Middy and Ensign
by G. Manville Fenn
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Bob Roberts turned pale, as he thought of the ladies.

"But they'd never dare, sir," he began.

"Dare? I believe the Malays are quite daring enough to attack us, should they feel disposed. But there, we need not discuss that matter. You young gentlemen have, however, been very jubilant over your rescue of these poor girls, and you have been summoned here to warn you, while your respective officers take into consideration what punishment is awarded to you, that your noisy demonstrations are very much out of place."

"Punishment, sir!" said Bob, who looked aghast.

"Yes," said the resident sharply, "punishment. You do not seem to realise, young gentleman, that your act to-day has fired a train. Besides which, it is a question of such import that I must make it the basis of a special despatch to the colonial secretary at Whitehall."

Bob Roberts turned round and stared at Tom Long, but the latter was staring at Major Sandars.

"I don't think I need say any more, young gentlemen," said the resident quietly, "and I fervently hope that I may be able to peaceably settle this matter; but it is quite on the cards that it may be the cause of a deadly strife. And I sincerely trust that whatever may be the upshot of this affair, it may be a warning to you, as young English officers, to think a little more, and consider, before you take any serious step in your careers; for sometimes a very slight error may result in the loss of life. In this case, yours has not been a slight error, but a grave one."

"Though we all own as quite true," said Captain Horton, "that we don't see how you could have acted differently; eh, Sandars?"

"Yes, yes, of course. But, hang it all, Long, how could you go and get into such a confounded pickle? It's too bad, sir, 'pon my soul, sir; it is too bad—much too bad."

"Are we to be under arrest, sir?" said Bob Roberts, rather blankly.

"Not if you'll both promise to keep within bounds," said Captain Horton. "No nonsense."

"No, sir," said Bob glumly.

"Of course not, sir," said Tom.

"That will do then, young gentlemen," said the resident gravely; and the two youths went blankly off to their several quarters.

"Poor boys! I'm sorry for them," said the resident sadly.

"Yes, it's a confounded nuisance, Linton," said Major Sandars, "but you must diplomatise, and set all right somehow or another."

"That's a fine boy, that Roberts," said Captain Horton. "I'll try my best, gentlemen," said the resident, "for all our sakes; but we have a curious people to deal with, and I fear that this may turn out a very serious affair."



The Parang river looked like a belt of damasked silver studded with diamonds the next morning, while the waving feathery palms were of the brightest green. Mingled with these, on the shore farthest from the town, were the dadap trees, whose ripe scarlet blossoms stood out in rich relief as they gave colour to a landscape already dotted with the blooms of the chumpaka, both yellow and white, shedding a sweet scent that Doctor Bolter said was like Cape jasmin, but which Bob Roberts declared to resemble tea made with lavender water.

The "Startler," with her deck as white as hands could make it, lay looking smart and bright in her moorings below the island, her yards perfectly square, her sides glistening with fresh paint, her brass rails, bell, and guns flashing back the sun's rays, and the awnings spread over the deck almost as white as snow.

Here and there the Jacks, in their duck frocks and straws, were paddling about barefooted in the sunshine, giving the last touches to the rails and glass of the skylights.

On the island the resident's house and the barrack fort looked more like some ornamented set of buildings for summer pleasure, than a couple of places designed as a stronghold and retreat in case of danger. For the ditch and the earthwork were now carpetted with verdant growth, while the abattis, having been made of green wood, was putting forth fresh shoots.

Both the resident and Major Sandars had been desirous of retaining all the shade possible, for the protection of the men; therefore, save where they were likely to afford harbour to the enemy, trees and bushes had been spared. The men too, having plenty of time at disposal, had been encouraged to take to gardening, and with Doctor Bolter for head instructor, the place had been made to present the appearance of a nursery ground, where one bed rivalled another in the perfection of its growing vegetables. Neat, well-kept walks led up to the fort and the resident's house, which daily grew brighter and more picturesque, with its ornamented reed-woven walls, and carefully thatched roof of attap. The broad verandah, with its punkahs, was made gay with beautiful creepers, climbing the pillars of palm and bamboo, and festooning the edges, some of these being jasmines of great size and beauty; while rough rotan baskets hung at intervals, full of moss and dead wood, on which flourished the wonderful orchids and pitcher-plants that were the delight of the ladies of the residency.

By the help of Doctor Bolter and Adam Gray, a large cask had been cut in half, and decorated on the outsides and edges with rough bark, in whose interstices were planted orchids, and the pretty maiden-hair fern; while upon these being both mounted upon a short rough stump, they formed a couple of rustic vases of huge size, standing just inside the broad verandah, on either side of the entrance door, and looked, when filled with water, and supplied with aquatic plants, no slight additions to the beauty of the place.

Upon one of his excursions with net and can, Doctor Bolter had succeeded in capturing several of the beautiful little chaetadons, or shooting-fish; tiny little broad fellows, beautifully banded, whose peculiarity was the adroitness with which they would lie in wait for any unfortunate fly that settled on the edge of an aquatic leaf, and then fire—or rather, water—off at it a tiny globule, with such unerring aim, that the insect was generally brought down into the water and swallowed. Three or four would sometimes sail round one after the other shooting at a fly in turn till it was knocked off, when a rush took place for the dainty prize.

But the river and the little jungle streams abounded with miniature fish of great beauty, their peculiarity being the way in which they were coloured, some being of a most gorgeous scarlet, with broad bands of vivid blue across their sides.

All on board the "Startler" was the perfection of neatness, and from a friendly rivalry the residency and fort were as smart and neat; perhaps never did they look to greater perfection than on the day after the adventure of Bob Roberts and Tom Long.

The morning drill was over, and the sun was growing intensely hot, when there was heard the sound of a gong in the distance, and one of the sentries announced the coming of a boat.

As it drew near it was seen to be one belonging to the sultan, with a couple of his principal officers therein.

They landed, each in his gay silken sarong, in whose folds the handle of the kris was carefully wrapped, to indicate that they were bound on a friendly mission, and leaving their men at the bamboo landing-stage fitted up by the sailors, they made their way to the residency.

No sooner had the news been given to Mr Linton of the approach of the sultan's boat than a signal was hoisted, whose effect was that the captain's gig was lowered down, and he arrived at the stage directly after, joining Major Sandars who had been fetched by an orderly, both officers being in full uniform.

"I say, Tom," said Bob Roberts to his companion, who had come across to the ship a short time before, "if I were you I'd go back and fig myself. I shall put on my best duds, for you see if we ar'n't sent for to meet those two coffee-coloured swells."

Tom Long, who was rather low-spirited about the matter, took the middy's advice, and went back to the island, where the visitors had already been ushered into the resident's reception room, the captain and major dropping in directly after as if by accident.

It was the most friendly of visits. The two officers were the tumongong, or chief magistrate, and the muntri, or chief adviser, of the sultan; and nothing could have been more amiable than their demeanour as they conversed with Mr Linton, who from time to time interpreted to the two British officers.

Was there anything the sultan could do in the way of providing better supplies of rice, fruit, and meat? A great fish expedition was about to be set afoot, and more would be brought down the river and kept in floating tanks. If the resident would only speak, everything possible should be done.

Nothing was required, so thanks were returned; when the tumongong smiled most agreeably, and said that he must now come to the chief object of his visit. The fact was, the sultan had decided to have a great tiger-hunt. Much mischief had of late been done by tigers. Several poor fellows, especially Chinamen, had been carried off from the rice-fields, and the sultan had decided to get together all his elephants, with a large number of beaters, and have a great hunt. Would the British officers bring their rifles and help? Elephants should be placed at their disposal, the largest the country produced, and every thing done to make the hunt a success.

"Then it's a mare's nest after all, Sandars," said Captain Horton. "They're not going to take any notice of those boys' tricks. What do you say; shall we go?"

"I should enjoy it immensely," said the major. "I long for a shot at a tiger."

"Wait a little, gentlemen," said the resident, smiling; "the interview is not at an end. What shall I reply about the hunting-party?"

"Oh, we shall be delighted to go. You'll go too?" said Captain Horton, answering for both.

"If matters are pleasantly settled," said Mr Linton. Then turning to the two Malay officers, whose dark restless eyes had been scanning the faces in turn, he said that they would be most happy to accept the sultan's invitation.

The officers were delighted, and declared that the sultan's joy would know no bounds.

They had previously declined all refreshments, but now that their business was at an end they accepted cigars, and laughed and chatted, evidently enjoying the visit immensely, and accepting a proposal to walk round the grounds, with alacrity.

As they went into the verandah, the resident found a couple of the sultan's men waiting, with a present of the choicest fruit the country produced; huge durians, and fine mangosteens, with the most select kinds of plantain, known for the delicacy of their flavour.

The visitors took an almost childish delight in the fish in the two fonts, and smiled with pleasure at the sight of the large selection of flowers; but a keen observer would have noticed that as they walked round the fort and earth-works, the muntri eagerly scanned every preparation for defence, though apparently more attracted by the uniforms of the sentries than anything else.

As they were crossing the little parade ground, with its well-trampled soil, on their way back to their boat, Tom Long was encountered, on his way to the mess-room.

He started, on coming upon the little party so suddenly, but saluted and went on.

Oddly enough that brought to the muntri's memory a little affair that had happened on the previous day. Two young officers of the ship had been ashore shooting birds, and they found a party of the country people behaving rather ill to a couple of slave girls, and naturally enough, like all young men would, they took the girls under their protection, and brought them to the residency. Was it not so?

"Yes," the resident replied; "and they are now with the ladies."

That was so good and kind, and so like the English, who were a great and generous nation. The sultan had been terribly annoyed at his people behaving so ill to the poor girls, the muntri continued, and they had been punished, which was quite right—was it not?

