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Title: The Boy Travellers in the Far East Part Second - Adventures of Two Youths in a Journey to Siam and Java
Author: Knox, Thomas Wallace
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Book Cover]



[Illustration]



THE BOY TRAVELLERS IN THE FAR EAST

_PART SECOND_

       *       *       *       *       *

ADVENTURES OF TWO YOUTHS IN A JOURNEY

TO

SIAM AND JAVA

WITH DESCRIPTIONS OF COCHIN-CHINA, CAMBODIA, SUMATRA AND THE MALAY
ARCHIPELAGO

BY

THOMAS W. KNOX

AUTHOR OF "CAMP-FIRE AND COTTON-FIELD" "OVERLAND THROUGH ASIA"
"UNDERGROUND" "JOHN" ETC.

Illustrated

NEW YORK

HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE

1882



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1880, by

HARPER & BROTHERS,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



PREFACE


The favorable reception accorded to "The Boy Travellers in Japan and
China" has led to the preparation of the present book.

Frank and Fred have continued their journey under the guidance of Doctor
Bronson, and the plan of their travels and observation is identical with
the one they followed through the Celestial Empire and the Land of the
Mikado. The incidents in the narrative were mainly the experiences of
the author at a recent date; and the descriptions of countries, cities,
temples, people, manners, and customs are nearly all from his personal
observations and notes. He has endeavored to give a faithful account of
Siam, Java, and the adjacent countries as they appear to-day, and trusts
that the only fiction of the book is in the names of the individuals who
tell the story.

In a few instances the narrative has been slightly interrupted, in order
to introduce matters of general interest to young readers. The details
of the progress of naval architecture and the accounts of submarine
operations, together with the wonderful adventures of Marco Polo, may be
classed as digressions. It is hoped they will meet the same welcome that
was accorded to the episode of a whaling voyage in the first record of
the travels of Frank and Fred.

The publishers have kindly allowed the use of some illustrations that
have already appeared in their publications relative to the Far East, in
addition to those specially prepared for this volume. The author has
consulted the works of previous travellers in the East to supplement his
own information, and to some of them he is under obligations. Especially
is he indebted to Mr. Frank Vincent, Jr., author of that excellent and
well-known book, "The Land of the White Elephant," not only for details
respecting Cambodia and adjacent regions, but for some of the admirable
engravings that adorn his volume. Other authorities are credited with
the text of their work or in foot-notes to the pages where quotations
are made.

The author is not aware that any book describing Siam, Java, Cochin
China, Cambodia, and the Malay Archipelago, and especially addressed to
the young, has yet appeared. Consequently he hopes that this volume will
meet with as warm a welcome as was given to "The Boy Travellers in Japan
and China," by adult as well as juvenile members of many families
throughout the United States.

  T. W. K.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER I.                                                        PAGE

  DEPARTURE FROM HONG-KONG.                                           13

  CHAPTER II.

  VOYAGE TO SAIGON.--ARRIVAL IN COCHIN CHINA.                         23

  CHAPTER III.

  HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE.--FIRST SIGHTS AND SCENES IN ANAM.       34

  CHAPTER IV.

  A WONDERFUL TEMPLE.--RUINS OF NAGKON WAT AND ANGKOR.                47

  CHAPTER V.

  CAMBODIA.--ITS CAPITAL AND KING.                                    61

  CHAPTER VI.

  DEPARTURE FROM SAIGON.--VISITING A CHINESE JUNK.                    73

  CHAPTER VII.

  THE WONDERFUL STORY OF MARCO POLO.                                  86

  CHAPTER VIII.

  ARRIVAL IN SIAM.--FIRST DAY IN BANGKOK.                            106

  CHAPTER IX.

  TEMPLES AT BANGKOK.--THE FOUNDER OF BUDDHISM.                      119

  CHAPTER X.

  ASCENDING THE MENAM, FROM BANGKOK TO AYUTHIA.                      131

  CHAPTER XI.

  VISITING THE PRINCE OF THE ELEPHANTS.--AYUTHIA.--SOMETHING ABOUT
      CROCODILES.                                                    143

  CHAPTER XII.

  STORIES OF ELEPHANT-HUNTING.--SCENES OF THE CHASE.                 161

  CHAPTER XIII.

  BANG-PA-IN TO BANGKOK.--STUDIES IN NATURAL HISTORY AND BOTANY.     177

  CHAPTER XIV.

  THE KING IN HIS STATE BARGE.--BETEL AND TOBACCO.                   190

  CHAPTER XV.

  WOMEN, HAIR-CUTTING, AND SLAVERY.                                  202

  CHAPTER XVI.

  CREMATION IN SIAM.--TRADE, TAXES, AND BIRDS.                       215

  CHAPTER XVII.

  PRESENTATION TO THE KING.--DINNER AT THE PALACE.                   228

  CHAPTER XVIII.

  THE WHITE ELEPHANT.--VISIT TO THE SECOND KING OF SIAM.             237

  CHAPTER XIX.

  LEAVING SIAM.--LIFE UNDER THE OCEAN WAVE.                          249

  CHAPTER XX.

  LIGHT UNDER WATER.--PEARL-FISHING AND TURTLE-HUNTING.              262

  CHAPTER XXI.

  INCIDENTS OF A SEA-VOYAGE.--SINGAPORE.                             280

  CHAPTER XXII.

  SIGHTS AND SCENES IN SINGAPORE.                                    294

  CHAPTER XXIII.

  CROSSING THE EQUATOR.--ADVENTURE WITH MALAY PIRATES.               311

  CHAPTER XXIV.

  SUMATRA AND ITS PECULIARITIES.--SNAKES AND ORANG-OUTANGS.          326

  CHAPTER XXV.

  ARRIVAL IN JAVA.--SIGHTS AND SCENES IN BATAVIA.                    343

  CHAPTER XXVI.

  BATAVIA TO BUITENZORG.--TROPICAL SCENES.--BIRDS OF PARADISE.       358

  CHAPTER XXVII.

  A CHAPTER ON POLITICAL ECONOMY.--THE DUTCH CULTURE SYSTEM IN JAVA. 374

  CHAPTER XXVIII.

  RICE CULTURE IN JAVA.--MILITARY AND SOCIAL MATTERS.                387

  CHAPTER XXIX.

  A POST RIDE IN JAVA.--FROM BUITENZORG TO BANDONG.                  400

  CHAPTER XXX.

  VISITING A TEA PLANTATION.--PREPARATION OF TEA.                    411

  CHAPTER XXXI.

  EASTERN JAVA, LOMBOCK, TIMOR, AND THE ARU ISLANDS.                 422

  CHAPTER XXXII.

  WANDERINGS IN THE MALAY ARCHIPELAGO.--GOOD-BYE.                    435



ILLUSTRATIONS


  Scene on the Headwaters of the Menam River              _Frontispiece_
  Map                                                  _To face page_ 13
                                                                    PAGE
  Hong kong, from Kellet's Island                                     13
  Mary and Effie reading Frank's Letter                               15
  Arrival of the French Mail Steamer                                  18
  Private Parlor of the "Yuen Fat Hong"                               20
  A Chinese Boatwoman                                                 21
  Frank's Dream                                                       22
  Hurricane during the Change of the Monsoon                          23
  A favoring Monsoon                                                  24
  Running before the Trade-wind                                       25
  Rice-fields on the Mekong                                           28
  A Native Woman                                                      30
  Street in the Chinese Quarter                                       31
  Plants in the Botanical Garden                                      32
  A New Acquaintance                                                  33
  A Mosquito of Saigon                                                33
  Native Gentleman at Saigon                                          35
  View of the French Quarter of Saigon                                37
  Native Soldiers at Saigon                                           39
  The King of the Beggars                                             41
  View of Cholon                                                      43
  A Chinese Family at Cholon                                          44
  A Cab for Two                                                       45
  Cambodian Female Head-dress. Ancient Sculpture                      47
  Plan of the Temple at Nagkon                                        49
  Unfinished Pillars                                                  50
  Columns in the Temple                                               51
  Sculptures on the Walls of Nagkon Wat                               52
  View from the Central Tower of the Temple                           54
  Gallery of Sculptures                                               56
  Ancient Tower overgrown with Poh-trees                              58
  Huts of the Priests                                                 59
  Stone with Ancient Sculptures                                       60
  A Cambodian Idol                                                    61
  Fishing-village on Lake Thalysap                                    62
  Panompin, the Capital of Cambodia                                   64
  Specimen of Cambodian Gold-work                                     66
  The King of Cambodia                                                67
  Queen of Cambodia and Royal Children                                69
  The Harbor of Oodong, Cambodia                                      70
  A Girl of Oodong                                                    71
  House in the Suburbs                                                72
  A Chinese Junk                                                      74
  Outline of Modern Ship, showing Compartments                        76
  A Junk Sailor at Breakfast                                          77
  Chinese River Boat                                                  78
  Ship of the Fourteenth Century                                      79
  "The Great Harry"                                                   80
  The "Tennessee"                                                     81
  The Public Highway of the Future                                    82
  The Bomb Ferry                                                      83
  Moonlight at Sea in the Tropics                                     84
  A Story of the Sea                                                  85
  Marco Polo                                                          87
  The Great Khan delivering a Tablet to the Elder Polo Brothers.
      From a Miniature of the Fourteenth Century                      88
  Arms of the Polo Family                                             88
  Nicolo Polo. Father of Marco                                        89
  Portrait of Kublai-Khan. From a Chinese Engraving                   91
  Marco Polo's Galley in Battle                                       93
  Alan shuts up the Caliph of Baudas in his Treasure-tower            96
  Dog-headed Men of Angamanain                                        97
  Mediæval Tartar Huts and Wagons                                     99
  The Roc, from a Persian Drawing                                    100
  Roc's Egg, now in the British Museum.                              100
  Chinese Bank-note of the Ming Dynasty                              101
  Chinese Conjuring Extraordinary                                    103
  Captain Clanchy at Work                                            104
  Come to Dinner!                                                    105
  A Natural Shower-bath                                              106
  Flying-fish                                                        107
  View near Paknam                                                   108
  Native Hut on the Menam River                                      110
  A Village Pathway in Siam                                          111
  Chinese Field-laborers                                             112
  General View of Bangkok                                            114
  House in the Foreign Part of Bangkok                               115
  A Siamese Priest                                                   118
  Bird's-eye View of Bangkok                                         120
  Temple of Wat Chang                                                121
  Temple of the Sleeping Idol                                        123
  Brass Idol in a Temple                                             124
  Priests Playing Chess                                              126
  Gate-way of a Temple at Bangkok                                    128
  Temple of the Emerald Idol                                         129
  Private Garden near Bangkok                                        133
  A Siamese Forest Scene                                             135
  Parasite and Palm                                                  138
  The Bamboo-tree                                                    139
  The Boat they narrowly Missed                                      140
  Scene at Bang-pa-in                                                141
  A River Scene                                                      142
  The Young Prince                                                   144
  Portrait of "Chang"                                                145
  Macedonian Coin, with Ancient Goad                                 146
  Modern Goad                                                        146
  A War Elephant                                                     147
  Near the Palace                                                    149
  In the Ruined City                                                 150
  Crocodiles at Home                                                 152
  Taking a Bite                                                      153
  The Doctor's Crack Shot                                            154
  The Trochilus                                                      155
  Alligator and Crane                                                155
  Trochilus and Crocodile                                            156
  The Alligator and the Bear                                         158
  Just Hatched                                                       159
  Coming out to Sun himself                                          160
  An Elephant Fence                                                  161
  Form of a Corral                                                   161
  Beginning the Drive                                                162
  Driving into the Corral                                            163
  Securing the Captives                                              165
  Siribeddi's Prize                                                  166
  The Prisoners tied up                                              168
  A little Head Work                                                 169
  In a Heap of Trouble                                               170
  Refusing to Move on                                                171
  Sliding down hill                                                  173
  Elephant-hunting on Foot                                           174
  The Hunter Hunted                                                  175
  Taking a Nap                                                       176
  Cocoa-nuts Full Grown and just Forming                             178
  The Bread-fruit                                                    179
  Pineapple                                                          180
  Star-apple                                                         180
  A New Kind of Fruit                                                181
  Tailor-bird and Nest                                               182
  A Climbing-fish                                                    183
  The Snake and the Squirrel                                         185
  Monkeys at Home                                                    187
  Monkeys                                                            188
  Eagle capturing a Monkey                                           189
  State Barge of the King of Siam                                    191
  A Body of the Royal Guards                                         192
  The King visiting a Temple                                         194
  The Front of the Temple                                            195
  The Tobacco-plant                                                  197
  Sir Walter Raleigh and his Pipe                                    197
  Pipes of all Nations                                               199
  Young America                                                      200
  The East                                                           201
  The West                                                           201
  Siamese Gentleman and Lady                                         203
  A Young Prince of the Royal House, with his Attendant              205
  Female Head-dress and Costume                                      206
  Minister of Foreign Affairs                                        207
  Lakon Girls                                                        209
  A Native Band of Music                                             210
  A Siamese Theatrical Performance                                   211
  Scene on a Small Canal near Bangkok                                216
  Burial-mounds                                                      217
  Urn containing Ashes                                               217
  Jessamine Flowers                                                  218
  Buddhist Priest                                                    219
  Characters in the Procession                                       220
  Haunts of Sea-birds on the Coast                                   223
  Edible Swallows' Nests                                             224
  Siamese Water Birds                                                225
  Pheasant and Young                                                 227
  Court-yard of the Royal Palace at Bangkok                          229
  Chulalonkorn I., Supreme King of Siam                              231
  Prime-minister of Siam                                             233
  The King of Siam in his State Robes                                234
  A Younger Brother of the King                                      235
  The Hour-glass                                                     236
  A White Elephant worshipping the Sun and Moon. From a Chinese
      Drawing                                                        237
  White Monkey in Elephant Stables                                   240
  How an Elephant Feeds                                              241
  Elephants' Trunks                                                  242
  Elephants Drinking                                                 243
  Fred's Tormentor                                                   244
  The Second King of Siam, in State Robes                            247
  The Doctor getting Ready                                           249
  Coast of Siam, near the Mouth of the River                         251
  Water-fowl of Siam                                                 252
  A Wreck among the Breakers                                         253
  Pearl Fisher attacked by a Shark                                   253
  Nests of the Water-spider                                          254
  Divers in their Armor                                              255
  Divers at Work                                                     256
  Diving over the Side of a Steamer                                  257
  Coral-fishing in the Mediterranean                                 259
  The Coral-worm                                                     260
  Cup-coral and Brain-coral                                          260
  An Atoll in the Pacific Ocean                                      261
  Submarine Observations                                             263
  The Bellows-fish, or Angler                                        264
  A Curious Home                                                     265
  Crabs in a Quarrel                                                 266
  Sea-anemones                                                       267
  The Sponge at Home                                                 268
  How Sponges are Speared                                            269
  Cleopatra dissolving the Pearl                                     270
  Pearl-bearing Shells                                               271
  Sizes of Pearls                                                    272
  Pearl-fishery at Bahrein                                           273
  Persian Gulf Diver                                                 274
  M. Jaquin's Experiment                                             275
  The Bleak                                                          276
  The Doctor's Discovery                                             276
  The Turtle at Home                                                 278
  Turtle-hunting                                                     279
  On a Frail Raft                                                    282
  The Rescue                                                         283
  Gulf-weed                                                          284
  Haunts of the Sea-birds                                            285
  In the Harbor                                                      286
  Boatmen at Singapore                                               287
  A Chinese Contractor                                               289
  Chinese Tailors at Singapore                                       290
  A Group of Jacoons                                                 291
  Garri with a Load of Sailors                                       292
  Full Dress at the Straits                                          293
  Chinese Garden at Singapore                                        296
  Maternal Care                                                      297
  Rural Scene in Singapore                                           298
  Fruit-sellers at Singapore                                         299
  A Bungalow                                                         300
  Chinese Gentleman's Garden                                         301
  The God of Gamblers                                                302
  Malay Boy in the Bird-market                                       303
  Head of Black Cockatoo                                             304
  Ejecting an Intruder                                               306
  A New Type of Mankind                                              308
  Klings and Chinese                                                 312
  Native Nurses and Children                                         313
  Coaling at the Dock                                                314
  Carrying Coal on Board                                             315
  Servants on Duty                                                   316
  Scene on the Sumatra Coast                                         317
  Crossing the Line on a Man-of-war                                  319
  Chief's House in a Pirate Village                                  322
  Harbor of Pirates                                                  323
  The Pirates' Victim                                                324
  Sinews of War                                                      325
  A Trading-station on the Coast                                     327
  A Bayou on the Palembang River                                     328
  Arab Houses at Palembang                                           329
  Lounging under a Mango-tree                                        330
  Alligators taking Sun and Air                                      331
  View in a Sumatran Village                                         332
  Chased by a Tiger                                                  333
  Treed by a Bear                                                    334
  Shooting a Boa-constrictor                                         335
  A Snaky Creek                                                      336
  Monkey Examining a Tortoise                                        337
  Female Orang-outang. From a Photograph                             338
  Natives of Borneo Fighting with an Orang-outang                    339
  A Flying-frog                                                      341
  A Sumatran Butterfly                                               342
  Arrival in Port                                                    344
  The Carriage at the Custom-house                                   345
  The National Taste                                                 346
  Their Servant                                                      347
  The Mango                                                          348
  A Trifle too Peppery                                               349
  After Breakfast                                                    349
  An Early Call                                                      350
  Native House on the River that Feeds the Canal                     352
  Family Party in Batavia                                            354
  Fan-palm in the Botanical Garden                                   355
  Chinese Porters                                                    356
  Goddess of Sailors and her Assistants                              357
  Some of the Third-class Passengers                                 359
  View in a Private Garden                                           360
  Native Village near the Railway                                    361
  Tropical Growths along the Line                                    362
  "Mangosteens!"                                                     363
  Veranda of the Hotel Bellevue                                      365
  View from the Veranda at Buitenzorg                                366
  A Bad Road                                                         367
  The Vanda Lowii                                                    368
  A Tree Growing in Mid-air                                          369
  Group of Birds in the Malay Archipelago                            371
  Magnificent Bird of Paradise                                       372
  Superb Bird of Paradise                                            372
  Six-shafted Bird of Paradise                                       373
  Long-tailed Bird of Paradise                                       373
  The Yankee Elephant                                                375
  The Chinese Elephant                                               375
  The Operatic Elephant                                              375
  The Elephant in Love                                               376
  Ancient Bas-relief--Java                                           376
  A Monster Volcano                                                  377
  Peasant Farm-houses                                                379
  Home of a Prosperous Contractor                                    380
  Coffee-plantation in the Mountains                                 381
  "Old Government Java"                                              382
  A Javanese Chief                                                   383
  An Improved Sugar Estate                                           384
  Retainers of a Javanese Regent                                     385
  "Good-night"                                                       386
  The House at the Spring                                            388
  Pounding Coffee                                                    389
  Dutch Overseers                                                    390
  Foot-bridge over a Mountain Stream                                 392
  Rewards for Good Conduct                                           394
  Pirate Prisoners on a Colonial Gun-boat                            395
  Passport Office                                                    396
  Ordered Out of the Country                                         398
  No Admittance                                                      399
  Starling on the Journey.                                           401
  By the Roadside                                                    402
  Lodgings of the Stable-men                                         403
  Just Imported                                                      404
  The Waiter at Sindinglaya                                          406
  Sleeping-room in the Sanitarium                                    407
  A Mountain Cascade                                                 409
  Javanese Boys                                                      410
  Train of Coffee-carts                                              412
  Seed-pods of the Tea-plant                                         413
  Gathering Tea-leaves                                               415
  Drying Tea in the Sun                                              416
  Drying over Charcoal                                               416
  Roasting Tea                                                       417
  Handy with his Feet                                                418
  Roasting Green Tea                                                 419
  Tea Regions of the United States                                   420
  Roasting-basket                                                    421
  Volcano in Eastern Java                                            423
  Ruins near Sourabaya                                               424
  An Island Port                                                     425
  Wild Fig-tree                                                      425
  A Village in Lombock                                               426
  View near Mataram                                                  427
  Where the Great Spirit and the Rajah met                           428
  Gun-boring in Lombock                                              430
  Natives of Timor                                                   431
  Delli, Portuguese Timor                                            432
  Natives of Aru Shooting the Great Bird of Paradise                 433
  A Native Anchor                                                    434
  Great Street of Dobbo in the Trading-season                        436
  Wearing the Cangue                                                 437
  A Native of Aru                                                    438
  Sea-cucumber                                                       439
  A Papuan Pipe                                                      439
  A Bird of Amboyna                                                  440
  Sago Club                                                          440
  Preparing Sago                                                     441
  Sago Oven                                                          442
  Sugar-palm of Macassar                                             442
  Climbing the Mountain                                              443
  Coming Down the Mountain                                           445
  "Good-bye!"                                                        446



[Illustration: _Map to accompany "The Boy Travellers of the far East"_]



THE BOY TRAVELLERS

IN

THE FAR EAST.



CHAPTER I.

DEPARTURE FROM HONG-KONG.


"There she comes!" shouted Frank Bassett, as he pointed away to the
eastward.

Doctor Bronson and his nephew Fred were standing close beside Frank, and
their eyes eagerly followed the direction of his hand.

"Yes, there she is!" Fred responded; "what a splendid sight!"

They were on the lookout platform on Victoria Peak, 1800 feet above the
harbor of Hong-kong. The city, the island, the surrounding waters, and
the neighboring coast of China all lay before them like a map. They had
been studying the scene, and the Doctor had explained to the boys its
remarkable resemblance to the view from the summit of the Rock of
Gibraltar.

[Illustration: HONG-KONG, FROM KELLET'S ISLAND.]

Their geographical observations were interrupted by the announcement of
the sergeant in charge of the signal-station that the Pacific Mail
steamer _City of Peking_ was just outside the harbor, and would shortly
enter through the Ly-ee-moon Pass. Hong-kong harbor has two entrances;
the one to the eastward is known as the Ly-ee-moon, while that to the
west is called the Lama Passage. Both are easy of navigation, and admit
ships of the largest class to one of the finest harbors in the world.

The great steamer ploughed steadily forward; and as she passed Kellet's
Island, which is a fortified rock near the Ly-ee-moon, she turned
gracefully, and headed straight for her anchorage. Our friends watched
her till she came to her resting-place, and her engines had ceased
working; then they said good-bye to the signal-station, and proceeded to
the sedan-chairs which were waiting for them. The chair-coolies had also
seen the steamer, and, as they were anxious to reach the city before the
passengers could come ashore, they made the best possible time on their
way down the mountain. They ran rather than walked, and two or three
times the boys narrowly escaped a fall in the sudden bends of the zigzag
road.

The adventures of Doctor Bronson, Frank Bassett, and Fred Bronson, and
their reasons for being in Hong-kong, have been narrated in a previous
volume.[1]

[1] "The Boy Travellers in the Far East. Adventures of Two Youths in a
Journey to Japan and China." By Thomas W. Knox. Published by Harper &
Brothers, New York, 1880.

They expected the _City of Peking_ to bring letters that would determine
their future movements. Is it any wonder they were in a hurry to have
her mails landed, and the precious letters delivered?

Their letters were addressed in care of the banking-house on which their
credits were drawn, and very naturally the boys were eager to go at once
to that establishment. The Doctor suggested that it would be quite time
enough to go there after lunch; and, as the appetites of the trio had
been sharpened by the excursion up the mountain, the proposal met no
opposition whatever.

The meal was served in the dining-room of the hotel, and as soon as it
was ended the party walked leisurely to the banking-house. In a little
while their letters were handed to them, and greatly rejoiced were the
boys at the arrival of these precious missives from home. The return to
the hotel was a rapid one on the part of the youths, who left the good
Doctor far behind, in their eagerness to be once more in their rooms,
where they could be safe from interruption while they read the messages
from their friends.

The letters were full of good news.

[Illustration: MARY AND EFFIE READING FRANK'S LETTER.]

The parents of both the boys expressed their delight at the good use
which Frank and Fred had made of their time, and the interesting
accounts they had given of their experiences in Japan and China, and
their voyage over the Pacific Ocean. Mary and Miss Effie had received
the presents which Frank bought for them in Japan, and Mary confessed in
her letter that since the arrival of the precious box they had thought
and talked of nothing else. They had dressed themselves in Japanese
garments, and Miss Effie was sure that, if their eyes were properly
sloped at the corners, they could readily pass for residents of Tokio or
Kioto.

The Doctor reached the hotel while they were in the midst of their
reading. His package of letters was quite as large as that of either of
the boys, and among them there was a very portly letter, which had
required a liberal amount of stamps to pay for its transportation. This
he opened first, and, after perusing it carefully, he smiled, and laid
it aside. Evidently the contents were pleasing.

Frank and Fred were through with their letters about the same time, and
as soon as they were at liberty they began comparing notes. Both were a
good deal disappointed, as they had received no indication of their
future course. Would they go directly back across the Pacific Ocean, or
would they proceed on a journey around the world? Perhaps the Doctor
could tell them; but just then he was occupied, and they did not wish to
disturb him.

There was a rap at the door, followed by the entrance of a servant
bringing a letter, which had been overlooked at the banker's. It was for
Mr. Frank Bassett; and that young gentleman was not long in breaking the
seal and possessing himself of its contents.

His air of melancholy changed to one of delight. He threw his arms
around Fred, and made a start in the direction of the Doctor, as if
intending to favor him with an embrace, but speedily checked himself,
and confined his demonstrations to a quiet leap over a chair that stood
in the middle of the room; then he held out the letter for Fred to read.

Fred's delight at the intelligence conveyed in the document was quite
equal to Frank's. The question was settled; they were to continue on
their journey around the world. The necessary letters of credit would be
sent in care of Doctor Bronson, and should be in the mail brought by the
_City of Peking_.

Frank saw the large letter on the table in front of the Doctor, and at
once divined that it was the important missive containing papers similar
to the one with which he was provided before he left home. There was yet
a goodly amount remaining on his letter of credit, but not enough to
carry him to America by way of Europe. Fred was in a similar
predicament, and therefore a permission to go forward would be of no
great use if unaccompanied by the necessary cash or its equivalent.

Doctor Bronson relieved their doubt by handing them the letters of
credit which had come in the bulky parcel in question. They were
considered too valuable to be intrusted to the ordinary mail, and
therefore they had been "registered." And from their experience with the
Post-office in China and other Eastern countries, our three friends were
unanimously of the opinion that all valuable letters going there should
be sent by registered post. The Japanese postal service was the most
perfect one they found in their travels, and the Doctor declared that
some of our officials at home might learn what would be to their
advantage if they would visit the post-office at Yokohama and see how
admirably it was conducted.

"Well, boys," said Dr. Bronson, "it's all settled."

The boys had a moment of standing on tiptoe in their exuberant delight,
and then Frank asked,

"Where are we to go, Doctor, and when are we to start?"

"That is what we must determine now," was the reply. "We have several
routes open to us, and each has its advantages."

"I think," answered Frank, "that we could not do better than leave the
selection of the route to Doctor Bronson. He has proved such an
excellent guide and friend thus far, that we have the most implicit
confidence in his judgment, and are quite willing to adopt his
suggestions without question."

This was said as if Frank had been addressing himself to his cousin
rather than the Doctor. Fred instantly accepted the proposal, and it was
promptly agreed that the whole matter should be left in Doctor Bronson's
hands to arrange. The latter thanked the youths for the expression of
their confidence in him, and then proceeded to designate on the map the
routes leading westward from Hong-kong.

"The regular mail steamers," said he, "go from here to Singapore, which
you see is down close to the equator, and at the entrance of the Straits
of Malacca. The English steamers go directly there without stopping; but
the French ones touch at Saigon, in Cochin China, which is a colony of
the French Government."

"I have thought out a plan," he continued, "while we have been waiting,
and what I propose is this:

"We will go from here to Saigon by one of the French ships, and then
make a stay in Cochin China long enough to see what we wish of the
country. Then we can find a trading-ship of some kind to take us to
Siam, and once there, we shall have no trouble in getting to Singapore,
as there is a regular line between that city and Bangkok, the capital of
Siam. There is much to be seen in Siam, as well as in Cochin China; and
I think this route will be far preferable to the direct one by the mail
steamers, though it will not be so comfortable. We must be prepared to
"rough it" a little both on shore and at sea, but our privations will be
more than compensated by the abundance of interesting sights on the
way."

The boys agreed at once to the proposal, and the conversation came to an
end. The Doctor went to arrange for the proposed journey, and the youths
brought out their writing materials, and devoted the rest of the
afternoon to the preparation of letters in answer to those they had just
received.

[Illustration: ARRIVAL OF THE FRENCH MAIL STEAMER.]

The French steamer arrived from Shanghai in the evening, and her great
hull loomed majestically in the light of the full-moon as she came to
anchor. It is a condition of the contracts for the transportation of the
mails, that a steamer is not to lie more than twenty-four hours at any
of the stopping-places along the route unless detained by unforeseen
accidents. Consequently, when one of these ships arrives, it is pretty
certain that her departure will occur within the time above specified;
and it was shortly announced that the ship in question would leave at
noon the next day. The mail service between Europe and the Far East is
performed almost as regularly as that across the Atlantic, and the
arrivals at the various points can be guessed with tolerable accuracy.
The English and French steamers perform each a fortnightly service both
ways, and, as they run alternately, the residents of China and Japan
have weekly mail-days for sending and receiving their letters.

Doctor Bronson engaged passage for the party by the French steamer as
far as Saigon, and then went to the office of the "Yuen Fat Hong" to
ascertain if there was a vessel for Bangkok by way of Cochin China.

In the last few years the Chinese merchants have gone somewhat
extensively into the business of running steamships. There is a company
with a capital of two million dollars that owns several lines of
steamers along the coast and on the great river of China, the
Yang-tse-kiang, and its officers and stockholders are all of them
Chinese. There are several smaller companies, and there are Chinese
commission-houses that act as agents for English and other steamers in
the Eastern trade. The Yuen Fat Hong was one of these commission-houses,
and it managed the business of a line of English ships running between
Hong-kong and Bangkok, with an occasional call at Saigon.

[Illustration: PRIVATE PARLOR OF THE "YUEN FAT HONG."]

Doctor Bronson found the office without any difficulty, and was shown
into a neatly-arranged parlor, where four well-dressed Chinese were
sitting. Three of them were holding fans in their hands, while the
fourth was indulging in the luxury of a pipe. Plants in pots stood near
the walls, and there was a table in the centre of the room, where the
oldest and most serious of the Oriental gentlemen was seated. Evidently
it was a time of relief from labor, and so there was no delay in
attending to the inquiries of the Doctor.

The information he obtained was entirely satisfactory. The house was to
send a ship in a week or ten days to Bangkok by way of Saigon; it would
stop two or three days in the latter port, and if the party would be
satisfied with the limited accommodations, they could secure passage
from there to Siam.

It was secured at once, and then the Doctor returned to the hotel.

[Illustration: A CHINESE BOATWOMAN.]

The next morning the boys were up early; and long before the hour fixed
for their departure from the hotel they had all their baggage in
readiness. The trunks and valises were delivered to the porters and
carried to the landing-place, whence they were to be transported in a
small boat to the great steamer that lay smoking in the harbor. The boat
that the party engaged was a reminder of Canton, as it was occupied by
an entire family; two or three children were quietly seated in a sort
of box at the stern, and the crew consisted of two women and a man. One
of the women was evidently captain; at least Frank thought so, when he
observed her air of authority in giving directions for the movement of
the boat. The harbor service of Hong-kong is nearly all performed by
Chinese from the famous boat-population of Canton; they are not
forbidden to live on shore as they are at Canton, but from long habit,
and also from motives of economy, they continue to make their homes on
the boats.

While on the way to the ship, Fred made a sketch of the younger of the
two women, and declared his intention was rather light in complexion for
an inhabitant of Southern China; her hair was covered by a thick
kerchief, tied in a knot under her chin, and her jacket or blouse was
buttoned in front, and hung loosely down like a silk wrapper. As soon as
she discovered that she was the subject of a sketch she put on her
sweetest smile, and was evidently proud of the honor that Fred was
showing her.

Less than an hour after they reached the ship they were under way for
Saigon.

Our friends spent the afternoon on deck, where they had plenty of
occupation watching the irregular line of the coast, and observing the
play of light and shade on the water. There were but few passengers, so
that they had an abundance of room; the weather was delightful, and both
Frank and Fred declared that none of their travel by sea up to that time
had been more agreeable. They abandoned all ideas of being sea-sick; and
when the bell called them to dinner they were promptly in their places
at table.

Suddenly Fred turned to his cousin and asked if he was aware that China
was the worst country in the world for wheeled vehicles.

Frank said he knew the Celestial Empire was very badly off for means of
locomotion, but he was not certain that it was the most unfortunate in
this respect.

"It is a great country," said Fred, "and has an enormous population: we
are going to Saigon, which is the capital of Cochin China."

"Well," replied Frank, "what has that to do with the matter of wheeled
vehicles?"

"Don't you see?" responded Fred, "there is only one coach in China!"

"That is a very good conundrum," remarked the Doctor, who had been
listening to the dialogue between the boys; "but it is as old as it is
good. I heard it when I first came to China, years ago."

Fred confessed that he found the conundrum in question in a book on
China which he had picked up in Hong-kong, and thereupon it was agreed
that no more jokes should be made until they were again on shore.

At an early hour the boys retired to their rooms, and it did not require
a long time for them to fall asleep. Fred made no report of any unusual
occurrence during his sleeping hours, but it was otherwise with Frank.
In the morning he intimated that the letters from home had set him to
dreaming, and that all his relatives and friends had congratulated him
on his pleasant and prosperous journey. Fred asked if any one had been
more profuse in congratulations than any one else, and the young dreamer
admitted that such was the case. He mentioned no names, but the Doctor
and Fred had no difficulty in determining who that one was.

[Illustration: FRANK'S DREAM.]



CHAPTER II.

VOYAGE TO SAIGON.--ARRIVAL IN COCHIN CHINA.


The voyage from Hong-kong to Saigon was neither long nor unpleasant. The
weather was fine, and the wind favored the progress of the steamer. The
Doctor explained that the north-east monsoon was blowing at that season
of the year, and it was to be relied on with such certainty that the
steamship companies arranged their time-tables with reference to it. The
boys had heard something about the monsoons before this, and Fred
determined that he would study the subject sufficiently to have a clear
understanding of it. So he questioned the Doctor, and examined all the
books he could find that had anything to say about the monsoons, and
when he thought his information was complete he proceeded to put it on
paper.

[Illustration: HURRICANE DURING THE CHANGE OF THE MONSOON.]

Here is Fred's essay on the winds of the Eastern seas:

"The word 'monsoon' comes from the Arabic _musim_, which means 'season,'
and the winds are so called because they blow in alternate seasons,
first in one direction and then in the other. On the coast of China the
wind is from the south-west from April to October, and is then called
the south-west monsoon; for the other half of the year it blows from the
north-east, and is then called the north-east monsoon. There is
generally a period of about two weeks when the winds are irregular at
each change from one monsoon to the other, and at this time the
ship-masters are very fearful of severe storms, with heavy rain and much
thunder and lightning.

[Illustration: A FAVORING MONSOON.]

"The monsoon winds are known all over the Eastern seas, from the coast
of China to the shores of Arabia. Their periods of blowing are so well
understood that the steamship captains know exactly when they may be
expected, and their voyages are arranged accordingly. On the printed
time-tables of all the steamship companies you will find 'monsoon
allowances;' and on the coast of India there are certain ports where the
ships cannot touch at all when the monsoon is unfavorable. The
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company allows four days for
its ships between Suez and Shanghai when the monsoon is against them,
and one day on the voyage between Hong-kong and Yokohama. The French
mail steamers have the same allowances. In August, when the south-west
wind is blowing, a steamer goes from Hong-kong to Yokohama in seven
days; but in April, when the wind is the other way, she is allowed eight
days for the voyage.

"The monsoons are caused just like all other winds--by the heated air
rising and cold air rushing in to fill its place. In summer, when the
sun is over Asia and the ground becomes heated to a high degree, the air
rises, and the cooler air from the south comes to fill up the space.
This makes the south-west monsoon; and when the seasons change, and it
becomes summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the northern,
then the air goes the other way, and the wind blows from the north-east.
This is the north-east monsoon.

[Illustration: RUNNING BEFORE THE TRADE-WIND.]

"The monsoons should not be mistaken for the trade-winds which blow in
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and also in the southern part of the
Indian Ocean. The monsoons change every half year, as I have explained,
but the trade-winds blow regularly all the year round in the same
direction. They are caused by the warm air rising from the vicinity of
the equator, owing to the great heat, and the cool air rushing in from
the south and from the north. The trade-winds have been so named because
they have been of great assistance to commerce; sailing-ships can
calculate their voyages with great accuracy by means of these winds, and
I have read and heard of ships in the trade-winds that sailed for twenty
or thirty days without moving a rope or altering the position of a sail.
They went along ten or twelve miles an hour, and the sailors had nothing
to do but lie around the deck or in the forecastle, and amuse themselves
in any way they liked."

Fred read his production to the Doctor and Frank as they sat on deck,
the second day of the voyage from Hong-kong. Frank wanted a copy, but
took the precaution to ask the Doctor if it was all correct. The latter
said it was entirely, so far as he knew, but it did not tell the whole
story. Thereupon Frank set at work to find something additional, and in
the course of an hour or so he offered the following post-script to the
essay of his cousin:

"In studying about the trade-winds and the monsoons, I find that they do
not blow directly north or directly south, as we might suppose they
would if they came in to fill up the vacancy caused by the rising of the
heated air. North of the equator the trade-winds blow from the
north-east, and south of it they are from the south-east. The
inclination to the east is caused by the rotary motion of the earth from
east to west. The earth slips from under the wind while turning on its
axis, and it is really the earth that makes the slope of the wind, and
not the wind itself. Something like it may be seen when a boat crosses a
river. The boatman may try to pull straight across, but if he does so
the current carries him down, and he is unable to land opposite his
starting-point. The only way he can do so is by going obliquely against
the stream.

"The monsoons get their direction in the same way as the trade-winds get
theirs; with this difference, that the south-west monsoon starts near
the equator, and not in the southern hemisphere, like the south-east
trade-wind. The rotary motion of the earth is greater at the equator
than it is in the northern latitudes, and so the wind gets a westerly
inclination instead of an easterly one, as in the case of the
trade-wind. Some of the scientific men say that the north-east monsoon
is not a monsoon at all, but only the north-east trade-wind taking its
regular course, which has been disturbed by the more powerful wind from
the south-west."

"Very good," remarked the Doctor, when Frank read what he had written.
"I am a little fearful, however, that it will not be understood by
everybody, and so we will drop the dry subject and think of something
easier."

The boys admitted that the topic was a dry one, but nevertheless it was
interesting; and they thought they would not be doing their duty in
their journey if they failed to comprehend the great winds that so
materially help or hinder the movements of ships in Asiatic waters.

On their third day from Hong-kong the boys heard with delight that land
was visible. At first it was like a dark cloud on the horizon; but, as
they approached it, the scene changed, and the cloud was resolved into a
tropical shore, backed by a line of hills in the distance. The steamer
headed for a little promontory, and by-and-by a light-house was revealed
that marked the entrance of the river which they were to ascend.

A boat came out from the mouth of the river, and a pilot boarded the
steamer. He was a weather-beaten Frenchman, who had lived more than
twenty years in Cochin China, and was thoroughly familiar with the
channel of the river, or rather of its various channels. The Mekong
empties into the China Sea, very much as the Mississippi discharges into
the Gulf of Mexico; it has several mouths, and the whole lower part of
its course is divided into canals and bayous, that are very convenient
for the natives in the matter of local navigation.

Saigon, the destination of the steamer and of our friends, is on one of
these lower branches of the Mekong, about thirty miles from the sea. The
river is not more than five or six hundred feet wide, and the channel is
very crooked. The boys were reminded of their trip up the Peiho, from
Taku to Tien-Tsin, when they were on their way to Peking, but they voted
that the present voyage was the more agreeable of the two, inasmuch as
the steamer did not follow the example of their ship on the Peiho, by
occasionally running her nose into the bank. Their progress was steady
but slow, and they had plenty of time to study the scenery of the new
country they were entering.

[Illustration: RICE-FIELDS ON THE MEKONG.]

On both banks of the river the land is quite flat, and they were told
that, in times of unusual freshets, it was overflowed for long
distances. For this reason, it is not very thickly populated, although
the soil is rich, and could be made to produce abundantly. All along the
banks there was a thick fringe of mangrove-trees, and sometimes they
appeared to extend over many square miles of land. Here and there were
rice-fields that appeared to have the most careful cultivation; and
sometimes a village, with its temple rising above the modest dwellings
of the inhabitants, was revealed to the eyes of the young wanderers.

The number of the villages increased; and by-and-by a larger collection
of houses than they had yet seen was visible. This was the last village
before Saigon, and finally the city itself came into view. The steamer
stopped in front of it, and hardly was her anchor down before she was
surrounded by a crowd of native boats. Some of them were exactly of the
model of those at Hong-kong and Canton, and others were new to the eyes
of our friends. A great many Chinese have come here from Canton, and
brought their manners and customs with them; and they have also brought
their boats, or caused the construction of some exactly similar to those
they left behind.

As soon as convenient the Doctor engaged a boat for the party, and the
three travellers went on shore. There are several hotels at Saigon not
far from the landing-place, and it was not long before the strangers
were comfortably quartered--at least comfortably for Cochin China. After
their experiences at Peking and other places, they were not inclined to
be fastidious about their lodgings.

[Illustration: A NATIVE WOMAN.]

As soon as they had arranged matters at the hotel, the party went out
for a stroll. They found Saigon was well laid out, with broad streets
that ran straight as sunbeams for long distances. Most of them were
macadamized, and shaded with double rows of trees, and they had deep
gutters to carry off the heavy rains that fall in this latitude. The
boys were greatly interested in observing the hats worn by the natives;
those of the men were conical in shape, and came down over the shoulders
like an extinguisher over a candle. The women wore hats that resembled
baskets, about six inches deep by not less than two feet across. The
hats for both men and women are made of leaves, closely plaited
together, and serve to keep off the rain as well as the sun. The hat of
the man is particularly useful as an umbrella, as the wearer need only
bring it down over his head to make his shelter very nearly complete.
When walking on the road, he must keep it well tilted up in front in
order to enable him to see his way.

As they walked along, the Doctor explained that the most of the people
they met were not the original inhabitants of the country. Saigon was a
small fishing-village in 1861, when it was captured by the French and
occupied as a military post. The captors determined to make it a city of
consequence, and the French government has expended a great deal of
money in this endeavor. They have constructed roads and streets on the
same scale that the English have adopted at Shanghai, and they have
built dock-yards where ships can be repaired. They have maintained a
large garrison of soldiers, and several times have been called on to
suppress insurrections that cost a great deal of money and blood.

"Now," said the Doctor, "when the French established themselves here,
they opened the port for anybody to come and live in Saigon, as they
wanted to build up its trade as fast as possible. A great many Chinese
came here from Canton and Singapore, and the result was that the place
grew very rapidly. The Chinese came much faster than the emigrants from
France and other European countries, and also faster than the natives of
Cochin China from other parts of the conquered provinces. Consequently,
here is a French city with a foreign population greater than the native
one, and greater than that from France itself.

"Nearly all the business of Saigon is in the hands of the Chinese," the
Doctor continued, "and they have managed to drive out most of the
foreigners who were established here. They can live so much more
cheaply, and transact business for a smaller profit, that the foreigner
cannot compete with them. The number of foreign houses in Saigon is
diminishing every year, and it looks as though the Chinese would have it
pretty nearly all to themselves by the end of another ten years."

[Illustration: STREET IN THE CHINESE QUARTER.]

They found some parts of Saigon so much Chinese in character that they
seemed to be carried back to Canton or Shanghai. Chinese signs abounded;
Chinese shops were open, and the men doing business both behind and
before the counters were Chinese. Chinese eyes were upon them, and
frequently Chinese peddlers approached them with articles for sale.
Chinese were at worship in the temples, walking, talking, trading, and
pursuing their ordinary avocations, and for every foreigner the boys
encountered they met a hundred inhabitants of the Flowery Kingdom.

The roads were dry and dusty, and after a walk of a couple of hours our
friends returned to the hotel. Late in the afternoon they went out again
to hear one of the military bands play, and to see the people on their
daily promenade. The band plays at a stand on the street parallel to
the river, and everybody who can come out to see and be seen is sure to
be there.

Frank found the crowd so variegated that he suggested to Fred that it
was like looking through a kaleidoscope. There were Frenchmen, Germans,
Englishmen, Spaniards, and Portuguese among the foreigners; while the
Asiatics included Chinese, Anamese, Cambodians, Malays, Siamese, and a
variety of other nationalities the boys were unable to determine. In
fact, they would not have been able to recognize all the people
mentioned above if it had not been for the assistance of the Doctor, who
was skilled in the study of faces and the sound of languages. Fred
thought that the confusion of tongues was enough to give one a faint
idea of what the Tower of Babel must have been at the time the builders
suspended work.

[Illustration: PLANTS IN THE BOTANICAL GARDEN.]

They finished their explorations of the day with a visit to the
botanical garden, just as the sun was sinking in the west. The garden
contains a good variety of the tropical plants peculiar to the country,
and also some that the French have imported, with a view to distributing
them through the province in case the cultivation should prove
advantageous. There are also some wild animals carefully kept in cages,
with the exception of the elephants, which have no greater restriction
than being fastened with chains. The most interesting of these animals,
in the eyes of the boys, were some tigers which came from the upper
regions of the Mekong River, and were larger than any they had ever seen
in America.

[Illustration: A NEW ACQUAINTANCE.]

The evening was devoted to a study of the geography and history of the
country they were in, and before the boys went to bed they had a pretty
clear idea of Cochin China and the regions that surround it. In the
morning they complained of numerous visits from the mosquitoes that
abound in Saigon the entire year, and are as attentive as the mosquitoes
of the United States or any other country.

[Illustration: A MOSQUITO OF SAIGON.]



CHAPTER III.

HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE.--FIRST SIGHTS AND SCENES IN ANAM.


The boys made a division of labor in looking up information about the
country. Frank was to find what he could concerning its natural features
and extent, while Fred undertook to learn something about the French
occupation, and the reasons that led to it. When they were ready, the
essays were read to the Doctor for his approval or rejection; and there
was a brief discussion to determine who should be first to read, or
rather last, as each preferred not to be the beginner. The Doctor
settled the question by deciding that the natural features of the
country existed before the French came there, and, therefore, it was the
duty of Frank to open the subject.

Thus assured, Frank produced his note-book, and read:

"The countries of Birmah, Siam, and Anam are known to geographers as
'Indo-China,' for the reason that they lie between India and China, and
have some of the characteristics of both. The empire of Anam is the one
we are now considering, and we will leave the others until we get to
them in the course of our travels. It is erroneously called Cochin
China, from a province of that name which is included in the empire. The
proper divisions of Anam are Cambodia, Tonquin, Tsiampa, and Cochin
China, and more than three-fourths of its boundaries are washed by the
sea. It is about nine hundred miles long, and its width varies a great
deal, owing to the indentations of the coast. Cochin China proper is
only some ninety miles long by twenty broad, and it is really the
smallest of the provinces. Cambodia is the largest and most populous,
and the soil is said to be more productive than that of the other parts
of the empire. The number of inhabitants is not known, but it is
generally thought to be from twelve to fifteen millions.

[Illustration: NATIVE GENTLEMAN AT SAIGON.]

"The people resemble the Malays and Chinese, and are sometimes called
the connecting link between the two. They are smaller than the Chinese,
but not so dark as the Malays; their dress resembles the Chinese, but
they do not shave their heads as the latter do. They are not very
ingenious, and have comparatively few manufactures; their chief
employments are in agriculture, and they raise a great deal of rice,
which is exported to China and other countries. They also export sugar,
raw silk, cinnamon, dye-stuff, elephants' hides and bones, together with
a good many gums and spices. The dye known as gamboge comes from
Cambodia, and the name of the country is said to be derived from this
article. On the coast the people engage in fishing, and all through the
country the food of the people consists of fish and rice. The natives
will eat a great deal when they have the opportunity, but they are able
to live on a very small allowance of food when necessity compels them.
Buddhism is the prevailing religion, but they are not very earnest in
it; they have great respect for the dead, and resemble the Chinese in
their veneration for their ancestors.

"The country near the coast is generally flat, but farther inland it
becomes mountainous. There are tribes in the interior that are more than
half savage in their character; they live mostly on wild fruits, and are
widely scattered. Some sleep in the trees, and some build small huts,
but they rarely have permanent villages, and never get together in great
numbers. Sometimes the Cambodians make war on these hill-tribes, and
those that they capture are sold as slaves.

"The principal river is the Mekong, and it is one of the largest streams
in South-eastern Asia. It rises in China, and has a general course of
about one thousand seven hundred miles to the south, and it falls into
the sea by several mouths between the ninth and tenth degrees of north
latitude. There are many villages and towns along its banks, and in its
lower course the river is navigable for the largest ships."

Frank paused, and said that was all he had been able to obtain about
Anam, but he hoped to have more by-and-by. The Doctor pronounced his
essay an excellent one, as it gave a good general description of the
country, and contained the information that every traveller and reader
ought to have.

Now it was Fred's turn to read. He had been uneasily twisting his
note-book between his fingers, evidently dreading the ordeal of
delivery; but as soon as he was through with the first line, his
embarrassment vanished, and his voice was as firm as ever.

"Nearly a hundred years ago," said Fred, "France opened relations with
Anam, and arranged to give the latter country certain assistance against
its enemies in return for commercial and missionary privileges. It was
about the time of the famous French Revolution. Only a small part of the
promised assistance was given by France, and she was too busy with
affairs at home to demand all that had been agreed upon on the part of
Anam. The French missionaries were protected in the exercise of their
religious duties, and a small trade was carried on until about the year
1831. The old king died, and a new one went on the throne; he was
opposed to the French and Spanish missionaries, and endeavored to drive
them out of the country. Many of them were killed, and the native
Christians were persecuted, so that Christianity threatened to
disappear.

"Things went on in this way for twenty years. In 1851 the French
determined to interfere, both for the protection of the missionaries and
to demand the concessions that were promised when relations were first
opened with Anam. Shortly before they came, an order had been issued
that all missionaries should be drowned in the river, and any native who
concealed, or in any way assisted a missionary, was to be cut in two.
The war was a slow one, and the invaders were several times held back by
fortifications that had been built by the French engineers who came here
in 1795. The persecutions were partially stopped, and in 1857 the French
went away.

"New orders against the missionaries were then issued, and more of them
were killed. In August, 1858, there was a combined French and Spanish
expedition against Anam, which captured the chief seaport and several
important places. The war was kept up till 1862, when there was a treaty
of peace. This treaty compelled Anam to pay five million dollars to
France as compensation for the war, and to promise that every native
should be free to adopt any religion that he liked. The missionaries
were not to be disturbed, and the principal cities were to be open to
French merchants to trade in whatever they chose to buy and sell. A
French Protectorate was established over the province of Cochin China,
and afterwards over other provinces, and--"

[Illustration: VIEW OF THE FRENCH QUARTER OF SAIGON.]

"Stop a moment," said the Doctor; "you had better explain what a
protectorate is."

Fred was evidently prepared for the question, as he answered promptly,

"A protector is one who defends or shields from injury. In government
matters a protector is a person who has the care of a kingdom during the
minority or illness of the king; or it may mean a cardinal or other high
official who looks after the interests of a religious body. A
protectorate is a government by a protector, or it may be the authority
assumed by a superior power over a weaker or a dependent one.

"The case of France and Anam is that the treaty provided that the French
should take the management of the affairs of the conquered country, and
that the governor-general they sent here should be really the highest
officer in the land. The Anamese can do nothing in the way of making and
enforcing laws without the consent of the French; in fact, they are
exactly in the condition of a colony, and the country where we now are
is called the French Colony of Eastern Asia."

"Quite right," said the Doctor, when Fred had concluded. "Now we will
hear what the French have done in the way of colonization."

"They have followed their old policy of making no interference with the
local laws, except with such as had a character of oppression or
cruelty. They required the native authorities to swear to be loyal to
France, and when they did so they sustained them until there were
complaints that they did not manage affairs properly. In such cases they
have investigated the complaints, and done what they thought right in
the matter, either by removing or sustaining the official. They have
lowered the taxes and established regulations regarding civil marriages,
and, on the whole, their presence has been a benefit to the people of
Anam. In the matter of marriages they have followed the rule that they
long ago adopted in Algeria; a native may be married under the native
laws if he likes, and can divorce his wife at a moment's notice, and
without giving any reason; but if he marries her in a French court, he
is under French laws, and must abide by them. A great many of the
natives of the better class insist upon having their daughters married
in the French courts, as they know they will be better treated than
under the old system.

"Several times there have been insurrections against the French, and
some of them have cost a great deal of money and fighting. But they have
always resulted in victories for the French, and in the addition of new
provinces to the territory under their control. At present they have a
protectorate over more than half of the peninsula; some of the smaller
provinces in the North are nominally independent, while in some portions
of the country held by the French the natives do very little more for
the foreign government than pay a small tax to it every year.

"The population of the country under the French protectorate is said to
be not far from four millions. There is an army of ten or twelve
thousand men, of whom nearly if not quite half are natives. The natives
are said to make good soldiers, particularly in the artillery. A great
part of the garrison duty in the forts on the coast and in the interior
is performed by the native troops, and they are said to get along very
well with the French. In Cambodia many of the soldiers are from Manilla,
as they are considered more warlike, and besides the king says it is
cheaper to hire them from other countries than to use his own people.
The army of Cambodia is smaller in proportion than that of the other
parts of the country, and the French allow the king to do pretty much as
he likes."

Fred had reached the end of his chapter, and consequently came to a
pause. The Doctor complimented him on his excellent account of the
invasion and occupation of Anam, and after a little general talk on the
subject, the party broke up.

[Illustration: NATIVE SOLDIERS AT SAIGON.]

As they were naturally interested in the subject of native troops in the
French service, Frank took the first opportunity to make a sketch of a
couple of them that he saw on duty. He found that they wore a blue
blouse with white trousers--or, rather, that the trousers had been white
at some former date--and their heads were protected from the heat of
the sun by flat hats made of pith or cork, while their feet were bare.
The men that he saw were armed with breech-loading rifles of French
manufacture, and they carried their cartridges at the waist-belt, after
the European fashion.

Strolling by the river-bank, the boys saw three or four light gun-boats
at anchor in the stream. They learned that the government had about
twenty of these boats, which were used for transporting troops wherever
they were needed, and also for the purpose of protecting the natives
against pirates, and to enforce the laws generally.

They observed that the police were not of the same nationality as the
soldiers, and found, on inquiry, that the policemen were all Malays from
Singapore, under the supervision of French chiefs. They are said to be
very efficient, and one great advantage of employing them is that they
are not likely to be involved in any of the native conspiracies.

By the end of their second day in Saigon, it occurred to the boys that
it was about time to begin a letter to friends at home.

"We will write it as we did the letters from Kioto and Hong kong," said
Frank; "that is, provided you are willing."

Fred assented to the proposal, and so it was agreed that they would make
up a single letter, in which each should describe some of the things
they had seen, and they would so arrange it that nothing should be
described twice. They devoted all the time they could spare from
sight-seeing to the production of this letter, and here is the result:

"We have been walking and riding around Saigon, and have seen a great
many things that are new to us. This morning we started early for a walk
to Cholon, about three miles away, and had a very pleasant time on the
road. We met crowds of people coming to town with basketsful of fresh
vegetables for the market; they were nearly all women, and their dress
was much like that of the women we saw in Canton, except that they had
great hats like circular trays. Part of the way the road follows the
bank of a ditch, which the French call 'The Grand Canal;' but there is
not much grandeur about it, as it is half-choked with weeds, and when
the tide is out there is not water enough to float a boat of any size.
There has been no rain for weeks, and the dust was so thick that
sometimes we could hardly see across the road, and were in danger of
being run over.

[Illustration: THE KING OF THE BEGGARS.]

"Near the door of a house, in the edge of the city, we saw three beggars
standing, while a man with his finger raised was talking to them. Doctor
Bronson says the man who talked was their chief; and he was telling them
what to do and where to go for the day. Begging is a regular business
in China, and the beggars have their associations, like other trades.

"We met a long line of carts just after we got outside the city; each
cart was drawn by a pair of bullocks, and they had ropes through their
noses, just as we put them through the noses of bulls at home. The
foremost pair was led by a boy, and all the other bullocks were fastened
to the carts immediately in front of them. How they get on without
pulling some of their noses out, when a cart in the middle of the line
breaks down, we cannot imagine. Perhaps the cord gives way before the
nose does.

"There were lots of half-wild dogs that seemed to belong to nobody; they
barked at us, and some of them threatened to bite; but we showed tight,
and they concluded to leave us. These brutes are known as 'pariah' dogs
all through the East: 'pariah,' as applied to a man, means an outcast;
and a pariah dog is a dog that has no master and no home. They are not
so abundant here as at Constantinople or Damascus, but Doctor Bronson
says there are quite enough of them to go around, and they go around all
night and all day.

"Such a noise as the cart-wheels made you never heard in all your lives.
Grease must be scarce in Cochin China, or the people must be fond of
music; at all events, they do not try to stop the squeaking, and a
native will go to sleep in one of these carts when it is moving along
the road, just as calmly as he would in a Pullman car. Doctor Bronson
says that these carts are loaded with gamboge and other dye-stuffs, and
also with hides and horns of cattle, and perhaps with the tusks of
elephants that have been killed for the sake of their ivory.

"About half-way along the road, we came to what the French call '_La
Plaine des Tombeaux_,' which is nothing more nor less than an enormous
cemetery. It is said to cover several square miles of ground; whether it
does so or not we cannot say, but certainly it is very large, and, as
the Doctor remarked, very densely inhabited. There is nothing very
remarkable about the tombs, as they are nothing but square enclosures,
with little spires like those of the temples. In one part of the
cemetery some priests were at work laying out a place for a grave;
Doctor Bronson says that they perform a lot of ceremonies to determine
where a grave shall be made, and are very particular to bring it under
good influences, and shield it from bad ones. The same superstitions
that prevail in China are to be found here; and even the most
intelligent of the native or Chinese merchants in Saigon would not think
of undertaking any important enterprise without first consulting the
gods, and ascertaining that the 'Fung Shuey' was in their favor.

"It was an odd sight to see the telegraph-poles along the road, and
skirting the edge of this ancient cemetery. It was bringing the past and
the present close together, and from all we can see the present is
having the best of it.

[Illustration: VIEW OF CHOLON.]

"Well, we reached Cholon after a leisurely walk, and went down to the
bank of the river, where great numbers of boats were moored. There were
hundreds, and perhaps thousands of these boats, and at the place where
they are moored they are tied very close together. They are rather long
and narrow, and the best of them have a roof over the centre to protect
the occupants from the sun and rain. Some of them are hewn out of single
logs, and others are built of planks, as in other countries. Many are
permanently fastened to the bank and are occupied as houses, like some
of the boats in Canton; and altogether there is a pretty large water
population. Near the water's edge there are huts built on platforms, and
so arranged that the refuse of the kitchen falls into the river. The
owner is under no expense for drainage, and the whole cost of his
building does not exceed five dollars. Living is cheap in Cholon, if
you are willing to occupy a grass-roofed hut, six feet square, on the
bank of the river, and eat nothing more costly than boiled rice and
fish. We saw two or three huts of the kind we describe, occupied by half
a dozen persons each. They must have found the quarters rather close at
times, but probably did not mind a trifle like that. A single plank
served as the roadway to the shore, and in some instances it was so
shaky that it required a steady head and careful stepping to avoid being
thrown into the water.

[Illustration: A CHINESE FAMILY AT CHOLON.]

"More than half the people we saw were Chinese, and not the natives of
the country, and nearly all the business in the shops appeared to be
done by the former. We peeped into some of the houses where the Chinese
live, and they did not seem to care how much we looked at them. We saw
one group that was quite interesting, in spite of the poverty of the
habitation and the scarcity of furniture; there were five persons in
all, or perhaps we should say eight, as there were three cats under the
table that acted as though they were as good as anybody else. Two men
and two children were at a table, and a woman was standing up behind
them to see that everything was all right. On the table there was a
small tub that contained stewed fish and some kind of vegetables, and
there was a bowl for each one to eat from. They were better off than
some other parties we saw at breakfast, who had only one bowl for the
whole lot, and everybody helped himself with his chop-sticks.

[Illustration: A CAB FOR TWO.]

"We saw something that reminded us of Shanghai; it was nothing more nor
less than a wheelbarrow, but, unlike the Shanghai one, it had no
passengers. Wouldn't it be funny to see a wheelbarrow in America for
carrying passengers, just as we have cabs and coaches? You must come to
China for a sight like that, and also for a regular ride in a
wheelbarrow, and you can have the consolation of knowing that it is very
cheap and also very uncomfortable. The wheelbarrow has no springs, and
so you get the benefit of every jolt, however small; and as the vehicle
is somewhat weak in the joints, and the man who pushes it is far from
powerful, you feel all the time as though you were liable to be spilled
out. The wheel is large and clumsy, and the frame has a sort of rest in
the centre, where you can put your arms. Two men can occupy one of these
coaches, and they are very popular among the natives, but less so among
the foreigners.

"On our way back we wandered off into the forest of tropical plants that
stood on each side of the road in many places, and suddenly came on a
little village which was entirely concealed until we were within twenty
yards of it. The natives like to hide their residences as much as they
can, on account of the shade they get from the surrounding trees, and
also to be undisturbed by too many visitors. The dogs barked at us, and
if it had not been for some of the natives that called them off it is
quite possible we should have been bitten. There were half a dozen
children lying around in the dust, and as they were entirely naked, they
did not seem to be afraid of soiling their clothes. The men and women
were not heavily clothed, as the weather is hot, and they want to be as
comfortable as possible. In one house a man was lying on a bench just
inside the wide door-way, and a little girl was fanning him; the Doctor
says the girl was undoubtedly a slave, and that she cost her owner not
far from thirty dollars.

"Children are bought and sold here the same as in China, and a good many
of the foreigners are said to own slaves while they live in the country,
but they do not try to carry them away. Slaves prefer foreign masters to
native ones, as they are more likely to be kindly treated, and to
receive their freedom in a few years.

"Some of the houses in the village were well built, and raised a yard or
so from the ground upon pillars of brick. The interior consists of three
or four rooms, and the general appearance of the house is like a Chinese
one. There is an ornamental framework carved in wood to support the
roof, which is covered with thick tiles, and there is generally a
veranda on each side of the door, where the master sleeps in the
afternoon and lounges away a great deal of his time. We should call the
people lazy if they were in America; but it is the custom of the country
to be indolent, and perhaps they are not to blame. Very little will
support a man, as he can gather fruit from the trees, and an acre of
ground is all that he needs for maintaining a large family. The heat
that prevails all the year round does not encourage activity, and a good
many foreigners, who are very enterprising when they first come here,
become as idle as the natives by the end of their second year in the
country."



CHAPTER IV.

A WONDERFUL TEMPLE.--RUINS OF NAGKON WAT AND ANGKOR.


What with sight-seeing, writing letters to friends at home, and filling
their note-books with information for future use, the boys had enough to
occupy their time during their stay in Saigon. In the course of their
studies of the country and its characteristics, they became interested
in its ancient history, and were desirous of seeing some of the ruins
that remain from the early days of Anam and Cambodia. But as the time at
their disposal was too short, and the expense and difficulties of a
journey to the interior would be very great, they were obliged to forego
the pleasure they would derive from an actual visit to some of the most
stupendous ruins in the world.

[Illustration: CAMBODIAN FEMALE HEAD-DRESS. ANCIENT SCULPTURE.]

But the Doctor came to their relief in a great measure by giving them a
full account of the wonders they were unable to contemplate.

"It is not generally known," said he, "that Cambodia contains the ruins
of a temple that was greater in its time than the very famous one of
Thebes in Egypt."

Frank and Fred opened their eyes in astonishment, as they had always
believed there was nothing in the world that could surpass the Egyptian
temples of old.

"I will describe them to you," he continued, "and make comparison
between the work of the Egyptian builders and those of Cambodia. When I
have finished, you will be able to judge which is the more magnificent.

"The great temple I refer to in Cambodia is known as the Nagkon Wat.
Wat, in the Malay language, means temple, and the place in question is
designated by the name 'Nagkon.' The province where it is situated is
really in the territory of Siam--as it was taken from Cambodia near the
end of the last century and annexed to the rival kingdom. If you want to
find the ruins on the map, you must look in about latitude 13° 30'
north, and longitude 104° east. It is not known who built the temple, as
the inscriptions on the stones are in a language that is not understood
at the present day. The general belief is that it was erected twelve or
fifteen hundred years ago, but the estimates of its age vary all the way
from five hundred to two thousand years.

"It is far more modern than the temples of ancient Egypt, and probably
not nearly as ancient as some of the famous edifices of Syria. In course
of time some one will be able to read the inscriptions, and then we will
learn all about its age and the reasons for its erection."

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Plan of Inner Temple at Nagkon.

Fig. 2. Plan of area enclosed by outer wall of Nagkon Wat.]

"Here is a map of the ruins as they exist to-day," said the Doctor. "You
perceive that the general shape of the work is a square, and that there
are altogether three squares, the smaller inside the greater."

The boys looked at the map, and indicated that they observed the outline
of the temple.

"Well," continued Doctor Bronson, "the outer wall, which is not shown in
the plan, is more than half a mile square; if you should undertake to
walk around it you would have a promenade of nearly three miles.

"Outside the wall there is a wide ditch that was evidently of
considerable depth when first made, but it is filled in many places with
weeds and trees, and there is a forest of palm-trees between the outer
wall and the body of the temple.

"The main entrance is by a causeway, which you see extending upward from
the foot of the map. The whole length of this causeway, from its
beginning beyond the outer wall to the entrance of the temple, is nearly
two thousand feet, and more than half this distance is within the wall.
The building itself, as you see it on the map, is oblong in shape, being
eight hundred feet long by five hundred and ninety wide; it rises in
three terraces to a central tower two hundred and fifty feet high, and
there are four other towers at the corners of the inner temple that are
each one hundred and fifty feet from the ground.

[Illustration: UNFINISHED PILLARS.]

"The causeway was paved with blocks of sandstone, and the edifice
throughout is of the same material. All the stone for the work was
brought from a quarry thirty miles away, and the transportation alone
was an enormous affair. The blocks were brought in a rough state, and
were not finished until they had been put in the positions where they
were to remain. The temple was never completely finished, as there are
several columns that remain just as they came from the quarry, and a
careful observer can indicate the exact spot where the workman turned
away from his labor. It is supposed that the stone was brought on boats
in a canal, as there is no road that could have served for purposes of
transit.

[Illustration: COLUMNS IN THE TEMPLE.]

"It is impossible to describe in detail all the halls, and corridors,
and sculptured walls of this wonderful temple. There are several halls
composed of rows of solid columns, like the great hall of the temple at
Thebes. I remember standing astonished at Thebes as I looked at the
great hall, with its one hundred and thirty-four columns, and learned
that, originally, the temple contained nearly three hundred columns of
different sizes. In the Cambodian temple of Nagkon Wat, one thousand
five hundred and thirty two solid columns have been counted; and it is
estimated that there are not less than six thousand columns in the
entire mass of ruins in and around the temple. Most of these columns are
made from single blocks of stone, and all of them are beautifully
carved, just as the Egyptian ones are beautifully painted.

[Illustration: SCULPTURES ON THE WALLS OF WAGKON WAT.]

"It would not be at all difficult for a stranger to lose his way in
Nagkon Wat, and wander for hours, unable to find an exit. He might
spend days and days in the study of the beautiful sculptures that adorn
the place; and when I tell you that the walls are covered with
sculptures from one end of the temple to the other, and you remember the
enormous size of the building, you can understand what a gigantic
picture-gallery it is. The scenes represented are mostly from the Hindoo
mythology; they illustrate battles and triumphal processions, sacrifices
and festivals, and also the contests of some of the Hindoo deities with
each other, and with mortals. There is one gallery alone that has half a
mile of pictures cut in stone, and it is estimated that at least one
hundred thousand human figures are engraved there. Here is a picture of
some of them, and you may judge by it of the general excellence of the
work throughout."

The boys devoted several minutes to the contemplation of the photograph
which the Doctor showed them. Frank remarked that the lightness of the
wheels of the chariot would seem to indicate that it was made of metal,
and consequently the ancient Cambodians must have been familiar with the
use of iron or brass, perhaps both. The soldiers at the bottom of the
picture were marching in a manner that denoted military discipline, but
he could not make out the nature of their weapons. Certainly they were
not rifles, as fire-arms were unknown in those days, and they did not
seem to be spears or bows and arrows. The men were provided with
shields, and in this respect their customs resembled those of many
people of the present day.

The Doctor explained that the ancient Cambodians made use of spears; but
the principal weapons they employed were clubs, not altogether unlike
those of the South Sea Islanders. Sometimes the club was made straight,
and at others it was curved at the end farthest from the hand of its
owner. It was wielded with the right hand, and the shield was carried in
the left.

Fred called attention to the fact that there was an elephant in the
picture, and the man on his back was in the act of discharging an arrow
from a bow. Therefore they must have employed bowmen, and evidently they
were an important part of the service, as they were mounted on
elephants.

"You are quite right in your conclusions," Doctor Bronson responded;
"the bowmen were considered of the highest importance, and their arrows
often did great execution. The elephant had a prominent place in all the
armies of the East, as you know from history, and the Cambodians were no
exception to the rule. No Eastern king would consider his retinue
complete without a large number of war-elephants in his stables."

