little later the new arrival receives a name. At
first every baby, whether a boy or a girl, has the same name. This
common name is "Dang," which means "red." "Yellow" would be a better
name, for all the babies are rubbed from head to foot with a yellow
paste, which produces a very bilious appearance. This yellow powder is
supposed to keep away mosquitoes, and as the dogs and cats are often
powdered as well as the babies, you may frequently see a yellow set of
wee creatures--animals and babies--rolling about together in the most
laughable fashion. Names are often changed, so that a boy who is "Leam"
to-day may be called "Chua" to-morrow. Sometimes the name is changed
because it is thought to be unlucky. If "Chua" is ill, the chances are
that there are certain spirits who do not like his name, so the parents
alter his name to "Mee," or something else, and then he gets well again.

Smoking is commenced at a very early age, and every little boy has his
own tobacco supply and packet of cigarette-papers. As he trots to school
in the morning he puffs away vigorously, occasionally passing his
cigarette to a friend that he also may take a few whiffs. If the
cigarette is not finished when he arrives at school, he pinches off the
hot end and puts the rest behind one of his ears, as we might put a
pencil or a pen. As soon as school is over out come the matches and the
cigarettes again, and the little chimney puffs off home to lunch.

When the Siamese young folks get up in the morning, they do not go to
the washstand to wash their hands and faces, for the simple reason that
there are no washstands. They go outside the house to a large jar of
water, and then throw the water over hands and faces with a coco-nut
dipper. No towels are used, as the hot air soon dries up the water. The
teeth are not brushed, for they have been stained black, and it would be
a pity to wash the colour off. The hair is not combed, as it has all
been shaved except for a little tuft on the top of the head, and that is
tied in a knot, and not often combed.

When breakfast is over the children go off to play, the baby being
carried by the big sister, not in the arms, but sitting on the hip of
the bearer, as on a pony. The girls play at keeping houses. They make
dishes of clay and mud, and dry them in the sun; gather herbs, and
flowers, and weeds, and pretend that these are cakes and sweetmeats. For
dolls they use small clay images that have been whitewashed. The dolls
are put in tiny cradles and covered over with scraps of cloth. The
cradles are made of network fixed on to a small oblong frame, like a
picture-frame. The boys go fishing for crabs in the mud, and when the
baskets are full of crabs, they pelt one another with warm, soft mud,
just as we pelt one another with snow in the winter-time. When they feel
sufficiently tired and dirty, they take a plunge into the water, and
come up again clean, smiling, and happy.

There are many games played both by men and boys, and about some of
these you will hear in a later chapter.

The Siamese children are very obedient and respectful to their parents,
teachers, and those who are older than themselves. They never dream of
arguing with those set in authority over them. They respect rank as well
as age, but they have at the same time a certain amount of independence
of character which prevents them becoming servile.



CHAPTER V

SCHOOLS


Siamese children, when very young, are but little troubled by either
clothes or schools. They spend their time riding on buffaloes, climbing
trees, smoking cigarettes, paddling canoes, eating and sleeping. But at
some time in life many boys go to school. There is no compulsion. If a
boy does not want to go, he can stay away. Yet most boys, both in the
remote country districts and in the busy, crowded capital, have learned
something. Perhaps the delights of climbing trees and smoking cigarettes
pall after a time, or perhaps the boy is ambitious, and wants to get on
in the world. If so, he must at least learn to read, write, and "do
sums." Whatever be the reason, it does happen that practically every
Siamese boy goes to school. His attendance is not regular and not
punctual, but in the course of a few years he manages to learn certain
things that are of use to him.

Siamese schools are situated in the cool, shady grounds of the temple.
They are generally plain sheds or outhouses. The teachers are usually
the priests, but here and there a lay head master may be found. In such
a case the master, like the boys, is not overburdened with clothes. A
piece of cloth is draped about his legs, but the upper part of his body
is generally bare. If he possesses a white linen coat, such as Europeans
wear in a hot country, he takes it off when he enters the building and
hangs it up, so that it shall not get dirty while he is teaching. He
generally smokes the whole time, and when he is not smoking he is
chewing betel-nut.

The children sit cross-legged on the ground, tailor-fashion. There are
no chairs or desks, and if there were the children would sit
cross-legged upon them just the same. All learn to read. Now the Siamese
language is what is called a _tonic_ language--that is, the meaning of
any word depends on the _tone_ with which it is pronounced. For
instance, the word _ma_ can be pronounced in three ways, and has,
therefore, three meanings--namely, "come," "horse," and "dog." If,
therefore, you called out to a friend, "Come here!" in the wrong tones,
you might insult him by saying, "Dog, here!" and so on. You might wish
to say to a farmer, "Can I walk across your _field_?" If you were to
pronounce the last word in the wrong tone, it might mean, "Can I walk
across your _face_?" a request that might lead to trouble, especially if
the farmer were a big man. Some of the syllables have as many as five
tones, and the foreigner finds it exceedingly difficult to express his
meaning correctly. As the correct meaning of a word depends on the
particular accent with which it is uttered, all reading must be done
aloud to be enjoyed. Each scholar in the school learns his own
particular page or lesson independently of the others, and the many
voices blend into one, rising and falling from time to time in a not
unmusical hum, sometimes loud and full, when the master is vigilant and
the scholars are energetic; often soft and feeble, when the master is
dreaming on the floor or lounging in the sun, and his pupils are getting
weary of their monotonous task.

Slates and pencils are used for writing, though the best pupils use lead
pencils. In a village school ink is never seen.

Arithmetic up to short division is taught in some schools, but in many
others no arithmetic at all is taught, for the simple reason that the
teacher does not know any. As for bills of parcels and recurring
decimals, and all the other horrible things that men do with figures,
they are unknown and undreamt of.

Sometimes a little grammar is learned if the master knows anything of
the subject, and all who expect to be thought wise must learn pages of
the sacred books off by heart, and must be able to repeat them without
hesitation or error. They do not understand a word of what they are
saying, for the sacred books are written in a dead language that nobody
speaks and few understand.

And that is all. There is no geography, history, or science. There are
no workshops, laboratories, or drawing-classes.

There is no furniture of any description, no diagrams, blackboards, or
desks. I once went into a school, where I saw each child sitting
placidly on the ground with a small box in front of him, on which he
placed his slate or book. It was a curious sight. There were about forty
of these boxes, all procured in the native market, and bearing on their
sides varied announcements as to the excellence of Pear's soap and
Cadbury's cocoa.

The school opens at nine. The boys arrive between ten and eleven, and
the head master puts in his appearance when he has finished his
breakfast. The only part of the unwritten time-table that is punctually
kept is the time for closing.

In the capital there are now a number of schools that are quite well
organized and taught, and even in some of the villages things are slowly
improving.

Where English masters are employed some attempt has been made to teach
English games. To these the boys take very quickly. Cricket is the
favourite game, and some of the boys soon become as clever as their
teachers. I shall never forget the first cricket-match, played between a
team of Siamese boys and a number of young Hindus who had picked up the
game in India. Each side brought a crowd of spectators of its own
nationality. Under one clump of trees the swarthy Hindu crowd were
gathered, wearing clean turbans and long picturesque robes, with their
eyes all aglow and their faces all afire with excitement. Near at hand
the lighter-coloured, more sparsely clad Siamese congregated, less
excitable, but more genial and pleasant to look upon. Everywhere
gathered the dealers in cigarettes, the carriers of teapots, the
vendors of ginger-beer and curry. The game baffles description, but I
can never think of it without remembering the policeman in the road, who
got hit on the bare foot with the ball, and refused to restore it until
two-and-twenty cricketers, in various dialects and with yet more varied
actions, managed to persuade the wounded officer that they had never
meant to hurt him.



CHAPTER VI

AMUSEMENTS


The Siamese have practically no games which, like football and hockey,
involve a great deal of physical exertion. They like to take their
pleasures quietly, on account of the great heat. The chief amusement is
gambling in some form or other. Little boys catch crickets, and bring
them to school in match-boxes. In play-time they dig a little hole in
the ground, put the crickets in the hole, and make them fight, meanwhile
betting their knives, cigarettes, and other small possessions on the
result of the combat.

Sometimes there are cock-fights. As there are few or no watches with
which to time the rounds, a time-measurer of another kind is used. This
consists of a small bowl that floats in water. There is a little hole in
the bottom of the bowl, through which water slowly enters. When the bowl
is filled to a certain point it sinks, and then the round is over.

Perhaps the most curious of the contests that are employed as means of
gambling is that between two fighting fish. The fighting fish is a
species of small carp about the size of a stickleback. It has beautiful
peacock-blue sides and ruby-coloured fins. These fish are kept in glass
bottles, and are trained to attack their own image as seen in a
looking-glass. When two of them meet each other in a big bowl of water,
the way in which they manoeuvre to get hold of one another is most
ridiculous, and the way they bite whenever they get the chance is
perfectly atrocious. All the time the fight is going on the spectators
lay wagers on the result.

In March, when the winds are strong, kite-flying is indulged in by
grown-up people as well as children. There is always great excitement at
a kite-flying contest. Two men stand close together. One man sends his
kite up, and when it is well in the air the second man sends his aloft.
The kites have no tails, but they fly steadily. When the two kites are
near each other, one man gives his string a peculiar jerk. This makes
his kite jump over the other one, descend a little way, and then come up
on the other side. In this way the strings attached to the two kites get
entangled. By alternately pulling in and releasing the strings they are
made to saw one another. The man whose kite-string is first cut through
loses the game. On many of the kites whistles are fastened, and as the
kites sweep through the air shrill piercing sounds accompany their
flight.

Another popular amusement is "football," which is nothing like our game
of the same name. The ball is only about six or seven inches in
diameter. It is very light, as it is made of a few pieces of twisted
cane. Any number of people can play, from two upwards. The players stand
in a ring facing each other. One of them sends the ball into the air,
and the person nearest to it, when it descends, must send it up again.
He may do this with his head, shoulder, knee, or foot, but he must not
touch the ball with his hands. If the ball falls just behind the
player's back, he judges the distance without turning round, catches the
ball on the back of his heel, and so brings it back into the circle and
towards another player. There are no goals, and, in fact, no scoring of
any kind. The game ends when the players are tired. Sometimes a weary
one will drop out of the game, lie down for a while for a rest, and then
rejoin the circle when he feels refreshed. New-comers may join the game
at any moment. About the only amusement not associated with gambling is
the theatre. There is only one fixed theatre in the capital. In the days
when there was neither gas nor electric light it was only open on
moonlit nights, for without the light of the moon the people would have
had to go home in the dark. As a rule, theatrical performances take
place at private houses at times of weddings, or funerals, or on other
occasions of private rejoicing or sorrow.

[Illustration: A BUFFALO CART.]

There are no men players except the clowns. The other parts are taken by
women. The plays, if acted from beginning to end, would last for weeks;
but, as everybody knows the whole of every drama, only small portions
are acted at a time. The better the people know the selection that is
played, the better they like it. The actresses move about from one side
of the stage to the other, twisting their heads, arms, and legs about in
a slow and curious fashion, which is their way of dancing. They do not
speak. The story is told by a chorus of people, who screech out the
tale, to the accompaniment of the weirdest of bands. It sounds like a
mixture of drums, brass trays, and bagpipes.

As a fixed theatre is not necessary, the plays can be acted anywhere. A
space for the stage is marked out on the ground with mats. Round the
mats sit the band and the chorus. The spectators sit or stand quite near
the players, and sometimes an odd baby gets loose, and wanders about
amongst the feet of the angels and demons, who are strutting quaintly in
the mat-encircled area. When the man who beats the drums or bangs the
brass trays has had enough, some little boy in the audience will come
and take his place, and so allow the weary musician a little rest.