The resident perfectly agreed with the muntri, who smiled content, while the tumongong looked hurt and sad.

He was so glad that Rajah Linton was satisfied at what the sultan had done, and the sultan would be greatly happy at his acts meeting such approval from the chief of the great queen. So that was settled. He thanked the resident more than he could tell, and he would give him no more trouble about the two poor girls, but take them back in the boat.

This was very cleverly done, but the sultan's officers had to deal with an equally clever man, one who was well versed in oriental wiles and diplomacy. Mr Linton was in no wise taken aback, since he had been waiting for this, and therefore was quite prepared to reply firmly that such a proceeding was impossible. The two girls had been brought beneath the British flag, and hence were slaves no longer. He could not therefore give them up.

Of course the resident meant that he could not send them back then, the muntri observed, smiling. Perhaps the poor girls were ill with their fright, and the rajah resident would send them back when they were better.

The resident assured his visitors that such a course was impossible, for according to the British laws the girls were now free, and could not be forced to go back.

The two officers did not press the matter, but began to ask questions about a breech-loading cannon, and were greatly surprised at the ease with which it was charged.

They had by this time finished their cigars, and being near the landing-stage, they took a most effusive leave of the three officers, entered their boat, and were rowed away.

"Well, then," said Captain Horton, as soon as he heard the parts of the conversation that he had not understood, "that game's over, and they are beaten at diplomacy?"

"Yes," said Major Sandars. "I envy you your command of countenance, and knowledge of the language, Linton."

"Game? over?" said Mr Linton, smiling sadly. "No, my dear sirs, that is only the first move our adversaries have made—king's pawn two squares forward; to which I have replied with queen's pawn one square forward."

"And that's a bad move, isn't it, Horton?" exclaimed Major Sandars.

"So the chess books make one think," said the captain.

"It all depends upon your adversary and your game," said the resident, smiling. "Gentlemen, I hope I have done right."

"And what are you going to do now?" said Captain Horton.

"Wait to see our adversary's next move. Meanwhile, gentlemen, extra caution will do no harm, for we have touched the Malays in one of their most sensitive places."

"We? You mean those young scamps of boys," said Captain Horton.

"Oh, it's we all the same," said Major Sandars. "Well, what's to be done?"

"I should, without seeming to do anything, put on a few extra sentries, Major Sandars," said the resident; "and, Captain Horton, I should be ready for action at a moment's notice, and be cautious about who came on board, and what prahus anchored near."

"Quite right—quite right, Linton," said Captain Horton. "You had no business to be a civilian. You ought to have been in the service."

The resident smiled, and they separated, as Mr Linton said, to wait for the enemy's next move.



The enemy, as the resident termed the sultan's party, made no move for a couple of days, during which all went on as usual. There was the usual morning parade in the fort, and the soldiers gardened, idled, smoked, and told one another it was "jolly hot"—a fact that needed no telling. On board the "Startler" the men were beat to quarters, and went through their drill in the cool of the morning, before hammock rails, the sentries' rifles, and the breeches of the glistening guns grew too hot to be touched with impunity. So hot was it, that, like the burnt child who fears the fire, Bob Roberts was exceedingly cautious about placing his hands in any spot where they were likely to be defiled by the pitch that cannot be touched without those consequences; for from between seams, and the strands of well-laid cables, it oozed, and even bubbled out, beneath the ardent wooing of the tropic sun.

It was a listless life, but a pleasant one, for such strict discipline was observed, and stringent rules laid down by the medical officer of the corvette and the detachment, that the men kept in excellent health. They had plenty of amusements; fruit was abundant, and they had taken quite a taste for the coarse country tobacco, which many of the soldiers smoked after the Malay fashion, rolled up a la cigarette in the roko, or outer sheath of the palm leaf or the plantain. Some, too, adopted the Malay's plan of rapidly cutting a pipe from a short joint of bamboo, which, with a hole bored in the side for the insertion of a thin reed or quill, formed a pipe much affected by the Jacks when they took their tobacco in smoke, instead of by the unpleasantly moist masticating process.

At the residency all went on as usual; sometimes the ladies received, and there was the sound of music and singing in the pleasantly lit-up verandah; sometimes Captain Horton sent his gig, and the agreeable little reunions were held on board the "Startler," in an improvised tent, draped with the ship's colours, while the lights were reflected on the smooth surface of the hurrying stream, and the Malays on shore watched the figures that passed to and fro till the party was over.

Captain Horton and Major Sandars both thought the rajah's party had forgotten the affair; but the resident held to his opinion, which was strengthened by the imploring manner in which the two girls, who had attached themselves as attendants on Rachel Linton and her cousin, begged him not to let them be fetched away.

"Suppose I did let them have you back," said the resident to them one day in their native tongue, "what would happen?"

One of the girls, a tall, dark, graceful creature, but with the protruding lips, high cheekbones, and flat distended nose of the Malay, rose with contracted eyebrows, took her companion, forced her upon her knees, and then drawing an imaginary kris, she placed the point on the girl's shoulder, and struck the hilt with her right hand as if driving it perpendicularly down into her heart.

"They would kill us—so!" she exclaimed, "and throw our bodies in the water to the crocodiles!"

The other girl shuddered, and raised her frightened eyes to the faces of the ladies as if imploring them to intercede—and not in vain.

"But they will not trouble about you now;" said the resident, tentatively.

"Yes, yes," they both exclaimed, "they will send a naga and many men, but you will not let us go?"

"No," said the resident, quietly. "We shall not give you up," and he went away thoughtfully to his room, to continue writing the despatch he had commenced some days before.

That same evening the two principal officers came to have a chat, and over their cigars Major Sandars introduced the subject of the doubled sentries.

"There is no longer any need for this," he said. "Let's see, Linton, it is now a week since those two fellows came. Don't you think, Horton, it is an unnecessary precaution?"

"Well, to be frank," said Captain Horton, "I do; and I shall be glad to give up our strict discipline on board."

"What do you think, Captain Smithers?" said the resident to that officer, who was present.

"I cannot help agreeing with the major," he replied. "I see no reason for these extra precautions."

"Then I am in the minority," said the resident, smiling.

"Look out there, gentlemen," he said, pointing through the open window. "What do you see?"

"You tell him, Smithers," said the major, "I'm too hot and tired to do more than breathe."

"I can see the bright river with the lights of the steamer glistening on its surface; the fire-flies are darting amongst the trees; the stars look soft and mellow; altogether it is a delightful picture, that reminds one of being in some delicious summer retreat on the banks of dear old Father Thames."

"Captain Smithers," said the resident, gravely, "it is indeed a beautiful picture; the river flows peacefully on with the lights reflected from its bosom; but you know as well as I, that if a man attempted to breast those treacherous waters, he would, before he had swum many yards, have been drawn down by one of the hideous reptiles that swarm in the Parang. That river is to my mind a type of the Malay feeling towards us—the intruders upon his soil. So little am I satisfied with what seems to me to be a deceitful calm, that I have serious thoughts of asking you to increase the sentries."

"Nonsense, my dear Linton," said Captain Horton; "we shall hear no more of the affair."

"We shall hear more," said the resident. "Wait and see."

The resident was right; for the next day the sultan's principal naga, or dragon-boat, with its uncouth figure-head, was seen coming swiftly down the stream, propelled by about thirty rowers, all clad in rich yellow jackets—the royal colour—and nattily-made scarlet caps. Their lower limbs were bare, save where covered by their scarlet and yellow sarongs. The men rowed well together; and as the word was passed by the sentries the officer on duty could plainly make out beneath the matting awning, reaching nearly from end to end of the boat, the figures of the sultan and several of his officers.

The sultan was easily distinguishable; for while his chief officers strictly adhered to their native costume, he wore a gorgeous semi-military uniform, that had specially been built—so Bob Roberts termed it—for him in England. It was one mass of rich embroidery, crossed by a jewelled belt, bearing a sabre set with precious stones, and upon his head he wore a little Astrakhan fur kepi, surmounted by an egret's plume, like a feathery fountain from a diamond jet.

Orders were given for the guard to turn out, and the resident and Major Sandars hurriedly prepared to meet their distinguished guest, who, however, did not stop at the island, but went straight on to the corvette, where he was received by a guard of marines, the captain awaiting his visitor upon the quarter-deck.

The visit was but short, for at the end of a few minutes Captain Horton accompanied the sultan on board the naga, and the long low vessel was swiftly turned, and rowed with no little skill to the island landing-place, where a sufficiently imposing military force, under Captain Smithers, was ready to receive him, the sultan walking up to the residency verandah, between a double line of infantry with bayonets fixed.

The eastern potentate's opal eyeballs rolled from side to side as, looking rather awkward in his ill-fitting European dress, he tried hard to emulate the dignity of his bronze followers in baju and sarong, each man with the handle of his kris carefully covered by a silken fold.

On landing here, the sultan was followed by his kris and sword-bearers, each having his appointed station behind the monarch, holding the weapons by the sheath, with the hilt against the right shoulder, so that a very respectable procession, full of colour and glow, was formed from the landing-place to the residency.

The most incongruous part of the following was the appearance of the officer who bore an umbrella to keep the rays of the sun from his liege's head; but as in place of one of the gorgeous, gold-fringed, scarlet-clothed sunshades generally used for that purpose, this was an unmistakeable London-made chaise gingham, with a decidedly Gampish look, it robbed its master of some of his dignity, though he was so busily employed in trying to carry his richly-jewelled sabre with the ease of the English officers, and at the same time to show the splendid weapon to the best advantage, that he saw not the want of dignity in his umbrella, and walked awkwardly to where Mr Linton received him in company with Major Sandars, and such officers as could hurry on the uniforms they so scrupulously avoided in that torrid clime.

