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SCENERY IN MALAYAN ARCHIPELAGO.
still wrapt in storm-clouds, others bathed in refulgent light, or softened by distance into “summer isles of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of sea.” In short, it realised at such a moment all one's brightest dreams of the East; and it required but little imagination to people it with bloody pirates and fleetfooted prahus, in warring with whom I amongst others was to win bright honour.
At the base of a range of hills which bound the broad valley of Quedah on the north, the river Parlig discharges itself over a bar into the Indian Ocean. I hauled in for it, and soon had the satisfaction of shaking the gallant Barclay by the hand.
The river at its mouth was divided, by a small island half a mile long, into two branches. This island, called “Pulo Quetam," or Crab Island, by the natives, served for a dockyard, drying-ground, and place of recreation to our little force, and, together with the fact of a large fleet of war-prahus being up the river, under the command of one of the most enterprising of pirates, gave to the blockade here a degree of interest which Quedah did not possess.
Our force consisted of two gun-boats and a ship’s cutter, carrying altogether four guns, and about seventy men. The Malays far outnumbered us,
MY GUN-BOAT JOINS IN
and Datoo Mahomet Alee had sent a derisive message, to say he could and should go in or out of the river whenever it suited his convenience. The consequence was, we lived in momentary expectation of a tough action with a set of heroes who had already fought the boats of H. M. S. “ Zebra” and “ Rose" on former occasions, and allowed them no decided advantage.
During the day we used to lie together in the northern entrance of the river, but at night I was detached to blockade the southern branch, and prevent all ingress and egress by even the fishermen. Until the arrival of the “ Emerald” this measure had been impracticable, and it gave great umbrage to
A pangleman, or petty chief, was therefore sent down from the town of Parlis, situated twelve miles up the stream, to try and induce us to desist. The ambassador was not wanting in skill. He said that Mahomet Alee sent all health to the officer in command of the English gun-boats, and begged to assure him that the presence of a vessel in the south branch of the river was an unnecessary measure, and an act of discourtesy which he hoped would cease. He knew from experience that white men (Orang-putihsi
) never wantonly frightened women or children, but that my vessel rowing round to her
THE BLOCKADE OF PARLIS.
station every night had only that effect! The gleman alluded here to the inhabitants of a small village, situated in the fork of the river, which I had to pass nightly.
Lastly, Mahomet Ali begged to remind us that such a ridiculous force as we were, was merely tolerated, and that we should not do as we liked. Mr. Barclay, our senior officer, gave a concise
That he should do his duty as he pleased, and that the women and children would cease to fear when they found we did them no harm; and lastly, the sooner Datoo Mahomet Ali put his threat into execution the better pleased we should all be.
We never understood what Mahomet Ali's real motive was; but as if to show us that he did not care about the south channel being open or not, he took advantage of my absence one night, whilst chasing a prahu, to send a strong party of men down, who actually stockaded that brànch entirely across, much to the astonishment of my brother officer, who found it completed in the morning. I was told of it on my return, and he gave me full permission to do what I pleased, to show our indifference to the authority or temper of “Mahomet Ali.” I accordingly went round, and finding we could not easily otherwise remove the stakes, I lashed the
ATTEMPT TO STOCKADE THE RIVER.
gun-boat to them at dead low water, and as the tide
messages of a very uncivil nature came to our commanding officer, to which equally uncourteous answers were returned.
One day the other gun-boat, the “Diamond," and the cutter had been obliged to weigh and proceed to sea in chase of prahus, leaving my vessel alone in the river. About noon two long row-boats, called sampans, with ten or twelve persons in each, swept suddenly round the point ahead, and made direct for
Jadee saw them immediately, and his eyes glistened at the prospect of their intentions being warlike. Whatever their original purpose was, they were peaceable enough when they saw us all under arms; Jadee, however, as a precautionary measure, putting on his fighting jacket, a long sleeveless one of red cloth, sufficiently quilted to turn the edge of
HAGGI LOŪNG'S EMBASSY.
The leading canoe was hailed at pistolshot distance, and called upon to state her mission. We were informed that they came with a communication from Datoo Mahomet Ali, the bearer being no less a personage than his second in command, a man called “ Haggi Loung."
The canoe in which the Haggi was seated, was permitted to come alongside, and she had evidently a picked crew, armed to the teeth ; and I had no doubt that my serang was right in saying that, had they found the gun-boat with half a crew on shore, as was usually the case about noon, the reverend Haggi and his comrades were to have essayed her capture. However, I received the gentleman with all the dignity a youth could muster, although I was somewhat piqued at the supercilious smile which played on the face of Haggi Loung as he eyed the pocket edition of the white man before him.
Loũng was rather tall, with square shoulders and bony limbs, evincing undoubted capability for enforcing those maxims of the Koran which his high forehead and intellectual countenance showed he possessed mental capacity for acquiring and inculcating
* A “badi” is a small stabbing-knife, used in a close fight, or to administer a coup de grâce to an enemy.