There is of course, no scenery, and the audience has to draw very
largely on its imagination as the performance proceeds. Suppose that a
Siamese company were going to play "Robinson Crusoe." This is the kind
of thing that would happen. One actress would come on the stage with a
pole fastened to her chest. From the top of a pole a little flag would
fly. The rest of the troupe would stand, two by two, behind the maiden
with the pole. Last of all would come another actress, bearing another
pole and flag, and with a rudder tied to her back. The long string of
people gathered together in this way would represent a ship and its
passengers. The voyage would now begin by the company rolling round the
edges of the mats in a very slow and measured manner. Presently the
storm would arise. The drummers would bang, the brass-tray beaters would
hammer, and the bagpipe-blowing gentlemen would nearly burst themselves.
The chorus would howl, and all the little boys and girls in the audience
would join in, and outdo the professional howlers easily, as you may
imagine. Everyone would fall flat down on the stage, and that would be a
shipwreck. In a second or two the drowned sailors would get up and walk
off the stage, and no one would think it at all funny. Poor old
Robinson, left to himself, would find the goat, and the goat would be
one of the actresses, who would walk about on two legs, wearing a mask
that would look just as much like a monkey as a goat, and with two horns
on her head. The goat would circulate about the stage, dancing exactly
like a human being, and the spectators would help the actress by
believing that she really was a goat, and so everybody would be
satisfied. When Robinson wanted to hide himself in a wood, he would walk
to the edge of the stage, and hold a branch of a tree in front of his
face. This would mean that he was quite hidden. If anyone pretended to
see him, they would probably hear some very rude remarks from the rest
of the audience, who would not wish to have their innocent amusement
spoiled by a clever young critic.



CHAPTER VII

THE STORY OF BUDDHA


The religion of the Siamese is Buddhism. It is so called after the
Buddha who was its founder and first missionary. The Buddha lived so
many, many years ago that we know very little about him. For centuries
after his death wonderful stories were told about his power, his
kindness, and his great wisdom. As the stories passed from mouth to
mouth they became more and more marvellous, and at the present time
there are scores of tales about him that are little better than
fairy-stories. In the following account of this great and holy man the
known facts of his life and some of the legends about himself and his
doings are interwoven. It must be remembered that the Buddha was a man
who did actually live upon the earth, and that, though the fables about
him are unbelievable by us, yet these fables are useful as showing us
what other people thought about their wise and saintly teacher.

About five hundred years before the birth of Christ the Buddha was born
at a small village in India, only a few days' journey from Benares, the
sacred city of the Hindus. His father was the Rajah of the tribe of
Sakyas. The boy's family name was Gautama, and under this name we shall
oftenest speak of him in this chapter. But his followers never use the
name Gautama, thinking it too familiar and intimate. They always speak
of him under some title, such as "the Lion of the Tribe of Sakya," "the
Happy One," "the Conqueror," "the Lord of the World," "the King of
Righteousness," and so on. When he was only seven days old his mother
died, and he was brought up by his aunt.

The boy was quiet and thoughtful, and seemed to take no pleasure in
hunting or in practising any of those exercises which would fit him to
lead his tribe in war. His friends and relatives and the great Sakya
nobles were very cross at this, because they feared that, when their
enemies should attack them, the young prince would be found unequal to
lead them in their conflicts. So they went to his father, and complained
that the boy did nothing but follow his own pleasures, and that he
learned nothing useful. When Gautama heard of this, he asked the King,
his father, to fix a day on which he could show his skill and strength
in all the manly arts. On the appointed day thousands of people thronged
to the place that had been chosen to see what the Prince could do. He
surprised every one, for he could ride the fiercest horses and fling the
heaviest spears. He shot arrows with a bow that 1,000 men could not
bend, and the sound of whose twanging was heard 7,000 miles away. After
this the people held their peace and wondered.

When he was nineteen he married his cousin, a girl singularly beautiful
and good. For the next ten years after that we know nothing at all about
him, but we are sure that he lived a quiet, peaceful life, treating all
around him with gentleness and courtesy, and thinking little about
sickness or sorrow. One day, when he was about twenty-nine years old,
he was driving to the pleasure-grounds when he saw a man broken down by
age--weak, poor, and miserable--and he asked the man who was driving his
chariot to explain the sight. To which the charioteer replied that all
men who live to a great age become weak in mind and body, just like the
poor old wreck they had seen in the street. Another day he saw a man
suffering from disease, and again the charioteer explained that all men
have to suffer pain. A few days later he saw a dead body, and learned
for the first time--a fact that had been kept from him through all the
days of his childhood and his manhood even up to that hour--that all
human beings must die.

Gautama was very sad when he thought of the misery that there is in the
world, and he began to wonder if it could not all be done away with. He
made up his mind to go away secretly and become a hermit. He would live
away from towns and crowds, and see if he could not discover a way to
lessen the sorrows of his fellow-men.

Just about this time his son was born. He loved this son very dearly,
but he thought that if he were to find the path to happiness, he would
have to free himself from all earthly ties and relations. One night he
went into the room where his wife lay sleeping. There, in the dim yellow
light of the lamp, he saw the mother and the child. The mother's hand
rested caressingly on the head of the little baby; flowers were strewn
upon the floor and around the bed. He wanted to take the tiny mite in
his arms and kiss it ere he went away; but he was afraid of waking
either of the slumberers, so he took one last, long, loving look at them
both, and then fled into the night, accompanied only by Channa, his
charioteer. Under the full light of the July moon he sped away, having
given up his home, his wealth, and his dear ones to become an outcast
and a wanderer.

Then there appeared to him Mara, the evil one, who tempted him to give
up his plans for a lonely life. Mara promised him, if he would return to
wealth and worldly ease, to make him in seven days the sole ruler of the
world. But Gautama was not to be persuaded, and the evil one was
defeated.

The prince and the charioteer rode on for many miles until they came to
the banks of a certain river. There Gautama stopped. Taking his sword,
he cut off his long flowing locks and gave them to Channa, telling him
to take them, his horse, and his ornaments back to the town of his
birth, in order that his friends and his relatives might know exactly
what had happened to him. Channa was loath to leave his master, but was
obliged to obey him.

When Channa had departed, Gautama sought the caves where the hermits
dwelt. There he stayed a while, fasting and doing penance, in the hope
of finding out in this way the true road to happiness and righteousness.
So long did he go without food, and so severely did he inflict torture
on himself, that one day he fell down exhausted. Every one thought he
was dead, but he recovered after a little while. It seemed to him, when
he once more regained consciousness, that this life of self-denial and
hardship did not lead to that which he was seeking. So he left off
fasting, and took his food again like an ordinary man. This disgusted
the few disciples who had been living with him in retirement, and they
all fled away and left him to himself. When they had gone, he strolled
down to the banks of the neighbouring river. As he went along, the
daughter of one of the villagers offered him some food. He took it, and
sat down under the shade of a large tree. This tree is known to all
Buddhists as the Bo-tree, and is as sacred to them as the cross is to
Christians. While sitting under the tree, Gautama thought seriously
about the past and the future. He felt very disappointed with his
failure and at the loss of his late friends. The evil one came to him
again, and whispered to him of love and power, of wealth and honour, and
urged him to seek his home, his wife, and his child. For forty-nine days
and nights Gautama sat under the Bo-tree, his mind torn with the
conflict as to what was his duty. At the end of that time his doubts
vanished, his mind cleared, the storm was over, and he had become the
"Buddha"--that is, the "Enlightened One." He knew now that it was his
duty to go and preach to people the way to happiness and peace, to show
them how to avoid misery, and how to conquer even death itself. It would
take too long now to tell you what it was that the Buddha preached to
those who would listen to him. Some time when you are older you must
read this for yourself in another book.

Gautama now returned to Benares, and addressed a great crowd of angels,
men, and animals. Each man in the multitude, no matter what his language
might be, understood the words of the speaker, and even the birds of the
air and the beasts of the field knew that the wise man spoke to them,
too. He remained in the neighbourhood of Benares for a long time,
gathering round him a number of men and women, who were determined to do
as he told them. When the rainy season was over, he dismissed them,
sending them away in all directions to carry his gospel to whomsoever
they should meet. He himself went to his native land, his father having
sent to say that he was now old, and would like to see his son again
before he died. His uncles were very angry with him, and when he arrived
at the town where his father lived, they offered him no food. So in the
early morning he took his begging-bowl and went out to beg his daily
meal. When his father heard of this he was very cross, for he thought it
a disgrace that the King's son should walk like a common beggar from
house to house asking alms. The King met the Buddha and reproached him,
but anger soon was lost in love, and the father, taking the son's bowl,
led him to the palace.

The people in the palace crowded to meet them. But Gautama's wife
remained in her own room waiting for him to come to her, in a place
where she could welcome him alone. Presently he asked for her, and,
learning where she was, he went to see her, accompanied by a few
disciples. As soon as his wife saw him, she fell weeping at his feet.
Somehow she knew, almost without looking at him, that he was changed,
that he was wiser and holier than any man she had ever met. After a
time he spoke to her of his message to men, and she listened earnestly
to his words. She accepted his teaching, and asked to be allowed to
become a nun. The Buddha was not at first inclined to permit this, but
at last he yielded to her entreaties, and his wife became one of the
first of the Buddhist nuns.

For forty-five years the Buddha worked as a missionary in the valley of
the Ganges, till the time of his end came, and he passed away from
earth. As he lay dying, he said to his cousin Ananda, who had been a
loving and faithful disciple, "O Ananda, do not let yourself be
troubled; do not weep. Have I not told you that we must part from all we
hold most dear and pleasant? For a long time, Ananda, you have been very
near to me by kindness in act, and word, and thoughtfulness. You have
always done well." And again speaking to the same disciple, he
exclaimed, "You may perhaps begin to think that the word is ended now
that your teacher is gone; but you must not think so. After I am dead
let the law and the rules of the Order which I have taught you be a
teacher to you."

He passed away leaving behind him many who sorrowed for his death. And
after all these years temples are still built in his honour; monks still
follow the rules that he laid down; and men and women lay flowers upon
his altars, bend before his images, and carry his teachings in their
hearts.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF BUDDHIST MONKS. _Chapter VIII._]



CHAPTER VIII

THE MONKS


Siam has been called the "Kingdom of the Yellow Robe," on account of the
presence everywhere of large numbers of monks, all of whom wear the
yellow robe. Every man in Siam enters a monastery at some time or other
in his life, and lives as a monk for a period varying from a few months
to many years, or even for the whole of his life. The usual age for
entering the priestly circle is about nineteen, and the shortest stay
that can be decently made is for two months. The person seeking
admission goes to the temple wearing his best clothes, and attended by a
crowd of friends and relatives, who take presents to the priests. The
presents include rice, fish, matches, fruit, cigars, betel-nut,
alarm-clocks, vases of flowers, incense sticks, and dozens of other
curious things. These are all distributed about the temple floor, till
the sacred building looks as though it were about to be the scene of a
glorified "jumble sale."

Occasionally children enter the temple service and wear the yellow robe.
It often happens that when one of a boy's parents is cremated he becomes
a "boy-monk," because by this means he hopes to help his father in that
other world to which he has been called. As a rule, too, each monk has a
boy servant, or disciple, who cleans out his cell, and does other work
of a lowly character for him. Monks may not possess silver money, but
these disciples may receive it and spend it for the benefit of their
masters.

In the early morning the big bell of the monastery calls the monk to
rise and go out to beg for his breakfast. He takes a big iron bowl in
his hands, holds it in front of him, and then with downcast head walks
slowly through the streets allotted to him. He may not wander into
another man's street, but must keep to his own. As he walks along, the
people come out of their houses and put food into the bowl. One puts in
a handful of rice, another a spoonful of curry. Someone else adds a few
bananas, or some stale fish, or some scraped coco-nut. The monk looks
neither to the right hand nor to the left, and gives no thanks to the
donor of the meal. By the time he gets back to the monastery it is no
exaggeration to say that his bowl often contains a very varied and weird
assortment of oddments. It looks rather "a mess," and there is not much
to be surprised at when we learn that some of the monks, who do not keep
the rules of their Order very strictly, throw all this motley assortment
of fish, flesh, fowl, and stale red-herrings to the dogs, afterwards
partaking of a rather more tempting breakfast that has been prepared for
them in the monastery. At certain times of the year only a few monks
from each monastery go in search of food. The others stay at home at the
temple. If a monk has rich relations, his disciple often receives for
him well-cooked and appetizing meals upon which to break his fast.