"There is a tradition," he continued, "that the king of ancient
Cambodia had an army of half a million of men, with a hundred thousand
elephants, which he could lead to war at a few days' notice. This is
undoubtedly an exaggeration; but he probably had a good supply of these
very useful animals, and his army presented a fine appearance when it
was called to the field."

Frank observed that the men did not wear armor, and, in fact, had very
little clothing anyway. He wondered that this was the case, as the king
was evidently very rich and powerful, and ought to have had his army
equipped and dressed in the best possible style.

Fred replied that armor, in a hot country like Cambodia, would be a very
inconvenient thing for a soldier, and render him practically useless.
Frank had not thought of that, and as soon as his attention was called
to it he quite agreed with Fred.

"A gentleman who visited the temple of Nagkon Wat," the Doctor remarked,
"has given a very good account of the general character of the
sculptures on the walls. I refer to Mr. Thomson, and cannot do better
than quote a few lines from him.

[Illustration: VIEW FROM THE CENTRAL TOWER OF THE TEMPLE.]

"The bass-reliefs," says Mr. Thomson, "which are sculptured on the walls
of the galleries of Nagkon Wat are extremely interesting. They are
contained in eight compartments, measuring each from two hundred and
fifty to three hundred feet in length, with a height of six and a half
feet, and in a square space of six and a half feet the average number of
men and animals depicted is sixty. The majority of these representations
are executed with such care and skill, and are so well drawn, as to
indicate that art was fostered, and reached a high state of perfection
among the 'Khamen-te-Buran,' or ancient Cambodians.

"The chief subjects represented are battle scenes, taken from the epic
poems, Ramayana and Mahabarata--which the Siamese are said to have
received from India about the fourth or fifth century. Disciplined
forces are depicted marching to the field, and possessing distinct
characteristics soon lost in the confusion of battle. In the eager faces
and attitudes of the warriors, as they press forward past bands of
musicians, we see that music then, as now, had its spirit-stirring
influence. We also find humane actions represented--a group bending over
a wounded comrade to extract an arrow, or remove him from the field.
There are also the most animated scenes of bravery--soldiers saving the
lives of their chiefs; chiefs bending over their plunging steeds, and
measuring their prowess in single combat; and, finally, the victorious
army quitting the field laden with spoil, and guarding the numerous
captives with cavalry in front and rear.

"Perhaps the most wonderful subject of all the bass reliefs is what the
Siamese call the battle of 'Ramakean.' This is one of the leading
incidents of the Ramayama, of which Coleman says, 'The Grecians had
their Homer, to render imperishable the fame acquired by their glorious
combats in the Trojan war; the Latins had Virgil, to sing the prowess of
Æneas; and the Hindoos have their Valmac, to immortalize the deeds of
Rama and his army of monkeys.' The Ramayama--one of the finest poems
extant--describes the scenes of Rama's life, and the exploits of the
contending foes.

[Illustration: GALLERY OF SCULPTURES.]

"In the sculptures of Nagkon Wat, many of the incidents of the life of
Rama are depicted; such as his final triumph over the god Ravana, and
the recovery of his wife Sita. The chief illustration of the poem,
however, is the battle scene which ensues after the ape-god Hanuman had
performed several of the feats which formed the every-day incidents of
his life, such as the construction of what is now known as Adam's
Bridge, between Ceylon and India. This he accomplished by a judicious
selection of ten mountains, each measuring sixty-four miles in
circumference; and being short of arms, but never of expedients, when
conveying them to Ceylon, he poised one of them on the tip of his tail,
another on his head, and with these formed his celebrated bridge, over
which his army of apes passed to Lanka.

"In another compartment the subject appears to be the second Avatar of
Vishnu, where that god is represented as a tortoise supporting the
earth, which is submerged in the waters. The four-armed Brama is seated
above. A seven-headed snake is shown above the water, coiled around the
earth, and extending over the entire length of the bass-relief. The gods
on the right and the _dinytas_ on the left are seen contending for the
serpent. Hanuman is pulling at the tail, while above a flight of angels
are bearing a cable to bind the reptile after the conflict is over.

"In another compartment we find various mechanical appliances that are
in use to-day. There are double-handled saws; and there are knives,
levers, wedges, pestles and mortars, and a number of other contrivances
that are more or less familiar to us."

The boys listened with much interest to the reading of the preceding
account. When the Doctor concluded, Frank ventured to ask if the temple
was in a good state of preservation, and whether it was in use at the
present time.

[Illustration: ANCIENT TOWER OVERGROWN WITH POH-TREES.]

"It has greatly decayed," replied Doctor Bronson; "but there are so many
of its walls and galleries standing, that the most careless visitor
cannot fail to be impressed with its grandeur, and be able to trace out
every part of the original plan. In many places the weeds and grass and
other vegetation are so luxuriant that the work of the architects is
concealed, and can only be found by searching. There is one tree, called
the 'poh,' that is a great destroyer of walls and stone floorings. The
whole temple was constructed without the use of cement, and in many
instances the junction of the stones is so perfect that only a slender
line can be perceived. The roots of the poh-tree insinuate themselves
into the smallest crevice; then they grow and expand, and by so doing
they gradually force the stones apart. This tree has been of great
injury to the temple we have been considering, and to many other
edifices in these tropical countries of the East.

[Illustration: HUTS OF THE PRIESTS.]

"In reply to your second question, I can say that the temple is still
used, though not to the extent it was in its early days. A few priests
live there, and perform services at regular periods; they are supported
by the contributions of the followers of Buddha, who visit the place,
and by donations from the inhabitants of the country round there. They
do not live in the temple itself, but in small huts erected inside the
enclosure that surrounds the great building. These huts are of thatched
grass, and stand on posts as a security against the snakes that abound
in the neighborhood. They are shaded by the palm-trees that have grown
up in what was once a clear space around the temple, and in hot
afternoons their protection is very grateful."

Fred inquired about the other ruins in Cambodia, and wished to know how
extensive they were.

"As to that," the Doctor explained, "I cannot speak positively, and I
doubt if there is any one who can. About three miles from Nagkon Wat
there are the ruins of a city which was known as Angkor, which was
evidently a very important city in its day. It was the capital of
Cambodia, and, according to the description of a Chinese official, who
visited it in the year 1295, it was something remarkable. It was then in
the height of its glory; but three hundred years later, when it was
visited by a Portuguese missionary, it was almost in ruins, and had
ceased to be of any consequence. Then there was another period of nearly
three hundred years in which nothing was heard of or from Angkor; it was
not till the year 1855 that any writer seems to have gone there, and as
for the Cambodians themselves, they are sublimely ignorant of the
history of this once great city.

"In the year I last mentioned, M. Mouhot, a French explorer, passed
through Cambodia and made a careful survey and description of the ruins.
He subsequently died in the northern part of Siam, and it was feared
that the result of his labors would be lost, but fortunately his journal
was saved and has since been published. Since Mouhot's time several
persons have written about the ruins, so that a fair amount of knowledge
concerning them is accessible. But every year new remains are discovered
among the trees of the thick forest, and it is difficult to say when
all of the ancient walls and statues and temples will be brought to
light."

At the conclusion of the Doctor's remarks, a servant entered with the
announcement that dinner was on the table. Thereupon the mental feast on
the antiquities of Eastern Asia was abandoned for the more practical
feast on the edible productions of the country. Frank thought that the
dinner would receive a high compliment if it proved as enjoyable as
their talk about Nagkon Wat and the ruins of Angkor--an opinion which
Fred lost no time in sharing.

[Illustration: STONE WITH ANCIENT SCULPTURES.]



CHAPTER V.

CAMBODIA.--ITS CAPITAL AND KING.


Having studied ancient Cambodia, Frank and Fred were desirous of
learning something of the modern country of that name. At the hotel
where they were stopping they found a gentleman who had recently been at
Panompin, the Cambodian capital, and had spent sufficient time there to
be able to give a good account of it. As soon as he found that his young
acquaintances were anxious to hear about Cambodia, he promptly consented
to enlighten them.

He was at leisure one evening after dinner, and, by mutual consent, the
party gathered on the veranda in front of the hotel, and an hour was
pleasantly passed in conversation regarding the little-known country.

[Illustration: A CAMBODIAN IDOL.]

"If you think," said the gentleman, "that Panompin is a large city, as
one naturally thinks of the capital of a country, you would be greatly
disappointed if you went there.

"Its population is not more than twenty or twenty-five thousand, and is
made up of several nationalities. There are Siamese, Chinese, Anamese,
and Manilla men among the inhabitants, as well as the native Cambodians,
and there are no long streets of fine buildings, such as you would
expect a capital to contain. It is situated on the banks of the Mesap, a
small river of Cambodia that empties into the Mekong: the greater part
of Panompin is on the right bank of the stream, but there is a small
portion of it on the opposite shore, and another on an island near the
junction of the Mesap with the Mekong. To locate it on the map, you
must put your finger at about latitude 11° 30' north, and longitude 105°
east, and if your map is a good one, you will find a large lake not far
off.

[Illustration: FISHING-VILLAGE ON LAKE THALYSAP.]

"This is Lake Thalysap, and it is a body of water of no small
importance. It is about ninety miles long, and varies from eight to
twenty-five miles in width. It is very shallow except in a few places,
and in the wet season the country around it is so flooded with water
that the lake is then a hundred miles and more in length. There are many
villages along the shores of the lake, and at all seasons of the year
you can see whole fleets of boats going to and fro over the water. Great
quantities of fish are caught in the lake, and those not intended to be
eaten in the vicinity are dried or salted for export to other parts of
Asia. There are also many fish caught for their oil; the villages along
the lake make a considerable business by preparing this oil, and the
stench is often so great that your nose will tell you the location of a
village before your eyes do.

"In the lower part the lake narrows steadily until it forms a river, and
this river is the Mesap, which I have mentioned to you; consequently you
have only to follow the current to come to Panompin. It has only been
the capital within the last ten years; until that time the seat of
government was at Oodong, and the change was made on account of the
supposed unhealthiness of the latter place. The real fact is that
Panompin is better situated for commercial and political purposes, as it
is at the end of the great lake, and close by the River Mekong. If you
could see the two places you would understand it at once.

"You can have little idea of the quantity of fish caught in the lake and
river till you see them. Lots of towns and villages are entirely
occupied with the fish business, and some of these towns contain as many
as four hundred houses, though the most of them are smaller. Some of the
fish are eight or ten feet long and three feet thick, and their bodies
are so full of oil that one of them is a good prize to his captor. It is
very funny to see a native struggling with one of these large fish; and
sometimes it requires a hard fight to bring him in. I have seen a man
dragged into the water and nearly drowned; and though I enjoyed the
performance, I presume it was no fun at all to the man.

[Illustration: PANOMPIN, THE CAPITAL OF CAMBODIA.]

"Panompin consists, for the most part, of bamboo huts, without much
pretence of architecture, and the streets are so bad that though the
king has several carriages he rarely rides out. The principal street is
about three miles in length, and somewhat irregular in its course, as
though the instruments of the surveyor who laid it out were not in the
best order. There are a few stores and shops of brick, and there are
some temples whose spires rise above the buildings that surround them.
The palace of the king is the finest edifice in the place; it was
designed by a French architect, and the construction was supervised by
him, but all the actual work was performed by natives. It is like a fine
dwelling-house in the neighborhood of New York or London, and the
internal arrangement of the rooms is entirely European in character. The
palace has some large halls for receptions, and it has dining-rooms,
sleeping-rooms, and all the usual apartments that a dwelling should
contain. The king lives there; and, as he rarely goes out, he determined
to have a residence as comfortable as could be made. He is very proud of
it; and if you should visit him he would consider it a great politeness
if you admired it all you possibly could--and a little more.

"Not far from the king's palace is the barrack, where the French troops
are quartered for the preservation of order, and to see that the king
does nothing that would be against the interest of his protectors. There
is generally a French gun-boat or two lying in the river opposite the
barracks, and in the river farther down there are two or three small
gun-boats and steamers that belong to the king, and are kept near his
palace.

"As the city has so much dependence on the river for its support, there
is a tendency on the part of the inhabitants to crowd near the stream;
consequently Panompin stretches about three miles along the bank, and
less than half a mile away from it. This is where you find the street I
have mentioned; it is not more than thirty feet wide, and paved with a
concrete mass of broken brick mixed with sand. You find a straggling
line of low huts of bamboo or other light material along the whole
length of this street, and in the busy hours of the day the assemblage
of people is pretty dense. The Chinese are great gamblers, and a goodly
portion of these huts are gambling-shops, whose proprietors pay a
license for the privilege of running the business. In several of these
Eastern countries the money received from gambling forms an important
item in the public revenue; and if it should be stopped, the treasury
would suffer in consequence."

"What an outrageous piece of business!" said Frank. "To think that a
government would derive any part of its revenue from gambling!"

"But remember we are in Asia," Fred remarked; "and we can't expect these
people to be civilized."

The Doctor smiled at this outburst of indignation, and when it was ended
he reminded the boys that several governments of Europe did exactly what
they thought so reprehensible when done by Asiatics.

"Not governments of any consequence," said Frank.

"Well," answered the Doctor, "I hardly think we could say that. Italy,
Spain, and Austria are certainly of some consequence, and in all of them
the lottery, which is a form of gambling, is a government institution.
It is only a few years ago that the gambling-tables at Baden-Baden, in
Germany, were stopped, and there was serious talk, at the time, of
allowing the gamblers that were suppressed in Germany to open their
business at Geneva, in Switzerland.

"And furthermore," Doctor Bronson continued, "we cannot throw many
stones at the Chinese and other Eastern people for gambling when we have
so much of it in America. In all our large cities the vice exists in
defiance of the law; and in some of the States, particularly in Kentucky
and Louisiana, the lottery is a recognized institution, and the drawings
are supervised by officers appointed by the governor."

Frank and Fred both declared that this information was new to them, and
hereafter they would not be too hasty to condemn other countries, lest
they might find that the thing they objected to prevailed in their own.

The description of Panompin was resumed:

"There are some manufactures in the Cambodian capital," their informant
continued, "but they are not numerous. The people are famous for their
manufactures of silk, which is an important article of export, both in
its raw and in its finished state. They are skilful workers of gold and
silver, and I could show you some exquisite specimens of their
production. Wait a moment and I will bring one."

[Illustration: SPECIMEN OF CAMBODIAN GOLD-WORK.]

He went to his room, which was situated just off the veranda, and
returned in a few moments with a small box resembling a flattened
orange, or, more properly, a melon. The boys took it to the light, and
examined it with care.

The gold, as well as the workmanship, was Cambodian; some of it was the
natural color of the metal, and other parts were stained to various
degrees of redness. On the top there was a cluster of leaves, and the
end of the stem contained a topaz, which had been purposely left
unfinished.

The leaves were in fine filigree, and some of the wires were so delicate
that they resembled golden hairs. The whole surface of the box was
covered with flowers and leaves in the most tasteful designs; and both
the boys were of opinion that the jewellers of New York would not find
it easy to imitate this production of the Asiatic barbarians.

"The king has a fine collection of these things," the gentleman
continued, "and he generally gives one of them to any stranger of
importance who visits him. It is lucky for his treasury that it is not
easy to go to Panompin, as otherwise he might find these presents a
serious expense.

[Illustration: THE KING OF CAMBODIA.]

"And if you wish to know about the king, here is his photograph. You
perceive that it is taken in European dress, which he wears on grand
occasions, and has adopted since the French Protectorate was established
in Cambodia. He is an amiable gentleman of pleasing manners, and makes
an agreeable impression on those who come in contact with him. He has
quite a collection of English and French books, maps, and albums, and is
fond of showing them; and he has a fine lot of Japanese and Chinese
vases--enough to stock a fair-sized museum. Then he has European clocks,
music-boxes, and the like; and he has a billiard-table, on which he
plays very well. He also has a piano, but those who have heard him
perform on it say that he is better at billiards than at music.

"The carpets, furniture, and other adornments of his palace are mostly
from Europe, but he has some fine specimens of native embroidery that
are fully equal to any of his foreign importations. He sleeps in a bed
of European manufacture, and the netting that protects him from
mosquitoes is from an English or French loom. He has travelled to
Hong-kong and Shanghai, where he spent much time in learning all he
could about the productions of the western part of the world, and, on
his return, he endeavored to give his people the benefit of his
knowledge. He is much liked by his people; and, on the whole, they could
hardly hope for a better ruler.

[Illustration: QUEEN OF CAMBODIA AND ROYAL CHILDREN.]

"The Queen of Cambodia, like most of the Asiatic queens, is rarely seen
in public. She has not adopted the foreign dress, but adheres to the
_panoung_, a sort of loose wrapper falling a little below the knees, and
gathered at the centre. Here is her portrait, with two of the royal
children; and you will observe that she wears heavy anklets of gold, and
does not think it necessary to cover her feet with shoes. Her hair is
cut in the national way, and sticks up in the centre like a shoe-brush.
Great importance is attached to the ceremony of hair-cutting when a
royal child reaches the age of seven years, and it is generally
performed by the king himself in the presence of all the dignitaries of
the land."

"What a funny idea!" said Fred, "that the king shall act as a barber,
and handle the shears over the head of one of his children. I wonder if
he is as skilful as a regular professional?"

"As to that," was the reply, "I presume it does not make much
difference. He only takes off a lock or two, and the hair-dresser of the
palace does the rest. You will hear more of this curious ceremony when
you get to Siam, as the custom prevails there no less than in Cambodia.

"In Panompin there is an artificial mound, which is called for
politeness' sake a mountain, where the hair-cutting ceremony is
performed. It stands near the palace, and is as high as the building
itself. It is built partly of earth and partly of bamboo, and the sides
are colored so as to represent stone, silver, and gold, the last color
being near the top. A winding path leads up to a platform on the summit,
and here the king stands while he goes through the solemnities of the
occasion. The path goes through tunnels and arches, and occasional
grottoes and valleys, and the whole structure is intended to represent a
mountain in miniature. The platform is a favorite resort of the king in
the evening, as the air is generally cooler there than on the ground
below, and not infrequently he meets his ministers on the top of the
mountain to discuss matters of public importance.

"But it is getting late, and I think I have told you as much about
Panompin and the King of Cambodia as you will be likely to remember. So
I will say good-night."

The boys thanked the gentleman for his kindness, and the Doctor added
his acknowledgments to theirs. Then the party separated.

Frank and Fred sat up till their eyelids were heavy to take down in
writing a summary of what they had heard. They realized the necessity of
making their notes at once, through fear that if they waited till the
next day something would be forgotten. Frank wrote the description of
Panompin and the country generally; and Fred devoted himself to the
royal family, the scenes in the palace, and the curious story of cutting
the youthful hair. Thus the labor was divided to the satisfaction of
both.

In the morning the Doctor informed them that they were to depart that
day for Siam. The steamer _Danube_ had arrived, and her captain had been
early on shore to arrange for the delivery of what cargo was to be
landed, and to receive what he should take away. He did not expect to be
long in port, and they must be prepared to leave at a few hours' notice.

Their baggage was put in readiness, and the rest of the time on shore
was devoted to the preparation of letters for America. The French mail
steamer from Singapore was due that day on her way to Hong-kong and
Shanghai, and when she left she carried a goodly budget from the boys.
In due time the letters were safely delivered; and for a fortnight there
was little else talked of in the Bassett and Bronson households than the
adventures of Frank and Fred, in Cochin China.

[Illustration: THE HARBOR OF OODONG, CAMBODIA.]

The boys made good use of their time up to the last moment. Fred found a
copy of the book of M. Mouhot, who has been mentioned heretofore, and
the last hour of his stay in Saigon was devoted to writing out the
description which that gentleman gives of Oodong, the former capital of
Cambodia. The visit of M. Mouhot was made in 1860, and is thus
described:

"On approaching the capital the prospect becomes more diversified; we
passed fields of rice, cottages encircled by fruit-gardens, and
country-houses belonging to the Cambodian aristocracy, who come here in
the evening for the sake of breathing a purer air than they can find in
the city. As we drew closer to the gates, I found the place to be
protected by a palisade three metres high--about ten feet. The houses
are built of bamboo or planks, and the market-place occupied by the
Chinese is as dirty as all the others of which I have made mention. The
largest street, or, rather, the only one, is about a mile in length; and
in the environs reside the agriculturists, as well as the mandarins and
other government officers. The entire population numbers about twelve
thousand.

[Illustration: A GIRL OF OODONG.]

"The many Cambodians living in the immediate vicinity, and still more
the number of chiefs who resort to Oodong for business or pleasure, or
are passing through it on their way from one province to another,
contribute to give animation to the capital. Every moment I met
mandarins, either borne in litters or on foot, followed by a crowd of
slaves carrying various articles; some yellow or scarlet parasols, more
or less according to the rank of the person; others, boxes with betel. I
also encountered horsemen mounted on pretty, spirited animals, richly
caparisoned and covered with bells, ambling along, while a troop of
attendants, covered with dust and sweltering with heat, ran after them.
Light carts, drawn by a couple of small oxen, trotting along rapidly and
noiselessly, were here and there to be seen. Occasionally a large
elephant passed majestically by. On this side were numerous processions
to the pagoda, marching to the sound of music; there, again, was a band
of ecclesiastics in single file, seeking alms, draped in their yellow
cloaks, and with the holy vessels on their backs."

[Illustration: HOUSE IN THE SUBURBS.]



CHAPTER VI.

DEPARTURE FROM SAIGON.--VISITING A CHINESE JUNK.


When the party went on board the _Danube_, the boys found that they were
not to have the comforts of the great steamers that had brought them
from Shanghai and Hong-kong. The _Danube_ was a small ship, and her
builders did not design her for carrying passengers; she was constructed
in England, and, after she arrived in China, a little cabin was built on
her deck, so that a couple of passengers might have a room to share
between them. The dining-saloon was about six feet long, and as many
wide, and its cushioned sofas could be used as beds. Consequently, she
could carry four passengers with comparative comfort, and, in
emergencies, another could sleep on the table when the sea was smooth,
or under it in rough weather. The captain was a jolly Englishman, who
gave a hearty greeting to the American strangers, and before they had
been ten minutes on board they felt quite at home. Their heavy baggage
was sent below, and there was plenty of room under the bunks in the
cabin for stowing all the articles they needed on the voyage.

The _Danube_ moved from her anchorage and turned her prow down the
river.

"Hurrah!" shouted Frank, "now we are off for Siam."

Fred joined his cousin in raising a cheer.

"Don't be in too great a hurry," said Captain Clanchy, "we are not off
yet. We are to go along-side that Chinese junk you see just at the bend
of the river, and will take some cargo from her. We shall probably be
two or three hours about it, and then we will be off for Siam."

Frank's face fell at this intelligence, but only for a moment.

"We shall have an opportunity of seeing a junk and going on board of
it," he remarked, "and that will repay us a dozen times over for the
delay."

Fred was equally happy at the prospect, and both the boys were impatient
to be on the deck of the strange craft.

[Illustration: A CHINESE JUNK.]

In a little while their wishes were gratified, and they were able to
step from the _Danube_ to the great junk. Before they did so Fred
suggested that he had just thought why these Chinese ships were called
junks.

"Why is it?" Frank asked.

"Because," was the reply, "you can see from the shape of them how they
are built. The Chinese make a ship a mile or two long, and when they
want one they cut off a junk, or chunk, just as you like to spell it.
Then they stick masts into it, and it is ready to sail away. It is
square at both ends, and resembles a chunk out of a log more than
anything else."

There was a laugh all around at Fred's humorous description of the
Chinese process of shipbuilding, and by the time the joke had ceased to
amuse they were ready to go over the side. Captain Clanchy accompanied
them, and pointed out several objects of interest that otherwise might
have escaped their attention.

"You observe," said the captain, "that the deck of the junk is lumbered
up with all sorts of stuff. How the men manage to get around is a
mystery, and it is a wonder that they can keep the craft on her course
with everything in such confusion."

The boys were equally puzzled, and thought there must be a good many
junks lost every year. The captain said such was the case; but, on the
other hand, there was such a great number of these craft that a few more
or less made no perceptible difference.

"Except to the owners and the men that are lost with the junks,"
remarked the Doctor. "It must be a very serious affair to them."

"Sometimes these junks last to a great age," the captain continued.
"There are junks now navigating the China seas that are more than a
hundred years old; at least so I am informed."

"How long have the Chinese had this model for their ships?" Frank asked
of the captain.

"Nobody knows how long," was the reply. "We are ignorant of the early
history of China, and can only guess at many things. But we have reason
to believe that the Chinese were the first people that ever built ships
to be propelled by the force of the wind alone. They began with the
model they now have, and have stuck to it ever since."

"Where is the captain of this junk?" Fred asked. "I would like to see
him."

"She has probably half a dozen captains," Clanchy replied; "perhaps a
dozen."

"A dozen captains! how can that be?"

"They build these junks in compartments," said the Doctor, in response
to Fred's inquiry, "and each compartment has a captain."

[Illustration: OUTLINE OF MODERN SHIP, SHOWING COMPARTMENTS.]

"I thought the plan of building ships in compartments was of modern
invention, and had only been applied to ocean steamers in the last
thirty years. Seems to me I heard so," Frank remarked.

"In one sense you are right," the Doctor answered; "it is only about
thirty years ago that the English and American ship-builders began the
adoption of this principle. Nearly all the great steamers now navigating
the Atlantic Ocean are divided into compartments--generally five or six;
and even should two of these spaces become filled with water from any
accident, the ship will continue to float. Several steamers have been
saved after collision with icebergs, or with other ships, by reason of
being thus constructed. Had they been of the old model, they would have
infallibly gone to the bottom.

"But the Chinese are ahead of us, as they have built their ships in this
way for centuries. Six hundred years ago Marco Polo visited the East,
and on his return wrote a book about the country and people. He
describes the compartment ships that the Chinese built at that time, and
explains their advantages. The wonder is that it took the European
builders so long to copy the idea. Not till well into this century was
it adopted."

"But how about the half-dozen captains?" Fred asked. "Why should a ship
like this have so many, when the _Great Eastern_ or the _City of
Chester_ can get along with one?"

"The way of it is," said Captain Clanchy, "that the junk has a lot of
compartments--anyway from six to a dozen--and each compartment is let
out to a merchant. He is captain of that compartment and all it
contains; and if there are ten compartments, he is one-tenth captain of
the whole. The crew is under a chief who gets his orders from the
merchants, and they have a great deal to say as to how the junk shall
sail. Sometimes they want her to go to half a dozen places at once, and
in as many directions, and not infrequently they get into frightful rows
about it. Don't understand me to say that this is always the case, or
anything like it, as a good many of their junks are managed pretty much
as an English ship would be. We will see how the matter stands on this
one."

A little inquiry revealed the fact that there were two men on board
equally interested in the cargo, and with equal authority over the
movements of the junk. But they were evidently working in perfect
harmony, and so there was no chance that the strangers would be
compelled to witness a row among the commanders.

[Illustration: A JUNK SAILOR AT BREAKFAST.]

The boys found the deck of the junk covered with a very complex
arrangement of ropes, windlasses, tubs, and baskets. Some of the crew
were sitting around waiting for orders, and others were at breakfast. As
soon as the _Danube_ was made fast along-side, they were set at work to
remove the cargo from one of the compartments and transfer it to the
steamer. The steamer's crew assisted in the work, and in a little while
it was accomplished. During this time the great sail of matting was
flapping against the mast, and the ropes were swinging as though they
would become hopelessly entangled. But no accident happened; and when
the _Danube_ had moved away, the sails were run up and the junk began to
push slowly through the water. This gave the boys an opportunity to see
her general shape and mode of construction.

They found that she was built of heavy planking, and that many of the
planks retained the shape of the tree from which they were taken. These
planks, as they were told, were fastened together by wooden tree-nails;
in fact, there was very little metal about the fastenings; and, as a
further security, there were a good many lashings of ropes to hold the
outside timbers to the frame. The stern rose high out of water, and was
cut off square, and the same was the case with the bow. The funniest
thing was a pair of great staring eyes, to enable the ship to see her
way, and to frighten off the demons that infest the waters and have a
particular hostility to sailors. Every boat and ship of Chinese
construction is provided with eyes, and the larger the eye the better
the craft can take care of herself.

[Illustration: CHINESE RIVER BOAT.]

The junk in question had three masts, and there was a gay assortment of
flags and streamers flying from them. The mat sails were held up by a
great many ropes--there being a rope to each section where the bamboo
poles ran across. There was a great advantage in this arrangement, as it
enabled the sailors to shorten sail in case of an increasing wind by
simply lowering it till one of the sections could be taken in. And when
they wish to furl the sail altogether, they have only to let go and the
whole thing comes "down with a run." The construction of the sails can
be better understood by reference to the picture here presented of a
boat such as the Chinese use for river navigation.

As the _Danube_ steamed on down the river and out to sea the
conversation between the boys and Doctor Bronson turned very naturally
upon ships and their peculiarities.

[Illustration: SHIP OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.]

"The difference between us and the Chinese in the matter of ships is
that we have progressed, while they have remained stationary. Their
junks are of the same pattern as they were a thousand years ago, while
we are making changes every year. Look at a picture of a European ship
of the fourteenth century, and see how closely it resembles a Chinese
junk. Both the bow and stern are very far out of water, and the
arrangement of the sails is quite Chinese in its character. About the
year 1520 the English built a war ship which they called the _The Great
Harry_, and it was considered a wonderful specimen of naval
architecture. Who would venture to sail in her now, and how long would
it take a war steamer of 1880 to send her to the bottom? Compare _The
Great Harry_ with the _Tennessee_, which is one of the recent American
ships, and observe the progress that has been made in three centuries
and a half. The bow and stern have been brought to a level, and the
shape of the hull is such that the ship glides through the water
instead of ploughing over it. Navigators have found that the ship that
makes the least 'fuss' while in motion is the best, and they have
devoted a great deal of study to finding the proper shape for the least
resistance."

[Illustration: "THE GREAT HARRY."]

"Yes," remarked Captain Clanchy, who was standing near, "and it took
them a long time to find that the shape of the stern of a ship was
almost as important as that of her bow, in regulating her speed. A
square stern makes a great boiling and depression in the water, while a
long tapering stern allows the water to close silently and with the
least possible resistance. You can easily illustrate what I mean by
taking a stick of wood that is square at both ends, and tying a string
to it so as to drag it endwise in the water. You find that it moves
easier when the forward end is sharpened than when both ends are blunt,
and then if you sharpen both of them you find it moves still more
easily. This is what the naval architects were a long time discovering,
and the most of them are wondering why they did not think of it before."

[Illustration: THE "TENNESSEE."]

"Then, too," said Doctor Bronson, "it was found that by lengthening a
ship of the old model a great deal was gained. This has been done in the
last ten or fifteen years, and many of the steamers now running between
New York and England have been lengthened in this way. They have not
been built on at either end, but have been cut in two in the centre, and
had a new section built in. A ship to be lengthened would be placed on
the ways, and then cut open in the middle. If she was to be extended a
hundred feet, the two ends would be drawn apart for that distance, and
then the space would be filled up. She might be two hundred feet long
when taken on the ways, and without any change of bow or stern her
length would be increased to three hundred feet. With this addition to
her tonnage she is much more valuable than before, and her original
speed can be maintained with only a small addition to her power. Then
there have recently been great improvements in the construction of
engines; and I think it safe to say that what with changes in length,
engines, and some other things, a ship of a given number of tons can be
run for half the expense that was required twenty years ago. Steam
navigation is now so economical that it is rapidly driving sailing
vessels from the ocean. The number of sailing ships on long voyages is
diminishing every year, and that of steamers is increasing."

"What is the greatest speed that steamers can make nowadays, with all
these improvements?" Frank asked.

"There is much dispute," Doctor Bronson replied, "over the performances
of ships at sea, and it is not at all easy to get at the actual facts.
Take the great steam lines between New York and Liverpool, and there are
two or three of them that claim to have done better than any of their
rivals. The managers of the White Star Line can show that their ships
have made the voyage quicker than the Inman steamers, and the Inman
managers can as readily prove that their ships have surpassed all
others. There are several steamers afloat that have made more than four
hundred miles in twenty-four hours, but they can only do it when all the
circumstances are favorable. There are many men who believe that
steamers will be built before the end of this century that will make
five hundred miles in a day, and if we judge of the future by the past,
I see no reason to doubt that the feat will be accomplished. We may yet
come to the speed of a railway train on the water, and more than one
inventor believes that he can do so. The prediction that we will yet
cross the Atlantic in three days is no wilder than would have been the
prediction, at the beginning of this century, that we could travel on
land or sea at our present rate, and that intelligence could be flashed
along a wire in a few seconds of time from one end of the world to the
other. The railway, the ocean steamer, the telegraph, the telephone,
and many other things that seem almost commonplace to us, would have
been regarded as the emanations of a crazy brain a hundred years ago."

"Perhaps," said Fred, "the year 3000 may find us travelling in the air
as freely as we now travel on land."

[Illustration: THE PUBLIC HIGHWAY OF THE FUTURE.]

"Not at all impossible," the Doctor answered. "We, or our descendants,
may be able to go through the air at will, and show the birds that we
can do as much as they can. Not long ago I was reading a sketch which
was supposed to be written a thousand years hence. The writer describes
his travels, and gives a picture of the public highway. An omnibus
supported by balloons, and drawn by a pair of them--harnessed as we
would harness horses--is represented on its way through the air. The
driver is on his box and the conductor at the door, while the passengers
are looking out of the windows. A bird, who has doubtless become
thoroughly familiar with the aërial craft, has seized the hat of a
passenger and flies away with it, and the victim of the theft is vainly
stretching his hands towards his property. Balloons are sailing through
the air, and in one a man is seated, who is evidently out for a day's
sport. He has a rod and line, and is industriously occupied in birding,
just as one might engage in fishing from the side of a boat. A string of
birds hangs from the seat of his conveyance, and he is in the act of
taking a fresh prize at the end of his line.

[Illustration: THE BOMB FERRY.]

"There is another picture representing the ferry of the future. It
consists of an enormous mortar, from which a couple of bombs have been
fired; they are connected by a chain, and each bomb is large enough to
contain several persons. The passengers are supposed to be quite
comfortable, and to be whizzed through the air at the speed of a
cannon-shot."

"But, of course, such a thing is impossible," said Fred; "nobody could
stand it to be shot through a tube at that rate."

"But something very much like it has been proposed in all seriousness; a
few years ago an inventor in New York had a scheme for a line of tube
four or five feet in diameter, and extending to the principal cities of
the land. His cars were to consist of hollow globes or spheres, and they
were to be propelled at a very rapid rate by exhausting the air in front
of them. His plan was regarded as quite visionary, but it is not at all
impossible that it may yet come into use. Small pneumatic tubes are in
successful operation for the transmission of letters and little parcels;
and in London there is a tube four feet in diameter from the General
Post-office to a railway station more than two miles away. The mail-bags
are transported through this tube, and on several occasions men have
taken their places in the carriages and enjoyed the sensation of this
novel mode of travel."

[Illustration: MOONLIGHT AT SEA IN THE TROPICS.]

The steamer held her tortuous way down the Mekong, and at length she
passed the light-house and went out to sea. The weather was delightful,
though a trifle warm, and the three passengers found the cabin
oppressive at times on account of the closeness of the atmosphere. A
good deal of their time was passed on deck both by day and by night,
and, as the moon was then at the full, the night on deck was thoroughly
enjoyable. Occasionally they were joined by the captain, and, as he
possessed a good fund of marine stories, the boys picked up a great deal
of information of a varied character. As they were bound for Siam, they
overhauled their trunks for all the books they possessed on that
country, and happily they found several volumes in the captain's library
that were of use to them. Among them was the account of Marco Polo and
his travels in the East. What our friends found in the work in question
we will reserve for the next chapter.

[Illustration: A STORY OF THE SEA.]



CHAPTER VII.

THE WONDERFUL STORY OF MARCO POLO.


[Illustration: MARCO POLO.]

"What do you make out of Marco Polo's book?" said the Doctor to the
boys, after they had devoted a sufficient time to its perusal.

"We find it very interesting," Frank replied. "The style is quaint, and
the information it contains is curious. Evidently it is a true story,
and the man must have actually gone over the ground he describes, or it
would never be so accurate."

"It is some time since I read it," responded Doctor Bronson, "and
perhaps you had best tell me about it. By so doing you will refresh my
memory, and at the same time fix the information in your own minds."

Thus encouraged, the boys proceeded to tell the story of Marco Polo to
Doctor Bronson, just as though he had never heard it. The Doctor was a
patient listener, and both Frank and Fred showed, by the completeness of
their account, that they had thoroughly read the book.

"To begin with," said Frank, "Marco Polo was a Venetian adventurer. His
father was named Nicolo Polo, and he--Marco--had an uncle named Maffeo.
Marco was born in the year 1254, and six years later his father and
uncle started on a journey to Constantinople and the southern part of
Russia. They were merchants, and their business carried them into
Central Asia, and then to Cathay, where they spent some time with the
khan, or emperor, of that country."

"And what is Cathay?" said Dr. Bronson, with a smile.

"Cathay is the ancient name for China," Fred answered, "and even to-day
it is sometimes called so. Do you remember how Tennyson, in one of his
poems, says,

  "'Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay;'

"and I am sure you once told me that the Russian name of China is
'Kitie,' with the accent on the last syllable. That is pretty near the
sound of Cathay, and undoubtedly came from it."

"Quite correct," the Doctor responded; "you have a good memory both for
facts and poetry."

"Kublai-Khan, the Emperor of Cathay," Frank continued, "had never before
seen a gentleman from Europe. He was delighted with the Venetians, and
greatly interested in the stories they told him about Europe and its
countries and customs. How long they remained there we do not know, but
it is certain that the emperor, Kublai-Khan, determined to send them as
ambassadors to the Pope, who was then the greatest monarch of Europe.
Accordingly, he wrote letters to the Pope asking him to send a large
number of educated missionaries to Cathay to convert the people to
Christianity. These he intrusted to the two Polos, and sent with them an
officer of his own court.

[Illustration: THE GREAT KHAN DELIVERING A TABLET TO THE ELDER POLO
BROTHERS.

(From a Miniature of the Fourteenth Century.)]

"Before they started on their mission he gave them a golden tablet, upon
which there was inscribed an order for them to receive everything they
might desire for their comfort and convenience in the countries through
which they might pass; and his last order to them was 'to bring back to
him some oil of the lamp which burns on the sepulchre of our Lord at
Jerusalem.' On the road the Tartar prince who accompanied them fell
sick, and they were obliged to leave him behind. If the truth were
known, it is quite probable he did not wish to make the journey, and was
glad of an excuse for avoiding it.

[Illustration: ARMS OF THE POLO FAMILY.]

"In 1269 the brothel's arrived at Acre, in Palestine, and found that the
Pope, Clement IV., had died the year before, and no new one had been
chosen. So they went to Venice to see how matters stood in that city,
and to get some news of their families. Nicolo found that his wife had
died during his absence, and his son Marco was a fine youth of fifteen
years.

"They waited at Venice for two years; but the College of Cardinals could
not agree on a new Pope, and consequently the Church was without any
head to whom they could deliver their letters. Fearing that the Great
Khan would be displeased at their long absence, and believe them
faithless to their trust, they determined to return to him and explain
the state of affairs. Accordingly, they started in 1271, taking young
Marco with them, and in due time were once more at Acre. Before they
left the coast for the interior, they learned that a new Pope had been
chosen. The man on whom the choice fell was then in Syria, and so they
were able to carry out the khan's commission, and get a reply. But he
was only able to give them two priests to accompany them to Cathay, and
these soon found a reason for declining to go to the strange land. So
the three Polos set out alone for the dominions of the Great Khan.

[Illustration: NICOLO POLO, FATHER OF MARCO.]

"With the letters, presents from the Pope to the khan, and the holy oil
from Jerusalem, they took the route by Sivas, Mosul, and Bagdad to
Hormuz, where they turned north and went through Bokhara, Persia, and
by way of Kashgar, Yarkand, and Khoten. Then they went to the desert of
Gobi, and, after crossing it, reached the territories of the khan near
the great wall of China. They had been three years and a half on the
journey, and the date of their arrival at the khan's court is supposed
to be 1275.

"The khan was greatly pleased to see them, and he was especially
delighted with young Marco, to whom he seemed to take very kindly.
Marco, in his turn, sought to win the favor of the emperor by making
himself as useful as possible; he studied the Oriental languages, and in
a little while he could speak and write no less than four of them.

"The emperor soon began to employ him in the public service, and he
acquitted himself so well that he was sent in charge of missions to
distant countries. His first mission was to the province of Yunnan, and
in going there he was obliged to pass through several other provinces.
He had noticed, during his stay at court, that the emperor was very fond
of hearing about strange countries and their manners and customs, and so
he took good care to bring back as much information as possible. The
khan complimented him for his learning, and found him a great contrast
to the commissioners, who could never tell anything except the business
on which they had gone.

"We don't know much about the details of his employment while he was at
the court of the emperor," said Frank, "but we are told that he was for
three years governor of the great city of Yangtchoo; and we also learn
that he was in Tangut for a year or more, and that he went on missions
to Mongolia, to Cochin China, and other regions, and commanded
expeditions to the Indian seas. What his father and uncle were doing all
this time we do not know, except that the evidence shows they were
making themselves rich. Perhaps they were able to obtain good contracts
through the influence of Marco; and if they could get a monopoly of
government contracts for a few years, they would have no difficulty in
piling up a large fortune.

"Thus they remained at the court of the khan for eleven years, and
by-and-by they wanted to go home and enjoy their wealth. But the khan
would not listen to it, and perhaps they would never have been heard of
again if it had not been for an accident.

"Arghun-Khan of Persia, a great-nephew of Kublai-Khan, had lost his
wife, and her dying injunction was that her place should be filled by a
lady of her own kin--the Mongol tribe of Bayaut. An embassy came to
Kublai's court with the request, and the choice fell on Lady Kukachin,
who is described as a most beautiful woman. The overland road to Persia
was considered dangerous, and it was determined to send her by sea.
Accordingly, the khan fitted out an expedition in fine style, and, as
the Venetians were well acquainted with navigation, while the Tartars
were ignorant of it, the khan concluded to send the Polos with the
fleet. He was reluctant to let them go; but having once determined to do
so, he gave them a great many fine presents, and intrusted them with
messages to the various sovereigns of Europe, including the King of
England. They appear to have sailed from the Port of Zayton in the early
part of 1292. The voyage was long and unfortunate, and the greater part
of the embassy and suite perished on the way. The lady and the three
Venetians arrived safely in Persia, where it was found that her intended
husband had died, and so she was compelled to marry his son.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF KUBLAI-KHAN.

(From a Chinese engraving.)]

"As soon as their mission had ended, the Polos proceeded to Venice,
which they reached in the year 1295. Their long absence had caused them
to be well-nigh forgotten, and very few people could be found who
remembered anything about the Polos. They had changed much in their
complexions, had almost forgotten their own language; all their
utterances had a decidedly Tartar accent; and they were so
travel-stained and shabby that they had difficulty in being received in
their own house, which was now occupied by relatives.

"In order to establish their identity, the wanderers invited their
relatives to a grand banquet. When the time came for sitting down at
table, the three appeared in robes of crimson satin; a little later they
exchanged these for robes of crimson damask, and these again for the
richest velvet of the same color. Afterwards they dressed in clothing
like that of the rest of the company, and each of the crimson robes, as
soon as it was laid aside, was cut up and given to the servants.

"Just as the dinner was breaking up, Marco rose from the table and
retired for a moment. When he returned, he brought the shabby dresses
they had worn on their arrival, and the three Polos then went to work
with knives to rip open these apparently worthless garments. As they cut
away the seams, showers of great diamonds of the purest water, and also
emeralds, pearls, rubies, sapphires, and carbuncles, fell on the table.

"There could be no further doubt about the relationship; everybody at
table was ready to swear that he was father, son, and brother all at
once to any of the trio. Relatives poured in on them in great numbers,
and all Venice rushed to do them honor. They were appointed to offices
of high trust, and the young men of Venice came to hear Marco tell of
the wonders he had seen in his long absence. They were the most popular
men in the city, and received more invitations to dinner than they could
accept.

"There is a tradition that the wife of one of the Polos one day gave a
beggar an old coat belonging to her husband, as she considered it too
shabby for him to wear any longer. When he asked for it the next day, in
order to put away the jewels it contained, she told him she had given it
to a poor man whom she did not know. The tradition says, 'He went to the
Bridge of Rialto, and stood there turning a wheel, to no apparent
purpose, but as if he were a madman; and to all who crowded around to
see what prank was this, and asked him why he did it, he answered,
"He'll come, if God pleases." So, after two or three days, he recognized
his old coat on the back of one of those who came to stare at his mad
proceeding, and got it back again.

[Illustration: MARCO POLO'S GALLEY IN BATTLE.]

"Soon after his return, an expedition was sent from Venice against
Genoa, and Marco was placed in command of one of the ships or galleys. A
great battle was fought; the Venetians were defeated; Marco was
captured, placed in irons, and lodged in a prison at Genoa. While in
captivity, he told the story of his travels to a fellow-prisoner named
Rusticiano or Rustichello, of Pisa, and the latter committed it to
writing. It was fortunate for us, though not so for him, that Marco Polo
was in prison, as otherwise we might never have had an account of his
travels. After his release, he led a quiet life at Venice, and seems to
have died not far from the year 1325. He was buried in the Church of San
Lorenzo; but all trace of his tomb was lost when that edifice was
rebuilt.

"Now it is Fred's turn," said Frank; "I have told the history of Marco
Polo, and shown why and how he went to the East; Fred will give you an
account of what the great traveller saw in his absence from Europe of
nearly twenty years."

Fred drew his note-book from his pocket and proceeded to his share of
the entertainment.

"Marco Polo's work," said Fred, "consists of four divisions or books and
a prologue. The prologue opens as follows:

"'Great princes, emperors, and kings, dukes and marquises, counts,
knights, and burgesses, and people of all degrees, who desire to get
knowledge of the various races of mankind, and of the diversities of the
sundry regions of the world, take this book and cause it to be read to
you. For ye shall find therein all kinds of wonderful things, and the
divers histories of the great Hermenia, and of Persia, and of the land
of the Tartars, and of India, and of many another country of which our
book doth speak particularly, and in regular succession, according to
the description of Messer Marco Polo, a wise and noble citizen of
Venice, as he saw them with his own eyes. Some things, indeed, there be
therein which he beheld not; but these he heard from men of credit and
veracity. And we shall set down things seen as seen, and things heard as
heard only, so that no jot of falsehood may mar the truth of our book;
and that all who read it or hear it read may put full faith in the truth
of all its contents.'

"It is hardly worth while to read the whole prologue to you," Fred
remarked, "as it is long, and we can only give a general glance at the
contents of the whole work. A great many editions of the travels of
Marco Polo have been published; the most valuable of all is the latest,
which is by Colonel Yule, an English officer who spent a long time in
India. He has made a careful study of the subject, and his work, with
explanatory notes, is as complete as years of labor could make it.
Indeed, there are more pages taken up with the explanatory notes than
with the original text of Marco Polo.

"The four divisions or books give an account of the various countries he
visited in his years of wandering, and of the wonderful sights he
beheld. The route he followed can be traced by geographers without
difficulty, and the cities he visited have most of them been identified.
Many have had their names changed, and some have disappeared altogether,
so that in a few instances the localities are in dispute. But, taken as
a whole, the story is a truthful one, and shows Marco Polo to have been
the greatest traveller of his time.

"Some of the stories that seem at first to be the wildest fiction are
known to be founded in fact, if not literally correct. In speaking of
Syria, he says: 'There is a great lake at the foot of a mountain, and in
this lake are found no fish, great or small, throughout the whole year
till Lent comes. On the first day of Lent they find in it the finest
fish in the world, and great store, too, thereof; and these continue to
be found till Easter-eve. After that they are found no more till Lent
comes round again; and so 'tis every year.'

"Colonel Yule is unable to locate the particular lake mentioned, but
says there are several lakes in different parts of the East that are
deserted by the fish for certain periods of the year. It would not be at
all strange if such were the case, and a very little exaggeration of the
story would make the fish appear in Lent, and go away at other times.

[Illustration: ALAU SHUTS UP THE CALIPH OF BAUDAS IN HIS
TREASURE-TOWER.]

"While describing Baudas--the modern Bagdad--he tells how an army, under
Prince Alau, captured the city, and found the greatest accumulation of
treasure that ever was known. The prince was enraged at seeing so much
wealth, and asked the caliph why he did not take the money to hire
soldiers to defend the city. 'The caliph,' says Marco, 'wist not what to
answer, and said never a word. So the prince continued, "Now then,
caliph, since I see what a love thou hast borne thy treasure, I will
e'en give it thee to eat." So he shut the caliph up in the
treasure-tower, and bade that neither meat nor drink should be given
him, saying, "Now, caliph, eat of thy treasure as much as thou wilt,
since thou art so fond of it, for never shalt thou have aught else to
eat!"'

"So the caliph lingered four days in the tower, and then died. The story
has been used by several poets both in England and America, and it has
been made the basis of an Eastern romance.

"Some of the more fanciful stories he tells are about the men of Lambri,
and of Angamanain. Here is what he says of the former:

"'Now you must know that in this kingdom of Lambri there are men with
tails; these tails are of a palm in length, and have no hair on them.
These people live in the mountains, and are a kind of wild men. Their
tails are about the thickness of a dog's. There are also plenty of
unicorns in the country, and abundance of game in birds and beasts.'

"The story is not very definite," Frank suggested, "as there is a great
difference in the size of dogs' tails. The range from a terrier or pug
to a mastiff or a Siberian blood-hound is pretty wide. It reminds me of
the stone thrown at a man, that was described by a witness as about the
size of a piece of chalk."

"By the island of Angamanain," Fred continued, "Polo probably meant the
Andaman Islands. Here is what he says of them:

[Illustration: DOG-HEADED MEN OF ANGAMANAIN.]

"'The people are without a king, and are idolaters, and no better than
wild beasts. And I assure you that all the men of this island of
Angamanain have heads like dogs, and teeth and eyes likewise! In fact,
in the face they are just like big mastiff dogs! They have a quantity of
spices; but they are a most cruel generation, and eat everybody they can
catch, if not of their own race. They live on flesh and rice and milk,
and have fruits different from ours.'

"Now, the fact is," Fred explained, "that the natives of the Andaman
Islands have a bad reputation. Down to the present time they have been
repeatedly charged with murdering the crews of ships that were wrecked
there; and it is only recently that their cannibalism has been denied.
They are very black, and not at all handsome in face or figure; and out
of these facts I suppose the story came that they had heads like dogs.

"He describes a fountain in the kingdom of Mosul, 'from which oil
springs in great abundance, insomuch that a hundred ship loads might be
taken from it at one time. This oil is not good to use with food, but
'tis good to burn, and is also used to anoint camels that have the
mange.' Evidently they had petroleum in Asia six hundred years ago, as
we have it in America to-day, and thought we had made a new discovery.

"He speaks of oxen 'that are all over white as snow, and very large and
handsome. When they are to be loaded they kneel like the camel; once the
load is adjusted, they rise. Then there are sheep as big as asses; and
their tails are so large and fat that one tail shall weigh more than
thirty pounds. They are fine fat beasts, and afford capital mutton.'
These fat-tailed sheep are known in Asia and Africa, and the weight he
gives is said not to be excessive.

"In one place there is an account of the posting system of the Great
Khan of Tartary, which seems to have been more perfect than the posting
system of Europe at the same date. From Kambaluc, the capital--now known
as Peking--the roads branched in all directions, and 'each road,' says
Marco, 'is known by the name of the province to which it leads. And the
messengers of the emperor, in travelling from Kambaluc, be the road
whichsoever they will, find at every twenty-five miles of the journey a
station which they call _Yamb_, or, as we would say, the
Post-horse-house. And at each of those stations used by the messengers
there is a large and handsome building for them to put up at, in which
they find all the rooms furnished with fine beds, and all other
necessary articles in rich silk, and where they are provided with
everything they can want. If even a king were to arrive at one of these,
he would find himself well lodged. At some of these stations there shall
be posted more than 400 horses, standing ready for the use of
messengers; and at some 200, according to the requirements.... There are
more than 300,000 kept at all these posts, and more than 10,000 great
buildings for the use of messengers.'"

"How much China has declined since the days of Marco Polo," Frank
remarked. "The great buildings and the silk beds do not exist; and as
for the horses, we were unable to find them at the posting-stations, or
even to find any stations where they might be kept."

Fred took breath during this interruption, and then went on with the
story of what Marco Polo claimed to have seen.

[Illustration: MEDIÆVAL TARTAR HUTS AND WAGONS.]

"'The houses of the Tartars,' says Marco, 'are made of wands covered
with felt. These are carried along with them whithersoever they go. They
also have wagons covered with black felt so efficaciously that no rain
can get in. These are drawn by oxen and camels, and the women and
children travel in them. They eat all kinds of flesh, including horses
and dogs and Pharaoh's rats. Their drink is mares' milk.' This account
is confirmed by other writers; and the houses of the Tartars are made
to-day as Polo describes, though they are not drawn about on wheels. One
ancient writer says that he measured one of the Tartar wagons, and found
that the wheels were twenty feet apart, and it was drawn by twenty-two
oxen, eleven abreast.

[Illustration: THE ROC, FROM A PERSIAN DRAWING.]

"He has a good deal to say," Fred continued, "about the famous bird
known as the roc, or rukh. He does not claim to have seen one of these
birds, but was informed by persons who had done so. According to his
account, 'It was for all the world like an eagle, but one, indeed, of
enormous size; so big, in fact, that its wings covered an extent of
thirty paces, and its quills were twelve paces long, and thick in
proportion; and it is so strong that it will seize an elephant in its
talons and carry him up in the air and drop him, so that he is smashed
to pieces; having so killed him, the bird swoops down on him and eats
him at leisure.'

[Illustration: ROC'S EGG, NOW IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM.]

"In a note explaining this story, Colonel Yule says there was once a
bird in Madagascar, where Polo places the roc, that was much larger than
any known bird of the present day. Its eggs have been found in a fossil
state, and one of them is preserved in the British Museum. It measures
thirteen and a quarter by six and a half inches (length and width), and
the capacity of the shell is nearly three and a half gallons. It was
undoubtedly from this bird that the fable of the roc arose."

Frank ventured to ask Fred if he had found from Marco Polo's book what
kind of money was used in China at the time he visited that country.

[Illustration: CHINESE BANK-NOTE OF THE MING DYNASTY.]

"I am just coming to that," Fred answered. "Polo says that the great
emperor, Kublai-Khan, was a wonderful man. 'He transformed the bark of
the mulberry-tree into something resembling sheets of paper, and these
into money, which cost him nothing at all, so that you might say he had
the secret of alchemy to perfection. And these pieces of paper he made
to pass current universally, over all his kingdoms and provinces and
territories, and whithersoever his sovereignty extended; and nobody,
however important he thought himself, dared to refuse them on pain of
death."

"History repeats itself," said Doctor Bronson; "for many a modern
government has made the same laws in order to compel the circulation of
its promises to pay."

"And with the same result," Fred responded; "for we learn farther on
from Marco Polo that, in spite of the death penalty, the legal-tender
issue of the Great Khan was only worth half its nominal value in silver;
and the more money he issued, the greater was the depreciation. But the
khan was not the inventor of paper-money, for it was known at least four
centuries before his time. Its origin is disputed, but the probabilities
are that it came from the East.

"Some of the stories that are told about supernatural appearances are
very interesting," continued Fred. "In the desert of Gobi, Polo says
that the traveller who lags behind his party at night will hear spirits
talking, and will suppose them to be his comrades. Sometimes the spirits
will call him by name, and thus shall a traveller oft-times be led
astray, so that he never finds his party; and in this way many have
perished. And sometimes you shall hear the sound of a variety of musical
instruments, and still more commonly the sound of drums.

"He says, in another place, 'When the Great Khan, seated on a platform
some eight cubits above the pavement, desires to drink, cups filled with
wine are moved from a buffet in the centre of the hall, a distance of
ten paces, and present themselves to the emperor without being touched
by anybody.'

[Illustration: CHINESE CONJURING EXTRAORDINARY.]

"Polo describes other magical performances, some of which are partially
explained by Colonel Yule. Another traveller relates that a juggler
performed some remarkable tricks in his presence; and among them is the
following: 'He took a wooden ball with several holes in it, through
which loose thongs were passed, and, laying hold of one of these, slung
it into the air. It went so high that we lost sight of it altogether.
There now remained only a little of the end of a thong in the conjurer's
hand, and he desired one of the boys who assisted him to lay hold of it
and mount. He did so, climbing by the thong, and we lost sight of him!
The conjurer then called to him three times; but getting no answer, he
snatched up a knife as if in a great rage, laid hold of the thong, and
disappeared also. By-and-by he threw down one of the boy's hands; then a
foot; then the other hand, and then the other foot; then the trunk; and,
last of all, the head. Then he came down himself, all puffing and
panting, and, with his clothes all bloody, kissed the ground, and said
something in Chinese. Then he took the lad's limbs, laid them together,
gave a kick, when, presto! there was the boy, who got up and stood
before us.'"

"The Indian jugglers are said to do the same trick, or one very much
like it," said Doctor Bronson. "I have read a description of one of
their performances, in which they took a long chain and threw one end of
it in the air, where it remained as if fastened to something. A dog was
then brought forward, and ran up the chain and disappeared in the air.
In the same way a hog, a panther, a lion, and a tiger were sent up the
chain one after the other, and all disappeared at its upper end. Finally
they took down the chain, rolled it up and put it in a bag, no one being
able to discover how the trick was performed."

"We must come to a stop now," said Fred, "though we haven't heard a
tenth part of the strange things in Marco Polo's story of his travels.
His account of the Court of Kublai-Khan would take a long time to tell,
and perhaps you would get tired of it before I came to the end. So, if
you want to know more, you must do as I have done--read for yourself."

The interesting session of the party over the travels of the famous
Venetian were brought to a close. The Doctor complimented the boys on
the excellent work they had done in making a condensed account of the
book, and said he was so pleased with them that he would give them a
similar piece of employment whenever the opportunity occurred.

"It is a capital way," said Fred, "to fix in mind what we have read. I
find that I read with greater care when I know I must make a summary of
a book than if I am to throw it down when through and think no more of
it. I'm very glad we had to go through Marco Polo's history in this
way."

"And I too," Frank added. "But it is what we used to dislike so much at
school."

"What was that?" Fred asked.

"Why, writing compositions, to be sure," Frank responded. "Don't you
remember how we used to detest it?"

"Of course I do," was the answer; "but we always did it without an
object. The teacher told us to write something about 'spring,' or 'the
beauties of nature,' or some other subject that was not at all definite.
Now if he had given us an interesting book to read, and said he wanted
us to do with it as we have done with this, we should have 'written a
composition' with some relish."

"It will be eight bells soon," the captain interrupted, "and if you want
to see me take the sun you had better come forward."

[Illustration: CAPTAIN CLANCHY AT WORK.]

The boys had familiarized themselves with the process of finding a
ship's position; but anything at sea that varies the monotony is always
welcome. So they went forward with Captain Clanchy, and stood by the
rail till that brief performance was ended. Then they retired to the
cabin, and watched the operation of working up the steamer's position;
and by the time this was over, the steward announced that dinner was
ready.

[Illustration: COME TO DINNER!]



CHAPTER VIII.

ARRIVAL IN SIAM.--FIRST DAY IN BANGKOK.


The boys found a novel way of taking fresh-water baths during their
voyage from Saigon to Bangkok. Nearly every day there was a heavy shower
of rain, and sometimes two or three showers in the course of twenty-four
hours. The rain came literally in torrents; it poured as though great
gates had been suddenly opened in the sky, to allow the passage of the
water by dozens of barrels at a time. Neither Frank nor Fred had ever
seen the rain fall so fast; the Doctor assured them that showers of this
kind were very common in the tropics, especially during the change of
the monsoons.

[Illustration: A NATURAL SHOWER-BATH.]

Whenever the clouds indicated a coming shower, the boys generally went
to the cabin and soon appeared in their bathing-suits. Covering their
heads with straw hats, to protect them from the pelting of the great
drops, they would sit in the rain and enjoy the luxury of the earliest
form of shower-bath ever known. One night, when they were sleeping on
deck, they were suddenly awakened by the pouring of the rain in their
faces, and, before they could gather their clothing and escape to
shelter, they were treated to a bath they had not bargained for. It is
one of the inconveniences of sleeping on deck in the tropics that you
are liable to have your slumbers disturbed in this way, just as you are
dreaming of pleasant things, and in no mood for waking.

Though they were not in sight of land, our friends realized that they
were in a comparatively small body of water, and not in the open ocean.
The swell and heaving of the Atlantic and Pacific waves were altogether
absent; though the steamer was a diminutive one in comparison with the
great ships on which they had travelled hitherto, she rolled and pitched
very little, and sometimes her motion was as steady as though she was
navigating a river. The Gulf of Siam does not occupy a large place on
the map, and for a great part of the year it is as peaceful as a lake.
The captain told them that it was rarely disturbed by typhoons or severe
gales, and was about five hundred miles long by two hundred and fifty in
width.

[Illustration: FLYING-FISH.]

Porpoises and flying-fish appeared occasionally, and their lively leaps
from the water were a source of much amusement to the youths.

The first indication of their approach to the coast of Siam was the
appearance of a dark line on the northern horizon. As they steamed on,
this line developed into a fringe of tropical trees; but before they
could make anything more of it than the merest fringe, the steamer came
to anchor. As they were still a long way from land, the boys could not
understand the reason for stopping, and Fred ventured to ask the captain
why they did not go on.

"The principal reason," the captain answered, "is because we can't. The
approach to the river is very shallow, and our steamer cannot cross the
bar till high-tide. We must wait here till the tide serves, and we have
a pilot to take us in."

The pilot came to the ship soon after they anchored, and in a few hours
he announced that it was time to move on. The anchor was lifted, and the
_Danube_ steamed slowly onward towards the shore.

Very soon it was apparent to the boys that the waters along this part of
the coast were very shallow, as the steamer stirred the mud from the
bottom and left a dirty streak behind her. The bar at the mouth of the
Menam prevents the passage of large ships, and there was a fleet of half
a dozen or more lying outside and receiving their cargo from lighters.
Vessels drawing less than fifteen feet can go up without difficulty; and
once they have passed the bar, there is no trouble in proceeding on to
Bangkok.

"I wonder if that is Bangkok?" said Fred, as he pointed to a conical
tower that rose just ahead of them, and apparently a short distance
above the mouth of the river.

"Oh no," the captain replied, "that is not Bangkok at all. The city is
thirty miles up the river, and what you see now is Paknam. We shall stop
in front of it to get the permit from the custom-house to allow us to
proceed up the river.

[Illustration: VIEW NEAR PAKNAM.]

"The tower that you see is a temple on a small island opposite Paknam.
It is used on festival days, and once in awhile the king comes down here
to worship. On such occasions they have boat-races, and a good time
generally; some of the boats are rowed entirely by girls, and the sport
is very exciting."

A boat came from the custom-house, and an officer mounted to the deck of
the steamer. His visit was a brief one, as the _Danube_ was a regular
visitor at the port, and did not require any unusual formalities. After
a short delay, the steamer moved on under charge of the pilot, though
the captain remained on the bridge and kept a sharp watch over the
movements of his vessel. It is a curious feature of maritime law that
when a ship is in charge of a pilot her captain's authority ceases; but
in case of accident he comes in for a liberal share of censure.

The boys found that the Menam was as crooked as the Mekong, and not
unlike the latter in its general features. The channel appeared to be
free of sand-bars or other impediments to navigation, though some of the
bends of the stream were rather short for a large ship to turn in with
ease. At one place there was a channel or canal that saved a great
distance for small boats; but it was impracticable for the _Danube_,
which was obliged to follow the winding of the river. A little tow-boat
entered this canal just as they passed the entrance; she steamed
leisurely through, and as the _Danube_ rounded the bend Frank discovered
that the tow-boat was several miles ahead of them.

[Illustration: NATIVE HUT ON THE MENAM RIVER.]

The river was full of native boats, some going in one direction and some
in another. Now and then a house was visible in the dense foliage, and
there was an occasional cluster of dwellings large enough to be called a
village. Many of the houses were built so that a platform in front
overhung the water; and the whole structure was on piles, in order to
form a refuge against snakes and wild beasts, and also to secure the
inhabitants against being suddenly driven out by an inundation.

But what impressed the young travellers more than anything else was the
richness of the tropical vegetation along the banks of the river. Here
were palms in great variety, and many huge trees whose names were
unknown to them; and there was a dense growth of underbrush, through
which it would be very difficult for a man to penetrate unless armed
with a hatchet, and not at all easy even then. Many of the trees were
covered with creeping and climbing plants, so that not a particle of the
surface or foliage of the original tree could be seen, and very often
the burden of parasites was so great that the trees had fallen beneath
it.

"I have read," said Frank, "about the vines that destroyed a tree, but
have never fairly seen an instance of it till now."

"Nor I either," Fred responded. "Look at that fine tree that has been
quite broken down by the weight of the plants that cling to it. And
observe, too, the bright blossoms that the vine has spread out, as if it
was exulting over the destruction it had caused."

Some of the creeping vines had a scarlet flower of a very gaudy pattern,
and it seemed as if it was their season for blooming, as the vines in
several instances were completely covered with blossoms.

[Illustration: A VILLAGE PATHWAY IN SIAM.]

Now and then there were little openings in the forest that looked like
pathways. The Doctor told his young companions that these paths
undoubtedly led to villages or single houses that were hid away in the
dense foliage. The Doctor's belief was confirmed by the glimpse of an
occasional figure among the trees, and by dusky faces that
contemplated the steadily moving steamer.

But it was not all a tropical forest with occasional villages. There
were sugar plantations, some of them of considerable extent; and there
were rice-fields where dozens and dozens of men were at work. Frank
contemplated a lot of these laborers with the captain's glass, and
remarked that the Siamese resembled the Chinese so much that it was
impossible to distinguish between them. The Doctor laughed, and then
gave this explanation:

"The men that you see are Chinese, and not the people of Siam. Nearly
all these rice and sugar plantations employ Chinese laborers; and of the
five millions of people in Siam not less than two millions are Chinese.
They come here, just as they go to America or to Australia, in search of
employment; and, though the wages are low, they are quite content. If
you could go to every part of Siam you would hardly ever be out of sight
of the Chinese, as they are scattered everywhere through the kingdom.
There, now, we will have a good view of some of these laborers."

[Illustration: CHINESE FIELD-LABORERS.]

As he spoke, the steamer swung quite close to the bank, where there was
a group of laborers evidently just ready to depart for the rice-field.
Some were squatted, and some were standing; some were fully and some
only partially clothed; and all appeared as though they had the good
digestion that comes from hard work. It did not need a long study of the
assemblage to convince our friends that the men were exactly like those
they had seen in Canton and Hong-kong, and the captain told them that
probably every one of the crowd was from the Quang-Tung Province of
China.

[Illustration: GENERAL VIEW OF BANGKOK.]

They were still in the midst of cocoa and other tropical trees, when the
captain told them they were at Bangkok. There was a saw-mill and a
dock-yard among the trees on one side of the river, and farther on was a
large house, with an open space of an acre or more between it and the
river. They had reached what may be called the foreign portion of the
city; the native part is nearly three miles farther on, and quite
concealed by a bend in the stream.

We will see what the boys had to say of Bangkok in their letters to
friends at home. Here is what Frank wrote:

"MY DEAR MOTHER,--We had a charming voyage from Saigon to this port. The
weather was fine, and we amused ourselves in various ways; one thing we
did was to read up the story of Marco Polo's travels six hundred years
ago, and then tell it over to the Doctor. Sometimes it was so hot that
we slept on deck, and when it was raining hard we used to go out in our
bathing-suits and have a shower-bath that was simply perfect. We had a
picturesque ride up the Menam to this city; and we have seen lots of
curious things since we landed.

"We came ashore with the captain, and he took us at once to the only
hotel in the place. It is a funny sort of a hotel, as you have to go
out-of-doors to pass from the dining-room to the sleeping-rooms and the
parlor, where we sit when we want to rest. The rooms are not more than
ten feet square, and I don't think Fred's will measure as much as that.
I made the remark that you couldn't swing a cat around there; and the
landlord said he had no cat, and even if he had one he didn't want to
swing her anyway. You ought to see the landlord; he is a German, and as
jolly as you could wish. He was formerly a sea-captain, and everybody
calls him 'Captain Salje.' He must weigh pretty nearly three hundred
pounds, and when he laughs he shakes all over. He speaks English as well
as German, and he also speaks the language of the country and that of
Java, where he lived a long time. When things don't get along well in
the kitchen, he goes in among his servants, and you hear his voice
ringing out all over the house. He is a capital landlord, and we like
his table better than that of any hotel we have seen since we left San
Francisco.

[Illustration: IN THE FOREIGN PART OF BANGKOK.]

"The hotel stands on the bank of the river, and you can step from a boat
directly to the veranda of the house. The river is the Broadway of
Bangkok, and all the travelling to and fro, or the greater part of it,
is done on the water. In this part of Bangkok is where the foreigners
live, and their houses are scattered along the banks for at least a
mile. Nobody wants to live where he would be without a front on the
river, as it would be just like living off from the street in an
American city. The merchants have their warehouses so that goods can be
rolled from boats directly inside the doors; but the houses where people
live are set back a little, and have a good large yard in front and all
around them. They have plenty of trees in the yards, and the houses look
very pretty; and as the verandas are wide, there is an abundance of
shade. Most of the houses are of two stories, and built of stuccoed
brick; and a good many of the floors are of brick or stone. Wood is not
very durable in this climate, as the air is moist and rots it; and,
besides, they have certain kinds of insects that eat it full of holes,
and make it turn to powder. Some woods decay much faster than others,
and they have one kind called teak, that the insects never attack.