Tom Long, who paid more attention to the embellishment of his person than any man in the detachment, was one of the officers present, and although nervous about the Sultan's visit, and feeling certain that it had to do with the rescue of the slave girls, he could not help a smile at the umbrella, and a congratulatory sensation that Bob Roberts was not present, for he would have been sure to laugh, when an extension of the risible muscles might have been taken as an insult not to be endured.

The august visitors were received in the wide verandah on account of their number, where the sultan took the seat placed for him; five of his principal men, including the former ambassadors, stood behind him; the rest, sword and umbrella-bearers, carriers of the potentate's golden betel-box and spittoon, squatted down on their heels, and were as motionless as so many images of bronze.

The various British officers remained with the resident, standing, out of respect to the sultan, whose heavy dark features seemed to express satisfaction; and he at once proceeded in a rather forced, excited manner to inform the resident that he had only been having a water-excursion, and had thought how much he should like to see his good friends at the residency.

The resident was delighted, of course, at this mark of condescension, and hastened to assure the sultan of the fact.

The latter then proceeded to announce that his grand tiger-hunt would take place in a fortnight's time, and begged that all the officers would accept his invitation.

As spokesman and interpreter, the resident assured his august visitor that as many as possible would be there; when in addition the sultan asked that a great many soldiers might be sent as well, to help keep the tigers from breaking back when the hunt was on.

To this, Mr Linton, by Major Sandars' permission, readily assented; and then, knowing of old his visitor's taste in such matters, some champagne was produced. At the sight of the gold-foiled bottles the rajah's eyes glistened, and he readily partook of a tumbler twice filled for him; after which he walked into the house with the resident, as an excuse for not being present when his followers partook of some of the wine.

At length, after a walk round the fort, which was willingly accorded to him, that he might see that the residency and its protectors were well on the qui vive, the sultan took his departure, begging earnestly that all who could would come to the hunting expedition. Then the soldiers presented arms, and the little procession, gay of aspect, proceeded down to the bamboo landing-stage, where the visitor embarked with his following, and seated himself beneath the reed awning of his boat. Word was given, and the yellow and scarlet rowers bent to their oars, sending the long light naga vigorously up stream, one blaze of brilliant colour in the morning sun, till it disappeared round a verdant point about half-a-mile ahead.

"Well, Linton," said Major Sandars, "what do you say to it now?"

"Ah, to be sure," said Captain Horton. "Isn't the storm blown over?"

"Really, gentlemen, it looks like it," said the resident, "and I must confess that I am heartily glad to find that I have been wrong."

"Wrong? yes," said the Major. "Those fellows are no more fools than we are, and knowing what they do of the strength of our guns, and the discipline of our men, they would as soon think of measuring force with us, as of flying. Smithers, march the men back into quarters out of this raging sunshine, and to-night only put on the usual guard. What shall you do, Horton?"

"Only have the customary watch," was the reply.

Tom Long conveyed to Bob Roberts an account of what had taken place, and the reduction of the guard at night; to which that sage young midshipman replied, that the British Lion was only going to withdraw his claws within their sheaths, but the claws were there still; and that it would be exceedingly uncomfortable for any Malay gentleman on shore if the said BL was to put his claws out once more.

"But I say, Tom," he exclaimed, "get the major to let you go to the tiger-hunt."

"Do you think you can get leave?" said the ensign.

"I mean to try it on, my boy. The cap is sure to be huffy, on account of our last affair; but nothing venture, nothing gain, and I mean to go, somehow or another, so tigers beware. What are you laughing at?"

"The idea of you shooting a tiger," said Tom Long. "That's all."

"I daresay I could if I tried," said Bob shortly.

"I daresay you could," said Long, "but we'll see. We have to get leave first."

"That's soon got," said Bob Roberts. "Depend upon it, I shall be there."

"And I, too," said Tom Long; and the young fellows parted, each of them in secret vowing that he would have the skin of the tiger he meant to shoot, carefully dressed, lined with blue satin and scarlet cloth, and present it to Rachel Linton as a tribute of respect.

But the tiger had first of all to be shot.



They were very delightful days at the residency for the English party. The heat was certainly great, but the arrangements made as soon as they were settled down, warded that off to a great extent. The men enjoyed the life most thoroughly, especially as for sanitary reasons Doctor Bolter forbade that either the soldiers or the Jacks should be exposed to too much exertion.

The days were days of unclouded sunshine as a rule, and when this rule was broken, the change was to a heavy thunder-storm, with a refreshing rain, and then the skies were once more blue.

Fruit and flowers, and various other supplies, were brought now in abundance, especially since Dullah had been allowed to set up a trading station at the island. He monopolised the whole business, the various boats that came rowing straight to him; but he did it all in so pleasant a manner, that no one could complain. To the English people he was suavity itself. His courtesy—his gentlemanly bearing was the talk of the whole place; and regularly every morning one of his Malay slaves or bond-servants used to carry up and lay in the residency verandah a large bunch of deliciously fresh orchids, or pitcher-plants, or a great branch of some sweet-scented flowering shrub, for which he always received the ladies' thanks in a calm, courteous way that quite won their confidence.

Dullah's reed hut, with its bamboo-supported verandah, became quite a favourite resort, and he very soon provided it with a frontage each way. In the one verandah he arranged to supply the resident, the ladies, and officers; and in the other the soldiers and sailors, and received his supplies from the boats.

Sometimes the ladies walked down to buy fruit, sometimes it was the officers; but the two best customers were Tom Long and Bob Roberts, the former spending a great deal in flowers, to send to the residency—a very bad investment by the way—for the rapid rate at which they faded was astounding. Once his duty—as he called it—done, in sending a bunch of flowers, Tom Long used to indulge himself with fruit.

Bob Roberts had given up sending flowers, so he had more money to spend upon his noble self in fruit, and he spent it where he was pretty well sure to encounter Tom Long, whenever he could get leave to run across to the island.

Bob's way of addressing Dullah was neither refined nor polite, for it was always, "Hallo, old cock," and at first Dullah looked very serious; but as soon as his aide and companion interpreted to him the words, he smiled and seemed perfectly satisfied, always greeting the young midshipman with a display of his white teeth, for he considered his comparison to a fighting-cock, of which birds the Malays are passionately fond, quite a compliment.

The result was that for a small sum Bob was always sure of a choice durian, which he feasted upon with great gusto, while Tom Long came and treated himself to mangosteens.

Dullah always behaved to the young ensign with the greatest politeness, that young gentleman returning it with a sort of courteous condescension which said plainly enough that Dullah was to consider himself a being of an inferior race.

But Dullah accepted it all in the calmest manner, smilingly removing the malodorous durians which Bob maliciously contrived to place near the seat Tom Long always occupied, and waiting upon the ensign as if he were a grandee of the first water.

And here, as a matter of course, the subject of the approaching tiger-hunt was discussed, Dullah, by means of his companion, becoming quite animated about the matter, and enlarging as to the number and beauty of the tigers that would be shot.

Both Tom Long and the middy were having a fruit feast one day, when Ali, who had been off to the steamer, and then came on to the island, made his appearance in search of his two friends, Dullah quietly disappearing into the back of his hut, to attend to some of the sailors who had come in, while his companion waited upon the young officers.

Of course the tiger-hunt was the principal subject of discussion, and Ali promised to arrange to have one of the largest of the sultan's elephants fitted with a roomy howdah, so that they three could be together.

"I can manage that," he said, "through my father, and we'll have a grand day."

"But shall we get any tigers?" asked Bob.

"No fear of that," was the reply. "I'll contrive that we shall be in the best part of the hunt."

"That will be close to the sultan, of course?"

Ali's dark eyes were raised inquiringly to the speaker's face, but seeing that this was not meant sarcastically, he said drily,—"No; I shall arrange to be as far away from the sultan's elephant as I can."

Bob looked at him keenly.

"What, isn't he fond of tigers?" he said sharply.

"My father is the sultan's officer, and greatly in his confidence," said the young man quietly. "I don't think the sultan is very fond of hunting, though."

Just at this moment, unseen, of course, by the three young men, Dullah was whispering to a rough-looking, half-naked Malay, into whose hands he placed a little roll of paper, which the man secured in the fold of his sarong, dropped into a sampan, and then hastily paddled to the mainland, where he plunged into the wood and disappeared.

Meanwhile the three friends sat chatting, and Ali expressed his sorrow about the adventure the two young Englishmen had had with the slave girls.

"Where are they now?" he quietly asked.

"Oh, Miss Linton and her cousin have quite adopted them," said Bob. "But surely you don't think we did wrong."

"Speaking as the son of the Tumongong, I say yes," replied Ali; "but as one who has imbibed English notions and ideas, I am bound to say that what you did only makes me feel more thoroughly how it is time we had a complete revolution in Parang."

"I say," said Bob, "you'll get stuck-up for high treason, young fellow, if you talk about revolution."

"No fear," said Ali, laughing quietly. "My ideas are pretty well-known; but I am too insignificant a fellow for what I say to be noticed. Now if it was my father—"

"Yes—if it was your father," said Bob, "I suppose they would kris him?"

Ali nodded, and after a quiet cigar under the trees, during which he complained more than once of the wrench the seizure by the crocodile had given to his muscles, he bade them good-bye, promising to have everything ready for the tiger-hunt, and, leaping into his boat, was rowed away.