When breakfast is over, the brethren of the yellow robe go into the
temple for service, after which there is work for those who care to do
it. The majority do nothing, a form of employment which suits the
average Siamese a great deal better than work. As the monks are drawn
from all classes of society, there are always amongst them some who can
repair the buildings or help in building boats, or even, perhaps, teach
in the school.

At noon another meal is eaten; after that there is neither tea nor
supper, so that the monks get nothing more to eat until the next
morning. They manage to stifle their natural hunger by drinking tea,
chewing betel-nut, and smoking tobacco.

Towards evening the priests bathe, either in the river or in some pond
in the temple grounds. As soon as it is dark they must confine
themselves within the monastery walls. Every evening at about half-past
six the bell rings to tell the monks that "locking-up" time has arrived.
The bells, which play so important a part as clocks in the temples, are
hung in a wooden framework, usually built in three stories. Strictly
speaking, it is not correct to say that the bells are rung. They are not
rung--they are beaten with a thick piece of wood. There are generally a
number of little boys playing about in the cool, shady grounds who are
only too willing at the proper time to scramble up the rickety wooden
ladders and hammer away on the bells with a lump of wood.

From July to October, when the heavy rains fall, the priests meet
together in the evening and chant prayers. The only light in the temple
is that of dim candles or smoky lamps, and the dull rays fall on the
kneeling yellow-robed figures below, or lose themselves in the blackness
of the lofty roofs above, while there rolls out into the evening air the
rich, mellow notes of the voices in prayer. The frogs in the pond croak
a sonorous bass, the crickets add their chirpy treble, and the
fire-flies flash on shrub and palm, all adding their share to the
evening service.

The cells in which the monks live are small whitewashed rooms, with
practically no furniture. There are a few mats, perhaps a bedstead--or,
failing that, a mattress on the floor--a few flowers, and an image of
the Buddha, the founder of their religion. In a little cupboard the monk
keeps a teapot and a few tiny cups, and he is always glad to give a
visitor as much tea as he can drink. Most likely he possesses a
chessboard and a set of chessmen, for most of the Siamese are fond of
this ancient game.

The prayers and chants are written with a hard, fine point of ivory or
iron upon long strips of palm-leaf. The strips are held together by a
string or a piece of tape passed through a series of holes. The bundle
is gilded round the edges and carefully preserved in a chest. These
"books" are written in a language which the common people do not
understand, and, in fact, only those monks who stay long enough in the
temple service to learn the language have any idea what the chants are
about that they so diligently repeat.

Amongst the few possessions which a monk may lawfully hold is a big fan
made of broad palm-leaves. This he is supposed to hold in front of his
face as he walks about, in order that he may keep his eyes from
beholding the things of the world. But as often as not, during the heat
of the day, he holds it over his head to shield him from the fierce rays
of the sun. And one can scarcely blame him, for he is not allowed to
wear a hat of any kind, and every bit of hair has been shaved off the
top of his head.

There is a chief priest to each monastery, whose business it is to see
that the temple services are properly conducted, and that the monks
behave themselves in a becoming manner. If one of the brethren does
anything wrong, and his superior hears about it, punishment is sure to
follow. For a very serious offence the guilty one is expelled from the
monastery and handed over to the police. Such a man gets the severest
punishment allowed by the law. But if the offence is only a mild one,
then the punishment is a light one. The sinner will perhaps be set to
draw water, to sweep the temple courtyard, or to perform some other
menial duty usually undertaken by the ordinary servants.

Some of the "sins" that the priest may not commit are very curious to
us, and many of them are, in fact, committed regularly without any
punishment following. For instance, it is a sin to sleep more than
twelve inches above the ground, to listen to music, to eat too much, to
sleep too long, to swing the arms when walking, to burn wood, to wink,
to slobber or make a noise when eating, to ride on an elephant, or to
whistle.



CHAPTER IX

THE TEMPLES


There are temples everywhere in Siam, some not much bigger than barns;
others, great buildings with high roofs and stately surroundings. Some
are quite new, gay in all their glory of gold and varied colour; others
are old, dirty, and crumbling to dust. Temples are not usually repaired;
they are built and then allowed to go to ruin. A temple is not a place
to worship in; for, strictly speaking, there is no one to worship.
Buddha does not ask for people to kneel to him. He was a man, not a god,
and he became holy because he lived a sinless life. Any other man who
lived a life like his would become a Buddha too. And a temple is not
built to pray in, because there is no one to whom to pray. Every man
must save himself by his own deeds, and Buddha does not pretend to hear
and answer prayers. In the temples sacred books are read, chants are
sung, and occasionally sermons are preached, but there is no worship and
no prayer quite in the way we understand and practise these things.

To understand, then, why so many temples are built, you must know
something more about the Buddhist religion. Buddha taught that when we
die our souls pass into other bodies. If we have been very wicked in
this life, we may be reborn as cats, or toads, or beetles. If we have
been very good, we may reappear as nobles or princes, or perhaps live
in another world as angels. The man who has lived the perfect life, who
has neither thought, said, nor done anything wrong, goes to Nirvana,
where there is everlasting peace, and where no trouble, sorrow, or
sickness of any kind is ever known. When Nirvana is reached, the soul
rests for ever, and is not born again, either in the heavens or on the
earth.

When a person dies, all the good and all the evil he has done are added
up, and a kind of balance is struck. The happiness or misery of the
person in his next life depends on whether he has a good or a bad
balance. There are many things that we may do in this life that go to
the good side of the account. To do these things is to "make merit."
Some actions only make a little merit; others make a great deal of
merit. One of the best ways of getting a big figure on the right side of
the account is, according to the priests, to build a temple. Hence, when
a man is rich enough, he builds a house for the Buddha, where his image
may be seen, his lessons learned, and his praises sung. But once the
temple is built, the matter is finished, and there is no need to repair
it. The Buddhist says that though the temples will crumble away, yet his
children will build others, so that there will always be plenty of
churches, and many opportunities of making merit in this way.

[Illustration: THE TEMPLE OF WAT POH. _Chapter IX._]

The Siamese word _wat_ means all the buildings enclosed in the sacred
wall, and includes the houses where the priests live, the holy buildings
where the images are kept, and numerous spiral ornaments that cover
relics. The most sacred of these buildings is the _bawt_. Near the four
corners, north, south, east, and west, there are four stones, carved in
the shape of the leaf of the Bo-tree, the tree under which Gautama
became Buddha. When the _bawt_ is erected, consecrated water is poured
over these stones, and evil spirits are thus for ever prevented from
entering.

In the temple grounds there are always a number of graceful tapering
structures, which cover relics, or supposed relics. You will see some of
these in several of the pictures in this book. They sometimes stand
directly on the ground, but at other times the slender spires will be
found over the doorways, or even on the tops of the buildings. There is
a story which says that after Buddha's death one of his disciples gave
away all the property of the Teacher to the other followers. He meant to
keep nothing at all for himself, but on finding one of Buddha's teeth,
he looked longingly upon it, and then took it and quietly hid it in the
coil of hair which many Hindus wear upon the top of the head. One of the
gods in the heavens saw the deed, flew swiftly down to earth, snatched
the precious relic from its hiding-place, and buried it under a great
mound, which he built in a tapering fashion to resemble the tuft of hair
in which the tooth had been concealed. Others, however, say that the
shape of these relic mounds is due to the fact that Buddha told his
disciples, as he lay on his death-bed, to bury his bones under a mound
shaped like a heap of rice.

The chief building has straight walls with rectangular openings for
windows. There are no beautiful arches, no carving, and no stained
glass. The roof is made in tiers, which overlap one another, and are
covered with beautiful coloured tiles--amber, gold, green, scarlet, and
blue. Groups of great teak pillars are so arranged that a cool and shady
walk surrounds the building. The outside, with the exception of the
roof, is whitewashed, and when the midday sun beats down upon the _wat_
the place glitters and shines--one big splash of white crowned with
fantastic colours.

Inside there is little light, and if the roof be high the rafters are
hidden in darkness. At the far end sits an enormous gilded image of
Buddha, surrounded by smaller images of himself and his disciples, some
with raised hands, as if about to speak; others with fans before their
faces, as if to shield them from the evils and the sorrows of the world.
The number of these images is sometimes very great. In one of the
temples in Ayuthia, the old capital, there are no fewer than 20,000 of
them.

At the end of the ridge of the temple roof, at the corners of the
gables, and in many other places, there are graceful curved horns. These
represent the head of the Naga, or snake with seven heads, who curled
himself round the Teacher's body and shielded him with his seven heads
when he was attacked by the Evil One under the Bo-tree.

In connexion with the temple there are one or more _salas_, or
rest-houses. To build a _sala_ is another way of making merit, and as it
costs less to put up one of these wooden rest-houses than to build a
temple, there are thousands of them in the country. They are to be
found upon the banks of the rivers and canals, in lonely parts of the
jungle, on waste land near the towns and villages--in fact, almost
anywhere and everywhere. They consist of a platform raised a few feet
above the ground, and covered by a roof which is supported on a few
poles. There are no walls or partitions. Here the traveller may rest,
eat, and sleep. He pays no rent, gets no comforts, and is often
interfered with by the local lunatic, the casual traveller, or a crowd
of merry, inquisitive children. He may not complain, for the slender
platform is free to all comers.

One of the best-known temples in Bangkok is at the Golden Hill. This
hill is made of bricks and mortar, and stands about two hundred feet
high. Trees, shrubs, and creepers have grown over it, and it is not at
first easy to believe that the hill is the work of man. On the top is a
snow-white spire, and under the spire, in a gilded shrine, there is a
glass model of one of Buddha's teeth. For three days every year the
people come in thousands to worship this tooth. They buy a bit of
gold-leaf or a few wax flowers, and then they mount to the top of the
hill. There they stick the gold leaf on the iron railings round the
shrine, light the candles, throw the wax flowers into a big bonfire, and
bang a few drums. When they have completed all these little acts of
devotion, they go to the foot of the hill again. At the bottom a grand
fair is going on. There are lotteries of all kinds, tea-houses, crowds
of merry young men and women, dozens of yellow-robed priests, side-shows
with giant women and two-headed snakes. It is all laughter, chatter, and
enjoyment.

In another temple there is an image of Buddha asleep. The idol is 175
feet long, and has a whole building to itself. The gigantic figure is
made of brick and covered with gilded cement. It is 18 feet across the
chest; the feet are 5 yards long; the toes, which are each of equal
length, measure 1 yard.



CHAPTER X

THE SHAVING OF THE TOP-KNOT


Sometimes when the traveller is passing along one of the rivers or
canals he will hear the sound of merry music close at hand. He probably
pulls ashore, and goes to see what is happening. There is no need to
wait for invitations in this free-and-easy country. He makes his way to
the place where the band is doing its best to deafen all the poor
creatures within reach, and there he finds a motley crowd--men and women
in their best and brightest clothes, priests in their most brilliant
yellow, actresses with chalked faces and hideous masks, dogs, cats, and
children. Amongst the many people assembled together there is one child,
about eleven or thirteen years old, laden with jewellery--necklaces,
gold chains, armlets, bracelets, and anklets. It is on this child's
account that the people are feasting together, the theatre playing, and
the drums booming. We will suppose that the child is a boy. He is
holding a great party. The visitors have come to see him get his hair
cut! This, however, is not an ordinary visit to a barber, but a
ceremony as important as a wedding or a funeral.

