Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

JADEE'S WANT OF BIGOTRY.

47

Jamboo vowed, had fled from Java, or Acheen, for acts of violence of one sort or another. Their looks were not in their favour; and walking with the peculiar strut of Malay seamen, I could not but repeat Falstaff's soliloquy:

Nay, and the villains march wide betwixt the legs, as if they had gyves ; for indeed I had most of them out of prison!”

The fears, however, of the redoubted Jamboo had much to do with the characters he gave the poor fellows; and I afterwards discovered it was rather his opinion of what they must have been, than what they really had been. I was debating in my mind how my messing was to be carried on, in a vessel manned with Mahometans, where pork was an abomination and myself an unclean animal and an infidel, when Jadee, with the most graceful bow he could muster, came to announce that the ship's company's rice and fish were cooked, and that in a few minutes our curry and rice would be ready. Through the interpreter, I expressed a hope that he would not depart from any religious opinions as to feeding with a Christian, because I was set in authority over him. To which the good fellow made a very neat answer, in a very modest way, that he was a servant of the same Great Rajah as the white officer,

a

48

PRIMITIVE MODE OF EATING.

and if I did not consider it beneath my dignity to eat out of the same dish as an Orang Malayu, it was not for him to do so.

This difficulty over, we sat down cross-legged to our breakfast - a mountain of snow-white rice with a curried fowl. I was at first very awkward in the use of my right hand as a substitute for spoon and fork, etiquette not allowing the left hand to be used; but I soon learnt how to pick up the rice, press it gently together between the extended fingers, and then by means of the thumb to slip what was taken up into my mouth; a drink of pure water finished the repast, and then the ever useful Campar appeared, with water and towel for us to wash our hands and mouth. We had only two meals a day ; breakfast at about seven or eight o'clock, and dinner at three P.M. ; rice and salt fish, or rice and curry, being the constant fare.

BLOCKADE RENDERED MORE STRINGENT.

49

CHAP. IV.

The Blockade rendered more Stringent. — The Bounting Is

lands. — My Crew keeping Holiday. — “Hyacinths” poisoned with Ground-nuts. We discover Wild Bees'-Nests. - Arrangements made for robbing the Hives. — The Bees quit their Hives and settle on me. - No Honey. – A Malay Doctor. — The Koran and Chunam remedy for Bee Stings.

The first week or ten days was sadly monotonous : we had to be very guarded in our movements, as the policy intended to be pursued by the enemy had not developed itself, and we were yet ignorant of the force of armed prahus which they might possess up the river; but I was not idle, and, under Jadee's tuition, was fast learning the simple and beautiful language of Malaya. The interest taken by my serang, in repeating over for my information the Malay for every article or object upon which he saw my attention fixed for a moment, was a pretty convincing proof of the anxiety he entertained for our being able to understand one another without Jamboo's assistance.

About the middle of December, we had reason to

E

50

THE BOUNTING ISLANDS.

believe that small prahus escaped out of the river, or entered it at top of high water, by keeping close in to the jungle; and as we had ascertained that there was deep water inside the bar, it was determined to cross the bar at night, directly the tide rose high enough to allow us to do so, and to remain close off the stockade until the tide again fell, so as to compel us to retreat rather than risk an action with fort and war-prahus combined.

This measure gave great umbrage to “ Tonkoo Mahomet Said," who sent to warn us that we might get fired into by accident during the night, if we persisted in such a manoeuvre. The reply to this threat was a promise of returning the compliment, if any such accident did occur; and

; after a while we found the people of Quedah submitted quietly to this stricter blockade, and it was evident that they were reserving their fighting qualities for the Siamese army, of which we only knew that it was to co-operate with us; how, or when, none could guess. The want of wood and fresh water in our little squadron obliged the senior officer to detach me to a group of islands, about twenty miles distant, in quest of some; and this job I had regularly to execute every tenth day or so. The three islands are known under the names of the Bounting Group; the Malays, with a playful fancy,

MY CREW KEEPING HOLIDAY.

51

having, in the outline of one of them, seen a resemblance to a woman in that “ state in which ladies wish to be who love their lords." That island is called “Bounting," and, in carrying out the idea, the next is named “Pangail” or “Call!" and the other is “Bedan” the “ Accoucheur!” — a strange nomenclature, but the joke of which was evidently a great source of fun to my scamps.

Having, then, no small boats, our mode of procuring wood and water was primitive enough; the gun-boat used to be anchored in a convenient position, and then all hands, myself included, jumped overboard, swam ashore with casks and axes, and spent the day filling the former, cutting wood, bathing, and washing our clothing. It was a general holiday; and, like seamen of our own country, my Malays skylarked, joked, and played about with all the zest of schoolboys; and I observed, with no small pleasure, that, in their practical jokes or witticisms, there was none of that grossness or unbecoming language which European sailors, be their nation what it may, would assuredly have indulged in—a state of things which I imputed to the knowledge they each had of the other's quickness of temper, and the moral certainty of an appeal to the creese should an insult be intentionally given. The Bountings, though clothed with trees, and the

« ZurückWeiter »