Ali had about a mile to walk along one of the jungle-paths to reach his father's house, and he was going along very thoughtfully under the trees, quite alone—for he had left his men behind, to look after and secure the boat. It was comparatively cool in the shade, and he began thinking about the two young men he had left, and contrasting their civilised life with his. The savagery and barbarism by which he was surrounded disgusted him; and knowing well as he did, how the sultan and the various rajahs of the little states lived by oppressing and grinding down the wretched people around, he longed for the time when a complete change should come about, bringing with it just laws, and a salutary rule for his country. His own life troubled him in no small degree, for he saw nothing in the future but the career of a Malay chief, a ruler over slaves, living a life of voluptuous idleness, and such an existence he looked upon with horror.

Could he not enter the British service in some way? he asked himself, and rise to a life of usefulness, in which he might do some good for the helpless, ground-down people amongst whom he was born?

Such a life, he told himself, would be worth living, and—What was that?

His hand involuntarily flew to his kris, as he heard a rustle amidst the tangled cane just ahead, and he advanced cautiously lest it should be some beast of prey, or one of the great serpents that had their existence amidst the dense undergrowth.

There it was again; a quick sharp rustle amidst the trees, as of something hastily escaping, and his hand fell to his side, and he watched eagerly in advance, not hearing a cat-like step behind him, as a swarthy Malay came in his tracks, sprang upon the young man's back, and pinioned his arms in an instant.

Ali uttered a hoarse cry, and strove to draw his kris, but the effort was vain. Three more Malays darted from their hiding-places, and in a few minutes he was securely bound, with a portion of his sarong thrust into his mouth to keep him from crying for help; another Malay, who had been pulling a long rattan on ahead to imitate the sound of an escaping animal, coming from his hiding-place and smiling at the success of the ruse.

"What does it mean?" Ali asked himself; but he was puzzled and confused, and his captors gave him no opportunity for further thought, but hurried him right away into the depths of the jungle through a long narrow winding track that was little used.

"Why, this leads to the sultan's old house, where the inchees were killed!" thought Ali. "Surely they are not going to kill me?"

A shudder ran through him, and a strange sense of horror seemed to freeze his limbs as he was half thrust half earned along through the jungle, his captors having at times to use their heavy parangs to cut back the canes and various creepers that had made a tangle across the unfrequented track.

It was as the young chief had surmised. They were taking him to the deserted house that had been formerly occupied by former inchees or princesses of the Malay people, who, for some political reason, had been cruelly assassinated by order of the present sultan, they having been krissed, and their bodies thrown into the river.

Was this to be his fate? he asked himself; and if it was, in what way had he offended?

The answer came to him at once. It was evident that the intercourse he had held with the English was not liked, and now in his own mind he began to have misgivings about the resident and his party. Sultan Hamet was, he knew, both cruel and treacherous. Was the position of the English people safe?

Yes, he felt they were safe. He was the offender; and once more a shudder of fear ran through him at the thought of his young life being crushed out so soon; just, too, when he was so full of hopeful prospects and aspirations.

His manhood asserted itself, though, directly. He was the son of a chief, he told himself; and these treacherous wretches who had seized him should see that he was no coward.

Then he began to think of his father, and wondered whether it would be possible to communicate with him before he was killed.

Then he felt a little more hopeful, for perhaps, after all, the instructions to his captors might not be to slay him. If it was, and he could only get his hands free, their task should not be so easy as they thought for.

For two long hours was he forced through the tangled jungle, and every minute he became more convinced that his captors were bound for the place, of whose existence he knew, having once come upon it during a shooting expedition, and, in spite of his followers' horror, persisted in examining the ruins nearly choked even then with the rapid jungle growth.

At last they reached the place, and the young man's searching eye at once saw that some attempts had been made at cutting down the tangled trees.

But very little time was afforded him to gratify his curiosity. He was rudely thrust forward, and then half dragged, half carried up the rough steps, some of which were broken away, and then pushed into the great centre room of what had been a large Malay house.

It was very dark, for the holes in the roof had become choked with creepers, which had formed a new thatch in place of the old attap top. The bamboos that formed the floor were slippery here and there with damp moss and fungus, and in several places they were rotted away; but there was plenty to afford a fair space of flooring, and in a momentary glance Ali saw that the inner or women's room of the house was dry, and not so much ruined as the place where he stood.

"Did they kris the poor prisoners here?" he asked himself; and then his thoughts flew to the bright river upon which his boat had so often skimmed; to the clean, trim corvette, with its bright paint, smart sailors, and Bob Roberts, the merry, cheery young English lad. Then he thought of the residency, with the sweet graceful ladies, the pleasant officers, always so frank and hospitable; of Tom Long, whom he liked in spite of the ensign's pride and stand-offishness; and lastly he asked himself what they would think of him for not keeping faith with them about the hunt, and whether they would ever know that he had been treacherously krissed in that out-of-the-way place.

A grim smile crossed his lip as he wished that he might be thrown afterwards in the river, and his body float down to be seen by the English people, so that they might know why he had stopped away.

And then a thrill ran through him, for a couple of his captors seized him, and in the dim green light of the place, with a few thin pencils of sunshine striking straight through like silver threads from roof to floor, he saw a third man draw his deadly kris.



Adam Gray left the men in the mess-room that night, chatting about the coming tiger-hunt, and wondering who would be selected to accompany the expedition. He could not help thinking, as he shouldered his rifle, and was marched off by a sergeant with half-a-dozen more, to relieve guard, that he should like to be one of the party himself. In happy bygone days he had been fond of sport, and in a trip to North America were well-remembered perils and pleasant adventures. And now this talk of the tiger-hunt had roused in him a strong interest, and set him recalling days, when he was very different to what he was now.

"It's no good to sigh," he said to himself, and the measured tramp, tramp of the marching men sounded solemn and strange in the darkness, rousing him once more to a sense of his position.

"If I'm to go, I go," he said bitterly. "That will be as my superiors please; and if I do go, it will not be as a hunter."

In spite of himself; however, as soon as guard had been relieved, and he was left in charge of a post not far from Dullah's hut, his thoughts went back to his early career, and he grew at times quite excited as he compared it with the life he was living now.

Then his thoughts wandered to the residency, and from thence back to the day when he was bitten by the sea snake, and lay there upon the deck tended by Miss Linton.

These thoughts agitated him, so that he set off pacing briskly up and down for a couple of hours, and then, his brain calmed by the exercise, he stood still under the shadow of a great palm, with whose trunk, as he stood back close to it, his form so assimilated in the darkness that, at a couple of yards distance, he was invisible.

His post was close to the river, so close that he walked upon the very edge of the bank, which was in places undermined by the swift current. This post had been cleared from the thick jungle. It was but a narrow piece, some two yards wide, and forty long, and this it was his duty to pace during his long watch, to guard that side of the island from a landing foe.

Midnight had passed, and all was very still. There was a splash from time to time in the stream, telling of the movement of some reptile or great fish, and now and then, from the far-distant parts of the jungle across the water, he could hear the cry of some wild beast. Now and then he watched the fire-flies scintillating amidst the leaves, and thought of how different life was out in this far-off tropic land to that in dear old England.

He had been thinking quite an hour without stirring; but though his memory strayed here and there, his eyes were watchful, and he scanned from time to time the broad smooth surface of the stream in search of passing boats.

At last he fancied he detected something dark moving along, but it went by so smoothly that it might have been the trunk of some tree, or even the back of a great crocodile, for there was no splash of oars.

He had almost forgotten the incident, when he started slightly and listened, thinking he could hear a whispering, and this was repeated.

He listened intently, but though he felt sure that he could hear voices, still that need not mean danger, for sound passes so easily across the water, that the noise might have come from down lower in the island, or even from the shore across the river.

The whispering ceased, and then he listened in vain for a time, and at last he was just thinking of pacing up and down once more, when certainly there was a faint splash, and on looking in the direction he could see on the dark water what seemed like a dim shadow gliding along.

It might have been a boat or the shadow of a boat, he could not be sure. In fact, there were moments when he doubted whether it was not some ocular illusion, brought about by too intently gazing through the gloom.

And there he stood, hesitating as to whether he should fire and give the alarm.

But the next moment he reasonably enough asked himself why he should do so, for there was nothing alarming in the fact of a tiny sampan gliding over the river. It might be only a fisherman on his way to some favourite spot, or perhaps one of the Malays bound up the river, or possibly after all a mere deception.

There seemed to be nothing to merit the alarm being raised, and he stood watching once more the spot where the boat had disappeared. Still he did not resume his march up and down, but recalled the night of the attack, and began to consider how easy it would be for a crafty enemy to land and take them by surprise some gloomy night. Dark-skinned, and lithe of action as cats, they could easily surprise and kris the sentries. In his own case, for instance, what would be easier than for an enemy to lurk on the edge of the thick jungly patch, by which the path ran, and there stab him as he passed?

"It would be very easy," he thought. "Yes; and if I stand here much longer, I shall begin to think that I am doing so because I dare not walk beside that dark piece of wood. Still I dare do it, and I will."

As if out of bravado, he immediately began to pace his allotted post once more, and he had hardly gone half-way when a sharp sound upon his left made him bring his piece down to the present, and wait with bayonet fixed what he looked upon as a certain attack.

Again he hesitated about firing and giving the alarm, for fear of incurring ridicule and perhaps reprimand. He knew in his heart that he was nervous and excitable, being troubled lest any ill should befall the occupants of the residency, and being in such an excited state made him ready to imagine everything he saw, to mean danger.

So he stood there, ready to repel any attack made upon him, and as he remained upon his guard the rustling noise increased, and he momentarily expected to see the leaves parted and some dark figure rush out; but still he was kept in suspense, for nothing appeared.

At last he came to the conclusion that it was some restless bird or animal disturbed by his presence, and told himself that the noise made was magnified by his own fancies; and, rather glad that he had not given the alarm, he continued to march up and down, passing to and fro in close proximity to a dark Malay, whose hand clasped a wavy, dull-bladed kris, that the holder seemed waiting to thrust into his chest the moment an opportunity occurred, or so soon as the sentry should have given the alarm.