From the very earliest years the heads of the children are shaved
completely, with the exception of one little tuft in the centre of the
head. Each day this precious tuft is oiled and curled, a jewelled pin is
stuck through it, and a tiny wreath of freshly woven flowers is twined
around it. No scissors are ever allowed to touch the cherished lock
until the boy is eleven, thirteen, or fifteen years old, and by that
time it is often a foot or more long.

When the parents think that the proper time has almost arrived for the
top-knot to be removed, they visit an astrologer, who fixes a lucky day
for the operation. If the hair were not cut off on a lucky day, and in
just the proper fashion, no one knows what terrible things might happen
to the child. He might become ill or insane, or he might die, or, worse
still, demons might come and live inside him. So extremely great care
has to be taken that all is done in a fitting manner. After the
astrologer has appointed the day, people are invited to be present at
the ceremonies. Actresses, priests, and friends are called together, and
for two or three days there are prayers and plays, feasts and fiddling.

The performance is opened by the priests. They ascend to a platform some
feet above the ground, and sit down cross-legged like tailors on the
mats. They chant long passages from the sacred books, and ask the
spirits to be kind to the boy and to keep all evil away from him. While
they are chanting, they hold a piece of white thread in their hands.
One end of this thread is tied round the clasped hands of the child, and
as the priests call down blessings from above, these blessings pass
through the hands of the priests, along the thread, and so into the body
and soul of the boy. It works like a telegraph wire, and no one sees the
good influences flashing along the cotton. There is also a thread
fastened right round the house and the gardens to keep out the naughty
little demons that take a delight in spoiling the proceedings.

On the second day, the chief person present takes a pair of scissors and
clips off the top-knot, after which a professional barber comes along
with a nice sharp razor, and the boy's head is shaved completely, so
that it looks very much like a new clean ostrich egg. The boy now
dresses himself in white robes, and the priests lead him to a seat
raised from the ground and shaded by a canopy of white cloth. First the
parents, then the relations, and last of all the friends, pour holy
water over the boy's head. Everybody likes to play his part, and there
the youngster sits in his drenched robes, as the crowd files by and half
drowns him with the water. When the last person has emptied the last
bowl, the boy is dressed in the gayest clothes that he possesses, or
that can be borrowed for the occasion, and is seated on a throne. On
each side of him is a stand laden with rice, fruit, flowers, and other
things. These are offerings to the spirits of the air. The band strikes
up; the people form a kind of procession, and walk round the child five
times. Each person carries a lighted candle, which is blown out when the
fifth turn is made. The smoke is wafted towards the young person on the
throne, and as it circles round his shaven crown, it bears towards him a
supply of courage and good luck sufficient to last him for the rest of
his life.

All this time the child is probably more bored than delighted with the
honour paid to him. But the next part of the ceremony gives him every
satisfaction. It would please anybody. The relatives and friends present
money to the child, each giving according to his means, so that if the
boy has many rich relatives he gets quite a handsome sum. The gifts vary
in value from about half a crown to ten pounds.

All is not yet over, for a long and jolly feast is the necessary
termination of the important event. The priests are served first. When
they have finished, the rest of the party fall rapidly and heartily upon
the multitude of tempting dishes that have been prepared.

People who are very poor and have no friends merely go to a certain
temple and ask one of the priests to cut off the top-knot. Rich people,
on the other hand, spend enormous sums of money in entertaining their
friends and in giving presents. The gifts to a young princess on one of
these occasions amounted to £10,000.

The hairs that have been cut off are separated into two bundles, long
and short. The short hairs are put into a little vessel made of
plantain-leaves, and sent adrift on the ebb-tide in the nearest canal or
river. As they float away, they carry with them all the bad temper, the
greediness, and the pride of their former owner. The shaven child gets a
new start in life, freed from all that was disagreeable in his
character. The long hairs are kept till he makes a pilgrimage to worship
at Buddha's footprint on the sacred hill at Prabhat. This footprint is
about as big, and exactly the same shape, as a bath. The hairs are given
to the priests, who are supposed to make them into brushes for sweeping
the footprint; but in reality so much hair is presented to the priests
each year that they are unable to use it all. They wait till the
pilgrims have gone home again, when they throw all the hair that they do
not want into a fire.



CHAPTER XI

HOUSES


The houses are built of wood, and are raised above the ground on piles,
so that when the rainy season comes and the plains are flooded, the
floors are left high and dry. In the dry season the cattle are stabled
under the houses. A stable under your bedroom is not perhaps the
pleasantest arrangement that could be imagined, but in parts of the
country there are bands of robbers who spend their evenings in stealing
cattle. When the robbers try to move the animals, the animals make a
noise, wake the owner, and give him a chance to prevent the theft. When
the country is flooded, the pony, who is generally a pet, is led up an
inclined plane to the little veranda, where it lives and is treated as a
member of the family.

[Illustration: MOUNT PRABHAT. _Page 48._]

The chief woods used in building houses are teak and bamboo. Teak is a
very hard wood. It is not affected by damp, and resists the attacks of
the so-called "white ant."

The floors of the native houses are made of teak planks, or more usually
of plaited bamboo. Through the holes that are left, the air comes up
from below, keeping the rooms cool, but at the same time filling them
with most unpleasant odours. A great deal of the ordinary domestic
refuse is got rid of by the simple plan of pushing it through the holes
in the floor, and leaving it to rot in the space between the house and
the ground.

Fortunately for the health of the inhabitants, pariah dogs abound
everywhere. They feed chiefly on this refuse, thus playing the part of
scavengers. The pariahs have no owners, and no one takes any care or
notice of them. They are thin and bony, frightfully ugly, fond of
barking at all hours of the day or the night, but not given to biting,
for they are thorough cowards. A hundred of them would run away from a
small boy, provided he had a big stick in his hand.

The number of rooms in the house is always an odd one, for even numbers
are considered unlucky. A small house would contain at least three
rooms, which we may call the drawing-room, the bedroom, and the kitchen.
The third of these rooms will be described in the next chapter.

The drawing-room contains no chairs, tables, pianos, or pictures. In
fact, it contains no furniture of any kind, with perhaps the exception
of a few mats on the floor, on which the people sit. When visitors
call, they are offered tea in tiny cups that hold about as much as a big
table-spoon. This tea, which is taken without milk or sugar, is of a
beautiful light golden colour, and has a faint but pleasant and
refreshing odour. The chief thing offered to the visitor is betel-nut,
the fruit of the tall, slender areca-palm. So important a part does the
betel-nut play in the daily life of the native, that, if possible, a
house is always built near a grove of areca-palms, in order that there
may be a never-failing supply of the nut. Betel is not eaten alone, but
with a mixture of turmeric, seri-leaf, lime, and tobacco. Chewing betel
produces copious supplies of blood-red saliva. If this is ejected upon
wood or stone, it leaves nasty rusty-red stains that cannot be removed
even by the most diligent scrubbing. Hence a spittoon is a very
necessary domestic article. Everybody chews; everybody possesses
spittoons. You will see them by the side of the mother rocking the
cradle, by the side of the teacher in the school, by the side of the
judge in the law courts, by the side of the priest as he chants his
matin or evensong in the temple, by the side of the King as he sits upon
his throne.

In time, the teeth become coal-black. They are then regarded as being
much more beautiful than when they were white. A native saying runs:
"Any dog can have white teeth." In Bangkok the American dentists keep
supplies of false black teeth, and when a prince or a nobleman loses one
of his own teeth, he can buy another black one and so not spoil his
appearance.

The second room of the house is the bedroom, which is also used as a
lumber-room, and where, if anyone be ill, a number of gilded images of
Buddha will be found. There are no bedsteads. People sleep on a kind of
mat placed on the floor. This is surrounded by curtains to keep out the
mosquitoes. Sleep would be quite impossible without some form of
protection against the bites of these wicked little creatures.

When lying down, the head must not point to the west. The sun dies his
daily death in that part of the heavens, and the west is therefore an
unlucky direction. The sleeper must lie pointing north and south, and
then he will be quite sure of complete freedom from evil spirits and
angry demons during the dark hours of the night.

The walls and floors of the houses, as we have seen, are made of wood.
The roofs are thatched with the leaf of the attap-palm. In the dry
season every part of the dwelling becomes excessively dry. A stray spark
will often set on fire one of these houses of grass and wood, and then,
one after another, other habitations fall a prey to the flames. There is
no fire brigade, and it would not be of any use if there were one, for
there is no public water-supply. When a fire breaks out, soldiers are
sent to the scene of the disaster, armed, not with rifles, but with
hatchets. As quickly as they can, they chop down a great many houses in
the neighbourhood of those that are on fire, and in this way prevent the
spread of the flames.

The Siamese are a cleanly people as far as their bodies are concerned.
They bathe at least two or three times a day, but their houses are never
cleaned. Cobwebs grow thicker and thicker with dust, till they look
like ropes; insects of all kinds multiply without interference;
mosquito-nets become so caked with dirt that it is a wonder any
respectable mosquito ever wishes to go inside; floors are never
scrubbed; walls are never dusted. There is no such process as
spring-cleaning, except when a fire performs the deed, and sweeps away
house, refuse, and vermin, all at one and the same time.



CHAPTER XII

FOOD AND DRESS


The third necessary room in a Siamese house is the kitchen, where the
two daily meals are prepared. There are no cooking-ranges and no
fireplaces of European pattern. Food is cooked and water boiled over
small charcoal furnaces, usually made of earthenware. The little furnace
has the shape of a bucket. Half-way down there is a tray perforated with
holes, on which the charcoal is placed. Below the shelf, in one side of
the utensil, there is a hole. A draught is obtained by waving a fan
backwards and forwards in front of this hole. The air enters through the
aperture, ascends through the openings in the shelf, and so keeps the
lighted charcoal glowing. The earthenware pots in which the food is
cooked are supported by the top rim of the furnace. Every pot requires a
separate furnace to itself, but as rice is often the only food that
requires the application of heat, this causes but little difficulty,
and few kitchens would contain more than two or three of these simple
fireplaces.

The chief food is rice. This is washed three or four times in different
changes of water, and then placed in cold water over the charcoal fire.
As soon as the water boils, it is poured away, and the cooking is
finished in the steam of the water left behind. When everything is
ready, the rice is turned out into a dish; each grain is swollen to
quite a large size, is dry, and as white as snow.

With the rice various kinds of curry are eaten. They are made from
vegetables, fruit, and fish. Frog, decayed prawns, stale fish, and other
choice morsels figure in the menu. All the curries are highly flavoured
with vinegar, pepper, and strong-tasting spices. The Siamese are so
accustomed to these highly flavoured dishes that they would look upon a
meal of turkey and plum-pudding as utterly tasteless and insipid. One of
the sauces in common use contains chillies, stale prawns, black pepper,
garlic, onions, citron-juice, ginger, and brine!

When the members of the family sit down to take a meal, they squat on
the floor. A big bowl of rice is placed in the centre of the ring, and
round it are arranged smaller basins of curry. Everybody helps himself,
so that the fastest eater gets the biggest share. Forks and knives are
not used, and very often spoons also are lacking. In such cases fingers
take the place of spoons, and they seem to serve the purpose equally
well. Of course, the fingers get greasy and sticky, but they can be put
in the mouth and licked clean again quite easily and quickly.

Each member of the family knows how to cook--father, mother, and
children--for there are few dishes to prepare, and the preparation of
these is an art soon acquired. Two meals only are taken each day--one in
the morning and another in the early evening. Between whiles tea is
drunk, tobacco is smoked, and betel-nut is chewed. The hours for meals
are rather irregular, and often the hungry members do not wait for those
whose appetites are less keen, but begin as soon as ever the rice is
boiled. Amongst the rich the men eat first and by themselves. What they
leave serves for their wives and children, and the last remnants of all
are thrown to the dogs.

As dessert there are many kinds of fruit, some of which are unknown in
this country. Amongst the most popular fruits are young coco-nuts; the
ripest of bananas; mangoes, that taste at first like a mixture of
turpentine and carrots, but which, after a few efforts, are found to be
as pleasant to the palate as the apple or the pear; mangosteens--little
sweet snow-white balls set in crimson caskets; durians, that smell like
bad drains, but taste, when one is used to them, like a mixture of
strawberries, ices, honey, and all other things that are pleasant to
eat.