"As I look from the veranda where I am writing I can see half a dozen
ships anchored in the river below here, and as many more up above. Most
of them belong to Siam, as we can see by the flag; and there are two or
three German ships, one English, and one American. The Siamese flag is
red, and has a white elephant on it; we are in the country of the White
Elephant, and don't intend leaving until we have seen the sacred beast.
I am told that the white elephants at the king's palace have fine
stables and lots of attendants, and that they are worshipped and petted
till they are quite spoiled in their dispositions.

"We have hired a boat by the day, and it is to be kept for our use as
long as we stay here; just as we might keep a carriage in another
country. There is a little cabin where you have to stoop as you go in;
and there are cushioned seats for four persons, and windows with sliding
lattices all around. It takes four men to row it--two on the bow, and
two on the stern--and they all row with their faces the way the boat is
going. The boat is quite comfortable, and we enjoy it very much.

"The people make use of the river for all sorts of business. It is the
great highway for transporting merchandise, and for promenading on the
water; and it is the place where people go on shopping excursions. A
great many of the houses are built on rafts of bamboo-poles, and they
rise and fall with the tide. The raft is somewhat larger than the house,
and forms a platform all around it; and when you want to go in at the
front of a house, you have only to bring your boat along-side the raft
and step off. The bamboo seems almost to have been designed by nature
for the purpose of making these rafts. You know it is hollow, and very
light, and that it has joints at regular intervals. Now each joint forms
a water-tight compartment, and the wood will resist the water for a very
long time, so that a bamboo raft has no chance of sinking. Perhaps it
was the bamboo that gave the Chinese the idea of building ships in
water-tight compartments, as Marco Polo says they did six hundred years
ago. Who knows?

"As you go along the river you see the fronts of the houses open towards
the water, and if they have anything to sell it is put where it can be
seen, exactly as it would be in a shop on Broadway. The houses are
divided generally into only two rooms--the men occupying one, and the
women the other; and the Siamese rarely make houses of more than one
story. The reason is that they wish to avoid having anybody walking over
their heads, which is considered an indignity. It is said that when the
city was first built along the banks of the river there was a great deal
of cholera, on account of the bad drainage, and many people died. The
king then gave orders for the people to build on the river itself, which
would make the drainage perfect, and thus improve the public health. The
order was obeyed, and from it we find the floating houses that seem so
curious to us. There are not far from fifteen thousand of these houses
and shops, and they are strung along on both sides of the river for
several miles, altogether. Then there are many houses built on piles, to
overhang the water, just like those we described at Saigon.

"One of the books we have with us tells us that Bangkok is called 'The
Venice of the East,' and I can easily understand why. Venice is full of
canals, as you know, and so is Bangkok. They run off from the river in
all directions, and you can go almost anywhere by them when the tide is
up. This is why nearly everybody has a boat, as it would be difficult to
go about without one. You see boats of all sizes, from a little dug-out,
just large enough for one person--and a small one at that--up to the
great house-boat, or barge, that will hold twenty or more. The people
spend a good deal of their time on the water, and very often in it; for
they swim like otters, and are not at all disturbed when one of their
boats overturns with them. This afternoon, when we were out on the
river, a steamboat passed us. It did us no harm, though we tossed around
for a moment; but there was a small skiff close by that was filled with
water by the swell from the steamer. Two boys were in it, and as the
skiff went down under them, they took hold of it with their hands and
swam to the shore. They soon had the water out of it, and paddled off as
merrily as ever.

"Where the largest of the canals branches off there is a pretty dense
collection of houses, and this continues for quite a distance. The
streets are irregular, and not very wide or clean; perhaps the most of
the people living in this quarter are Chinese, and they are not very
particular about dirt. Most of the shops are kept by Chinese, and they
have a great number of gambling-houses, for which they pay a fixed sum
to the government. Gambling is a monopoly, and so is the sale of
intoxicating spirits; the licenses are sold by the government, just as
an American city gives a man a license to sell liquor when he pays the
sum agreed on. The Chinese that come here are just as great gamblers as
they are at home, and they are just as fond of smoking opium.

"The city is said to contain half a million inhabitants, and it is
little more than a hundred years old. It was founded in 1769, when the
Siamese capital (Ayuthia) was captured and plundered by the Burmese. The
king lives here, and the royal palace is well worth seeing. We are going
there to-morrow, or perhaps next day, and we are going to see some
curious temples. There are lots of temples in Bangkok, and the city
contains not less than twenty thousand priests of the Buddhist religion.
We will tell you more about the priests and the temples in another
letter."

[Illustration: A SIAMESE PRIEST.]



CHAPTER IX.

TEMPLES AT BANGKOK.--THE FOUNDER OF BUDDHISM.


A letter from Fred was in the same mail with Frank's. The dutiful boy
remembered his mother, and wrote as follows:

"Frank has told all about our arrival in Bangkok, and what we saw on our
first day in the city. I know you will hand our letters around for both
families to read, and so I will try to avoid repeating what he has said.

"One of the first things we wanted to see was the temples, for which
Bangkok is famous. You must know that Siam is a country where the
Buddhist religion has a very strong hold; and the king is supposed to be
the defender of the ancient faith. A large part of the annual revenue of
the country is expended in the repair of the temples now in existence,
or the construction of new ones; and also in processions and other
religious ceremonies. We are fortunate in coming here at the season of
the year when the king goes to make his visits to all the temples; and,
as there are many of them in the city, he has enough to do for two or
three weeks. We have seen one of these processions, and expect to see
more: as the one we have seen is not the grandest of them, I will keep
the description of this part of our sights in Bangkok for another
letter.

[Illustration: BIRDS-EYE VIEW OF BANGKOK.]

"The first temple we went to was the one known as _Wat Seh Kate_. It has
the general appearance of a pyramid, and is about two hundred and fifty
feet high, with a winding pathway that leads to the top. From the
platform, on the summit, there is a fine view of Bangkok, or rather the
form of the city can be seen, though the most of the houses are
concealed by the trees. It is a curious sight, as the trees are nearly
all tropical ones, and wherever you look you see palms in some form or
other, with their long leaves bending in the wind, and their stems
rising, often as straight as arrows, for fifty or a hundred feet. Off in
the distance there are rice-fields, some of them of great extent; and
close below you is a bewildering mass of temples, and palaces, and
pagodas, with the river shining here and there, and forming a sharp
contrast to the dark green of the foliage. Some of the spires of the
temples look as pointed as needles; and though you might think they
would fall down with the first high wind, I am told they have stood for
a long time, and are apparently as firm as ever.

"I enclose a picture representing a view from one of the temples, so
that you can see what Bangkok is like.

"Some foreigners have been talking of proposing to the government to
convert this temple into a reservoir for water, which would be brought
into the city by an aqueduct, just as water is supplied to New York and
other American cities. Wouldn't that be a novel idea? The city has no
aqueduct whatever, but all the water that the people use must be taken
from the river or caught in cisterns during the rainy season.

[Illustration: TEMPLE OF WAT CHANG.]

"The temple is not yet finished, and therefore the view from the top is
the most interesting thing about it. On the other side of the river is
another remarkable temple known as _Wat Chang_; it stands in a large
enclosure, perhaps fifteen or twenty acres in extent, and this enclosure
contains small gardens, the houses of the priests, and a great quantity
of stone statues, some of them very grotesque in character. There are
some nice fish-ponds full of fish; and in two or three places we saw
grottoes of stone and brick that were very pretty. I should think that
the priests had considerable taste, and were not the lazy fellows one
often finds around these temples. Perhaps they did not do the work
themselves, but only laid it out for others; even if that is the case,
they deserve some credit for their good taste.

"The general shape of _Wat Chang_ is that of a bell; and there is a
spire at the top that would make a very good handle, if some one could
be found large and strong enough to take it up and ring it. Doctor
Bronson guessed that the building was two hundred and fifty feet high,
and about the same in diameter; it is built of brick, and the outside is
covered with plaster, which was stuck full, while it was moist, with all
sorts of curious things. These include plates, and cups and saucers, and
all manner of dishes with as many colors as the rainbow, and arranged
into a mosaic that forms figures of animals, fruits, flowers, and other
things, some of them hideous and unnatural. As you might suppose would
be the case in the Land of the White Elephant, the largest animal that
we know of is frequently represented. Sometimes he has only one head, as
he has in actual life; but occasionally they give him three heads, which
the Doctor says is to symbolize the Buddhistic Trinity. Besides these
mosaics, there are other elephants in the form of statues, which are set
in niches half-way to the summit. The sun was shining brightly when we
visited this temple, and at every step the rays were flashed into our
eyes till they almost ached with pain.

[Illustration: TEMPLE OF THE SLEEPING IDOL.]

"We went to the 'Temple of the Sleeping Idol,' which is one of the
wonders of Bangkok. It is not a great ways from the royal palace, and
gets its name from the fact that there is a statue of Buddha in a
horizontal position that fills the most of the interior of the building.
The figure is one hundred and sixty feet long, and lies on its side; the
soles of the feet are sixteen feet long, and each of them is inlaid with
mother-of-pearl as delicately as though it was a finger-ring. The
figures represented by this inlaid work are entirely fruits and flowers;
Doctor Bronson says the fable is that fruits and flowers sprung from the
earth wherever Buddha planted his footsteps. The figure of Buddha is
built of brick, and then heavily gilded, so that you might easily
suppose it was of gold. When I tell you that the arm at the elbow is six
feet in diameter, you will get an idea of the greatness of the work.

"The Sleeping Idol is not the only wonder of this temple. There are
nearly a thousand other idols there, most of them of life size, and they
are so thickly packed as to make you think they would be liable to get
in each other's way. The temple itself is about two hundred feet long,
and has a high roof with sharp peaks at the ends, and three stages
rising one above another. The eaves are supported by tall columns, and
thus quite a veranda is formed between them and the doors of the
building; and there is a high wall around the temple, so that it would
not be easy to get in without permission. The enclosure contains the
houses of the priests, and some small pagodas and temples; and the
priests evidently have an eye to business, as they would not open the
doors till we had paid a tical for each person of our party. The tical
is the Siamese coin in which everything is reckoned; it is worth about
sixty cents of our money, and consequently the price of admission to
the temple seemed rather dear to us.

[Illustration: BRASS IDOL IN A TEMPLE.]

"There is another temple that has a statue of brass nearly fifty feet
high, and, like most of the statues, it is intended to represent the
divine Buddha. It is in a sitting posture, with the legs crossed, and
the pedestal on which it sits is of the same material, and delicately
ornamented. In front of the altar there are cups and flower-vases in
great variety--some of brass, others of copper, and others again of
bronze thickly covered with gold. Offerings of fruit and flowers were
lying on the altar, and on each side of the figure of Buddha there was
the statue of a priest, standing erect, and with his hands folded in the
attitude of prayer. We could not help admiring the beauty of the work,
and regretting that so much money and labor had been devoted to the
worship of a heathen god. The temple of the Sleeping Idol is said to
have cost not less than a million of dollars, and probably ten millions
would not cover the expense of the temples within half a mile of the
royal palace, to say nothing of the others in the city.

"The Chinese that live in Bangkok have a great many temples of their
own, but none of them are as fine as the Siamese ones. The temples that
the Chinese build must be paid for out of their own contributions; while
those of the Siamese are erected by the government, and the priests that
take care of them have an official character. There were formerly thirty
or forty thousand priests in Bangkok: they were so numerous that the
father of the present king determined to compel them to work for a
living, and so he took away the government support and turned them out.
For a few years after he did so they were not very numerous; but they
have gradually increased, until their number is now reckoned at twenty
thousand. They can be recognized by their yellow robes, and they have
their heads shaved as smooth as door-knobs. They live about the temples,
and every morning they go around begging.

"This morning we started out early, in order to see the priests on their
begging missions; and it was a curious sight, you may believe.

"Each begging priest has a boat, and generally a boy to paddle it. In
front of the priest there is a basket with a cover, and as the boat is
rowed up to a house the priest says not a word, but raises the cover of
the basket. On the platform in front of the door there is a kettle of
freshly boiled rice, and somebody, generally a woman, lifts out a quart
or so of the rice with a ladle and pours it into the basket. When the
operation is completed, the priest moves on; he never says 'Thank you,'
and the giver never speaks. If another priest comes a moment after, he
gets the same quantity, and the same silence is preserved. Charity is
enjoined by the Buddhist religion, and what is given is given from a
sense of religious duty. Captain Salje says that nobody need starve in
Bangkok, as it is the privilege of every one to go to the temples and be
fed. The priests receive from the people, and are expected in turn to
give to those that need. But if you went to the temples you would get
nothing more than boiled rice, with an occasional fish; and, as I should
tire of those things in a short time, I don't think either Frank or
myself will become a mendicant in the capital of Siam.

[Illustration: PRIESTS PLAYING CHESS.]

"The priests have a very lazy life of it. They lie around the temples
and spend much of their time in sleep; some of them study the sacred
books of their religion, and for those who are inclined to read there is
a library attached to each of the principal temples. They are fond of
games like chess, and several times we have found groups of them seated
around tables and completely absorbed in their sport. Their chessmen are
like buttons, and they hold them in little baskets, which are kept under
the hands of the players. Many of them are great smokers, and when a
party is at chess they usually have their pipes where they can be ready
for use at a moment's notice.

"Talking about the priests naturally leads up to the religion of the
country. Doctor Bronson says it is Buddhism of the purest character, and
was brought to Siam from Ceylon hundreds of years ago. There is
considerable difference in the authorities about the origin of the
religion, but the statement most generally received is that it began
about two thousand three hundred years ago in India. Prince Gautama, who
afterward became Buddha, was famous for the goodness of his disposition
and his care for the happiness of his fellow-men. The religion of his
time was mixed up with a great deal of cruelty, and he determined to
reform it. With his title of prince, he belonged to a very rich family
near Benares, which was then considered one of the most sacred cities in
India; and it remains so to this day in the eyes of the native people.
He became a wanderer, and for five years he travelled over the country,
living on charity, and doing all the good that he could.

"At the end of five years he came back to Benares to establish a new
religion, and dispute with the teachers of the old. The people were
ready to listen to him, and in a short time, under his new name of
Buddha, he had many converts. Among them were his father and brothers,
and other members of his family; and in a few years he was able to send
out apostles to all parts of India and to Ceylon, and other countries.
Conversions were made very fast, and the histories say that in less than
two hundred years from the time Buddha began his work five hundred
millions of people in Asia had embraced the new doctrines. Temples were
erected everywhere, and priests became numerous; but the new religion
led to a bitter war with the old, which lasted for centuries. Buddhism
was finally driven out of the most of India, and the only places where
it now exists are the countries to which it was carried by the
missionaries.

"An English author and journalist, Edwin Arnold, who lived some time in
India, has written a poem, entitled 'The Light of Asia,' in which he
endeavors to portray the life and character of Prince Gautama of India,
the founder of Buddhism. In the preface to his interesting and highly
instructive production, Mr. Arnold says:

     "'A generation ago little or nothing was known in Europe of this
     great faith of Asia, which had nevertheless existed during
     twenty-four centuries, and at this day surpasses, in the number of
     its followers and the area of its prevalence, any other form of
     creed. Four hundred and seventy millions of our race live and die
     in the tenets of Gautama; and the spiritual dominions of this
     ancient teacher extend, at the present time, from Nepaul and Ceylon
     over the whole Eastern Peninsula to China, Japan, Thibet, Central
     Asia, Siberia, and even Swedish Lapland. India itself might fairly
     be included in this magnificent empire of belief; for, though the
     profession of Buddhism has for the most part passed away from the
     land of its birth, the mark of Gautama's sublime teaching is
     stamped ineffaceably upon modern Brahminism, and the most
     characteristic habits and convictions of the Hindoos are clearly
     due to the benign influence of Buddha's precepts. More than a third
     of mankind, therefore, owe their moral and religions ideas to this
     illustrious prince, whose personality, though imperfectly revealed
     in the existing sources of information, cannot but appear the
     highest, gentlest, holiest, and most beneficent, with one
     exception, in the history of Thought.'

"Another authority says that the real name of Buddha was Sakya Muni, and
he was the son of the Rajah of Kapila, a small territory north of
Benares. According to some of the accounts, he acquired his divine
character by silent meditation; and it is one of the principles of his
creed that any one can, by meditation and good works, become equal to
divinity. He was said to be thirty-five years old when he attained these
powers, and it required seven years of meditation to reach this
condition. He lived to be nearly eighty years old, and was actively
engaged in pushing his new doctrines until the time of his death.

[Illustration: GATE-WAY OF A TEMPLE AT BANGKOK.]

"There are two reasons why I shall not write much about the religion of
this wonderful man. One is that I am afraid you would not be greatly
interested in what we call Paganism, and the other is that I don't feel
able to describe it so that you would understand it. People who have
lived here for years say it is full of mysteries, and they are not able
to comprehend it. If that is the case, you could hardly expect a
traveller who is only a few months in the East to tell you all about the
beliefs of the natives, and their modes of worship. I am told that the
creed of Buddha is a very simple one, and is founded on kindness and
benevolence. It is enjoined on all believers to be charitable, and never
to inflict pain on anything that lives. This part of the doctrine is not
closely observed by the ordinary followers, and its strict observation
is specially appropriate for the priests. They are not allowed to kill
any animal for the sake of food, but they may eat what others have
killed, though they are not expected to do so if vegetable food is to be
obtained. They are expected to remain poor, like the monks of the
Catholic Church, and whatever is given to them belongs to the temple
they are attached to. The temples are sometimes very rich, but the
priests have nothing they can call their own property.

"Children are instructed in the temples, and one of the duties of the
priests is to give instruction when it is required. Some of the temples
have schools attached to them; and there are Buddhist colleges that have
acquired considerable reputation for the learning of the men attached to
them.

"Attempts have been made to convert the Siamese from their present
religion to Christianity, and a good many missions have been established
here. The Roman Catholics came to Siam three hundred years ago, and
began to preach their religion; and in the early part of this century
the Protestant missions were established. The government allows the
missionaries full liberty to preach and teach among the people, and
makes them gifts of land when any is wanted for the erection of a church
or school-house. Some of the missionaries have exercised considerable
influence over the high authorities, and it is largely due to their
efforts that many reforms have been adopted.

[Illustration: TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD IDOL.]

"I will close this letter by telling you something about the last of the
temples we visited. It is the _Wat P'hza Keau_, or the Temple of the
Emerald Idol, and is so called on account of an idol of emerald a foot
high and eight inches wide. It stands on an altar about fifty feet high,
and all over the surface of the altar there are images representing
idols, human figures, and animals, the latter including some forms that
are very grotesque. The emerald idol stands in a niche which is
beautifully ornamented, and the altar terminates in a long spire above
the idol's head. There are paintings on the walls superior to anything
we saw in the other temples, and we found that the bricks on the floor
were of polished brass instead of baked clay. The hair and collar of the
idol are of pure gold, and from the way the light fell upon them it
looked as though they were thickly set with precious stones. Some one
who has seen it more closely than we did, says that while the gold was
in a melted state a handful of diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and other
precious stones were stirred into it; perhaps this was so, but I should
think it would be injurious to the diamonds to be thrown into melted
gold, which must be of a very great heat.

"This is the temple where the king comes most frequently to say his
prayers. We had hoped to see him there, but were disappointed."



CHAPTER X.

ASCENDING THE MENAM, FROM BANGKOK TO AYUTHIA.


Doctor Bronson had a letter of introduction to the American Consul at
Bangkok, which a friend in New York had given him before his departure.
A few mornings after his arrival in Siam, he called at the consulate to
deliver the letter and make the acquaintance of his country's
representative.

He found the consul seated in a large arm-chair on the veranda of a
spacious building on the east bank of the river, in the foreign portion
of the city. A yard with shade-trees and gravelled walks surrounded the
building, and near the landing-place there was a tall staff from which
the flag of the United States waved in the breeze. The consul was a man
of pleasing manners, and he was heartily glad to meet a compatriot, as
the visits of Americans to Bangkok are not at all numerous. "Until you
arrived," said he to the Doctor, "there had not been an American tourist
here for nearly eight months. I wish more would come, as we lead rather
a lonely life in Siam, and are very glad of anything to break the
monotony."

In a frank, open-hearted way, the consul offered his services to Doctor
Bronson and his young friends, in case there was anything he could do
for them.

The Doctor thanked him for the proffered courtesy, and said they hoped
to be able to see his majesty, the King of Siam, before their departure.

"I think that can be arranged without much difficulty," the consul
answered. "The king likes to see strangers who are enough interested in
Siam to come here out of the beaten track. He is a polite, intelligent,
and most agreeable gentleman, and I feel confident that I can promise to
present you to him.

"Just now he is absent from the city, and will not be back here for
three or four days. On his return, I will endeavor to arrange what you
wish. Meantime there is an excursion going up the river to Ayuthia, the
ancient capital of Siam, and I advise you to join it. A party is going
to see some elephants driven in from the forest, and the sight will be
interesting to you. It can easily be arranged for you to join the
excursion, which will start to-morrow morning."

Doctor Bronson assented at once to the proposal, and, after exchanging a
few general observations, he departed, promising to come again in the
afternoon to learn more fully about the excursion, and to bring the boys
with him to introduce to the consul. He had left them at the hotel, busy
with their first letters to friends at home.

Frank and Fred were delighted at the plan for going to Ayuthia,
especially as they would have an opportunity to see with their own eyes
the way the Siamese catch elephants. They were impatient to be off, and
could hardly keep their minds on their letters, as they were filled with
thoughts of the novelties in store for them.

When they called at the consulate in the afternoon, they found that the
whole business had been settled. They were to have a house-boat or
barge, large enough for half a dozen persons, and it was to be towed by
a steam-launch which had been procured from one of the foreign merchants
at Bangkok. To economize time, it had been determined to start an hour
or two before sunset, and travel during the night; by this means they
would reach Ayuthia early the next forenoon, and thus have the greater
part of the day for sight-seeing. The consul decided to accompany them,
as the cares of the consulate were not very heavy at that particular
time, and, besides, the vice-consul was there to see that nothing went
wrong.

A sufficient supply of cooked and canned provisions was procured, and
the necessary amount of blankets, overcoats, and other comforts was made
ready. The barge came to the front of the hotel at the appointed time,
and in a few moments they were steaming up the river.

[Illustration: PRIVATE GARDEN NEAR BANGKOK.]

Frank and Fred thought the sight was one of the strangest they had ever
seen. Here was a broad river, its surface covered with small boats of a
character new to them, and its banks lined with floating houses, such as
have been described. Junks, and ships, and sloops, and steamers were
anchored in the stream; and occasionally a great barge, rowed by twenty
or thirty men, and belonging to some member of a noble family, shot past
them, or turned into some of the many canals that open out from the
Menam. Houses were just visible through the dense mass of palms and
other tropical trees that lined the banks, and the spires of the pagodas
rose above like great watch-towers, whose line of vision extended many
miles. At a bend in the river the white walls of the royal palace came
into view, and as they passed beyond the palace and proceeded up the
river their eyes rested upon extensive fields and gardens, and on
another fringe of floating houses along the bank. Suddenly a practical
question occurred to Frank, and he asked the consul--

"Does the river ever freeze over?"

"Not by any means," was the reply. "The average temperature here is
about 82°. April is the hottest month, and the thermometer then goes to
97°, and sometimes above 100°. It rarely falls below 65°, and the lowest
ever known is 54°. There are only two seasons--the hot, or wet; and the
dry, or cool. The south-west monsoon blows from April till October, and
brings heat and rain with it; while from October till April we have the
north-east monsoon, which is cool and comfortable. Most of the time
during the north-east monsoon we have fine weather; there is now and
then a shower, but it rarely lasts long.

"There is a very good story about the absence of cold in this part of
Siam. Forty or fifty years ago, when the Protestant missionaries first
came here, some of them were taken before the king, who wanted to see
what manner of men they were. Up to that time Siam had had very little
intercourse with foreign countries, and the old king was not very well
versed in the geography of other lands, and their climate and
productions. So he asked the missionaries, who were from Boston, what
their country was, and what it produced.

"They told him many things about America, described the Falls of
Niagara, the Rocky Mountains, the Mississippi, the fields of cotton and
wheat, and other things that the soil produced, the great steamboats on
the rivers, and talked of many other matters that they thought would
interest him. Finally, one of them told him that where they came from
the rivers were frozen over two or three months in the year.

"'What do you mean by that?' the king asked, through his interpreter.

"'Why, I mean,' said the missionary, 'that if this palace and the river
Menam were at Boston, your majesty could walk across the water during
three months of the year as he could walk on this floor. The water
becomes solid, and men cut holes in it with axes and saws.'

"'Now I _know_ you are lying,' the king replied, as he rose from his
seat in great anger. 'I have thought so for some minutes, and now I am
certain of it.' And he ordered the reception to end at once, as he
wished no further communication with men who talked about a river
getting hard enough for a king to walk on."

The scenery along the river was much like that below the city. There
was the same luxuriance of vegetation that had astonished the boys when
they entered the Menam, the same trees, and the same creeping and
climbing plants. Here and there were great fields of rice; and our
friends were not surprised to learn that rice was the chief product of
the country, and its only export of consequence. There were also fields
of sugar, which was extensively cultivated and exported; and the consul
told them that there were exports of hemp, pepper, and cotton that
sometimes reached a respectable figure. There was little manufacturing
industry in Siam, and what the people wanted in the way of manufactured
goods was brought from Europe or America.

[Illustration: A SIAMESE FOREST SCENE.]

The consul pointed out various objects of interest as the boat moved
along the river, and explained many things that otherwise might have
been misunderstood by the boys, or not comprehended at all. Frank had a
commercial turn of mind, and asked many questions about the trade of
Siam; and he was much pleased to find that the consul had the whole
subject at his command, and was able to give all the desired
information. When their dialogue ended, Frank had the following facts
recorded in his note-book:

"In 1876 the exports of Siam amounted to $8,350,000, and the imports to
$7,070,000--an increase in the volume of trade over the previous year of
$686,000. The chief export is rice, and in the year mentioned 4,101,000
piculs of rice were exported. The picul is a Chinese weight of 133
pounds. The direct exportation to the United States was 8800 piculs; but
there is a large amount that is reshipped from Hong-kong, and does not
appear on the records of the Siamese custom-house as going to America.

"In 1857 six foreign ships visited Bangkok; twenty years later, the
number of foreign ships coming there in a single twelvemonth was more
than two hundred. In 1840 there was only one trading-ship flying the
Siamese flag; while in 1874 there were one hundred and twenty-nine
native ships entered at the custom-house of Bangkok, and one hundred and
seventy seven cleared from the port. These ships are nearly all native
built and manned, and they go to Singapore, Hong-kong, and the ports of
Java. They have not yet ventured on voyages to Europe and America, and
are not likely to do so for a long time to come."

Fred wished to know what American articles were used in Siam, and Frank
said he was coming to that as soon as he had written down the notes
about the shipping.

The consul told them it would take a long time to name over all the
foreign articles that could be sold in the country; but he would
certainly not advise anybody to bring a cargo of heavy woollen blankets
and overcoats, as they would not be in demand.

"I should say so," answered Fred. "With the thermometer as we have seen
it since we came here, a heavy blanket or anything of the kind is quite
superfluous. We rather want something for keeping cool, and if somebody
will invent an ice-machine that you can carry in your pocket or even in
your trunk he will make a fortune."

"Yes," the consul answered, "a thing much needed in the East is a cheap,
easily handled, and light ice-machine. Ice is worth from three to six
cents a pound here, and sometimes it can't be had at any price. There is
a machine made by a French company that is somewhat used here, but it
gets out of order easily, and has to be sent to Paris to be repaired.
Where is the Yankee that will make something to go ahead of it?

"But to return to the subject of the things that are made in America and
sent here to sell. We have cotton cloths of various kinds; canvas, iron,
steel, and lead; glassware in several varieties; lamps, kitchen
machinery and utensils; canned fruits and vegetables, together with
canned fish and preserves. By-the-way," he continued, "we had a dinner
at the consulate last year at Christmas-time, when everything edible on
the table was of American origin, and brought to Siam in cans. The
dinner-party was also made up of Americans, and you may be sure we had a
good time, and could easily imagine we were at home.

"Some American machinery is used here, but not much, for the very simple
reason that there is very little machinery of any kind used in Siam. All
the weighing apparatus in the custom-house and other government offices
is from America, as you will find on going through them."

"We passed the custom-house the other day," said Frank, "and I remember
seeing some scales there which seemed like American ones. I looked for
the maker's name, and saw the word which everybody knows at home,
'Fairbanks.' I was told that the king had some of these scales in his
royal museum, and the only weighing-machines used in Siam, at least by
the government, were made by Fairbanks."

"The native merchants are learning the advantages of the American system
of weighing, in preference to their primitive one, as they can get along
so much faster with the new than with the old," the consul answered.
"But the East is conservative, and cannot be expected to adopt anything
new very hastily.

"There is a good deal of American petroleum burnt here," he continued,
"but it comes to Siam from Singapore, and not directly from America. In
fact, about seventy per cent. of all the import and export trade of Siam
is through Singapore, and so the merchants of Siam pay more for their
goods than if they were brought here direct from the countries where
they are produced. The king is desirous of having direct trade with the
United States, and so are many private individuals, and it is to be
hoped that some of the merchants will yet bring it about. It is a pity
that the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, or the Occidental and Oriental,
does not see its way clear to a branch line between Hong-kong and
Bangkok, to connect with the regular steamers between Hong-kong and San
Francisco. Two small steamers would perform the service, and I am
confident it would pay."

There were occasional interruptions to this conversation. Now and then
the boys saw a curious tree or something else that they wished to study,
and they were never tired of looking at the native boats that paddled,
or sailed, or floated down the river.

[Illustration: PARASITE AND PALM.]

One of the trees that attracted their attention as they went along near
the shore belonged to the family of parasites, and was not unlike some
they had seen as they ascended the river from Paknam to Bangkok. The
Doctor explained that in this case the parasite was not a vine, but a
distinct tree that grew from a seed deposited by the wind or by the
birds on the trunk or among the leaves of a palm. It grows much faster
than the palm, and in a few years the palm dies and the parasite lives.
It is held in the air by the decaying stem of the parent tree until the
latter altogether rots away and falls. When once the parasite has
obtained a hold, the destruction of the palm is only a question of time.
Frank made a sketch of one of these trees while the boat was stopped a
few moments to enable the engineer of the steam-launch to arrange
something that had got out of order.

[Illustration: THE BAMBOO-TREE.]

The bamboo-tree seemed to abound along the Menam, as it does everywhere
in the East. In some places the stalks stood singly, and shot up
straight as arrows; while in others they were in clusters so dense that
the stems could not be distinguished one from another. While Frank was
busy over his sketch of the parasite, Fred managed to secure a good
picture of one of the most useful trees in the world. It is said that
there are more than a hundred uses for the bamboo among the Chinese, and
it is possible that a few others might be added in Siam and Java.

[Illustration: THE BOAT THEY NARROWLY MISSED.]

Several times they had narrow escapes from collisions with the native
boats, as the men who managed the latter were not very skilful in
handling the rudder. One that passed so close to them as almost to
scrape her sides against the boat of our friends, was a Chinese craft
not unlike what they had seen between Hong-kong and Canton. It was
running before the wind, and had a great sail of matting that was kept
in place by a dozen or more cords gathered in a single line at the
stern. She had a high cabin, that seemed rather top-heavy with the wind
on the beam, but was all right before it; and there was a little deck
forward of the mast, where a couple of men were seated. The narrowness
of the escape did not appear to disturb these natives in the least, and
they kept their places as though nothing had happened.

[Illustration: SCENE AT BANG-PA-IN.]

Night came upon them, but there was a good moon, and they kept steadily
on their way. They were going against the current, and as the boat was
considerably larger than the steam-launch, the progress was not rapid.
At nine o'clock in the morning they passed Bang-pa-in, where the king
has a summer palace on a very pretty island in the most picturesque part
of the river. The palace is built in European style, and was completed
only a few years ago; the grounds are handsomely laid out, and there is
an abundance of shade-trees, in irregular groves, from one end of the
island to the other.

Ayuthia is ten miles above Bang-pa-in; and soon after passing the
picturesque island Frank discovered some ruins of a temple close to the
river's bank. The consul told him they would soon see an abundance of
ruins, and sure enough at the next turn of the river they came in
sight of what seemed to be a deserted village. Then they saw a number of
floating houses tied to the shore, and farther on the towers and domes
of Ayuthia were visible. The boat was stopped in front of a rude wharf,
and the party stepped ashore in the ancient capital of Siam.

[Illustration: A RIVER SCENE.]



CHAPTER XI.

VISITING THE PRINCE OF THE ELEPHANTS.--AYUTHIA.--SOMETHING ABOUT
CROCODILES.


The party went ashore as soon as the boat was made fast. Frank was first
to scramble up the bank, closely followed by Fred; then came the Doctor
and the consul together, and behind them the interpreter of the
consulate. At the consulates generally throughout the East it is the
custom to have an interpreter, to facilitate dealings with the native
officials and others; he is usually a native who has been taught English
in some of the mission-schools, or he may be of American or European
parentage, and familiar from his youth with the language of the country
where he lives. In the present instance the interpreter was an
intelligent young Siamese, who was educated by the missionaries, and
spoke English with great fluency. He was of much service to the Doctor
and his young companions, as he could tell them many things of interest
concerning Siam and what it contained.

"We will first go," said the consul, "to call on the Prince of the
Elephants. He lives in that house you see up there," he continued, as he
pointed to a light structure of poles and matting, a hundred yards or so
from the bank.

The interpreter was sent on ahead to herald the arrival of the
strangers, and returned in a few minutes with the announcement that the
prince was ready to receive them.

The consul and Doctor Bronson went forward, while Frank and Fred brought
up the rear. Frank thought the house was not a very sumptuous palace for
a prince, especially one who had the title of the Prince of the
Elephants. Fred was of the same opinion, but said they might as well
reserve their judgment until they had seen what was within. Externally,
the house was like a rough shed of poles for a framework, with its sides
covered with matting, to allow a free circulation of air. Some of the
mats were rolled up, while others were closed; and it was certainly a
very convenient house for a climate as hot as that of Siam. They were
received in the upper story, to which they ascended by a rough stairway,
which could be removed as readily as a ladder. What the lower floor
contained they did not know, as all the mats around it were closed.

They found the prince just inside the door-way, and seated, or rather
squatted, on a bench about two feet high. Chairs had been placed for the
strangers, and they were invited to be seated. The interpreter remained
standing, and, after a moment's pause, the prince asked who the visitors
were. The interpreter explained; and while he did so, Frank made good
use of his eyes to see what the prince was like and how he lived.

[Illustration: THE YOUNG PRINCE.]

His royal highness appeared to be about fifty years old, or perhaps
fifty-five. He was dressed in the native costume, without any gold-lace
or other ornament to designate his high rank; the boys were somewhat
disappointed at this, as they had expected to see a great personage
covered with fine clothes, and ornamented with an abundance of diamonds
and other precious stones. A youth, whom they supposed to be his son,
stood near him, and occasionally leaned against the bench in a familiar
way. Servants were creeping about the floor, and it made a strange
impression on the youths to see the humble attitudes of half a dozen or
more of the attendants as they waited for orders in a corner of the
room. This is the position of respect in Siam, and, until the present
king was crowned, it would have been as much as one's life was worth to
venture into the presence of any member of the royal family in the
European manner.

When he ascended the throne, he commanded that the old custom of
creeping, and bowing the head to the floor in the presence of the king,
should cease; it was a great innovation, but, as it was by royal
command, it could not be opposed. The rule is enforced at the king's
palace, but not at the palaces of the subordinate princes; and thus it
happened that Frank and Fred were witnesses of what to them was a
curious custom, and by no means an agreeable one.

The prince in whose presence they were was the uncle of the king. His
name was Chow Phan Alah, and the boys learned from the consul that he
was a man of marked ability, who had been prominent in public affairs
for a long time. Socially, he adhered to the old customs of the country,
as was evident in the creeping and crouching of those around him; but in
politics he was progressive, and a good deal of the advancement that
Siam had made in the past twenty years was due to his energy and
shrewdness.

The interview lasted about a quarter of an hour. While the party was in
the reception-hall, the prince ordered cigars and fruit to be served,
and when they retired he sent a basket of fruit after them as a present.
The consul had suggested that Doctor Bronson and the youths would like
to see the stables of the elephants, and also wished to attend the
elephant-hunt that was to come off about that time. The first request
was granted at once; and the prince sent one of his officers to show the
stables and their occupants, and also the corral close by, where the
wild elephants were caught. He regretted to say that the hunt had been
postponed a few days on account of the swollen condition of some of the
rivers, which made it difficult to drive the animals through the
forest. The boys were disappointed to hear this, but they were consoled
with the reflection that they could see the spot where the hunt would
take place, and the Doctor promised to explain to them how it was
conducted.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF "CHANG."]

The elephant-stable was only a huge shed, with the earth for a floor. It
contained three or four elephants, all the others being out in the
forest with the hunting-party. The largest of the elephants was brought
out for their inspection; he was named "Chang," and was thought to be
not far from seventy years old. As the elephant lives to the age of one
hundred and fifty years and upwards, old Chang was just in the prime of
life when the boys saw him, and his step was as elastic as that of a
youth of twenty. He was not overjoyed to meet the strangers, and
flourished his trunk in a menacing way; but at a sign from his keeper he
ceased his demonstrations, and became thoroughly obedient.

[Illustration: MACEDONIAN COIN, WITH ANCIENT GOAD.]

Chang had been at work hauling timber during the cool hours of the
morning, and his harness was still on his back. It consisted of a stout
breastplate of ropes and leather, which was held in place by a pad on
his back. Just below his shoulder a stout ring was inserted in the
breastplate, and to this the ropes by which the timber was drawn were
attached. The driver sat on his neck, and directed him by means of an
iron goad that had a hook near the end. Frank could not at first
understand the use of this iron, but he soon found out. The officer
asked the boys if they would like to take a ride on the beast, and we
may be sure they assented at once. Chang was directed to a place at the
side of a high wall, to which a sloping path led. The boys mounted to
the top of the wall, and were thus enabled to take their places on the
elephant's back.

[Illustration: MODERN GOAD.]

The driver said something in Siamese, and the elephant at once moved
off. He did not go fast enough to suit the driver, and then the goad
came into play. His neck was prodded with it, and the hook was inserted
into his ear in a way that made him understand and obey. The goad has
been in use without any modification of shape for two thousand years or
more, as is shown by ancient coins of a date prior to the Christian era.

As soon as Chang found that the driver was determined to use the goad he
made no further opposition, and went along as peaceably as an obedient
horse. The elephant generally obeys through affection for his driver;
and instances have been known where one of these huge beasts has shown
great grief at the loss of his favorite keeper, and refused all food
until he literally starved to death. Very often the driver talks to the
elephant, and the beast seems to understand perfectly what is said to
him. Chang's driver did so, and hardly had he begun speaking before the
elephant swung his trunk from side to side, and gave little grunts of
satisfaction. The boys could not understand the language; but the
interpreter told them that the driver was praising Chang for his good
conduct, and asking him why he behaved so badly when the strangers came
so far to see him. And with an eye to his own pocket, he said, "They are
very nice gentlemen, and will certainly give some ticals to buy bananas
for good old Chang." Of course the interpreter told what had been said,
and the boys, when the ride was over, fulfilled the promise that had
been made on their behalf.

[Illustration: A WAR ELEPHANT.]

One of Chang's companions was led out from the stable, and assigned to
Doctor Bronson and the consul. The interpreter had mounted with the
boys, and so the officer who came by the command of the prince took a
place with the others. He told the consul that the animal they were
riding was trained for war purposes; and though he was occasionally put
at work, like Chang, whenever timber was to be hauled, he ordinarily had
nothing to do. Each of his tusks had three rings of silver encircling
it, and he was evidently proud of his ornaments. The famous white
elephants in the royal stables at Bangkok have rings of pure gold on
their tusks; they are not always sensible of the honor that is shown
them, and when the rings are being put in place they manifest their
displeasure in the most emphatic ways. On one occasion two of the court
jewellers were killed by an elephant that objected to be ornamented
after the customary manner of the country, and it was only after a long
time that he submitted to the operation.

When used for war, these elephants are equipped with a howdah, or
basket, on their backs, and two or three soldiers are seated in it. They
have a plentiful supply of weapons, and frequently so many as to
encumber them greatly when they come to close quarters with the enemy.
Elephants are not used in battle as much as in ancient times; the great
body of the beast makes a magnificent mark for a rifle, and when wounded
an elephant is more dangerous to his friends than to the enemy. Formerly
a great number of elephants was kept for fighting purposes, but since
the introduction of fire-arms the value of this huge beast for anything
in war beyond the transportation of supplies has ceased to be apparent.
Consequently, they are not at all numerous; and probably, if the Siamese
were to indulge in war at the present time, they would not bring a
single elephant into the battle-field.

Thus mounted, our friends went through the ruins of the ancient capital
of Siam. It was a novel promenade, and one that the boys were not likely
to forget in a hurry.

"The funniest thing yet," said Frank. "We went through Tokio and Kioto
in jinrikishas; we rode on a wheelbarrow in Shanghai; we were carried in
sedan-chairs in Canton and Hong-kong; and here we are seeing the ruins
of Ayuthia from the back of an elephant. Wonder what we shall do next in
the way of novel travelling!"

But though greatly enjoying their ride, they did not forget that they
were out for an excursion through a city, or rather through what was
once a city. And the magnitude and extent of the ruins impressed them
greatly, and showed what a magnificent place Ayuthia must have been in
the days of its glory.

[Illustration: NEAR THE PALACE.]

The streets and yards, and even the houses, were overgrown with tropical
trees that had been undisturbed for a hundred years and more; that they
had made good use of their time, was everywhere apparent in the
crumbling walls and the fallen towers that rose before the eyes of the
visitors wherever they were turned. In several instances the bushes and
climbing plants had completely covered the towers of the temples, and
made them appear more like a great mass of verdure than a structure of
brick and mortar.

[Illustration: IN THE RUINED CITY.]

At one place the party descended from their elephants and went to the
top of a wing of the former palace of Ayuthia. From the summit the view
was extensive, and of a character not easy to describe. Frank thought it
was not greatly unlike the view from the tower of Wat Seh Kate at
Bangkok, as the abundance of trees made it difficult to see much more
than the spires of the pagodas; and this was the most that could be seen
in Ayuthia. But as he looked directly below him, he saw that the streets
and court-yards were desolate, and he missed the throng of people that
made the streets of Bangkok alive. Many parts of the palace were in a
good state of preservation, and it seemed a pity that the city could not
be repaired and peopled as it was of old.

It is said that when the Burmese overran Siam and captured her capital
in 1769, the walls were so massive, and the buildings so excellent in
construction, that the destruction of Ayuthia occupied nearly two
months. Many parts of the walls are still in existence, and it is not at
all difficult to trace the boundaries of the city. The distance it is
necessary to travel to pass around the city by following its walls, is
variously stated at from five to ten miles; and as our friends did not
make the journey, they have left the question undecided.

A ruined city is a melancholy spectacle in any land and under any sky,
and the boys were not at all sorry when the excursion through Ayuthia
was over. They had more reasons than sentimental ones, as they found the
motion of the elephant was not particularly agreeable when continued for
a long time, and it required a good deal of attention to keep from
falling off the back of their new-fashioned steed. When they dismounted
at the stables, they were obliged to stretch themselves two or three
times to make sure that their backbones were in the proper place, and
both were positive that they had all the elephant-riding they cared
for--for that day at least.

"It is nothing when you get used to it," said the consul. "If you had a
journey of several days or weeks to make on an elephant, you would
become accustomed to the motion in a short time, and could then endure
it indefinitely."

The Doctor confirmed this view of the matter, and said the motion of the
elephant was not nearly as hard as that of the camel for a beginner, and
much easier to endure. "A camel," said he, "shakes you violently forward
and back without cessation, while the motion of the elephant is not
unlike that of a horse at a walk. If you have not mounted a horse for a
long time, you will find yourself very sore and stiff after your first
day's travel on the gentlest steed that was ever used, and this feeling
will continue for two or three days. By degrees you get accustomed to
it, and then you pay no farther attention to aches or pains, for the
reason that you do not have them. It is just the same with an elephant
or a camel, only the camel is much the worse.

"In some respects the elephant is a most remarkable animal. He possesses
great intelligence, and can be taught to do many things that border upon
reason. Books of natural history are full of incidents of the elephant's
high order of intellect; the stories may sometimes be exaggerated, but
there is no question that the majority of them are correct. In nothing
is this more apparent than in the capture of his wild kindred; and it is
a curious fact that the elephant, after being thoroughly domesticated,
manifests no desire to return to his forest-life, and seems to take
pleasure in assisting at the capture of others. We will talk about this
business by-and-by, and meantime will complete our study of Ayuthia."

So far as the actual inspection of the ruined city was concerned, the
study to which the Doctor referred was already completed, and the party
returned to the boat.

Frank asked if it was not possible to go farther up the river, and make
a general exploration of Siam. Fred seconded him in the question, which
was anxiously propounded to the consul and Doctor Bronson.

"There are several reasons why we cannot do it," the former answered.
"In the first place, we are limited for time of using the steam-launch
and barge; secondly, I cannot spare the time to go farther; thirdly, we
have not the necessary provisions and equipments for a wild journey;
and, fourthly--"

"Never mind the other reasons," said the Doctor; "those you have given
are quite sufficient. We will go back, and be thankful that we have seen
so much. Only a few visitors to Siam ever have the opportunity of coming
to Ayuthia and seeing its wonderful ruins."

As the boat moved off, on her return to Bangkok, the consul explained to
the boys that the Menam was about nine hundred miles in length, and had
a general course from north to south. It flows through an exceedingly
fertile country, and the Siamese are very proud of it. Its name in
Siamese means "Mother of Waters;" and though it is not to the country
what the Nile is to Egypt, it is certainly of great importance. From the
source of the river to its mouth, the forest is dense and luxurious,
except where clearings have been made for purposes of agriculture. Teak,
sapan, and other tropical trees grow to a great size, and the underbrush
is so thick that it is next to impossible to walk about until a path has
been opened.

Fred thought it would be nice to have a bath in the Menam; and proposed
that they should try a swim in its waters the first time they had an
opportunity.

[Illustration: CROCODILES AT HOME.]

"I would advise you not to try it," the consul answered. "It is safe
enough at Bangkok, where there is so much movement of boats, and you
might bathe there without danger. But in this part of the river there
are plenty of crocodiles, and the higher up you go the more of them do
you find. M. Mouhot, who explored the Upper Menam in 1861, and died at
the village of Louang Prebang in that year, says that in some instances
he found the banks covered with crocodiles basking in the sun, and they
were so unused to attacks that they were not at all disturbed by the
presence of his boat. They frequently swallow incautious swimmers who
venture into the parts of the river where they abound; and sometimes
cattle going to the river to drink are seized by them. In such fights
the crocodile is generally the victor, as he is thoroughly at home in
the water, and his jaws have an enormous amount of strength."

[Illustration: TAKING A BITE.]

"What is the difference between the alligator and the crocodile?" one of
the boys asked.

"There is no material difference," the Doctor answered, "between the
two. The alligator is American, and the crocodile Asiatic; and there is
a slight difference in the formation of the head, and in the number and
arrangement of the scales. The habits of the two are similar; they live
in the water for the greater part of the time, but do not suffer any
inconvenience when removed from it. They live mainly on fish, but have
no prejudice against swallowing other game. Hence their fondness for
men, and also for pigs, sheep, dogs, cattle, and anything else that
comes in their way. The tastes of both are identical; and I presume that
if you brought a crocodile and an alligator together, and put them to
live in the same tank, they would acknowledge their relationship, and
dwell in peace and quietness. On the other hand, they might indulge in a
deadly combat; and in this, again, their similarity would be shown, as
they are not always of an amiable disposition, and often indulge in
fierce battles."

Fred asked if it was possible for them to stop on the way down the river
and have a hunt for crocodiles.

Frank retorted that they had no fire-arms for shooting this kind of game
or any other; and it was his opinion that their captures would not be
numerous under the present circumstances.

[Illustration: THE DOCTOR'S CRACK SHOT.]

"To shoot a crocodile," said the Doctor, "you must first have him where
you can shoot, and then you must have the weapon ready. It must be a
powerful rifle, carrying a large ball; and there are very few places on
the reptile's body where your shot will have any effect. If you are an
expert with the rifle, you may hit him in the eye when he is swimming
across a stream; the bullet penetrates the brain, and causes speedy
death; but if you strike him an inch away from the eye, your shot is
wasted. I once killed a large alligator in this way; it was the first I
had ever shot, and I was very proud of my achievement. The next day and
the next I tried to repeat the performance, and I kept it up for a week
without result. I was unable to get a similar chance, as not one of the
reptiles made his appearance, though the bayou was full of them.

[Illustration: ALLIGATOR AND CRANE.]

"The alligator makes great use of his tail in fighting, and in sweeping
his game into his mouth. A blow of the tail from even a small alligator
will break a man's leg, and I have known it to cut off a tree two inches
in diameter. When the fellow wishes to capture anything, he tries to
creep along-side, and when within reach he opens his mouth and sweeps
his great tail around at the same instant, and the prize disappears down
his capacious throat. Once I saw an alligator lying on a bank where some
cranes were feeding not far away. He was motionless as a log--which he
much resembled--but I could see that he had his eye open, and was on the
lookout for a breakfast. By-and-by one of the cranes wandered near him,
and like a flash his tail swept the bird into his mouth. Then he
stretched out and 'set himself again,' as my guide said, for another
crane.

[Illustration: THE TROCHILUS.]

"It is a curious circumstance, mentioned by Herodotus, and greatly
discussed since his time, that there is a small bird called the
_trochilus_ that fearlessly enters the mouth of the crocodile, and
relieves it of the leeches and flies that disturb it. The bird and the
crocodile seem to be on the most friendly terms; and it is thought by
some writers that the bird performs the additional service of sentinel
to its huge friend, and warns him of the approach of danger."

[Illustration: TROCHILUS AND CROCODILE.]

Fred suggested that it was just possible that the bird was only an
inquisitive fellow, and finding the crocodile's mouth open, he looked in
to see what sort of a house it would make. And the crocodile, on his
part, did not think the little bird was large enough to pay him for
shutting his jaws on it; and so the intruder escaped solely on account
of his diminutive size.

"When you see a crocodile or an alligator asleep on a bank," the Doctor
continued, "you can, perhaps, get a good shot by creeping near enough to
send a bullet under his fore-leg. The skin there is not protected by
scales, and a bullet will penetrate it. Especially if you have explosive
balls that burst on the moment of concussion, you can tear a great hole
inside your game, and seriously interfere with his digestion. I shot one
once in this way on a sand-bar in the Nile, a few miles above the first
cataract; he was nearly twenty feet long, and it took my men a whole day
to remove his skin. I was within thirty paces of him when I fired, and,
as I had good aim, I sent the bullet exactly where I wished, he gave a
few convulsive movements with his tail, and then stretched out stiff and
dead."

The Doctor paused; and the consul took up the conversation with an
account a friend had given him of a fight between a bear and an
alligator in Western Louisiana.

"My friend was out hunting one day," said the consul, "and was suddenly
startled by a loud roaring in the bushes not far off. He cautiously
crept near, expecting to see a couple of bulls preparing for combat;
what was his astonishment to see a large bear and a full-grown alligator
eying each other, and poising themselves for an encounter.

"Bruin was on his hind legs, his mouth was covered with foam, and there
were several streams of blood on his black coat. The alligator was on
the tiptoes of all his legs, and he lashed his tail furiously, and kept
his great jaws moving as if trying their ability to close on the bear at
the proper moment.

[Illustration: THE ALLIGATOR AND THE BEAR.]

"The bear growled, and the alligator roared like a bull; and it was his
roaring that had attracted my friend's attention. They had evidently
indulged in a clinch before he saw them, and were making ready for a
second round. For fully a minute they remained in the attitudes in which
he first beheld them, and neither could make up his mind how to take the
best hold. Finally Bruin dropped on all fours, and ran at the alligator;
the latter met him by throwing his head and body to one side, and
delivering a blow with his tail that knocked the bear over on the
ground, and rolled him several yards away. The blow sounded as though it
had been given with a club with the force of half a dozen men, and it is
safe to say that the strongest man would have been killed by it.

"The bear was not discouraged, for he picked himself up and ran once
more at the alligator. He did it three times in succession, and with the
same result; the alligator knocking him over each time.

"Bruin now saw that he must change his tactics. He made his next run in
such a way as to avoid the tail, and he was fairly on the alligator's
body before the blow could be given. The great tail was lashed furiously
from side to side, but to no purpose, as it could not hit the bear
either way. The force of the charge upset the alligator, and turned him
completely over; the bear's jaws closed on one of his fore-legs, while
the shaggy paws were clasped around the scaly body. The reptile was in a
bad way, as his great weapon of warfare, the tail, was useless; and his
neck was not flexible enough to enable him to bite. He roared in
despair, and then bethought himself of a new trick.

"His tail, as he lashed it around, happened to hit a small tree; he
pushed against this tree as with a lever, and by using it as a fulcrum
he managed to wriggle along to the bank. Then another convulsive
movement threw him and his antagonist into the water.

"The bank from which they fell was about four feet high, and they
tumbled in with a loud splash. They disappeared below the surface, and
were out of sight for nearly two minutes. The bear came up, and, after
scrambling to the shore, he gave a brief glance at the stream, to make
sure that there was no chance of renewing the combat; then, shaking the
water from his skin, he hurried off into the forest. My friend could
have shot the bear with the utmost ease, but in consideration for the
courage and determination he had shown he did not do so."

"He was right," said Frank; "such bravery should command respect."

"But how about the alligator's part of the fight?" the Doctor asked.

"As to that," responded the youth, "the alligator deserves no credit.
When he found he could not conquer the bear on equal terms, he sneaked
into the river. He could live in the air or in the water, while the bear
could not fight below the surface of the stream, and could not even live
there. All the alligator had to do was to sink in the water, and the
bear must drown or let go his hold. I like the bear's bravery, but don't
think much of the other fellow."

"No more do I," Fred chimed in; "and it is a pity that the alligator
could not have been shot before he rolled from the bank. All the race of
crocodiles is a cruel one, and ought to be exterminated."

"They are fast being driven from existence," said the Doctor.
"Twenty-five years ago they were numerous in the Nile below Luxor; while
to-day they are rarely seen below the first cataract, which is more than
a hundred miles above Luxor. They are also becoming scarce in the rivers
of India; and the alligators in the southern parts of the United States
are not nearly as numerous as they were. Still, there are enough for all
the demand that is likely to be made for them, and anybody who will
invent a way of killing them rapidly will confer a benefit upon the
human race."

[Illustration: JUST HATCHED.]

"In regions where these reptiles abound, the natives have adopted the
sensible plan of destroying the eggs whenever they find a nest. The
nests are made in the sand or on a bank of earth, and the female
alligator usually lays from twenty to forty--rarely more than the latter
number. They are hatched by the heat of the sun: the mother does not sit
on the nest like a hen, but she stays in the neighborhood and fights for
their protection. When the chicks emerge from the shell they hurry off
to the water, or to a hiding-place in the mud; and they seem to
understand that they will be subject to many dangers until they get
large enough to defend themselves. Cranes and fish are fond of them in
their tender youth, and even the fathers of the alligator family seem to
mistake them for frogs, and eat them with apparent delight.

"In some parts of India the natives dig a circular pit, and cover it with
sticks and leaves. The pit surrounds a little island or mound of earth,
and is close to a stream where crocodiles abound. On the mound they
fasten a young goat, and his bleatings during the night attract the
crocodiles, who break the slight floor of sticks with their heavy
bodies, and fall into the pit prepared for them. Heavy stakes are set in
the bottom of the pit, and as the reptile falls he is generally impaled
on one or more of them.

"I have read of a famous old crocodile who defied all the ordinary
modes of capture, in one of the rivers of India. Finally an English
officer hit upon a trick that was successful. He put a pound of powder
in a can, and attached it to an electric wire, so that he could explode
it at pleasure; then he placed this can inside the carcass of a sheep,
and by means of a rope floated it over where the crocodile lay. The
crocodile rose and swallowed the bait; the officer, who was standing
ready with his electric battery on the shore, completed the connection
of the wires, and an instant afterwards the reptile that had been a
terror to the neighborhood had ceased to exist. The can of powder
exploded in his stomach, and his body, when it came to the surface, was
so torn and distorted that it could hardly be recognized as the remains
of a crocodile."

[Illustration: COMING OUT TO SUN HIMSELF.]



CHAPTER XII.

STORIES OF ELEPHANT-HUNTING.--SCENES OF THE CHASE.


When the topic of crocodiles and their relatives had been exhausted,
Fred reminded the Doctor of his promise to tell them something of the
ways of hunting elephants.

"I was just coming to that," said Doctor Bronson, "and have been trying
to refresh my memory on the subject. I do not know how they hunt
elephants in Siam, but from the appearance of the corral near the
elephants' stables, I infer that the process is pretty nearly the same
in all countries where the elephant is found in a wild state.

[Illustration: AN ELEPHANT FENCE.]

"You observed that the corral, or yard, at Ayuthia was constructed of
upright logs set into the earth in the form of a palisade. In Ceylon it
is made of heavy posts, with strong timbers placed horizontally, the
whole interlaced and bound with withes, and braced with slanting posts
on the outside. The fence is generally about fifteen feet high, and the
openings in it will easily allow a man to pass through. At Ayuthia you
saw that the posts of the corral permit the same thing; the fence is
like a sieve, that strains men through without difficulty, but catches
the elephants.

[Illustration: FORM OF A CORRAL.]

"Here is the general appearance of the fence," said the Doctor, as he
took his pencil and drew on a sheet of paper, "and here is the shape of
the corral. The corral is a pen, and the word is derived from the
Spanish, and means a ring or enclosure. The space enclosed is generally
about five hundred feet long by half that width, and at one end there is
a gate that can be opened and shut very quickly, and is large enough to
permit the passage of but one elephant at a time. There is an avenue,
shaped like the letter V, which leads up to the corral, and converges on
the side where the gate is placed. It is concealed as much as possible
by brushwood, and where it begins it is so slight as to be hardly
perceptible. It extends a long distance into the forest, and a great
deal of skill is required to construct it successfully.

[Illustration: BEGINNING THE DRIVE.]

"When the corral has been arranged, and is ready for occupation, the
herd is supposed to be in its vicinity. Eight or ten weeks have been
spent in driving in the elephants; the forest where they roam has been
surrounded very cautiously, and several herds have been driven together
so slowly and quietly, that none of the sagacious beasts has any
suspicion that he is being entrapped. Sometimes hundreds of men are
employed in driving in the herds, and an area is surrounded equal to
several counties of an American state. Day by day the circle grows
narrower, and finally the men composing it are able to build fires ten
or twelve feet from each other. Not till then do they consider the game
fairly bagged, and now they throw off all deception and adopt new
tactics. Where before all was still, is now a scene of wild confusion;
the men make a loud noise, with musical and unmusical instruments, and
each of them carries a torch, which he waves wildly in the air. They do
this on three sides of the herd, while the fourth side, in the direction
of the corral, is left conveniently open.

[Illustration: DRIVING INTO THE CORRAL.]

"The elephants are frightened, and rush in the desired direction; they
now begin to suspect a snare, and frequently try to break through the
line of men and rush back to their forest home. The men pelt them with
the torches, and strike them with the burning sticks, till they turn
around again and go where they are wanted; gradually they near the end
of the corral, and finally a few of them make their way through the gate
and are securely trapped. The natives rush forward and close the bars of
the gate, and the rest of the herd is permitted to stray a little way
back into the woods, but it is carefully kept from going too far.

"When they find they are caught, the elephants rush wildly round the
corral, trying first one part of the fence and then another, in the hope
of escaping. Wherever they go, they are met at the fence by men with
flaming torches; and they are further terrified by discharges of
musketry, and the sound of horns and trumpets. This performance is kept
up for several hours of the day, and generally through the night; and at
daybreak they make ready to secure the captives, and prepare the corral
for a second lot of elephants.

"It is in this work that the elephant shows the peculiarity of his
nature, in using all his sagacity to assist in the capture of his
kindred. He seems to know what is wanted of him, and invariably appears
to take great delight in doing it."

"Elephant nature is not altogether unlike human nature," remarked the
consul, with a smile. "Not a few of our fellow-men, whenever they fall
upon misfortune, are desirous of having others to share it with them."

"It is an old adage that misery loves company," said Fred.

"But I hope it is not a true one," Frank responded. "Perhaps we had
better give the human race the benefit of any doubt on the subject, and
say that the quality we have been talking about is elephant nature, and
does not belong to us."

His proposal was accepted, and the account of elephant-hunting was
resumed.

"The removal of the captives requires a good deal of skill and caution,
both on the part of the tame elephants and on that of the attendants.
Here is an excellent account of this operation:

"The bars which secured the entrance to the corral were cautiously
withdrawn, and two trained elephants passed stealthily in, each ridden
by his _mahout_--or _ponnekella_, as he is called in Ceylon--and one
attendant, and carrying a strong collar, formed by coils of rope made
from cocoa-nut fibre, from which hung on each side cords of elk's hide,
prepared with a ready noose. Along with them, and concealed behind them,
the head-men of the _cooroowe_, or noosers, crept in, eager to secure
the honor of taking the first elephant--a distinction which this class
jealously contests with the mahouts of the chiefs and the temples. He
was a wiry little man, nearly seventy years old, who had served in the
same capacity under the Kandyan king, and wore two silver bangles, which
had been conferred on him in testimony of his prowess. He was
accompanied by his son, named Ranghanie, equally renowned for his
courage and dexterity.

"On this occasion ten tame elephants were in attendance; one of which
had been caught only the year before, but was now ready to assist in
capturing others. One was of prodigious age, having been in the service
of the Dutch and English governments in succession, for upwards of a
century. The other, called by her keeper 'Siribeddi,' was about fifty
years old, and distinguished for her gentleness and docility. She was a
most accomplished decoy, and evinced the utmost relish for the sport.
Having entered the corral noiselessly, she moved slowly along with a sly
composure and an assumed air of easy indifference; sauntering leisurely
in the direction of the captives, and halting now and then to pluck a
bunch of grass or a few leaves, as she passed. As she approached the
herd, they put themselves in motion to meet her, and the leader, having
advanced in front and passed his trunk gently over her head, turned and
paced slowly back to his dejected companions. Siribeddi followed with
the same listless step, and drew herself up close behind him, thus
affording the nooser an opportunity to stoop under her and slip the
noose over the hind foot of the wild one. The elephant instantly
perceived his danger, shook off the rope, and turned to attack the man.
The latter would have suffered for his temerity, had not Siribeddi
protected him by raising her trunk and driving the assailant into the
middle of the herd, when the old man, being slightly wounded, was helped
out of the corral, and his son, Ranghanie, took his place.

"The herd again collected in a circle, with their heads towards the
centre. The largest male was singled out, and two tame ones pushed
boldly in, one on each side of him, till the three stood nearly abreast.
He made no resistance, but betrayed his uneasiness by shifting
restlessly from foot to foot. Ranghanie now crept up; holding the rope
open with both hands, its other extremity being made fast to Siribeddi's
collar, and watching the instant when the wild elephant lifted its hind
foot, he succeeded in passing the noose over its leg, drew it close, and
fled to the rear. The two tame elephants now fell back; Siribeddi
stretched the rope to its full length, and while she dragged out the
captive, her companion placed himself between her and the herd to
prevent any interference.

[Illustration: SECURING THE CAPTIVES.]

"In order to secure him to a tree, he had to be dragged back some
twenty or thirty yards, making furious resistance, bellowing in terror,
plunging on all sides, and crushing the smaller timber, which bent like
reeds beneath his clumsy struggles. Siribeddi drew him steadily after
her, and wound the rope round the proper tree, holding it all the time
at its fullest tension, and stepping cautiously across it when, in order
to give it a second turn, it was necessary to pass between the tree and
the elephant.

[Illustration: SIRIBEDDI'S PRIZE.]

"One after the other the herd was secured, in spite of their resistance;
and the whole time consumed in disposing of an elephant, from the moment
the decoys approached him till he was secured to a tree, was about
three-quarters of an hour. The captives tried all possible ways to
escape, but it was of no use; they were fastened to the trees, and the
cords were so strong and so well tied that the greatest exertions of the
prisoners were of no effect whatever. Some of the tricks they practised
in endeavoring to escape were very ingenious, and showed that the
elephant in his wild state has the full development of the sagacity
which he displays in captivity. Their strength is enormous, and
sometimes they pull down trees in their struggles.

[Illustration: THE PRISONERS TIED UP.]

"It is a curious circumstance," the Doctor continued, "that the tame
elephant who is assisting at the capture of his kindred never displays
the least sympathy for them; while they, on the other hand, show a great
deal of it for each other. When a captive, who is being dragged to a
tree, passes one that is already tied up, he will stop and twine his
trunk around the other's legs and neck, and manifest in all the ways
that he can a deep sorrow for what has happened.

[Illustration: A LITTLE HEAD WORK.]

"When the animals are secured the corral presents a curious spectacle.
The great beasts are stretched out in various attitudes, their feet
fastened to the trees, and sometimes spread far apart. They moan and
bellow for hours together; they seize hold of the trees with their
trunks, and exhaust all their ingenuity in endeavoring to get free. When
all other means have failed, they will often try to escape by turning
somersaults; and it is interesting to see an elephant balancing himself
on his head, and endeavoring to throw his heels in the air. For awhile
they refuse to eat or drink, and sometimes they literally starve
themselves to death. I have heard of several instances where they have
refused to move or eat, and remain motionless for days, till they die.
It is generally the finest elephant of a herd that kills himself in this
way; the natives say he dies of a broken heart, and I am quite inclined
to believe that such is the case. And it sometimes happens that after an
elephant has been tamed, and is thoroughly obedient to his keeper, he
will lie down and die on the very first attempt to harness him.

[Illustration: IN A HEAP OF TROUBLE.]

"There is a story of an elephant in Ceylon, which was one of the finest
that had been taken in a long while. He resisted a good deal when first
captured; and when they were removing him from the corral to the
stables, a distance of about six miles, he was so obstinate that the
journey occupied several hours. He escaped once, but was afterwards
recaptured and became very docile; but when he was taken to Colombo, he
stopped in front of the gate of the fort, and would not enter. While
they were trying to persuade him to go inside, he lay down on the ground
and died, without the least struggle."

Frank asked in what way the elephants are tamed, after they have been
captured and tied up as the Doctor described.

"They are subdued," said the Doctor, "partly by starvation, and partly
by kind treatment. Hunger is the great force used, as the elephant is
not allowed to have any food until he shows signs of becoming tractable.
Sometimes he is starved for a week or more; but he is allowed to satisfy
his thirst to a limited extent. When he indicates that he has become
docile, and is accustomed to the presence of his keeper, he is released
and taken to the stables, where he is well fed. No attempt is made to
harness him for some time, but he is exercised with the other elephants,
and gradually reconciles himself to a captive state. In nine cases out
of ten he never shows the least inclination to rebel, but accepts his
new condition of life with perfect resignation; and, as I have before
told you, he is quite ready and willing to assist in the capture of his
former comrades.

"In some parts of Asia the natives capture elephants by digging deep
pits, and covering them with bushes and leaves, so that the trap is
quite concealed. The herd is then driven in the direction of the pit,
and some of the animals fall into it. A guard is placed over them, and
they are kept without food for seven or eight days, and even for a
longer period if they do not submit. When they are conquered, the sides
of the pit are dug down, and they are led out of the place of their
imprisonment. There is a very good story connected with this mode of
capture; it is an old one, and evidently the Eastern version of the
fable of the mouse and the lion, which is in all the story-books."

"Tell it, please," said Fred; and the request was echoed by his cousin.

"I will tell it," said the Doctor, "though I fear you may consider it
too juvenile for you.

"Hundreds of years ago an elephant was taken in a pit in a forest in
India. He bemoaned his fate, and wept aloud. The guard that had been
left over him was asleep under a tree, and a priest who was passing
heard his lamentations and tried to console him.

"'Alas!' said the elephant, 'there can be no consolation for me. I must
stay in this pit till I am subdued, and then I shall be the slave of
man. No one can save me.'

"'Don't be so sure of that,' replied the priest. 'If you have ever done
a good action to anybody, you can call him to your aid, and he will
assist you. Think of some service you have given, and perhaps it will
now be of use to you.'

"'I have done services on several occasions,' the elephant answered;
'but those who were favored were so small that they can now do nothing
for a great body like me.'

"'Tell me one of them,' said the priest.

"'Last year,' said the elephant, 'the prince of this province had
captured the king of the rats, and a great many of his subjects. He had
them in earthen jars, and was about to drown them; but I came along in
the night and broke all the jars, so that the rats ran away and were
free.

[Illustration: REFUSING TO MOVE ON.]

"'And another time a man had the queen of the tribe of the parrots in a
cage, and hung it on a tree where nobody could reach it. I pulled the
tree down and broke the cage, so that the queen flew away to her
companions.'

"Just then the scream of a parrot was heard from a neighboring tree, and
the priest said to the elephant,

"'Call that parrot, and ask him to go and tell his queen to come and see
her benefactor, who is now in trouble?

"The elephant protested that it would be of no use, as the parrot could
not help him in any way, no matter how willing she was to do so. But the
priest insisted, and the elephant obeyed.