At last the weary watch came to an end, for the tramp of the relief was heard, and Sergeant Lund marched up his little party of men, heard Gray's report of the rustling noise, and the dark shadow on the river; said "Humph!" in a gruff way; a fresh man was placed on sentry, and Adam Gray was marched back with the other tired men who were picked up on the round into the little fort.



The day of the tiger-hunt was at last close at hand. A vast deal of communication and counter communication had taken place with the sultan, whose people were making great preparations for the event.

The sultan was constantly sending messengers, and asking that stores might be given him with plenty of ammunition. Not, though, in any mean begging spirit, for whenever a couple of his chiefs came with some request, they were accompanied by a train of followers bearing presents—food, supplies of the finest rice, sugar-cane, and fruit; buffaloes and poultry; slabs of tin, little bags of gold dust, specimens of the native work; an abundance, in short, of useful and valuable things, all of which were accepted; though there was a grim feeling in the mind of Mr Linton that pretty well everything had been taken by force, from some of the sultan's miserable subjects.

Still the policy was, to be on the best of terms with the sultan, and to hope to introduce reforms in his rule by degrees. The resident took the old school copy-book moral into consideration, that example was better than precept, and knowing full well that any sweeping code of rules and regulations would produce distaste, certain hatred, and perhaps a rising against the English rule, he determined to introduce little improvements by degrees, each to be, he hoped, tiny seeds from which would grow grand and substantial trees.

The tiger-hunt was being prepared for evidently with childlike delight, and instead of its being a few hours' expedition, it proved that it was to be an affair of a week. Tents were to be taken, huts to be formed, and quite a large district swept of the dangerous beasts. For as the sultan informed the English officers, the tigers had been unmolested for quite two years, and saving one or two taken in pitfalls, they had escaped almost scot free. The consequence of this was, that several poor Malays had been carried off from their rice-fields, and at least a dozen unfortunate Chinamen from the neighbourhood of some tin mines a few miles away.

"I never meant to enter into such an extensive affair, gentlemen," said the resident to Major Sandars and Captain Horton after dinner one day, when they had all been entertained at the mess-room. "I almost think we ought to draw back before it is too late."

"Well, I don't know," said Major Sandars. "It will please the sultan if we take a lot of men, and this is rather a stagnating life. I frankly tell you I should be very glad of the outing, and I am sure it would do good to the men."

"I quite agree with you, Sandars," said Captain Horton; and Bob Roberts and Tom Long, who were opposite one another at the bottom of the table, exchanged glances. "I want a change, and I should be glad to give my lads a turn up the country. Drill's all very well, but it gets wearisome. What do you say, Smithers?"

"I must confess to being eager to go," was the reply. "It seems to me the only gentleman who does not care for the trip is Mr Linton."

"My dear fellow, you never made a greater mistake in your life," said Mr Linton, laughing. "Nothing would please me better than to be off for a couple of months, with a brace of good rifles, and an elephant, with plenty of beaters. I could even manage to exist for three months without reading a report, or writing a despatch."

Here there was a hearty laugh, and Mr Linton went on,—"There is one voice silent—the most important one, it seems to me. Come, doctor, what do you say? may we all go up the country and live in tents?"

"Hah!" said Doctor Bolter, "now you have me on the hip. I want to go myself; horribly."

"Ha, ha, ha, ha!" laughed every one in chorus.

"I want to see those black monkeys like our friend Mr Bob Roberts has for a pet. I say I want to see them in their native state. I want to get a specimen of the pink rhinoceros, and some of the Longicorns. Nymphalis Calydonia is to be found here, and I must shoot a few specimens of Cymbirhynchus Macrorhynchus, besides supplying my hortus siccus with a complete series of Nepenthes."

"For goodness' sake, doctor, don't go on like that," cried Captain Horton. "If you want to be cheerful to that extent, give us a recitation in pure Malay."

"Ah, you may all laugh," said the doctor; "but I'm not ashamed of being a modest naturalist."

"Modest!" said Major Sandars. "Do you call that modest, to talk big like that? But come, tell us, may we go safely?"

"That's what I can't quite settle," said the doctor. "I don't know what to say to you. A week's hunting picnic would be very nice."

"Splendid," said everybody.

"And you'd have a good supply of tents? I can't have my men sleeping in the open air."

"Abundance of everything," said Major Sandars. "Regular commissariat stores—mess tent, and the rest of it."

"Stop a minute," said the doctor, "not so fast. You see, what I'm afraid of is fever."

"We all are," said Captain Horton. "Never mind, take a barrel and keep a strong solution of quinine always on tap for us. Now then, may we go? You see if it was on duty we shouldn't study a moment, but as it's a case of pleasuring—"

"And keeping up good relations with the sultan," said the resident.

"And freeing the country from a pest," said Captain Horton.

"Tigers are pests enough," said the doctor, "but intermittent or jungle fever is to my mind the pest of the country."

"Yes, of course, doctor," said the resident; "but what do you think, may we go?"

The doctor sat tapping the table with a dessert knife.

"Will you all promise me faithfully not to drink a drop of water that has not been filtered?" he said.

"Yes, yes, yes," came from all down the table.

"I'll promise, doctor, not to drink any water at all," said Bob Roberts in a low voice, that was heard, though, by the doctor.

"It strikes me, young gentleman, that you won't get anything stronger," he said. "Well, gentlemen, if you'll all promise to abide by my rules, I'll say yes; you may go."

A long quiet conversation was afterwards held, and finally it was decided that quite half the men should go, and on the eve of the expedition the final preparations had been made, tents and stores had been sent ashore ready for a start at daybreak.

The river had been scoured by the corvette's boats, and no trace of Rajah Gantang's prahus found; in fact, nothing had been heard of him or them for many days; and all being esteemed satisfactory and safe on that score, what remained to do was to settle who should stay and protect the residency and the corvette, and who should go.

As far as the men were concerned, this was soon settled; for the order was given to fall in, and they were soon ranged in line, every man anxious in the extreme as to his fate. The next order was for the even numbered to take two paces back, and the next for the rear-rank men to fall out; they were the lucky ones, and in a high state of delight.

With the officers it was more difficult. However, that was soon settled. Captain Horton said that he should go; and gave the corvette in charge of Lieutenant Johnson. Major Sandars followed his example by appointing Captain Smithers to the task of taking command of the fort; and to his great disgust Tom Long found that he was not to be of the select.

The resident had not intended to go, but so pressing a request that he would come had arrived from the sultan, that he felt bound to make one of the party. On the eve of the start the principal talk was of the qualities and powers of the various rifles and shot guns that had been brought out to be cleaned and oiled.

Tom Long was solacing himself out in the open air with a strong rank cigar that had been given him by a brother officer, and very poorly it made him feel. But he put that all down to the major's account for depriving him of his treat.

"I'll be even with him, though," he said, breaking out into the habit of talking aloud. "I won't forget it."

The night was very dark and starless, and he stood leaning up against a tree, when he heard the splash of oars from the landing-place, a short sharp order, and then the rattling of a ring-bolt.

"Some one from the steamer, I suppose," he growled. "Gun borrowing, I'll be bound. They don't have mine, whoever wants it."

"Here you, sir," said a familiar voice, as a figure came up through the darkness. "Where's Major Sandars—at the officers' quarters or the residency? Do you hear? Why don't you speak?"

"That path leads to the officers' quarters, Mr Robert Roberts, and the other leads, as you well know, to the residency. Now go and find out for yourself, and don't air your salt-junk bluster on shore."

"Salt-junk bluster be bothered," said Bob sharply. "How the dickens was I to know it was you standing stuck-up against that tree like two tent poles in a roll of canvass? Here, I've come from the skipper to see if the major's got any spare leggings, for fear of the noble captain getting any thorns in his legs."

"Hang the captain!" growled Tom.

"Hang the major, then!" said Bob sharply.

"You may hang them both, if you like," said Tom.

"I should like to kris them all over, till they looked like skewered chickens ready for the spit," said Bob. "I say, ain't it an awful shame?"

"Shame, yes," said Tom Long, slightly mollified by his companion's sympathy. "I don't see why one of us two should be left out of the party. It isn't much pleasure we get."

"No," said Bob sharply; "but I think if one of us was to go it ought to have been this young person."

"Well, but you are going, aren't you?" said Tom Long.

"Not I," said Bob. "I'm second officer on board HMS 'Startler' till they come back, that's all."

"But, my dear Bob, I thought you were going. Old Dick, who was ashore an hour ago, told me you were."

"Then old Dick told you a cram," said Bob. "He said you were going, though."

"I'll kick old Dick first time I see him," cried Tom Long. "I'm not going. Smithers and I are to be in charge of the fort."

"You are not going?" cried Bob incredulously.


"Oh, I am glad."

"Thanky," said Tom.

"No, I don't mean that," said Bob. "I mean I'm glad I'm not going, now you are not."

"I say, Bob, do you mean that?" said Tom Long excitedly, and dropping all his stiffness.

"Of course I do," said Bob. "What's the fun of going without a friend?"

"Bob, you're a regular little brick," said Tom Long. "Shake hands. 'Pon my word I shall end by liking you."

Bob shook hands, and laughed.

"Oh, I say, though," he exclaimed. "Poor old Ali! Won't he be cut up, just?"

"Yes, he won't like it," said Tom Long thoughtfully. "And he was to have a big elephant all ready for us."

"Yes," said Bob. "But I say, I wonder we haven't heard from him since that day he was here."

"Yes, he might have sent a message of some kind."