When the meal is over, each person washes his own rice-bowl, and turns
it upside down in a basket in the corner of the room to drip and dry
till it is needed again.

Dress is a very simple matter. There are no such things as fashions. The
smallest children wear no clothing at all, except, perhaps, a necklace
of coral or beads. The garment worn as a covering for the lower part of
the body is the same for all--King and peasant, man, woman, and child.
As seen in pictures and photographs, it resembles a pair of baggy
knickerbockers. It consists of a long strip of coloured cloth, about the
same size and shape as a bath-towel. The method of draping it about the
body is not easily explained on paper. This much, however, may be said:
there are no pins, tapes, buttons, or fastenings of any kind; but the
_panoong_, as it is called, is so cleverly twisted and tied, that it can
be worn at all times and under all circumstances without any fear of it
ever becoming loose. You may run in it, sleep in it, or swim in it, and
you will always be perfectly cool and comfortable. This is the only
native garment for men, though in the capital, and in other places where
white men are seen, the people have learned to wear white linen jackets.
These are buttoned to the throat, and collars and shirts are not
required. Shoes and stockings are not known, except where the European
has taught their use. The soles of the feet get so hard that, in time,
they are like leather itself, and cut or wounded feet are very seldom
seen.

The women wear a coloured scarf, called the _pahom_, wound round the
upper part of the body. This is the only addition to the costume of the
men ever invented by the ladies of Siam. As for hats, there are no such
things, except a few big straw-plaited erections that look like baskets
turned upside down, and which are worn by the women who sit selling
their goods in the markets.

The _panoong_ and the _pahom_ are of brightly coloured material, and a
Siamese crowd is always a picturesque sight. According to one of the
many superstitions that prevail in the country, every day of the week is
under the rule of some particular planet, and to be fortunate throughout
the day one should wear garments and jewels of the same colour as the
ruling planet. Many rich people do actually observe this custom, and
wear red silk and rubies on Sundays in honour of the sun; white and
moonstones on Monday, the day of the moon; light red and coral on
Tuesday, the day of Mars; green and emeralds on Wednesday, the day of
Jupiter; stripes and cat's-eyes for Jupiter's Thursday; silver blue and
diamonds on Friday, when Venus rules; and dark blue and sapphires on
Saturday, when the chief planet is Saturn.



CHAPTER XIII

FISHING


One of the chief commandments of the Buddhist religion is, "Thou shalt
not kill." This does not refer merely to the lives of human beings, but
to all creatures--mosquitoes, fleas, flies, or elephants. The reason for
the commandment is that, as we have already explained, when a person
dies, his soul is reborn again in another body, and this body may
possibly be that of some animal. Hence, if you kill a mosquito, you may
possibly be killing your own or some one else's long-deceased relative.
The rule about not taking life is very generally observed, but is
neglected in the case of fish. The Siamese excuses himself for fishing,
on the ground that he does not kill the fish. He only pulls them out of
the water; they die a natural death.

[Illustration: A FISHING BOAT OFF THE ISLAND PAGODA OF PAKNAM]

In Lower Siam fish forms an important part of the food of the people. In
Upper Siam it is looked upon as a great luxury, for the rivers in the
north are singularly poor in animal life. The absence of fish in the
streams of Upper Siam is probably due to the fact that in the dry season
the water is too shallow to allow the fish to live, and that in the wet
season the current, swollen by the heavy rains, is extremely rapid, and
drives them down-stream.

Of the many methods employed for catching fish, the favourite one is by
means of enormous traps. These traps are made by fixing a number of
bamboos upright in shallow water. A long V-shaped neck is formed, which
is sometimes nearly a quarter of a mile long, and which leads by a
narrow opening into a square space measuring about sixty feet each way.
The fish swim along the V-shaped passage, and, having once entered the
square trap, few of them ever find the way out again. They are removed
from the trap every two or three days by means of nets.

Many of the canals are bordered for miles with a weed which has a large
flat leaf. In places the mass of weeds is so thick that only a small
passage of water remains in the centre for the use of the boats. Under
the weeds fish are harboured. Bamboo stakes are fixed here and there in
the mud to keep the weeds from floating away. Once or twice a year men
surround a portion of this mass of floating water-plants with nets that
reach to the bottom of the canal. Thus the fish within the enclosed area
cannot escape. The stalks of the weeds are cut close down, and then the
whole net is drawn ashore, enclosing vast quantities of fish. Netting
fish in this way is not permitted in those places where the canal banks
pass in front of a temple, for opposite the grounds of a temple all life
is sacred, and the fish that live there are free from interference.

A circular hand-net is also used for catching fish. For permission to
catch fish in this way a tax of fourteen pence for each net must be
paid. The fisherman stands on the bow of his canoe, and throws the net
with an easy swing into the water. It is pulled up by a string fastened
to the centre. The edges, which are weighted by a small chain, fall
together and enclose any fish which happen to have been lying beneath it
when it was thrown into the water.

Prawns are plentiful. They are caught in nets of very small mesh. Two
boats go out together for a little distance from the shore, and then
separate. Between the boats a heavily weighted net is suspended. When
the net is stretched as far as possible, the boats move in towards the
shore, dragging it with them. In this way thousands of prawns and other
small fish are easily taken. The prawns are pounded into a paste with
salt, forming a mixture that tastes something like anchovy sauce. A
_fermented_ mixture of fish and shrimps is manufactured for export to
Singapore, Hong-Kong, and Java, where it is looked upon as a great
dainty by the Malays and the Chinese.

Long poles are driven into the sand in those waters where mussels and
other shell-fish are abundant. After a while the poles are covered with
the shell-fish which have fastened on them. The poles are then pulled up
and scraped.

"A canoe with a white board dipping into the water is paddled along near
the bank at night, and the startled fish, endeavouring to jump over it,
are caught in the air by a net which projects from the far side. We can
easily form some idea of the efficiency of this method, for as the
launch tows us up-stream, fish are continually jumping away from the
bows of the boat, and it will be unlucky if in the course of the day one
does not alight on board. Fine fish two or three pounds in weight may
thus be secured without trouble. Large numbers of fish are left in the
fields as the water goes down, and every pond is the scene of active
fishing operations. I have camped upon the bank of a river and imagined
that I heard waves breaking on a sandy shore, only to find that the
noise was caused by shoals of small fish jumping" (Thompson).

One of the commonest fish is _plah-tu_, about the size of a herring.
When fresh, it tastes like trout; when smoked, it resembles kippered
herring. _Plah-tu_ is caught in the Gulf of Siam during the north-east
monsoon. The fishing-boats return in the early morning and transfer
their cargo to buffalo-carts, that carry it to the village. There the
fish are cleaned. The gills are removed, and these, together with all
the other refuse, are thrown into strong brine. The mixture of fishy
odds and ends is afterwards sold as "fish-sauce."

There are mud-fish, that come up out of the water and crawl about in the
slime, and there is a fish that hides under the banks and shoots drops
of water at the flies that are hovering just above. This fish is an
excellent marksman, and brings down many a dainty morsel for his meal.



CHAPTER XIV

RICE


Rice is the most important crop grown in Siam. It is almost the sole
food of everyone, from the King to the poorest peasant. Horses, cattle,
dogs, and cats are fed on it; beer and spirits are made from it; it is
eaten boiled, fried, stewed, and baked, in curries, cakes and sauces; it
is used at all festivals in connection with certain superstitions; and
both the opening and the closing of the season of cultivation are marked
by special holidays. A rich man invests his money in rice-fields; the
law courts spend most of their time settling quarrels about the
ownership of rice-land; and when a man has nothing else to talk about,
he talks about the next rice crop, just as in England we talk about the
weather. Most of the boats passing up and down the river carry rice;
most of the big steamers that leave the port are taking this valuable
and important food product to other lands.

The whole of the land in the country is supposed to belong to the King,
but anybody who wishes to plant rice may go into the jungle and clear a
space of ground by burning down the long grass and the trees. For this
land the farmer pays no rent, and after a time he can claim it as his
own. He pays to the Government, however, a tax upon the land which he
cultivates. The farms are small, averaging about eight acres: such a
farm will comfortably support a family of four or five.

When the ground has been cleared, the farmers wait for the rain, which
falls in torrents, and in due course makes the ground soft enough to
permit of ploughing. The plough is made of wood, and consists of a bent
stick stuck in a pointed wooden block. The plough cuts a shallow furrow
about two inches deep and five or six inches wide. It is drawn by
buffaloes, formidable-looking beasts with immense spreading horns, which
sometimes measure as much as eight or nine feet from tip to tip,
measured round the curve.

When the field has been ploughed, it is harrowed with a square harrow
made of bamboo and provided with a number of straight wooden teeth. The
result of ploughing and harrowing the wet ground is to churn it up into
a kind of porridgy mess of slimy grey mud.

Rice can only be grown where there is abundance of moisture. In Siam the
peasants depend for their water-supply upon the heavy rains, and then
upon the rise of the rivers after the rains have ceased. The floods not
merely provide water, but when they subside they leave behind them a
deposit of mud so rich and fertile that manuring is not necessary.

There are forty different kinds of rice, of which about six are widely
cultivated in Siam. The natives divide all the known varieties into two
classes, which they call "field rice" and "garden rice."

Field rice is grown in places where there is an exceptionally heavy
rainfall. The seed is scattered broadcast on the fields, and left to
grow without much more attention. As the water rises, the rice grows at
the same pace, and so always keeps its head above the surface. The rate
of growth of one variety is almost unbelievable. Plants have been known
to grow as much as a foot in twelve hours, and the final length of the
stalk is often as much as ten feet.

Garden rice is carefully sown and tended. The seeds are first sown as
thickly as they can grow, in well-watered patches. They soon sprout, and
grow rapidly. When they are a few inches high they are pulled up and
made into bundles of a hundred or so, neatly tied together. The mud is
removed from the roots by a skilful kick which is given to the bundle as
it is drawn from the soil. The bundles are taken to the fields by men,
women, and children, and transplanted in long rows. The fields have been
covered with water and trampled into a thick mud by the hoofs of the
buffaloes. The young shoots are handed to the women and girls, and they
push the roots down into the soft mud, working very cleverly and
rapidly. A good worker can plant an acre in this way in about three
days.

The method of reaping the rice depends on the state of the fields. If
the floods have gone, the rice is reaped with the sickle and bound into
sheaves. The sheaves are dried in the sun and then taken away in
buffalo-carts or in bullock-wagons. But if the fields are still under
water, the people row out in boats and canoes, cut off the ripe heads
with a sickle, and drop them into small baskets placed in the bottom of
the boat. The reapers are very careless, and drop much of the ripe grain
into the water. The rice is dried in bundles, placed on frames that have
been erected in the fields. The birds are kept away by boys, who are
armed with long whips. On the end of the lash they stick a pellet of
mud. When they crack the whip the mud flies off, and so clever are they
at this form of slinging that they rarely miss the bird at which they
aim. When the water has all gone from the fields, the long stalks that
have been left standing are burned.

The threshing is done by buffaloes on a floor which is specially
prepared by covering it with a paste made of soil, cow-dung, and water.
After a few days the plaster sets into a hard, firm covering to the
ground. A pole is fixed in the centre, and two buffaloes, yoked side by
side, are made to walk round and round the pole, all the while treading
the grain under their feet. The threshing takes place on moonlight
nights, and is the occasion of much merriment. The children never dream
of going to bed. They play in the heaps of straw, or dance round the big
bonfires to the sound of fiddles, tom-toms, and drums. Their parents
chat and joke the long night through, and in the shadows the red ends
of their cigarettes gleam unceasingly, while the pale green fire-flies
flit to and fro, and seem to wonder what it is all about. When the
threshing is over, the farmer gives a feast to his neighbours to
celebrate the event. His heaps of grain are spread evenly over the
threshing floor, the straw is piled up in little stacks, and around all
is twined the usual white thread to keep away the evil spirits.