"In a little while the queen came, and then the priest told the elephant
to send her with a message to the king of the rats. Away she flew, and
told the rat king how their old benefactor had fallen into a pit.

"The king sent out his messengers to all parts of his dominions, and by
the next morning they were assembled to the number of several millions.
The king ordered them to follow him, and they went to where the elephant
was entrapped. The parrot queen was there ahead of them, and she had
brought millions of her subjects. The guards were now awake, but the
parrot queen talked to them and amused them, and she kept flying off a
little way at a time, till she drew them out of sight of the pit. Then
the rats began scratching at the edge of the pit; and though each of
them only threw down a very little earth at a time, there was soon a
large path sloping to where the elephant stood. At the same time the
millions of parrots began breaking little twigs from the trees, and
dropping them into the pit; the elephant piled these twigs and the earth
beneath him, and in a few hours he walked out of the pit, and away into
the forest, where he joined his companions and told them what had
happened.

"'Who would have thought,' he said to his fellow-elephants, 'that the
largest animal in the world could be saved by such insignificant
creatures as the parrot and the rat. Hereafter I will never despise
small things, or despair of being brought out of trouble. Good actions
will be rewarded, no matter how insignificant may be their recipient.'"

"A very pretty story!" exclaimed both the boys in a breath.

"It is a story with a moral," Doctor Bronson answered; "and I leave you
to apply it while we have a little more talk about the elephant."

"A baby elephant is about the most amusing beast in the world; he is
affectionate and playful to a high degree, and there is little
difficulty in taming him. Very often the young elephants are taken in
the corrals with their mothers, whom they follow to the tying-down
place, and thence to the stables when the captives are released from
their bonds. A gentleman at Colombo had one that was sent down to his
house from the corral where he was taken, and he very soon became a
favorite with everybody about the place. He stayed generally near the
kitchen, where he picked up a good many things of which he was fond; and
sometimes, when the gentleman was walking in the grounds, the young
giant would come to him and twine his trunk around his arm, to indicate
that he wanted to be taken to the fruit-trees. He used to be admitted to
the dining-room, and helped to fruit at dessert, and he finally got to
coming in at odd times when not invited. On two or three occasions he
managed to break all the glasses on a sideboard, while reaching for some
oranges in a basket, and finally he became so mischievous that he had to
be sent away. While he was at the house the grass-cutters occasionally
placed their loads of grass on his back, and whenever this was done he
strutted off with an air of the greatest pride at the confidence that
was shown in him. After he was sent to the government stables he became
very docile; and when his turn came for work, he performed it to the
satisfaction of everybody.

[Illustration: SLIDING DOWN HILL.]

"It is said that elephants amuse themselves by sliding downhill; but
they do not use sleds, like boys in America. Natives who claim to have
witnessed these performances say that the huge beasts enter into the
sport with great enthusiasm, and keep it up for hours.

[Illustration: ELEPHANT-HUNTING ON FOOT.]

"Elephants are hunted with the rifle by English and other sportsmen; and
thousands of them have been killed in this way for the sake of their
tusks, or for mere amusement. Their number has been so much diminished
by this means, that in India and Ceylon the government has taken the
elephant under its protection, and it can only be pursued and
slaughtered by the express permission of the officials. At present the
paradise of elephant-hunters is in Africa. The African elephant is much
like his Asiatic brother; but his ear is nearly three times as large as
that of the latter, and his skin has fewer hairs upon it.

"He is a vicious brute, and often turns on his hunter and puts him to a
rapid flight. I have read of an Englishman who was one day chasing an
African elephant, and, after a great deal of manoeuvring, got near
enough to give him a shot. It was fortunate for the hunter that he was
well-mounted and had a firm seat in his saddle, as the wounded elephant
turned after the shot was fired and crashed through the bushes in the
direction of his assailant. Horse and rider had a narrow escape, and the
two dogs that accompanied the sportsman came in for a share of the
fright. The hunter concluded that he would let the elephant go his way
unmolested; and when the enraged animal turned back into the forest he
was not followed."

"It reminds me," said the consul, "of the story of the army officer in
India who was asked if he found tiger-hunting a pleasant amusement.
'Hunting the tiger,' said he, 'is very pleasant as long as the tiger is
hunted; but when he turns and hunts you, the pleasure ceases
altogether.'"

[Illustration: THE HUNTER HUNTED.]

"It is about the same with the chase of the wild elephant," the Doctor
remarked. As he said it, the servant announced the readiness of
something to eat in the cabin, and the conversation was suspended until
the party was seated at table.

"In some parts of the East," Doctor Bronson continued, "it is the custom
for princes and kings to give grand entertainments in the shape of
elephant fights. Sometimes two elephants are matched together; but quite
as often they are pitted against some other beast. Formerly these fights
were carried on till one of the combatants was dead or severely hurt;
but at present an effort is made to keep them from injuring each other,
and the fight is little more than a series of rather violent pushes from
one side of the ring to the other.

"Mr. Crawfurd, who was sent at the head of an embassy from the
Governor-general of India to Siam and Cochin China in 1821, was present
at a tiger and elephant fight in Saigon. His account is interesting in
two ways; it shows the manner of conducting one of these fights, and
gives us a glimpse at the manners of the Far East sixty years ago. After
detailing his reception by the governor, he says:

     "We were invited to be present at an elephant and tiger fight, and
     for this purpose we mounted our elephants and repaired to the
     glacis of the fort, where the combat was to take place. A great
     concourse of people had assembled to witness the exhibition. The
     tiger was secured to a stake by a rope tied round his loins, and
     about thirty yards long. The mouth of the unfortunate animal was
     sewn up, and his nails drawn out; he was of large size, and
     extremely active. No less than forty-six elephants, all males and
     of great size, were seen drawn out in line. One at a time was
     brought to attack the tiger.

     "The first elephant advanced, to all appearance, with a great show
     of courage, and we thought, from his determined look, that he would
     certainly have despatched his antagonist in an instant. At the
     first effort he raised the tiger on his tusks to a considerable
     height, and threw him to the distance of at least twenty feet.
     Notwithstanding this, the tiger rallied and sprung upon the
     elephant's trunk and head, up to the very keeper, who was upon his
     neck. The elephant took alarm, wheeled about, and ran off, pursued
     by the tiger as far as the rope would allow him. The fugitive,
     although not hurt, roared most piteously, and no effort could bring
     him back to the charge. A little after this, we saw a man brought
     up to the governor, bound with cords, and dragged into his presence
     by two officers.

     "'This was the conductor of the recreant elephant. A hundred
     strokes of the bamboo were ordered to be inflicted upon him on the
     spot. For this purpose he was thrown on his face on the ground, and
     secured by one man sitting astride upon his neck and shoulders, and
     by another sitting upon his feet, a succession of executioners
     inflicting the punishment. When it was over, two men carried off
     the sufferer by the head and heels, apparently quite insensible.

     "'While this outrage was perpetrating, the governor coolly viewed
     the combat of the tiger and elephant, as if nothing else particular
     had been going forward. Ten or twelve elephants were brought up in
     succession to attack the tiger, which was killed at last, merely by
     the astonishing falls he received when tossed off the tusks of the
     elephants. The prodigious strength of these animals was far beyond
     anything I could have supposed. Some of them tossed the tiger to a
     distance of at least thirty feet, after he was nearly lifeless, and
     could offer no resistance. We could not reflect without horror that
     these very individual animals were the same that have for years
     executed the sentence of the law upon the many malefactors
     condemned to death. Upon these occasions, a single toss, such as I
     have described, is always, I am told, sufficient to destroy life.'"

[Illustration: TAKING A NAP.]



CHAPTER XIII.

BANG-PA-IN TO BANGKOK.--STUDIES IN NATURAL HISTORY AND BOTANY.


As they returned down the river the boat stopped at Bang-pa-in, to
enable the young tourists to have a view of the place. The name means,
"City on an Island," and is a literal description of the situation. The
island is not very wide in proportion to its length, and the boys found
that the beauties of the spot were quite up to the expectation they had
formed during their journey up the river. They walked through the
gardens, which were laid out with exquisite taste, and sat beneath the
trees, whose dense foliage afforded a grateful shade; they were shown
through the palace, found it furnished in European style, and their
sharp eyes caught sight of a piano, which gave a hint of the musical
taste of the king. The officer in charge of the place showed an album of
monograms which his majesty had arranged, and some pencil sketches that
were the work of the royal hands. The boys were consoled for the absence
of the king by the reflection that if he had been present the palace
would not have been open to visitors, and some of the interesting sights
of Bang-pa-in would have escaped them.

When they reached the landing to continue their journey, they found a
native boat along-side their own with fruits and other things to sell.
By direction of Doctor Bronson, the interpreter bought a selection of
what was in the market; and, as soon as they were again in motion, the
boys employed their eyes and palates in a scientific investigation of
the good things before them.

The first article that they discussed was a green cocoa-nut. Frank
wondered what use they could make of it, and Fred suggested that they
might keep it till it was ripe.

One of the servants speedily put an end to their suspense. With a
dexterity that was evidently the result of long practice, he cut away
the husk, and then made a hole in the shell of the nut large enough for
the easy insertion of one's thumb. The opening revealed the interior of
the nut, with a slight accumulation of white pulp close to the shell,
while all the rest of the enclosed space was filled with milk. When it
was thus prepared he handed the nut to Frank, and immediately opened
another, which he gave to Fred.

Frank laughed, and said, "What shall we do with it?"

"Drink the milk, and throw away the shell," replied the Doctor, as he
took one from the hands of the servant, and suited his action to his
words.

The boys did as they were directed, and the drink was followed by an
exclamation of delight.

[Illustration: COCOA-NUTS FULL GROWN AND JUST FORMING.]

They found the milk of the cocoa-nut a cool and refreshing beverage;
and, on the assurance of the consul that they might take all they wished
without fear of injury to their digestion, they proceeded with the
demolition of more and more nuts, until the basket was emptied. The
consul told them that the juice of the green cocoa-nut was a favorite
beverage throughout Siam, and was considered by some people as far safer
to drink than the water of the river.

"There is a good deal of vegetable matter in the river water," said he,
"and it is undoubtedly the cause of derangements of the stomach when
freely used. But the juice of the nut is pure and healthy, and its
slightly acid taste makes it welcome to the palate. It is cool, as you
have seen, and the acidity doubtless causes it to seem to be of a lower
temperature than the surrounding atmosphere."

[Illustration: THE BREAD-FRUIT.]

Fred asked if the famous bread-fruit was in the lot they had bought, and
was rather disappointed at its absence. But a bread-fruit tree was
pointed out to him as they floated down the river, and he made note of
the fact that it was about forty feet high, and had a leaf nearly two
feet long. The fruit resembled a large, very large apple, or perhaps a
small melon; and the Doctor told him that the outer husk furnished a
fibre like that of the cocoa-nut, which could be made into a sort of
coarse cloth.

The Doctor further explained that the bread-fruit was baked in the
shell, the same as an oyster is roasted, and that the inner pulp, when
thus cooked, resembled a sweet-potato in taste, and was very nutritious.
To the touch it was not unlike the soft part of a loaf of bread, and its
name was due to this latter quality rather than to its taste. "It
forms," said he, "the chief sustenance of the inhabitants of many of the
islands of the South Pacific Ocean, and is to be found nearly everywhere
in the tropics. It was introduced into the West Indies about a century
ago, and its cultivation has been very successful in that region; later
it was planted in Central America, and has become so well known and used
that the natives rely largely upon it for their food. The product of
three trees in some of the Pacific Islands will support a man for a
year; and it is no wonder that he becomes lazy when he has nothing to do
but pluck his food from a tree."

[Illustration: PINEAPPLE.]

When they had finished with the cocoa-nuts, they had a fine pineapple;
and they remarked that its freshness made it sweeter and better than any
pineapple they had ever eaten at home. Frank made a sketch of this
fruit, with its long and sharp-pointed leaves, and then he drew the
inside of a fruit which, for want of a better name, he called a
star-apple. It had a purple skin, and resembled an orange in shape and
size; the pulp was white, and, when it was cut across, the cells for the
seeds showed the exact form of a star. Fruit after fruit was cut, in the
hope that one would be found without the star; but the effort was a
complete failure.

[Illustration: STAR-APPLE.]

Of course they had oranges in abundance; and they had half a dozen
fruits whose names were quite unknown to them, but which were all
delicious. Fred lamented that the attempt to tell about the flavor of a
strange fruit was like trying to describe the song of a bird, or the
perfume of a flower. So they concluded that the best thing for them to
do was to eat the fruit and admire it; and if anybody wanted to know
what it was like, he would refer him to the article itself, and let him
judge of the quality.

[Illustration: A NEW KIND OF FRUIT.]

While seated on the deck of the boat, and engaged in testing the
peculiarities of an orange, Frank espied something on a tree that grew
close to the water. Thinking it might be a new kind of fruit, he called
the Doctor's attention to his discovery; the latter said the strange
thing was nothing more nor less than the nest of a bird, and would
hardly prove edible. Frank's illusion was broken, as the Doctor spoke,
by a small bird that hopped on a limb in front of the supposed fruit,
and at the same instant the head of another bird appeared from a hole in
the nest. Evidently the nest was constructed of cotton, or something of
the sort, as it was nearly snow-white in color; it hung from the limb,
so that it swayed in the wind, and it was not at all surprising that
Frank had mistaken it for a variety of fruit hitherto unknown to him.

[Illustration: TAILOR-BIRD AND NEST.]

"That nest is not so remarkable," said the Doctor, "as the one made by
the tailor-bird, an inhabitant of Siam and the tropical parts of India
and Malacca. It chooses a leaf on a small twig, and then proceeds to
puncture a row of holes along the edge with its beak, just as a
shoemaker uses an awl for making holes in a piece of leather. When it
has thus perforated the leaf, it takes a long fibre from a plant, and
passes it through the holes. The operation of sewing is imitated with
great exactness, and the fibre is pulled, like a thread, until the edges
of the leaf are drawn towards each other and form a hollow cone. If the
bird cannot find a single leaf large enough for its purpose, it sews
two leaves together; and instances have been known where three leaves
were used. When the framework of the nest is completed, the bird fills
the interior with the softest down it can gather from plants, and it
thus has a home which it is next to impossible to discover among the
leaves. There is another bird that lives near watercourses and marshes,
and constructs a nest by sewing the reeds and rushes together; but its
work is not so perfect as that of the tailor-bird, and does not entitle
him to equal credit."

Frank was anxious to obtain one of these nests as a curiosity, and was
gratified, on his return to Bangkok, to find one for sale in the hands
of a native. He bought it, and had it carefully packed, so that he could
send it home without fear of injury in the next box of curiosities they
should despatch to America.

From birds the conversation wandered to fishes, and the boys learned
something that caused their eyes to open with astonishment. Lest it
should be forgotten, it was entered in both their note-books, and read
as follows:

"There is a fish in Siam, and other parts of the East, that has the
remarkable peculiarity of going overland from one pond to another. When
the water where they are dries up, the fishes start for the nearest
pond, though it may be several miles away; and they propel themselves by
means of their fins, very much as a turtle drags himself with his feet.
Their instinct is unerring, and they have never been known to make a
mistake about heading for the water that is nearest. It is said that you
may take one of them up and turn him around half a dozen times, till he
is dizzy, but he will not lose his points of compass. When he is put
down again he takes the proper direction, and though you put him off the
track ever so many times, he always returns to it."

"We shall next hear, I suppose, that there are fishes that climb trees,"
Fred remarked, as he finished his note on the fishes that go overland.

"Quite possibly," Frank replied; "let us ask the Doctor."

They asked the question, and were taken somewhat aback when Doctor
Bronson answered in the affirmative.

[Illustration: A CLIMBING-FISH.]

"I don't know," said he, "if there are any fish in Siam that climb
trees, but there is one in Brazil that can perform this feat. He does
not ascend a perpendicular tree, but when he finds one that slopes at an
angle of about forty-five degrees, and has its roots in the water, he
will venture on an excursion in the air. His scales are very large, and
he works himself forward by a motion of the lower ones as they press
against the bark of the tree. He hugs the tree with his fins in order to
maintain his balance; his movements in climbing are very slow, and he
certainly appears to better advantage in the water, where he is a rapid
and graceful swimmer. You see that a fish out of water is not always
the unhappy creature he has been supposed to be by most persons."

"I heard somebody say one day," said Fred, "that oysters grow on trees
in some parts of the world. Is that really so?"

"Certainly," was the Doctor's answer; "they do grow on trees, but not in
the way you are naturally led to suppose."

"How is it, then, Doctor?" queried Frank.

"It is quite simple when you understand it," was the response. "The
spawn of the oyster floats in the water, and attaches itself to the
first thing with which it comes in contact. It frequently happens that,
at high-tide, the water comes up a little way on the trunk of a tree, or
it may be that a limb of a tree hangs in the water. The oyster-spawn is
attached to the trunk or limb, as the case may be, and when the tide
goes away it remains there. It has enough vitality to live until the
tide comes again; it retains its hold, and in course of time becomes an
oyster growing on a tree. He could not live altogether without water,
but he can easily get along during the intervals of the tides. He does
not grow on a tree like an apple or an orange, but he certainly makes
the tree his home."

"Do they have oysters in Siam?" one of the boys asked.

"Oysters grow in the Gulf of Siam," was the reply; "but they are not
equal to those of the Atlantic coast of the United States. As for that
matter, no oysters in any part of the world can or do equal ours; at
least in the opinion of residents of the United States. Here in the East
Indies they have some very large oysters; there is one variety that
often attains a weight of three hundred pounds; it is not good for
anything, however, and you never hear a man in a restaurant calling for
a dozen of this variety on the half-shell.

"Naturalists have described about sixty varieties of oysters in
different parts of the world, and it is said that more than two hundred
species of fossil oysters have been found by geologists. Most of these
forms are now extinct, and, therefore, we have no way of determining
whether all of them have been good to eat or otherwise. It is often
remarked that the first man who ate an oyster must have been very brave,
and it is a pity that his name has not come down to us. One version of
the story is that he thrust his fingers into an open shell which he saw
lying on the sea-shore; the oyster was angry at this intrusion, and
immediately closed on the fingers, very much to the man's astonishment.
It required a great deal of wrenching to liberate them from the shell,
and they were somewhat injured in the operation; the man naturally put
his fingers in his mouth to relieve the pain, and in so doing he learned
the taste of the oyster. Having learned it, he immediately smashed the
shell with a stone and devoured the contents, and he continued to eat
oysters till he had made a hearty meal. Always after that, when he was
hungry, he went to the oyster-bank and satisfied his appetite, and from
being thin as a skeleton he grew fat and rosy. His neighbors noted the
change, and one day when he was proceeding stealthily to his favorite
retreat they watched him and found his secret. When it was once out, the
news spread with great rapidity, and thus was inaugurated the habit of
eating the oyster. When this occurred no one knows; but the fact is that
the ancient Romans and Greeks were fond of the oyster, and esteemed it
greatly as an article of food.

"Another remarkable fact is--"

Before the Doctor could finish the sentence, Frank sprung to his feet in
an excited manner, and pointed to a tree that stood not twenty feet from
the bank of the river.

"See that great snake!" he shouted; "and see that squirrel in front of
him!"

[Illustration: THE SNAKE AND THE SQUIRREL.]

A snake was coiled around the limb of the tree with his neck bent, and
his head slowly waving in the air. His body glistened in the sunlight as
it played on his scales, and Frank fancied he could see the fire darting
from his eyes. A foot or so in front of him was a squirrel, sitting on
his haunches, and with his tail erect; his eyes were fixed on the
serpent, and he was chattering wildly, and as if greatly alarmed.

While they looked at the strange spectacle, the head of the snake was
darted forward, and in an instant the poor little squirrel was
transfixed by the deadly fangs. Frank wished they had been able to save
the squirrel by killing the snake, but his wishing was of no avail, as
they were moving down the stream; and, besides, they had no fire-arms
with which the serpent could have been disturbed in his retreat up the
tree.

"I suppose the squirrel was charmed by the snake," said Fred, as soon as
they had passed out of sight of the tree.

"As to that," replied Doctor Bronson, "there is much dispute. Many
persons who have studied the subject are positive that snakes have the
power of charming or fascinating small birds and animals; and others,
who have studied it quite as much, deny that any such power exists. I
have heard so much on both sides, that I am not able to form a positive
opinion. I am inclined, however, to believe that the power is possessed
by certain snakes, as I have seen manifestations of it, or something
very like it. When I was a boy in the country, I one day saw a large
black snake in an apple-tree on my uncle's farm. A bird was hopping
around on the limbs in great alarm, as I judged by his twitterings; he
seemed to be terribly afraid of the snake, and at the same time unable
to get away from him. I watched his movements for nearly half an hour,
and observed that each time the bird moved he came nearer to the snake;
and the performance ended by his lighting on a branch within a foot of
where the latter was coiled. Then the snake darted his head forward and
seized the bird, precisely as you saw that scaly fellow, a few moments
ago, seize the squirrel.

"Exactly what the process of charming is, if it really exists, it is
difficult to say. Probably the victim is paralyzed, to some extent, by
the horrible appearance of the serpent, and deprived of the use of his
limbs. If you suddenly come in contact with a ferocious wild beast, or
some terrible danger is presented to you, it is not at all improbable
that you will be unable to move from sheer fright. I am inclined to
believe that the fascination of birds and small mammals by serpents is
something of this sort, but I confess my inability to explain why the
victim, in moving around, comes every moment nearer to his destroyer, as
though he could not remove his eyes, however much he might wish to do
so."

"If you travel around much in Siam," the consul remarked, "you will find
all the snakes you care to see. It is not unusual to see them swimming
in the river; and in the rainy season they frequently get into the
houses, particularly those that float on the water. Most of them are
harmless, but there are some poisonous ones, including the famous _cobra
di capella_."

Frank thought he would prefer not to live in a floating house, for the
present at least; and his opinion was shared by Fred. They were not at
all enamored of the idea of having an intimate association with the
wandering snakes of Siam.

[Illustration: MONKEYS AT HOME.]

"I think," said the Doctor, "that if you were compelled to select some
of the inhabitants of the Siamese forests as your companions, you would
prefer monkeys to snakes. In the region north of here you could find an
abundance of them, and of all sizes; they run wild in the forests, and
sometimes are found in large droves. They are sociable beings, and very
fond of each other's society; and if one of them gets into trouble, his
companions are quite likely to come to his relief. A friend of mine was
out hunting one day, and saw a monkey on a tree where a fair chance for
a shot was presented. He fired and wounded the monkey, who immediately
set up a piteous howl; in a few minutes dozens of monkeys were around
him, and they seemed to understand that my friend was the cause of the
trouble. He fled, and they pursued him; he fired his gun to frighten
them, and, after knocking several of them over, he reached an open space
of country, and was allowed to go on undisturbed. If he had been without
his gun he would not have escaped so easily.

[Illustration]

"Monkeys have a good many enemies besides man. Wild beasts devour them,
and occasionally snakes manage to take them in; the fellows are so
active that they can only be captured by strategy, or their own
carelessness and curiosity; and they often fall victims to the
last-named quality. A tiger will lie down and pretend to be dead; the
monkeys see him, and draw near to investigate. They approach cautiously,
stop frequently, and do a deal of chattering. If the tiger stirs a
muscle, they take the alarm at once and are off; but if he lies
perfectly still, they are sure, in a little while, to come so close that
one of the boldest will venture to pluck at his hide. As he does so he
jumps several feet to one side, and if the tiger should rouse himself he
would be baffled of his prey. He continues to lie as if dead; and
finally the monkeys, believing he is really nothing but a carcass,
proceed to sit on him and hold a coroner's inquest. Now is the tiger's
chance; and with a sudden spring he has one of the fattest in his jaws,
while the rest scamper away to the forest.

[Illustration]

"Another enemy of the monkey is the eagle. When the monkeys are playing
in the branches of a tree the eagle swoops down with great rapidity, and
carries one of the party off in his powerful claws. Often there is a
fearful struggle in the air, as the monkey is not inclined to die
without a protest; and as he has a great deal of strength, and is full
of activity, he occasionally comes off victorious and escapes, though he
may be killed by the fall from the height where the eagle drops him. A
gentleman of my acquaintance once witnessed the capture of a monkey by
an eagle; the eagle fastened his claws in the back of the monkey, and,
though the latter struggled violently, his hold was not once broken. The
eagle flew to the top of a distant tree, where he undoubtedly devoured
his victim at his leisure.

[Illustration: EAGLE CAPTURING A MONKEY.]

"In seizing a monkey, the eagle always endeavors to grasp him by the
back and neck, one claw being in the neck, and the other farther down.
The reason of this is that, unless the monkey is firmly held by the
neck, he will turn his head and inflict a terrible bite on his
assailant; but as long as the neck is thus held he is powerless. It is
said that the first thing the eagle does, after taking a monkey, is to
put out his eyes with his powerful beak; but in so doing he is in danger
of having his head seized by the monkey's paws."

"On the whole," said Frank, "I don't think I care about forming an
intimate acquaintance with the monkey."

Fred was of the same opinion, and the subject of conversation was
changed.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE KING IN HIS STATE BARGE.--BETEL AND TOBACCO.


On their arrival at Bangkok, our friends found that the king had
returned, and was to begin on the following day his annual visits to the
temples of the city. Once a year he goes in state to the temples, and
about two weeks are consumed in making the rounds of all of them. The
Siamese attach much importance to this ceremony, as their country is
considered the principal seat of the Buddhist religion, and the king is
its first defender. Therefore it is considered necessary that he should
worship officially at the shrines of the leading temples of the capital,
in addition to his daily worship in the temples attached to the grand
palace.

The consul arranged to accompany Doctor Bronson and the youths to one of
the temples the king was to visit, so that they might see the
procession, and have a glimpse of the ruler of Siam. About ten o'clock
in the forenoon they left the hotel in their boat, and a half-hour's
pull up and across the river brought them to the spot. They spent a
little while in the inspection of the temple and its surroundings: they
had visited the same temple in the first days of their stay in Bangkok,
and therefore many things were familiar to their eyes. But where it had
been quiet before all was now activity, and there was a considerable
assemblage of people, who had come, like themselves, to witness the
ceremony.

After a time there was a stir, and the announcement was made that the
king was coming. The boys looked up the river in the direction of the
palace, and, sure enough, there was the royal procession; and it was a
sight that almost took away the breath of both Frank and Fred.

[Illustration: STATE BARGE OF THE KING OF SIAM.]

There was a flotilla of a dozen or more boats and barges of the most
gorgeous description our friends had ever seen. The largest of them was
occupied by the king, and had a hundred and twenty men to row, or rather
to paddle it. The boat was said to be fifty yards in length, but nobody
was able to say positively what were its exact dimensions; at any rate,
it was long enough and handsome enough to satisfy the most fastidious
spectator. The rowers were in a double line, and in scarlet uniforms;
at each stroke they raised their paddles high in air, and their
movements were so timed that the paddles on both sides were dipped at
exactly the same moment. The boat sat quite low in the water, and its
stern had a sharp and high curve to it that doubtless made the middle of
the craft appear lower than it really was. The bow was bent upwards as
high as the stern, and Frank thought it could not be less than ten or
twelve feet out of the water. It appeared to be much heavier than the
stern, and was fantastically carved; the Doctor told the boys that the
carving was intended to represent the _Nagha Mustakha Sapta_, or
seven-headed serpent, which is one of the mythological deities of Siam.

Considerably nearer to the stern than the bow there was a sort of throne
elevated on four pillars, and having a gorgeous canopy above it. On this
throne the king was seated; the canopy had a spire like that of some of
the temples, and consequently the seat in the barge possessed a certain
religious character. Near him were attendants holding canopies not
altogether unlike umbrellas, and at a distance these canopies suggested
the appearance of golden cones. The boat was driven rapidly through the
water by the powerful arms of its rowers, and their movements were timed
by a man waving a huge baton, after the manner of the drum-major of a
brass band. The other boats moved at the same speed; they were smaller
than that of the king, some of them having no more than thirty or forty
rowers; and they belonged to the Siamese nobles and ministers of state,
who were required to accompany the king on his official visits to the
temples.

The gilding and bright colors on the boats were fairly dazzling to the
eyes of the young travellers. In all their travels hitherto, they had
seen nothing half as gorgeous as this spectacle, and Frank was inclined
to pinch himself to make sure he was not dreaming. He was destined to be
still more astonished when told that the king's boat was inlaid with
mother-of-pearl and crystal, and with sparkling shells and bright
stones, so that it resembled a piece of jewellery for the use of a giant
such as the world never saw. He wondered what must have been the cost of
such a boat, but there was no one who could tell him.

[Illustration: A BODY OF THE ROYAL GUARDS.]

Soon the boat was at the little platform which served as a landing-place
in front of the temple. A file of soldiers, uniformed somewhat after the
European manner, and carrying rifles of foreign manufacture, was drawn
up near the path where his majesty would pass on his way to the temple
door; they were commanded by an officer whose complexion was of the
Siamese tint, and who spoke English so fluently that the boys thought he
must have had a most excellent teacher, and been a very apt pupil. They
were undeceived when they learned that he was a native of Philadelphia,
and formerly served in the army of the United States. Doctor Bronson
observed that the soldiers were well drilled, as they went through the
manual of arms with the precision of a regiment of English or American
infantry.

The Siamese army is drilled after the European manner, and has had
drill-masters from the United States and half the countries of Europe in
the last thirty years. The navy is also under foreign management, and
the harbor-master of the port of Bangkok is an Englishman, who has lived
there a long time. Several foreigners are in the custom-house and other
official service, and the steamers of the navy have European engineers.
The foreigners in the Siamese service are well paid, and generally get
along easily with the natives. Some of them are greatly trusted by the
king, and have shown themselves fully worthy of the royal confidence.

In time of war the entire male population of the country capable of
bearing arms is liable to be called out, and every man is bound to serve
as a defender of his nation. Whenever soldiers are wanted, the king
sends a command to the governors of the various provinces, and tells
them what their quota will be, and they are expected to comply
immediately with the demand. The troops thus levied are fed and clothed
and armed at the expense of the government, but they do not receive any
pay in money; and when the emergency for which they were wanted is
passed they are dismissed and sent home. The standing army in time of
peace is quite small, and the soldiers are fed and clothed, and their
pay in money is about six dollars a month. The Siamese navy contained,
at the time our friends were at Bangkok, about a dozen steam gun-boats,
carrying from two to ten guns each, and several new vessels were on the
stocks in the royal dock-yards. A large naval force is not needed in
Siam, and the king wisely refrains from expending a great deal of money
on useless ships of war.

[Illustration: THE KING VISITING A TEMPLE.]

The king stepped ashore on the little platform previously mentioned, and
mounted a sedan-chair, on which he was to be carried to the temple. His
head was protected from the sun by a canopy like a large umbrella; and
both the seat and canopy were gayly decorated, and shone with gilding.
As the bearers proceeded with their royal burden, the people knelt in
homage to their ruler, and the strictest silence was observed. One after
another the nobles and high officials landed from their boats, and
proceeded to the temple, surrounded or followed by their attendants. It
was a novel spectacle to the boys, this procession of dignitaries, and
they watched it with great interest. Each of the officials had a man to
carry his pipe and tobacco, another for his betel-box, another for his
tray, holding a teacup and a pot of tea; and some of them had two or
three others for the transportation of various things. The betel-boxes
were of gold, and most exquisitely wrought, and they must have cost a
great deal of money to make. The prime-minister was the last to arrive,
and the boys were told that the ceremony would not begin till he had
entered the temple.

[Illustration: THE FRONT OF THE TEMPLE.]

The strangers were not invited to see the services inside the building,
and therefore they remained where they were till the king came out and
returned to his boat. The ceremony lasted about half an hour, and
consisted of the repetition of prayers by the priests, and responses by
the king; it was said to be not unlike the celebration of mass in a
Catholic church, and it has been remarked by many visitors to the Far
East that the forms of Buddhist worship have a considerable resemblance
to those of Rome.

The king went to his boat, which was drawn up to the platform as before;
and as soon as he was seated, the signal was given to the rowers to move
on. Away they paddled to another temple, situated up one of the canals;
and the other boats followed the royal one as rapidly as possible. By
taking a path through some gardens near the temple, our friends reached
a point on the bank of the canal where they could see all the boats as
they went along.

After the procession had gone the boys wanted to ramble through the tall
grass, but changed their minds when told that possibly they might
encounter a cobra or some other deadly snake. Cobras are not
unfrequently found around the Siamese temples; and though accidents are
not of common occurrence, there are enough of them to make a stranger
careful about his promenades.

It was past noon, and the heat of the sun was not of the lightest. The
Doctor suggested a return to the hotel, and the boys were quite willing
to accept it, as they wanted to think over the strange spectacle they
had witnessed. They thought they had done quite enough for one day, and
considered that they had been very fortunate in seeing the king, and
witnessing one of the pageants for which Siam is celebrated.

On their way back in the boat, Frank asked the Doctor to tell him
something about the use of the betel-nut. They had observed that the
king was vigorously chewing the substance, which is to the Siamese what
tobacco is to many Americans, and the ministers of state were following
his example. All classes of people indulged in the amusement, and their
mouths had a reddish appearance in consequence.

"The leaf of the betel-pepper," said the Doctor, "and the nut of the
areca-palm are prepared as follows: the nut is sliced quite thin, and a
little quicklime is sprinkled on it, so as to give it a pungent flavor,
and the two substances are then wrapped in the leaf. In this form it is
taken into the mouth and chewed, and the operation is generally
performed with a very vigorous action of the jaws. The saliva has a
reddish tint, and it is so bright that many strangers are deluded into
the belief that the natives are spitting blood. The practice of chewing
this substance began originally in the Malay peninsula, but it has
gradually spread all over India, the countries of Indo-China, and the
Malay Archipelago. Would you like to try it?"

The boys had the curiosity to make an experiment with the betel-nut;
and, as soon as they reached the hotel, the Doctor made their wants
known to the landlord. In a little while some of the substance was
brought, and the youths ventured to chew it.

A very short trial was quite sufficient. They found the taste anything
but agreeable; and Frank thought the same sensation could be had by
dissolving in the mouth a piece of alum as large as a small pea, or a
more extensive piece of lime. The delusion might be kept up by adding
any common leaf and a few grains of pepper, and Fred was confident that
it would require a long time for him to be accustomed to it. "Of
course," said he, "one might learn in time to like betel, just as men in
America learn to like tobacco; but, as far as I can judge, the taste of
tobacco is the less disagreeable of the two."

The astringency of the betel-nut was removed from the tongues of the
experimenters by a free use of the milk of green cocoa-nuts; and each of
the boys made a quiet promise to himself that he would not learn to chew
betel for anything in the world.

"And we may as well include tobacco," said Frank, "and leave it to rest
at the side of betel. I certainly don't like the process of chewing
betel, and it is no worse than that of chewing the favorite weed of
America."

Fred agreed with his cousin, and the two concluded that they would not
adopt the habit of many of their countrymen. Just then it occurred to
them that they had not seen any other people than their own using
tobacco in this form, and so they asked the Doctor if the habit was
exclusively an American one.

[Illustration: THE TOBACCO-PLANT.]

"Practically so," was the Doctor's answer. "In no other country than
ours is the habit of chewing tobacco at all prevalent; a few sailors and
others who have lived or been in the United States have adopted and
carried it home, and these are virtually the only people not Americans
who indulge in it. Other nations are far greater smokers than ourselves,
but we have very nearly a monopoly of chewing the leaf of the famous
plant of Virginia."

[Illustration: SIR WALTER RALEIGH AND HIS PIPE.]

One of the boys asked if tobacco was not first found in America; he
thought he had read that it was used by the Indians at the time of the
discovery of the Western Continent by Columbus, and was introduced to
Europe by Sir Walter Raleigh.

"I am unable to answer your question with exactness," said the Doctor,
"for the simple reason that the matter is involved in obscurity. It is
said by some historians that the sailors accompanying Columbus were one
day greatly astonished at seeing smoke issuing from the mouths and
nostrils of some of the natives, and they found, on investigation, that
it was produced by the combustion of a fragrant herb or plant. On their
return they introduced it into Spain and Portugal. In 1560 Jean Nicot
was ambassador of France at the Court of Lisbon, and learned the use of
tobacco from a merchant who had been in America. When he next went to
France, he presented the weed to the queen, and it soon became known
throughout Europe. From him it was called _L'herbe Nicotienne_, or "the
Nicotian weed," and the name has come down to our times. Near the same
period Sir Francis Drake introduced it into England, and Sir Walter
Raleigh made it fashionable; so rapidly did the use of it spread that in
less than twenty years nearly every class of society was addicted to it.

"Some writers contend that tobacco, or some similar plant, was smoked in
Asia long before the discovery of America; in proof of this they assert
that the pipe in nearly its present form is to be seen on many ancient
sculptures; and it is certainly singular that a people so conservative
as the Chinese and other Asiatics should have made the use of tobacco
universal in the comparatively short period that has elapsed since its
discovery in America. On the other hand, we can infer that it was not
known in Asia as early as the eighth century, because the tales of the
Arabian Nights, which are supposed to be a perfect picture of the
customs of that time, make no mention of smoking."

"Does Marco Polo make any mention of it in his travels in Asia?" Fred
asked. "If it had been known in his time, I think he would have been
pretty certain to say something about it."

"I believe he makes no allusion to it," the Doctor responded; "and this
fact is quoted by those who contend that the practice was of American
origin. But, whatever the origin of smoking tobacco, the custom has
spread over the whole globe, and prevails among savages no less than
among the most civilized and enlightened nations. All classes of people,
from highest to lowest, are smokers; and, though the practice has been
the subject of severe penalties, it has continued to spread. Laws were
passed against it by several governments. In Russia, smokers were
punished by having a pipe-stem passed through the cartilage of the nose
for their first offence; and for a second, they were ordered to be
flogged to death. Sultan Amurath IV. ordered that all smokers should be
strangled; and in Switzerland it was officially announced that the use
of tobacco was one of the sins forbidden by the Ten Commandments. The
Popes of Rome issued edicts against it; and one of them, Urban VII.,
decreed the excommunication of all who should use tobacco. King James
wrote the famous 'Counterblast against Tobacco,' and other publications
were made condemning the importation of Sir Walter Raleigh; but all to
no purpose. The practice could not be put down; and to-day there is no
article of luxury or dissipation that is so universally known as
tobacco.

"There are about forty different varieties of tobacco described by
botanists which are smoked, or chewed, or snuffed, in various parts of
the world. By far the greater part of the tobacco used annually is
smoked, and in some countries snuff-taking, like chewing the weed, is
practically unknown. In nine cases out of ten in America the use of
tobacco begins by smoking, and in other countries the proportion is
probably a hundred times as great. The tobacco used in Asia and in some
parts of Europe is much milder than that of America. England is the
largest consumer of strong tobacco outside of the United States, and the
revenue derived from it by the British custom-house goes far towards
paying the expenses of the government.

[Illustration: PIPES OF ALL NATIONS.]

"Tobacco was first smoked in pipes, and all the early representations of
smokers contain no picture of the cigar. Sir Walter Raleigh used a pipe
which was much like the one most popular in England at the present day,
and it was not till long after his time that the leaf, rolled into a
cigar, became fashionable. Different nations have adopted different
forms for the pipe; and it is noticeable that the more indolent the
people the longer is its pipe-stem. With the English and American pipe
the smoker can enjoy himself while employed, but with the Eastern pipe
he can do nothing else while smoking. With a cigar, or a short pipe, a
man may write or work; but when he takes the hookah of Turkey, or the
nargileh of Syria and Egypt, his occupation, other than smoking, must be
limited to conversation and reading. Each country has adopted the form
best suited to its tastes; and it would be the height of absurdity to
give the ragged newsboys of New York an Oriental pipe-stem two yards in
length, and expect them to enjoy it as they do the short stumps of
cigars they gather in the street. On the other hand, the Turkish lady
reclining on her divan would consider the short dhudeen of the Irish
apple-woman a wretched substitute for the hookah, with its flexible stem
and its bowl of water through which the smoke bubbles on its way to her
mouth.

[Illustration: YOUNG AMERICA.]

"Whether tobacco is injurious or otherwise has been a subject of much
discussion, and the advocates on each side have said a great deal that
their opponents will not admit. It would require more time than I have
at my command to tell you even a tenth part of the arguments for and
against tobacco, and therefore I will not enter upon the discussion of
the subject. Volumes have been written upon it, and doubtless other
volumes will find their way into print as the years roll on."

[Illustration: THE EAST.]

[Illustration: THE WEST.]



CHAPTER XV.

WOMEN, HAIR-CUTTING, AND SLAVERY.


The boys occupied themselves very industriously in writing for their
friends at home the accounts of what they had seen and heard in Siam.
They told of the trip to Ayuthia, and the visit to the elephant corral;
of their stay at Bang-pa-in; of the journey down the river; and,
finally, of the flotilla of boats and barges, and the state procession
of the king to the temples. When they had brought the story down to the
hour of writing, there was a day to spare before the closing of the
weekly mail to Singapore, and thence to America.

Frank thought it was time for him to say something specially intended
for Mary and Effie; he remembered his letter from Japan about the women
of that country, and concluded that a similar missive from Siam would be
quite in order. Then he recollected that he had seen fewer women in his
walks and rides about Bangkok than when he strolled through the streets
of Tokio and Kioto, and that in all probability he could not tell as
much of the Siamese as of the Japanese women, for the simple reason that
he had not learned so much about them. But he was determined to make the
effort, and, after talking with the Doctor on the subject, he wrote as
follows:

[Illustration: SIAMESE GENTLEMAN AND LADY.]

"The dress of the Siamese men is so much like that of the women that a
stranger cannot tell at first whether he is looking at the one or the
other. I will send you a picture, so that you may understand how they
look much easier than if I took half a dozen pages in writing to tell
it. You see that a gentleman and lady have the same garments, except
that the lady wears a scarf over her shoulders, or rather over her left
shoulder, and passing under her right arm. The gentleman has a tiny bit
of a linen collar on his jacket, while the lady has none, and he also
has wristbands, something after the European model. The trousers are
like a piece of cloth four or five feet square, and one corner is tucked
under a belt in the centre of the waist; the ladies generally wear
brighter colors than their husbands, but the cut of the garment is
practically the same.

"Nearly everybody goes barefoot; and when they do put anything on their
feet, it is rarely more than a light sandal. The custom of wearing shoes
and boots such as we have is never likely to become popular in a country
so hot as this is, and where there is no snow or ice. Children, up to
five or six years of age, have no garments of any consequence; and even
when they are older, their clothing would not shield them from the cold
if they were compelled to face a New York winter. A tailor would not
make a fortune by coming to Siam and trying to get the people to wear
clothes like American ones; and as for a corn doctor, he would have no
chance at all where tight boots, or boots of any kind, are practically
unknown.

"Then, too, they dress their hair in pretty much the same way, so that
you cannot tell a man from a woman by looking at their heads, as you can
in most other countries of the world. They shave all the lower part of
the head, and leave the crown covered with a tuft, or bunch, that
reminds you of a shoe-brush. The men have very light beards, like all
Oriental people; and whenever one of them finds that he can raise a
mustache or a beard, he is pretty sure to do so, as he wants to look
unlike his neighbors. But as a general thing beards do not become the
Oriental features, though mustaches do; and when I see a Chinese or a
Japanese or a Siamese with a beard, which is not often, I feel like
asking him to go home and shave it off.

[Illustration: A YOUNG PRINCE OF THE ROYAL HOUSE, WITH HIS ATTENDANT.]

"The first hair-cutting, at the time a child is twelve or fourteen years
old, is a very important ceremony. No matter how poor the parents of a
child may be, they manage to have some kind of an entertainment, be it
ever so humble, while with the rich a great deal of money is spent on
the affair. In the case of a royal child the festivities are on a grand
scale, and the whole population is expected to rejoice. We heard
something about the ceremony when we were in Cochin-China, and we have
heard a great deal more about it since we came here. We wish one was to
come off now, but unfortunately there is nothing of the kind in
prospect.

"A few months ago the eldest of the king's children reached the proper
age for the So-Kan, as the hair-cutting ceremony is called, and for
weeks before the event the preparations for it were going on. I cannot
do better than copy the account that was published at the time in the
Siam _Daily Advertiser_, a newspaper that is printed here by some
Americans who have lived a long time in Bangkok. Here it is:

"'Princess Sri Wililaxan is the eldest daughter of his majesty the King
of Siam; her mother is one of the daughters of his excellency Chow
P'raya Kralahome, the Prime-minister of Siam. This princess is
consequently the great-granddaughter of his grace the ex-regent, and the
granddaughter of the prime-minister.

"'It is said that his majesty has fifteen children. Four of these are
Somdetch Chowfas. Only one of these Somdetch Chowfas is a son.

"'The Somdetch Chowfas are the children of the king, and their mothers
are princesses. The son, consequently, who is the eldest Chow-fa of the
present king is by law and the customs of the country the heir-apparent
to the throne.

"'When the So-Kan ceremonies take place they must be of the most
imposing kind. In the present instance they were continued six days, and
on each day there was an imposing procession.

"'The sound of music announced the approach of the procession.

[Illustration: FEMALE HEAD-DRESS AND COSTUME.]

"'Soon a company of seemingly masked men, representing Japanese
warriors, made their appearance. Then came companies of Siamese military
and their band. Then followed companies of Siamese women dressed after
the manner of the country, with the right arm and the shoulder bare; and
then companies of men and boys and women dressed to represent the
contiguous nationalities--Malays, Peguans, Burmans, Laos, Karens, etc.
The groups as they passed were quite grotesque.

"'His majesty the king ascended to a prominent hall near the Maha
Prasaht,[2] which was handsomely furnished. In front of him, to his
right, were a group of pretty and richly-dressed ladies, holding in
their hands a small silver tree. They went through the slow motions of a
Siamese dance. Groups of Siamese ladies were seated in a line, with the
new palace forming one side of a parallelogram. These were spectators,
and evidently persons of rank. On the left of his majesty, forming the
second long side of the parallelogram, were crowds of Europeans and
other foreigners who had been invited to the performance.

[2] An immense temple or chapel in the palace enclosure, where the kings
are crowned, and where they lie in state for twelve months after their
deaths, awaiting the ceremony of cremation.

"'The side wall enclosing the Maha Prasaht, on an elevated part of which
was the hall in which his majesty sat, formed the west side of the
parallelogram. Directly in front of the king was the artificial
Trailaht, seemingly a mountain of gold, and forming the east side of the
parallelogram.

[Illustration: MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.]

"'At the summit of the Trailaht was a beautiful gilt edifice dazzling in
the sunshine. As soon as his majesty was seated, a group of
gayly-dressed lakon girls descended from the gold mountain from the gilt
house, and at the base of the mountain, in full view of the king,
performed their dance to the sound of native music, of which there was
an abundance. On the lawn to the left of his majesty, and in a temporary
and beautiful hall, sat his grace the venerable Ex-Regent; his
excellency the Prime-minister; his excellency the Foreign Minister, and
the principal nobles of the country.

"'On the lawn were men who danced and made amusement for the masses.

"'When the Princess Sri Wililaxan advanced, seated in a grand sedan,
heavily weighted with her crown and gold chains of jewellery, followed
by a group of ladies bearing her gold salvers and insignia of rank, she
was received by her royal father and placed at his side.

"'The mountain Trailaht cannot be easily described. Here and there at
its base there were representations of the popular plays and acts of the
country. The images were moved by machinery, and went through their
performances to the merriment of the crowds, who clamored for a
repetition of them.

"'One represented a court of justice, where two persons were ordered to
dive; the one who could remain longest under water rendered his
testimony valid. It was amusing to see the artifice of the one who came
up first and found his antagonist still under water.

"'There were artificial pools containing representations of fish, whose
movements amused the spectators.

"'There were artificial trees, with representations of animals--such as
squirrels, monkeys, birds, and snakes--and their movements were quite
life-like.

"'Each day the princess receives presents from the noble families. The
ceremonies of each day were in some respects similar, but varied enough
to interest the vast crowds that visit the palace. Abundant refreshments
were provided by the government for the active participants and the
leading spectators. The noble families from all parts of Siam were
represented in the assemblage, and the display was the finest that the
country has known for years.'

"This is what I find in the newspaper, and it seems to be a very good
account. There are some things that it will be necessary for me to
explain, so that you will get a good understanding of them. In the first
place, I am told that the royal top-knot is taken off in a temple close
to the artificial mountain on the first day of the ceremony. Doubtless
they would cut it every day; but even in so fertile a country as Siam
the hair does not grow fast enough to make a daily cutting feasible.

"After this ceremony the hair is allowed to grow in the shoe-brush style
that I have described. Before that time it is in the shape of a twisted
knot, about as large as a silver dollar, but when it takes its new form
it covers the greater part of the top of the head.

"The Trailaht, or golden mountain, where the ceremony takes place, is
not really constructed of gold, though it appears to be. It is made of
wood and iron for a framework, and is then covered with sheets of lead
that have been gilded. The machinery that moves the figures is concealed
in the interior of the mountain, and the pathway that runs up the
outside is made to look as much like nature as possible. There are
valleys, and forests, and grottoes, and miniature rocks on the mountain,
and the path is usually arranged so that it goes three times around
between the bottom and the top. The Siamese pay great attention to the
numbers '3' and '9;' they have pagodas and canopies of three stories,
and others of nine; and in nearly all their religious ceremonies their
movements are in threes and nines. The same is true of all countries
where Buddhism is the religion; and, if you go as far off as Peking, you
will find that the temples have triple terraces and triple roofs, while
threes, or the multiples of three, may be found in the arrangement of
the stones of the steps and pavements, and in the walls of the
buildings.

[Illustration: LAKON GIRLS.]

"Perhaps you did not understand what was meant by the lakon girls that
danced before the king as soon as he was seated. In this country there
are girls who are trained to dance, like _geishas_ in Japan, and just
as the girls of the ballet are trained in a theatre in Europe and
America. Dancing is their profession, and they combine singing and
acting with it; and some of the princes and great men have troops of
these lakon girls to dance and sing for them. It is very common for them
to invite their friends to an entertainment, and it generally consists
of singing and dancing by these young ladies. Those around the palace
are the prettiest that can be found in the kingdom, and they have
wardrobes that cost a great deal of money, and are as grand as the
wardrobes of any actress in America. Very often in their acting they
wear the most hideous masks that can be imagined, and when they are
dressed up to resemble men or demons you can hardly believe that they
are really pretty girls. I send you a picture of two of them, so that
you may know what they look like.

[Illustration: A NATIVE BAND OF MUSIC.]

"The native band of music is a curiosity, as it is quite unlike anything
you ever saw. The king has a band after the European style, with a
French leader, and with instruments imported from London or Paris. It
plays very well, and can render some of the popular pieces that we are
familiar with just as well as any ordinary band in New York or London.
When we were passing the palace the other day we heard them playing a
selection from Faust, and another from the 'Grande Duchesse;' and one
evening we heard the Siamese national hymn, which is a very pretty
composition, and worthy of a place among the national airs of Europe.
But the native music is quite another thing.

"The performers sit down to their work instead of standing up, and they
do not sit on chairs, but on the floor. The only band of the kind I have
yet seen consisted of five performers, all women--one of them having a
sort of guitar, another a violin, another a drum played with the fingers
of one hand, another with a row of bamboo sticks that were struck with a
small hammer, and the last of the five had a row of metal cups that were
played like the bamboo sticks. There is a good deal of variety to the
music in some ways, and very little in others; it seemed to be capable
of considerable modulation in time and tune; and while at times it was
loud and harsh, at others it became low and plaintive. Whether they have
any regular tunes or not I am unable to say; they seemed to start off on
a measure, and then repeat it over and over again for twenty or thirty
minutes. Perhaps they would keep it up for a week or two if the weather
was not too warm for continuing one's exertions for that length of time.
They didn't seem to keep very closely together, and probably there was
no occasion for them to do so, as the tune is of such a nature that each
player can do pretty much what he likes.

[Illustration: A SIAMESE THEATRICAL PERFORMANCE.]

"These lakon girls are the performers in the theatres of Bangkok, or
rather at the private theatricals that are given at the houses of the
nobles and high officials. These affairs are generally given in a garden
or court-yard, where carpets are spread under the trees that grow there.
The dialogue is accompanied by music of the kind I have described, and
sometimes they have drums like small barrels suspended on triangles or
propped up on little frames. The performances are usually historical,
but not always so, as the Siamese drama abounds in love-plays, which are
taken from their literature. In the historic plays the costumes are
frequently very hideous, though richly gilded and decorated; they have
very little scenery or stage settings, and I think that a first-class
theatre of New York or Paris would astonish them greatly. When not
occupied on the stage, the performers stand or sit around the wings, and
the audience is supposed not to see them.

"The voices of the singers are very sweet; and Doctor Bronson says that
some of them only need careful training to make excellent performers.
They are said to be much more musical than the Chinese or the Japanese,
and much quicker to catch foreign music when it is taught to them.

"If you expect that women occupy in Siam the same position that they do
in America, you will be disappointed. Their condition has been greatly
improved by the king since he ascended the throne, and he is evidently
determined to overcome the prejudices of his people as rapidly as he can
do so. He is the first ruler of Siam who has ever given his arm to
escort a lady to the dinner-table after the European manner, and the
first lady to receive this honor was the wife of an American admiral.

"The country has never been ruled by a woman, and women have never held
a high place in the royal councils. Polygamy is customary in Siam; and
the king has a harem, just as the Sultan of Turkey has one. He has one
chief wife, or queen-consort, and is said to have about two hundred
other wives; but nobody knows exactly how many there are--at least
nobody outside the palace. Like all other monarchs with a harem, he has
his favorites; and when one of his wives manages to attract his
attention and secure his preference, she is very speedily the envy of
the others. Probably human nature is the same the world over, and the
history of royal and imperial harems everywhere is not greatly varied.

"Among the common people a man may have several wives if he chooses, and
can afford the expense, but ordinarily he has only one. Where he has
more than one, the first wife is the head of the household, and her
authority is generally undisputed, though they sometimes have domestic
quarrels, like people in other countries. Marriages are commonly
arranged between youths of eighteen and girls of fourteen, and not
infrequently at earlier ages. The ceremony consists of a feast such as
the parties can afford; and though priests are not considered necessary,
they are generally present to offer prayers. Among the poorer classes
there is more approach to equality between husband and wife than with
the rich; fashionable society does not permit the wife to eat with the
husband, and she is regarded more as a servant than a companion; but the
Siamese husbands are said to be much more kind to their wives than the
Chinese, and to treat them with more respect.

"A great many wives, both among the nobles and the common people, are
bought as slaves, and I am told that probably a quarter of the
population is held in slavery. Men sell their wives, children, sisters,
brothers, and even themselves; and in times past great numbers of slaves
were held that had been captured in wars with neighboring countries.
Slaves are not dear in Siam, compared with the prices that were paid in
America before the emancipation of the negroes; a child may be bought
for a small sum; and when a man wants to purchase a wife, he expects to
get her for not more than eighty or a hundred dollars. Much of the
slavery in Siam is the result of gambling; and it is not unusual for a
man to gamble away his family, his clothes, and then himself, in a
single day or evening.

"While we are considering this subject of slavery, I will make an
extract or two from the laws of Siam concerning the treatment of persons
in bondage:

"'If the inhabitants in embarrassed circumstances sell temporarily their
children, wives, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, relatives, and
slaves, males or females, to serve the purchaser, and the slaves be
overtaken with a calamity, let the money-master inform the seller that
he may come and take care of him at the money-master's house. If the
money-master take no care of him, and the slave dies, said money-master
cannot claim any refund from the seller, because he abandoned the sick
slave. His death must be the loss of the money-master, because he
neglected a subject of the State.

"'If persons pecuniarily or otherwise embarrassed sell temporarily their
children, nephews, nieces, or grandchildren to a purchaser, to be used
by him in lieu of interest, and the purchaser or master has business or
trouble, and takes his slave to accompany him, and thieves or murderers
cut, stab, and kill, or tigers, crocodiles, or other animals kill and
devour the slave, the law declares, being the slave of the purchaser who
took him with him, the purchaser is entitled to no refund from the
seller, because the slave accompanied his master.'

"I have copied this from an English translation of the Siamese laws, and
suppose it is correct. I am told that the slavery of Siam is not like
what we had in the United States, as the slaves are of the same class
and color as their owners, and there is not much difference between a
poor free man and a slave. Both of them must work for their living; and
I am told it sometimes happens that a man will deliberately sell
himself, so as to have a master who will give him steady employment and
feed him properly. The king has done a good deal towards improving the
condition of slaves, and on every festival occasion those who have been
a certain number of years in bondage are declared free. It is a common
thing for men to pledge themselves and their families or relatives as
security for money loaned or to pay interest, and when the debt is
discharged they are free. The two sentences I have quoted from the
Siamese laws relate to this kind of temporary slavery. It very often
happens, when a man has thus pledged himself and family for a short
time, and is confident that he will soon be free, his hopes are not
realized, and he remains a slave for years and years--perhaps for his
whole life. His relatives remain in bondage with him, and their
happiness or misery depends very much upon whether they have a kind
master or a cruel one.

"For persons who are not held as slaves, divorce is very easy in Siam.
The laws are not very strict; and if they simply desert each other,
there is generally an end of their marriage. I have been told of a funny
sort of divorce among the lower classes, but cannot say if it be true.
When a couple have determined to separate, they sit down on the floor in
the middle of their house, and each lights a candle. They sit there in
silence while the candles burn slowly down, and the property that they
owned in common will all belong to the one whose candle lasts the
longest. The one whose light goes out first is only entitled to the
clothes he or she may have on at the time--which is not much anyway.

"What a lot of patent candles we should have if the same custom
prevailed in America! Ingenious men would puzzle their brains to invent
candles that would burn longer than any others; and we might expect to
see any morning the advertisement of 'The Patent Inexhaustible Candle
that will neither burn nor be blown out!' And somebody would devise a
system of making a secret connection between the candle and a gas-pipe,
so that the supply of combustible material would never be exhausted. The
lawyers would not like this mode of settling matrimonial difficulties,
and there is no probability that such a law will ever be made.

"To go into mourning, the people shave their heads; and when the king
dies, the top-knots are removed from the heads of all his male subjects
from one end of Siam to the other. The only exception to the rule is in
the case of princes who are older than the king; and sometimes this
exception gives rise to lively disputes concerning the princely age."



CHAPTER XVI.

CREMATION IN SIAM.--TRADE, TAXES, AND BIRDS.


[Illustration: SCENE ON A SMALL CANAL NEAR BANGKOK.]

One morning, while they were taking a row on the river for the purpose
of visiting one of the canals, our friends observed a dense smoke rising
from the vicinity of one of the temples. Fred was the first to see it,
and wondered what it was for. As they neared the temple, they saw that
the smoke proceeded from a burning pile, where several persons were
standing around.

"It is a cremation," said Doctor Bronson; "we will stop and see it."

He directed the boatmen to land in front of the temple, and the three
strangers walked to the spot where the fire was burning.

On a low mound of earth there was a fire of logs and smaller sticks of
wood, and in the midst of the fire lay a body half consumed. It was
evidently that of a small person, as the fire was not more than five
feet long, and the body was completely wrapped in the flames. A dozen or
more Buddhist priests were standing near the fire, and about as many
other persons who did not appear to belong to the holy order. No
ceremony was observed; and the Doctor remarked that they had probably
arrived too late to witness the funeral-service. Not far off were the
ashes that remained from similar cremations; and on one heap the fire
was still smouldering.

They returned to the boat, and continued their journey; and as they did
so the Doctor explained to the boys the peculiarities of the spectacle
they had just witnessed.

"Cremation, or the destruction of a human body by fire," said he, "is
customary in several countries of the Eastern World, and there has
recently been an effort to make it popular in Europe and America. It
prevails in Siam, but not altogether to the exclusion of the ordinary
mode of burial in the earth. Cremation is considered the most honorable
funeral, and it has a religious significance; it is a ceremony necessary
to assist the soul in its passage to a higher state of transmigration,
and to its final condition of perfect rest. Criminals who are executed
by law are not allowed to be burnt; and the same is the case with those
dying of small-pox and certain other diseases.

[Illustration: BURIAL-MOUNDS.]

"The ceremony of cremation is considered so important that, where it
cannot be performed immediately after the death of the individual--from
poverty or for other reasons--the body is first buried, and subsequently
exhumed and burnt. When the person has any prominence or wealth, a few
of the bones are preserved in the houses of the relatives, or they may
be buried in the grounds near the temples. You saw some little
monuments, like miniature pyramids, near the temple we just visited; did
you not?"

"Yes," said Fred, "we saw them, and wondered what they were."

[Illustration: URN CONTAINING ASHES.]

"Those were monuments where the ashes of the dead are preserved," was
the reply. "You will find them near many of the temples."

Soon they came in sight of another temple, where a ceremony of some sort
was just beginning. The Doctor told the boatmen to land there; and as
soon as they were on shore they found that they had come upon another
funeral-party, and evidently that of a person of distinction.

[Illustration: JESSAMINE FLOWERS.]

The body was in a coffin, which rested on a bier; and the coffin and
bier together were not less than six feet high. The bier was covered
with white cloth--white is the symbol of mourning in Siam--and the
coffin itself was of a red color, and with a great deal of gold tinsel
laid over it. Above the coffin was a canopy of white cloth, and it was
thickly ornamented with bunches of jessamine flowers, freshly gathered.

Just as our friends approached the spot, a band, consisting of a gong,
two drums, and a sort of flageolet, played a very discordant air as a
prelude to the ceremony. Then a young priest read a service of prayers
from slips of palm-leaf, and, while reading, he occupied a pulpit under
a small shed in the court yard of the temple. In front of the pulpit
there was a platform occupied by several persons--the majority of them
women. They were not at all attentive; and as the prayers were read in
the Bali language, they were not likely to understand a word of them.
The prayers occupied about thirty minutes.

[Illustration: A BUDDHIST PRIEST.]

There was quite a crowd of priests in the yard of the service until near
its close. When the reading ended, they came forward and took hold of a
strip of white cloth, six or seven yards long, that was attached to the
head of the coffin. In this position they repeated some short prayers;
and as they finished them the coffin was stripped of its coverings, and
the cloth that came from it was distributed among the priests.

The body was then taken from the coffin and washed; then it was
replaced, and carried three times around the bier, which proved to be a
pile of fuel ready prepared for the burning. The sons and daughters, and
other relatives of the dead man, were standing near the bier; and though
they were quiet and respectful, they did not display the least emotion,
with the exception of one young woman, who was said to be a favorite
daughter. She wept loudly, and resisted the efforts of the others to
comfort her.

When the third circuit around the pile was completed, the coffin was
placed upon it. The fire was lighted by one of the priests, who uttered
a short prayer as he touched the taper to the fuel. Meantime small
wax-tapers had been distributed to all present, including our friends;
and after the priest had kindled the flame, these tapers were placed
upon the pile by the persons who held them. Doctor Bronson and the boys
did like the others; and the Doctor told his young companions that they
would give offence if they refused to comply with the custom. The body
was speedily consumed, and the ceremony was over.

Our friends again returned to their boat, and the conversation about
cremation was resumed.

"The man whose funeral you have just attended," the Doctor continued,
"was in good circumstances, and the ceremony was made to conform to his
rank and importance. This is the rule in Siam, as it is with funerals in
pretty nearly all parts of the world; and while the cremation of a poor
man will be over in a few hours after his death, that of a king does not
take place for a year."

"Why do they wait so long?" Frank asked.

"The real reason is," was the reply, "to enable the surviving relatives
to make the proper preparations for the funeral, and it has been so long
the custom that it is now fixed as a social and religious observance.

"Immediately after the death of a king, his body is embalmed and laid in
state, with a great deal of ceremony, in the Maha Prasaht. It is the
duty of his successor to arrange the funeral ceremonies; and he
immediately notifies the governors of four of the northern provinces,
where the finest timber of Siam is found, that each of them may send a
stick to form one of the four corners of the P'hra Mane, or funeral
pile. The sticks must be perfectly straight, and not less than two
hundred feet long; at the same time twelve smaller sticks are called for
from as many of the other provinces; and there is also a demand for
timber for the construction of halls and other buildings needed for the
ceremony.

"All the timber must be new, as it would not be proper for royalty to
have any wood about its funeral pile that had been used before in any
way. Several months are required to procure the timber and erect the
pile and its various annexes, as they cover at least half an acre of
ground. The whole of the work, outside and in, is painted in green and
yellow, and a good deal of gold and silver leaf is spread on in various
places, so that it appears to be of great richness. A large open dome is
in the centre of the edifice, and it contains a small temple, with a
platform on which the body is to be placed. Around the great building
there are sheds and houses to accommodate the priests, who come from all
parts of the kingdom to participate in the ceremonies; and outside of
these sheds there are twelve small pagodas, that are decorated to
represent the large temple. The whole mass of edifices for the funeral
costs a great deal of money, and it is evidently an expensive thing in
Siam for a king to die.

[Illustration: CHARACTERS IN THE PROCESSION.]

"On the appointed day there is a grand procession of soldiers and others
dressed to represent various nationalities--not much unlike the
procession at the ceremony of the royal hair-cutting. The entire royal
family is out, and usually the procession takes not less than three
hours to pass a given point. The festivals last ten days; various
amusements are provided during the daytime in the shape of theatricals
and other exhibitions, and in the evening they have fireworks, tumbling,
rope-dancing, and the like. At certain intervals handfuls of money are
thrown among the people, and a very lively scrambling is the result.
Finally the body is burnt with a great deal of ceremony, the king being
the first to apply the torch to the funeral pile of his predecessor.

"When the burning is completed, the ashes are thrown into the river, and
the bones are placed in an urn and carried to one of the temples in the
palace enclosure. Then the princes and governors who have come from the
various parts of the kingdom, are at liberty to return home; and the
same is the case with the priests who have visited the capital on the
same mission. There is probably no royal display in any part of Europe
that can surpass the cremation of a king in Siam."

"Do the widows of the king go on the funeral pile to be burnt?" Frank
asked. "Is the custom in Siam the same that it used to be in India?"

"Not at all," was the reply. "Siam has never had that horrid custom of
the _suttee_, or widow-burning, that so long disgraced India. It is not
allowed there now, and probably there has not been a single case of it
in the last ten or twenty years. None of the religious rites of the
Siamese have ever been accompanied by physical torture."

"Who pays for all the expense of these ceremonies?" said Fred.

"Nominally the king pays for them," the Doctor responded; "but in
reality the money comes, as all government expenses come in every part
of the world, from the people. The princes and governors, and other high
dignitaries who attend a funeral or a hair-cutting, make presents that
go in part for defraying the cost of the performances, and, of course,
the money for these presents comes from their subjects."

"Then it is no more than right," Frank remarked, "that the people should
be amused when they go to these affairs, whether they are funerals or
anything else."

"But where does the king get all his money?" queried Fred. "That is, how
does he raise his taxes, and how are they collected?"

"Taxes in Siam," the Doctor explained, "are of various kinds. They are
direct and indirect, just as they are in other countries; and the object
is the same--the production of a revenue.

"There is a tax on the sale of spirits, as I have already told you, and
there is a tax on gambling. Both these taxes are farmed out, and the
purchaser generally makes a good thing out of his venture. The
purchasers are usually Chinese speculators, and they sub-let their
privileges to smaller contractors for a round profit on their
investments.

"There is a tax on fishing in the Menam River, and also in the other
streams in which fish abound; the Buddhist religion forbids the
destruction of animal life, but the requirement is rather considered as
applying only to the priesthood, and the common people give little
attention to it. But no one is allowed to fish within a certain distance
of the palace, as all fish in that limit are held to be sacred, and
under the protection of the king. On the canal that encloses the palace
in the direction farthest from the river there are marks to indicate the
limits; inside the line it would be dangerous to the neck of a native
to be caught fishing, while outside of it he may do so with impunity.

"Then there are taxes on shops and on various branches of trade, just as
there are in the countries of Europe; and there are taxes on fruit-trees
and land, and there are customs-duties, and other things. There is a
poll-tax on the Chinese inhabitants of Siam, which is collected by the
authorities with the utmost care; and any Chinese who neglects to pay it
is liable to be compelled to work it out under the eye of a public
overseer. Every boat that is used as a shop pays a tax, and so do all
the shops through the country. Then there are certain articles of export
that are considered the monopoly of the king, and as he has no
competition in buying, and no opposition in selling, he has a good thing
of it. The rules about trade are changing every year; and so, if you
make a note of what I have told you, it is well to remember that what
you have written for the day may not be good for all time."

"The consul told us about the imports of Siam," said one of the boys,
"when we were going up the river to Ayuthia. Please tell us about the
exports. He mentioned rice and sugar as articles that the Siamese send
to other countries, but did not say what other things they had to sell."

"The exports of Siam," said the Doctor, in answer to the above remark,
"comprise a good many things. Besides the articles mentioned, the
country produces and sends to foreign ports a considerable amount of
tin, which is dug from its mines; and it also exports small quantities
of other metals. Then it produces pepper, tobacco, cardamons, ivory, and
various dye-stuffs. It also exports the skins of the rhinoceros,
buffalo, ox, elephant, tiger, leopard, bear, snake, and deer; and some
of these articles go out in the form of leather. How great are the
quantities of these things I am unable to say, as I have not studied the
tables of imports and exports very closely."

Frank was curious to know how the people caught the snakes whose skins
they exported. He thought a snake was a disagreeable thing to associate
with, and not at all easy to capture.