"He's been up the country with a butterfly net to catch an elephant for us," said Bob, laughing.

"And now he'll have it all to himself," said Tom.

"I'll bet half a rupee that he don't," said Bob.

"Oh, yes, he will," said Tom. "I rather like him, though. He isn't a bad sort of nigger."

"Don't call the fellows niggers," said Bob impatiently; "they don't like it."

"Then they mustn't call us giaours and dogs," said Tom impatiently.

"Look here," cried Bob, "I must go on after these leggings for the skipper; but, I say, Tom, as I said before, I'll bet half a rupee that Ali don't go to the hunt when he finds we are to stay."


"Well, it may be stuff; but you see if he don't stop behind, and, as soon as they are all off, come across here."

"I wish he would," said Tom. "It'll be dull enough."

"If he does, we'll have a good turn at the fish," said Bob. "Good night, if I don't see you again."

"I say," said Bob, turning round and speaking out of the darkness.


"I don't wish 'em any harm; but I hope they won't see a blessed tiger all the time they're away."

"So do I," said Tom. "Good night!"

"Good night!" And Bob found the major; borrowed the pair of canvas leggings, with which he returned to the boat, and was rowed back to the corvette, where he had the pleasure of going over the captain's shooting gear, and helping him to fill his cartridge cases, and the like.

"You'll have to go on a trip yourself Roberts, by-and-by," said the captain.

"Thank-ye, sir," said Bob. "When, sir, please?"

"When the soreness about rescuing those slave girls has worn off, Master Bob Roberts," said the captain, smiling. "I can't afford to have one of my most promising young officers krissed."

"All soft soap and flam," said Bob to himself, as he went out on deck. "Promising officer, indeed. Well, he's a promising officer, and I'll keep him to his promise, too; and old Ali, and Tom, and I will have another day to ourselves."



It was a grand sight, and a stranger to the scene might have imagined that a little army was about to set off, for the conquest of some petty king, instead of to attack the striped tiger in his stronghold.

The two parties from the steamer and the island were ashore before daybreak, to find an imposing gathering of the sultan's people coming down to meet them. There were over thirty elephants, large and small, with their attendants, and the beasts were furnished with showy cloths under their rattan basket howdahs.

The sultan was there in English dress; and his chiefs made a gaudy muster, wearing showy silken sarongs and bajus, as if it were to be a review day instead of a hunting trip, while the following, to the extent of several hundreds, were all armed with spear and kris. Here and there a showily clad Malay was seen to be armed with a gun or rifle, but for the most part their means of offence were confined to the native weapons.

The meeting was most cordial; but the sultan and his followers seemed somewhat taken aback to see the various officers in rough sporting costume, and the soldiers and sailors in anything but stiff, ordinary trim.

One thing, however, had been rigidly adhered to. Every man was well-armed, and carried a good supply of ball cartridge.

The sun was shining brightly, when at last the hunting-party was duly marshalled, and moved off right through the jungle by a well-beaten path, one which took them straight away from the river; and very effective the procession looked, with the great lumbering elephants moving so silently along, the gaily-dressed Malays forming bright patches of colour amidst the clean white duck frocks and trousers of the sailors, and the dull grey of the soldiers' linen tunics. There was, of course, fraternisation, and a disposition on the part of the Malays to freely mix with the Englishmen then; but the order had been that a certain amount of formation was to be maintained, so that, if necessary, the men might be ready to gather at any time round their officers. Not that any difficulty was apprehended, but it was felt to be better to keep up discipline, even when only engaged upon a shooting-trip, though every act that might be interpreted by the Malays into a want of confidence, was carefully avoided.

The morning was sufficiently young as yet to enable a good march to be made without difficulty; but as the sun began to make his power felt wherever there was an opening amidst the trees, a halt was called in a beautiful park-like patch of ground, with huge spreading trees sufficient to shelter double their number. Here a capital lunch was served by the sultan's cooks, one that no doubt an English chef would have looked upon with contempt, but which, after a long morning tramp through the steaming heat of the jungle, was delightful.

Every one was in excellent spirits, the sultan having set aside a great deal of his formality, and smiling apparently with pleasure as he gazed around at the gratified countenances of his guests.

Then followed a siesta while the sun was at its greatest height, Doctor Bolter impressing upon all the officers that a quiet rest during the heat of the day was the one thing needful to make them bear the exertion of the journey; and then, as soon as he saw every one following his advice, he arranged his puggaree around his pith helmet, put some cartridges in his pocket, and went off into the jungle to shoot specimens, with no little success.

Ten miles were got over that evening, and then camp was pitched on the edge of an opening, close by a curious rounded mountain, which towered up in front of the setting sun, looking massive and grand, with its smooth outline thrown up, as it were, against the saffron sky.

The scene was lovely in the extreme, and every touch given by the hunting-party seemed to add thereto, for white tents sprang up like magic against the dark green foliage; fires began to twinkle here and there; the large mess tent, that had been carried by one of the elephants, was well lit with lamps; and a white cloth spread with ample provisions and no few luxuries, ornamented by the freshly-cut flowers which grew in profusion, as if waiting to be cut by the servants, added no little to the brightness of the interior.

Outside all was apparently picturesque confusion, though in reality everything was in due order, from the men's tents to the ranging of the elephants, who, relieved of their loads, were quietly lifting up great bunches of grass and tucking them into their capacious jaws. Over all rose a loud hum of many voices, and soon to this was added the click of knives and forks from the English mess and the rattle of plates. Amongst the Malays great leaves did duty for the latter, and all was quieter.

Later on, watch was set, the sultan and his officers smiling gravely at the precautions taken by the English, assuming though that it was against the wild beasts of the jungle, and hastening to assure all concerned that they need have no fear, for no tiger would approach so busy a camp, especially as there were fires burning, which would be kept up all night.

"Let them think it's the tigers, and that we are afraid of them, if they like," said the doctor; "but I wouldn't slacken discipline in the slightest degree. Keep everything going just as if we were going through an enemy's country."

"I support that motion," said the resident quietly.

"But why?" said Captain Horton. "Surely we may relax a little now."

"No, Doctor Bolter is right," said the major, nodding. "It's a nuisance, Horton, of course, but you would not let your ship go without a good watch being set?"

"Well—no," said the captain thoughtfully, "I suppose not. We should keep that up even if we were in dock. Thank goodness, though! I have not any watch to keep to-night, for I'm tired as a dog."

"It has been a tiring day," said Major Sandars. "I wonder how Smithers is getting on. I hope he's taking care of the ladies."

"Yes," said Mr Linton gravely, "I hope he is taking care of the ladies."

"They're in good hands," said Captain Horton. "Johnson is a sternish fellow, and," he added laughing, "if any dangerous parties go near the island, Mr Midshipman Roberts will blow them right out of the water."

"Yes," said Major Sandars, indulging in a low chuckle, "he and Mr Ensign Long between them would be a match for all the rajahs on the river."

Mr Linton was the only one who did not smile, for just then, like a foreboding cloud, the dark thought came across his mind that it would be very, very terrible if advantage were taken by the Malays, of the absence of so large a portion of the force; and try how he would to sleep that night, the thought kept intruding, that after all they were doing wrong in trusting themselves with the Malay sultan, who might, under his assumption of hospitality, be hatching some nefarious scheme against them all.

Through the thin canvas walls of the tent he could hear the low breathing of some of his friends, the snort of some elephant, and close by him there was the monotonous hum of the mosquitoes, trying hard to find a way through the fine gauze of the net; now and then came too an impatient muttering of a sleeper, or the distant cry of some creature in the jungle.

The only solacing thing he heard in the heat of those weary sleepless hours was the steady beat of some sentry's pace, and the click of his arms as he changed his piece from shoulder to shoulder.

He was the only unquiet one, for the others fell asleep almost on the instant, and several of them gave loud signs of their peaceful occupation.

At last Mr Linton could bear it no longer, and rising, he went softly to the tent door and peeped out, to pause there, wondering at the beauty of the scene, as the moon was just peering down over the jungle trees, and filling the camp with silvery light and black shadows. What was that glint of some arm?

He smiled at his uneasiness directly after, for there was the sharp steady beat of feet, a sergeant's guard came out of the black shadow, and he saw them relieve sentry, the glint he had seen being the moonbeams playing upon the soldier's piece.

He went back and lay down once more, feeling relieved, and falling off into a restful sleep, little thinking how that deadly peril was indeed hovering round the island he had left, and that he and his companions were going to march on and on, not to encounter tigers alone, but men even more cruel in their nature, and quite as free from remorse when dealing with those whom they looked upon as dogs.



The men on the corvette, with those who rowed back the empty boats, gave a loud cheer, which was answered from the island, as the hunting-party moved off in procession.

"Give them another, my lads," cried Bob Roberts excitedly; and the sailors, with whom he was a special favourite, responded heartily.

"Just another, my lads, to show them we are not a bit envious," cried Bob; and then another prolonged "Hurrah!" went up in the morning skies, the middy shouting with the best of them; and it was amusing to see Bob's calm, consequential ways as he stood there, completely ignoring Lieutenant Johnson, and taking upon himself the full command of the ship.

He glanced up aloft, and his look threatened an order to man the yards, when the lieutenant interfered.

"I think that will do, Mr Roberts," he said quietly, and Bob was taken rather aback.

"Yes, of course, sir," he said, "but the men are already loaded with a cheer, hadn't they better let it off?"

Lieutenant Johnson gazed full in the lad's face, half sternly, half amused at his quaint idea, and then nodded. Then there was another stentorian cheer, and what seemed like its echo from the island, when Bob smiled his satisfaction, strutting about the quarter-deck as he exclaimed,—"We can beat the soldiers hollow at cheering, sir, can't we?"

