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100

MALAY DIPLOMACY.

Seating ourselves in a circle, consisting of Haggi Loung and his secretary, with Jadee on one side of me and the interpreter on the other, we proceeded to business. The message

if ever one was sent, which I strongly question - when divested of Eastern ornament and circumlocution, amounted merely to an attempt to persuade me to believe that the blockade of the southern branch of the river was totally needless, and that the best proof that it was so, consisted in the fact of their having stockaded it across themselves; and they begged I would not touch that stockade.

I told him, “He had already received an answer from my superior officer upon these points; I had nothing to add; and that Mahomet Ali must remember that, as English officers merely acted from a sense of duty, and in obedience to orders, I hoped the next time he asked me a favour it would be one that I could grant."

The Haggi wanted to discuss the point; but as the arguments passed for the most part through the medium of Jadee and the interpreter, I suppose they lost their point, for I kept my ground.

Failing in this respect, he gradually turned the conversation to the prospect of the Siamese regaining the province of Quedah, and with much finesse led

JADEE AND A FLAG OF TRUCE.

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the bow gun.

me into the error of believing that the Siamese army had been repulsed at all points. I now sent for boiled rice and fish, which I ordered to be set before the Haggi; and Jadee proceeded, by my desire, to see that the Malays in the canoes had food supplied to them, though, from the expression of his face whilst so employed, I could plainly observe that he would have far preferred blowing them from the muzzle of

Watching his opportunity, Jadee made a quiet sign that he wished to speak to me, and when I went to him, hurriedly said, “Now, sir, now is our opportunity; capture this man; send his canoes away to say so, and tell Mahomet Ali we are alone this afternoon, and that Numero Tega will fight him at once !” I pointed out to Jadee that the challenge might be very well, but that the capture of Loūng was out of the question, as he had come to us in the sacred character of a messenger. Jadee could not understand it at all, and walked away muttering something in which I heard, “Mahomet Ali - pigs --and poltroons" generally mixed up.

Haggi Loũng was all smiles and civility, little thinking how hostile a proposition had just been made against him, and shortly afterwards rose to depart; an event I rather hastened, as it was impossible, with such inflammable materials as his crews and mine

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102

JADEE AND THE ONE-EYED ENEMY.

were composed of, to tell the moment a disturbance might take place. Jadee was rustling about like a game-cock ready for a row; and I saw him, and a wild-looking Malay who steered one of the canoes, exchanging glances and curls of the lip which betokened anything but amity. Desiring Jadee to do something at the other side of the gun-boat, I wished Haggi Loũng “ Good-bye,” and had just lost sight of them round the point when my serang came aft, all smiles and sunshine: to my queries he only smiled mysteriously, and replied I should soon know; and as this evidently referred to something connected with our late visitors, I began to bave my fears lest a pleasant divertissement, in the shape of a creese fight, had been arranged between him and the Orson from Parlis.

Directly it fell dark, our consorts rejoined us; and whilst all the vessels were lashed together, prior to taking up their night positions, one of the look-out men maintained that a long canoe had crossed the river above us, his quick eye having sighted her as she darted over the bright streak of light which gleamed between the gloomy shadows of either side. From one of our prizes we had captured a long fairy-like canoe, scooped out of the trunk of a tree : with six paddles she would fly through the water. Barclay

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A SPY.

THE CHASE BY STARLIGHT.

103

and I jumped into her at onee, and, with a mixed crew of Malays and Englishmen, gave chase to the stranger. It was top of high water, or nearly so; the tide as usual had overflowed all the neighbouring land (except the high patch of ground on which stood the little village previously referred to), and the dark stems of the mangrove and other trees, which seemed to flourish in an amphibious life, stretched away on either hand from the river in a black and endless labyrinth.

A few deep and silent strokes brought us up almost noiselessly to the spot where the stranger had been seen to cross, although we were in the shadow on the opposite side of the river; the paddles were laid across our boat, and the steersman alone kept her going gently up the stream. We were all eyes ; ; now looking in among the dark waters, out of which rose the black and solemn trunks of the trees; now eagerly gazing across to the opposite side of the river. Almost instinctively, we all pointed, without speaking a word, to a canoe twice as long as our own, which had evidently seen us, and was apparently waiting to see whether we were in search of her, or for us to show our intentions. We did not keep them long in suspense.

104

THE SUBMERGED JUNGLE.

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“Give way,” exclaimed Barclay, “and get above them!” In a moment our paddles struck the water, and our craft seemed to lift and jump at every stroke. The other canoe was not idle ; for a few minutes it was doubtful which would win, and we could hear the men cheering one another on to exertion. “A scout! a scout!” exclaimed our Ma. lays; “ the prahus will be down when the ebb-tide makes !” I told Barclay this. I hope to God they will!” he exclaimed ; “ we shall be ready for them !” We now began to head the canoe: soon as we saw we could do that, Barclay got his musket ready, and gave orders, directly he fired, for the helmsman to steer diagonally across the stream, so as to get on the same side as the craft we were in chase of.

Taking a deliberate aim at the scout canoe he fired, and we with a shout struck across for her, hoping either to lay her alongside or drive her back upon the gun-boats; but we had counted without our host, and the Malays of our party gave a yell of disgust as the enemy disappeared as it were into the jungle. We were soon on her heels, and guided by the sound she made in forcing through the mangrove swamp, held our course: now aground upon the straddling legs of a mangrove tree; then pushing

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