The Doctor explained that the matter was by no means as difficult as he
imagined. The snakes are fond of chickens, and they come around the
houses of the people, particularly those that are built on rafts, in
search of their favorite prey. When a native discovers any indications
that a snake has been around his premises, he arranges a coop made of
strong sticks of bamboo, and, after putting a chicken inside, he leaves
an opening in one end large enough for the snake to enter. He goes into
the coop and kills the chicken, which he swallows whole, after the
manner of snakes in general. He is so gorged that he cannot escape, and
is found in his prison in the morning. Under these circumstances he is
easily killed, and his skin is an ample compensation for the slaughtered
fowl.

Fred had observed little cages on poles rising from the roofs of many of
the houses, and naturally inquired their use.

"Those cages," said Doctor Bronson, "are intended as traps for birds. If
you examine them closely you will perceive that they are double; one
half is intended as a trap, and is left open for the wild bird to enter,
while the other contains a captive bird who serves as a decoy."

Naturally the conversation turned upon the birds of Siam and their
peculiarities.

[Illustration: HAUNTS OF SEA-BIRDS ON THE COAST.]

"I cannot give you a very good account of the birds of Siam," said the
genial Doctor, "for the reason that the ornithology of the country has
not, as far as I am aware, been carefully and exhaustively studied. The
birds of prey include the white eagle and also the common brown eagle;
and they have, as you have observed, the vulture, which is the same
species that is found in India. The kite is very common; and there are
two or three varieties of the hawk. As for crows, they have enough in
Siam to destroy all the corn in the States east of the Hudson River;
and if the Siamese attempted to raise that article, they would doubtless
have a hard time of it."

Frank thought they had seen crows enough around Bangkok to supply the
wants of the whole of Massachusetts. Evidently the inhabitants did not
molest them, or they would not be as bold as he had found them.

"Then, too," the Doctor continued, "they have the sparrow, the same as
in Europe and America, and the ornithologists say that Siam is the most
southerly limit of this bird. As you go south in Asia, you will not find
the sparrow anywhere else except where he has been introduced by the
European inhabitants.

[Illustration: EDIBLE SWALLOWS NESTS.]

"Some of the trade of Siam consists in shipping to China the edible
portion of a bird's-nest, and this is the material from which the
Chinese make their famous 'birds'-nest soup.' In Canton and Hong-kong it
sells for its weight in silver, and sometimes is even dearer than that.
It is found on the western coast of the Gulf of Siam, and also on the
east coast of the Bay of Bengal; the bird makes his nest in caves among
the rocks, and the work of collecting the nests is both difficult and
dangerous."

"What kind of a bird is it?" Fred asked.

"It is a species of swallow," was the reply; "it is about as large as
the common swallow with which you are familiar, and its movements
through the air are much like those of the American bird; and in the
same way that our swallows like to build in barns and chimneys, and
other dark places, the Siamese one constructs his dwelling among the
rocky caves along the coast."

"What is the peculiarity of the bird's-nest that the Chinese like so
much?" one of the boys inquired.

"The peculiarity is in the material of which it is constructed," the
Doctor answered. "The bird gathers a glutinous weed from the coral
rocks, and carries it in its mouth and stomach to the cave where it
lives. There the plastic substance is shaped into a nest about the size
of a common teacup. There are three qualities, and they are prized
accordingly: the first is when the nest is freshly made, and the
material is snowy white; the second, when the bird has laid her eggs;
and the third, when she has hatched her brood and gone. The bird is
known as the _lawit_ in Java, and the _salangane_ in the Philippine
Islands, while its scientific name is _Hirundo esculenta_.

[Illustration: SIAMESE WATER BIRDS.]

"Among the birds inhabiting the Siamese forests there is the common
peacock, which is shot for the sake of its feathers; and there are
several kinds of pigeons. Then they have the quail and the pheasant, the
latter in several varieties; and they have the common cock, or barn-yard
fowl, running wild in great numbers. The chickens that are sold in the
markets of Siam are these same wild birds domesticated, and those that
we have in America are descended from Asiatic ancestors that went to
Europe centuries and centuries ago. They have wild chickens in Siam,
just as we have wild turkeys in our own country.

[Illustration: PHEASANT AND YOUNG.]

"They have in Siam a goodly number of evading birds, and not many
swimmers. Ducks are bred by the Chinese residents, but not generally by
the Siamese, and I am told that they do not exist in a wild state. The
goose is rarely seen; but there are plenty of pelicans and kingfishers,
and several birds of the crane and stork families."

"What was the bird we saw at the consul's house the day we called
there?" queried Frank.

"You mean the one that kept up such an incessant talking?"

"Yes," Frank answered; "he rattled away in Siamese, and he called out
'Boy!' two or three times; and it sounded so much like a human voice
that I thought, at first, it was some one calling a servant."

"That was a mineur, or minor," the Doctor explained; "and it is said to
surpass the parrot in its ability to talk. He learns very easily, and is
as great an imitator as the American mocking-bird. The one at the
consulate can say a great many things in Siamese, but he does not yet
know much English. A friend of mine had one of these birds that was the
source of great amusement; he would whistle, in exact imitation of his
master, and he could sing certain bits of music without making a
mistake. When my friend first obtained him, the bird could only speak
the native language; but in a little while he picked up several phrases
in English, and pronounced them perfectly.

"One thing he did was to call the servant, as he had heard his owner. As
you have seen, the way of summoning servants is by shouting 'Boy!' and
on hearing this word the servant comes. My friend's bird had caught up
the word, and every little while he would shout it so as to deceive the
servant, and bring him to his master. Naturally the servant was annoyed
at being disturbed, and so my friend told him that when he wanted him he
would call 'Boy! boy!' and he need not come when he heard the word only
once. In three days the bird was doing the same thing, and deceiving the
servant. Then it was arranged that my friend would strike on the table
or clap his hands, as they do in Turkey and Syria. This was too much for
the mineur; he found that he could not amuse himself as before. The one
at the consulate is learning the same trick, and amusing himself by
imitating what he hears spoken around him."

Frank wished he could take one of these birds home with him; but the
Doctor said it would be too much trouble to do so. The mineur is of
tropical origin, and the climate of the Northern States of America is
not suited to him. "The chances are," said he, "that if you took a dozen
mineurs to carry to America, you would lose three-fourths of them on the
way, and the others would not live more than a few months after getting
there."

As the Doctor closed his remark about the mineur, the boat touched the
landing in front of the hotel, and their morning's excursion came to an
end.



CHAPTER XVII.

PRESENTATION TO THE KING.--DINNER AT THE PALACE.


While they were at lunch, and discussing the sights and scenes of the
morning, a messenger arrived with a note from the consul. It was to the
effect that the king would receive him, accompanied by Doctor Bronson,
at three o'clock that afternoon. The consul added that he would call at
the hotel with his boat about half-past two, and they would proceed
thence together. The Doctor had no time to lose in making his toilet for
the ceremony; he finished it, and was seated on the veranda of the hotel
not more than two minutes before the consul arrived. At the latter's
suggestion, the boys joined the party; and it was arranged that, while
the two gentlemen were having their audience with the king, the youths
could amuse themselves in the palace-grounds under the guidance of the
consular secretary.

[Illustration: COURT-YARD OF THE ROYAL PALACE AT BANGKOK.]

They had a slow journey up the river to the palace, as the tide was
against them, and compelled the boat to hug close to the shore; but they
were there a little before three o'clock, and had a short walk from the
landing-place to the front of the palace. They were shown to a platform
in the court-yard, and were received there by the interpreter and
secretary of the king, who announced that his majesty would be ready for
the audience in a few moments. The platform was under a wide-spreading
tree, that furnished a most grateful shade; and there were many small
trees and bushes growing in large pots that stood in irregular rows. Two
or three groups of servants were crouched in the yard, which was paved
with large blocks of stone, and a little way off a royal elephant was
undergoing his daily exercise in charge of his keepers. Coffee was
brought, and with it cigars and cigarettes; and a quarter of an hour
passed away quite agreeably to all concerned. At the end of that time, a
messenger came and said something to the secretary in Siamese; the
secretary then turned to the gentlemen, and told them the king was
waiting for them. He led the way towards a low gate-way, and the boys
remained with the consular secretary.

They had a pleasant ramble in the palace-grounds, and saw the stables
where the white elephants were kept, as well as the elephants
themselves. The secretary told them the audience would occupy about half
an hour, and they would have that time at their disposal before
returning to the platform in the court-yard. In half an hour they came
back, and waited for the Doctor and the consul. They were not there
three minutes before the gentlemen returned, and were ready to go back
to the hotel.

On their way homeward, the Doctor told the boys what he had seen and
done, and the consul added here and there little bits of information to
the Doctor's story. The Doctor was so pleased with the visit, that he
spent the evening writing an account of the affair; and it was not till
a late hour that he finished it. He readily consented to allow the boys
to copy it, so that it could form part of the narrative of their journey
in Siam. Here it is:

"After leaving the platform, where we had rested to await the pleasure
of the king, we soon came to a gate-way that was guarded by a double
file of soldiers, who presented arms as we approached. The gate-way led
us close to the apartments of the women, and I managed to have glimpses
of the dusky occupants of the place as we walked along. Some of them
were pretty; but their mouths were so disfigured by betel-chewing that
the effect was not agreeable. Our glance was only a hurried one, as we
were speedily at the door of the palace.

"We mounted a stairway to the king's apartments; then we passed through
a hall ornamented with busts and portraits of European sovereigns,
living or dead, and then we entered a large saloon, where we found
ourselves in the presence of the king.

"His majesty approached as we entered--exactly as a private gentleman
might do in his own house when a visitor calls--and, after shaking hands
with the consul, he paused for the latter to introduce me. As soon as I
was introduced, he shook hands with me after the Occidental fashion, and
invited us to seats near a table in the centre of the room. The sofa
where he sat was at right angles to the position of our chairs, so that,
by partially turning, he faced us both. At his left stood the
interpreter, who translated the king's Siamese words into English, but
rarely translated our own words into Siamese, as the king understands
our language perfectly, and speaks it with very few mistakes.
Ceremonious presentations are always conducted with the aid of an
interpreter, and the king appears to understand only his own language;
but when he wishes to have a free and confidential conversation with a
foreign consul or other personage, he dismisses his interpreter, and
talks away in English with perfect ease.

[Illustration: CHULALONKORN I., SUPREME KING OF SIAM.]

"His majesty's voice is full, clear, and resonant, and he pronounces
every word with the utmost care. As he talks, his face brightens; he
gesticulates gracefully, and to a sufficient extent to make his
conversation quite un-Oriental in character. His complexion is the true
Siamese bronze; his cheek-bones are high, and the outlines of his face
are decidedly handsome. His thick black hair is parted gracefully in the
middle, and not cropped after the Siamese style; he has a slender
mustache, which evinces careful training, and gives promise of future
greatness. He wore at the ceremonial the Siamese trousers, with white
stockings, and he had on his feet shoes of patent-leather, if I observed
them correctly. His upper garment was a sack of military cut, and made
of white linen; it terminated with a sort of upright collar, and was
closely buttoned. The only ornament I noticed upon it was a row of three
stars on each side of the throat.

"Like all other kings, his majesty is well provided with uniforms, and
every ceremonial has a dress peculiarly adapted to it. His military
uniform, when he appears at the head of his troops, is quite European in
style, but his court-dress for state ceremonials adheres strictly to
the Siamese model. It is richly embroidered and studded with jewels;
the crown rises in the form of an elongated pyramid, with an aigrette of
jewels, and the sandals are so thickly set with precious stones that
there is very little of the foundation-work to be seen.

"His majesty asked how long I had been in Siam, and how I liked the
country; wished to know if I had visited the temples of Bangkok, and
what I thought of them; and made other inquiries touching my movements.
When these questions had been answered, he spoke of the visit of the
United States ships of war several months before, and expressed the wish
to see more of our ships and more of our countrymen in Siam. He asked
when we would have American steamers running between Bangkok and
Hong-kong to connect with the Pacific Mail and Occidental and Oriental
lines, and said he hoped for a rapid increase of commerce between Siam
and the United States. Evidently he is sincerely desirous of intimate
commercial relations with us, as he said there were many articles of
American manufacture which they wished to be supplied with; while we, on
the other hand, would doubtless be willing to purchase rice at a lower
price than we were now paying.

"Tea and cigars were served while we were engaged on these topics, which
occupied a period of ten or fifteen minutes. Then the conversation took
a miscellaneous turn; and he dwelt upon the peculiarities of the
different languages that are spoken in his dominions: it seems that his
majesty is well versed in the various dialects and distinct languages,
and he is like the Emperor of Austria, as he can converse with all his
subjects in their own tongue. Then he talked with the consul about some
matter that the latter had brought before him at a previous interview;
and after that there was a convenient pause, in which we rose and made
our adieux. The king followed us to the door of the room, and, before
shaking hands in farewell, he invited the consul and myself to dine with
him the following evening. Of course we accepted without a moment's
hesitation, and then made our way out as we had entered. The whole
affair from beginning to end was quite free from stiffness or severity,
and proved the king to be, as he is represented, a most accomplished
gentleman."

Sixty years ago a presentation to the King of Siam was a much more
ceremonious affair than the one here recorded, and it required a great
deal of study and rehearsal on the part of all concerned. Mr. Crawfurd,
who came to Siam in 1822 at the head of an embassy from the
Governor-general of India, gives the following account of his
presentation:

     "We left our dwelling at half-past eight in the morning for the
     palace. A twelve-oared barge, with the rowers dressed in scarlet
     uniforms, was furnished by the court for the conveyance of the
     gentlemen of the mission; another for our Indian attendants, about
     twenty in number; while the sepoys of the escort were conveyed in
     the ship's launch. It was made a particular request that our
     servants, especially the sepoys of the escort, should form part of
     the procession. About nine o'clock we landed under the walls of the
     palace, where we found an immense concourse of people waiting to
     view the spectacle. The accommodation for conveying us to the
     palace consisted of net hammocks suspended from poles, furnished
     with an embroidered carpet, and, according to the custom of the
     country, borne by two men only. The management of these vehicles
     was a matter of some difficulty, and our awkwardness became a
     subject of some amusement to the crowd. We passed through a street
     of Siamese military arranged in single file, and then came to a
     gate-way where we were compelled to leave our side-arms, as no
     person was permitted to come into the palace enclosure with arms
     about him. We were also compelled to dismount from our litters and
     leave our escort behind us.

     [Illustration: PRIME-MINISTER OF SIAM.]

     "We passed through another street of soldiers, and finally came to
     a large hall, eighty or ninety feet long by forty broad. We were
     conducted inside, and carpets were spread for us to sit on while
     waiting to be summoned to the royal presence. We waited about
     twenty minutes, and were then taken to the hall of audience, where
     we were requested to take off our shoes and leave behind us our
     Indian attendants. As soon as we entered the gate we found a band
     of music of about one hundred persons drawn up to form a street for
     our reception. The instruments consisted of drums, gongs, brass
     flutes, and flageolets.

     "Opposite the door of the hall there was an immense screen, which
     concealed the interior from view. We passed the screen to the right
     side, and, as had been agreed upon, taking off our hats, made a
     respectful bow in the European manner. Every foot of the great hall
     was so crowded with prostrate courtiers that it was difficult to
     move without treading upon some officer of state. Precedence is
     decided upon such occasions by relative vicinity to the throne; the
     princes being near the foot of it, the principal officers of
     government next to them, and thus in succession down to the lowest
     officer who is admitted. We seated ourselves a little in front of
     the screen, and made three obeisances to the throne in unison with
     the courtiers. This obeisance consisted in raising the joined hands
     three times to the head, and each time touching the forehead. To
     have completed the Siamese obeisance it would have been necessary
     to bend the body to the ground, and touch the earth with the
     forehead at each prostration.

     "The hall of audience was a well proportioned and spacious saloon,
     about eighty feet long, perhaps half this in breadth, and about
     thirty feet high. Two rows, each of ten handsome wooden pillars,
     formed an avenue from the door to the throne, which was situated at
     the upper end of the hall. The walls and ceiling were painted a
     bright vermilion, the cornices of the former being gilded, and the
     latter thickly spangled with stars in rich gilding. The throne and
     its appendages occupied the whole of the upper end of the hall. The
     throne was gilded all over, and about fifteen feet high, and it had
     much the appearance of a handsome pulpit. A pair of curtains of
     gold tissue upon a yellow ground concealed the whole of the upper
     part of the room except the throne, and they were intended to be
     drawn over this also except when used. The king, when seated on his
     throne, had more the appearance of a statue than of a living being.
     The general appearance of the hall of audience, the prostrate
     attitude of the courtiers, the situation of the king, and the
     silence which prevailed, presented a very imposing spectacle, and
     reminded us much more of a temple crowded with votaries engaged in
     the performance of some solemn rite of religion than the
     audience-chamber of a temporal monarch.

     [Illustration: THE KING OF SIAM IN HIS STATE ROBES.]

     "The words which his Siamese majesty condescended to address to us
     were delivered in a grave, measured, and oratorical manner. One of
     the first officers of state delivered them to a person of inferior
     rank, and this person to the interpreter who was behind us, and
     explained them in the Malay language, which we understood. After a
     few questions and answers relative to our mission, the king said,

     "'I am glad to see an envoy here from the Governor-general of
     India. Whatever you have to say, communicate with the minister of
     foreign affairs. What we chiefly want from you are fire-arms.'

     "His majesty had no sooner pronounced these words than we heard a
     loud stroke, as if given by a wand against a piece of wainscoting,
     and then the curtains on each side of the throne, moved by some
     invisible agency, closed upon it. This was followed by the same
     flourish of wind instruments as on our entrance, and the courtiers,
     falling on their faces to the ground, made six successive
     prostrations. We made three obeisances, sitting upright as agreed
     upon. The ceremony was over.

     "During the audience a heavy shower had fallen, and it was still
     raining. His majesty took this opportunity of presenting each of us
     with a small umbrella, and sent a message to desire that we would
     view the curiosities of the palace at our leisure. When we reached
     the threshold of the audience-hall we perceived the court yard and
     the roads extremely wet and dirty from the rain, and naturally
     demanded our shoes, which we had left at the last gate. This was a
     favor which could not be yielded; and we were told that the princes
     of the blood could not wear shoes within the sacred enclosure where
     we now were. It would have been impolitic to evince ill-humor or
     remonstrance, and therefore we feigned a cheerful compliance with
     this inconvenient usage, and proceeded to gratify our curiosity."

[Illustration: A YOUNGER BROTHER OF THE KING.]

Doctor Bronson had no such ceremony to pass through as did Mr. Crawfurd
in 1822; he was not required to remove his shoes at the gate-way, and he
did not pass along a hall full of kneeling courtiers. The present king
has ordained that persons of all ranks shall come before him erect, just
as they would enter the presence of a king in Europe, and as far as
possible he has made the usages of his court correspond to the European
model.

Of the dinner to which the consul and Doctor Bronson were invited, the
latter wrote as follows:

"The dinner was quite in the European style, and was prepared by a
French cook who has been in his majesty's employ for several years. The
party consisted of his majesty, six of his younger brothers, the king's
private secretary, the consul, and myself. The conversation was general,
and touched many topics; the king had many questions to ask about the
United States, and particularly wished to know the difference between
Siamese slavery of the present day and American slavery of the past.
After dinner we sat on the balcony, listening to the music of the band,
and breathing the soft evening air. During part of the dinner and all
the rest of the evening the king threw off his reserve, dismissed his
interpreter, and conversed freely in English, which he spoke easily, and
with great correctness. It was half-past nine o'clock when we left the
palace, and were escorted to our boat to return to the hotel."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE WHITE ELEPHANT.--VISIT TO THE SECOND KING OF SIAM.


The time that Doctor Bronson passed in the presence of the king was
utilized by the boys in a visit to the stables of the famous white
elephants of the royal palace of Bangkok.

When the Doctor was busy in the evening with his account of the
presentation to the king, Frank occupied himself in putting on paper his
experiences among the animals that are held in such reverence by the
Siamese. Fred sat by his side and gave occasional hints about the story,
and made sure that nothing they had seen was omitted.

[Illustration: A WHITE ELEPHANT WORSHIPPING THE SUN AND MOON.

(From a Chinese Drawing.)]

"Our friends," said he, "will want to know everything we can tell them
about the white elephants."

"Of course they will," Frank replied; "they don't have white elephants
in America--at any rate, our white elephants are not of the Siamese
kind."

"I don't think I ever heard of one in our country," said Fred; "and if
there ever was one there, it is news to me."

"Don't you remember," Frank responded, smiling, "that your uncle Charles
was said to have bought a white elephant a year or two ago?"

"Yes, I remember it perfectly," was the reply. "It was not a white
elephant that he bought, but only a large house. It was three times as
big as he needed; and after losing a great deal of money in repairing
it, and hiring a crowd of servants to keep it in order, he sold it for
much less than he gave. Of course, I understand that when a man has
bought something he does not need, and which involves him in a ruinous
expense, he is said to have bought a white elephant. I wonder where the
expression came from."

Just then Doctor Bronson entered the room to look for something he
needed, and the boys appealed the question to him. Both of them had
heard the allusion to "buying a white elephant," and knew its meaning.
What they now wished to find was where it originated.

The Doctor explained that it was said to be the custom in certain
Eastern countries for the king to give a white elephant to any nobleman
whom he wished to ruin. As the present came from the king, it could not
be sold or given away: the expense of keeping the animal was enormous,
as he required a great number of attendants, and consumed vast
quantities of food. In a little while the nobleman would be a beggar, as
his estate would be entirely consumed in maintaining the elephant; and
so it came to be understood that when a man received such a present, it
was a polite way of driving him into bankruptcy. "There is also a
story," said the Doctor, "of a man who drew a white elephant in a
lottery; he could not give his prize away, as nobody would accept it,
and he could not kill him, as such an act was a crime of the highest
character. It would not do to turn him loose, as he would then be
responsible for all the damage caused by the elephant; and if he kept
the beast it would soon eat him into poverty. Consequently, when a man
has something in his possession difficult to get rid of and costly to
keep, he is said to have drawn a white elephant."

The Doctor found what he wanted and retired, and the boys proceeded with
their story. With Fred's assistance, Frank wrote as follows:

"The white elephant is not white by any means. He is only a sort of
cream or flesh color; and anybody who expects him to rival the snow in
the purity of his complexion will be disappointed. But, after all, he is
not so dark as a good many men whom we call white, and so I suppose his
name is quite proper. He is very scarce, and this is one reason why he
is prized so highly.

"Siam is not the only country where the white elephant is regarded with
special honor; the animal receives great attention, and is very much
prized in Burmah and other Buddhist lands; and it is said that some of
the wars between Burmah and Siam have arisen from disputes about the
possession of white elephants. Money cannot buy them, and no king who
possessed one would dare to sell it for any price, as his people would
think he had defied the powers of Heaven, and would be sure to bring the
severest calamities upon them. Sir John Bowring says that when he came
to Siam at the head of an embassy from the Queen of England in 1855, the
king sent some presents for Her Majesty, and among them was a golden box
locked with a golden key. It was said to be more precious than all the
other presents; but it contained nothing beyond a few hairs from the
tail of the white elephant.

"The Buddhists have great reverence for anything that is white; and when
whiteness is combined with great rarity, and also with magnificence, it
is easy to see why the white elephant is above all other animals. 'It is
believed,' Sir John Bowring says, 'that Buddha, the divine emanation
from the Deity, must necessarily, in his multitudinous metamorphoses or
transmissions through all existences and through millions of æons,
delight to abide for some time in that grand incarnation of purity which
is represented by the white elephant. While the priests teach that there
is no spot in the heavens above, nor in the earth below, or the waters
under the earth, which is not visited in the peregrinations of the
divinity, they hold that his tarrying may be longer in the white
elephant than in any other abode, and that in the possession of the
sacred creature they may possess the presence of Buddha himself.'

"The white elephant is considered of equal rank with the king, and is
treated with all possible dignity; he has a stable to himself, and ten
or twelve keepers to look after his wants. The first one we saw was
standing on a platform which was being swept by a priest; and we were
told that none but priests were allowed to serve the sacred animal. He
was chained to a couple of posts, so that he could not step away from
the platform; and the interpreter told us not to go near him, as he was
not of a pleasant temper, and might hurt us. The keeper gave him a few
bananas, which he appeared quite willing to take; the fact is, the
elephant is very fond of bananas, and the wild ones in the forest will
often run considerable risk to get them. After he had swallowed the
bananas he reached for a truss of hay, but for some reason the keeper
did not think proper to let him have it. He showed some temper, and the
keeper brought him to a sense of his duty by pricking his foot with a
sharp iron till drops of blood came from it. This seemed to us a funny
way to treat a king, and we wondered how his majesty liked it.

[Illustration: WHITE MONKEY IN ELEPHANT STABLES.]

"We saw two white elephants, and each had a stable to himself, or rather
a palace. Their tusks were encircled with hoops or rings of pure gold,
and there were golden or gilded canopies above them, and ornaments of
great value in other parts of the stable. In one of the stables there
was a white monkey, and the interpreter told us that the white monkey is
an object of great veneration among the Siamese, and is kept in the
elephant stables to prevent the presence of evil spirits. The one we saw
was a very quiet and dignified monkey of a perfectly pure white; he was
above the ordinary size, and had a long tail, and they told us that he
was caught in the forests on the upper waters of the Menam River.

"When a white elephant is caught, there is great rejoicing throughout
Siam. The king and court go out to meet him as he is brought towards the
capital, and there is a grand procession with banners and music.
Meantime a house has been prepared for him, and some of the members of
the noble families of Siam are appointed to wait on him. He has
everything he can possibly want except his liberty; and when he goes to
the river to bathe he is escorted by other elephants, who are supposed
to be highly honored by admission to his presence. But, in spite of all
attentions, he sometimes takes sick and dies, and then the rejoicing is
changed to mourning. The whole nation is wrapped in deep grief, and the
funeral ceremonies are of an elaborate character. Fortunately for the
Siamese, the elephant is an animal of long life, and so they are not
often called upon to mourn the loss of one of these sacred beasts.

"After we had seen the white elephants, we went to the stables of the
common ones. There were a dozen or more of them in a shed that was quite
open to the weather on all its sides, and they had only the ground to
lie upon. They were chained up by the forefeet, and when we went to the
stable they had just been fed. Each of them had a bundle of freshly-cut
grass; and we were told that a healthy elephant consumes every day not
less than seven or eight hundred pounds of this food. These elephants
are kept for working about the palace-grounds; and their occupation at
present is in hauling timber from the bank of the river to the places
where it is wanted in the construction of a new wing to the king's
residence.

[Illustration: HOW AN ELEPHANT FEEDS.]

"We were much interested in seeing the way the elephant eats.

"Everybody has seen the trunk of an elephant, either on the animal
himself or in pictures. Did you ever know that there are more than forty
thousand muscles in this wonderful structure, and that it is powerful
enough to pull down a large tree, and at the same time sufficiently
delicate to pick up a pin? That is what Cuvier says about it, and he is
the best authority that we know of. Rennie, in his 'Natural History of
the Elephant,' says the same thing; and when we consider the uses of the
animal's trunk, and the many operations it will perform, the statement
is not at all surprising. And when we saw the elephants at the royal
palace taking their food, we could not help admiring the skill with
which they twisted the wisps of grass and thrust them into their
capacious mouths.

"One of the beasts was very good-natured, and allowed us to examine the
termination of his proboscis, as long as we did not touch it. As the
elephant's existence depends upon his trunk he is very sensitive about
it, and is constantly afraid of injuring it. They say that this is the
reason why he always elevates it in the air when there is any danger,
and that his great fear of the tiger arises from the fact that the tiger
always attempts to disable the elephant by springing on his trunk.

[Illustration]

"The trunk that we looked at had a projection that might be called a
finger, and directly opposite there was a sort of thumb. The finger was
exceedingly flexible, while the thumb was not; but they fitted to each
other so well that they could hold on to any thing even if it was very
small. Here is a picture of it.

[Illustration]

"And here are some more pictures, showing how the elephant pulls up the
grass when he is feeding in the open air, and also how he grasps it
before he thrusts it into his mouth. Then you can see how he takes hold
of a carrot, or any other root, and how he seizes a branch of a tree
that requires him to exercise a part of his great strength. In the
latter case he twines his trunk around the branch, and if he is pulling
it down from the tree he raises himself on his hind legs, and lets his
weight hang by his trunk. In this way he can bring down a good-sized
branch without much trouble; and as he feeds on the leaves and small
limbs in the forest where he lives, his power is very useful to him.

[Illustration: ELEPHANTS DRINKING.]

"When he has seized anything with his proboscis, his next effort is to
carry it to his mouth. This he does by bending his trunk, just as a man
bends his finger; and when he has it properly bent he thrusts the
article between his jaws, and has it all safe and secure. He drinks by
drawing the trunk full of water, and then thrusting it to his mouth; it
is sometimes thought that he draws water through the trunk directly into
his stomach, but such is not the case. He breathes through the trunk,
but he cannot take food or drink through it, as it only communicates
with his lungs. Here is the way he supplies himself.

"There used to be a question among the boys at school, 'Why do white
sheep eat more hay than black ones?' The answer was, 'Because there are
more of them.' That may be all right for sheep; but if you apply the
question to elephants, you are obliged to reverse it, as there are very
few white elephants, and any number of black ones."

By the time the above account was finished it was after eleven o'clock.
Labor was suspended, and the boys went to bed. In the morning they had a
short time to spare before breakfast, and Fred thought he would write a
description of his sleeping-room and its peculiarities, and send it
along with the story of the visit to the palace. So he took pen and
paper, and wrote as follows:

[Illustration: FRED'S TORMENTOR.]

"The weather is so warm here that we don't need any bed-clothing, and
consequently they don't give us any; we have hard beds with harder
pillows, and they are much better than any soft beds and pillows could
possibly be. A sheet to lie on is spread over the bed, and all the
covering we need is the pajamas, or sleeping suits that everybody wears
here. Mosquitoes are abundant, and of all sizes; and so they cover the
beds with a netting of very fine mesh to keep out the smallest of these
troublesome pests. The nets not only keep out the mosquitoes but they
keep in the heat, and for this reason we suffer a great deal from the
high temperature. I get up several times in the night, and go and sit on
the balcony, just to get a little cool; every time I wake I am in a
profuse perspiration, and it is largely caused by the closeness of the
air under the mosquito netting.

"When we first came here we were disturbed frequently by the _gecko_, a
lizard that climbs around the walls and partitions of the houses, and
goes wherever he pleases. He is five or six inches long, and not pretty
to look at, and he makes a noise like some one calling out 'Gecko!' It
is from his call that he gets his name, and until we got used to it we
were waked by it. It isn't pleasant to see these lizards climbing around
your room; but everybody says they are perfectly harmless, and they eat
up a great many insects. There is a smaller lizard that eats mosquitoes,
or anything else he can manage, and it is very funny to see him at work.
Frank and I watched one the other evening for half an hour, and saw him
do a great deal of good. He is just the color of the boards where he
clings, or very nearly so, and therefore he is not easily seen. When a
mosquito passed within half an inch of his nose he darted out his long
flexible tongue with the rapidity of lightning, and caught his prize on
the end of it. The mosquito disappeared like a flash, and then the
lizard watched for another, and took him in the same way.

"When a mosquito or a fly lighted two or three inches away, the lizard
would creep along like a cat, and hug close to the boards. He did it
very slowly till he got within reach, and then out came the tongue as
before, and he rarely missed his aim. One large fly was too much for
him, and after getting him on the end of his tongue he had a sharp
struggle to swallow him. The fly escaped, and after that the lizard was
more cautious about the size of his game."

Breakfast was announced, and the story of the Siamese lizard was dropped
for the present.

While they were at breakfast a messenger came from the consul to Doctor
Bronson. He announced that the second king of Siam would receive them
that afternoon, as they had been received the day before by the supreme
king.

The boys had heard that Siam was ruled by two kings, and the Doctor took
the opportunity to explain the relations between these rulers.

"The king at the grand palace, where we went yesterday," said Doctor
Bronson, "is the first or supreme king of the country. The second king
occupies a position that is difficult to understand clearly when we
compare it with our own form of government. He is not like our
Vice-president of the United States, as he does not inherit the throne
on the death of the supreme king; nor does he resemble the ancient
Mikado of Japan in being a spiritual ruler, while the first king is a
temporal one. According to Sir John Bowring, his opinion and sanction
are sought by the king in important matters, and his name is associated
in treaties. He is supposed to have control of one-third of the
revenues, and has a portion of the army under his command; in time of
war he is expected to have direct control of the armies in the field,
and to go with them in person, but this is not always the case.
Occasionally the office of second king is abolished, and it seems to be
largely in the power of the first king to do what he pleases concerning
the rank and authority of his subordinate.

"The second king has a palace nearly as large as that of the first, and
he has ministers corresponding to those that form the highest cabinet.
The same respect is shown to him when he goes abroad as to the first
king, and the latter is the only personage in the country to whom the
second king must pay visits of ceremony. Siam is the only country in the
world that has this arrangement for dividing the royal power, and when
we come to examine it closely it will be found that there is not a very
large division, after all. Not long ago, as I am told, there was a
quarrel between the first and second kings of Siam, which resulted in
the second king seeking the protection of the English consul. Since that
time the power of the second king has been less than it was before, and
the breach between the two great heads of the kingdom of Siam has not
been entirely healed."

At the appointed time the consul called for the Doctor, and the two
gentlemen proceeded on their excursion, leaving the boys at the hotel.
The journey to the palace was not made in a boat, as on the day before,
but in a carriage, for the reason that going in a boat would necessitate
a long walk from the landing to the gates of the royal residence. On his
return the Doctor gave the following account of his visit:

"We drove through a narrow gate-way where some soldiers were on guard,
and soon found ourselves in an open court-yard of the palace. Here we
left the carriage, and entered a large anteroom at the head of a flight
of stairs, where we waited while a messenger went to inform the king of
our arrival. He came back shortly, accompanied by a gentleman who spoke
English and Siamese with equal fluency, as he is the son of an American
missionary, and was born in Siam. Under his guidance we went to the
reception-hall, which was in a large building just off the court-yard.
It was entered directly from the open air, and not by passing through a
series of halls, as in the palace of the first king. His majesty rose as
we entered, and came forward a few steps to meet us; he first shook
hands with the consul, and then with me after the consul had introduced
me, and the interpreter had translated his remarks.

"The king asked us to be seated, and gave us the example by taking a
chair for himself, and indicating the ones we were to occupy. He is a
man of about fifty-five or sixty years old, and has a pleasant and
intelligent face; he speaks English with considerable fluency, and has
read a great deal about England and America. He is a great admirer of
America, and is proud of the name of George Washington, which he bears."

"Are we to understand," Frank asked, "that the second king of Siam is
named George Washington?"

"Hardly as much as that," was the Doctor's reply; "he was known among
the foreign residents of Bangkok by the name of Prince George before he
was proclaimed second king. He has at least half a dozen Siamese titles,
and places the name of 'George Washington' before them. He assumed it
himself, as I am informed, with the consent of the old King of Siam,
because he admired the character of the man whom we hold in such great
reverence in America. He has been, and continues to be, a pretty close
student of science, politics, and other matters, and is a man of more
than ordinary intelligence.

"Soon after we were seated, coffee and cigars were brought, and the king
offered us some of the latter from his own box of massive gold.
Conversation began immediately; the questions and answers being rather
slow, as they were made through the interpreter. The king asked when I
left America, and what I thought of Siam; and when I spoke in praise of
his country he appeared greatly pleased. Then we talked about the
scenery of the tropics in comparison with that of the temperate zone;
and the king said he was sorry America was so far off, as it would give
him great pleasure to visit it. Then we talked about the fruits and
flowers of Siam, the many varieties of the palm-tree, and the great uses
of the palm and bamboo to mankind. Then the king asked about some of the
productions of America; and after that there came a pause, which gave us
an opportunity to rise and make our adieux. The king shook hands with us
at parting, and hoped I would like my stay in Siam so well that I would
come here again. We found our carriage, and drove home again; but,
before leaving the palace, we went to see an elephant which belongs to
the second king, and is said to be over a hundred years old. It has been
a long time in captivity, and is very large and powerful, and its temper
is anything but amiable."

[Illustration: THE SECOND KING OF SIAM, IN STATE ROBES.]

Fred asked if the king wore his state-dress as it was represented in the
pictures he had seen of his majesty.

The Doctor answered that the king was plainly dressed, and the only
indications of rank about his garments were some stars embroidered on
the collar of his coat. The coat was short, and rather in form like a
jacket; it hung loosely, and by no means concealed a vest of white linen
that joined with trousers of Siamese pattern, to complete the clothing
of royalty. On his feet he wore a pair of embroidered shoes that were
cut low enough for slippers, and could be easily thrown off without the
aid of a boot-jack. His attendants were in Siamese garb, and the general
surroundings of the place were more Oriental in their character than
those of the palace of the supreme king.

Frank and Fred listened with great interest to what the Doctor had to
say of his visit to the second king of Siam. Through fear of forgetting
some portion of it, they proceeded to put it upon paper at once; and, as
the afternoon was far gone when they began, they had sufficient
occupation for the rest of the day.



CHAPTER XIX.

LEAVING SIAM.--LIFE UNDER THE OCEAN WAVE.


The time came for leaving Siam. Our friends had enjoyed their visit to
the Land of the White Elephant, and had seen many things that were full
of interest; they wished to remain longer, but they remembered there
were other countries to be seen, and other people whose manners and
customs they wished to learn from personal observation. So they prepared
to continue their journey.

Their next place of destination was Singapore. Between that city and
Bangkok there is a service of steamers each way about once a week; it is
somewhat irregular, as the movements of the ships depend more or less
upon the amount of freight offering and the facility of obtaining
cargoes. The steamers are under the Siamese flag; some of them belong to
the government, while the others are the property of Chinese or Siamese
merchants established at Bangkok. All of them are small, to make sure of
passing the bar at the mouth of the Menam, and their passenger
accommodations are rather limited.

[Illustration: THE DOCTOR GETTING READY.]

The distance from Bangkok to Singapore is about eight hundred miles;
and, as the ships are not built for speed, the voyage usually takes from
four to five days. Our friends engaged passage on the _Bang Yong Seng_,
and were told to be on board by seven o'clock in the morning of the day
fixed for departure. The steamer was at her dock about a mile above the
hotel, and consequently Doctor Bronson and the boys proposed to leave
the hotel soon after six o'clock, in order to be in season. When they
suggested their plan to Captain Salje, the proprietor of the
establishment, the latter laughed, and said he would have breakfast
ready for them at half-past six, and then they would have an abundance
of time.

"How can that be?" the Doctor asked.

"Very easy to explain," the captain responded. "The river is so narrow
that the steamer cannot turn around where she is. She backs down below
here, and does it very slowly, and you need not go to the dock at all.
You can have your baggage ready, and when we see her coming you can pull
out with the boat and drop along-side. The gangway-ladder will be down,
and you can get on board and have your baggage handed up without the
least trouble."

This plan was quite to the taste of the party of travellers, and they
adopted it at once. It was carried out to perfection; and the boys
pronounced it much better than being obliged to breakfast at a
disagreeably early hour, and then pulling up the stream. The consul came
to see them off; and as the steamer passed the consulate, the flag of
their country was dipped in farewell honor to Doctor Bronson and his
young companions. The steamer turned a little below the consulate, and
headed her prow for the sea; and she steamed steadily onward, till at
length she left the Menam behind her and entered the waters of the Gulf
of Siam.

The boys sat on the deck of the steamer, and watched the low coast as it
slowly receded from view. Flocks of birds filled the air, or settled on
the marshy shores, where the scattered palm-trees waved their tufted
heads. There was a faint ripple of surf breaking on the beach, or
forming in long lines where the waters were shallow. The sky was clear,
and the sun filled the atmosphere with a flood of light; while it made
the shelter of the awning indispensable to the comfort of the young
travellers.

[Illustration: COAST OF SIAM, NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE RIVER.]

Although the steamer was of light draught, she stirred the mud from the
bottom as she crossed the bar at the mouth of the Menam; she left a long
trail of discolored water behind her, but it disappeared as she steamed
onward and left the shores of Siam fading in the distance. While the
boys were busy with their contemplation of the scene, the Chinese
steward of the steamer came to tell them dinner was ready. They went
below, and were soon seated at the cabin table.

[Illustration: WATER-FOWL OF SIAM.]

The passengers were not numerous. Besides the Doctor and his young
friends, there were only two others in the cabin, and it did not take
long for them to form an acquaintance. One of the twain was a German
merchant living at Bangkok, and the other was a personage who reminded
the boys a little of their old friend, "the Mystery." He was affable,
and inclined to free conversation; and though they could not at first
make him out, they found themselves attracted towards him.

When they went on deck after dinner, the stranger followed; and by
invitation of Doctor Bronson, he drew his chair near them.

In the course of the rambling talk that ensued, Fred wondered if there
were any pearls in the Gulf of Siam. Frank quickly responded that it was
Ceylon, and not Siam, where the most of the pearls of commerce were to
be found.

The remark about pearls led to a discussion of the mode of gathering
them. Very naturally something was said about the methods of going
beneath the waves of the sea.

The stranger joined in the conversation, and it was not long before he
developed much more than a casual knowledge of the business under
consideration.

"I may as well introduce myself," he remarked, "and then we will be able
to talk freely. I am known as Captain Johnson, and have been around the
Eastern seas for the past twenty years. I am an Englishman by birth, and
have been captain of a ship trading between London and Singapore; but at
present I am a wrecker."

Doctor Bronson replied to this introduction by handing his own card to
Captain Johnson, and introducing the two youths by name.

The boys showed by the expression of their faces that they were not
altogether familiar with the peculiarities of the stranger's occupation;
evidently he perceived it, for he proceeded to explain what a wrecker
was.

"Properly speaking," said he, "a wrecker is a man who lives on a
dangerous coast, and makes a living by assisting wrecked vessels, and
saving what can be saved from their cargoes. My occupation is something
like his, but not exactly; he works above the waters, while I go below
them."

"Go below the water to save a ship!" said Fred, in astonishment. "How
can you save a ship in that way?"

The question led to an explanation that lasted through the entire
afternoon and evening. We will endeavor to give the substance of it, as
nearly as possible, in the words of Captain Johnson.

"Life beneath the ocean wave," said he, after he was comfortably
balanced in his chair, "has many features of interest. In my profession
of wrecking I have seen much that does not ordinarily happen to a man; I
am sorry I cannot remember all that has come under my observation, but
perhaps it is just as well, as I might remember too much, and so weary
you."

Frank assured him it would take a longer period than they were likely to
pass together on the ship for him to become weary of stories of the sea.
Fred echoed the remark, and thus the captain was encouraged to proceed.

"Thanks to men of science and ingenuity," the captain continued, "we
have made great progress in going beneath the water in the last
twenty-five years. Formerly a man could only stay below as long as he
could hold his breath, and of course this prevented his descending to
any great depth. With the diving apparatus now in use he can go far
below the surface, and remain there for hours."

[Illustration: A WRECK AMONG THE BREAKERS.]

The boys opened their eyes very wide at this assertion, but they did not
interrupt the story by saying what they thought.

[Illustration: PEARL-FISHER ATTACKED BY A SHARK.]

"The fisher for pearls in the primitive way has no apparatus beyond a
stone attached to a cord, a basket slung around his neck to hold the
pearl-oysters, and a knife to detach them from the bottom, and also to
defend himself from sharks. At the moment of diving he fills his lungs
with air and grasps the cord, and as he does so the stone is thrown from
the side of the boat by his assistant. The weight of the stone carries
him down; he gathers as many oysters as he can while the air in his
lungs holds out, and then he shakes the cord as a signal to be drawn up.
Sharks abound in the regions where the pearl is found, and not
infrequently they seize the poor diver as he rises to the surface. His
only mode of escape is by rapid movement; and you can readily see that
he is at a great disadvantage, as he is out of his proper element, and
in that of the shark.

"The diving-bell was the first invention to improve on the old process;
it consisted of a wide-mouthed bell large enough to contain one or two
men, who stood or were seated inside. If you put a tumbler into the
water with the mouth downwards, you will perceive, as you press below
the surface, that the air within keeps the water from rising."

The boys nodded assent to the captain's remark.

"In this way the air remains in the bell, and until it becomes foul the
divers suffer no particular inconvenience. But as soon as it has been
breathed so as to cause a sense of suffocation they must be drawn up, or
they will die.

"Then somebody arranged an air-pump so as to connect with the bell, and
by constantly working this pump the foul air was expelled, and new air
came in to supply its place. By this process the men could remain some
time below; but they could not leave the bell, and their operations were
confined to the space covered by its mouth. It is a curious fact that
the first diving-bell was invented by a spider, and not by a man."

"Invented by a spider!" the two boys exclaimed in a breath.

"Yes, invented by a spider," the captain continued.

"Why, how can that be?" Frank asked.

[Illustration; NESTS OF THE WATER-SPIDER.]

"The water-spider builds a house of silk in the shape of a bell, and
anchors it to the roots of the grasses that grow several feet under the
water. Having finished his dwelling, he proceeds to stock it with air.
For this purpose he comes to the surface, takes a bubble of air under
his abdomen and carries it to the house, where he releases it, and
allows it to rise into the cavity where he wants it. He repeats the
operation till he has filled it with air, and then he has a satisfactory
home for his family.

[Illustration; DIVERS IN THEIR ARMOR.]

"Now the diving-bell is on this principle, with the advantage of not
being stationary, and also with the greater advantage that the air can
be renewed when it becomes foul. But the modern armor dispenses with the
bell; the head of the diver is covered with an air-tight helmet with a
plate of glass in front, so that the man can see what is about him, and
the air is kept fresh by means of an air-pump and a flexible tube of
india-rubber. There are several forms of this apparatus, some of them
having a metallic knapsack, where the air is received before it goes to
the helmet, while others dispense with the knapsack, and carry the air
directly to the head of the man who is to breathe it. Sometimes, where
the depth is slight, and he is not to remain long below, the diver does
not use the helmet at all, but simply holds a tube in his mouth, through
which a stream of air is driven to him."

Frank asked how the man wearing this armor managed to sink in the water,
and retain his perpendicular position. According to his experience,
there was a tendency of the feet to fly upwards as soon as the body was
in the water, especially where it was salt instead of fresh.

"That is provided for," said Captain Johnson, "by giving the diver a
pair of shoes with soles of lead. They are so heavy that when he is out
of water he can lift his feet with difficulty; but when he goes below,
the specific gravity of the water makes them much lighter. He can then
step around, and at the same time his equilibrium is maintained."

"How long can a man stay under water with the apparatus you have
described?" Fred asked.

[Illustration: DIVERS AT WORK.]

"From one to two hours," was the reply; "according to the depth and
condition of the water. If it is very cold, he will be chilled in a
little while, and must come up to get warm again; and if he has to hold
himself against a strong current he will find his strength leaving him,
and must make a signal to be drawn to the surface. I have been two hours
under, at a depth of eighty feet, and felt no inconvenience; but when I
came up I was not able to go down again for several hours."

"Can you go down in the open sea in this way," said Fred, "or must you
always be where the water is quiet?"

[Illustration: DIVING OVER THE SIDE OF A STEAMER.]

"As to that," the captain responded, "it is impossible to answer in a
single word. The most of our operations are in rivers and harbors, or in
bays more or less shallow. Sometimes at sea it is necessary to examine
the bottom of a ship, in order to stop a leak or repair some other
damage. In such a case the ship is stopped, and a ladder is lowered near
the place to be examined; a man goes down in his submarine armor without
difficulty, and, though the water must be reasonably smooth to allow him
to do so safely, I have known it to be done when there was quite a heavy
sea on. The general rule is, that, unless the sea is smooth enough to
allow a boat to lie along side for the purpose of assisting the diver,
it is not wise to send him below. Divers are their own judges of such
matters, and will naturally refuse to descend if the risk is too great.

"Once in awhile we have cases of diving in the open ocean. Do you
remember the loss of the steamship _Japan_, on the coast of China, in
December, 1874?"

The boys said they had heard about it while they were in China, but
could not remember anything particular about the affair.

"Well," continued the captain, "the _Japan_ was burnt at sea, one
hundred and thirty-five miles north-east of Hong-kong, and fifty miles
from Swatow. The nearest land was Breaker Point, twenty miles away, and
the water where the wreck sunk was twenty-three fathoms, or one hundred
and thirty-eight feet deep. The _Japan_ had about three hundred and
fifty thousand dollars in silver on board, and the underwriters at
Hong-kong who had insured it determined to make an effort for its
recovery. For this purpose they engaged Captain Roberts, who was a
well-known wrecker on the coast of China, and set him at work.

"A schooner and a small steamer were bought, and in January, 1875,
Captain Roberts began looking for the wreck. He dragged the bed of the
ocean for four or five weeks before he found anything; but at last he
was successful, and discovered one of the paddle-wheels of the ship. It
was some time later before he found the wreck of the ship, as it proved
to have drifted eleven miles south-west of the spot where the wheel had
dropped off."

"How could that be?" Frank exclaimed.

"It was because the wind was blowing very strong at the time from the
north-east, and after the wheel fell off the ship was driven on before
the gale till it had burnt low enough to sink. It took from March to
July to find the wreck after the wheel was discovered, and then they
immediately began operations for getting at the sunken treasure.

"The south-west monsoon blows from March till September, and it was only
during this monsoon that the divers could work. On the 12th of that
month the monsoon ceased, and Captain Roberts had not been able to get
at the treasure, which was contained in an iron tank in the hold of the
ship. He thought the whole enterprise would end there, and the _Japan_
and her three hundred and fifty thousand dollars would remain
undisturbed at the bottom of the sea. It was not likely that the
underwriters would incur the expense of another expedition the following
year, when the chances of recovering anything were so doubtful.

"The diver went down for the last time; and while he was below the crew
were making preparations to hoist anchor, and be off for Hong-kong as
soon as he rose.

"Suddenly he signalled to be pulled up, and they hoisted away. As he
rose he held a lump of something in his hand, and passed it to Captain
Roberts, who was standing on the deck of the schooner.

"It was a lump that looked like coal; but it was heavier than coal by a
great deal. Examination showed that it was a mass of twenty-four silver
dollars, all melted and charred together, but still distinguishable as
dollars.

"The question was settled. The wreckers retired to Hong-kong during the
six months that the north-east monsoon blows, and in the following March
they returned to their work. In 1876 they recovered about twenty-five
thousand dollars; and in the two following years the whole of the
treasure was secured. It was one of the finest wrecking operations ever
known. And here is one of the dollars that lay for three years at the
bottom of the Pacific Ocean."

As he spoke, Captain Johnson drew from his pocket an American
trade-dollar bearing the date 1874. It was quite black from the effect
of its long immersion in the ocean, but otherwise was as perfect as when
it came from the mint at San Francisco. The boys were greatly interested
in this curious coin, and so was Doctor Bronson. It was passed from one
to the other of the trio, and the boys were for some minutes so
thoroughly engrossed in examining it that they had no attention to
bestow on anything else.

[Illustration: CORAL-FISHING IN THE MEDITERRANEAN.]

Frank wished to know whether there was any coral or other curious
products of the sea where the wreck of the _Japan_ was lying at the
bottom of the ocean.

[Illustration: THE CORAL-WORM.]

Captain Johnson told him there was nothing of the kind in that
particular spot, but that a great deal of coral was to be found in the
tropical waters of the Far East. "The best coral," said he, "comes from
the Mediterranean; other parts of the world produce it in much larger
quantities, but it is not generally fine enough to be wrought into
jewellery, like that from the northern coast of Africa. Can you tell me
what coral is?"

[Illustration: CUP-CORAL AND BRAIN-CORAL.]

Frank answered that coral was a substance produced by a small insect
which works under the water, and produces a substance somewhat
resembling stone. There are many varieties of it, and the work of the
coral insect is usually in the form of branches--like a small tree
without leaves. There are also formations known as cup-coral and
brain-coral, on account of their shape and general appearance.

Fred said he had read somewhere that in the Pacific Ocean there were
islands of solid coral; and there were also reefs surrounding islands
like great walls. Some of these walls were hundreds of miles in extent,
and kept ships from approaching the land.

"Can you tell me what an atoll is?" said the captain, with a smile.

The boys had both heard of an atoll, but at the moment they were unable
to describe it. So the captain came to their relief, and explained it to
them.

"An atoll," said he, "is a circular island or reef, with an opening on
one side, with water that is usually deep enough for the largest ships
to enter. The strip of land or coral is a few hundred yards wide, and
often covered with palm and other trees; and there are sometimes
hundreds of atolls in a single group. They vary in size from half a mile
to forty or fifty miles in diameter, and the lake or lagoon inside is
from one to four hundred feet in depth. Ships may sail around in these
lagoons, and they often abound in fish of many varieties. The contrast
between the rough ocean outside and the calm lake within is very
impressive, and will never be forgotten by one who has observed it."

[Illustration: AN ATOLL IN THIS PACIFIC OCEAN.]



CHAPTER XX.

LIGHT UNDER WATER.--PEARL-FISHING AND TURTLE-HUNTING.


Frank was curious to know how it was possible to see under water. He
thought it would be dark at great depths, and, if so, it would be
impossible to do anything there on account of the darkness. Lamps could
not be made to burn under water, and until this was done the explorers
of the sea could not make much progress.

Captain Johnson replied that Frank's theory was correct. As the diver
goes down the light becomes more and more dim, but the dimness or the
absence of it depends upon the clearness of the water where he is at
work. If the water is clear and the sunlight good, there is no trouble
about seeing at any depth to which a diver may safely descend. In a
stream like the Mississippi or the Missouri river it will be darker at
ten feet deep than in the Mediterranean at a hundred.

"But science has come to our aid," he continued, "by giving us the
electric light. There is one form of it that can burn in a vacuum--in
fact, it needs a vacuum for its proper working. Now all you have to do
is to insulate the wires leading to the glass globe that holds the
light, and you can carry it under the water without the least trouble.

"For ordinary purposes there is a very simple arrangement, which
consists of a box with a plate of glass in the bottom. You put this in
the water, so that the glass is a few inches below the surface, and then
you can see very clearly, where the depth is not too great. Fishermen in
some parts of the world have something of the same nature, which they
call a telescope; it is nothing but a tube of wood four or five feet
long, and six inches in diameter, and with the top so arranged that when
the eye is put against it there can be no entrance of light at that end
of the tube. When a man wishes to examine the bottom of the sea where he
is fishing, he sinks this tube and looks through it. He can make out
many objects that are altogether invisible under ordinary circumstances,
and can frequently discover the whereabouts of a school of fish that
might otherwise escape him.

[Illustration: SUBMARINE OBSERVATIONS.]

"Sometimes a man who is using one of these aids to marine observation
finds himself the object of attentions he would gladly avoid. A friend
of mine was once looking through a box from the side of a boat, when a
large sawfish came from below and thrust his snout through the glass. A
shark followed the sawfish, and was evidently anxious for a fight, and
the two swum off together, to the satisfaction of my friend. What made
the matter more exciting was that an expert swimmer had just dived from
the boat, and gone down to take a survey of the coral-trees that grew on
the bottom. He came up safe and undisturbed, and the probabilities are
that the sawfish and shark had been too busy over each other and the
glass-bottomed box to pay any attention to such an insignificant object
as a man swimming near them.

[Illustration: THE BELLOWS-FISH, OR ANGLER.]

"The bottom of the sea abounds in many curious things that we never see
at the surface, unless they are brought there. There is a fish known as
the _Lophius_, or bellows-fish; he is also called 'the angler,' from his
artistic way of supplying himself with food. He seems to be nearly all
mouth, and reminds you of the dog that could walk down his own throat
without touching the sides. He has a long rod projecting from the middle
of his forehead, and at the end of it there is a lump of flesh, like a
morsel of beef. This rod is movable; and, as he lies flat on the mud, he
spreads his great mouth open like a trap. Then he angles, or fishes,
with his rod, moving it up and down and on both sides, so as to attract
fish or crabs, or anything else that is edible. When they come within
reach of his capacious jaws he closes on his prey, and goes on with his
fishing as unconcerned as a man who has caught a small trout, and stowed
it away in his basket."

The boys laughed at the idea of an angling fish, and wondered how he
managed to get along when he had lost his bait by any accident. The
captain was unable to tell them, as he had never seen a bellows-fish
that had suffered such a misfortune.

[Illustration: A CURIOUS HOME.]

"You see thousands of crabs and lobsters and other creeping things at
the bottom of the sea," the captain continued; "there is one kind of
crab that loves to live in a shell which is not his own, at any rate not
the one he was born to. They crawl around with these shells, never
daring to leave them for fear some other crab will happen along and take
possession. Sometimes two of them will fight for a shell, and they tear
away each other's claws and commit other havoc before the battle is
over. Generally the one in the shell has the best of it, as he is on the
defensive, and the house in which he is lodged is a good protection. One
day I found one of these crabs in the bowl of a tobacco-pipe that had
the stem broken short off, and it was very funny to see him move around
with this awkward covering. It was not as convenient as the sea-shells
in which his brethren were quartered, and he seemed to understand it, as
he changed to an empty shell as soon as one was placed near him, and he
was left undisturbed.

[Illustration: CRABS IN A QUARREL.]

"These crabs are amphibious, and seem equally at home above or under the
water. They are very quarrelsome, and when put together in a box proceed
to eat each other up without the least hesitation. I once put a dozen of
them together, and in two days there was only one left; he was large,
and had a good appetite, as he left nothing but shells and crushed claws
to tell what had become of his comrades.

"But we have been so long beneath the surface that we must go above to
breathe. As we come up we must be careful not to touch one of those long
filaments hanging down from the _Physalia_ that has spread its sail to
the wind. If we do, we shall feel a sharp sting that will last us for
some time."

Frank inquired what the _Physalia_ was.

"You have seen it very often at sea," said Captain Johnson, "and
probably you knew it as a Portuguese man-of-war."

"Oh, certainly," Frank answered. "We saw thousands and thousands of them
on the Pacific Ocean when we were coming from San Francisco, and
sometimes the water was covered with them for hours at a time. And they
looked very pretty, with their little sails spread to catch the wind."

"What you saw above the surface was not really a sail," the captain
replied, "but a little sack containing air. The _Physalia_ has the power
of contracting this sack, so that it can sink beneath the waves for
protection against a storm or to avoid other dangers. The use of the
long filaments is not well understood; but they are evidently for
purposes of defence, as each of them contains a sting that has anything
but an agreeable effect on the swimmer who comes in contact with it."

Fred asked if the _Physalia_ was anything like the sea-anemone which he
had seen in Aquarius, and had admired greatly on account of its
beautiful colors.

"How many colors of it do you think you have seen?" the captain asked,
in reply.

[Illustration: SEA-ANEMONES.]

Fred could not say positively, but he thought he had seen not less than
three or four.

"They are of every color imaginable," responded Captain Johnson; "we
find them white, with a delicate shading of pearl, and we have them in
gray, pink, purple, yellow, orange, lilac, green, and blue. Sometimes a
single specimen will have half a dozen colors in his composition, and
you could easily imagine he had borrowed all the hues of the rainbow in
getting himself up to a satisfactory complexion. They have the
properties of both animal and vegetable, and in this particular they
resemble the sponge and other marine productions. If a part of the
sea-anemone is destroyed, it is reproduced; and if one of them is torn
or cut into several pieces, each piece converts itself into a perfect
anemone."

"Is the sponge an animal?" Frank asked of the captain. "You said
something about the sea-anemone having animal and vegetable properties
like the sponge. I always supposed the sponge was a vegetable growing at
the bottom of the sea, and had nothing of the animal about it."

"Scientific men have long been in dispute on this subject," was the
reply; "and while some assign the sponge to the vegetable kingdom,
others class it with the animal. The latest authorities favor the theory
that the sponge is an animal, and all agree that it occupies a middle
ground between the two forms of life.

[Illustration: THE SPONGE AT HOME.]

"It is fastened to a rock, or to the hard bottom of the part of the sea
where it grows, and it has no power of moving from one place to another.
Water is continually absorbed into the sponge, just as we absorb air by
breathing; and when the food and air contained in the water have served
their purpose, the residue is thrown off.

"The sponge has a skeleton that must be dissolved and washed away before
the article is of use. Various processes are used to remove the
skeleton--according to the character of the sponge and the purposes for
which it is designed. The finest are washed repeatedly in water, and in
a weak solution of acid, and are then bleached in a bath of diluted
soda. These fine sponges come from Syria, and from the Greek islands of
the Mediterranean; the coarse sponges, used for washing carriages and
similar purposes, come from the West Indies, and also from the East; and
when first taken from the sea they have a sickening odor, like flesh
that is just beginning to decay. This odor becomes stronger and
stronger, and finally resembles exactly that which arises from a
putrefying body. During this process of decomposition they are buried in
the sand, and are afterwards submitted to the action of the waves to
wash away the impurities that the decay has left."

One of the boys asked how sponges were obtained, and at what depths of
water they were to be found.

[Illustration: HOW SPONGES ARE SPEARED.]

The captain explained that they were found at all depths, from a few
feet to two or three hundred. The most of them were taken from shoals
and reefs, where they were ten or twenty feet below the surface, as they
could not get a good supply of light in deeper water. In the East they
are generally taken by diving, after the primitive fashion; while in the
West Indies they are speared from boats.

"But we started out to talk about pearls," said Captain Johnson, "and we
have wandered off to several other things. Suppose we go back to pearls,
and see what we can ascertain about them."

The boys promptly agreed to this; and Frank was evidently determined to
begin at the beginning, as he referred to the pearl which Cleopatra was
said to have dissolved in vinegar, so that she might swallow a more
costly drink than had ever been known to anybody else.

"That was more than eighteen hundred years ago," said Fred, "and perhaps
the incident never happened."

[Illustration: CLEOPATRA DISSOLVING THE PEARL.]

Captain Johnson was uncertain about it, as he said he had no documentary
proof sufficient to convince an ordinary court of law that dissolved
pearls were a fashionable beverage in the days of Antony and Cleopatra.
"However," he said, "the pearl can be dissolved in strong vinegar; and
this fact is sufficient to establish the possibility of the beautiful
Queen of Egypt indulging in the freak that is attributed to her.

"Pearls have been known and valued for a great many hundred years. They
are mentioned in the Bible, and in the time of Job they were great
price. The Greeks and Romans had great numbers of pearls, and some of
the wealthy citizens were in the habit of wearing them on their shoes.
In all ages they have been associated with wealth, and probably they
will continue to be for ages to come.

[Illustration: PEARL-BEARING SHELLS.]

"The oyster that produces them is not good to eat; probably he thinks he
has quite enough to do to make pearls, without being devoured after he
has performed that noble duty. They are found in various parts of the
world; but the best pearls have always come from the East: they are
valuable in proportion as they possess that peculiar lustre known as
'water,' which it is impossible to describe in words. There are several
varieties of the pearl-oyster, but the best of them is of a nearly
circular form, and from four to eight inches in diameter. Here is a
picture of one of these shells, with a single pearl adhering to it. The
outside of the shell is rough, and has a series of ridges that extend
from the valve to the edge. The young oysters rarely contain pearls; and
the divers understand this so well that, when they find smooth-shelled
and small oysters in their baskets, they throw them back into the sea.
In the haste of gathering them from the rocky bottom, they have no time
to select with care.

"The pearl is nothing more nor less than carbonate of lime, secreted by
the oyster, and hardened after a process which he carefully keeps to
himself. It was for a long time supposed that the pearl was formed by
the attempt of the oyster to cover a grain of sand with a smooth
substance, so that it would not be inconvenient to him. It was believed
that the sand was rolled in by the action of the waves while the oyster
had his mouth open; and, as he could not expel it, he proceeded to cover
it up. Many persons adhere to this theory still; but the fact that many
pearls have been sawed open and found not to contain the least particle
of sand or other impurity, is calculated to throw doubt upon it. The
latter belief is, that the pearl is the result of a disease in the
oyster, just as a tumor is the result of disease in man.

"In China and Japan the natives have long followed the practice of
putting small beads of porcelain inside the oyster, and then returning
him to the water, where he is left undisturbed for three or four years.
At the end of that time he is taken up and opened, and the beads are
found to be coated with the pearly substance. They also have the trick
of putting little images or idols into the oyster, and in course of time
these become coated over in the manner I have described. You can see
some of the results of these processes by looking at the two open shells
on the right of the picture."

Frank wished to know the different sizes of pearls and their values.

[Illustration: SIZES OF PEARLS.]

"As to that," said the captain, "your question is not an easy one to
answer. Some pearls are so small as to be hardly visible to the eye; and
of course they are of no value when you cannot see them. They are only
useful when large enough to be strung on a necklace, or otherwise set as
jewellery. The largest pearls are apocryphal; by this I mean that no
person of modern times has seen some that are famous in history, and
there are doubts that they ever existed. It is said that the pearl which
Cleopatra drank to the health of Mark Antony was worth $375,000 of our
money; and, if so, it must have been of great size. Pearls have been
reported to exist that were nearly two inches long by one and a quarter
in diameter, and weighed fifty-five carats, or two hundred and twenty
grains.

"The largest that we know of at the present time do not exceed thirty
carats, or one hundred and twenty grains. There is one among the
crown-jewels of Portugal weighing twenty-five carats; and there is said
to be one of twenty-seven carats in the hands of a Russian merchant in
Moscow. It is safe to say that there are not two dozen pearls known to
exist now that weigh over twenty carats, or eighty grains.

"The value of a pearl is generally estimated like that of a diamond--by
the multiplication of the square of its weight. A pearl of one carat is
held to be worth about $16; and to get the value of a pearl of two
carats we multiply two by two, and the product by $16, and we get $64.
In the same way the value of a pearl of three carats would be $144, and
so on for any weight we happen to have.

[Illustration: PEARL-FISHERY AT BAHREIN.]

"One of the favorite fishing-grounds for pearls is at Bahrein, on the
Persian Gulf. The divers bring in the oysters from the fishing-banks in
the gulf, and pile them on the shore in great heaps. Here they lie till
they are rotted; and the stench that arises is enough to turn any
inexperienced stomach. When the substance of the oyster is quite
decomposed, the shells are opened, and the mass of matter they contain
is thrown into tubs and washed with water. It is necessary to pass the
pulp very carefully through the fingers for fear that some of the pearls
will be lost, and consequently the washing is very slow. When a pearl
beyond a certain size is found, the washer receives a handsome present;
but below the regulation figure he gets nothing but his daily wages.
Large pearls are very rare, and consequently the chances that a
pearl-washer will make a fortune by a lucky find are exceedingly small.

[Illustration: PERSIAN GULF DIVER.]

"There is a belief quite current through the East that the pearl is a
drop of rain-water which has fallen into the shell of the oyster when he
was at the surface, and been afterwards hardened. This is a pretty bit
of sentiment; but as the oyster never goes to the surface unless he is
carried there, the story does not have much foundation to rest upon."

"If the pearl is so valuable, and so difficult to get, I should think
there would be men who would try to imitate it," Frank remarked.

"You are quite right," was the reply; "and men have tried a great many
times to make false pearls."

"Have they succeeded?"

"Partially; but not altogether. No counterfeit pearl has yet been made
that could pass all the tests of the genuine; but their lustre is quite
equal, sometimes, to the best pearls of Ceylon, and they can be made to
deceive anybody but an expert."

"How do they make them?"

"The best of the false pearls," said the captain, "are made by what is
known as Jaquin's process.

"M. Jaquin was a manufacturer of beads in France, and he spent a great
deal of time and money in trying to make his beads better than any other
man's. One day he was walking in his garden, and observed a remarkable
silvery lustre on some water in a basin. It instantly occurred to him
that if he could put that lustre on his beads, he would have something
decidedly new.

"So he called his old servant, and asked what had been in the water. She
answered that it was nothing but some little fish called _ablettes_,
that had been crushed in the basin, and she had neglected to throw the
water out.

[Illustration: M. JAQUIN'S EXPERIMENT.]

"M. Jaquin was very glad, for once, that she had neglected her duty. He
began experimenting with the scales of the ablette, or bleak, a little
fish about the size of a sardine, and very abundant in certain parts of
Europe. After several trials he adopted the plan of washing the scales
several times in water, and saving the sediment that gathered at the
bottom of the basin. This was about the consistency of oil, and had the
lustre he desired. Next, he blew some beads of very thin glass, and
after coating the inside of a bead with this substance, he filled it up
with wax, so as to give it solidity. Thus the fish-scales gave the
lustre, the glass gave the polish and brilliancy that we find on the
genuine pearl, and the wax furnished a solid backing to the thin glass.
This is the process of making false pearls; and it is fortunate that the
bleak is very abundant, or he would run the risk of extermination.

[Illustration: THE BLEAK.]

"Is the manufacture of false pearls so great as that?" Fred inquired.

"It is pretty extensive," was the captain's response, "but not
enormously so. The fact is, it requires more than a thousand of these
little fish to make an ounce of the 'essence d'orient,' as the French
call it, or essence of pearl. Other substances have been tried, in the
hope of obtaining the same result for a smaller outlay, but none of them
have been entirely successful. There is--"

The conversation was interrupted at this moment by a call from the
Doctor, who was sitting near the rail, and happened to be looking at the
sea. The rest of the party rushed to his side, and their eyes followed
the direction indicated by his finger.

[Illustration: THE DOCTOR'S DISCOVERY.]

The object that attracted his attention was an enormous turtle not more
than ten yards away. He appeared to be asleep, as he was lying
perfectly still, and did not seem aware that a ship was near him.
Suddenly he roused himself, and raised his head an instant above the
surface to take a survey of the situation. Evidently he scented danger,
as he lost no time in diving below, where the ship was not likely to
follow him.

Pearls were dropped from the conversation, and turtles took their place.
As the turtle is a product of the sea, the subject was not likely to be
an unknown one to Captain Johnson.