To winnow the rice, it is thrown into the air by means of a wooden
spade, or poured from one wide, shallow basket to another. The wind
blows through the mixture of grain and chaff and carries the chaff away.
The grain is stored in large baskets made of cane and plastered outside
with mud. The rice is usually milled at home. The grain is placed in a
big hollow in a block of wood. There is a long lever, bearing at one end
a heavy wooden hammer. A girl jumps on the other end of the lever and so
lifts the hammer. She hops off again, and the hammer falls upon the rice
in the hollow block and smashes it up. For hours the women and girls
jump patiently on and off the long handle, and in any small village you
can hear the steady thump, thump, thump of the hammers from morning to
night.



CHAPTER XV

A PLOUGHING CEREMONY


We have already described the way in which rice is cultivated in a land
where the success of the rice-crops means life to thousands of people.
It is not surprising to find, under these circumstances, that before the
planting of the rice takes place there is held each year a ceremony of
great importance. This is a "ploughing festival," and until the holiday
has been celebrated no one is supposed to begin the cultivation of his
rice-fields.

[Illustration: THE ANNUAL RICE PLOUGHING FESTIVAL. _Page 65._]

About March or April the rains arrive, and the farmer turns his thoughts
to the work that lies before him. An astrologer is consulted as to a
lucky day for the ploughing festival, and when this has been fixed every
one waits anxiously to see what will happen, for on this day much will
be learned about the prospects of the coming season.

A certain Prince presides over the festival, and for the time being
represents the King. He wears a crown, has a royal umbrella, and even
receives a portion of the taxes. At one time his personal servants and
followers were allowed to take goods without paying for them from the
shops along the route which is followed by the procession.

Early in the morning the Prince rises and puts on a special suit of
clothes of the richest material. Over his robes he wears a long cloak of
white net which is heavily embroidered with figures of fruit and
flowers, worked in gold and silver. Before he leaves his house he
entertains his friends, so that they may get a good look at him in all
his holiday finery. When he is quite ready he sits in a gilded chair,
and is carried on the shoulders of eight stalwart men. He is accompanied
by a crowd of noblemen, some of whom carry curious things that are
considered necessary for the success of the fête. Amongst these are a
royal umbrella, a large fan such as the priests carry, a sword decorated
with white flowers, and a small gold cow with a wreath of sweet-smelling
blossoms round its neck.

In front of the state chair there are men in scarlet coats and
knickerbockers, beating the usual drums in the usual way. Soldiers in
old-fashioned uniforms, priests in yellow robes, nobles in cloth of
gold, and men and women of all classes dressed in the brightest colours,
pass slowly along in front of the bearers. Behind the chair are more
priests who blow weird sounds from horns and conch-shells, and last of
all a long string of sight-seers, all of whom are interested in what is
going to happen.

With much merry noise, the procession wends its way to a piece of ground
outside the city walls. Here a few simple preparations have been made.
There is a roofed-in platform made of bamboo, attap-leaf, and boards,
and some rather soiled drapery of red and white cloth. In front of the
open booth are three bamboo-stakes, firmly fixed in the ground, and
marking out the space which the Prince has to plough. In a shed not far
away are the cream-coloured bullocks that are to draw the plough. A cord
of sacred cotton encircles the booth, the shed, and the selected
ground, and, as usual, keeps out all the evil spirits, who are simply
aching to get inside the thread, play tricks, and upset the proceedings.

Within the guarded area is the wooden plough, similar to that described
in the last chapter, but gaily decorated with ribbons and flowers.
Moreover, the ends of the yoke and the end of the beam are both
beautifully carved, and where the yoke is fastened to the beam there is
a little gilded idol.

When the Prince arrives on the ground he is shown three pieces of cloth.
They are folded up neatly, and look exactly alike, but they differ in
length. The Prince looks earnestly at the three little parcels, and
chooses one. If he chooses the longest piece of cloth, then there will
be little rain that year, and men will be able to let the _panoong_ drop
to the ankle. If he chooses the shortest, a wet season will follow, and
the men who work in the wet rice-fields will have to pull the _panoong_
high above the knee. Having chosen the cloth, he fastens it round his
body, and is ready to begin ploughing. He holds the handle of the plough
and a long rod at the same time, and he has to guide the plough nine
times round the space marked out by the three bamboos. A nobleman walks
in front of the bullocks, sprinkling consecrated water on the ground.
After the third journey a number of old women take part in the
performance. They are the very oldest women that can be found, but they
are richly dressed, and when their work for the day is done, they are
allowed to keep their dresses as payment for their services. They carry
a gilded rod over the shoulder. From the ends of this rod are suspended
two baskets, one gilded and the other silvered. The baskets are filled
with consecrated grain. Three times more the plough is guided along the
proper path, the women following the Prince, and scattering the precious
seed to right and left. Everybody tries to get a few grains to mix with
the ordinary seed that is to be used in sowing the fields; for if the
consecrated seed be mixed with seed of the ordinary kind, then will the
harvest be much richer.

Finally, the Prince makes three more journeys, after which he leaves the
ground. The sacred cord is broken, and the people rush about all over
the place, picking up any of the grains that they can find, and
carefully treasuring them for the good luck they will bring.

But the ceremony is not yet over. There still remains one very important
deed to be done. The oxen are unyoked and led back to their shed, and in
front of them are placed small baskets made of banana-leaves, and filled
with different kinds of seed. One basket contains rice, another
grass-seed, another maize, and so on. If the bullocks eat up the maize
and leave the rice, then the rice-crops that year will be poor, and the
maize-crops will be good. Thus it happens that on this day the farmer
finds out what kind of weather he is going to have, and what kind of
grain will yield the richest crop.

The Prince is carried back to his home again, with drums beating, horns
blowing, and with the same attendant crowd of soldiers, priests,
nobles, and peasants. Once upon a time the people really believed in the
ceremony, and what it was supposed to tell them. Even now many thousands
of them have great faith in the acts that have been performed; but as
education spreads, the belief in these quaint and picturesque ceremonies
will die out. It will, however, be long before they are entirely given
up, for they provide opportunities for a merry holiday; and if there is
one thing a Siamese loves more than another, it is a day of feasting and
merriment, a day when work is thought of as something belonging only to
the morrow.



CHAPTER XVI

ELEPHANTS


The chief animal of Siam is the elephant. Elephants are found in great
numbers in the north, and also in the wide plains of the south, where
these plains are not cultivated, but are covered with jungle-grass,
brushwood, and bamboo. The Siamese elephant sometimes attains a height
of ten or eleven feet. Frequent measurements have proved the curious
fact that the height of an elephant is usually about twice the
circumference of its biggest foot.

The driver of the elephant is called a _mahout_. When the _mahout_
wishes to mount the beast, the elephant bends his right fore-leg to form
a step. As soon as the _mahout_ puts his foot on the step, the elephant
gives a jerk, and up goes the man on to his back. The driver sits
astride on the neck, for the elephant carries his head so steadily that
there is less motion there than in any other part of the body. The
driver is armed with a stick, at the end of which is a sharp-pointed
iron hook. When the elephant misbehaves himself he gets many a cruel
blow with the vicious weapon.

The elephants are mostly used for work in the teak-forests. The males,
or tuskers, when well trained, are worth from £100 to £200 each. The
females are not usually employed in this work, and no elephants at all
are worked in hot weather between ten in the morning and three in the
afternoon. An elephant begins to work when it is about twenty-five years
of age, and is at its best at about seventy. At that age it can lift
with its tusks a log of wood weighing half a ton, and drag along the
ground a log weighing as much as three tons. Elephants are very
long-lived, sometimes living 150 years or more.

In the forest the trees are felled by men who use heavy, long-handled
axes. This work is done in the wet season, so that the trees fall in
soft ground and do not get seriously damaged. The logs are arranged in
parallel rows by the elephants, and then each elephant is harnessed to a
log, which he proceeds to drag towards the stream. Young stems are
placed under the big logs to serve as rollers. The distance from the
forest to the river is often as much as ten miles, and is rarely less
than five miles. The elephants move very slowly--at a pace averaging
less than three miles an hour--and the process of taking the logs to the
river is therefore slow and tedious. When the elephant reaches the
river-bank he stacks the logs for the inspection of the men who come to
buy. They are marked in such a way that each merchant can, later on,
easily recognize his own property; then the elephants take them one by
one, and put them in the creek or river. They push them over boulders
and sandbanks, remove fallen trees out of the way, and, finally, bring
them where there is a good current, and they can be bound into rafts and
floated south.

When the logs arrive at the saw-mills other elephants land them, and so
well do they understand their work that they rarely need the direction
of the _mahout_; they are so intelligent that when they hear the
dinner-bell sound for the workmen, they instantly drop their logs and
scamper off, screaming with joy, just like a lot of children let out of
school.

They are up to all kinds of tricks. For instance, at night they are
turned loose to feed. A heavy, trailing chain is attached to them, and
as they move about, the chain drags on the ground and leaves a trail, by
means of which they are traced in the morning. But an elephant which has
made up its mind to run away has been known "to carefully gather up the
tell-tale chain and carry it for miles on its tusks." Again, each
elephant has a bell, and the driver recognizes the whereabouts of his
own elephant, even when afar off, by the sound of this bell. But some
elephants will remove the bell with their trunk, and then run away and
hide themselves. They frequently jerk a _mahout_ whom they do not like
on to the ground and trample on him.

They can be used to make their lazy brothers work. In such cases a good
big tusker is employed. He digs his tusks into the side of the idle one,
and forces him to take up his log. Sometimes the beasts fight amongst
themselves, and then they seem to aim chiefly at biting off one
another's tails.

They have to be humoured at their work or they turn sulky. They work
three days and rest three days. If they get ill, pills made of fiery
chillies are rubbed into the eyes. This is probably the only animal that
takes pills with its eyes. The animals get at least one bath a day. They
will not drag one log for a long distance; but having brought it, say,
for three-quarters of a mile, they go back and fetch another. When they
have collected a little pile all in the same place, they set off again,
carrying each of the logs about another three-quarters of a mile, and
returning for the rest. They never cross a bridge without first testing
it with one foot to see if they think that it is safe. They are afraid
of ponies, and by Siamese law, a pony meeting an elephant has to get out
of the way.

Once or twice a year there is a big elephant-hunt at Ayuthia, the old
capital. At the beginning of the wet season orders are sent forth that
elephants are to be collected. A number of men traverse the plain where
the elephants have been allowed to roam unmolested, and drive them in
towards the town.

[Illustration: AN ELEPHANT HUNT AT AYUTHIA. _Page 72._]

People of all classes go to Ayuthia to see the fun--Princes and
peasants, Europeans and Asiatics, laymen and priests. There is a great
deal of excitement, particularly when the elephants are expected.
Presently an enormous tusker is seen. This is a tame elephant. He walks
slowly in front, and the crowd of wild elephants behind who have taken
him for their leader follow like a flock of sheep, except that they make
more noise. Round the outside of the herd there are other tame
elephants, carrying men on their backs who are armed with spears. At
last they reach the river. They stop for a moment, but the big tusker
marches on in front, and the others are pushing at the back, so into the
water they all go. They swim to the other side of the river, and there
the mounted elephants get the whole herd into line again, pretending all
the while to be their friends. Then the tusker marches into a big
enclosure set round with posts, and thence through a gateway into a
second enclosure. By this time some of the wild elephants have an idea
that they are being trapped, and they try to go back; but the
guard-elephants stand quite steady, and the men on their backs make good
use of their spears. So at last the captives are brought into a square
space surrounded by a high, thick wall, on which hundreds of spectators
are crowded, watching the operations. This ends the first day.