"Yes, Mr Roberts," said the lieutenant quietly; and then to the warrant officer near him, "Pipe down to breakfast, Mr Law; the men must want it."

"I know one man who wants his," said Bob, half aloud; and then he stared wistfully after the tail of the departing expedition, as the sun glinted on the spears, and a very dismal sensation of disappointment came over him.

"You'll make a good officer some day, Roberts," said the lieutenant, and Bob started, for he did not know he was so near.

"Thank you, sir—for the compliment," said Bob.

"But at present, my lad, you do imitate the bantam cock to such an extent that it irritates grown men."

"Do I, sir?" said Bob.

"You do indeed, my lad," said the lieutenant kindly.

"But I don't want to, sir, for nothing worries me more than to see Ensign Long coming all that strut and show off."

"Well, we won't quarrel about it, Roberts," said Lieutenant Johnson kindly. "You'll grow out of it in time. As it is, I'm captain for a few days, and you are my first lieutenant. So first lieutenant," he continued, clapping the lad on the shoulder, "come down and breakfast with me in the cabin, and we'll talk matters over."

Bob flushed with pleasure, and if the lieutenant had asked him to jump overboard just then, or stand on his head on the main truck, Bob would have tried to oblige him.

As it was, however, he followed his officer into the cabin, and made a hearty breakfast.

"I tell you what," said the lieutenant, who was a very quiet stern young officer—and he stopped short.

"Yes, captain," said Bob.

Lieutenant Johnson smiled.

"I tell you what," he said again, "nothing would give me greater pleasure than for Mr Rajah Gantang to bring down his prahus some time to-day, Lieutenant Roberts. I could blow that fellow out of the water with the greatest pleasure in life."

"Captain Johnson," said Bob, solemnly, "I could blow him in again with greater pleasure, for I haven't forgotten my swim for life."

"You feel quite a spite against him then, Roberts?"

"Spite's nothing to it," said Bob. "Didn't he and his people force me, a harmless, unoffending young fellow—"

"As ever contrived to board a prahu," said the lieutenant.

"Ah, well, that wasn't my doing," said Bob. "I was ordered to do my duty, and tried to do it. That was no reason why those chicory-brown rascals should cause me to be pitched into the river to the tender mercies of the crocodiles, who, I believe, shed tears because they couldn't catch me."

"Well, Roberts," said the lieutenant, "you need not make yourself uncomfortable, nor set up the bantam cock hackles round your neck, and you need not go to the grindstone to sharpen your spurs, for we shall not have the luck to see anything of the rajah, who by this time knows that it is his best policy to keep out of the way. Will you take any more breakfast?"

"No, thank you, sir," said Bob, rising, for this was a hint to go about his business; and he went on deck.

"Mornin', sir," said old Dick, pulling at his forelock, and giving one leg a kick out behind.

"Morning, Dick. Don't you wish you were along with the hunting-party?"

Old Dick walked to the side, sprinkled the water with a little tobacco juice, and came back.

"That's the same colour as them Malay chaps, sir," he said, "nasty dirty beggars."

"Dirty, Dick? Why they are always bathing and swimming."

"Yes," said Dick in a tone of disgust, "but they never use no soap."

"Well, what of that?" said Bob. "You don't suppose that makes any difference?"

"Makes no difference?" said the old sailor; "why it makes all the difference, sir. When I was a young 'un, my old mother used to lather the yaller soap over my young head till it looked like a yeast tub in a baker's cellar. Lor' a mussy! the way she used to shove the soap in my eyes and ears and work her fingers round in 'em, was a startler. She'd wash, and scrub, and rasp away, and then swab me dry with a rough towel—and it was a rough 'un, mind yer—till I shone again. Why, I was as white as a lily where I wasn't pink; and a young lady as come to stay at the squire's, down in our parts, blessed if she didn't put me in a picter she was painting, and call me a village beauty. It's the soap as does it, and a rale love of cleanliness. Bah, look at 'em! They're just about the colour o' gingerbread; while look at me!"

Bob looked at the old fellow searchingly, to see if he was joking, and then finding that he was perfectly sincere, the middy burst into a hearty roar of laughter.

For long years of exposure to sun and storm had burned and stained Dick into a mahogany brown, warmed up with red of the richest crimson. In fact, a Malay had rather the advantage of him in point of colour.

"Ah, you may laugh," he growled. "I dessay, sir, you thinks it's werry funny; but if you was to go and well soap a young Malay he'd come precious different, I can tell you."

"But somebody did try to wash a blackamoor white," said Bob. "Tom Hood says so, in one of his books."

"Well, and did they get him white, sir?" asked Dick.

"No, I think not," said Bob. "I almost forget, but I think they gave him such a bad cold that he died."

"That Tom Hood—was he any relation o' Admiral Hood, sir?"

"No, I think not, Dick."

"Then he wasn't much account being a landsman, I s'pose, and he didn't understand what he was about. He didn't use plenty o' soap."

"Oh yes, he did, Dick; because I remember he says, a lady gave some:—

"Mrs Hope, A bar of soap."

"Then they didn't lather it well," said Dick decisively. "And it shows how ignorant they was when they let's the poor chap ketch cold arter it, and die. Why, bless your 'art, Mr Roberts, sir, if my old mother had had the job, he'd have had no cold. He'd have come out red hot, all of a glow, like as I used, and as white as a lily, or she'd have had all his skin off him."

"And so you really believe you could wash these Malay chaps white?"

"I do, sir. I'd holystone 'em till they was."

"It would be a long job, Dick," said Bob laughing. "But I say, don't you wish you had gone with the hunting-party?"

"Yah!" said Dick, assuming a look of great disgust and contempt, although he had been growling and acting, as his mates said, like a bear with a sore head, because he could not go. "Not I, sir, not I. Why, what have they gone to do? Shoot a big cat all brown stripes. I don't want to spend my time ketching cats. What's the good on 'em when they've got 'em? Only to take their skins. Now there is some sense in a bit of fishing."

"Especially when your crew in the boat goes to sleep, and let's you be surprised by the Malays."

"Ah, but don't you see, sir," said Dick, with his eyes twinkling, "that's a kind o' moral lesson for a young officer? Here was the case you see: the skipper goes to sleep, and don't look after his crew, who, nat'rally enough, thinks what the skipper does must be right, and they does the same."

"Oh! all right, master Dick," said the middy. "I'll take the lesson to heart. Don't you ever let me catch you asleep, that's all."

"No, sir," said the old sailor, grinning, "I won't. I've got too much of the weasel in me. But as I was saying, sir, there's some sense in a bit o' fishing, and I thought if so be you liked I'd get the lines ready."

"No, Dick, no," said Bob, firmly, as he recalled Lieutenant Johnson's words over the breakfast-table. "I've no time for fishing to-day. And besides, I'm in charge of the ship."

"Oh! indeed, sir," said Dick. "I beg pardon, sir."

"Look here, Dick," said Bob sharply, "don't you sneer at your officer because he makes free with you sometimes."

The middy turned and walked off, leaving Dick cutting himself a fresh plug of tobacco.

"He'll make a smart 'un by-and-by, that he will," muttered the old fellow, nodding his head admiringly; "and I'm sorry I said what I did to the high-sperretted little chap, for he's made of the real stuff, after all."

On the island, Tom Long was feeling quite as important as the middy. A keen sense of disappointment was troubling him, but he would not show it. He had several times over been looking at his gun, and thinking that it would carry a bullet as well as a rifle, and wishing that he could have game to try it. But soon afterwards he encountered pleasant Mrs Major Sandars.

"Ah! Mr Long," she cried, "I've just been seeing Miss Linton and Miss Sinclair. Now you know you have these deserted ladies and the whole of the women under your charge, and I hope you'll protect us."

"I shall do my utmost, madam," said Tom Long importantly. "You ladies needn't be under the smallest apprehension, for you will be as safe as if the major and Mr Linton were here."

"I shall tell Miss Linton so," said Mrs Major, smiling; and she nodded and went away, leaving the young ensign uncomfortable, as he felt a kind of suspicion that he had been speaking very consequentially, and making himself absurd.

"I wish I was either a man or a boy," he said to himself pettishly. "I feel just like a man, and yet people will treat me as if I were a boy. That Mrs Major was only talking to me patronisingly, and half-laughing at me. I can see it now. Oh! here's Smithers."

Captain Smithers came up, looking rather careworn and sad, and nodded in a friendly way at his junior.

"Well, Long," he said, "so we are commanders-in-chief just now. At least, I am. You'll have to be my colonel, major, and adjutant, all in one."

"I shall do my best to help you, Captain Smithers," said Tom Long stiffly.

"I know you will, my lad," was the reply; "but it will be no child's play, for we must be extra strict and watchful."

"Do you think there is anything to fear, Captain Smithers," said the ensign eagerly.

"To fear? No, Mr Long," said the captain. "We are English officers, and, as such, never mention such a thing; but there is a good deal to be anxious about—I mean the safety of all here."

"But you have no suspicion, sir—of danger?"

"Not the slightest. Still we will be as careful as if I felt sure that an enemy was close at hand."

There was something about that we that was very pleasant to the young ensign; and his heart warmed like a flower in sunshine.

"Of course, sir," he said eagerly. "I'll do the best I can."

"Thank you, Long, I am sure you will," said Captain Smithers. "By the way, you know, of course, that the ladies are coming to stay with Mrs Major, so that there will not be much cause for anxiety about the residency. Suppose we now take a quiet look round together; there is really no necessity, but we will go as a matter of duty."

Tom Long's self-esteem was flattered, the more especially as he could see that Captain Smithers was perfectly sincere, and looked to him, in all confidence, for aid in a time when a great responsibility was thrown upon his shoulders.