"There are several varieties of the marine turtle," said the captain,
"and more of the land-turtle, or tortoise; as we are at sea, and engaged
on matters connected with salt-water, we will leave the occupant of the
land quite out of consideration. His marine brother has fins instead of
feet, and he rarely goes on shore except in the breeding-season. Some of
the sea-turtles live entirely on vegetable food, while others devour
shell-fish and other living things; the flesh of the vegetable-feeders
is delicious, while that of the animal-feeders is not. They grow to a
great size when compared with the land-turtle: the green turtle that
makes such excellent soup is frequently five feet long, and weighs five
or six hundred pounds; and the loggerhead-turtle sometimes reaches a
weight of one thousand five hundred pounds and more."

"Enough to feed a great many people," Frank remarked.

"Unfortunately," the captain continued, "a great many people would not
eat his flesh. The green-turtle feeds on sea-weed, and is very choice
about what he eats, and therefore his flesh is highly esteemed. The
loggerhead-turtle is much more common than the green one, but he eats
shell-fish of all the sorts he can crush in his powerful jaws. The flesh
of the young turtles of this variety is sometimes eaten, but the old
ones are so tough and musky that a man must needs be very hungry to be
able to eat them. Even their eggs are too strong of musk to be edible,
and the shell is of little value; about the only use that can be made of
the loggerhead-turtle is to try out the large quantities of oil that he
contains.

"The flesh of the turtle you just saw is not of much consequence, for
the same reason. He is more valuable for his shell, which forms the
turtle, or tortoise, shell of commerce."

"I remember," said Fred, "that we saw a great deal of shell at Nagasaki,
in Japan, that had been wrought into many beautiful forms. The Japanese
are very skilful in this kind of work, and so are the Chinese."

"You will see more tortoise-shell," was the reply, "when you get to
Singapore. A great deal of the shell comes there for a market from all
parts of the Eastern Archipelago."

Frank asked how the turtle was caught, when he spent so much time in the
water, and was so far away from land.

"He is caught," said the captain, "in two or three ways. He sleeps on
the surface of the water, and, when thus off his guard, he can be easily
approached. A boat steals quietly up to him, and, before he is aware
what is happening, he is a prisoner.

[Illustration: THE TURTLE AT HOME.]

"Turtles are captured at night, when they go on shore to lay their eggs.
They generally select a moonlight night for this purpose, and a smooth
sandy beach; they dig holes in the sand, where they deposit their eggs,
and leave them to be hatched by the heat of the sun. When they are on
shore for this purpose, the hunters come upon them; the turtle cannot
move rapidly on the sand, and is easily overtaken. The hunters turn the
poor turtles on their backs, and then leave them till the next day, when
they come and remove them."

"I have heard," said one of the boys, "that when a turtle is placed on
his back he cannot turn over and put himself right side up."

"That is quite correct, and a knowledge of this peculiarity is of great
assistance to the turtle-hunters. But there is another way of catching
the turtle that will strike you as the most curious of all."

"What is that?"

"It is by fishing with the _Remora_."

"And what is the remora?"

"It is a fish found in tropical waters, both in the East and West
Indies. Its popular name is 'the sucking-fish,' and it is so called on
account of a disk on its head, by which it can attach itself to a smooth
surface, like the side of a shark, a ship, or the shell of a turtle. The
disk is very much like the soft leather 'suckers' made by school boys,
and when the fish has attached himself, you can pull him to pieces
rather than induce him to release his hold.

"The turtle-hunters go out in a boat and carry several of these fishes
in a tub. When they see a turtle they get as near to him as they can,
and send a sucker after him. The fish is held by a ring on his tail,
attached to a stout cord; he swims towards the turtle and fastens on his
shell, and then the fish and turtle are hauled in together. In the air
the remora loosens his hold, and is dropped back into the tub, to wait
till he is wanted again."

The boys laughed at this comical way of fishing. Fred wondered if the
remora was able to understand the joke, and comprehend the value of his
services to mankind. Frank said he would like to know what the turtles
thought of the business, and whether they had any respect for a parasite
that came uninvited and caused them to be captured.

[Illustration: TURTLE-HUNTING.]



CHAPTER XXI.

INCIDENTS OF A SEA-VOYAGE.--SINGAPORE.


The voyage from Bangkok to Singapore was without any features of special
interest. The Gulf of Siam presented its accustomed calmness, and at
times the air was so still that there was not wind enough for proper
ventilation of the ship. Our friends slept on deck, as the cabin was
altogether too hot for comfort; they only went below to dress and take
their meals and baths, and to escape from the showers that were of daily
occurrence. In the daytime, when the heavy sprinklings came on, the boys
indulged in baths of the kind they enjoyed on the _Danube_, and they
were generally pleased at the announcement of an approaching shower. But
at night, when they were comfortably sleeping, they did not relish a
rude awakening, accompanied with the suggestion that they had better go
below till the rain was over. The change from the cool deck to the
stifling cabin was the reverse of enjoyable; Fred remarked that the only
good thing about it was that it made them appreciate the deck all the
more when the rain was over, and they could come again to the open air.

About thirty miles from Singapore they saw an overturned boat, and as
they neared it two natives were perceived clinging to the wreck. A boat
was lowered and sent to rescue them, and in a short time the poor
fellows were safe on the steamer's deck. They said their craft was upset
by a squall on the previous evening, and for twenty hours they had been
holding on, with nothing to eat or drink, under the broiling heat of a
tropical sun. They were nearly exhausted with hunger and thirst, and
would have fallen off and died in a few hours if they had not been
rescued. Frank was the first to discover the overturned boat, and was
naturally proud of having been in some way the means of saving these
unhappy Malays from death. He wanted to talk with the men, and hear
their story; but as their knowledge of English was no better than his of
Malay, he was compelled to abandon the idea.

The occurrence called to the Doctor's recollection an incident of his
first experience of the sea, when he was spending the summer at a small
seaport town. He was fond of fishing, and hardly a day passed that he
did not go out on the Atlantic in pursuit of his favorite sport.

"One afternoon," said he, "there were a dozen or more boats outside,
when a sudden squall came up that caused us to seek the harbor as fast
as possible. Every one steered for home, and most of us reached the
entrance of the port before the fury of the squall broke upon us. The
rain was so thick that we could not see a quarter of a mile off; we
could not tell whether any of the boats were capsized or not; and if it
had not been that a great rock just by the entrance loomed up, and made
a fine landmark, we could not have found our way inside. One after
another the boats came in, with the exception of one that had ventured
farther than the rest, and was a good distance off the coast when the
squall came up.

"It was no use going to look for her that afternoon, as the squall
continued till after dark, and raised quite a sea outside. There were
only two persons on board the boat; they were a gentleman and his wife,
who had come from the city to spend the summer, and had hired the boat
for their own use and pleasure. The gentleman understood the management
of his craft in fine weather, but nobody could say if he knew how to
control it in a squall. So we passed the night very anxiously, and, as
soon as the morning light permitted, several of us went out to search
for the missing ones.

"Nothing could be seen. We sailed up and down along the coast, and out
on the water for several miles, but all to no purpose. With heavy hearts
we returned to port, and concluded that it was idle to hope that the
missing persons whom we sought would ever be heard of again.

"In the afternoon I went with a young boatman in a skiff to try for fish
a little way outside the rock that formed the headland I mentioned.
While I was fishing, the boatman was looking around, and suddenly
discovered a mass of something on the beach.

"'Perhaps it may be the wreck of the missing boat,' I remarked. 'Let us
go and see.'

[Illustration: THE RESCUE.]

"We started on the instant. As we approached the beach I could see
something like a human form, and told the man to pull with all his
might. He did so; and the instant the boat grounded on the sand, he
sprung ashore and drew a flask from his pocket. In half a minute he was
supporting the lifeless form of a woman, and holding the flask to her
lips.

"We could hardly tell at first whether she was alive or not. In a
little while the draught from the flask revived her, but it was some
time before she was able to speak. We wrapped her in our spare clothing,
and carried her to the boat; and then we rowed home as fast as we could,
so as to call in the aid of the doctor.

[Illustration: ON A FRAIL RAFT.]

"Nothing could be seen to show what had become of the man. When the lady
recovered, she told us that when the squall struck the boat it was
instantly capsized; they managed to make a sort of raft out of the sail
and mast, but it was only sufficient to support her alone. Her husband
remained in the water, clinging to the raft and swimming, while she was
in a half-fainting condition all through the night. She remembered how
the waves rolled around them, how the moon rose up out of the waters,
and how the birds flew near them, as if wondering what they were. Then
she thought she could see the great rock at the entrance of the harbor,
and then--she remembered nothing more till we rescued her on the beach
where the waves had washed her.

"What became of her husband we never ascertained; but undoubtedly he
was weak from exhaustion, and was unable to cling to the raft till it
reached the shore. He probably loosened his hold, and sunk in the sea
about the time his wife thought she discovered the rock.

"The lady remained in the village till she was able to return to her
friends in the city. She never came back to that place; and the accident
cast a gloom over the visitors, from which they did not recover for the
rest of the season."

[Illustration: GULF-WEED.]

As they neared the Straits of Malacca, the steamer passed great masses
of a yellowish plant floating on the water. It bore an abundance of
berries of the same general color as the plant, and they glistened
brightly in sunshine as they lay close to the surface. The Doctor told
the boys that this plant was identical with one that grows in the
Caribbean Sea, and is borne northward in great quantities by the current
of the Gulf Stream. On the Atlantic it is known as "gulf-weed;" it grows
only in tropical regions, and the berries upon the plant are hollow,
and serve as so many air-bladders to keep the plant afloat.

[Illustration: HAUNTS OF THE SEA-BIRDS.]

As they neared Singapore, they came in sight of some rocky islands,
round which the sea-birds were flying in dense masses. Then other and
larger islands, covered with verdure, rose above the horizon to the
southward; and, finally, the coast of Malacca and the shores of the
Island of Singapore filled the background of the picture before them.
Palm-trees waved in the breeze, and, if there had been nothing else to
indicate it, these trees alone would have told the travellers they were
well down in the tropics.

The activity of commerce through the Straits of Malacca, and thence
onwards to the Farther East, was indicated as our friends approached
Singapore. Within a few miles of that port, they met a steamer bound for
China; while ahead of them was the smoke of another that had just come
from that distant land. As they entered the harbor they met a steamer
heading southward for Java; and as they dropped anchor they saw another
coming in just behind them. It was the French Mail Packet from Europe,
which would halt a day at Singapore, and then continue her voyage to
Hong-kong and Shanghai.

The Doctor had made a close calculation concerning their movements, as
the French steamer that arrived almost simultaneously with them was the
bearer of a dozen letters for the wandering trio. So regular is the
mail-service to the Far East, that a traveller who takes the trouble to
study the time-tables and arrange his route beforehand, can have his
letters reach him at any designated point.

[Illustration: IN THE HARBOR.]

The harbor presented a picture of animation as they came to anchor.
Ships and boats were sailing in and out; steam-tugs were puffing
noisily around; and, as they swung to their moorings, the official boat
of the quarantine-officer passed them on its way to the French packet.
Very soon the steamer was surrounded by a group of native boats, and a
lively bargaining began for the transportation of the party to the
shore. In the Far East the steamers have no concern with the passenger
beyond carrying him from port to port; he must land and embark at his
own expense, and very often the boatmen have things pretty much in their
own way. In Japan and China they are regulated and restrained by law;
but in Singapore and some other Eastern ports they do pretty much as
they please.

[Illustration: BOATMEN AT SINGAPORE.]

Frank said that the rapacity of the boatmen of Singapore reminded him of
the hackmen of New York; and he began to feel that he was not so far
from home after all. It required half an hour of negotiation to make an
arrangement that was at all reasonable, as the boatmen had evidently
formed an association for mutual advantage; and all efforts that the
Doctor made to rouse them to competition were of no use. It was finally
settled that for a dollar each our friends were to be carried to the
shore, and their baggage taken to the hotel, which was not more than a
hundred yards from the landing-place.

The hotel was a large structure of one story in height, with broad
verandas, where one could sit and enjoy the breeze that generally blows
in the afternoon. Singapore is only one degree and twenty minutes north
of the equator--eighty miles--and consequently any one who goes there
must expect to find a climate of a most tropical character.
Longitudinally it is almost exactly on the opposite side of the earth
from New York; and this fact gave rise to some interesting comments by
Fred and Frank.

"It is sunset now," said Frank, as they went on shore, "and it is
sunrise in New York."

"Yes," answered Fred; "and about the time we are going to bed our
friends will be finishing breakfast."

"While we are taking our noonday rest to-morrow they will be sleeping
soundly, as it will be midnight with them."

"One question occurs to me," said Frank; "it is sunset in Singapore, and
it is morning with our friends at home. Now I want to know if it is this
morning, or to-morrow morning with them?"

Fred could not tell, and so the matter was referred to the Doctor as
soon as he was at leisure.

"The scientific explanation of the subject," said Doctor Bronson as he
dropped into a chair, "is too long for us to take up in detail. The
earth moves on its axis, so that the sun rises, or appears to rise, in
the east, and to set in the west. An easterly place gets the sun
earlier than a westerly one, and consequently its day begins earlier.
For instance, the sun rises in New York an hour and five minutes earlier
than it rises in St. Louis; and, therefore, when it is noon in New York,
it is only five minutes of eleven in the forenoon at St. Louis by New
York time. For nautical purposes most nations take the time of
Greenwich, near London, as the basis of calculation; and consequently
the time of any given place is said to be earlier or later than that of
Greenwich, according as the place is east or west of that city. The hour
of Singapore is seven hours earlier than that of Greenwich, as it gets
the sun in the east seven hours before Greenwich; New York gets it five
hours later than Greenwich--four hours and fifty-six minutes is the
exact difference; and when it is noon in New York, it is five o'clock in
the afternoon at Greenwich.

"We had sunrise in Singapore twelve hours before our friends had it at
home; so that, when our day is ending, theirs is just beginning. I will
show you, in a practical way, the difference in time between New York
and Singapore. I am about to send a cablegram announcing our arrival,
and it may possibly get to New York ahead of the time of its departure
from here."

The Doctor and the boys went to the telegraph-office, and sent a
despatch to let their friends know of their safe arrival from Siam. As
the tolls were at the rate of two dollars and forty cents a word, they
confined the message to a single word in addition to the address.
Previous to leaving home the Doctor had arranged a code or cipher, by
which one word could convey a great deal of information. Persons who
have occasion to use the Atlantic or other telegraph cables to any
extent make use of private codes, and thereby save a great deal of
expense. They subsequently learned that their message went from
Singapore to New York in nine hours, and therefore reached its
destination three hours before they sent it.

The wind, which had been blowing hard during the afternoon, fell off
soon after sunset, and the boys found that the nights of Singapore were
as warm as those of Bangkok. The arrangement of the rooms indicated that
Singapore was anything but a cool place; but, on the whole, it was not
disagreeable, as the cool breeze in the afternoon was quite refreshing,
and made the atmosphere clear and pure.

Our friends slept well on their first night in Singapore, and were up in
good season in the morning to begin their round of sight-seeing. The
Doctor had some business to transact at a banking-house in the city, and
so it was arranged that they would devote the time between breakfast
and business hours in a stroll along the esplanade and through the
native part of the place.

[Illustration: A CHINESE CONTRACTOR.]

The boys were somewhat surprised at the many races and tribes of men
they encountered in their morning walk. They met scores on scores of
Chinese; and they were not ten yards from the door of the hotel before
they were accosted by a Chinese contractor, who was ready to undertake
to show them the place, furnish them with a carriage, buy or sell
whatever they wanted, from a needle up to a steamship, or provide them
with servants, tailors, or any other kind of assistance they might need
during their stay. He was lightly clad, in consequence of the heat of
Singapore, and he carried a fan which he kept in constant motion while
proposing his services. Singapore is said to contain from eighty to one
hundred thousand Chinese, and they are found in all classes of business.
There are Chinese tailors and shoemakers, Chinese peddlers and
merchants, Chinese book-keepers and managers for the large
establishments where trade is conducted by wholesale, Chinese servants
of both sexes and all ages, and Chinese of all kinds in addition to the
foregoing. The industry of the race is as marked at Singapore as in
Canton or San Francisco; and though always desirous of large profits, if
they can be obtained, they will put up with very small compensation when
a large one is not to be had.

[Illustration: CHINESE TAILORS AT SINGAPORE.]

The door of a tailor's shop stood open, and our friends gave a glance at
its interior. The arrangements were very simple. There was a long table
covered with a straw mat, on which the material was placed to be cut,
and behind this table several men were at work. Frank made a note of the
fact that a Chinese tailor makes his stitches by pushing the needle from
instead of towards him, and that in Singapore, at least, they do not
cover their own bodies to any extent while making clothing for other
people. The heads of these tailoring establishments are very industrious
in looking for customers, and there was hardly an hour in the day that
our friends were not accosted with proposals to make clothing for them
at astonishingly low rates. Singapore is a free port, and the great
competition in trade has brought the prices down to the lowest figure.
For eight dollars each they were accommodated with entire suits of blue
serge of good quality; and when the Doctor expressed some hesitation at
giving the order, through fear that the cutting and fit might be at
fault, the tailor promptly said, "No fitee, no payee." The measures were
taken, and on the following morning the clothes were delivered, and
found entirely satisfactory.

The Chinese are more numerous at Singapore than any other race. Next to
them come the Malays, of whom there are several varieties: they are as
devoid of clothing as the Chinese workmen, the entire garments of many
of them consisting of a cloth around the loins. Some of them wear
turbans, and occasionally the turban seems larger than the man, as it
consists of several yards of muslin wound loosely around the head, till
it forms a great ball. The body of the wearer will be small, and without
an ounce of extra flesh; and Fred remarked that it seemed as though the
turban would tip the man over, and compel him to walk on his head.

In their walk the boys saw a group of wild-looking men with woolly hair,
and with skins as dark as those of the African negroes, but without the
thick lips which are supposed to indicate the negro race. The Doctor was
unable to tell the name of this people, and the question was referred to
an Englishman whom they happened to meet.

"You mean those people over there?" said the Englishman, as he pointed
with his finger to the group our friends had been observing.

The Doctor assented.

"Oh! they are Jacoons," was the reply. "They come from the province of
Johore."

[Illustration: A GROUP OF JACOONS.]

Further questioning elicited the information that the Jacoons were a
primitive race of men who lived in the forests of Johore, and are
popularly supposed to dwell in trees, and to subsist on fruits and nuts.
Johore is a province on the main-land of the Malay peninsula, and
separated from the island of Singapore by a narrow strait of water. The
chief of this province is a man of superior intelligence, and lives on
friendly terms with his English neighbors. Since the English settled at
Singapore, he has established saw-mills, and made a handsome revenue
from the sale of lumber; and he has opened up his territory to
settlement by Chinese and other agriculturists. The Jacoons are supposed
to be the original inhabitants; they have as little as possible to do
with the Malays, and are quite distinct from them in language and
features. They are a peaceful people with few wants, and, as the country
produces abundantly, they have little occasion to wear themselves out
with hard work.

Walking about the streets, or sitting in the shade of the numerous
trees, were a few Parsees with their rimless hats, and wearing garments
that were more than half European in pattern. They are called sometimes
the Jews of the East, from their remarkable shrewdness in business, and
their steady progress in the direction of wealth; they are said to be
able to accumulate money under very discouraging circumstances, and it
has been remarked that a Parsee will grow rich where any other man in
the world would starve. Some branches of trade in the East are almost
monopolized by the Parsees. A single Parsee house has more than half of
the Chinese opium trade in its hands, and has grown enormously rich,
while its competitors have lost money. Like the Jews, to whom they are
sometimes compared, the Parsees have no country they can call their own.
They came originally from Persia, and settled in the North of India,
where the most of them are to be found to-day.

[Illustration: GARRI WITH A LOAD OF SAILORS.]

There were Klings, or men from the South of India, waiting for work on
the corners, or offering their _garris_, or carriages, for the use of
our friends. Most of the carriages for hire in Singapore are driven by
these Klings, who are a lithe race, with great powers of endurance, and
equally great powers of rascality. A garri is a four-wheeled vehicle
drawn by a single horse: some of the garris have seats for the driver,
while others have no place for him, but leave him to walk or run by the
side of his beast. The horse is as small in proportion as the man, and
the boys were greatly amused to see one of these vehicles with a party
of sailors who had just come on shore from an English ship. Three of
them were inside, while one was stretched along the roof of the garri,
which he more than covered. They were evidently enjoying themselves, and
the driver had his nose in the air, and was doubtless counting up the
profits of his day's work, and feeling happy over the result.

The boys were surprised to learn that, while there was a population of
more than a hundred thousand Chinese, Malays, Klings, and other
Orientals at Singapore, there were not more than a thousand Europeans
living there, exclusive of the English garrison. Of these Europeans the
English were the most numerous; the rest were Germans, French,
Portuguese, Dutch, and Italians, in the order named, and it was said
that the Germans were increasing more rapidly than the English, and
threatened to have all the business of the place in their hands in
course of time.

While our friends were discussing the peculiarities of the population of
Singapore, their walk brought them to "The Square," as the commercial
centre is called; and, as the hours of business had arrived, the Doctor
proceeded to attend to his financial affairs, and learn, in a practical
way, the mysteries of banking at the capital city of the Straits of
Malacca.

[Illustration: FULL DRESS AT THE STRAITS.]



CHAPTER XXII.

SIGHTS AND SCENES IN SINGAPORE.


The incidents of the first day in Singapore were well described by Frank
and Fred in the letter they wrote in the evening, to make sure that
nothing would be forgotten. The labor of writing was divided between
them; Frank describing one part of what they saw, and leaving the rest
for Fred. As their time was pressing, the Doctor "gave them a lift," as
Fred expressed it, and added something relative to the commerce of the
straits, and the importance of Singapore as a place of trade.

Here is the joint letter. Frank said that if two heads were better than
one, three heads must be better than two. Fred added that when one of
the three was the Doctor's head, he thought it would be difficult for
any letter to go ahead of theirs.

       *       *       *       *       *

"We have had a busy day at Singapore. Singapore means 'place of lions;'
and probably it is so called because there are no lions here. It stands
on an island about twenty miles long and six or eight wide, and is
separated from the main-land by a narrow strait. On the main-land there
are plenty of tigers, and they sometimes swim over to the island in
search of food. Formerly they killed an average of one man a day; but of
late years they have not done so well. They are becoming more and more
scarce every year, as they have been hunted down till there are not many
of them left.

"We had a stroll through the town this morning, and then we went to a
banking-house to draw some money. The banker gave us a check on one of
the large establishments, and we went there expecting to find an
Englishman in charge. We looked around as we entered the door, and not
an Englishman or other European was to be seen!

"All the employés of the bank were Chinese--at least as far as we could
ascertain. A Chinese paying-teller took the check, and passed it to a
Chinese book-keeper, who sat in a little box at the end of the counter.
He examined the check, and stamped it after making an entry in a book;
and then he returned it to the teller, who counted out the money and
gave it to us without saying a word. There were piles of silver and bank
notes in sight, and all in charge of Chinese. We looked into another
bank, where the same arrangement existed; and we went into a
business-house where there were at least a dozen Chinese clerks to one
European.

"The business of Singapore is centred around what is called The Square,
and in a walk of ten minutes you can pass by the most of the large
houses for banking and commerce. Here they have also the consulates and
the telegraph and steamship offices; and all these establishments
imitate the example of the banks in employing Chinese clerks and
_compradors_. On the whole, it seems to us that there is very little
business of any kind at Singapore that the Chinese have not something to
do with.

"The Chinese seem to be crowding the Europeans out of everything; and
there is no branch of business that they are not perfectly familiar
with. They might send all the English and other foreigners away some
pleasant morning, take Singapore into their own hands, and run it just
as well as it is run now.

"After we had finished our business with the bank, we took a garri for a
drive to the outside of the city.

[Illustration: CHINESE GARDEN AT SINGAPORE.]

"There is a famous garden here, belonging to a wealthy Chinese merchant:
it is said to be one of the finest gardens in the world, and must have
cost a great deal of money. No visitor to Singapore should omit it, even
if he has not more than a few hours on land.

"In the first place, Singapore is so near the equator that every kind of
tropical tree and plant can grow here in the open air. The mercury shows
an average, all the year round, of eighty-five to ninety-five degrees in
the shade; and there is hardly any difference between summer and winter.
Consequently it is one of the best places, perhaps _the_ best place, for
making a handsome garden, and the enterprising proprietor has kept this
fact in mind. Where he is sure the thermometer will never fall below
seventy-one degrees, he can grow anything he pleases.

"Such a lot of tropical things you never saw, and hardly ever dreamed
of. There were rows on rows of beautiful palms and bamboos, and other
things that only grow in the hot regions; and there was a pond with an
enormous _Victoria regia_--the great water-lily that makes ours seem
almost like a microscopic object.

"There are said to be more than eighty varieties of the palm; and if
there is not a sample of each of these varieties in this garden, I am
greatly mistaken. The garden covers a great deal of ground, and has
been made with much care and taste. The owner is very proud of it, and
always pleased to have strangers go there and admire it. The keeper, and
the men under his orders, are very civil; and evidently the owner has
told them that if they are not polite to strangers they will be sent
away, and people of better manners put in their places.

"The garden contains a collection of tropical animals, but it is not
very large. There was an orang-outang, or gorilla, there, and it was
wonderfully like a man in its shape and appearance. It was said to have
come from Borneo; and, if so, it was not a gorilla, but an orang-outang,
as the gorilla is a native of Africa, and not of the Eastern
Archipelago.

[Illustration: MATERNAL CARE.]

"We were much amused at the comical appearance of a couple of
chimpanzees. They were mother and child, and the mother was gravely
occupied in arranging the hair of the youngster. He stared at us with
his great round eyes; but she did not look up at all, as she was too
much engaged with making the young fellow look well. We had a fine
opportunity to see the formation of the feet of this variety of monkey;
they have thumbs on the hind feet as well as on the forward ones, and as
you look at them you can easily understand the readiness with which
these animals can climb trees and swing from the limbs.

"The chimpanzees are said to show a great deal of fondness for each
other. There is a story that two of them were once kept in the same
cage, and one happened to take sick and die. The other was so affected
by grief at the loss of its companion, that it refused all food for more
than a week, and was finally forced to take something down its throat
when so weak that it could hardly stand. It recovered very slowly, and
never seemed to forget the absence of its old friend.

"There is another garden at Singapore which is the property of the city;
it contains more animals than the private one, and fewer trees. We went
to it, and had a pleasant half-hour among the curiosities it contains.
The garden is an excellent thing to show strangers what the tropics can
produce in the way of animals and birds, and for this reason we were
much interested in it, and sorry when the time came to leave.

[Illustration: RURAL SCENE IN SINGAPORE.]

"The drive that we took led us among the forests of cocoa and other
palm-trees that extend all over the island, except where clearings have
been made. A large part of the land has been put under cultivation by
the Chinese settlers, and they have some very pretty farms and gardens,
in which they produce all the vegetables that are consumed at
Singapore.

"Several kinds of spices grow on the island, and there are some
plantations where pepper is cultivated. They raise considerable
sugar-cane, but most of it is used for preserves, and is not converted
into the sugar of commerce. Then there are lots of cocoa-nuts grown on
the island, and there are many varieties of fruits.

[Illustration: FRUIT-SELLERS AT SINGAPORE.]

"When we walked through the town in the morning we saw groups of natives
selling fruit, and we afterwards saw some of these fruits growing on the
trees. They comprised durians, pomegranates, pineapples, custard-apples,
mangoes, bananas, and plantains; and we were told that there are more
than twenty varieties of the plantain alone.

"The pineapple needs no description, as you have it at home; the
custard-apple is about the size of an ordinary apple, and has a soft
pulp surrounding the seeds. The best way to eat it is to scoop out the
contents with a spoon, and it is this way of eating more than the taste
that has given it its name. But the durian is the largest and funniest
of all these tropical fruits.

"The durian is like a small pumpkin, with a rough skin so hard and thick
that the birds cannot make much impression on it. The seeds are nearly
as large as chestnuts, and each seed is surrounded by a soft pulp, just
as the stone of a peach is embedded in the body of the fruit. People who
live here grow very fond of it, but travellers do not learn to like it
until they have made a good many attempts. It is not the taste that
repels them, but the smell, and this is something atrocious.

"We have tried to eat it, but could not do so even by holding our noses,
for the disagreeable odor would rise in spite of all precautions we
could take. We are told that the best way is to have the servants cut it
up and put the pieces in milk, and by taking them out of the milk and
swallowing quickly the smell is avoided. Perhaps this might work; but a
better plan would be to have the servants eat the stuff up when it was
properly prepared, and let you hear nothing more about it.

[Illustration: A BUNGALOW.]

"All the merchants who can afford the expense of a bungalow, or private
residence outside the city limits, are sure to indulge in it. The
consequence is that there are many of these residences; and as they
always have plenty of ground around them, and an abundance of shade
trees, the bungalows make a very pretty picture, or a succession of
pictures. The bungalow has wide verandas and overhanging eaves, and as
nobody wants to climb stairways where the heat is as great as in
Singapore, you rarely find a dwelling of more than one story. Then these
merchants have carriages of their own, and do not depend on the garries;
and in the evening their carriages driving along the esplanade road make
a fine appearance. The rich Chinese endeavor to live after the manner of
the Europeans; they have their bungalows and their carriages, and some
of the finest of the latter that we have seen were the property of
Chinese merchants. Their passion for fine gardens is greater than that
of the Europeans, and several of the bungalows have a very costly
surrounding of grounds. The fine garden we have described is not by any
means the only one belonging to a Chinese resident of Singapore.

[Illustration: CHINESE GENTLEMAN'S GARDEN.]

"The horses they use here are from Australia, and whenever a lot arrives
by a ship they have an auction in the square. They say that some of the
horses turn out well, and increase rapidly in value; while others seem
to be much affected by the climate, and do not last more than a year
or two. The horses fetch good prices, and the trade of bringing them
from Australia is said to be quite profitable.

"Everywhere we go we see Chinese. They are of all classes, from highest
to lowest, and from honest to dishonest. They are in every kind of
business, and they have their guilds or trade associations just as they
have them in China. They occupy official positions under the government,
and on several occasions there have been Chinese members of the
Legislative Council of Singapore. Once in awhile there is trouble
between them and the Europeans, arising out of questions of commerce:
but for the most part everything runs along smoothly, and the Chinese
show a perfect readiness to obey the laws, and live as they ought to
live. And speaking of their trades-unions calls to mind an amusing
story.

[Illustration: THE GOD OF GAMBLERS.]

"They carry the principle of trade association into everything; and the
thieves and gamblers have their guilds and gods like the others. The
guilds have rules and regulations that are very strict; and if a man
violates them he is liable to be expelled, and driven to seek a living
by honest means. When thieves wish to commit a robbery, they must
consult the officers of the guild and get their permission, and they
must pay a certain amount of the profits for the support of the
association.

"Sometimes they go in parties of a hundred or more; they surround a
house and plunder it by force, and they usually manage it so that the
occupants cannot make any resistance. It is said that when a house is to
be robbed, the thieves will scatter a narcotic drug about the rooms that
has no effect upon themselves, but will put a European to sleep. He
sleeps till long after the robbery is finished, and does not suffer the
least injury by inhaling it.

"When a thief enters a house to practise his profession, he removes his
clothes and oils his body all over. He winds his pig-tail around his
head--having previously stuck it full of needles. If anybody attempts to
grasp his arm or leg, he slips off like an eel; and, if he is seized by
the pig-tail, the person who takes hold of it is sure to let go in a
hurry. Who shall say that the Chinese thief is not a shrewd operator?

[Illustration: MALAY BOY IN THE BIRD-MARKET.]

"One of the curious things that we saw was the poultry-market. Poultry
includes a great deal more here than at home: as we found not only
chickens, ducks, geese, and other familiar things, but a great variety
of pigeons, quails, pheasants, and other edible birds from the forest.
Then there was an abundance of parrots, lories, cockatoos, and
paroquets, besides other birds whose names we did not know. Such a
screaming and cackling you never heard in your life. The heat is so
great at Singapore that everything to be eaten must be sold alive, as it
would begin to decay in a very short time after being slaughtered. Most
of the chickens were in coops, or tied together by the legs; and the
same was the case with the geese and ducks.

"The parrots, and members of their family, were generally secured by
strings to little perches, and they kept up an incessant chattering in
the Malay and other Oriental tongues. One was offered to us that spoke
English; but, as his vocabulary consisted only of a half-dozen words of
profanity, that had been taught to him by a sailor, we declined to
purchase. A crowd of men and boys surrounded us with birds in their
hands, and on their heads and shoulders; all talked at once, and offered
their birds at very low prices. We could have bought paroquets for
twenty-five cents; and a talking-parrot, very large, and white as snow,
was offered for six dollars, and could have been had for three. How they
manage to find a market for all the birds they bring to Singapore it is
difficult to imagine.

"You may be interested to know how these birds are brought here, and
where they come from. They are from the many islands south of Singapore
that form the Malay Archipelago, and they are brought by the natives on
speculation. When the south-west monsoon begins, a family starts in its
little boat for a voyage of from one to three thousand miles; and the
boat is one in which an American would be unwilling to risk a voyage
from New York to Boston. They run along from port to port, trading a
little wherever they can, and ultimately reach Singapore. The boat has a
deck, with a slight awning of woven grass, and is covered with the
family and birds--the latter being numbered sometimes by the hundred. In
the hold they have shells, feathers, spices, and other products, and
they are constantly making exchanges at the places they visit. They sell
their cargoes at Singapore, and buy a lot of cotton-cloth, hardware, and
other things that are in demand where they live, and then go back as
they came. This accounts for the large number of birds exposed for sale
in the poultry-market, and the low prices they are held at.

[Illustration: HEAD OF BLACK COCKATOO.]

"Among the birds offered to us there was a black cockatoo, with a
splendid head and crest. His bill had a point like a needle, and was
very large and strong. We wondered how he could eat, and what he lived
on, as the shape of his bill and his lower jaw seemed the most awkward
that one could imagine. We asked his owner to feed the bird, and gave
him a few cents to show us how the operation of eating was performed.

"The man brought a triangular nut which had a smooth surface, and was so
hard that we could not crack it without a hammer. The bird took the nut
endwise in his bill; he held it in place by pressing his tongue against
it, and then began sawing across it with his lower jaw.

"When he had cut a deep notch in this way, he turned the nut a little,
and used the underjaw as a wedge to break off the end. Then he held the
nut in one claw, and with the sharp point of his bill he picked out the
kernel; and as fast as he brought a bit of it to the light, he seized it
with his long tongue. Whether the bird was created for the nut, or the
nut for the bird, is a question for the naturalists; at all events, each
seems to be perfectly adapted to the other. The fitness of the
cockatoo's beak to the process of opening this hard product of the
forest is as exact as it could be made.

"While we were in the market a man kept endeavoring to attract our
attention to something he had in a large basket; we supposed it was a
new kind of bird, and went to see it. It proved to be a large snake, and
the man urged us to buy with all the eloquence of which he was capable.
We are not buying snakes just now, and so we left him to find another
customer.

"Snakes are abundant in this part of the world, and there are all the
varieties a man could want. Over on the main-land of Malacca they have
some very large ones, and you are liable at any time, when walking in
the forest, to come across a huge python swinging across your path. They
come into the houses and make themselves at home, and they never wait
for an invitation.

"A gentleman who has spent a good deal of time in this region tells an
interesting story of a visit that a snake made to him.

"One evening, just as he was going to bed, he heard a noise on the roof
overhead, but thought nothing of it. The next day he was lying down with
a book in his hand, just after dinner, and, happening to cast his eye
upwards, he saw something on the thatch that resembled a large
tortoise-shell. It was spotted with yellow and black marks; and while he
was wondering who could have put the shell there to dry, he discovered
that it was a snake coiled up, and lying asleep.

"The gentleman got up very quickly, and called his servants. As soon as
they learned there was a snake on the roof they were greatly frightened,
and ran out of the house to call some laborers from the plantation.
Several men came, and one of them, who was familiar with the habits of
the snake, proceeded to make a noose of bamboo and slip it over the
reptile's head. He succeeded in this, and dragged the snake from the
roof; then he took the creature by the tail, and tried to run out of the
house with him.

[Illustration: EJECTING AN INTRUDER.]

"The snake coiled around the chairs and posts, and gave the man
considerable trouble in ejecting him from the premises. As soon as he
had his prize outside he had a clear field, and soon made an end of the
serpent by dashing his head against a tree. The snake was more than
twelve feet long, and was capable of doing serious damage if he had
given his attention to it. The gentleman was not in a pleasant frame of
mind when he found that he had slept all night with the snake over his
head, and had taken his afternoon nap in the same position.

"We haven't seen any tigers for sale, but there is no doubt we could
find plenty if we wanted them. What with tigers and snakes and other
things, not to mention the heat and the danger of fever, Singapore and
the surrounding country do not appear desirable as a permanent
residence. Yet there are people who say they like it out here, and are
quite willing to stay. We are not of that mind; and nobody who cares to
live near the Straits of Malacca need have any fear that we will ever
try to get his place away from him.

"We would like to go over to Johore and see what the main-land is like,
but we haven't time for the journey. There is a fine road across the
island, to where you can take a boat and cross the strait. It is a drive
of about fifteen miles, and is said to be very interesting, as it takes
you through forests of palms, and past plantations of pepper and
gambier. Perhaps you don't know what gambier is? We didn't till we came
to the East.

"It is the dried and refined juice of a plant that grows in Malacca, and
is much used in dyeing and tanning, and also for stiffening silks. Great
quantities of it are shipped from Singapore to Europe, and it forms an
important item in the commerce of the place.

"The Maharajah of Johore is the son of the one from whom, in 1819, the
English bought the island of Singapore. They gave sixty thousand dollars
cash, and pay an annual subsidy of twenty thousand dollars; and they
have kept on paying it without complaint. As the place is an excellent
market for everything that the region produces, the Maharajah has become
rich, and is on the best of terms with the English; he frequently visits
the governor and is visited by him in return, and when any person of
distinction comes here he is invited to stop as long as he likes at
Johore. The Maharajah is a strict Mohammedan, but he has adopted many
of the features of European life in his household. He has a French cook,
and his dinners are served _à la European_. When entertaining visitors
from England or America, he generally wears a dress-suit after the
European manner; and he has so far overcome the prejudices of his
religion as to invite ladies to his table.

"The currency of Singapore is the dollar, or, to be more explicit, the
Spanish dollar. It is divided into one hundred cents, like our dollar,
and all transactions are reckoned in this currency. But you find all
kinds of money in circulation--English, French, American, Dutch, and
Spanish; and if you want rupees, or any other Eastern currency, you will
have no difficulty in getting it. The cosmopolitan character of
Singapore is very well illustrated in the many varieties of coin in
circulation.

"We have found a new type of mankind here--the Eurasian.

"You will possibly ask, 'What is the Eurasian?'

[Illustration: A NEW TYPE OF MANKIND.]

"The word is compounded of 'Europe' and 'Asia,' as you can easily
perceive, and the man who bears that name is of mixed European and
Asiatic blood. The most of them have adopted the European dress and
manners, and refuse to associate with the natives, while, on the other
hand, they are not admitted to European society. Consequently they are
in an unhappy position, as they are neither the one nor the other, and
there does not appear to be any recognized place for them. They have
been said to combine the vices of both their parent races, with the good
qualities of neither; there are some men of ability among them, but, on
the whole, the remark has a great deal of truth in it.

"In Singapore there are many descendants of the early Portuguese
settlers of the East; they still preserve the Portuguese language, and
adhere to their religion, though sometimes they are rather weak in both.
It is a curious fact that, though they preserve the features of Europe,
their skins are frequently darker than those of the natives; and the
spectacle is not an infrequent one of a man with Caucasian features, and
a complexion black as a piece of anthracite coal.

"If you wish to realize the importance of Singapore as a place of trade,
you have only to look at a map of the Eastern hemisphere and observe the
position of the city. It is a convenient commercial point for China and
Japan, for Java and the Malay Archipelago, for Siam, and even for
Australia. Ships going between Europe and the far East rarely pass
Singapore without stopping, and the great lines of steamships have a
large business here. The commerce has steadily increased every year, and
there is no sign that it will decline. Some of the old merchants
complain that competition has ruined trade; they sigh for the return of
the days when they had only one mail a month, and there was no telegraph
to give hourly quotations of the prices of goods in all parts of the
world. In those days business was confined to a few houses, and the
chances of an outsider were slight indeed. Fortunes were sometimes made
by a single venture, and not unfrequently a merchant had exclusive
information of advances or declines that he could have a whole month to
operate upon, without the least fear that anybody would be able to
interfere with him.

"Profits are smaller to-day, and capital must be turned very often; the
volume of business is far greater than it used to be, and the men who
regret the good old times are forced to accept things as they are."



CHAPTER XXIII.

CROSSING THE EQUATOR.--ADVENTURE WITH MALAY PIRATES.


There were several things held in reserve to be seen on the second day
in Singapore. Our friends went to the museum and library, which are in a
large building near the esplanade or park where people stroll in the
afternoon, and not far from the road which forms the fashionable drive.
The library is an excellent one, and contains a great number of works on
the East; the Doctor spent an hour or more among the books, and, while
examining their titles and contents, he came upon a volume which was
written by one of his intimate friends in America. It was entitled
"Overland through Asia," and described a journey that the author once
made across the northern part of the Eastern hemisphere.

There was a fair collection of minerals and other things in the museum,
and the boys were interested in a huge python that lay coiled around
some rocks in the centre of one of the rooms. The director of the museum
told them that the serpent was kept in a cage in the museum for some
time, but it was finally determined to kill and stuff him, so that his
appearance could be more readily studied by visitors. The work of
killing was more serious than had been anticipated; it was done by means
of chloroform, as they did not wish to injure the reptile's skin by
lacerating it.

A sponge saturated with chloroform was introduced between the bars of
the cage, and held over the head of the python as he lay asleep. Instead
of being stupefied, he was awakened by it; and he indicated most
emphatically, by moving his head away, that he did not like that kind of
treatment. He refused to breathe the narcotic, and it became apparent
that some means of compelling him to take it must be adopted.

A noose was passed over his head, and he was drawn forward so that his
nose was at the bars of the cage. Then the sponge was again applied, and
he was forced to inhale the chloroform, whether he wanted to or not. He
lashed about from side to side, and sometimes it seemed as though he
would tear the cage to pieces with the violence of his demonstrations.
All this time he was breathing the narcotic; but it was nearly an hour
before he was fairly under its influence, and another hour was required
to reduce him to a state of quiet. Even when he had ceased to lash
around so as to threaten injury to the cage, his body was constantly
giving convulsive twitches, and these did not end for several hours. The
gentleman who superintended the operation said that the snake was the
worst patient he ever saw under the influence of chloroform, and the
hardest to manage.

They took another drive into the country, over a road that had been
newly opened. Their way led them near a native village, where the houses
were thickly thatched with grass and strips of palm-leaf, so as to keep
out the heavy rains that frequently occur. It is said that at Singapore
more than half the days of the year are favored with showers, and the
records show that in some years they have had two hundred and odd rainy
days. The rain cools the air, and it is probably owing to the rain and
wind that there are so few cases of fever among the Europeans. Sometimes
the wind develops into a lively squall that sets all light things in
motion and fills the air with clouds of dust. It frequently happens that
the papers on the desk of a merchant will be sent flying about the room,
and possibly out of the window; and there are stories of valuable
documents and notes of the Bank of England being whisked away, so that
their owners never saw them again.

[Illustration: KLINGS AND CHINESE.]

They saw groups of Klings and Chinese along the road; and in one
instance four of the former were holding a discussion over a basket of
fruit, and making things so lively that the boys thought there would be
a fight. The Klings do not bear a good reputation among the Europeans,
and are not on friendly terms with the Chinese. They are first-class
rascals in all their dealings where they can take advantage; and, if
there is no danger of receiving punishment, they are almost certain to
be insolent. On the other hand, they are cringing to their superiors,
and make the utmost professions of friendship, while ready at any moment
to indulge in the meanest treachery. The Chinese, with whatever
disagreeable qualities they possess, are much to be preferred to the
Klings.

[Illustration: NATIVE NURSES AND CHILDREN.]

Frank and Fred were amused at the costumes of the native nurses, whom
they occasionally saw in charge of European children. They were more
noticeable for their comfort in the hot climate of the tropics than for
elegance of design; and it was evident that the expense of keeping one
of these nurses in clothing was not great. The native children go quite
naked until five or six years of age, and even later; and it was not an
uncommon sight to see a woman bearing a water-jar, and followed by a
little urchin entirely destitute of clothing, in marked contrast to the
European children, who were dressed after the custom of the country
whence their parents came.

The native women are fond of ornaments in their ears, like the women of
other countries, and a good many of them have their noses pierced and
decorated. Anklets and armlets of silver and gold are also worn, and it
is not unusual to see a woman, whose entire clothing has cost less than
a dollar, almost weighted down with jewellery worth a goodly sum.

[Illustration: COALING AT THE DOCK.]

They visited the new harbor of Singapore to see the ship on which they
intended leaving the following morning for Java. The new harbor is known
as Tangong Pagar, and has the advantage over the old one of allowing
ships to lie at a dock instead of anchoring a considerable distance from
shore. The docks are well built, and there are mountains of coal piled
up there to meet the wants of ships. Singapore is an important
coaling-station for ships in the Eastern trade, and sometimes a dozen of
them may be seen taking coal at Tangong Pagar at the same time.

[Illustration: CARRYING COAL ON BOARD.]

Our friends were satisfied with the appearance of the steamer; and when
they had completed their inspection they returned to the hotel, and from
there went to the office of the Dutch Steamship Company to engage
passage. Every week there is a steamer leaving Singapore for Batavia.
One week it is a French ship, and the next a Dutch one; the latter runs
in connection with the Peninsular and Oriental line; while the former
belongs to the great company which carries the French mail from Europe
to the East. It happened to be the week of the Dutch ship when Doctor
Bronson and his young companions were at Singapore, and they
congratulated themselves that they would have the opportunity of going
on a vessel of a nationality new to them.

Frank and Fred opened their eyes in astonishment when they learned the
price they were to pay for passage to Java.

"Forty-six dollars!" exclaimed Frank; "and for a voyage of forty-eight
hours!"

"And it is only five hundred miles from Singapore to Batavia," Fred
responded. "How much does it cost to go from New York to England, and
what is the distance?"

The Doctor informed him that it was about three thousand miles from New
York to Liverpool, and the passage was usually a hundred dollars for the
best places on the best steamers.

"At the rate from here to Batavia," said Fred, "we should have to pay
two hundred and seventy-five dollars for the transatlantic voyage where
we now pay one hundred dollars. Why does it cost so much more here than
on the Atlantic?"

"In the first place," the Doctor explained, "there are comparatively few
people travelling here, and the companies are compelled to ask high
prices in order to keep up their ships. Where a steamer between New York
and Liverpool would have a hundred passengers and more, and consider it
only an ordinary business, you will rarely find more than twenty or
thirty passengers on a steamer in the Far East. Coal is much more
expensive here than in the North Atlantic ports, and so is nearly
everything else that is used on a ship. In these hot regions the
passengers need more room than on a transatlantic steamer, and more
personal comforts generally."

"But don't they ever crowd the passengers rather uncomfortably?" Frank
asked. "It seems to me that I have heard you speak of a very
disagreeable voyage you once had on account of the unusual number of
people on the steamer you travelled on."

"You are quite right," the Doctor replied; "and it was on this very
route, from Singapore to Batavia. I was on the French steamer; and the
agents told me there would be plenty of room, as only a few passengers
were engaged. She had eight rooms, with two berths to a room, so that
her complement of passengers was sixteen. But when we came to start we
found that we numbered fifty-two; and you can easily understand that we
had a hard time of it. We were packed something like sardines in a can,
and all were heartily glad when the voyage was over. If we could have
laid hold of the Singapore agent of the company we should have treated
him as roughly as the laws of the ocean permit; but he had the advantage
of being on shore, and quite out of our reach."

[Illustration: SERVANTS ON DUTY.]

The trio of travellers rose early the next morning, as the steamer was
advertised to leave at seven o'clock, and the dock was a long distance
from the hotel. Their baggage was piled in a small cart drawn by a
bullock, and started off some time ahead of them, so as to be at the
steamer before they reached there in the more expeditious garri. When
they had swallowed their morning coffee and came out of the hotel, they
found a group of servants waiting near the door to ask for money, as a
reward for their services. Frank said the only energy the fellows
displayed during his acquaintance with them was in this final act of
begging; it was far from an easy matter to get any service out of them,
as their chief occupation was gambling, and they were too much engrossed
in it to pay any attention to common things.

The steamer sailed promptly on her advertised time. During the last
half-hour of their stay at the dock, the passengers were amused by the
antics of a lot of men and boys who dived for money. They were in small
boats close to the steamer, and whenever a coin, silver or copper, was
thrown into the water, a dozen of the fellows plunged over in search of
it. Generally they caught it before it had gone far below the surface,
and sometimes there would be a struggle between two of the divers for
the possession of a coin. The loser would appeal to the passengers to
throw over a piece which could be his special property, and he very
often succeeded in inducing them to do so.

The Doctor told the boys that the quarrel over the money was a clever
bit of acting, as the fellows were associated, and the result of the
day's work was divided equally among them. Sometimes they refuse to dive
for copper coins, and will only go over for silver. If any coppers are
thrown they decline to move, and say it is impossible to see copper at
the bottom of the water. Consequently their harvest is in silver; and if
any copper has been dropped, they dive for it after the ship has gone.

[Illustration: SCENE ON THE SUMATRA COAST.]

The route of the steamer proved to be very picturesque. The numerous
islands that lie at this part of the Straits of Malacca were visible in
whatever direction our friends turned their eyes, and away to the right
was the coast of Sumatra, thickly clothed in tropical verdure. The
islands were so many, and lay so irregularly, that the steamer was
obliged to change her course every few hours, and Fred thought before
noon that they must have steered to every point of the compass since
they left Singapore.

The sky was clear, and the heat of the sun poured fiercely down on the
triple awning that covered the stern of the ship's deck. But it was less
severe than the boys had expected to find it; and they both agreed that
the Gulf of Siam was quite as uncomfortable as the Java Sea near the
equator.

Our young friends were full of excitement at the prospect of going into
southern latitude. They were frequently studying their maps and looking
at their watches, so as to be on the lookout for the equator at the
moment of crossing it.

"We left Singapore at seven in the morning," said Frank, "and we had
eighty miles to go to reach the equator. The steamer is running ten
miles an hour, and according to my calculation we should be on the
equator about three o'clock."

Fred was of the same opinion; and it was determined that they would
watch closely from two till four o'clock, and see if the southern
hemisphere was in any way unlike the Northern one; and so they watched
while the steamer moved on and on towards the south. A little past three
in the afternoon the Doctor told them they were probably in the region
of no latitude, and that the equator was under their feet.

"I tell you what, Frank," said Fred, "it may be all my imagination, but
it seems to me that the sea has a different appearance here from
anything I have yet seen."

"What is that?"

"Why, you know that everywhere else when we are at sea we appear to be
in a hollow or basin, and the horizon line of the water is higher than
we are. Now, as I look off from the steamer, it seems to me that the
world rounds away from us, and if my eyesight was strong enough I could
see the North and the South Poles. Instead of being in a hollow, as we
have always appeared to be heretofore, I seem to be on a great globe, or
the summit of a rounded hill."

Frank thought he had the same sensation, but not so strongly as Fred.
They appealed to the Doctor, who said that the feeling was mostly
imaginary, and grew out of the knowledge that they were crossing the
equator. "But there is sometimes a condition of the atmosphere," he
added, "which produces the appearance you describe. In all the time I
have passed at sea I have seen it only on a few occasions--perhaps three
or four in all. There is a suggestion of it at this moment, I observe,
and your imagination has done the rest.

"And you may consider yourself fortunate," he continued, "that you are
not making an old-fashioned voyage of twenty or thirty years ago."

"Why so?" Frank asked.

"Because," was the reply, "you would run the risk of an introduction to
Father Neptune."

"I remember," said Fred, "that is the ceremony they talk about in
crossing the line for the first time."

"Yes," Frank responded, "they play all kinds of pranks on the
greenhorns, or those who have never been beyond the equator."

"My first crossing of the line was on an English ship," said the Doctor,
"and the custom was allowed in its full force. They fastened below all of
the crew who were not old sailors, and also all of the passengers. The
latter were let off by paying half a sovereign each, to be expended in
drink for the crew; three-fourths of them complied at once, and were let
up to see the fun. But the greenhorns of the crew were not excused, and
we had a chance to see how the ceremony was performed."

"And how was it?"

[Illustration: CROSSING THE LINE ON A MAN-OF-WAR.]

"Just about daybreak the ship was hailed by a hoarse voice that seemed
to come from under the bows. The voice was followed by Neptune in
person, and he was accompanied by several attendants blowing conch
shells. Neptune was one of the old sailors in disguise; he had a long
beard made of rope-yarn, and a tin crown, and he carried a trident in
his right hand as he marched along the deck. His attendants were
equipped with beards almost as long as those of Neptune, and, like their
master, they were naked to the waist.

"He ordered the sailors to bring him a throne, and he was speedily
mounted on the top of a cask. Then, one after another, the greenhorns
were brought before him to be questioned and shaved.

"'Do you intend to serve me always, and be a good sailor?' was the first
question that Neptune addressed to the subject before him.

"As the man opened his mouth to answer, the shaving-brush was thrust
into it. The brush was a swab made of yarn, and the lather consisted of
coarse soap mixed with water from the tub where the grindstone stood.
The shaving was performed with a rusty iron hoop, and without any
tenderness or delicacy. The victims were made to go through the
performance in spite of their struggles, and when it was over the
majority of them found their faces covered with scratches that lasted
for several days.

"The ceremony very rarely takes place nowadays on merchant-ships, and
only occasionally on men-of-war. No rudeness is now allowed on the part
of Neptune and his assistants, and the sport is confined to drenching
the greenhorns by getting them under a sail filled with water, or
playing some other harmless prank. Generally all the officers come on
deck to meet Neptune on his arrival, and there is a partial relaxation
of discipline for half an hour or so."

The subject was dropped, and the boys devoted themselves to studying the
appearance of the water, and the varying light and shadow on the
Sumatran coast, which was constantly in sight. Suddenly Frank said he
had thought of something he wished to ask the Doctor.

His question had reference to the Malay pirates, of which he had often
read, and he wished to know if he was not in the vicinity of those
disagreeable men.

"We are in their neighborhood," said the Doctor; "but I don't think we
need fear anything from them."

"Of course not," cried Fred; "they would never disturb a steamer like
this."

"Not unless she was disabled, and in their power," responded Frank; "and
then, I suppose, they would not show much mercy."

"As to that," remarked the Doctor, "it is difficult to lay down an
invariable rule. The pirates pursue their trade for love of gain, and
are not likely to rush to destruction. If they should get in the way of
this vessel she would be likely to run their boats down, and that would
be an end of them. They have a wholesome fear of a steamer, and are
careful to keep out of her way.

"Twenty or thirty years ago there were a great many pirates all through
the Malay Archipelago. They carried on their business as an American
would deal in wheat or conduct a hotel, and there were whole towns and
villages entirely supported by piracy. They attacked Chinese or other
native boats, and they also overpowered European ships that were
becalmed in the straits between the numerous islands. The crews were
murdered, or sold into slavery in many instances, while in others they
were released after much suffering. The evil became so great that some
of the civilized nations sent ships of war to destroy the villages where
the pirates had their resorts, and also to capture the pirate craft.

"Against a sailing ship the pirates have a great advantage. Their proas,
or boats, have a large number of men to row them, and when a ship is
becalmed they can come out to her in strong force and rush upon her.
They board the ship on both bows simultaneously by dozens and dozens,
and in a few moments the crew is overpowered, and the vessel in their
hands.

"One of the war-ships that came here was disguised as a merchant
vessel, and she made so many captures that for some time the pirates
were afraid to go near a vessel of her rig. An American ship was
captured by some pirates from Qualla Battu, a town on the west coast of
Sumatra, and the government of the United States sent a ship to teach
the fellows a lesson. Qualla Battu was burnt, and the inhabitants that
were not killed by the shells from the ship were scattered in the
forest. The result was that for a long time afterwards no American ship
was troubled by them.

"Singapore was formerly a business centre for the pirates, even after it
went into the hands of the English. They swarmed among the channels of
the islands in the vicinity, and they had spies in the fort to tell them
of the movements of every craft that sailed from it. Their principal
victims were the native traders, who could offer little resistance, and
they used to conduct the business in the most systematic manner."

"How was that?"

[Illustration: CHIEF'S HOUSE IN A PIRATE VILLAGE.]

"A chief of one of the small provinces or districts of the Malay States
would make up his mind to embark in piracy as a regular business. He
would gather as many men under his banner as he could get together, and
go to one of the islands near Singapore. There he built a village, which
could serve as a depot for slaves and merchandise, and a convenient
resting-place for his men, when they had had a hard weeks' work. Then he
stationed himself in one of the channels, where native traders pass on
their way to and from Singapore; and very often he would know exactly
when one of them was expected. Where he was successful, the chief would
soon have a large fleet, sometimes hundreds of proas; and he gathered
around him a great number of adventurers, who were proud to range
themselves under his banners. His forces would become so large that he
could divide them, and watch several channels; and sometimes it happened
that serious troubles arose between rival pirates for the possession of
some place that was particularly valuable for purposes of plunder.

[Illustration: HARBOR OF PIRATES.]

"The ships they captured were taken to their settlements by the pirates;
and after all the goods in them had been removed, the craft and its
cordage would be burnt, to prevent identification. The plunder would be
sent to Singapore in the chief's trading-vessels, and sold in the open
market; and it often happened that a merchant who had sold goods to a
native trader living far to the south was able to buy them back again,
in a week or two, at a greatly reduced rate.

"The native crews of the captured ships were taken to some of the
interior towns of Sumatra or Borneo, where they were sold as slaves to
work on the pepper plantations belonging to the Malays. The pirates
generally sailed in fleets of from four up to thirty proas, according to
the class of ships they were looking for. Each proa carried from twenty
to forty men, and had one or more small guns, in addition to muskets and
pistols. Their favorite weapons were the Malay kriss or knife; and they
had a supply of darts and other missiles, to be thrown on board their
intended prizes.

"They always boarded over the bows, and they rushed on in such numbers
that the small crew of a merchant-ship could offer no resistance. Once
they met their match at the hands of a woman, and the fame of her
stratagem lasts to this day."

"Oh! please tell us about it," said both the boys.

"She was a Quakeress," the Doctor replied; "and you know the Quakers do
not believe in fighting.

"She and her husband were passengers on a brig that was becalmed in one
of the straits of the Malay Archipelago. A dozen proas came out from a
little harbor where there was a pirate settlement, and paddled straight
towards the brig. The crew began preparations for defence, and the
captain called on the husband of this woman to perform his share of the
work. He refused, on the ground that fighting was contrary to his
religious principles; and his wife sustained the refusal.

"'But, if he cannot fight,' said she, 'he and I will do something for
the general good of all on the ship.'

"She told her husband to bring on deck some dozens of beer bottles that
had been emptied of their contents during the voyage. Then, with a
hammer, she set to work to break these bottles into small pieces, which
were scattered all over the deck. Her husband assisted her, and so did
the crew, and, before the proas were along-side, the whole deck, from
bow to stern, was covered with the bits of glass.

"The proas came up, and the pirates swarmed in over the bows, after
their usual custom. These fellows are half-naked, and always
barefooted--the rest of the story will almost tell itself."

"I think so," Frank responded. "The pirates trod on the fragments of
glass, and cut their feet so that they could not stand. The crew and
passengers were at the stern of the brig with their shoes on, and had
nothing to do, as the glass did all the fighting for them."

[Illustration: THE PIRATES' VICTIM.]

"That was about the way of it," said the Doctor. "The pirates nearly all
came on board, but not one of them was able to get aft to where the crew
stood. The deck was covered with Malays with lacerated feet, and they
were so helpless that the captain directed his men to pay no attention
to them, but to shoot the men in the proas. They were shot down
accordingly, and only a few of the rascals escaped. Those who were left
saw that something was wrong, and so they pulled away to the shore for
aid.

"They had not gone far before a breeze sprung up, the sails filled, and
the brig began to move through the water. The breeze increased; and,
before re-enforcements could come from the shore to aid the pirates, the
brig was out of all danger."

"And what became of the pirates that were left on the deck of the brig?"
Fred inquired.

"The captain had no use for them," the Doctor answered, "and so he
dropped them overboard after sailing a few miles. The occurrence was a
discouraging one to the pirates in that region, and for a long time
afterwards they were very cautious about setting their bare feet on the
deck of a foreign ship.

"There is very little piracy nowadays," the Doctor continued, "compared
to what there was a quarter of a century ago. It is very rarely the case
that a foreign ship is captured by the freebooters, or even molested by
them. They confine their operations to native traders; but they are
compelled to occupy the most secluded retreats, and therefore have
little chance to do anything. The construction of steam gun-boats was
the practical end of piracy, so far as its bearing upon foreign commerce
was concerned; the pirates were pursued to their haunts and destroyed,
and the native chiefs were made to understand that they would be held
responsible for every unlawful act committed within their jurisdiction.
Since the business became not only unprofitable but hazardous to the
necks of those in authority, very little has been heard of it."

[Illustration; SINEWS OF WAR.]



CHAPTER XXIV.

SUMATRA AND ITS PECULIARITIES.--SNAKES AND ORANG-OUTANGS.


The boys had observed, as they journeyed to the southward, that the
North Star declined lower and lower in the heavens in proportion as they
receded from the Pole. At Singapore it was only a little way above the
horizon, and after they passed the equator it disappeared altogether.
From Singapore they had seen the Southern Cross, which is to the South
what the Great Bear is to the North.

Frank made a note of this fact, and the first night they were beyond the
equator they sat till a late hour on deck to study the appearance of the
heavens. When they first began their observations they could not see The
Cross, and Fred went to ask the Doctor the reason of its disappearance.

"It is not yet above the horizon," said the Doctor, "and will not be
there till after midnight."

"How is that?"

"The Southern Cross is not over the South Pole, but about ten degrees
from it. Therefore, when we are so near the equator as we are now, the
Cross goes at times below the horizon. You must wait till late at night
before you can see it."

They concluded to go to bed, and let the new constellation remain
undisturbed where it was. As they were going still farther south, they
would have abundant opportunity to see it before their return to
Singapore.

The second day of their voyage they had the coast of Sumatra still in
sight for a large part of the time, and the boys wished they could make
a landing there and see something of the country. Among the passengers
there was a gentleman who had been in Sumatra, and he kindly undertook
to tell the boys something about the island and its people.

He began by asking if either of the youths could tell him what the
geographies said about the island, and its extent and characteristics.

"Certainly," Frank replied. "We know that it is about one thousand
miles long by two hundred and fifty wide, and has about five million
inhabitants. The Dutch have a part of it in their possession, and the
rest is independent; but perhaps the Dutch will have the whole of it one
of these days."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because the Dutch have been at war for some time with the native
government of the province called Acheen. At any rate I have read so;
and I have also read that when they succeed in capturing it they will
have more than three-fourths of the island under their control."

"You are quite correct, I believe," said the gentleman; "but the Acheen
war may yet last a long time. The natives are brave, and the country is
very unhealthy for the Dutch. Fevers have killed more than the enemy's
weapons since the Dutch went there, and the conquest will be a very
costly one. But we will not trouble ourselves at present about the
Acheen war, as it is rarely heard of in America, or, for that matter, in
Europe.

[Illustration: A TRADING-STATION ON THE COAST.]

"The Dutch possessions include Padang and Bencoolen, on the west coast
of Sumatra; Lampong, on the southern end of the island; and Palembang,
on the east coast. Banca and some other islands of lesser size lie near
the coast of Sumatra; but they form separate governments, and are not to
be considered as belonging to the great island we are discussing. Banca
is famous for its mines of tin, which have been worked for a long time,
and are the source of a large revenue. There are many good harbors on
the coast, and there are two or three of them that can hardly be
surpassed anywhere. On most of these harbors there are cities, and a
considerable business is done in products of the tropics, such as rice,
pepper, ginger, turmeric, spices, and camphor and other gums.

[Illustration: A BAYOU ON THE PALEMBANG RIVER.]

"The only place in Sumatra I have visited," said the gentleman, "is
Palembang. The city is quite large, and is on a river of the same name;
to go to it you must ascend this river about a hundred miles, through a
country that is low and rather swampy. The foliage is luxuriant, and
there are numerous little bayous leading off from the river; so that you
must have a good guide, or run the risk at times of losing your way.

"I went there in the rainy season, when much of the country was flooded.
The city is built on the river, and extends three or four miles along a
bend in the stream; so many of the houses are on floating rafts, that
rise and fall with the tide, that it makes little difference to the
inhabitants whether the river is high or low. If you have been in Siam
you can form a very good picture of Palembang, as it is much like
Bangkok in the number and arrangement of its floating houses. When you
go to market, you go in a small boat, just as you do in Bangkok, and
nearly everything is transported by water.

[Illustration: ARAB HOUSES AT PALEMBANG.]

"It is a peculiarity of the Malays never to build a house on solid
ground if they can find a place to stand it on piles in the water, and
they prefer a boat to any other kind of a conveyance. At Palembang the
most of the Malay inhabitants are thus located; but there are many Arab
and Chinese residents who have their houses on the solid ground. Most of
the trading is in the hands of these foreigners, and there are very few
European inhabitants besides the officials who represent the Dutch
government. They are very glad to have strangers come there, as it is a
change from the monotony of their every-day life; and if you should
happen to visit Palembang you may be sure of a kindly reception.

"The country is quite low and swampy all around Palembang, though the
town itself is on a slight elevation that preserves it from overflowing.
You must go twenty or thirty miles farther up the river to the firm
country, and there you find the commencement of the tropical forests for
which Sumatra is famous."

Fred asked what kind of trees are to be found in these forests.

[Illustration: LOUNGING UNDER A MANGO-TREE.]

"As to that," was the reply, "the trees are not much unlike what you
have seen in Malacca and Siam. They have several varieties of the palm,
and they have rubber-trees from which they derive a good revenue. The
mango-tree, with its broad branches and dark foliage, is frequently
seen, and it is a favorite in the neighborhood of the villages. The
natives like to swing their hammocks beneath it; and, for my own part, I
do not know a better place to lounge in, in a hot afternoon, than the
shade of a mango-tree.

[Illustration: ALLIGATORS TAKING SUN AND AIR.]

"Being under the equator, Sumatra is a hot country, and one must be
cautious about exposure to the sun. During the middle of the day you
should remain at rest, and you will find great refreshment in bathing
frequently; but take care how you plunge in the rivers, as many of them
are full of alligators, and sometimes these brutes are hungry.
Occasionally you may see dozens of them lying on the banks to enjoy the
sun, and they are hunted so little that you may come quite near without
disturbing them. At a little distance they look like logs, and you might
easily mistake their black bodies for sticks of timber that have been
partially burnt. There is one island just above Palembang where they
swarm in large numbers, and are of all sizes, from very small to very
large. The island also abounds in cranes; and sometimes they approach
near enough to the alligators to come within reach of the powerful tails
of those reptiles. In such a case there is a single sweep of the great
lever, and the whole business is over.

"Since the Dutch went to Sumatra they have constructed roads, and done a
great deal for the improvement of the condition of the people. The roads
are divided into regular stages of ten or twelve miles, and if you send
on in advance you will find everything ready on your arrival, so that
you will not be delayed; but if you do not give notice beforehand, you
can only go the distance of one stage in a day, which makes your
progress very slow. At nearly every station there is a village; and if
you want to study the habits of the people, you can do so very well by
walking from one station to the next in the morning, and then strolling
about the village and neighboring regions in the afternoon. There is
always a house for strangers, and you have nothing to do but walk in and
take possession: you pay for what you have at a fixed rate. The Dutch
have been careful to adjust the prices of everything, so that there can
be no dispute.

"Away from the rivers the houses of the natives are on poles or posts,
just as they are when built in the water. The best of them are of boards
or planks, and the more common ones of bamboo, and the floors are
covered with mats, on which you may sit or lie. They have no beds,
benches, or chairs; even in the houses of the chiefs you will see hardly
a single article of furniture.

[Illustration: VIEW IN A SUMATRAN VILLAGE.]

"There is a great similarity among the Sumatran villages. A village
covers several acres, and is almost always surrounded by a high fence,
to keep out the wild animals that abound in the island. The houses are
dropped down higgledy-piggledy without the least attempt at regularity,
and there is generally quite a grove of palm, banana, and other trees
around them. The best of the dwellings have their ends ornamented with
some elaborate carving in wood, and the ends of the roof rise in a
graceful curve that terminates in a point.

"There is a curious combination of neatness and the reverse in the
habits of the people of these interior villages. The ground is hard and
clean, and the houses are frequently swept with the greatest care; but
they have no system of drainage, and the only way of disposing of refuse
of any kind is to throw it into a sink-hole under the house. The people
seem to have adhered to the custom that prevails where their houses are
built over the water, and the result is that your nose will often inform
you, before your eyes do, that you are approaching a village."

Frank asked what birds or beasts were to be found in Sumatra.

"You find pretty much the same as you do in Malacca or Siam," was the
reply. "There are plenty of elephants of the same species as on the
main-land, and there is any number of tigers. They are very large, and
proportionally fierce, and a great many of the natives are eaten by them
every year. They do not often attack white men, but I had a close escape
one evening from being eaten by one of them."

"How did that happen?"