The next morning half a dozen tuskers are led into the enclosure, or
_paneat_, as it is called. On the back of each elephant are two men,
provided with long coils of rope. They look for those young elephants
that they think can be trained to make strong and useful servants later
on. Having chosen one, they chase him about, and, after a time, succeed
in getting a noose under his foot, and in pulling the noose tightly up
above the knee. The other end of the coil is thrown to the men upon the
ground, and they make it fast to a post. When the youngster tries to run
about again, he finds that he is held tightly by one leg. He shows his
displeasure by the most heart-rending howls. As soon as a certain number
have been tied up to posts, a gate is opened in the enclosure, and the
uncaptured beasts are allowed to rush out on to the plain beyond. But
they are not permitted to go back to their homes in the jungle; a ring
of mounted elephants surrounds the plain and keeps them within bounds.

The young ones in the _paneat_ are led out, one at a time, through a
narrow gate. A tame elephant leads the way, and another follows. Once
outside, three mounted elephants appear. One goes on each side of the
captive, and the third follows behind. The captive is fastened by his
neck to the necks of his brethren on either side, and in this
humiliating way he is led to the stables. There he is tied by the neck
and one leg to a post. After about three years he has lost his temper,
become gentle, and can then be taught to work.

Other elephants are noosed in the open, but in the evening, after a
bathe in the river, the herd goes back to the _paneat_. When as many
elephants have been chosen as are wanted, the rest are set free, and
allowed to wander at liberty for another twelve months.



CHAPTER XVII

WHITE ELEPHANTS


Siam has been called the "Land of the White Elephant," and no account of
the country would be complete which failed to take notice of these
peculiar animals. The national flag is a white elephant on a scarlet
ground; the mercantile flag is a white elephant on a blue ground; and on
every temple and official building this wonderful creature is fashioned
in stone, wood, and plaster.

In former days the King did not feel himself fully a king unless he
possessed a white elephant, and he never hesitated about undertaking a
war in order to obtain one of these rare animals. There is a story that
Gautama was once a white elephant, and that his mother, in a dream, met
him in heaven in that shape. Another legend says that now and again in
the world's history a monarch appears who conquers and rules every
nation under the sun. This monarch is known by certain signs, and by the
possession of certain objects. Of seven particular things that he owns,
a white elephant is one, and without a white elephant he could not
become king of the world. Then many of the Siamese believe that the
animal is inhabited by the soul of some great man of the past, or by
that of someone yet unborn, who will in due time be a person of great
distinction.

In former years no subject was allowed to keep a white elephant. If by
chance he found one, he hastened to present it to the King. If he dared
to try to keep it for himself, the King made war upon him and took it
away by force.

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a white elephant. The
animal is not really white, but only a little lighter in colour than the
ordinary elephant. Occasionally it is of the colour of dirty bath brick,
and it may have a few white hairs on its tail or its head.

The news of the discovery of a white elephant always produced great joy
in the people and the King. The King sent a body of nobles and princes
to the place where the animal had been found, and where he was tethered
by silken cords. The ambassadors guarded the quadruped while
professional elephant-tamers taught it how to behave in the presence of
men and in the streets of a town. People went from all parts of the
country to visit it and take it presents.

Meanwhile, in the capital, a palace was rapidly erected for the sublime
animal. When the palace was finished and the taming of the elephant
completed, a stately procession set out to meet it and bring it home.
The King headed the procession, and when he met the elephant he knelt
before it and gave it presents, after which he turned round and led the
way back to the capital. In the elephant's new residence there was a
wardrobe for his clothes, and covers of velvet and silk embroidered with
gold and jewels. On his head was fastened a gold plate bearing his name
and titles. He had a troupe of slaves and a party of priests, an
orchestra of musicians, and a number of dancing-girls, all specially set
apart for his instruction and amusement. When the elephant wanted to
sleep, the priests chanted slumber-songs; when he looked lively and
wakeful, the dancing-girls sang and danced to him. When he was hungry,
he was fed with the finest fruits and vegetables. As a rule this life of
laziness and luxury soon brought about his death.

Only about thirty years ago, a party of hunters who were looking for
white elephants saw in the distance an elephant of excellent shape and
size, but of no particular colour. On examining it a little closer, they
fancied that it might be one of that rare kind for which they were
seeking. They took him away and washed the mud off him, and them to
their intense joy, they found that not only was he light in colour, but
that on his back there were a few hairs that were positively white. The
country went wild with joy. Bangkok was decorated with flags, and
illuminated at night. All the place was gay with banners, lights, and
music. The King went to meet the animal, and the priests read a long and
flattering address to it.

The priests then baptized the animal and gave him his new name and
titles, which were very numerous, and which were written on a piece of
sugar-cane; this the elephant promptly swallowed. It was probably the
only part of the ceremony that gave him any pleasure. He was taken to
his new apartment, and there fed by kneeling servants, who offered him
food on dishes made of silver.

Things are much changed now. When the last white elephant was
discovered, he was sent to Bangkok on a railway-truck. There was no
guard of honour, no procession, and the King only went to visit him when
he was lodged in the stables. On the way to the palace the new-comer
behaved himself very badly by walking up to a fruit-seller's stall--the
first it had ever seen--and eating up everything that was on it, almost
before the attendants had had time to notice what he was doing.
Nowadays, the white elephants are badly fed by miserable grooms. They no
longer have either priests or dancing-girls. The walls of their stables
are half in ruins, and the roofs are covered with dirt of great age and
thickness. Their food is only hay, leaves, and young bamboos. By the
side of each elephant is a cage; this is intended for a white monkey,
the fit and proper companion for the white elephant. But as white
monkeys are more rare than white elephants, all these cages are empty.

Once a year each elephant is sprinkled with holy water by the priests,
and is made to listen to a number of long prayers. This is done to keep
away evil spirits, and so successful is the operation that it only needs
repeating once in twelve months. When one of the elephants dies, they
bring a white monkey, a few doctors, and a few priests, to visit the
deceased. By his side they dig a hole in the ground, in which incense is
burned. The body is covered with a white cloth, and then taken out of
the town and left to rot in a field. Later on the bones and tusks are
collected and preserved. For three days after the death of the quadruped
a number of priests remain praying in the stable, requesting the spirit
of the animal not to come back again and do any damage.



CHAPTER XVIII

TRIAL BY ORDEAL


It is a long time since anyone in England had to undergo "trial by
ordeal," but amongst the Early English it was no uncommon thing for a
man to try and prove his innocence when charged with crime by plunging
his hand into boiling water or by holding a red-hot piece of iron. This
was done in the church and before the priest. After a certain number of
days the wound was examined. If it had healed, the accused was innocent;
if it had not healed, he was guilty.

Trial by ordeal in Siamese law-courts lasted down to quite recent times,
and even now ordeals are practised privately for various purposes.

In one of the fire ordeals the accuser and the accused had to walk with
bare feet over a layer of live coals ten inches thick. The fire was made
in a ditch, ten feet long by twenty inches wide and twenty inches deep.
As the competitors walked over the red-hot coals, an official pressed
heavily on their shoulders to make them go slowly. At the end of the
trial the feet of the men were examined, and he who had no blisters,
either then or during the next fifteen days, won the case. If both were
unhurt, they had to undergo another ordeal by water; if both were burnt,
they were both fined. Only about forty years ago a trial of this kind
occurred at a law-court in one of the smaller towns of the interior.

In the ordeal by diving, use was made of a pond or of the river itself.
Two stakes were fixed about ten feet away from each other. The parties
first said their prayers, and then entered the water with safety-ropes
fastened round their waists. They walked into the water until it reached
to their necks. Each laid hold of his stake, and then a long pole was
placed so that it was supported by the shoulders of both competitors. A
signal was given on a gong, and an official leant heavily on the pole
and pushed the heads of the parties under the water. He who remained
under the water the longer of the two was the winner. If both remained
under water longer than a fixed time, they were hauled up by the
safety-ropes and the case was dismissed. If the people who had
quarrelled were rich, they could employ people to dive for them, instead
of getting wet and breathless themselves; and there is a story told of a
man who once engaged a pearl-diver to represent him, and so won easily.
A trial of this kind occurred at the northern town of Chiengmai as late
as January, 1882.

[Illustration: A RELIGIOUS WATER PROCESSION.]

Phya Tak, the man whom we spoke about in the first chapter of this book,
once defeated the army of a rebel who was also a priest. When the rebel
was captured, a large number of yellow-robed brethren were taken with
him. The King called them all together, and as he could not tell the
innocent from the guilty, he said to them: "Those of you who confess
your guilt must leave the priesthood, but I will give you other clothes,
and set you free without punishment. Those who say they are innocent
must prove their innocence by the diving-test. If you fail in this
test, you will be executed."

Many priests confessed at once that they had been helping the rebel
host. They were released as the King had promised. But many others swore
that they were innocent. The King sat on a chair on the river-bank and
watched the priests go down into the water one by one. Some of them
stayed under the water the proper length of time, and so proved
themselves not guilty; but others who failed were stripped of their
robes and executed on the spot. Their bodies were burnt; their ashes
were mixed with lime, and used to whitewash a part of a temple
structure.

Sometimes melted lead was used in trial by ordeal. The contending
parties thrust their hands into molten lead, and he who was not burnt
won the case. Molten tin or boiling oil were used occasionally instead
of the molten lead.

A regular method of settling disputes about money that had been lent was
the trial by swimming. The parties had to swim either across a stream or
against the current for a certain distance. The loser had to pay double
the sum in dispute. Half the amount paid was given to the winner, while
the other half was handed over to the Government as a fine.

Trial by means of candles was more comfortable than trial by fire and
water. Two candles of exactly the same kind of wax, of the same weight,
and with wicks containing the same number of threads, were lit and
placed on suitable stands. The man whose candle burnt away first was the
loser. It is related of a certain nobleman that he was once asked to
seize the throne and get rid of a usurper who was reigning at the time.
He took two candles, one for himself and one for the usurper, and
watched them burn. His own candle won. Taking this to mean that he would
be successful, he raised an army, attacked the sovereign, defeated him,
and reigned in his stead.

Then there were trials connected with eating and drinking. One of these
consisted in drinking water in which a sacred image had been bathed. If
any misfortune happened to the person within a fortnight after the day
he took the water he was declared guilty. In other cases rice was eaten;
this was given by the priest, and was mixed with drugs and other nasty
things. If the accused person was made sick by the dose, that proved him
to be guilty. This form of trial was practised until quite recently for
the detection of various small offences. A similar form of ordeal
existed in England as late as the middle of the thirteenth century. A
morsel of bread and cheese had to be eaten. It did no harm if the person
were innocent, but gave him convulsions if he were guilty.

Tree-climbing was also indulged in for the discovery of culprits. For
this purpose a particular kind of tree was stripped of its bark, leaving
a very slippery stem underneath. A man could prove his innocence of the
charge brought against him by successfully "climbing the greasy pole."

Before any of the diving-trials that we have mentioned take place, the
recorder reads out a long address to the "gods of all mountains,
streams, lakes, and creeks," for which he is paid about five shillings.
There is a similar address and a similar fee before any one of any of
the trials by fire. In this latter address the deities are asked to take
vengeance on the guilty. Amongst other pleasant things that the recorder
reads are the following words:

"May the deities cause all the sinful, ferocious beasts who molest man
on this earth to arise and appear before the eyes of him who has said
what is false, making him shake and shiver with fright; may his skin
blister and his hair bristle on his head; may the terror of the
approaching danger appear on his countenance, and his limbs tremble as
he sees the glare of the brisk flames!

"O God of Fire, so gloriously shining and mighty! scorch and blister him
as he enters the flames!

"O God of Fire, radiant and mighty in these accumulated embers, scald,
blister, burn him, so that his guilt may appear evident before every
eye!"