"If I don't let him see that I can act like a man, my name's not Long," he muttered to himself, as they walked on together.

"There's only—"

Captain Smithers, who was speaking, stopped short, and the ensign stared.

"I do not want to offend you, Long," he said, "but all I say to you is in strict confidence now, and you must be careful what you repeat."

"You may trust me, Captain Smithers," said the ensign quietly.

"Yes, I am sure I may," was the reply. "Look here, then. I was going to say that the only weak point in our arrangements here seems to be that!"

He nodded his head in the direction in which they were going, and the ensign stared.

"I mean about allowing that Malay, Abdullah, to set up his tent among us. He has such freedom of communicating with the banks of the river on both sides. He is a man, too, whom I rather distrust."

"Indeed?" said Long.

"Yes, I don't know why. But unless for some good and sufficient reason it would, I think, be bad policy to attempt to oust him."

"Yes," calmly said Long. "He is a violent fellow, too;" and he related the incident about their first meeting.

"If the major had known of this," said Captain Smithers, "he would never have allowed the man to settle here. You did wrong in not speaking of it, Long."

"He was so apologetic and gentlemanly afterwards," said the ensign, "that I did not care to speak about it, and upset the fellow's plans."

"Well, it is too late to talk about it now," replied Captain Smithers; "but I shall have his actions quietly watched. Let me see, who will be the man?"

"There's Private Gray yonder," suggested the ensign.

"I hate Private Gray!" exclaimed Captain Smithers, with a sudden burst of rage, of which he seemed to be ashamed the next moment, for he said hastily,—"It is a foolish antipathy, for Gray is a good, staunch man;" and making an effort to master himself, he made a sign to Gray to come to them.

"You are right, Long; Gray is the man. He is to be trusted."

The private came up, and stiffly saluted his officers, standing at attention.

"Gray," said Captain Smithers, "I want you to undertake a little task for me."

"Yes, sir."

"You will be off regular duty; another man will take your place. I want you, in a quiet, unostentatious manner, to keep an eye on Abdullah the fruit-seller. Don't let him suspect that you are watching him, for really there may be no cause; but he is the only native here who has free access to the island, and during the major's absence I wish to be especially strict."

"Yes, sir."

"You understand me? I trust entirely to your good sense and discrimination. You will do what you have to do in a quiet way, and report everything—even to the least suspicious proceeding—to me."

"Yes, sir."

"You shall be furnished with a permit, to pass you anywhere, and at all times."

"Thank you, sir."

"I'd go in undress uniform, and apparently without arms, but have a bayonet and a revolver under your jacket."

"Do you think there is danger, sir?" exclaimed the private hastily, forgetting himself for the moment.

"Private Gray, you have your orders."

Gray drew himself up stiffly and saluted.

"Begin at once, sir?"

"At once," said Captain Smithers. "I trust to your silence. No one but Mr Long knows of your mission."

Gray saluted again and went off, while the two officers continued their walk towards Dullah's hut.

The Malay came out as they approached, and with a deprecating gesture invited them to take a seat beneath his verandah, and partake of fruit.

This, however, they declined to do, contenting themselves with returning his salute, and passing on.

There were two sampans moored close to Dullah's hut, each holding four Malays, but the boats themselves were filled with produce piled high, and the owners were evidently waiting to have dealings with their superior, the man who had been appointed to supply the English garrison of the island and the ship.

There was nothing suspicious to be seen here, neither did anything attract their attention as they continued their walk right round the island, everything being as calm and still as the sleepy shore which lay baking beneath the ardent rays of the sun, while the various houses looked comparatively cool beneath the shade of the palms and durian trees, with here and there a great ragged-leaved banana showing a huge bunch of its strange fruit.

Tired and hot, they were glad to return to their quarters, where Sergeant Lund was writing out a report, and occasionally frowning at Private Sim, who was lying under a tree fast asleep.



The young officers were pretty busy over their duties throughout the day, Bob Roberts to his great delight being left in sole charge of the steamer, while Lieutenant Johnson went to have a short consultation with Captain Smithers; and two hours later, when Captain Smithers accompanied the naval officer back, Ensign Long was in full command at the island.

The hot and sleep-inviting day had rolled slowly by; never had the river looked brighter and clearer, or more keenly reflected the rays of the sun. Far down in its pure depths the middy had watched the darting about of the fish, which seemed to seek the shadow beneath the steamer's hull for their playground.

This was noticed at stolen moments, for Bob was generally too full of his duties to think of the fish, or to do more than cast a longing glance at the dark shadows beneath the trees. For on board the heat was terrible, the pitch was oozing out of the seams, and blistering the paint; every piece of tarry cordage was soft and pliant, and very beads stood out upon the strands; while beneath the awnings there was a stuffy suffocating heat that was next to unbearable.

On the island the heat was less hard to be borne, the thick grove of palms and other trees whose roots were always moist, throwing out a grateful shade. Still the heat was severely felt, and the general impression was that the hunting-party had by far the worst of it.

The day glided by, and the sultry tropic night set in, with the great mellow stars glistening overhead reflected in the clear stream, and seeming to be repeated in the low undergrowth that fringed the shore. The watches were set, every precaution taken against surprise, and though no danger need be apprehended, Captain Smithers had the little fort quite ready to resist attack.

It was the same on board the steamer, the watch being visited at frequent intervals by the lieutenant and his subordinate, to the great surprise of the men, who wondered what made the "luff" so fidgety.

That night passed off without anything to disturb them; and the next day all was so dull and uniform that Bob Roberts, as he could not go ashore, was fain to amuse himself with his monkey, which he fed till it could eat no more, and then teased till it got into a passion, snapped at him, and took refuge in the rigging till its master's back was turned, when, to the great delight of the men, it leaped down on the middy's shoulder, and there seized the back of his jacket-collar and shook it vigorously, till, seeing its opportunity, it once more leaped up into the rigging, chattering fiercely, and showing its teeth as Bob threatened it and called it names.

Evening came on again, not too hot, but quite bad enough to make the middy glad to walk the deck in the loosest jacket he possessed. The watch had been set, the lights hung up, and all was very still; for, having had but little sleep the night before, Bob was too tired to talk, and now sat in the coolest place he could find, hitting out occasionally at a mosquito, and alternating that exercise with petting the monkey, which had made its submission by creeping down from the rigging at dinner-time, and approaching its master in a depressed mournful way, as if declaring its sorrow for its late sin, and readiness to do anything, if its master would forgive it. In fact, when the middy rose as if to beat it, the animal lay down on the deck, grovelling and whining piteously, as it watched his actions with one eye, that said as plainly as could be, "You don't mean it. I'm such a little thing that you would not hurt me."

Bob did not hurt it, but gave it one of Dullah's mangosteens instead, and peace was made.

Lieutenant Johnson joined the middy soon after he had given up seeking a nap on account of the heat, and came and leaned over the bulwark by his side, talking to him in a low voice, both feeling depressed and subdued.

"I wonder how our party is getting on?" said the lieutenant at last. "They'll have a storm to-night, and soaked tents."

"Yes; there's a flash," exclaimed Bob, as the distant forest seemed to be lit-up to its very depths by a quivering blaze of sheet lightning.

This was repeated, and with increased vividness, the pale blue light playing about in the horizon, and displaying the shapes of the great heavy clouds that overhung the mountains in the east.

"It's very beautiful to watch," said the lieutenant; "but suppose we take a walk forward."

They strolled along the deck, and on going right to the bows found the watch every man in his place; and returning aft spoke to the marine, who stood like a statue leaning upon his piece.

They sat down again, feeling no inclination to seek the cabin; and this feeling seemed to be shared by the men, who were sitting about, talking in low whispers, and watching the distant lashing lightning, whose lambent sheets seemed now to be playing incessantly.

"Is there anything the matter with you, sir?" said Bob at last.

"No, Roberts, only that I feel so restless and unsettled that I should like to jump overboard for a cool swim."

"That's just what I feel, sir," said Bob, "with a dash of monkey in it."

"A dash of monkey!"

"Yes, sir; as if I must run and jump about, or climb, or do something. It's the fidgets with this heat. Let's walk forward again, if you don't mind. I think it's cooler there."

"Cooler, Roberts? It seems to me as if the deck is thoroughly hot, and as if one's clothes were baking. I quite envy the lads, with their bare feet and open necks."

They strolled forward again, with the monkey softly following them; and when they stood leaning over the bulwarks, listening to the ripple of the water under the vessel's stem, the animal perched itself on one of the stays just above their heads.

They could almost have fancied they were at sea, gazing down at the phosphorescent water, so beautiful was the reflection of the stars in the smooth, dark current, as it glided swiftly along, rippling a little about the large buoy to which they were moored, and breaking the stars up, as it were, into a thousand tiny points, that divided into a double current and swept by the steamer's bows.

"What a night for a couple of prahus to come down and board us, sir!" said Bob.

"Rather unlucky for them, if they did," said the lieutenant quietly. "One good shot at them, or one of our biggest shells dropped into their hold, would crash through, and send them to the bottom. There's no such luck, Roberts."

"I suppose not, sir," said Bob; but, all the same, he could not help feeling that this was a kind of luck which he could very well dispense with, on a dark night. He did not venture to say so, though.

"How quiet they seem on the island!" said the lieutenant at last. "Heigh-ho! ha hum! I wish we were there, Roberts, along with the ladies; a cup of tea and a little pleasant chat would be very agreeable."

"And some music," said Bob.

"And some music," said the lieutenant. "What's the matter with your monkey?"

"What's the matter, Charcoal?" said Bob; for the little animal had suddenly grown excited, chattering, and changing its place, coming down the stay, and then leaping on to the bulwark.

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