"I had been visiting a planter of my acquaintance, and we did not
separate till about dark. I had a ride of six or eight miles before me
to reach the house where I was to stay for the night, but did not mind
it in the least, as I had been over the ground before, and had no fear
of losing my way. My friend cautioned me to look out for tigers, but I
only laughed when he said so, as I had no idea that a tiger would attack
a man on horseback.

"I was cantering gently along, when all at once my pony began to prick
his ears and sniff the air, as though all was not right. Every moment he
was more and more uneasy, and he exerted himself to the utmost to make
good time over the road. Never in my life was I carried faster by a
horse than on that occasion.

[Illustration: CHASED BY A TIGER.]

"In a few minutes I heard the growl of a tiger, who was in full pursuit,
and gaining at every stride. The road led to a creek, and it occurred
to me that my whole safety consisted in reaching that creek before the
tiger reached me. I threw my hat off to amuse the beast for a moment,
and it gave my horse just the time he needed without a second to spare.
The tiger did not try to follow through the water, and when I got to the
house where I was to stay, I resolved not to venture again on that road
after dark.

"Some of my friends were unkind enough to say that perhaps I was
mistaken in the whole matter, and that the horse took fright at a thorn
catching under the saddle-girth as we went through the jungle; so the
next morning I invited one of them to go with me to the creek, and to
the spot where I threw away my hat. The fragments of the hat were there,
where the tiger had torn it in his rage, and the tracks of the beast
were visible in the soft earth. From the extent of his foot-prints he
was evidently of the largest size, and would have made short work of a
man when once he had settled his teeth into his throat. It was the
narrowest escape I ever had in my life. I have been treed by a bear, but
the sensation was nothing compared to that of being chased by a tiger."

"Please tell us," said Fred, "how you happened to be treed by a bear."

"Certainly," said the gentleman; "but the story has nothing to do with
Sumatra or any other island of the Malay Archipelago. It was in America
that the incident happened.

"I was out hunting one afternoon, and had only a small fowling-piece
loaded with bird-shot. Suddenly I came across a black bear, and very
foolishly fired at him. The shot enraged him, and he ran for me.

[Illustration: TREED BY A BEAR.]

"I ran a few yards, and knew that every moment he was gaining on me. I
dropped my gun, and sprung for the nearest tree; I was young and active,
and went up several feet at the first bound. It was a smooth sapling,
with the lower part quite free from limbs, and I soon found that it was
no easy matter to climb after the first spurt was over. The bear
followed me, and had the advantage of claws; and he came on faster than
was agreeable. I knew that a friend of mine was not far off, and I
shouted with all the power of my lungs. He heard me, and came to my
relief; and, just as the bear had taken me by the coat-tail, I heard a
shot, and the beast tumbled to the ground. I don't like bear-hunting in
that shape."

Fred inquired if there were any snakes in Sumatra.

"Yes, snakes in abundance," was the response; "and they sometimes grow
to an enormous size. In some respects, Sumatra is the paradise of
snakes, as they have a hot climate, and can always find plenty to eat."

"What kind of snakes do they have there?" queried Fred.

"The largest is the boa-constrictor," said the gentleman; "and I do not
believe he grows to a greater size in any other part of the world."

"What is the greatest length you have ever known for one of these
snakes?" Frank asked.

"The longest I ever saw was one that I killed myself. I was out hunting,
and had three or four natives to carry my gun and other things, when
suddenly one of them shouted, and pointed to a tree.

"I looked, and saw an enormous snake coiled up there, with his head over
a limb, and evidently watching us as we approached.

"Du Chaillu and other hunters of experience say that the best thing for
shooting a snake is not a bullet, but a charge of small shot, such as we
use in duck-hunting. So I gave my rifle to one of the natives, and
called for my fowling-piece.

[Illustration: SHOOTING A BOA-CONSTRICTOR.]

"I managed to get around in order to have a good aim, and ventured so
close to the snake that the natives warned me to be careful. I watched
my chance, and just as the fellow darted his head forward I fired.

"My aim was accurate, and the snake's head was blown into a shapeless
mass. He threw himself from the tree, and writhed on the ground, while I
retired with my party to a safe distance. We watched him twisting his
body into many shapes, and tearing up the small trees and bushes as he
wound around them. In about an hour I continued my hunt, leaving one of
the natives to watch the snake, so that we could skin him when he was
done writhing.

[Illustration: A SNAKY CREEK.]

"Wishing to explore a small creek, I sent another of the men to bring a
boat; and he soon returned with it. It must have been a great day for
snakes, as we had not gone far before the water seemed to be alive with
them. They were of all the colors of the rainbow; and some of them had
shades that the rainbow never possessed. The largest I should judge to
have been eight or ten feet in length, but I had no opportunity to
measure him.

"One tried to get into the boat, and I shot him just as he raised his
head over the bow; others swum close to the boat, and seemed in no hurry
to get out of our way. There was a large boa, or python, coiled around a
tree that overhung a bank; he darted his head rather defiantly, but made
no other demonstration. I was quite willing to let him alone, provided
he would be equally polite to me; and, as he manifested no intention of
attacking us, I did not fire on him.

"We went back late in the afternoon, and found that our great boa had
ceased his twistings, and was sufficiently quiet to be skinned. He
measured thirty feet and a few inches in length, and was certainly one
of the largest of his kind. He could kill and eat an ordinary-sized cow
or bullock; and, as for a dog or monkey, he would dispose of one without
the slightest trouble. The favorite food of this snake is the monkey;
and he captures him by lying concealed among the trees, and waiting
patiently till the monkey comes within his reach."

[Illustration: MONKEY EXAMINING A TORTOISE.]

"Then there are monkeys in Sumatra?" said one of the boys.

"Certainly," was the reply, "there are monkeys in abundance. The
naturalists have found no less than eleven distinct species of the
monkey family, and it is thought there are several yet undiscovered in
the forests. There is one monkey called the _simiang_, that has
tremendously long arms; Mr. Wallace measured one that was only three
feet high, but his arms were five and a half feet when stretched out.
This monkey will swing himself from one tree to another with the utmost
ease, over distances that most of the other monkeys would hardly venture
to go."

"Do they find the variety of monkey known as the orang-outang in
Sumatra?" one of the boys asked.

"Yes," said their informer, "the animal is found only in Sumatra and
Borneo, but he is rarely seen on the first-named island. In parts of
Borneo he is quite abundant; and the most of the specimens in the
museums all over the world came from that wild region."

Frank asked how large was the largest of these beasts that had been
captured and measured.

[Illustration: FEMALE ORANG-OUTANG.

(From a Photograph.)]

"As to that," said the gentleman, "there is a considerable conflict of
testimony. Mr. Wallace says that the largest killed by him during his
stay in Borneo was four feet two inches from head to heel; and his
outstretched arms were seven feet nine inches from tip to tip of his
fingers. The face was thirteen inches wide, and the body measured
forty-three inches around. Mr. Wallace further says that he measured
seventeen freshly-killed orangs, and the skeletons of two others;
sixteen were full-grown adults--nine males and seven females. The males
varied from four feet one inch to four feet two inches in height; and
the outstretched arms from seven feet two inches to seven feet eight
inches. The measurements of other naturalists closely agree with his,
and he therefore concludes that the stories of orangs exceeding five
feet in height are extremely doubtful.

[Illustration: NATIVES OF BORNEO FIGHTING WITH AN ORANG-OUTANG.]

"The natives say the orang is king of the forest, and the only animals
that venture to attack it are the crocodile and the python. They only
do so on rare occasions, and are apt to get the worst of the battle
whenever they provoke it. One of the native chiefs says that when food
is scarce in the forest, the orang goes to the banks of the streams to
feed on the lilies, and in such cases he is sometimes attacked by the
crocodile. His arms are so strong that he has been known to pull the
crocodile's jaws open, and rip up his throat; the chief claims to have
witnessed such a fight, which occurred on the bank of a stream, and was
won in a short time by the orang.

"The same chief said that the python found his match in the orang--the
latter biting the python's throat, and tearing him with his powerful
claws. The natives have a great dread of the orang, unless they have the
advantage of fire-arms; they sometimes attack him with their spears and
hatchets, but they do so with reluctance, as some of them are apt to be
severely wounded, if not killed outright in the encounter."

Fred wanted to know if the animal they were discussing was in the habit
of walking erect like a man, as he had seen represented in pictures.

"The best authorities say he does not," was the reply; "and I think that
such pictures as you mention are far more imaginary than real. He spends
nearly all his time in the trees, and when he goes through the forest he
moves from one tree to another by following the limbs that interlace. He
feeds in the trees in the daytime, and sleeps there at night; his bed is
composed of leaves gathered together in the fork of a tree, and he never
remains long in one spot. The natives say he finds a new resting-place
and makes a new bed every night; but there is some doubt as to the
correctness of this theory. When he has been wounded, and feels faint
from loss of blood, he will gather a quantity of leaves and form a bed,
where he lies down and dies. In such a case the tree must be cut down to
get his body, as no amount of shaking will dislodge it; or the natives
must be hired to climb up and remove it. This they will not do readily,
as the animal has great vitality, and has been known to spring up
suddenly and do a great deal of damage after he was supposed to be
dead."

"There are some other curious products of this tropical region," said
the narrator, "which I will endeavor to describe briefly. There is a
frog that flies through the air, and--"

"How funny!" Fred exclaimed. "A flying-frog! He ought to be a relative
of the fish that climbs a tree, and travels on dry land."

[Illustration: A FLYING-FROG.]

"Whether he is a relative or not of that fish, I am unable to say," was
the reply, "but that he exists there is no doubt. He comes down from the
top of a high tree to the ground in a slanting direction, just as you
have seen a flying-squirrel go from one tree to another. His toes are
very long, and webbed to their extremities. The body of the frog is
about four inches long, and when spread out the webs of his feet have a
square surface of at least twelve inches. This is much more than he
needs for swimming, and we must, therefore, conclude that Nature has
thus equipped him so that he can fly through the air.

"There are many varieties of butterflies in Sumatra, and some of them
are very beautiful. All the tropical islands abound in butterflies, that
arouse the enthusiasm of the naturalist by the brilliancy of their
colors and the great size they attain. There are numerous birds,
especially of the parrot family, and sometimes you will see hundreds of
them in a walk of an hour or more through the forests where they live.
The parrot is inclined to be sociable, and likes his fellow-parrots; you
will rarely see one of these birds quite alone, and when you do, you may
conclude that the occurrence is an accidental one.

"Among the habits of birds there is none more singular than that of the
Sumatran hornbill."

"What is that?" Frank inquired.

"The hornbill, whose scientific name is _Buceros bicornis_, makes its
nest in a hole in a tree. When the female has laid an egg, the male
plasters up the entrance of the hole with mud, and keeps his mate there
until the young bird has been reared to the proper age for coming out in
the world."

"How does she manage to live all that time?" said one of the boys.

"The hole is not entirely closed," was the reply. "A small opening is
left, and through it the male bird feeds her, and he is constantly on
duty around the outside of the nest to protect her from harm. When the
young bird begins to eat, the mother takes in her beak the food which
her mate has brought, and gives the youth his proper allowance. He is a
funny-looking fellow when about half grown; his body is plump and soft,
without a single feather, and his skin is half transparent, so that you
almost expect to see through it."

"A remarkable bird," said Fred.

"And a remarkable country he lives in," Frank replied.

And with this comment the conversation about Sumatra and its products
came to an end, with a vote of thanks on the part of the boys to their
amiable informant.

[Illustration: A SUMATRAN BUTTERFLY.]



CHAPTER XXV.

ARRIVAL IN JAVA.--SIGHTS AND SCENES IN BATAVIA.


At daylight the next morning the boys were on deck for their first sight
of Java. They could see nothing but a low coast, like that of Siam, with
a fringe of tropical trees, and a backing of mountains in the distance.
They had expected to go into a snug harbor, but found that the harbor of
Batavia is more imaginary than real, as it is little better than a
shallow roadstead, where ships of deep draught must anchor far from
shore.

The steamer came to her resting-place, and the anchor went plunging down
to its muddy bed. A noisy little steam-launch came to carry the mails
ashore, but our friends were not allowed to take passage in her; they
were told there would be a steamer for the passengers in an hour or two,
or, if they preferred, they could go ashore on a native boat.

They chose the latter conveyance, as the time of waiting for the
steamboat was a trifle uncertain; and, besides, they desired to get to
land as speedily as possible. There were a dozen boats hovering around
the steamer, and it did not take long to make a bargain; for three
florins--a Dutch florin is equal to forty cents of our money--they were
to be carried to the "Boom," or custom-house, where their baggage would
be examined, and they could find conveyance to the hotel. As soon as the
bargain was made their baggage was lowered into the boat, and they were
off.

It was a long pull, and the sun was hot. Our friends reclined under
their umbrellas, and tried to be comfortable; and the boys wondered how
the boatmen could pull away so cheerily and not be fatigued. The Doctor
reminded them that the men had been accustomed all their lives to the
climate of Java; and what seemed very severe to strangers from the North
was nothing to those who were used to it. The men evidently understood
the subject of conversation, as they offered to pull twice as fast for
another florin; their proposal was declined, as none of the newcomers
wished to be the cause, however indirectly, of a sunstroke among the
natives.

[Illustration: ARRIVAL IN PORT.]

It was a journey of three miles from the steamer to the custom-house,
partly in the harbor and partly in a canal. The canal is pushed out a
considerable distance into the harbor by means of stone dikes; and the
space between these dikes is dredged to a depth of twelve or fourteen
feet. Nothing but small craft can come up to the docks; heavy sea-going
ships, whether steam or sail, must anchor in the harbor, and their
cargoes are transferred by lighters.

As soon as they reached the end of the wall that forms the canal the
boatmen drew up against it, and for the rest of the way the boat was
towed, or "trecked." This mode of propulsion was easier and faster than
rowing, and partly accounted for the proposal of the boatmen to double
their speed, as they were near the end of their rowing when they
suggested it. At the custom-house the trunks and valises were subjected
to a slight examination; there was a polite official who spoke English;
and on learning that our friends had only come for a brief visit to
Java, and had no business to transact, he assured them that all was
right. He asked for their passports, and said it would be necessary to
get a permit to remain on the island, especially if they wished to
travel in the interior. This they could easily do, he said, through
their consul; and then he informed them that the formalities of the
custom-house were ended.

[Illustration: THE CARRIAGE AT THE CUSTOM-HOUSE.]

A runner was there from the hotel they intended to patronize, and so
they gave their property into his hands. It was piled on a cart and sent
off, and then the runner led the way to a carriage that was standing
near. It was a sort of Victoria, that could accommodate two persons
comfortably; and there was an extra seat just behind the driver, which
could be turned down and made to hold a third passenger in an emergency.
The horses were diminutive beasts, with harnesses in the European style;
and the driver was a withered specimen of a Javanese, wearing an ancient
hat decorated with a cockade, and having the brim turned so that it
would not impede the view in any direction. Fred thought the hat had
come from Holland about the middle of the century, after doing duty in a
respectable family of Amsterdam for at least a dozen years. Frank
remarked that the hat was hardly less antique than the head it covered;
and the skin of the one seemed as much glazed as the other.

[Illustration: THE NATIONAL TASTE.]

It was nearly, if not quite, three miles from the custom-house to the
hotel, and the little horses went over the ground at a surprising rate,
when their size and appearance were considered. For much of the way the
drive followed the bank of a canal, where they saw groups of men and
women engaged in washing clothes or taking a morning bath. Batavia is on
level ground, the same as Amsterdam; and the Dutch have tried to make it
seem as much like home as possible by supplying it with canals. They
have carried many of their customs with them in emigrating to the East,
and sometimes to their disadvantage. For instance, they adhere with
unflinching firmness to the old practice of taking a glass of _schnapps_
before every meal, forgetting that what may be allowable in a cold
country is the reverse of beneficial in a hot one. Our friends reached
the hotel a little while before the mid-day meal was served, and they
were hardly inside the door of their rooms before a servant came with
glasses of a fiery liquid to enable them to get up an appetite. He was
somewhat surprised when they declined what was considered so necessary
to the health.

The hotel covered an immense area, as it consisted of a series of
bungalows of one story, with a central building, where the dining-room
and the offices of the manager were located. Between the rows of
bungalows there were shade-trees and paved walks, and along the front of
each house there was a wide veranda, where the occupants could sit or
recline in the open air whenever they chose to do so. The central
building was two stories high; all the lower part was taken up for the
dining-room and parlors, while the upper floor was occupied by patrons.
Our friends were assigned to rooms in one of the bungalows, and a
barefooted servant came to assist them in arranging their effects, and
bring whatever they desired.

[Illustration: THEIR SERVANT.]

The servant was of a type new to our friends, and Frank proceeded to
make a sketch of him at the first opportunity. He was a Javanese Malay,
with features not unlike those of the Malays of Singapore, but his dress
was different. He wore trousers of striped cotton, rather narrow in the
legs, and without any nicety of fit; above the trousers he had a gaudy
shirt, with an embroidered front, and a short jacket of material similar
to that of the trousers. Wrapped around his waist, and falling to the
knee, he had a skirt that appeared to have been cut from the gayest
piece of calico that ever came from the looms of Manchester or Lowell;
and it was held in place by a belt. This part of the Malay wardrobe is
called a _sarong_, and is worn by both sexes; it is usually fastened by
tying a knot in one corner, and then drawing the sarong tightly around
the waist. The knot is passed under the straightened edge of the
garment, and is not likely to slip out of place.

Accompanying this servant there was a small boy whose business it was to
bring cigars, and fire for lighting them. It seemed to Frank and Fred
that the Dutchmen of Batavia were smoking all the time; and Fred
suggested that, if the days were as long, there would be exactly as much
smoking.

Breakfast was served in the room we have mentioned, and Doctor Bronson
and the boys were shown to the seats assigned to them. Frank made a
discovery that amused him greatly, and was equally entertaining to his
cousin when he learned of it. It was so unlike the custom of any hotel
he had ever seen, that he made a note of it to include in his next
letter. Here it is:

"The three of us have one servant; and, as far as I can see, he waits on
no one else. In each of our rooms there is a little closet, and in this
closet there are knives, forks, spoons, plates, etc., for one person.
Before breakfast or dinner our servant takes these things to the general
table, and when the meal is over he brings them back again, and returns
them to their places in the closets. He is responsible for breakage, and
is required to keep the articles clean. The only dishes that go to the
kitchen of the hotel are the platters, tureens, and similar things, on
which the food is brought from the place of cooking."

Fred was busy with his eyes and ears during breakfast, and contributed
to the general fund of information as follows:

"The first solid meal of the day in Batavia is called the _rys-taffel_,
or rice-table. It is served about eleven o'clock; and its name goes far
to describe its character, as it consists largely of rice. This is the
way they serve it:

"The rice is boiled in such a way that each grain is separate from every
other. It is served hot in a large dish, and you help yourself into a
soup-plate of goodly size.

[Illustration: THE MANGO.]

"One servant hands you the rice, and when you have filled your plate
with it another servant offers you a round platter or tray, eighteen or
twenty inches across, and divided into a dozen compartments. These
compartments contain various seasonings, and you may take any or all, or
none of them, at your pleasure, and in quantities to suit you. You have
chutney, which is a sharp sauce from India; you have red or green
peppers, cut into a fine hash, red pepper mixed with water to form a
paste, cocoa-nut grated fine, preserved ginger-root, sliced mangoes,
English pickles, salt fish dried to a crisp, capers, and other hot and
spicy things peculiar to the East.

"When you have taken what you want from the tray, the servant moves on,
and another takes his place. He offers you soft eggs, either boiled or
poached, and you are expected to take one or two of the eggs to mix with
your rice. Then comes a servant with a plate of some kind of meat, cut
into small pieces, and stewed with curry-powder; and behind him is
another servant with a plate of some kind of vegetable, which has been
stewed in curry. Then they offer you cold chicken or ham, or some other
meat, to put on a small plate at your side, and your supply of food is
completed, with the addition of all the bread you want. You mix all the
things you have in your large soup-plate into a thick mass, like yellow
paste, and eat with a spoon.

[Illustration: A LITTLE TOO PEPPERY.]

"This is the famous Java curry; and if you have taken plenty of the
pepper and chutney, and other hot things, your mouth will burn for half
an hour as though you had drunk from a kettle of boiling water. And when
you have eaten freely of curry, you don't want any other breakfast.
Everybody eats curry here daily, because it is said to be good for the
health by keeping the liver active, and preventing fevers."

After breakfast our friends went to their rooms, and soon afterwards met
on the veranda to arrange plans for seeing Batavia. Somewhat to their
surprise, they learned that it was not fashionable to be seen out till
three o'clock in the afternoon, and they must not call on any one during
the middle of the day. The Doctor said that the Dutch and other foreign
inhabitants of the city were supposed to sleep two or three hours while
the sun was high in the heavens; but as they were strangers, and had
little time at their disposal, they would get a carriage and take a
drive.

[Illustration: AFTER BREAKFAST.]

Neither ladies nor gentlemen are visible in Batavia between breakfast
and three P.M.; or if they show themselves they are not acting according
to custom. They lounge in bed or hammock, or in their bamboo arm-chairs,
and try to get as much rest as possible to fit them for the fatigues of
the evening. It is this habit of sleeping in the daytime that enables
the fashionable Batavians to keep very late hours. They are accustomed
to rise early; and by five o'clock in the morning half the people in the
hotel were out of bed, and the rest of them before six.

[Illustration: AN EARLY CALL.]

Frank and Fred were awakened on their first morning in Batavia before
they thought the hour of rising had arrived. The Doctor told them they
had best conform to the custom, and so they crept from their beds and
prepared to dress.

"That is unnecessary," said the Doctor; "it is perfectly proper for you
to come out in your sleeping-suits, and sit in front of your rooms, or
go to your baths. You will find that is what everybody else is doing."

Accordingly they made their appearance in their pajamas, and found that
the servant was ready to attend upon them. All around they could hear
men calling _"api!_" "_api!_" and they naturally asked what "api" meant.

"It is the Malay word for 'light' or 'fire,'" said the Doctor; "and the
call you hear is for a light for a cigar or cigarette."

When they went to the row of bath-rooms fronting their apartments, the
boys looked for bathing-tubs, but found none. Each bath-room had a
faucet whence water could be drawn, or it contained a barrel and a
dipper, but no other furniture.

The bathing custom in Java is to pour water over the body, and not to
plunge into a tub. A tub can be had by any one who asks for it; but he
runs the risk of being considered a barbarian, who cannot be weaned from
the absurd customs of his native land.

After the bath came the "little breakfast," as it is called by the
residents, consisting of tea or coffee, with eggs or cold meat, and a
few biscuits. When this was ended Doctor Bronson ordered a carriage, and
the morning hours were devoted to a drive.

"We have not quite time," said the Doctor, "to exhaust a single course
with the carriage between this and the hour for the rys taffel."

The boys could not understand his meaning, until he explained that the
rules governing the hire of carriages in Batavia are somewhat curious.
"The tariff for a Victoria," said he, "is four florins or
guilders--about one dollar and sixty cents of our money, and if you only
ride a few blocks you must pay that price. But you can, if you choose,
keep it for six hours without any extra charge, except that the driver
will expect an allowance of an hour or so to rest his horses, and a
little money for himself by way of remembrance."

"What an odd arrangement!" said Frank.

Fred agreed with him fully, and probably every traveller who visits
Batavia will not be long in coming to the same conclusion.

"When I was here before," continued the Doctor, "I took a carriage one
morning for the customary six hours, and went out for a drive. At the
end of three hours I returned to the hotel for breakfast, and told the
driver he could have an hour to himself and then return. He did not come
again, and when I asked at the office of the hotel the manager said he
would investigate the affair. In the evening he told me he had seen the
driver, and paid him, and his reason for not returning was that his
horses were tired.

"I thought no more of the matter till I settled my bill the next day,
preparatory to going into the country, and found that the full tariff of
four guilders had been charged for the carriage. I protested that the
man was not entitled to that amount, because he had not given me the
stipulated service. The manager said he had paid the bill because that
was the law; and he added that the driver would have served me the full
time if his horses had not been tired.

"In vain did I protest that I had been unjustly treated; the only answer
I could get from the manager was, 'The driver's horses were tired--his
horses were tired.' I vowed that the next time I employed a carriage in
Batavia I would adhere rigidly to the law, and keep it in my sight for
the full six hours, whether I wanted it or not. If the driver serves us
well to-day, perhaps he will get an allowance; but if he is obstinate,
as these Malay drivers sometimes are, I shall feel like enforcing the
law to the letter."

They were fortunate in finding a very amiable driver, who did his best
to make the strangers enjoy their ride. He spoke only the Malay
language; but, in spite of the absence of a common tongue, he managed to
make them understand his explanations, and to show them a good deal of
Batavia. The result was that they gave him an hour to spare, and an
extra florin for the trouble he had taken.

Here is what Frank wrote in his note-book concerning their first
morning's ride in Batavia:

[Illustration: NATIVE HOUSE ON THE RIVER THAT FEEDS THE CANAL.]

"Batavia covers a great extent of ground, and is fairly entitled to be
called a city of magnificent distances. The old city near the sea is
rather closely built, but it is not inhabited by Europeans to any
extent. The Dutch, English, and other foreign merchants transact
business there during the day; but they live in the new part of Batavia,
which spreads over the flat ground for several square miles. The houses
are rarely of more than one story, as the country is subject to
earthquakes, and nobody wants to have a flight of stairs between him
and the ground when these shakings begin. Nearly every house has a
_campong_, or yard, around it, and this yard is filled with tropical
trees in considerable variety. The great streets and roads are liberally
provided with shade-trees, so that Batavia can hardly be seen, owing to
the impossibility of peering through the dense foliage that is before
you at every step.

"A canal with several branches runs through all this level area that
they call Batavia, and for miles and miles it is built up with solid
stone walls. It is fed by a small river coming down from the mountains,
and serves a triple purpose: boats may navigate it; people may bathe
there, or wash clothes in it; and the sewage of the city is said to be
drained into it. Whether the water for household use is taken from it or
not, I am unable to say; but we repeatedly saw Malay servants filling
buckets with it, and then walking off in the direction of the houses.
Circumstantial evidence was against them; but the clerk of the hotel
says the water they were carrying was to be used for washing the floors
of the houses and sprinkling the gravel-walks in the court-yards.
Perhaps it is the suspicion that the water may be used for drinking
purposes that leads so many of the inhabitants to shun it, and take
seltzer, gin, claret, and other imported liquids to quench their thirst.

"They have a street railway here, but it is patronized only by the
natives, the Chinese, and the low class of foreigners. The track is good
enough, but the cars are the wildest contrivances you ever saw; they are
common freight-cars fitted with rush seats, and their great weight makes
them difficult to move along the way. Perhaps, if they had the proper
kind of cars, the Europeans would ride in them, but they could hardly
expect to patronize those now in use.

"It was a funny sight, when we were driving along the streets, to see
the ladies out for their morning promenade, with their hair streaming
down their shoulders, their bodies enclosed only in light wrappers, with
loose sacks buttoned to the throat, and with slippers, but no stockings,
on their feet. Most of them wore the sarong, or native petticoat, and
they generally carried parasols to keep off the sun. This is the
forenoon costume of the ladies before they go to breakfast, and it
strikes a foreigner as very odd.

[Illustration: FAMILY PARTY IN BATAVIA.]

"Sometimes we saw a whole family sitting on the veranda of a house, in
full view of everybody passing along the street, looking as if they had
just got out of bed and were only half dressed. The men would be in
dressing-gowns or pajamas, and the ladies with their hair down, as I
have described, or twisted up into tight little lumps, so that the
owners might appear in the afternoon with a fine stock of curls.
Occasionally we saw some fat, jolly old women with their hair cut close
to the head, in order to keep off as much of the heat as possible.

[Illustration: FAN-PALM IN THE BOTANICAL GARDEN.]

"We visited the museum and the botanical garden, and found them quite
interesting. The museum contains the products of Java, arranged so that
you can readily see what the resources of the island are; and there are
relics of ancient times that throw light upon the history of the country
and its people. The botanical garden abounds in tropical plants, and
reminded us of the garden at Singapore; but we had not time to make a
list of its contents. We saw some fine specimens of a tree that had
already attracted our attention at Singapore--the 'fan-palm,' or
traveller's fountain, as it is called. It spreads out like a huge fan,
with the lower part of the stalks quite bare, while the ends are formed
exactly like feathers. A small tree of this species would make a very
good fan for a giant, such as we read of in Gulliver's travels.

[Illustration: CHINESE PORTERS.]

"In the old part of Batavia we saw so many Chinese that it would not
have required a great stretch of the imagination to believe that we
were once more in the Flowery Kingdom. In one of the narrowest streets
we met a couple of Chinese porters carrying a burden suspended from a
pole, the same as we had seen them in Canton and Shanghai, and if it had
not been that our driver was very careful we might have run over them.
The Chinese are very numerous in Batavia, and all through Java, and a
great deal of the commercial business of the country is in their hands.
They are engaged in all kinds of trade where money is to be made, and
they have the same guilds and commercial associations that they have in
Singapore, Hong-kong, and elsewhere. They have their temples and idols
just as at home; and though many of them were born in Java, and will
probably never see the soil of China, they are as thoroughly Chinese as
though they were reared within the walls of Canton.

[Illustration: GODDESS OF SAILORS AND HER ASSISTANTS.]

"One of the most common of the Chinese temples is that of the goddess
'Ma-Chu,' who is worshipped by sailors and those having business on the
water. She is represented with her two assistants; one of them is called
'Favorable-Wind-Ear,' and the other 'Thousand-Mile-Eye.' The first is
supposed to have an ear that can catch the least indication of a wind to
favor the sailor; and the latter possesses a clearness of vision that
enables him to see a rock or other danger at the distance of a thousand
miles. One listens, while the other looks; and between them they are
believed able to insure a safe and speedy voyage to all their
worshippers."

As our friends were somewhat wearied with their morning's work, they
remained in-doors from the time of the "rys-taffel" till three o'clock.
Then they followed the custom of the country by taking a bath, and
dressing for dinner; and after dinner they continued to be in fashion by
taking another drive. We will let Fred tell the story of what they saw
in the afternoon and evening.

"The fashionable hour for a promenade is after dinner, and all the
ladies and gentlemen consider it their duty to come out and be seen.
There are plenty of carriages on the streets, and also a goodly number
of gentlemen on horseback; and it is rather a pretty sight to see the
gentlemen riding along by the carriages and chatting with the ladies
inside. Then there are many pedestrians--the ladies being in light
walking-dresses, and the gentlemen in full evening costume. The odd
thing about the promenades is that both sexes are bareheaded. This is
all well enough for the ladies; but it is rather strange to see a
gentleman in full dress, and carrying a cane along the street, with his
head as bare as though he was in a parlor. I am told that the ladies
never wear hats or bonnets, and that the only thing of that sort ever
seen in Batavia is when foreigners first arrive here from other parts of
the world. A ladies' hat-store in Batavia would not be a paying
speculation.

"On certain evenings there is music on the King's Square; and at such
times everybody goes there to hear it. The crowd is large but very
fashionable, as it is the proper thing to go there; and no one who can
get out will venture to miss the performance. The band stops playing a
little after dark, and then the drive may be said to be at its
prettiest. The footman of each carriage carries a torch made of some
resinous plant tied into a bundle, like a wisp of straw, and, as the
carriages move around and pass and repass each other, the scene is a
curious one. All the houses are a blaze of light, as the wide verandas
are hung with lamps, and the whole family is gathered there when not out
for the drive. The veranda is the general sitting-room, as everybody
prefers it to the parlor on account of its being so much cooler.

"Perhaps you are wondering when the men find time for business. Well,
they transact most of it in the forenoon, but their offices are open in
the afternoon in charge of the clerks. For the clerks there is no such
resting-time as I have described, or at best, only a short one, in the
middle of the day. When a young man comes out here to seek his fortune,
he must do pretty much as he would at home for the first year or two;
when he is fairly established, he can have his time in the middle of the
day, and live like other people."



CHAPTER XXVI.

BATAVIA TO BUITENZORG.--TROPICAL SCENES.--BIRDS OF PARADISE.


As their time in Java was limited, our friends determined to cut short
their stay in Batavia, and go at once to the interior. Accordingly, the
morning following the day whose history was narrated in the last chapter
saw them leaving the city by railway for Buitenzorg.

Buitenzorg is about forty miles from Batavia, and the summer residence
of the Governor-general of Java; as it is summer all the year round in
Java, he spends most of his time at this country-seat, and rarely visits
Batavia except when business calls him there. The name is of Dutch
origin, and signifies "without care," in imitation of the French _Sans
Souci_. It is about one thousand feet above the level of the sea, and
much cooler than Batavia; and the surrounding region is one of great
natural beauty.

[Illustration: SOME OF THE THIRD-CLASS PASSENGERS.]

Doctor Bronson and his young companions were early at the
railway-station, and purchased their tickets for the journey. They found
three classes of carriages on the road; the first and second being
patronized by foreigners, and the third class exclusively by natives and
Chinese. For their first-class tickets they paid six florins and thirty
cents--equal to two dollars and a half of our money. The second-class
ticket costs half as much as the first, and the third half as much as
the second, so that the natives are able to ride for about a cent and a
half per mile. The third-class carriages were crowded to such an extent
that Frank and Fred both remarked that the Javanese were as prompt as
the Japanese to recognize the value of the railway. Men and women were
closely packed on the rough seats of the carriages of the third class,
while those in the first and second, especially the former, had plenty
of room.

"I suppose this is so the world over," said Fred, as he contemplated the
difference between the accommodations of the various classes on the
train.

"Everywhere we have been, at any rate," responded Frank.

"Whatever accommodations you wish and can pay for," said the Doctor,
"you can have. If you want a special train at the price they demand, you
can have it by paying in advance."

"It is the same in Java as in Europe, and, to a certain extent, we have
similar arrangements in America. We are more democratic in our ways than
any other country of importance, and consequently have been slower to
make the distinctions in railway travel that exist in other parts of the
world. But we are steadily moving in that direction, and in time we will
have all the distinctions of classes--special trains and all. In fact,
we have them already."

"Aren't you mistaken, Doctor?" said Fred. "Surely we do not have three
classes on our railways at home."

"Stop and think a moment," answered the Doctor, while there was a
suggestion of a smile about his face. "We have the ordinary railway
carriage and the Pullman car, have we not?"

"Certainly," was the reply; "and they are virtually two classes."

"Quite right. Then, on the principal lines of railway there are the
emigrant trains, are there not?"

Fred acknowledged that the Doctor had the best of the argument, and the
conversation came to an abrupt termination, as it was time for them to
take their places in the carriage.

Away they started for their first ride on a railway-train south of the
equator. The suburbs of the city were speedily passed, and then the
train plunged into a tropical forest. The grade became steep as the
hilly ground was reached, and two locomotives were necessary for a part
of the way to pull the train up the heavy incline. Frank observed that
the carriages were quite narrow, and he found by measuring, at the first
station where they stopped, that the rails were only three and a half
feet apart. The present terminus of the line is at Buitenzorg; but
surveys have been made, and it is the intention to push the line forward
and form a connection with the system of railway in the eastern part of
the island. When this is done, a stranger will be able to travel the
whole length of Java by rail, as he can now travel by wagon road.

[Illustration: VIEW IN A PRIVATE GARDEN.]

Since the railway from Batavia to Buitenzorg was opened several villages
have sprung into existence along the line, and some of them are quite
pretty. They contain the residences of gentlemen whose business is at
Batavia, and are generally arranged with excellent taste. The gardens
are luxuriant, like nearly all gardens in the tropics; and some of the
owners delight in adding wild animals to their collections of trees and
plants.

[Illustration: NATIVE VILLAGE NEAR THE RAILWAY.]

Then there are native villages in considerable number, some of them
concealed in the forest, and others standing in little clearings, where
the trees form an agreeable background. The train stopped frequently,
and did not seem to be in a hurry, although it was called an express,
and was the fastest on the line. Frank said that probably the heat of
the tropics had the same influence on a locomotive as on a man, and
prevented its going rapidly. Fred said that Frank's reasoning reminded
him of the boy at school, who was asked to give an illustration of the
expanding power of heat, and the contracting power of cold.

"What did he do?" Frank inquired.

"Why," responded Fred, "he thought for some minutes over the matter, and
finally answered that the days in winter were not nearly as long as
those in summer, and it must be the cold that contracted them."

[Illustration: TROPICAL GROWTHS ALONG THE LINE.]

The boys observed that the trees in some instances grew quite close to
the track. Doctor Bronson explained to them that in the tropics it was
no small matter to keep a railway-line clear of trees and vines, and
sometimes the vines would grow over the track in a single night. It was
necessary to keep men at work along the track, to cut away the
vegetation where it threatened to interfere with the trains, and in the
rainy season the force of men was sometimes doubled. "There is one good
effect," said he, "of this luxuriant growth. The roots of the vines and
trees become interlaced in the embankment on which the road is built,
and prevent its being washed away by heavy rains. So you see there is,
after all, a saving in keeping the railway in repair."

Frank noticed that some of the telegraph-poles had little branches
growing from them; and at one place he saw a man near the top of a pole
engaged in cutting the limbs away. He called the attention of his
companions to the novel sight.

"You will see more of those trees as you go into the interior," said the
Doctor. "They grow with great rapidity; and unless the wood is
thoroughly seasoned before the poles are set in the ground, they
speedily take root and become trees again. They are more pertinacious
than our American water-willows, as they will grow in any soil, wet or
dry. Wherever a clearing is made in the forest these trees spring up as
if by magic; and they run up so tall and straight as to be just what is
wanted for telegraph uses."

[Illustration: "MANGOSTEENS!"]

At several of the stations the natives offered fruit of different kinds,
and nearly all new to our young friends. They had been told that they
would probably find the mangosteen for sale along the road; they had
inquired for it in Singapore, but it was not in season there, and now
their thoughts were bent upon discovering it between Batavia and
Buitenzorg. Two or three times they were disappointed when they asked
for it; but finally, at one of the stations, when Fred pronounced the
word "mangosteen," a native held up a bunch of fruit and nodded. The
Doctor looked at the bunch, and nodded likewise, and Fred speedily paid
for the prize.

Perhaps we had best let Fred tell the story of the mangosteen, which he
did in his first letter from Buitenzorg:

"We have found the prince of fruits, and its name is mangosteen. It is
about the size of a pippin apple, and of a purple color--a very dark
purple, too. The husk, or rind, is about half an inch thick, and
contains a bitter juice, which is used in the preparation of dye; it
stains the fingers like aniline ink, and is not easy to wash off. Nature
has wisely provided this protection for the fruit; if it had no more
covering than the ordinary skin of an apple, the birds would eat it all
up as soon as it was ripe. If I were a bird, and had a bill that would
open the mangosteen, I would eat nothing else as long as I could get at
it.

"You cut this husk with a sharp knife right across the centre, and then
you open it in two parts. Out comes a lump of pulp as white as snow, and
about the size of a small peach. It is divided into sections like the
interior of an orange, and there is a sort of star on the outside that
tells you, before you cut the husk, exactly how many of these sections
there are. Having got at the pulp, you proceed to take the lump into
your mouth and eat it; and you will be too busy for the next quarter of
a minute to say anything.

"Hip! hip! hurrah! It melts away in your mouth like an over-ripe peach
or strawberry; it has a taste that is slightly acid--very slightly,
too--but you can no more describe all the flavor of it than you can
describe how a canary sings, or a violet smells. There is no other fruit
I ever tasted that begins to compare with it, though I hesitate to admit
that there is anything to surpass our American strawberry in its
perfection, or the American peach. If you could get all the flavors of
our best fruits in one, and then give that one the 'meltingness' of the
mangosteen, perhaps you might equal it; but till you can do so, there is
no use denying that the tropics have the prince of fruits.

"Everybody tells us we can eat all the mangosteens we wish to, without
the slightest fear of ill results. Perhaps one might get weary of them
in time, but at present we are unable to find enough of them. If
anything would reconcile me to a permanent residence in the tropics, it
would be the hope of always having plenty of mangosteens at my command.

"You may think," Fred added, "that I have taken a good deal of space for
describing this fruit, but I assure you I have not occupied half what it
deserves. And if you were here you would agree with me, and be willing
to give it all the space at your command--in and beyond your mouth. But
be careful and have it fully ripe; green mangosteens are apt to produce
colic, as Frank can tell you of his own knowledge."

[Illustration: VERANDA OF THE HOTEL BELLEVUE.]

The train reached Buitenzorg, and deposited our three travellers at the
station. They had been recommended to the Hotel Bellevue, and were soon
whirling along the road to that establishment. It proved a sort of
pocket edition of the hotel at Batavia, as it was scattered over a
considerable area; and they had to go out-of-doors to pass from their
rooms to the dining-hall, but they found it had a delightful situation,
as it was on the slope of a hill overlooking a thickly-wooded valley.

[Illustration: VIEW FROM THE VERANDA AT BUITENZORG.]

In describing the scene from the veranda in front of his rooms, Frank
wrote as follows:

"Our vision sweeps an area of several miles, beginning with a valley,
and ending with a high mountain that was once an active volcano. There
are all the tropical trees imaginable in the valley before me. Without
changing my position in my chair, I can see cocoa-palms with their
clusters of fruit, betel-palms with tufts of green at the ends of tall
trunks like flag-staffs, banana, bread-fruit, plantain, mangosteen,
durian, and many other kinds of trees whose names I have not yet
learned. It is the richest tropical scene that has yet come under my
eyes.

[Illustration: A BAD ROAD.]

"And, as if they were not rich enough in leafy decorations, the trees
are adorned with numerous parasites, some in the form of creeping vines,
and others in clusters and tufts springing from the crevices in the
bark, where the winds and birds have deposited the seeds. Nourishment
for these parasites come from the air, or from the trees to which they
cling; sometimes the vines send down long threads which reach the
ground, where they attach themselves and throw out roots. At a little
distance they look like ropes, and you gaze at them in wonder. I have
seen some of them more than fifty feet long, and about the size of my
wrist; sometimes they are very thick and closely interlaced, so that it
is no easy matter to ride or walk in a forest where they abound.

"As in Siam and Cochin China, the parasites frequently cause the death
of the trees to which they cling; but the growth of trees is so rapid,
and there is such an abundance of them, that nobody seems to have any
sympathy for the victims in this matter of vegetable murder.

[Illustration: THE VANDA LOWII.]

"Orchids are in great variety, and some of them are exceedingly
beautiful. There is one known as the Vanda Lowii, which is described by
Mr. Wallace in his account of the Malay Archipelago. It grows on the
lower branches of trees, and its threads are often six or eight feet
long, and strung with flowers that vary in color from orange to red.
These flowers are often three inches across, and their brilliancy is
increased by the gloominess of the forests where they are found.
Sometimes twenty or thirty flowers may be found on a single thread, and
they form a regular spiral, as though strung there by hand.

"In other places you will see orchids like bright tufts of green
clinging to the bark of the trees, and apparently forming a part of it.
The botanists have found more than twenty varieties of this strange
production of nature in Java alone, and probably a more careful
examination will reveal many more.

"Some of the trees throw out shoots from their limbs, which ultimately
take root and form separate trunks. The most notable example of this is
the verengen: there is one of these trees in the governor's park, which
has thrown out so many roots that it forms of itself quite a grove. It
belongs, I presume, to the same family of tree as the famous banian of
India, and to trees of other name but similar characteristics in other
parts of the world.

"One of the most remarkable trees in the Malay Archipelago is said to
begin its growth in mid-air. Can you guess how it does so?

[Illustration: A TREE GROWING IN MID-AIR.]

"Originally the birds carry the seed of a certain parasite and drop it
in the fork of a tall tree. The parasite throws out its branches into
the air like other trees, and sends its roots downwards till they reach
the ground. They spread as they descend, and form a sort of pyramid
fifty or sixty feet high, and so shaped that you can often stand inside
and have the body of the tree directly over your head. As the parasite
grows it wraps itself around the parent tree, and ultimately kills it;
and in this moist climate the dead trunk decays so rapidly that in a few
years there is hardly a trace of it left. The branches of the new tree
throw out roots of their own that go down to the ground and fasten
themselves, and every year sees several new ones. We have no tree like
this in the United States, at least none that I know of.

"There is a small river flowing through the valley in front of where I
am writing; it comes from the mountains several miles away, and we can
trace its course by the little openings it makes in the forest. For a
few hundred yards we have it in full view, and then it makes a bend
right at the foot of the hill where the hotel stands, and disappears
among the tropical trees. Where it first comes into our range of vision
there is a bridge thrown across it, and every little while, we can see
the natives passing and repassing to and from a village that is
concealed under the trees. Very often we see them bathing in the stream,
or washing clothes there; when the bathers are a group of boys there is
a great deal of fun and laughter, and the scene is quite as jolly when
there is a lot of girls in the water. They can swim like ducks, and are
constantly playing harmless little tricks on each other, and sometimes
in the afternoon their laughter is steadily ringing in our ears. The
Javanese Malays are a happy people, if I may judge by the inhabitants of
this little village, and they are as fond of the water as so many
beavers.

"Before we left Batavia we were told that we should have rain here every
afternoon at three o'clock. Fred and I laughed at the suggestion, but
the Doctor did not; and we found, on arriving, that we had laughed too
soon. Really it rains every afternoon, and it does not vary twenty
minutes either way from three o'clock. The clouds form over the mountain
in the distance, and then they come sweeping on and on till they reach
this spot. The rain comes down first in a sprinkle, then in a shower,
and then in a pour, as though some great flood-gates in the sky had been
opened as wide as possible, to give the water a chance. The rain lasts
from one to three hours, and then the clouds go away and the sky is
clear. Sometimes there is a chance for a promenade just about sunset,
and sometimes not; in any event, the grass is so wet that we can only
follow the roads if we would avoid coming home with our feet soaked.

"We have arranged our plans in such a way as to do our sight-seeing in
the forenoon, and devote the afternoon to writing and sleeping.

[Illustration: GROUP OF BIRDS IN THE MALAY ARCHIPELAGO.]

"We have visited the remarkable garden attached to the governor's
residence, and seen the rare collection of specimens of the animal and
vegetable life of the Malay Archipelago; and the more we see of it, the
more do we wish to see. There are tigers and other animals, that it is
better to see in cages than to meet at home in the forest; there are
snakes in good variety; there are tanks containing a great number of
fresh-water fishes; and last, but not least, there is a splendid
collection of birds. I never knew what a variety of birds and what
curious ones there are in the islands of the Java Sea, till I saw this
collection here.

"You have heard of the birds of paradise, haven't you? They have some of
them here, but not all the different kinds, as they are difficult to
capture, and very difficult to keep alive after they have been taken.

"These birds are not natives of Java, but come from the Moluccas and
other islands farther to the east. They were first called paradise birds
by the writers of three hundred years ago, and some of the Portuguese
and Dutch travellers told a good many fables about them. John Van
Linschoten, who wrote in 1598, says that 'no one has seen these birds
alive, for they live in the air, always turning towards the sun, and
never lighting on the earth till they die; for they have neither feet
nor wings, as may be seen by the birds carried to India, and sometimes
to Holland.' More than a hundred years later, an English writer, who saw
some specimens at Amboyna, was told that they came to Banda to eat
nutmegs, by which they became intoxicated and fell down senseless.

"We were disappointed in the size of the birds in the governor's garden,
as we had supposed that the bird of paradise was very large. But we
found they were only moderate-sized, and resembled crows and ravens in
their general appearance and habits, but not at all in their plumage.
Instead of being of a solemn black, like their cousins I have mentioned,
they have the most extraordinary arrangement of feathers that any bird
can boast. Mr. Wallace says that several species have large tufts of
delicate, bright-colored feathers springing from each side of the body
beneath the wings, forming trains, or fans, or shields; and the middle
feathers of the tail are often elongated into wires, twisted into
fantastic shapes, or adorned with the most brilliant metallic tints. In
another set of species these plumes spring from the head, the back, or
the shoulders; while the intensity of color and of metallic lustre
displayed by their plumage is not to be equalled by any other birds
except, perhaps, the humming-birds, and is not surpassed by these.

"The largest of these birds is known as the Great Bird of Paradise, and
is seventeen or eighteen inches from the point of the beak to the end of
his tail. There is nothing remarkable about his body, wings, and tail,
which are of a deep brown color, varying somewhat in shade, while the
head and neck are of a pale yellow. The wonderful things are the plumes
that spring from each side beneath the wings; they are sometimes two
feet long, and of a bright orange-color tinged with gold; and they can
be raised and spread out at the pleasure of the owner like the tail of a
peacock. When they are thus extended you can hardly see the body of the
bird, as they seem to envelop it completely; and if you are hunting him,
and ready for a shot, you must guess how much of what you see is bird
and how much feathers. It is only the male bird that gets himself up so
gorgeously; the female is a plain-looking creature, of a uniform brown
color, without a bit of ornament anywhere. She might be mistaken for a
crow that had been left overnight in a coffee-pot.

[Illustration: MAGNIFICENT BIRD OF PARADISE.]

[Illustration: SUPERB BIRD OF PARADISE.]

"Then there is the Red Bird of Paradise, which is somewhat smaller than
the one I have just described, and comes from a small island off the
coast of New Guinea. There is the Magnificent Bird of Paradise, from the
main-land of New Guinea, which has a tuft or fan of yellow feathers
springing from the back of his neck, and shading his shoulders; and his
tail contains two long feathers, each curving outwards, so that it forms
a circle. Fred said that these tail-feathers looked like the handles of
a pair of scissors, and he wondered if the bird could be taken up by
them. The Superb Bird of Paradise has a plumage of glossy black, and is
not unlike a crow, so far as his body is concerned; but he has a
remarkable shield on his breast of stiff, narrow feathers, very glossy,
and of a bright tinge of bluish green. On his head he has another and
larger shield, of a velvety black color, and tinged with purple and
bronze. This shield is longer than the wings, and gives the bird a most
extraordinary appearance.

[Illustration: SIX-SHAFTED BIRD OF PARADISE.]

[Illustration: LONG-TAILED BIRD OF PARADISE.]

"Mr. Wallace mentions no less than eighteen varieties of the birds of
paradise. I have not time to describe all of them, and believe I have
told you of those that are the most remarkable. All of them are very
pretty, and would be a fine addition to a public or private museum.
There is one known as the Six-shafted Bird of Paradise that has six
little wires springing from the forehead, and extending over the body to
the tip of the tail. These wires have little tufts at the ends, but for
the rest of the way they are as bare as knitting-needles. There is
another, called the Long-tailed Bird of Paradise, and it is partially
described by its name, as its tail is very long, and of the most
brilliant colors. Then it has a tuft of blue and green plumes springing
from each side of the breast in such a way that when the bird is
standing on a tree the position of the wings is entirely concealed.

"Perhaps you have heard enough about the birds of the Malay Archipelago
for the present. The rain promises to be over in a little while, and we
may be able to take a sunset walk. Of one thing we are certain: there
will be no dust on the road, and the grass will be beautifully green."



CHAPTER XXVII.

A CHAPTER ON POLITICAL ECONOMY.--THE DUTCH CULTURE SYSTEM IN JAVA.


For several days Frank and Fred, accompanied by the genial Doctor, made
excursions in the neighborhood of Buitenzorg in the forenoon, and
remained in-doors, during the rainy period, in the afternoon. A good
many things came under their observation; they studied the agriculture
in the region around the summer capital, and learned all they could
about the manners and customs of the people. They investigated the
peculiarities of the Dutch dominion over Java, and were much interested
in the problem of governing seventeen millions of Asiatics with thirty
thousand Europeans in such a way as to keep the millions perfectly
content with the new rule, and enable a handsome amount of money to go
every year from Java to the treasury of Holland.

The rainy afternoons were spent in reading, drawing, writing, and
conversation; and the boys soon learned that the time in-doors was by no
means without value. They formed an acquaintance with several gentlemen
who were stopping at the hotel for the sake of the breezes, that were
cooler than those of the sea-coast. Many of the foreign residents of
Batavia are in the habit of going frequently to Buitenzorg, as a New
Yorker goes to Saratoga; and this recreation is so much the fashion that
several hotels do a very good business in providing for their wants. The
Bellevue was one of the popular resorts, and it happened that there was
quite a party of Batavians there at the same time as our friends.

While making notes of their visit to the governor's garden, the boys
began drawing pictures of the elephant as he would appear when developed
according to the theories of Doctor Darwin. Frank made the Yankee
elephant with the traditional garments and jack-knife, and Fred followed
it with a Chinese elephant peddling cigars from a small box. Frank
designed the operatic elephant entertaining an audience with a song, and
was immediately followed by Fred with the elephant in love, engaged in
a serenade. Of course there was no allusion to Frank's frequent thoughts
of somebody at home, and if any one entertained the idea he kept it to
himself. The series was brought to a close by a delineation of the
original elephant in two acts; but the designers neglected to state
where this particular performance of the animal could be witnessed.

[Illustration: THE YANKEE ELEPHANT.]

[Illustration: THE CHINESE ELEPHANT.]

[Illustration: THE OPERATIC ELEPHANT.]

[Illustration: THE ELEPHANT IN LOVE.]

One of the first practical results of their afternoon work was the
preparation of a brief description of Java, which was duly forwarded by
mail to their friends. Both the boys contributed to its preparation, and
each made a copy for his own use. Here is the story:

"Java is not of great extent. It is only six hundred miles long, and
varies from sixty to one hundred and twenty in width: its area added to
that of the island of Madura, which lies near it, is estimated at
thirty-eight thousand geographical square miles. Its population is not
far from seventeen millions; and when this is considered with relation
to its extent, it will be seen that Java is one of the most
densely-peopled countries in the world. That the country has prospered
under the rule of the Dutch, is evident from the growth of the
population, which was little more than five millions in 1826, nine
millions in 1850, and is now at the figure just mentioned. If it goes on
at this rate, doubling about every twenty-six years, there will come a
time when it will be obliged to put out a placard announcing 'standing
room only!'

"It is said that formerly the religion of the people of Java was
Brahminical, and when Buddhism became the fashion of the East the new
form was adopted. This continued till about four hundred years ago, when
Mohammedanism was introduced, and it has remained to this day; so that
the greater part of the population at present are Moslems. There are
many traces of the former character of the people in the shape of
monuments and ruins, some of them of great extent. In the eastern part
of the island these remains are very abundant, and show that the ancient
Javanese had great artistic skill.

[Illustration: ANCIENT BAS-RELIEF--JAVA.]

"Few persons have any idea of the extent of these ruins, and their
corresponding splendor. They are far more extensive than those of
Central America, and some travellers think they surpass the temple ruins
of India. In the centre of Java there is a mass of ruins where there
were formerly twenty separate temples, and the largest of them is
thought to have been ninety feet high. In another place there is a
collection of no less than two hundred and ninety-six temples, all
greatly ruined, but bearing evidence of a high class of art in their
construction. Sculptured figures are abundant, and the walls of forts,
temples, houses, baths, and aqueducts can be distinctly traced. It is a
pity that the government does not pay some attention to these ruins, and
save them from decay. At present they are left to the action of the
elements, which is very rapid in this tropical land.

[Illustration: A MONSTER VOLCANO.]

"Java is by no means a level island. There is a good deal of country
sufficiently level for agricultural purposes, but the island has its
full share of mountains, and no less than forty-six of them are
volcanic. Twenty of the volcanoes are active, and one of them is the
second largest in the world--that of Kilauea, in the Sandwich Islands,
being the chief. It is known as the Tenger Mountain, and its crater is
three miles in diameter, with a level bottom of sand, containing a dozen
or more cones that are constantly smoking. The whole island is supposed
to be of volcanic origin, and is subject to frequent earthquakes; so
that the practice of building houses only one story high is a very
sensible precaution. The island has a backbone of mountains, as the
principal chain extends from one end of Java to the other. There is
another small chain near the south coast; and all over the island there
are hot springs maintained by the fires far down in the ground.

"We have already told of the trees and animals of Java, as well as some
other things. We will come as soon as we can to the topic that interests
us more than any other--the relations between the natives and the Dutch
rulers. To do this intelligently, we must go back and see what the
history of the island has been.

"Early in the seventeenth century the Dutch began to trade with the
native chiefs and people of Java, and obtained permission to build a
fort and trading post near the present site of Batavia. In a little
while they went to war with the natives; and by the end of the century
had obtained considerable territory. From that time on they have had
occasional difficulties, and each time when the war was ended the result
has been that the position of the Dutch was strengthened.

"They had possession of the island till 1811, when England took it from
them, and held it four years. Then it was given back to Holland by
treaty, and has remained her peaceful possession ever since.

"The principal exports are coffee, sugar, rice, indigo, spices, tin,
pepper, India-rubber, cinnamon, tea, camphor, rattans, and various other
things; and the aggregate amount of the trade is very great. Down to the
time of the restoration by the English, the expense of maintaining Java
had been quite as great as the revenue from it; and it was this fact
that made the English willing to give it up. If they had known that it
would be made to yield a net revenue of five million dollars a year,
over and above the expense of maintaining the local government, they
would have thought twice before surrendering it.

"The genius of one man--General Johannes Van den Bosch, Governor-general
and Commissary-general of the Dutch East Indies, from 1830 to
1834--brought about this result, and made Java the most profitable
colony that any country has ever known.

"And he not only made it profitable to Holland, but prosperous for its
inhabitants; while they enriched the rulers, they were themselves
enriched. Anybody who has money may benefit the poor at his own expense,
but it takes a man of genius to confer an equal benefit on the poor, and
make something for himself or his employers out of the transaction. Such
a man was General Van den Bosch.

[Illustration: PEASANT FARM-HOUSES.]

"Down to 1830, the expenditure to maintain the Dutch government in Java
was a steady burden on the treasury of Holland, as it was greater than
the revenue from the island. General Van den Bosch was sent out in that
year with plans of his own for making Java profitable; but there were
many who considered him a visionary schemer, whose experiments were sure
to result in disastrous failure. He proposed to offer liberal terms to
the respectable Europeans in Java for cultivating the soil, and
producing such things as were needed in Europe. He further proposed to
make the peasants who lived on the government lands plant a certain
portion of those lands with crops needed in Europe, and which the
government would buy of them at a certain fixed rate. His scheme was
shaped to cover the following principles:

"1. Profit to the peasant, to make the new system acceptable.

"2. Profit to the contractor, to induce its extension by private
enterprise.

"3. A percentage to the officials, to secure their active support.

"4. Personal interest of the village community in its success, so as to
secure careful cultivation.

"5. Improvement in the tax-payer's means, in order to increase the
revenue and facilitate its payment.[3]

[3] For much of the information concerning the culture-system of General
Van den Bosch and its results, the author is indebted to the excellent
and exhaustive work of Mr. J. W. B. Money, entitled "Java; or, How to
Manage a Colony."

"The plan for making advances to the contractors was carried out by
crediting each one with the money estimated necessary to start his
manufactory; and he was expected to apply it under government
supervision to the construction of his mill, and placing it in working
order. It was loaned to him for twelve years, without interest; but he
was expected to repay a tenth of it the third year, and a similar amount
in each succeeding year till the whole amount was repaid. Many persons
refused the proposal, but there were others who gladly accepted it, and
went to work at once.

[Illustration: HOME OF A PROSPEROUS CONTRACTOR.]

"It was further provided that the government would advance to the
contractor, at the beginning of every season, the money necessary to
produce his crop; and this advance was to be repaid out of the crop when
it was gathered. There were many details of the plan which would require
too much space to describe, and they were varied from time to time in
order to make them as practicable as possible. Besides--"

"Stop a moment," said Frank, when they had reached this point. "Don't
you think we are making this part of our story a little too heavy? I am
afraid Mary and Miss Effie, and the rest of the young folks in our
families, may not enjoy it."

"Perhaps not," replied Fred; "but then, you know, the whole family is to
read our letters, and I am sure the subject will be very interesting to
my father, and to yours too. And I think you will find the younger folks
will like it, because it will teach them something of what is called
political economy. Every intelligent boy and girl in America wants to
know about the science of government; the history of the colonial
government of Java is very interesting to both of us, and I believe we
had better assume that it will be equally so to persons of our age at
home. So go ahead, if you please, and if anybody doesn't want to read
what we have written, he may skip it."

Work was resumed without further discussion.

[Illustration: COFFEE-PLANTATION IN THE MOUNTAINS.]

"Down to the time we are considering the chief product of the soil
tilled by the Javanese peasants was rice. General Van den Bosch proposed
to have them cultivate coffee, sugar, and other articles that commanded
a ready sale in Europe; and, as the government would buy the crop at a
certain fixed price on the spot, the peasant would have a market at his
door, and feel certain that he would not be robbed by middle-men and
commission merchants, as is too often the case in other countries
besides Java. The price paid by government was sufficient to make a fair
return for the labor employed in making the crop, and at the same time
low enough to allow a handsome profit when it was sold in Holland."

"That explains something I have never before understood," said Fred, as
he laid aside his pen for a moment.

"What is that?" Frank inquired.

[Illustration: "OLD GOVERNMENT JAVA."]

"Why, we often read in the papers at home about the price of 'Old
Government Java Coffee.' It is the coffee the government buys of the
producer, and then sells in the market."

"Exactly so," Frank responded. "That bit of information will interest a
good many boys in America."

"And men too," chimed in the Doctor, who was sitting in an arm-chair
close at hand, and watching the clouds as they rolled over the mountain
in the background of the view from the veranda.

"I want to know," said Frank, "how the enterprising general proposed to
compel the people to work in the fields and cultivate the crops, when
they might spend their time under the trees, and pluck the fruit when
they needed it to supply their wants."

[Illustration: A JAVANESE CHIEF.]

"Mr. Money says," answered Fred, "that the general made a careful study
of the relations between the people and their native rulers. He found a
patriarchal form of government, the villages being ruled by their chosen
chiefs; several villages forming a sort of district, and several
districts united into a province or principality. It was the policy of
General Van den Bosch to take this organization as he found it; and,
instead of over-throwing the native rulers, he would strengthen them,
and make it for their interest, and that of their subjects, to be on
friendly terms with the Dutch. This policy was adopted, and it is
carried out to this day.

"Now, under the old system of government, before the Dutch came to Java,
the peasant was required to give one-fifth of his labor gratuitously in
return for the rent of the land, which was considered to be the property
of the prince. When the Dutch captured a region, they claimed that they
had captured the prince, and not the people, and that the revenues
belonged to them as the conquerors. In some of the provinces the Dutch
hold possession by treaty, and not by conquest; and the revenues
continue to go to the prince as before. To develop the producing
capacities of the country, they made an estimate of the quantity of any
given article that each district ought to raise under proper management,
and then they required the native ruler of the district to see that
there was the proper production. Allowance was made for bad seasons, or
other calamities; and if the production fell short, without any
assignable cause, the ruler found his revenues cut off. The government
bought the product, as we have already seen, and made its profit. The
prince had his revenue and was happy, and the same was the case with the
subordinate chiefs. The peasant was rewarded for his labor; and, as he
had no more tax to pay than under the old system, he had nothing to
complain of.

"The crown-lands, or those obtained by conquest, were the ones let out
to contractors. They were generally on long leases, so that the
contractor was encouraged to make improvements; and the result is that
cultivation by private management has been greatly increased, and large
fortunes have been made in many instances. The government takes its
rental by receiving a share of the crops; and it watches over the
relations between the lessee and his laborers, to see that neither
practices any imposition on the other. Each must keep his agreement,
under severe penalties, and the whole system is said to work very
smoothly.

"The Dutch officials all over the island have no dealings with the
natives except through their own rulers. The native princes have the
title of regents, and the authority of each is supreme in his district
as long as he carries out the policy of the government. A Dutch resident
or assistant-resident lives near each regent, and is considered to be
his 'elder brother,' who advises the younger what to do. He frequently
makes recommendations to the regent, though he never gives orders; but
it is pretty clearly understood that he expects the recommendation to be
adopted. The resident has a few subordinate Europeans, who go through
the district at regular intervals, and visit every village it contains.
They talk with the lower native rulers, examine the proceedings of the
native courts, investigate the condition of the government plantations,
hear the complaints of the people against their head men, or petty
chiefs, and listen to any suggestions that are offered. Disputes are
settled in the local courts without the intervention of a Dutch
official; but in case of dissatisfaction they may be appealed to the
district court, and, if not settled there, they may be carried to the
highest courts of the island.

[Illustration: AN IMPROVED SUGAR ESTATE.]

"There is a very efficient police system all through Java, and by means
of it, added to the employment of the people in honest industry, the
amount of crime has been enormously reduced in the past fifty years.
Every man, woman, and child in Java is registered, and each village
chief is made responsible to a certain extent for the conduct of his
subjects. An offence against the law can be readily traced, and if the
village or its chief are at fault, a fine is assessed upon them.
Consequently everybody in a village is directly interested in seeing
that everybody else behaves properly.

"Well, to sum up the results of the Dutch system of culture in Java, we
can say as follows:

"From being an expense to Holland, the island now yields an annual
revenue of more than five millions of dollars to the royal treasury,
after paying all the costs of the colonial rule. The expenses of the
latter are by no means small, as the salaries of the officials are on a
liberal scale. The Governor-general receives $100,000 a year, besides
$60,000 additional for entertainments. It is said that the latter figure
pays nearly all his expenses, so that he can, if he chooses, lay aside
$100,000 a year for a rainy day. A Resident in a province receives
$10,000, in addition to free rent of house and all surrounding
buildings, and an allowance for extras. The subordinate officials are
paid in proportion; so that nobody is obliged to rob the government or
the people in order to make an honest living.

[Illustration: RETAINERS OF A JAVANESE REGENT.]

"Crime and litigation have been so reduced that the sittings of the
local courts do not average thirty days a year.

"Formerly there was much poverty and suffering in Java; now nearly every
man, woman, and child appears to be well fed and clothed, and a beggar
is a very rare sight.

"The import and export trade have been increased fourfold, in spite of
the protective policy, which is the necessary attendant of the Java
culture system.

"The population has more than trebled in sixty years, and promises to
increase in the same ratio, unless interrupted by some great calamity.

"Those who have travelled in both Java and India say that the contrast
in the conditions of the two countries is something enormous. In Java
there is hardly any indication of poverty, and the public works are all
in excellent shape; while in India the reverse is the case. Want and
degradation are visible everywhere, and the traveller has daily and
hourly appeals for charity. Famines are frequent in India, and in the
year 1877 more than a million people died of starvation in Bengal and
Madras. Famines are virtually unknown in Java, and in case of a general
drought to cut off the crops, relief could be carried promptly to all
parts of the island by means of the excellent roads that the Dutch have
constructed.

"There is a great deal more that we might say, but it is getting near
bed-time, and we will stop for the present. The wind sets our candle in
a flicker, and it is 'guttering' in a way that threatens to extinguish
it altogether. Good-night!"

[Illustration: "GOOD-NIGHT."]



CHAPTER XXVIII.

RICE CULTURE IN JAVA.--MILITARY AND SOCIAL MATTERS.


Bright and early the next morning the boys were out for a visit to a
place where there was a spring of remarkably cold water. It was about
two miles from Buitenzorg, and the road leading to it ran through a palm
forest and among rice-fields. They had an opportunity to see the care
with which the Javanese till their land. The hilly ground is laid out in
terraces, one above another, and when the water has performed its work
in one place, it goes to the terrace next below; thus it is made to do
duty over and over again. There are large reservoirs where water can be
stored in the wet season, and kept for the period when the rain-fall
ceases. By close attention to the needs of the soil and the
peculiarities of the climate, the Javanese are able to make their land
extremely productive, and a failure of crops is a very rare occurrence.
On much of the rice-land they grow two crops a year.

[Illustration: THE HOUSE AT THE SPRING.]

The spring was of goodly size, and flowed into a pool fifty or sixty
feet across. A house had been erected at one side of this pool, and was
overshadowed by banana and cocoa trees; it had a lot of dressing-rooms,
where the boys were not long in donning the proper costume for a bath.
They shivered somewhat when they first entered the water; but the shock
did not last long, and then they found the sensation was most delicious.
The place was in charge of a Chinese, who demanded a most exorbitant
price for the use of the bath and a few bananas and mangosteens that
were ordered. When they offered a low sum, he bowed, and seemed to say
that, if he could not have what he wanted, he would take what they
offered, which was a good deal more than he deserved.

On their return they had a different view of the rice-fields, and Fred
made note of the fact that when you look upwards on a lot of rice-fields
you see nothing but a series of terraces, while, looking downwards, you
seem to be gazing on a lake. While the water is on the flats, the ground
is stirred with a harrow drawn by a pair of buffaloes; the rice is sown,
and as soon as the plants are of the requisite height the surplus ones
are taken out and transplanted. The crop is then started, and the
farmer has little to do till the time of harvest, beyond taking care
that his fields have plenty of water. When the harvest is made, the
paddy--as the uncleaned rice is called--is cut and taken to the mill.

Rice-mills are abundant in Java; some are run by steam, many by water,
and many small ones by horses and buffaloes. The rice-mill is quite
simple, and consists of a shaft like a ship's capstan and four
projecting arms. Each arm has a wheel at the end, and as the shaft goes
round the wheels revolve in a circular groove containing the rice to be
cleaned. The wheel removes the husk, and when this is done a
winnowing-mill separates the rice from the chaff or trash. This is the
whole operation. The rice-mill of to-day is practically what it was a
hundred years ago.

The Dutch have introduced farming implements of the European pattern on
some of the estates, but the natives do not generally take kindly to the
innovation. They prefer the old form of ploughs which have been in use
from ancient days, and think that what was good for their fathers is
good for them. Frank made a sketch of a primitive plough; it had a
single handle, and its point could only scratch a furrow in the soil
without turning it over.

[Illustration: POUNDING COFFEE.]

