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NO HONEY.

A MALAY DOCTOR.

57

devoted head: it might have ended seriously, had not Alee found that there was no honey in the nest, and he and his comrades then ran down to assist me, frightening off the bees with their torches, and accompanying me to the gun-boat, which I reached nearly blind, and rather disgusted with the result of my first Asiatic bee-hunt; the more so that, in addition to the lesson I had learnt upon the advisability of using smoke preservers, we had disproved the truth of the old axiom, that “ Where there are bees, there must be honey."

Jadee was in great distress at seeing me return in such sad plight, and vowed that Alee and his companions must have been lubbers at their work; however, he promised me almost instantaneous relief, and as I was willing to accept that on any terms, one of the men, a leading hand, who, from his strict observance of his religious duties, was named the “ Haggi," was sent for to cure me.

The Haggi, proud of an opportunity of displaying his medical skill upon a white man, who are all supposed to be born doctors, proceeded immediately to roll up a quid of cērē leaf, betel-nut, gambier, and chunam, in the right proportions for chewing—such a quid as a Malay so much delights in. Whilst I masticated this in the most approved manner, the Haggi

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THE KORAN AND CHUNAM REMEDY.

opened a small box of fine white chunam, made from the lime procured from burnt sea-shells; this chunam he carefully applied to my skin wherever it had been stung, muttering all the while, in a solemn strain, select sentences from the Koran, the responses or final portions of each chapter or sentence being taken up and repeated by my faithful coxswain, who for the time seemed desirous to entitle himself to a green turban by the fervour of his prayers, varying them, however, by shaking his tawny fist in the direction of the unconscious bees, and saying, with the utmost gravity, “Ah! you d—d pouls!”

Whether it was the chunam or the Koran cured me, it would be ingratitude to my holy friend the Haggi to say, for he stoutly maintained one to be inefficacious without the other ; but this I can aver, that in a very short time all inflammation had subsided, and I was able to laugh over my adventure, making, however, a vow to bridle my curiosity for the future, where bees were in the question.

1

THE NORTH-EAST MONSOON.

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CHAP. V.

The North-east Monsoon. Unsatisfactory News of our

Siamese Allies. The Pelicans. — Alligators abound. — The Cowardice of the Alligators. — Encounter and Capture an Alligator. - Extraordinary Strength and Vitality of those Reptiles. — A Strange Antidote against Fever. — The Rahmadan and “Quedah Opera."— The Malays endeavour to evade the Blockade. — The Watchfulness of my Native Crew.

The north-east monsoon had fairly set in. All day long we had a delightfully pleasant breeze off the land, for the Malayan peninsula has so small a breadth, that the winds which blow upon it from the China Sea reached us before they were robbed of their moisture or heated to an unpleasant degree by the action of the land : occasionally the monsoon would freshen, for a day or so, into a double reefed top-sail breeze, or at other times become squally without rain, but our nights were invariably fine, with only just wind enough to fill the mat sails of a prahu. The sea was seldom ruffled, and more delightful weather for boat-work cannot be conceived. All we were required to do, was to guard against sleeping in the night-dews,

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UNSATISFACTORY NEWS OF OUR ALLIES.

and by so doing, we all enjoyed better health than those cooped up in the ship.

Our new position inside Quedah bar became at last to be acknowledged by the Malays as our right, and from that time we often had communications with the fishermen who came out to visit their fishingweirs. Through them we learnt that fighting was going on with the Siamese, a long distance off: according to their version, the Malay rajahs were everywhere victorious; several large towns and many slaves had fallen into their hands, and there was no probability of a Siamese army being able to act upon the offensive during that monsoon.

This was decidedly very cheerless news, but the authority was a questionable one; and we could see slight defensive preparations taking place in the fort, which betokened something else than entire confidence and security.

Meantime, each day brought with it novelty and amusement. Anchored as we now were, within the river and close to the stockade, broad mud-banks extended themselves on either hand whenever the tide was low. Asiatic birds and reptiles haunted these banks; some of the former, such as the snipe and curlew, were well known to us, and, until scared away, added to our daily fare. The pelicans, at first,

PELICANS.

ALLIGATORS ABOUND.

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were the sole robbers of the fishing-weirs, but they soon found themselves no match for the expert seamen of the pinnace and gun-boats, and left us for some other spot. The alligators, however, were not to be frightened, although they took uncommonly good care not to enter into

any

of the personal combats upon the mud which the Malays, and after them the English sailors, were constantly trying to entrap them into. The numbers of these loathsome brutes to be seen at a time was extraordinary; but whatever might be the danger of falling in with them, if wading or swimming alone through these waters, there was no doubt of their being arrant cowards when fallen in with on shore. With the rising tide, the alligators generally found their way up to the edge of the jungle, and there lay among the roots of the trees (which they strongly resembled), as if waiting for cattle, or wild animals, that might come down to drink: we, however, never saw them catch anything during a period of several months. The ebbing tide would often thus leave the brutes several hundred yards from the edge of the water, and very much they appeared to enjoy themselves when so left, with an Indian sun pouring down upon their tough hides; and, as if in the very height of the dolce far niente, they would open back their hideous

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