THE END


BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD



OTHER BOOKS FOR BOYS & GIRLS

ILLUSTRATED IN COLOUR LIKE THE

PEEPS AT MANY LANDS


PRICE +3/6+ EACH

ALL WITH FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR

_Large crown 8vo., cloth_


By Lieut.-Col. A. F. MOCKLER-FERRYMAN

THE GOLDEN GIRDLE

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by ALLAN STEWART


By JOHN FINNEMORE

THE WOLF PATROL

A Story of Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts

8 full-page Illustrations in colour by H. M. PAGET

JACK HAYDON'S QUEST

8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by J. JELLICOE


By DANIEL DEFOE

ROBINSON CRUSOE

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by JOHN WILLIAMSON


By STANLEY WATERLOO

A TALE OF THE TIME OF THE CAVE MEN

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by SIMON HARMON VEDDER


By ANDREW HOME

BY A SCHOOLBOY'S HAND

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by STRICKLAND BROWN

FROM FAG TO MONITOR

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by JOHN WILLIAMSON


By CAPTAIN COOK

VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by JOHN WILLIAMSON


By MUNGO PARK

TRAVELS IN AFRICA

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by JOHN WILLIAMSON


By HUME NISBET

THE DIVERS

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by the Author


By the DUCHESS OF BUCKINGHAM AND CHANDOS

WILLY WIND, AND JOCK AND THE CHEESES

With 57 Illustrations by J. S. ELAND (9 full-page in Colour)


By ASCOTT R. HOPE

STORIES

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by DOROTHY FURNISS


By ANDREW HOME

EXILED FROM SCHOOL

With 8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by JOHN WILLIAMSON


By the Rev. R. C. GILLIE

THE KINSFOLK AND FRIENDS OF JESUS

With 16 full-page Illustrations in Colour and Sepia


PUBLISHED BY A. AND C. BLACK, SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.


PRICE +6/-+ EACH

ALL WITH FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR

_Large square crown 8vo., cloth_


By S. R. CROCKETT

RED CAP ADVENTURES

Being the Second Series of Red Cap Tales Stolen from the Treasure-Chest
of the Wizard of the North

16 full-page Illustrations by ALLAN STEWART and others


By S. R. CROCKETT

RED CAP TALES

+Stolen from the Treasure-Chest of the Wizard of the North+

16 full-page Illustrations in Colour by SIMON HARMON VEDDER


Translated and Abridged by DOMINICK DALY

THE ADVENTURES OF DON QUIXOTE

12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by STEPHEN BAGHOT DE LA BERE


GULLIVER'S TRAVELS

16 full-page Illustrations in Colour by STEPHEN BAGHOT DE LA BERE


By ASCOTT R. HOPE

THE ADVENTURES OF PUNCH

12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by STEPHEN BAGHOT DE LA BERE


By P. G. WODEHOUSE

WILLIAM TELL TOLD AGAIN

16 full-page Illustrations in Colour by PHILIP DADD


By JOHN BUNYAN

THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

8 full-page Illustrations in Colour by GERTRUDE DEMAIN HAMMOND, R.I.


By Miss CONWAY and Sir MARTIN CONWAY

THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART

16 full-page Illustrations in Colour from Public and Private Galleries


By G. E. MITTON

THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF STARS

Preface by Sir DAVID GILL, K.C.B., with 16 full-page Illustrations (11
in Colour) and 8 smaller figures in the text


By G. E. MITTON

THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF LONDON

12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by JOHN WILLIAMSON


By ELIZABETH W. GRIERSON

THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF CELTIC STORIES

12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by ALLAN STEWART


By ELIZABETH W. GRIERSON

THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF EDINBURGH

12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by ALLAN STEWART


By ELIZABETH W. GRIERSON

CHILDREN'S TALES FROM SCOTTISH BALLADS

12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by ALLAN STEWART


Edited by G. E. MITTON

SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON

12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by HARRY ROUNTREE


By HARRIET BEECHER STOWE

UNCLE TOM'S CABIN

8 full-page Illustrations in Colour and many others in the text


PRICE +6/=+ EACH

ALL WITH FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR

_Large square crown 8vo., cloth_


ANIMAL AUTOBIOGRAPHIES

EDITED BY G. E. MITTON

Each volume deals entirely with the life-story of some one animal, and
is not merely a collection of animal stories. It is necessary to
emphasize this, as the idea of the series has sometimes been
misunderstood. Children who have outgrown fairy-tales undoubtedly prefer
this form of story to any other, and a more wholesome way of stimulating
their interest in the living things around them could hardly be found.

Though the books are designed for children of all ages, many adults have
been attracted by their freshness, and have found in them much that they
did not know before.

The autobiographical form was chosen after careful consideration in
preference to the newer method of regarding an animal through the eyes
of a human being, because it is the first aim of the series to depict
the world as animals see it, and it is not possible to do this
realistically unless the animal himself tells the story.


THE LIFE STORY OF

A BLACK BEAR

By H. PERRY ROBINSON

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by J. VAN OORT


THE LIFE STORY OF

A CAT

By VIOLET HUNT

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by ADOLPH BIRKENRUTH


THE LIFE STORY OF

A DOG

By G. E. MITTON

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by JOHN WILLIAMSON


THE LIFE STORY OF

A FOX

By J. C. TREGARTHEN

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by COUNTESS HELENA GLEICHEN


THE LIFE STORY OF

A FOWL

By J. W. HURST

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by ALLAN STEWART and MAUDE
SCRIVENER


THE LIFE STORY OF

A RAT

By G. M. A. HEWETT

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by STEPHEN BAGHOT DE LA BERE


THE LIFE STORY OF

A SQUIRREL

By T. C. BRIDGES

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by ALLAN STEWART


+TANGERINE+:
A CHILD'S LETTERS FROM MOROCCO.
EDITED BY T. ERNEST WALTHAM · CONTAINING
ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS · SQUARE DEMY
OCTAVO · CLOTH · PRICE +3s. 6d.+


"TANGERINE," AS THE NAME IMPLIES, DEALS WITH TANGIER, BUT NOT IN AN
HISTORICAL SENSE ONLY, BECAUSE THE PRETTY TITLE IS THE NAME GIVEN TO THE
LITTLE HEROINE WHO DESCRIBES, WITH OPEN EYES OF AMAZEMENT, ALL THE FUNNY
THINGS AND PEOPLE SHE MEETS WITH WHILE LIVING IN THAT STRANGE MOORISH
COUNTRY.

HER LETTERS, AND THE MANY BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE PHOTOGRAPHS WHICH
ILLUSTRATE THEM, CARRY ONE BACK TO THE OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY TIMES, AND
IF THE ILLUSTRATIONS HAD NOT BEEN FROM ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPHS, IT WOULD HAVE
BEEN VERY DIFFICULT TO HAVE BELIEVED THAT THE OLD, OLD CUSTOMS COULD BE
SEEN TO-DAY SO NEAR TO OUR OWN COUNTRY AND UNMIXED WITH MODERN
CIVILIZATION.

THE BOOK WILL ESPECIALLY INTEREST THE YOUNG, BECAUSE CHILDREN LOVE TO
HAVE INCIDENTS OF REAL LIFE PUT BEFORE THEM WHEN THEY HAVE BEEN SEEN
THROUGH THE EYES OF ANOTHER CHILD; BESIDES, TANGERINE'S LETTERS ARE FULL
OF QUAINT DOINGS AND LITTLE ADVENTURES WHICH MUST APPEAL TO THEM.


[Illustration: Decoration]

ANIMAL AUTOBIOGRAPHIES

EDITED BY

G. E. MITTON

EACH CONTAINING 12 FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR

SQUARE CROWN 8vo., CLOTH, GILT TOP

PRICE +6/=+ EACH


THE LIFE STORY OF

A BLACK BEAR

BY H. PERRY ROBINSON

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by J. VAN OORT


THE LIFE STORY OF

A CAT

BY VIOLET HUNT

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by ADOLPH BIRKENRUTH


THE LIFE STORY OF

A DOG

BY G. E. MITTON

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by JOHN WILLIAMSON


THE LIFE STORY OF

A FOWL

BY J. W. HURST

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour


THE LIFE STORY OF

A FOX

BY J. C. TREGARTHEN

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by COUNTESS HELENA GLEICHEN


THE LIFE STORY OF

A RAT

BY G. M. A. HEWETT

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by STEPHEN BAGHOT DE LA BERE


THE LIFE STORY OF

A SQUIRREL

BY T. C. BRIDGES

With 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by ALLAN STEWART

     The _Observer_ says: "That a great many children, and their elders,
     too, take a continuous interest in the life-stories of animals has
     been proved again and again, and therefore the idea of this series
     is one which is sure to commend itself to a large circle of
     readers. These volumes show that the happy idea has been very
     happily carried out."


+SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON.+ EDITED BY G. E.
MITTON · CONTAINING TWELVE FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS
IN COLOUR BY HARRY ROUNTREE.
LARGE SQUARE CROWN OCTAVO CLOTH · GILT TOP · PRICE +6s.+

THERE'S NO FRIEND LIKE AN OLD FRIEND, AND, AMONG ALL SCHOOLROOM
CLASSICS, "SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON" IS ONE OF THE OLDEST AND BEST KNOWN.
THE PRESENT VERSION IS TAKEN FROM ONE OF THE EARLIEST OF THE ENGLISH
EDITIONS, AND THOUGH A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF UNNECESSARY MATTER HAS BEEN CUT
OFF TO REDUCE IT WITHIN REASONABLE LIMITS, THE SLIGHTLY ARCHAIC FLAVOUR
OF THE LANGUAGE HAS BEEN RETAINED.

HARRY ROUNTREE'S ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR ARE REALLY EXCELLENT, AND MAKE
ONE WISH IT HAD BEEN ONE'S OWN PRIVILEGE TO MEET THE BOOK FOR THE FIRST
TIME IN THIS GUISE.


THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF EDINBURGH

BY ELIZABETH W. GRIERSON

Containing 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour from Paintings by ALLAN
STEWART

_Large Square Crown 8vo., Cloth, Gilt Top. Price_ +6s.+

"There have been many books written about Edinburgh, but none which
attempts to point out its attractions or explain its historical
associations in the way this one does for the benefit of young people.
The author comes down to the level of little folks; yet the style in
which she writes will not repel older people.... The volume is one which
is certain to prove popular with little folk."--_Scotsman._


THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF LONDON

BY G. E. MITTON

Author of several volumes in "The Fascination of London" Series edited
by SIR WALTER BESANT

Containing 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour by JOHN WILLIAMSON

_Large Square Crown 8vo., Cloth, Gilt Top. Price_ +6s.+

"No better guide could our younger generation have. The book has been
written so dexterously that a child of ten years of age will at once be
attracted and be impatient to go on a voyage of discovery in that London
of which it knows little or nothing beyond the fact that it is a very,
very, big city. 'Pen Pictures of London' the book might be called, and
it will assuredly be in great demand at Christmas-time."--_Morning
Post._


THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF STARS

BY G. E. MITTON

Author of "The Children's Book of London"

With a Preface by SIR DAVID GILL, K.C.B.

Containing about 20 full-page Illustrations (11 in Colour) and numerous
Diagrams in the Text

_Large Square Crown 8vo., Cloth, Gilt Top. Price_ +6s.+

"This book about stars stirs one to something like enthusiasm, because
it is so obviously and so delightfully a book that ought to have been
written, and a book that has been well and lovingly
written."--_Tribune._


CHILDREN'S TALES FROM SCOTTISH BALLADS

BY ELIZABETH W. GRIERSON

Containing 12 full-page Illustrations in Colour from Paintings by ALLAN
STEWART

_Large Square Crown 8vo., Cloth, Gilt Top. Price_ +6s.+

"The author has singled out her stories well. _Black Agnace of Dunbar_
is a stirring piece of writing, and if it and the other stories do not
fire the imagination of the rising generation, then we have surely
become a decadent race.... The illustrations are again by Mr. Stewart,
whose colouring is beautiful."--_Speaker._


PUBLISHED BY A. AND C. BLACK, 4, 5, AND 6, SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Siam" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home