At one place they saw a native engaged in pounding coffee in a large
mortar, to separate the berry from the hull. He had a heavy pestle which
he held in both hands, and the perspiration standing on his face showed
that the labor was not one of pure pleasure.

On all the large coffee estates improved machinery is in use for the
preparation of the product. The berry as it comes from the tree is
about the size of an English walnut; the bean is enclosed in a thick
husk, and the great point in the preparation is to remove the husk
without injuring the bean. Pounding by hand is likely to damage the bean
by breaking it, and when this is done the market value of the coffee is
considerably reduced. Inventors have studied the problem, and a good
many machines have been devised to accomplish the desired separation.
The most successful one thus far is the invention of an Englishman in
Ceylon, and his machines are in use all over the coffee-producing world.

[Illustration: DUTCH OVERSEERS.]

He has called the principle of specific gravity to his aid, and made it
very useful. The coffee-berry floats on water, as the husk is very
light, but the bean by itself sinks to the bottom. A stream of water
floats the berries along a narrow channel, and feeds them automatically
into a groove where two plates of copper revolve in opposite directions
about half an inch apart. These plates crush the berry, but do not
injure the bean; the husk and bean together are carried to a trough,
where the bean sinks and is caught in a tub, while the useless husk
floats away to whatever distance the water is made to carry it. The
coffee is then spread out on a platform and dried in the sun, and it is
afterwards sorted, winnowed, and made ready for market. The work is
supervised by Dutch overseers, but all the manual labor is performed by
natives.

On returning from their ride, and while at breakfast, the boys had a
conversation with one of the gentlemen whose acquaintance they had made
during the rainy afternoons on the veranda. Fred was curious to know why
he did not hear a single native speaking Dutch or English, but confining
himself strictly to Malay.

"That is easily explained," said the gentleman. "It is the policy of the
Dutch not to teach their language to the natives, but they require all
their own officials to learn Malay. They have a school or college in
Holland, at the old town of Delft, which was established in 1842, for
the express purpose of fitting young men for the East Indian service.
Before they can graduate, the students must pass an examination in the
usual college studies, and also in the Malay language, Mohammedan
justice and laws, and in a knowledge of the country and nations of
Netherlands India. Of course they are not expected to speak the Malay
language fluently on leaving college, but they know a good deal of it
when they land here, and are expected to know more before they have been
long in Java. If they are not able to converse easily in Malay by the
end of a couple of years, they are liable to be sent home. This makes
them study hard, and renders them far more useful than if they could
talk only in Dutch.

"You see how it works," he continued. "The Dutch officials can talk and
write in their own language with very little fear that the natives can
understand a word; but no native can write or say anything that every
Dutch official cannot comprehend at once. On several occasions they have
been able to nip conspiracies in the bud by this advantage, particularly
at the time of the great mutiny in India. Then they do not encourage
missionaries to labor among the natives; they argue that the natives are
quite content with the religion they have, and it would interfere with
their labor in the field to become interested in Christianity. And if a
missionary should open a school to teach any other language than Malay,
and endeavored to tell the principles of any European or American
religion to the natives, he would be very liable to receive a notice to
leave the island at an early date."

A company of soldiers marched past the hotel while the party was at
breakfast. After looking at them, Fred inquired, "How large an army do
they keep here, and how is it composed?"

"The number of troops in the field, or on duty in garrisons, varies from
time to time," was the reply, "and therefore an account of the army at
one date is not altogether good for another. The army is composed, like
that of India, partly of native and partly of European soldiers. The
native force is exclusively Mohammedan, and is filled up by voluntary
enlistments, never by conscriptions. The European portion is also
voluntary, and the conscript troops in the army in Holland are never
sent to Java. The infantry is divided into field battalions and garrison
battalions, and the soldiers in each battalion are one-third European
and two-thirds native. Each battalion contains six companies, the two
flank companies consisting of European soldiers, and the four centre
companies of natives. The native companies are composed of the different
Mohammedan tribes and sects from all parts of Netherlands India, all
mixed together, so that there shall never be a large majority of one
kind of people in the same battalion."

"That is a very shrewd arrangement," said Frank, "as it prevents a
mutiny by making it impossible for a whole battalion to have a common
grievance."

[Illustration: FOOT-BRIDGE OVER A MOUNTAIN STREAM.]

"Not only that," the gentleman replied, "but it facilitates the movement
of the troops; and the Dutch say that their principal object in making
the battalions in this way was in consequence of the character of the
service. The Dutch East Indies are of great extent, and it is often
necessary to make marches where there are no roads, and the few bridges
that exist are only intended for persons on foot. Consequently, they can
never move their troops in large bodies, owing to the difficulty of
carrying provisions. Each battalion under the present system has the
means of transporting its own provisions, ammunition, and light mountain
guns where there are no roads, as the native soldiers can act as
porters, while the Europeans compose the fighting force in case an enemy
is encountered.

"All the commissioned officers are Europeans, and in each native company
two of the four sergeants and four of the eight corporals must be
Europeans; and some of them live in the barrack-rooms with the native
soldiers. The European companies in each battalion have barracks
separate from the natives, but close at hand; and whenever any of the
soldiers of the native companies are sent on duty, they are accompanied
by a proportionate number of Europeans. There is a difference in the pay
and food of the European and native soldiers; but in all other respects
they are treated as nearly alike as possible.

"There is a free school attached to each battalion for the education of
both adults and children; the soldiers are urged to attend it, and their
children are required to do so. Every officer of the battalion, whether
commissioned or non-commissioned, who has any peculiar knowledge, is
required to give it to the school; and any soldier of the battalion who
has a talent for instructing can be appointed an assistant-teacher in
the school, and be relieved from duties that are purely military--except
in time of war. All soldiers, whether native or European, can have their
wives and children with them, except when on active service in the
field."

Fred thought the Java soldier had an easy time of it. Frank thought so
too; and asked if he had any more privileges than those that had been
named.

"Yes," was the reply; "there is the privilege of a house and garden."

"What!" said one of the boys, "a house and garden for soldiers in the
army!"

[Illustration: REWARDS FOR GOOD CONDUCT.]

"Certainly," responded their informant; "when a regiment is not
quartered in the city, the soldiers are rewarded for good conduct by
receiving a plot of ground near the barracks, with the privilege of
building a hut. European and native are treated alike in this respect;
and it has been found the greatest incentive to good conduct. The man
spends his time with his family in the cultivation of his garden when he
is not on duty--which is by far the larger part of the day. He returns
to the barracks at night, and his family may remain in the hut or go
with him to the military quarters.

[Illustration: PIRATE PRISONERS ON A COLONIAL GUN-BOAT.]

"But I haven't told you how large the army of Java is. Ordinarily,
there are about twenty-five thousand men of all arms; but at present the
number is greater, owing to the war in Sumatra, which requires an extra
force. The infantry is the most important branch of the service, and is
composed as I have told you. The engineers consist of Europeans and
natives mixed together in the same companies; the artillery has European
gunners and native riders, and the cavalry are nearly all Europeans.
There is a colonial navy with several gun-boats, which are generally
occupied in seeing that the pirates throughout the Archipelago are kept
in proper subjection. And there is also a militia force, which is only
to be called on in emergencies: it consists of a cavalry and an infantry
corps; and every European living in Java, whether Dutchman or other
foreigner, must belong to the militia or the fire-brigade."

The boys thought this was a severe regulation; but they changed their
minds when told that the militia-service was very slight, and a man
might be a member of the fire-brigade for years without any call being
made for his assistance. The Europeans in the interior are exempt from
service, except in cases of special emergency; and those living in the
cities are not often called upon. Englishmen and others have complained
of the requirement to do militia and fire-brigade service, but are met
with the reply which cannot be easily answered: "If you don't like the
laws and customs of Java, you had better emigrate."

"The Dutch rulers of Java do not pretend they are occupying the country
for any other purpose than to make money out of it. They never talk
about their great mission of civilizing and enlightening the benighted
people of the East, as the English do in India; and whenever anybody is
disposed to find fault with them, they say to him without hesitation,
'If you don't like things as you find them here, you would do well to
leave. The steamer will start for Singapore in a few days, and you are
at liberty to take passage at once.'

[Illustration: PASSPORT OFFICE.]

"You must have a passport on landing in Java, or, if you have none, the
consul of your country must vouch for you. You must get a permission to
travel in the interior; it is very rarely refused, and only when the
authorities are satisfied that you have the intention of doing harm."

Frank asked what it would be necessary to do in case he desired to
remain permanently, and become an inhabitant of Java.

"You can stay here six weeks," was the reply, "without any formalities
beyond the ordinary permission of the police, which costs nothing. But
if you want to live here you must apply for permission on a printed
form, and have two householders of the place where you are to endorse
your application. If there is no objection to your staying, the desired
document will be granted by the Governor-general, and the fees and
stamps connected with it will cost you about forty dollars of American
money."

"Does every foreigner who comes here to live have to pay forty dollars?"
Fred inquired.

"That is the law," answered his informant; "but the permission is never
refused, unless the authorities suspect that the applicant intends to
disturb the public peace, or when he is unable to obtain the necessary
securities. The result is, that the foreign population of Java is of a
better class than you find in most other parts of the East; the
adventurers who have not a dollar in their pockets, and expect to make a
living by means more or less questionable, do not come here. The
Chinese are very numerous in Java; more than a quarter of a million are
settled here; but they are of a better class than the majority of those
who go to San Francisco, and they give very little trouble to the
authorities. The security is required to protect the government against
the applicant becoming a pauper, and to vouch for his good behavior; but
it has no reference to private debts, which are treated just like
private debts everywhere else.

[Illustration: ORDERED OUT OF THE COUNTRY.]

"The government also reserves the right to send anybody out of the
country in case he becomes troublesome, even after he has received
permission to reside here. The rule applies to a citizen of Holland the
same as to any other foreigner, but it is very rarely exercised, and
only when all other means of adjusting the difficulty have failed. The
local governors have the power of ordering anybody to leave their
districts, if he has been found guilty of treating the natives
improperly, and the Governor-general may restrict the movements of any
individual whenever he thinks the good of the colony requires it."

Fred wished to know if a foreigner could hold land in Java like any
subject of the King of Holland, and was answered in the negative.

"What a monstrous injustice!" he replied.

Doctor Bronson laughed at his nephew's remark, and the latter turned
towards him with an inquiring look on his face.

"You may not be aware," said the Doctor, "that an alien in the United
States is unable to hold real estate, and I believe that the same is the
case in Great Britain."

"In that view of the matter," said Fred, "Java is not so bad as I
thought it was. But can a foreigner be naturalized here, as in England
and America, and then hold property?"

"Certainly," responded the gentleman; "and the time of residence in Java
before naturalization is the same as in your own country--six years.
When he becomes a citizen, he has the same rights as a Dutchman, but
until that time he labors under various disadvantages. The Dutch theory
is that all the good things in Java belong to themselves, and if a
foreigner chooses to live here and not become a citizen, he must be
satisfied with any crumbs that happen to be lying around."

"I have before told you," he continued, "that the Dutch discourage all
attempts of the natives to learn the languages of Holland and the rest
of Europe, and are not inclined to teach them anything that is
distinctively European. I know a native of high rank who went to Europe
and spent several years there; when he returned he could speak Dutch,
English, and French quite fluently, and was proud of his
accomplishments. But he has told me that whenever he spoke to a Dutch
official or to a private citizen in any European language, he was always
answered in Malay, and if he tried to continue the conversation in any
other than the latter tongue it was soon brought to an end. While the
Dutch treat the natives kindly, and will not allow any imposition upon
them, they are very particular about anything that would bring a
European below a native. For instance, they will not permit a native to
have a European servant, no matter how high the rank of the former, and
how low the latter.

"No native would dare to drive out with a European coachman on any of
the public streets, nor with a European on the front seat of his
carriage, while he occupied the back one. If a European soldier or
sailor becomes drunk in public, he is instantly arrested by the police,
in order that his conduct may not degrade the white race in the eyes of
the natives. Several years ago a native regent obtained the consent of a
Dutch girl to marry him; her family was poor, and her social rank was
low, but when he asked the permission of government for his marriage it
was promptly refused, and he was dismissed from his office.

"The Dutch idea in this whole matter is that the Oriental never respects
his equals, but only his superiors. Consequently they hold that in all
social relations they can best serve their own interests and those of
the natives by holding themselves to be the superiors, as they are by
right of conquest. At the same time, they endeavor to give the native no
cause of complaint against them. If a Dutch master maltreats a servant,
the latter can have his wrongs redressed in the nearest police court;
and if the master is found guilty, he is subject to a heavy fine. A
merchant who endeavors to defraud a native is in hot water very
speedily; and if he becomes notorious for attempts to enrich himself by
this kind of dishonesty, his troubles will increase at a very rapid
rate."

"But if one foreigner attempts to cheat another," said Frank, "does the
government feel called on to interfere?"

"That is quite another affair," was the reply; "commercial matters
between foreigners are exactly like the same transactions in other
countries, and the courts exist for the administration of justice, the
enforcement of contracts, and other contingencies of trade, in Java as
in England and America."

[Illustration: NO ADMITTANCE.]



CHAPTER XXIX.

A POST RIDE IN JAVA.--FROM BUITENZORG TO BANDONG.


As soon as they had exhausted Buitenzorg and the sights of the
neighborhood, the Doctor suggested to Frank and Fred that they should
make a journey into the interior. They had not time to undertake the
tour of the whole island, but they wished to go beyond the line of the
railway, and learn by practical experience about the system of posting
for which Java was famous.

Before the introduction of railways Java was supplied with excellent
roads from one end of the island to the other, which were begun by
Marshal Daendels in the early part of this century, and continued by the
Dutch rulers since 1816. Then there are numerous cross-roads, so that
nearly all parts of the country are accessible by wagon or carriage. On
the principal routes the lines are double, one being intended for
carriages and horses, and the other for cattle. The cattle roads are
like the ordinary country road in America; but the carriage-way is
macadamized, and admits of rapid travelling. On the whole, the system is
quite as good as that which prevailed in Europe before the establishment
of the railway; and when it is remembered that the interior of Java is
very hilly, and cut up with numerous streams, the magnitude of the work
which has been accomplished under the equator will be more readily
understood.

The arrangements for posting were made with the assistance of the
landlord of the hotel, who told them that it might take a day or two to
find a carriage that could be hired. The Dutch and other foreign
inhabitants generally own the carriages in which they travel; and when a
stranger wishes to traverse the island, it is customary for him to buy a
carriage, and sell it on reaching the end of his journey. When you want
to buy a carriage, you find the vehicles are scarce and dear; and when
you want to sell, the market is glutted with them. A good carriage for
posting will cost between three and four hundred dollars; and if it can
be sold at a loss of one hundred dollars when the traveller is done with
it, he may consider himself lucky.

The journey that our friends intended to make was to last less than a
week, and they hired a carriage for which they were to pay twenty-five
dollars for that time, and be responsible for any damages that might
happen to it. Frank thought the owner would make a good business if he
could find steady occupation for his vehicle at that rate; but the
landlord informed him that the carriages were idle more than half the
time, and sometimes there were weeks together when no customer appeared.

[Illustration: STARTING ON THE JOURNEY.]

Early one morning the conveyance drew up in front of the hotel, and the
three travellers entered and took their seats. The carriage was a very
comfortable one, with seats for four persons inside, a dickey or
servant's seat behind, and a box under the coachman where baggage could
be stowed. There were four horses, harnessed in European style, with a
coachman dressed in white, and wearing a hat that reminded the boys of
Japan and China. There were three footmen or grooms, who ran along-side
the carriage to whip the horses, and make themselves generally useful;
and when everything was going well they rode on a standing place
intended for them on the rear of the vehicle. Frank observed, as the
journey continued, that these fellows were the most accomplished
whip-crackers in the world; and Fred remarked that the best ring-master
in an American circus would hide his head in shame, if he should listen
to them for a few minutes. He understood the trick of the business when
told that the footmen practise whip-snapping from boyhood, and at one
station where they changed horses there was a man engaged in teaching a
group of boys the principles of the art. He had a practical way of
instructing them, as he followed each failure with a crack of the whip
on the boy's shoulders.

[Illustration: BY THE ROADSIDE.]

There was some trouble at starting, as the horses were fresh and
inclined to be "balky," and one of them indulged in a private
kicking-match that did not promise well for rapid progress on the
journey. However, the performance did not last long; and when they were
under way they rattled along in fine style.

[Illustration: LODGINGS OF THE STABLE-MEN.]

Posting in Java is expensive, as the hire of teams and drivers is nearly
a dollar a mile. Then the drivers and footmen expect gratuities at the
end of their journey, and there are other fees to be paid at several
places. In return for this high price, the service is excellent. Notice
must be given beforehand, and the time of starting must be fixed. A
courier is sent along to all the stations, and when the carriage arrives
where the relay is to be taken, the new horses are found ready harnessed
and waiting, so that the delay does not occupy more than two or three
minutes. The stations are from five to seven or eight miles apart, and
the teams go at the greatest speed. At each station there is a native
official, and sometimes a European one; and there are plenty of drivers,
runners, and attendants, who sleep and wait in open sheds in the rear of
the stable.

At each station there is a large shed extending over the road, and
connecting the stables on each side. The carriage halts under this shed,
so that the traveller is protected from the heat of the sun in dry
weather, or the moisture when it rains. There are the facilities for
making a lunch at nearly all the stations, as the keeper can supply hot
water for tea and coffee, and a liberal quantity of milk and fresh eggs.
With these things, and some cold chicken or other meat from the
stopping-place of the previous night, a slice or two of bread, and the
fruit that abounds everywhere, the traveller must be very fastidious if
he cannot satisfy the hunger which the ride through the pure air of Java
is sure to give him.

The journal of the expedition was kept by the boys, with occasional
suggestions from the Doctor. Every moment that they could spare from
sight-seeing was devoted to the history of their journey in Java; and
during their halts at the stations, some of the keepers thought the two
youths were inspectors sent out by the government to report on the
condition of the postal-service, as they made such vigorous use of their
pens. One station-keeper was extra polite, and brought out a bottle of
schnapps in their honor; their prompt refusal of the proffered courtesy
confirmed his belief in their inquisitorial character, though it raised
doubts as to their genuineness as Dutch officials. "But they are yet
very young," he remarked, with a shake of the head, as the carriage
drove away; "they will not refuse schnapps when they grow older."

We will make a few extracts from the journal, which subsequently gave
much delight to the Bassett and Bronson families:

[Illustration: JUST IMPORTED.]

"We are having a jolly ride through Java, and shall be very sorry when
it comes to an end. It is hot in the middle of the day, but delicious at
other times; and anybody who could not enjoy this sort of travel must be
very hard to please. Some of the way we have made ten miles an hour, and
the little horses come in smoking and panting when we get to a station,
and are ready for a change. The horses are mostly Java ponies, but there
are many from the island of Celebes, and other parts of the Dutch East
Indies. They are tough little animals, about twelve or thirteen hands
high, and capable of great endurance; and the consumption of horse-flesh
is so great, that enough of them are not raised in Java to supply the
demand.

"When we left the hotel at Buitenzorg this morning, we took with us the
materials for our breakfast, so as to save the delay of having it
prepared at one of the inns. We stopped at the second station on the
road, and were as hungry as one could wish; and when we pointed to our
basket and motioned that we wanted to eat, we were referred to a shop
kept by a Chinese, close by the post-station. We went there, as the
shop had better facilities for our meal than the station; John was all
smiles, and showed us to a table in the middle of his front room. He was
married and settled in the country, as he had a Javanese wife; and there
were two or three children, with Javanese complexions and Chinese eyes,
playing around the door. And what do you think we found in his shop to
remind us of home?

"We wanted something to piece out the provisions we had brought from
Buitenzorg, and so we examined the shelves of the establishment. The
first thing we fell upon was a can of American oysters, with the
familiar name of the firm that packed them. Then we found a can of
peaches and another of pigs' feet, and we kept on with our inventory of
things from our side of the world till we had a dozen or more of them on
our list. With the oysters and the peaches to add to the stock from the
hotel, we made a capital breakfast, and went away happy. We had some
difficulty in paying our bill, as we could speak no common language.
John finally set the matter right by counting out from his box the money
we should pay, and spreading it on the table before us; we put down a
similar amount, and he was satisfied. He ought to have been, as I am
sure he cheated us; but then those who travel in a country where they do
not speak the language must expect to pay for their ignorance.

"We have met people on horseback and in common wagons; and in several
instances the men on horseback were followed by coolies carrying
baggage. We are told that is the way the young men who wish to avoid
expense travel in Java--as the cost of horse and coolies is less than a
twelfth of the expense of posting. They also have palanquins for the
cross-roads, though not on the great highways; but they are not suited
to people who wish to get over the ground rapidly. Posting is by all
odds the most rapid way of travelling, but at the same time it is
terribly dear.

"We find that many of the roadside shops, near the stopping-places, are
kept by Chinese; and the Chinese really seem to have a great deal to do
with the business of Java. A gentleman at Buitenzorg said that the
Chinese had a large amount of property in Java, and they could hold real
estate like anybody else as soon as they became citizens. He said there
were half a million Chinese in Java, and, as the government compelled
everybody to pay nearly forty dollars on coming here to live, they had a
better class of Chinese than we have in America. The Chinese have
established several branches of manufacture in Java like those they have
at home; and the gentleman showed us some enamel-work which he said was
made in Batavia by Chinese workmen. We have certainly never seen
anything finer than this, and I doubt if they produce anything in Canton
or Peking that can surpass it.

"In spite of the high price of posting in Java, it is said that the
business does not pay. The government is at a heavy expense to maintain
the roads and stations, and to keep the service in proper order. The
argument of the government is that it is of the greatest importance to
keep the means of transportation and travel in the best possible
condition; and though it may not pay of itself, it is of great advantage
indirectly. They have certainly spent enormous amounts of money on their
roads and posting system; and they are too shrewd to continue to throw
away their cash on an unprofitable enterprise.

"The road rises steadily from Buitenzorg, though there are several
places where we were able to gallop our horses, and go along at the best
possible pace. After the second station we found ourselves in the
mountains; and the way was so steep that we had seven horses instead of
four for some miles. Then we came to a place where it was necessary to
put oxen ahead of the horses to help them up the hills, which were so
steep that we could only go at a slow walk. We perceived that the air
was colder; and on some of the mountains we thought we could see snow,
but were not sure. In the highest parts of the country ice forms in the
coldest nights, but never to more than a slight thickness, and only a
few times in the course of the year.

[Illustration: THE WAITER AT SINDINGLAYA.]

"We reached a point which was said to be two thousand five hundred feet
above the sea, and then had a descent of a few miles to Sindinglaya,
where we found a very comfortable hotel. We had a good dinner here--at
least good for Java. The cooks of Java are not the best in the world, if
we are to judge by what we have seen on the road. The government has
established inns every forty or fifty miles along its principal roads;
they are in charge of Europeans, who receive a salary for keeping the
place in proper condition, at a scale of prices which is posted in every
room, and is not at all unreasonable. Our waiter was a little Malay boy,
who moved around as gracefully as a queen, and twice as dignified.

[Illustration: SLEEPNG-ROOM IN THE SANITARIUM.]

"There is a sanitarium or health resort at Sindinglaya, where the
government sends its officers when they suffer from fever, and need to
be restored by the cool air of the mountains. In addition to the
official one, there are several unofficial hotels; and a good many
Europeans living in Batavia endeavor to spend a few weeks there every
year for the sake of their health. The situation is charming, as it is
quite surrounded by mountains, and anybody who is fond of climbing can
have abundant enjoyment and exercise during his residence in this spot.

"We rattled on over the same excellent road, and passed a goodly number
of villages that presented a very pretty appearance. They are laid out
in regular streets in most cases, and the houses are generally
surrounded with trees that almost conceal them from view. The dwellings
in these villages are always of a single story in height, and their
roofs are covered with thatch or red tiles. Each house stands in a yard,
or 'campong,' by itself, and is enclosed by a hedge sufficiently thick
and high to keep out all intruding cows or other animals. The hedge is
neatly clipped, and frequently covered with bright flowers; besides the
dwelling of the owner, the enclosure generally contains several
store-houses for grain, and a stable with a brick floor. In some places
these villages seem to extend for miles, and tell more plainly than
words that the country is thickly peopled and prosperous. When the Dutch
first came here, the villages were dirty, and it was difficult to teach
the natives any habits of cleanliness. Finally, the new rulers made a
law requiring every native to keep his grounds clean, and his house
properly swept and in order, under penalty of a fine; and they also
announced that the character of a chief or regent would be rated
according to the condition of his villages. It did not take long for the
natives to learn the advantages of cleanliness; and now it is said that
there is no occasion for the law, as they voluntarily give much time and
attention to the improvement of their houses and gardens.

"We reached Bandong, about a hundred miles from Buitenzorg, without the
slightest accident or delay. The road is level for a good part of the
way as Bandong is approached; there is a wide plain here, about two
thousand four hundred feet above the sea, and surrounded by high
mountains. Java contains three of these plains--Bandong, Solo, and
Kediri--and they are wonderfully fertile. There is an immense quantity
of rice raised here, and some say that Bandong is the best rice-growing
district in Java; at all events, we have seen nothing like it.

[Illustration: A MOUNTAIN CASCADE.]

"We were constantly attracted by the beauty of the scenery, which cannot
be described in words. At one place there was a cascade tumbling down
from the mountains, and it was so pretty that we stopped the carriage to
admire it, and make a sketch that would preserve its outlines. The foot
of it was lost in the spray that rose like a cloud, and at one point
where we stood the water seemed to be pouring from the sky. In the dry
season this fall disappears altogether, but when the rains are abundant
it has a full supply of water--a very necessary adjunct for a cascade.

[Illustration: JAVANESE BOYS.]

"As we passed through the villages, groups of children stared at us, and
occasionally an urchin turned a somersault, in the hope of securing a
few coppers in recognition of his activity. Sometimes these children
were very scantily clothed, and occasionally there was one carrying a
baby, nearly as large as himself, in the fold of a shawl wound round the
shoulders. Several times we threw them some money, and it was
interesting to see them scramble for it. They are very active, sprightly
little fellows, and when they jumped into the dusty road they made a
cloud that almost hid them from view.

"Bandong, the town, is a pretty place, with wide streets finely
gravelled, and kept in the best order. There are cocoa-palms and other
tropical trees along each side of nearly every street, and they are so
numerous, and their foliage is so thick, that when you look down a
street you can hardly see a single house. The houses are like those
already described; and as they spread over a large area, they give you
an impression that the inhabitants of Java are unwilling to be
restricted in elbow-room.

"The Regent of the district resides here, and so does the Resident, as
the principal Dutch official is called. As before explained, the
Resident holds a higher rank than the Regent; but he is the only person
who does, and all the orders for the government of the natives come from
the Regent and his officers. The Regent is appointed by the Dutch, but
he always belongs to the most powerful noble family in the region where
he is to serve, and he holds office for life, unless removed for
improper conduct. The Regent of Bandong is the son of the prince who
ruled here before the Dutch conquest, and who accepted the appointment
of Regent, which he held till his death. He is very rich, as he has a
share of the revenue from the rice grown in Bandong, and he lives in
splendid style. He has a European house, where he entertains foreign
guests; and close by it is his Malay residence, intended only for
himself and family, and for Javanese visitors. Foreigners are admitted
very rarely to the native palace, but those who have been there say it
is luxuriously furnished in truly Javanese style. The Regent is on the
best of terms with the Resident, and they often go out together to the
races and on hunting excursions; the Regent frequently gives parties in
his European house, and on such occasions all the foreigners in the town
and vicinity are invited, and are treated with the greatest civility."



CHAPTER XXX.

VISITING A TEA PLANTATION.--PREPARATION OF TEA.


We will continue to make extracts from the journal kept by Frank and
Fred concerning their journey in Java.

"We have already told about the coffee that is grown in Java, and how it
is sold on government account. Some of the finest coffee estates on the
island are in the Bandong district, and nearly all of them are at an
elevation of two thousand feet and more above the sea. Coffee will not
grow to any advantage in the lowlands near the coast, and very little of
it is cultivated there. It needs a high altitude, and some of the
plantations are four thousand feet up in the air. Above the last-named
elevation tea takes the place of coffee; and it has been found in the
last few years that tea will grow in Java on the tops of the highest
mountains, provided there is sufficient soil for the roots of the plant
to find a holding-place.

"We have been to a coffee estate about ten miles from Bandong, and spent
a day there very pleasantly. As before stated, the coffee-trees are
cultivated, and the berries gathered, by native laborers under foreign
supervision; the process of separating the bean from its husk has been
described, and so has the system by which the government buys the coffee
from the native producer, and makes a handsome profit on the investment.

[Illustration: TRAIN OF COFFEE-CARTS.]

"Our ride to the plantation was a slow one, as we had an uphill road
most of the way, and our horses were assisted by oxen. We met several
trains of coffee-carts coming down to the plain on their way to the
railway terminus; it is fortunate that the coffee is carried down rather
than up hill, as its cost in the latter case would be enormously
increased. A cart carrying from one thousand to one thousand five
hundred pounds of coffee can be easily drawn by a pair of oxen coming
down the road, while the same beasts have all they can do to take the
empty cart home again. As the carts wound through the tropical forest,
they presented a very picturesque appearance with their barefooted
drivers, and occasionally we could see the black eyes of a Javanese
woman peering out from under the matting that sheltered the bags from
sun and rain.

"The gentleman who had charge of the plantation we visited wished us to
stay a few days and indulge in a deer-hunt, but we could not spare the
time. Deer are numerous in this part of the island, and those who are
fond of sport can have an abundance of it if they are in Java in the
right time of the year. If you want larger game than deer, you can hunt
the rhinoceros and wild bull; and if you want savage brutes, that die
hard and fight to the last breath, you can chase the wild-boar. They
have tigers in Java, but not so many as in Malacca, and they do not do
so much damage to the people, for the reason that they have plenty of
game to live upon.

"We had an opportunity to visit a tea plantation, and gladly embraced
it, as we wished to see something of the process of raising tea and
preparing it for market.

"Most of the tea plantations in Java are on government lands, which are
leased to contractors for terms of years--rarely less than ten, and not
over twenty. At the beginning of the enterprise the government made cash
advances to the contractors, so that they could have the necessary
capital for clearing the land and starting their crops; these advances
were to be repaid in tea at prices that would give large profits to the
contractors, and on this plan a good many plantations were started about
forty years ago.

"The government imported skilled workmen from the tea districts of China
to instruct the natives in the business, and it also imported a large
supply of tea-plants and tea-seed. For the first few years the
enterprise was a doubtful one, but after a time it began to pay
handsomely. The cost of making the tea was about fifty cents a pound;
and as the processes improved, and the character of the tea grew better,
the selling price rose till it reached eighty or ninety cents. At these
rates it does not take a great deal of study to show that money can be
made by raising tea in Java, and the applications for leases of land
have increased every year.

[Illustration: SEED-PODS OF THE TEA-PLANT.]

"The first thing the tea-planter has to do after getting possession of
his lease is to clear the land and get ready for planting. This is no
small matter, as the forest must be removed, and the soil thoroughly
broken up. The outlay for this is considerable, and not much unlike
clearing up a farm in New England, or in the backwoods of Canada. Then
the young plants are set out; after this has been done, the ground must
be kept clear of weeds, just as in raising corn or potatoes. It must be
frequently stirred, so that the plant can get as much nourishment as
possible from the earth, and when this is done the planter has the
satisfaction of seeing the bushes grow with considerable rapidity.

"We walked through the fields where the plants were growing, and found
them of different ages and sizes. If we had not known where we were, we
might have thought we were in a field of English myrtle-bushes, as the
tea-plant is much like the myrtle in general appearance. It grows from
two to six feet high, and has white blossoms that resemble small
dog-roses.

"One of us asked which were the plants that produced green tea, and
which the black. The owner of the plantation smiled, and said there was
no difference.

"We laughed at our ignorance, as he explained that the difference of the
teas was entirely owing to the manipulation. We asked why it was that
some districts in China produced only green teas, while others were
reputed to make none but black; and he told us it was because the
workmen in those districts had been accustomed to follow only one form
of manipulation.

"It takes three years, he said, to get a plantation in condition to
produce tea. The seeds are sown in a nursery-bed, and the young plants
are not ready to be set out till they are a year old. They are then
about nine inches high, and covered with leaves; and the first crop is
taken when they have been growing two years in the field. The leaves are
the lungs of the plant, and it would die if all of them were stripped
off. Consequently only a part of them are removed at a picking; and if a
plant is sickly, it is not disturbed at all. The plants will last from
ten to twelve years, and are then renewed; and on all the large
plantations it is the custom to make nursery-beds every year, so that
there will be a constant succession of new plants for setting out in
place of the old ones.

"At the first gathering the half-opened buds are taken, and from them
the finest teas are made. Then they have another gathering when the
leaves are fully opened, and then another and another, till they have
five or six gatherings in the course of the year. Each time the leaves
are coarser than those of the previous gathering, and consequently the
tea is not of so fine a quality. A well-managed plantation produces all
kinds of tea; and it was a wise requirement of the Dutch government,
when they started the tea-culture in Java, that the planters should
produce proportionate quantities of both black and green, and not less
than four qualities of each.

[Illustration: GATHERING TEA-LEAVES.]

"The gathering takes place only in clear weather; and for the best teas
the picking is confined to the afternoon, when the leaves are thoroughly
dry, and have been warmed by the sun. Only the thumb and forefinger are
used in plucking the leaves from the bush; the pickers are generally
women and children, who can gather on the average about forty pounds of
leaves in a day. It takes nearly four pounds of leaves to make one pound
of dry tea; and the usual estimate is that a plantation of one hundred
thousand plants can send ten thousand pounds of tea to market in the
course of a year.

[Illustration: DRYING TEA IN THE SUN.]

"Different kinds of tea require different treatment, as we have already
seen. For green tea the leaves are roasted as soon as they have been
gathered, and are then rolled and dried; but the leaves intended for
black teas are spread on bamboo trays five or six inches deep, and
placed on frames where they can have plenty of sun and air. They remain
here from noon till sunset; and if the weather is damp they are further
dried by artificial heat. For this purpose they are placed on frames
over shallow pans containing burning charcoal, and are tossed and
stirred with the hand until they emit a certain fragrance. The heat
should be very slight; and the frames are made so high that it is
necessary for a man to mount a small ladder in order to reach the trays.

"The sense of smell in the skilful workers of tea is very acute, and
they can tell, to almost a minute, the exact time when the drying should
cease, and the next process begin. The Chinese workmen are better than
any others for this branch of the business, and on many plantations the
most of the manipulation is performed by Chinese, though their labor is
more expensive than that of the Malays. Our host showed us through his
factory, where the men were busy in the various processes; and as he
told us about each step of the business, he took us to the department
where that particular work was going on.

[Illustration: DRYING OVER CHARCOAL.]

"After showing the leaves spread out on the frames, he led the way to a
sort of stove, where a man was manipulating some tea in a pan over a
charcoal fire.

[Illustration: ROASTING TEA.]

"'This is what we call roasting,' he said, 'and the great object of the
roaster is to dry the leaves without burning them. You see he does not
allow them to be quiet a single instant, but tosses and turns them in
all directions, so that none may stick to the bottom of the pan, which
they might easily do, owing to the moisture they contain.'

"We watched the roasting till we thought we understood it well, and as
the place was hot we did not care to stay there a great while. The
leaves lose their fragrance when first thrown into the roasting-pan, and
give out a rank smell, but they gradually recover their perfume, and are
ready for the next process, which is called rolling.

"The tea from the roasting pan was given to a couple of men, who stood
in front of a table or bench, with bamboo mats before them. One had a
large mustache, the largest we had ever seen on a Chinese face, and the
other consoled himself for the absence of that hairy ornament by smoking
a pipe.

"The roller takes as much tea as he can cover with both his hands, and
places it on the mat in a sort of ball. He keeps them closely together,
and rolls them from right to left; this motion gives each leaf a twist
on itself, and rolls it so firmly that it retains the shape when dry.
This part of the work requires peculiar dexterity, and can only be
performed successfully after long practice. When a man becomes skilful
in it, he can roll the tea with wonderful rapidity; and when his work is
done, every leaf will be found separate from all the others, and twisted
as though it had been passed through a machine.

[Illustration: HANDY WITH HIS FEET.]

"The work of rolling the tea is very tiresome, and so the men sometimes
perform it with their feet when they wish to give their hands a rest. We
saw one man at his occupation in this way, and he certainly seemed to
enjoy it. His bamboo mat was on the floor, and he had his trousers
raised so that his legs were bare from the knee down. He rested his arms
on a pole, and kept his feet moving over the handful, or rather
footful, of leaves he was endeavoring to roll out. Our host picked up
some of the tea, and showed us that it was perfectly prepared, and quite
acceptable in every way. The man's toes were much more slender than toes
usually are, and it is doubtless due to the fact that he has used them a
great deal, and never cramped them into tight-fitting boots.

"After they have been properly rolled, the leaves are spread on trays,
and exposed to the sun and air for several hours, and then they are once
more roasted. The second roasting is milder than the first, and is done
over a slower fire; and afterwards the leaves are rolled again, to make
sure that none of them have become spread out. For the black tea the
roasting is done in a shallow pan, the same as the first; but the green
teas are put in a deep pan, and subjected to a very high heat.

[Illustration: ROASTING GREEN TEA.]

"While the green tea is being roasted, there must be a great deal of
care on the part of everybody concerned. The pan is nearly red-hot when
the tea is put into it, about a pound at a time, and the operator in
charge keeps it in rapid motion. One boy tends the fire, while another
stands by with a fan, to prevent the burning of the tea.

"After their final roasting, the teas are put in a long basket, shaped
like an hour-glass, and having a sieve in the centre. This basket is
placed over a charcoal fire and submitted to the heat for several
minutes, when the tea is poured out and receives another rolling. This
operation is repeated several times, till the tea is thoroughly tired of
it, and also thoroughly dry. Then it is passed through sieves, to
separate the different qualities from each other; and finally it is
winnowed, to remove all the dust and dirt. Then it is 'fired,' or dried
once more, to drive away the last particle of moisture; and in this
condition it is ready to go into the chests in which it is carried to
the lands where it is to be used.

"There, we have told you all about the preparation of tea, which we
could not do in China for the reason that we did not go into the part of
the country where they produce the tea. China is not the only country
where tea is made, though it once had the monopoly of the business. A
great deal is grown in Japan, as you know, and now you have learned
about the tea-growing in Java. They say that ten million pounds are
grown in Java every year, and the product will increase to double that
amount in less than twenty years. About the time the culture of tea was
introduced into Java, the East India Company tried it in India; and now
the production of tea in that country is so large that the English hope,
before the end of the century, to supply the whole of their home market
with Indian teas. We shall see.

"The Java teas have a sharp, acrid taste, and are not suited at all to
the American palate. None of them go to America, or, at least, only a
few chests every year, and for some time Holland was the only market for
them. Gradually their sale extended to Germany, and now it is said there
is a demand for them in London.

"We tasted some of the tea, and found that it resembled what is called
'English breakfast,' only it had a stronger flavor. It is said that it
is worth much more than Chinese tea, for the reason that a pound of it
will give nearly double the amount of the infusion ready for drinking.
Whether this is true or not we are unable to say, as we have seen no
experiments to prove or disprove it.

"We asked about the reputed adulterations and dyeing of tea by the
Chinese and others. Our host told us that no teas in Java were
adulterated or dyed, but he said it was quite possible they would be as
soon as there was a demand for them. He said the Chinese did not begin
to color their tea till they were urged to do so by English and American
merchants, who told them the dyed teas sold better than others by reason
of presenting a finer appearance.

"'The coloring-matter,' said he, 'consists of gypsum and Prussian blue
or indigo, and is used in about equal proportions. This is for green
tea, and the quantity to be used for a given amount varies according to
the market for which it is intended. American merchants wish their teas
dyed more heavily than do the English, and there is usually about half a
pound of dye to every hundred pounds of tea.'

"'Can't we raise tea in America?' Fred asked.

[Illustration: TEA REGIONS OF THE UNITED STATES.]

"'Certainly,' replied the planter, who had been in the United States,
and spent several years there. 'There is a large area of the United
States where tea could be raised, and the government some years ago
spent considerable money on an experiment in tea-culture. It was found
that there was no difficulty in raising the plants; but when it came to
manipulating the product the high price of labor made it unprofitable.
When we can furnish labor for the same price that it can be had in
China, Japan, Java, and India, we can compete with those countries in
growing tea, but until that time we had better let the business alone.'"

[Illustration: ROASTING-BASKET.]



CHAPTER XXXI.

EASTERN JAVA, LOMBOCK, TIMOR, AND THE ARU ISLANDS.


Greatly pleased with their visit to the tea and coffee plantations, our
friends returned to Bandong. On the way back they had an accident that
for a few moments was quite exciting, and threatened serious results.
While descending a long hill the brake of the carriage gave way, and the
horses started on a full gallop; they were quite out of the control of
the driver, and the two footmen were left a long way behind. The driver
managed to turn his team into a side road at the risk of an overturn,
and gave them a little practice in running up hill instead of down.
Gradually they reduced their pace, and some workmen in a field close at
hand came to his assistance, and held the horses till the grooms could
come up. One of the springs of the carriage was broken, in the severe
shaking they had received, but otherwise the vehicle was not much
injured.

It was necessary to stop a day at Bandong to have the carriage repaired,
and the delay enabled the boys to learn something more about the
country.

[Illustration: VOLCANO IN EASTERN JAVA.]

They ascertained that, if they had the time to spare, they could go to
the eastern capitals of Java along good roads, and through a succession
of mountains and plains. They would see volcanoes, both active and
silent, and might possibly have a practical acquaintance with an
earthquake, or an eruption of one of the burning mountains. Frank was a
little doubtful of the safety of such a journey when he learned that one
volcano had thrown out, in a single night, ashes and scoriæ to the depth
of fifty feet over an area of several miles, destroying forty villages
and three thousand people; and another volcano had overwhelmed
everything within twenty miles of it, and caused the deaths of twenty
thousand persons. But the Doctor assured him that the eruption of a
volcano was not so sudden that those who wished to get away could not do
so, and the majority of the burning mountains of the world were
accustomed to give warning weeks and sometimes months ahead.

[Illustration: RUINS NEAR SOURABAYA.]

The eastern capitals of Java are Samarang and Sourabaya, but they are
capitals only of the provinces of the same names. Both of them are
important commercial points; and there is a railway from Samarang which
is intended in course of time to unite with the one from Batavia.
Samarang is about two hundred and fifty miles from Batavia, or nearly
half-way from one end of the island to the other; while Sourabaya is
close to the eastern extremity, and not far from the island of Madura.
The country around Sourabaya is quite flat, and very fertile; and the
roads sometimes run for miles in perfectly straight lines. Back towards
the interior, when the hilly region is reached, there is a magnificent
forest, where tigers abound; and the hunter is rewarded by frequent
shots at the beautiful Java peacock. The country is full of ruins of
temples and palaces; and there are many evidences that it was once
occupied by a people greatly advanced in architecture and the fine arts.

"But what should we find if we went beyond Java?" Fred asked.

Just as he spoke the door opened, and a gentleman entered. He proved to
be their host of the coffee plantation, who had heard of their accident,
and called to congratulate them on their escape from injury. After an
exchange of civilities, he seated himself, and asked if he could be of
any service; and, turning to Fred, he said,

"I heard your question as I entered the room, and think I can answer it.
I have made the journey around the Dutch possessions in the East, and
will try to tell you about them."

Both the boys expressed their delight at the chance of learning
something of the islands of the Oriental Seas. The gentleman said he had
an hour to spare, and would endeavor to enable them to pass it
agreeably; and if they wanted to take any notes of what he said, they
were welcome to do so.

They were desirous and ready, and he began at once.

"I have twice made the journey," said he; "once by steamer, and once by
native boats."

"Do the steamers run there regularly?" one of the boys inquired.

"Certainly," was the reply; "the company whose ship brought you from
Singapore to Batavia sends a steamer every month to make the tour of the
Dutch East Indies. It leaves Batavia on the 15th of the month, and
Sourabaya on the 22d; and goes to Macassar, Menado, Ternate, Boeroe,
Amboina, Banda, and Timor, and then returns to Sourabaya and Batavia.
The voyage takes about a month, and the steamer remains in each port
from twenty-four to forty-eight hours."

"What a delightful voyage it must be," said Frank; "and how much does it
cost?"

[Illustration: AN ISLAND PORT.]

"A ticket for the round trip," the gentleman replied, "costs three
hundred dollars, and sometimes more. You have already found that
steamship fares in the East are dear; and this line forms no exception
to the rule. In return for your money you have all the comforts the ship
can give; and you may live on board all the time she remains in port at
the different stopping-places.

"If you go by a native boat you will be much longer on the way; but you
can visit more places than the steamer stops at, and can see more of the
life of the East. We will drop that part of the subject, and consider
what you might see in some of the islands of the Malay Archipelago,
supposing you should go there; we haven't time for all of them.

"The colonial possessions of the Dutch in the Archipelago comprise about
six hundred thousand square miles, with a population of twenty-five
millions. They include the whole of Java and Madura, the Moluccas, or
Spice Islands, and large portions of Borneo and Sumatra. Consequently,
you can make a long journey without once going out of the Dutch
territory."

[Illustration: WILD FIG-TREE.]

"The first place I visited, after leaving Sourabaya, was the island of
Lombock. There is not much of interest in the principal port, which is
called Ampanam, as the place is small, and the inhabitants are not
particularly enterprising. There are some groves of wild fig-trees close
to the town; and one of my amusements was to shoot the green pigeons and
orioles that abounded there. Some of the trees are almost covered with
the hanging-nests of the orioles; and, as they are rarely disturbed by
the natives, I found them so tame that it required no skill at all to
get near enough to shoot them.

[Illustration: A VILLAGE IN LOMBOCK.]

"Several miles out in the country from Ampanam is the village where the
Rajah of the island lives; it is called Mataram, and no native of the
lower classes is allowed to ride on horseback through it. If you should
happen to be travelling there, and had your Javanese servant mounted on
a horse, he would be obliged to walk from one end of the town to the
other, and lead his animal.

[Illustration: VIEW NEAR MATARAM.]

"There is a fine volcano in Lombock, about eight thousand feet high. Mr.
Wallace tells a good story in connection with this volcano, and the plan
by which the Rajah took the census of the population of the island.

"You must know that the principal product of Lombock is rice, and the
taxes are paid in this article. Each man, woman, and child contributed a
small measure of rice once a year; but it passed through many hands
before it reached the treasury, and a little of it clung to each hand
that it touched. The result was that the Rajah did not get half of what
was due him, and all his officers conspired to tell him that the crops
were short in some districts, and many people had died in others; and no
matter what he did to find out the truth, they managed to prevent his
learning it. He determined to take a census of his people, but did not
know how to go at it, as his officers would suspect what it was for,
and would make out the population according to the rice that he received
the previous year. He thought a long time over the matter, and finally
hit on a plan so shrewd that nobody suspected there was any census at
all.

"For several days he appeared to be very sick at heart; and finally he
called his officers together, and told them he had been summoned to go
to the top of the great fire-mountain to hear a revelation from the
spirit who ruled the island. The spirit had come to him in a vision, and
said he must go there at once, or the island would be destroyed.

[Illustration: WHERE THE GREAT SPIRIT AND THE RAJAH MET.]

"Of course they made arrangements immediately, and a grand procession
accompanied the Rajah to the designated spot. From the foot of the
mountain to the summit he was escorted by a few priests and attendants;
and as he neared the crater he ordered them to remain behind, under the
shadow of a great rock, while he went alone to meet the spirit. He
remained away for a long time; the fact is, he lay down and took a
comfortable nap, and it was naturally thought that the spirit had a
great deal to say to him.

"When he returned he was silent and sorrowful, and did not speak a word
for three days. Then he summoned his officers, and told them what the
spirit had said. He described the spirit as having a face of burnished
gold, and a voice that sounded like distant thunder.

"'Oh, Rajah!' the spirit said, 'much plague, and sickness, and fever are
coming on the earth--on men, and horses, and cattle; but as you and your
people have obeyed me and come to the mountain, and have been good and
faithful, I will tell you how you can avoid the pestilence.

"'You must make twelve sacred krisses; and to make them, every village
and every district must send a bundle of needles--a needle for every
head in the village. And when any disease appears in a village, one of
the krisses shall be sent there; if every house in that village has sent
the right number of needles, the disease shall cease immediately; but if
the number of needles has not been exact, then all shall die!'

"So the princes and chiefs made haste to collect the needles; and they
were very exact about it, for they feared that, if a single needle
should be wanting in any case, the whole village would perish. When the
needles were collected, the Rajah received them; then he had a workman
come and make twelve krisses from those needles; but the papers that
were around the needles, and told the name of each village, and the
number of men, women, and children in it, he carefully preserved, and
put away in his private chest.

"When the rice-tax came in that year, and the quantity fell short, the
Rajah said to the officers that there was some mistake about it. He then
told them the exact number of inhabitants in that village, according to
the packages of needles, and it did not take long to set the matter
right. The result was that the Rajah grew very rich, and his fame went
out through all the islands and countries of the East."

"A capital story," said Frank; and the opinion was emphatically endorsed
by Fred.

"It is evident," the latter remarked, "that the kriss, or dagger, is
held in great respect in Lombock."

"Certainly," said the gentleman, in reply; "there is no part of the
Archipelago where it is more honored, and where the wealthy natives have
so much money invested in this weapon. Very often they have them with
golden handles set with jewels; and I have seen some that cost thousands
of dollars. Every man carries one of these knives, and frequently it is
the only property he can boast of possessing. The blade is twisted; and
when it is used it makes a frightful wound."

"That is what the Malays 'run a-muck' with, is it not?" Frank asked.

"Yes; and Lombock is one of the most famous places in the East for that
amusement. The island, though close to Java, is independent, and the
Rajah does pretty much what he pleases as long as he remains on good
terms with his Dutch neighbors. The taxes are not heavy, but the laws
are very severe. Small thefts are punished with death; and it is a rule
of the country that a person found in a house after dark, without the
owner's consent, may be killed, and his body thrown into the street,
without fear that anybody will ask a question about the matter.

"The word 'amok' means 'kill;' and the Malays kill others in the
expectation that others will kill them. Running amok is the fashionable
way of committing suicide; a man grows desperate from any cause, and
determines to put an end to his life, and to kill as many others as he
can before he is killed himself. He grasps his kriss handle, and stabs
somebody to the heart; then he rushes down the street, shouting 'amok!
amok!' and stabbing everybody he can reach. People rush on him with
knives, spears, daggers, guns, or other weapons, and despatch him as
soon as possible--as they would a mad dog. Sometimes five or ten persons
are killed by the man before he is brought down; and I know one instance
where sixteen were killed or wounded by a native running amok.

"The Malays are excellent workers of steel, and the weapons they make
are difficult to surpass in fineness and beauty. The marvellous thing is
that they will accomplish so much with the rudest implements; a smith
has a small forge, a hammer or two, and a few files, and with these and
one or two other things he will turn out work that astonishes the
skilled artificers of Sheffield. A Malay gunsmith produces weapons that
shoot with precision, and are bored with perfect accuracy; but the
boring is done without any machinery whatever. This is the apparatus:

[Illustration: GUN-BORING IN LOMBOCK.]

"There is an upright pole which is thrust through a bamboo basket; its
top is fastened to a cross-bar, and the bottom is equipped with an iron
ring in which boring-irons can be fitted. The barrel to be bored is set
in the ground, the basket is filled with stones to give it weight, and
two boys turn the cross-bar to make the boring-iron revolve. The barrel
is bored in sections about eighteen inches long; and these are welded
together, and afterwards bored to the required size.

[Illustration: NATIVES OF TIMOR.]

"Considerably to the eastward of Lombock is the island of Timor, which
is interesting because it is one of the few places where the Portuguese
have a local habitation and a name in the Malay Archipelago. Timor is
about three hundred miles long by sixty wide, and is partly occupied by
the Dutch and partly by the Portuguese. The Dutch settlements are at the
western end, and their principal town is Coupang; it has a mixed
population of Malays, Chinese, and Dutch, in addition to the natives,
who are closely allied to the natives of Papua, or New Guinea, and have
very little affinity with the Malay race. They are of a dirty brown
color, and have large noses and frizzled hair, so that they strongly
resemble the negro.

[Illustration: DELLI, PORTUGUESE TIMOR.]

"The seat of the Portuguese part of Timor is at Delli, a miserable
village of thatched huts, with a mud fort, and very little appearance of
civilization. The governor's house is a trifle better than the rest,
but not much; and the place has a reputation for fever that is not at
all agreeable for a stranger. I don't think much of Delli, and never
heard of any one who did.

"The Portuguese government in Timor is a very shadowy affair, and the
sooner it comes to an end the better. It has been there three hundred
years, and yet there is not a mile of road in the interior of the
country, and the agricultural resources of the island have received no
development. The example of the Dutch in Java seems to be quite lost on
the Portuguese, who oppress the inhabitants in every possible way, and
plunder them without fear of punishment."

Frank asked if Timor was one of the islands where the bird of paradise
is found.

"No," replied the gentleman; "but it is not far from there to the Aru
Islands, where the Great Bird of Paradise lives. I went from Timor to
Aru in a native boat, and narrowly escaped drowning on the way. We were
caught in a storm, and anchored near a small island off the coast of
Aru; the Malay anchor is a stick of wood from the fork of a tree, with a
stone to give it weight, and, as it has only one fluke, you can never be
sure that it goes down so as to seize the bottom. Ours bothered us so
that we had to throw it several times, and when we finally got it to
hold we were not twenty yards from the rocks where the wind was driving
us.

"But a miss is as good as a mile, and we were safe on shore the next
morning, very thankful at our escape.

"I had an opportunity to go to the forest to see the process of shooting
the Great Bird of Paradise, and went at once. Quite a trade is carried
on in these birds, and the skill of the natives is devoted to capturing
them without staining their plumage with blood, or allowing the birds to
injure it during their struggles.

"The birds have a curious habit of getting up dancing-parties in the
month of May, when their plumage is finest. They assemble before sunrise
in a tree that has plenty of room among its branches for them to move
about, and as soon as the sun is fairly up they begin their dancing.
They elevate their plumes as peacocks display their tails, stretch their
necks, raise their wings, and hop from branch to branch in a state of
great excitement.

[Illustration: NATIVES OF ARU SHOOTING THE GREAT BIRD OF PARADISE.]

"The natives hunt through the forest till they find a tree where the
birds assemble. They go there in the evening and build a screen of
leaves over the fork of the tree, and just before daylight they climb up
there ready for business. They keep perfectly still till the birds are
busily engaged in their dance, and then they shoot with blunt-pointed
arrows. The bird is stunned and falls to the ground, and before he
recovers he is seized by a boy who is waiting for him; the bird's neck
is broken without injuring the skin, and thus the prize is secured
without staining the feathers with blood."

Fred asked if, when one bird was shot, the rest did not fly away.

"Not by any means," was the answer. "They are so busy with displaying
their feathers to each other, that they do not take notice of the
disappearance of one of their number until they are greatly reduced. The
morning I went out to see the business, I was stationed in a little
bower about a hundred yards from the tree where the birds were, so that
I could see all that went on. There were twenty-one birds there, all
beautiful males, and they made the prettiest sight of the kind that ever
came before my eyes. The natives shot fifteen of them, and finally one
of the birds was not hit hard enough to prevent his screaming as he
fell. The others then took the alarm, and in two minutes they were all
out of sight."

[Illustration: A NATIVE ANCHOR.]



CHAPTER XXXII.

WANDERINGS IN THE MALAY ARCHIPELAGO.--GOOD-BYE.


"There is an interesting point in the Aru Islands," the gentleman
remarked, after a short pause, "known as Dobbo."

[Illustration: GREAT STREET OF DOBBO IN THE TRADING SEASON.]

"It is not regularly visited by steamers, as it is out of the routes of
travel, and for a part of the year it is almost deserted. In May and
June it is filled to overflowing with a mixed lot of people from all
parts of the East. There are Chinese in considerable number, who come to
buy the articles brought to market by the inhabitants of the islands for
a long distance; and there are men from Macassar, Timor, Ceram, and
other parts of the Archipelago, as well as the natives of Aru, who
belong to the Papuans I have already described. The town consists of a
single street of mat-covered huts and sheds, with a lot of straggling
buildings in the rear that are set down without any regard to order or
regularity.

"I went to Dobbo in a native boat from Macassar. It was very much like a
Chinese junk in general appearance, and about seventy tons burden, with
a native crew of thirty men and a Javanese captain. Four or five of the
men were slave-debtors of the captain, and the rest were hired, like the
crew of a ship in Europe or America."

"Excuse me for interrupting," said Fred, "but let me ask what these
slave-debtors are."

"Slave indebtedness," replied the gentleman, "is a system introduced by
the Dutch, who borrowed it from the Chinese, for the protection of
traders in these thinly-peopled regions. Goods must be intrusted to
agents and small dealers, who frequently gamble them away, and leave the
merchant unpaid. He trusts them again and again, with the same result;
and finally, when he can stand it no longer, he brings them before a
police court, where he establishes his claim. The magistrate then binds
the debtor over to the creditor, and requires him to work out the
account. The plan seems to answer very well, as the creditor is secure
so long as the debtor lives and has his health; while the debtor does
not consider himself disgraced, but rather enjoys his relief from
responsibility."

"But it is a system of slavery," Fred answered; "though, after all, it
is more sensible than the European practice of locking a debtor up in
jail, where he can earn nothing, but is a constant expense to himself
and all others concerned."

"A good deal depends on the character of the master," was the reply.
"Some masters get along very pleasantly with their debtors--allow them
to trade a little on their own account--and associate with them on equal
terms.

[Illustration: WEARING THE CANGUE.]

"Others treat them harshly--perhaps not without cause--sometimes, and
punish them severely for disobedience. While I was at Dobbo, a Chinese
merchant fastened one of his slave-debtors in a cangue, and kept him
there an entire day, chained to the wall of his shop. The man had been
caught stealing from his master, and the latter made himself judge,
jury, and police-officer without delay. The cangue is a wooden collar
around the neck; it is about three feet square, and made of planks from
one to two inches thick. It is a heavy article of wearing apparel, and
not at all ornamental."

Frank asked if the native captains understood navigation after the
European form, and could take the positions of the sun and moon with
instruments like those used on American or European ships.

"They are not good navigators," responded their informant, "as we
understand navigation, but they manage to get along wonderfully well
with very rude appliances. They take the altitude of the sun with a
stick, to which is attached a string with a peculiar arrangement of
knots; and they understand the use of the compass. They have a
water-clock, which is very simple, and much more accurate than you would
suppose.

"It consists of a bucket of water, and the half of a cocoa-nut shell.
There is a tiny hole like the prick of a needle in the bottom of the
shell, and when you put it on the water you can just see a stream like a
thread spurting up. It takes an hour to fill the shell, and when it is
full it goes plump to the bottom of the bucket, making a bubbling noise
that attracts the attention of the man on duty, who immediately puts
the shell in place again. I used to try it with my watch, and found that
it never varied more than a minute from the hour, which is quite
accurate enough for an Oriental. The motion of the boat had no effect on
it, as the water in the bucket was always on a level.

"The voyages of these boats are made with the monsoons, so that the
course is largely guided by studying the direction of the wind. Only one
voyage can be made in a year from Macassar--the boats starting in
December or January with the west monsoon, and returning in July or
August with the east monsoon. The distance is about a thousand miles,
and is made in from twenty to thirty days each way.

[Illustration: A NATIVE OF ARU.]

"The trade at Dobbo amounts to something near a hundred thousand dollars
a year, and is carried on in the most primitive way. It is almost
entirely a barter trade; there is no money in use except copper coins
from Java and China, and many of the natives do not even know their
value. It requires a great deal of talk to make a bargain, and sometimes
they will haggle for hours over a transaction that amounts to only a few
cents.

[Illustration: SEA-CUCUMBER.]

"The things brought from the islands, and bought by the traders, are
pearl-shells, tortoise-shell, edible birds'-nests, pearls, timber, and
birds of paradise. There is also a large supply of _tripang_, or
'beche-de-mer,' of which the Chinese make many soups. It is known in
English as the sea-cucumber, and is taken on the reefs and among the
rocks all through the Eastern seas, and in some parts of the Pacific
Ocean. After being boiled in its own liquid, and dried on racks over a
fire, it is ready for market.

[Illustration: A PAPUAN PIPE.]

"The goods used in purchasing these articles are as varied as the
purchasers. The most important item is that of arrack--a spirit
distilled from rice, and resembling rum; about twenty thousand gallons
of it are sold at Dobbo every year, and sometimes as many as twenty-five
thousand. English and American cottons are sold; and also tobacco,
crockery, knives, muskets, gunpowder, Chinese gongs, small cannons, and
elephants' tusks. The last three articles are the luxuries with which
the natives of Aru buy their wives, and display in their houses or
conceal as valuable property. They use tobacco both for chewing and
smoking, and will not accept it unless it is very strong. The native
pipe is similar to that used in Papua, or New Guinea, and is made of
wood, with a long upright handle, which is set in the ground while the
owner is using it. He squats before the pipe, and when in this position
his mouth is just on a level with the end of the stem.

"I went from Dobbo to Amboyna and Banda, which are small islands not far
from the much greater one of Ceram. They formerly belonged to the
Portuguese, but are now in possession of the Dutch, and known to the
commercial world for their products of cloves and nutmegs."

"I have read somewhere," said Frank, "that the Dutch destroyed the
spice-trees on all the other islands, so as to have a monopoly in Banda
and Amboyna. Was it not very unjust to the natives to do that?"

"All the facts in the case are not generally known," was the reply. "The
Portuguese traders maintained high prices for these luxuries, and used
to oppress the natives to obtain them. Sometimes the competition led to
their paying such figures to the native princes that the latter became
very wealthy, but their subjects were not benefited by them. When the
Dutch came into possession, they determined to concentrate the culture
in a few places, so that they could control it, and to this end they
offered an annual subsidy to the native princes to destroy the
spice-trees in their dominions. The latter were thus made sure of their
revenue, while the people were able to devote more time to the
cultivation of articles of food, and were relieved from taxes.

"The cultivation of the clove was restricted to the island of Amboyna,
while Banda was made the seat of the nutmeg culture. There was so much
complaint on the part of the English that the monopoly was finally
removed in part; the trade is still surrounded with restrictions, as the
Dutch are in possession of the islands where the culture can be
conducted to the best advantage. It is a curious circumstance that the
birds had much to do with the suppression of the monopoly."

"The birds?"

[Illustration: A BIRD OF AMBOYNA.]

"Yes, a bird known as the nutmeg-pigeon. He lives on the mace which
envelops the nutmeg; the latter is undigested and uninjured in his
stomach, and he carries it to islands of whose existence the Dutch were
not aware. The nutmeg is the seed of the tree, and as fast as the Dutch
suppressed the cultivation in an island the birds restored it. Banda is
still the centre of the nutmeg trade, as the article is produced more
cheaply there than in any other spot, and it sends about two million
pounds of this spice to market every year. The climate of Amboyna was
found not altogether suited to the production of the clove; and as the
clove-tree flourishes in other parts of the world, the monopoly could
not be kept up. The clove is not the fruit of the tree, as many persons
suppose, but the blossom; it is gathered before it is unfolded, and if
you look at a clove you will see how much it resembles a bud just ready
for opening.

"From Banda I went to Ceram, to see the process of obtaining sago.
Perhaps you are fond of sago-pudding, and may be interested to know
where sago comes from, and how it is prepared."

The boys nodded their assent, and Frank remarked that he had many times
wished he knew more about the delicious article.

"The sago-tree belongs to the palm family; it is thicker and larger than
the cocoa-palm, but not so tall, and its leaves are very large and long.
The stem of the leaf is twelve or fifteen feet long, and six inches in
diameter at the butt, and is used for a great many purposes. Whole
houses are built of these stems, from the framework to the thatch-poles
and flooring, and they never shrink or bend, or require any paint or
varnish. The leaf forms an admirable thatch, and the trunk of the tree
is the food of many thousands of people.

[Illustration: SAGO CLUB.]

"When it is about fifteen years old the tree blossoms, and then dies.
Just as it is about to blossom, it is cut down close to the ground, and
stripped of its leaves. The upper part of the trunk is then taken off,
so as to expose the pith of the tree, which is broken into a coarse
powder by means of a club of heavy wood, having a piece of iron or sharp
stone in one end. The whole inside of the tree is broken up till the
trunk forms a trough not more than half an inch thick.

[Illustration: PREPARING SAGO.]

[Illustration: SAGO OVEN.]

"The dry powder is then washed, and strained through a coarse sieve;
the water flows into a deep trough with a depression in the centre,
where the sago sinks to the bottom and is secured. It is then pressed
into cylinders weighing about thirty pounds each, or it is baked into
cakes in a clay oven, with a series of compartments an inch wide, and
six inches long and deep. The cakes will keep a long while if they are
dried in the sun after baking. I have eaten sago that was said to be ten
years old, and found it perfectly good."

Fred wished to know how much sago there was in a tree, and how much it
costs for a man to live in the sago country.

"A single tree will produce from eight hundred to one thousand pounds of
sago," was the reply, "which will support a man for a year. Two men can
reduce a tree to dry powder in five days, and therefore we may say that
ten days' labor will support a man for a year. The result is that in
the sago country the people are indolent, and not at all prosperous;
they have no incentive to work, and therefore make no effort to do
anything. They wear very little clothing; and as for their houses, they
have no occasion for anything more than rude huts, which can be built by
a couple of men in a few hours. It has been observed by all who have
visited Ceram that the inhabitants are not as well off as the people of
the islands that produce rice, as the latter must work a great deal
harder to support themselves, and will lose their whole crop unless they
pay attention to their fields.

[Illustration: SUGAR-PALM OF MACASSAR.]

"From Ceram I went to Macassar, where they have a palm-tree producing a
sweet juice that may be made into beer, or boiled down into sugar, like
the sap of a maple-tree. It is not unlike the sago-palm in general
appearance, and will grow wherever it can find sufficient soil for its
roots. The island is very rough and mountainous, and the variety of soil
enables it to produce a great many things. I was invited to stay on the
plantation of a friend who lived among the hills, and promised me a
pleasant time.

[Illustration: CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN.]

"The road to the plantation was very steep in several places, and the
mules that we rode had all they could do to carry us. The path wound in
and out among the rocks, and under the trees peculiar to the tropics;
and one of the trees came near being the cause of my falling over a high
cliff."

"How was that?"

"Fruit was so abundant that the natives did not gather all of it as fast
as it ripened; every little while I saw mangoes or bananas lying in the
path, and the incident I mention was caused by my mule stepping on a
banana and slipping to the ground. He left me sprawling just on the edge
of the cliff; if he had pitched me a foot farther, I should have gone
over and been dashed to death on the rocks below.

"I stayed with my friend a week, and found that he had a most delightful
residence. He was fond of hunting, and was able to supply his table with
meat by means of his gun and dogs. There were many wild pigs in the
neighborhood, and he shot two of them while I was there, so that we had
pork in abundance. Then there were several kinds of birds that were
excellent eating. He had all the milk he wanted from his buffaloes, and
made his own butter, raised his own rice and coffee, and smoked cigars
from his own tobacco. He had ducks and chickens, and eggs in any desired
quantity; his palm-trees supplied him with palm-wine and sugar, and he
had nearly every tropical fruit that can be named. You see, by this
account of his plantation, how well a man may live in one of the islands
of the Archipelago, provided he can reconcile himself to the absence of
society, and be contented with the sport that the hilly country affords.

[Illustration: COMING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN.]

"When I came away my friend accompanied me down the mountain, and I
found the journey much easier than going up; in fact, it was too easy,
and the mules were inclined to go faster than we liked to have them. A
part of the way I hired a boy to hang on to the tail of my beast, which
he did, somewhat to the annoyance of the latter. This kind of check was
evidently new to him, and he tried to elevate his heels sufficiently to
shake off the encumbrance. But he could not do so without danger of
turning a somersault; and consequently his kicking was confined to a few
slight movements. When the path became less steep I dismissed the boy,
and the animal went along as demurely as ever.

"But my time is up," said the gentleman, looking at his watch, "and your
note-books are full. I am sorry I have not another hour or two in which
to tell you of Celebes, where the Dutch have established the same system
of culture that has made Java so prosperous; of Borneo, where the people
and the products form a study of unusual interest; of New Guinea, a
country rarely visited by Europeans; and of many other parts of the
Eastern Archipelago. Perhaps we will meet again one of these days, and
then I will try to give you more information similar to what I have been
narrating, and trust you will not find it without interest."

Frank and Fred were earnest in their thanks to their kind informant; and
the Doctor added his words of indebtedness to theirs. Expressions of
regret at their separation were made on both sides, and the final
hand-shaking was the cause of little lumps in youthful and manly throats
that choked the voices, and made the "good-byes" a trifle husky in their
utterance.

At the stipulated time the repairs to the carriage were completed, and
our friends made all haste back to Buitenzorg, and thence to Batavia. At
their banker's they found a large parcel of letters, which had just
arrived by the last mail from Singapore; and the evening of their return
from the interior was devoted to the perusal of the precious missives
from home. The next day found them busy with plans for their future
movements, and you may be sure that the map of the eastern hemisphere
was thoroughly studied, and the routes of travel and commerce carefully
examined. In this occupation we will leave the Doctor and his young
companions, with the assurance that in due time the Bassett and Bronson
families, and all their friends, Miss Effie included, will be fully
informed of the adventures that befell

THE BOY TRAVELLERS IN THE FAR EAST.

[Illustration: "GOOD-BYE!"]



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