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Chapter 11

  • After the meal was concluded, the captain said to the chief:
  • "Now, Hassan, we want to know how it was that you arrived at the nick of tim_o save my officers' lives."
  • "I had been watching for some days," the chief said quietly. "When I hear_hat many chiefs had joined Sehi Pandash, I said 'I must go and help my whit_rothers,' but I dared not take many men away from here, and as I had to hide,
  • the fewer there were with me the better; so I came down into the forest nea_ehi's town, and found the wood full of men. We had come down in sampans, s_hat I could send off messengers as might be required. One of these I sen_own to you, to warn you to be prepared for an attack. Other messengers I ha_ent before from here; but they must have been caught and killed, for I ha_een watched closely when they found that I would not join against you.
  • "When my last messenger returned, I was glad; I knew that you would be on you_uard, and would not be caught treacherously. Two of my men were in the tow_hen they began to fire on the ship, and I saw the town destroyed, an_ollowed Sehi to the place where the six prahus were lying, and crossed th_reek, and lay down in the woods near the village on the other side; for _hought that something might happen. One of my men went down in the night, an_rought me news that the ship was gone. As my messenger had told me that yo_ad questioned him as to the other entrance to the creek, I felt sure that yo_ad gone there; so I was not surprised when, just before daybreak, two gun_ere fired. We saw the fight, the sinking of two of their vessels, and th_ttack by the water pirates, and by the men of the rajah and the chiefs wit_im, and I feared greatly that my friends would be overpowered.
  • "I sent one of my men down to the mouth of the creek, to tell you how much ai_as wanted; but he saw the ship steaming up as he went, and so came back t_e. Then we heard the ship's great guns begin to fire, and soon all was quie_here the fight had been going on. Then I saw the other four boats start. On_f them sank before she was out of sight, and I soon heard that your ship ha_unk another, and that two had got away. It was not for another two days tha_ learned where they were, and then I heard that they had gone into a cree_wenty miles away; there one had sunk, and the other had been joined by th_wo prahus that had been far up the river; and I also learned that one o_ehi's men had gone into the village and let himself be captured, so that h_ight guide the ship's boats to the place where, as they thought, they woul_ind but one prahu, while three would be waiting for them. I was not sur_here the exact place was, for there are many creeks, but, with one of my men,
  • I rowed in a sampan all night, in hopes to arrive in time to warn the boats;
  • but it was not till I heard the firing that I knew exactly where they were.
  • "When I got there the fighting was over, and but one prahu had escaped, and _earned from the men who had swum ashore from those that had been sunk tha_ne of the English boats had been destroyed, and many men killed, but that tw_oats had gone down the creek again. It was also said that the white officer_nd sailors had boarded the boat that had escaped, and had been all killed. _hought it best to follow the prahu, so that I could send word to you wher_he was to be found. As there were many passages, it was difficult to fin_er, and I should have lost her altogether had I not heard where Sehi wa_iding, and guessed that she would go there. It was late when I arrived at th_illage. There one of my men learned that two young officers, who had bee_ounded, had been brought there, and that Sehi was sending word to you that,
  • unless you gave him the conditions he asked, they would be put to death.
  • "I did not know whether to send down to you, or to send up the river for help;
  • but I thought the last was best, for if you came in boats, then Sehi's me_ould hear you, and the officers would be killed; so I sent off my man wit_he sampan. I told him that he must not stop until he got here. He must tel_hem that all my men, except fifty old ones who were to guard the village,
  • were to start in their canoes, and paddle their hardest till they came withi_alf a mile of the village, and he was to come back with them to guide them,
  • and I was to meet them. As the prahus that had been up there were destroyed,
  • the river was safe for them to descend. I said that they must be at the poin_ named last evening. They were two hours late, though they had paddled thei_ardest. As soon as they disembarked I led them to the spot, and the rest wa_asy. I knew that the prisoners who had been taken were my two friends, for _aw them on the deck of the prahu; and glad indeed I was to be able to pay m_ebt to them."
  • "You have paid it indeed most nobly, Hassan," the captain said, holding ou_is hand, and grasping that of the chief, when, sentence by sentence, th_tory was translated to him. "Little did we think, when you were brought o_oard the Serpent, that your friendship would turn out of such value to us."
  • There was now some discussion as to the proposed meeting of chiefs; and hal_n hour after, a dozen small canoes started with invitations to the variou_hiefs to meet the captain at Hassan's campong, with assurances that he wa_eady to overlook their share in the attack on the ship, and be on friendl_erms with them, and that the safety of each who attended was guaranteed,
  • whether he was willing to be on good terms with the English or not. Four day_ater, the meeting took place in the newly erected hall. Ten or twelve of th_hiefs attended; others, who had taken a leading part as Sehi's allies, di_ot venture to come themselves, but sent messages with assurances of thei_esire to be on friendly terms. A good deal of ceremonial was observed. Th_arines and bluejackets were drawn up in line before the hall, which wa_ecorated with green boughs; a Union jack waved from a pole in front of it.
  • The chiefs were introduced by Hassan to the captain. The former then addresse_hem, rehearsing the service that the English had done to them by destroyin_he power of the tyrant who had long been a scourge to his neighbors, and wh_ntended, without doubt, to become master of the whole district. As a proof o_he good will of the English towards the Malays, he related how the tw_nglish officers had leaped into the water to save his child, and how kindl_e himself had been treated. Then the captain addressed them through th_nterpreter. He told them that he had only been sent up the river by th_overnor in accordance with an invitation from Sehi, of whose conduct he wa_gnorant, to undertake the protectorate of his district; and that, on learnin_is true character, he at once reported to the Governor that the rajah was no_ proper person to receive protection, as not only did he prevent trade an_arass his neighbors, but was the owner of a number of piratical craft, tha_ften descended the river and plundered the coast.
  • "England," he went on, "has no desire whatever to take under her protectio_ny who do not earnestly desire it, and who are not willing, in return, t_romote trade, and keep peace with their neighbors; nor can she make separat_rrangements with minor chiefs. It was only because she understood that Seh_uled over a considerable extent of territory, and was all powerful in thi_art, that his request was listened to.
  • "I shall shortly return down the river," he said, "and have no thought o_ntention of interfering in any way with matters here. I wish to leave on goo_erms with you all, and to explain to you that it is to your interest to d_ll in your power to further trade, both by sending down your products to th_oast, and by throwing no hindrance in the way of the products of th_ighlands coming down the river, charging, at the utmost, a very small tol_pon each boat that passes up and down. It is the interest of all of you, o_he people of the hills, and of ourselves, that trade should increase. No_hat Sehi is dead and his people altogether dispersed and all his piratica_raft destroyed, with the exception of the one captured by Hassan, there is n_bstruction to trade, and you are free from the fear that he would one day ea_ou up.
  • "Be assured that there is nothing to be feared from us. You all know ho_reatly the States protected by us have flourished and how wealthy thei_ajahs have become from the increase of cultivation and the cessation o_ribal wars. If in the future all the chiefs of this district should desire t_lace themselves under English protection, their request will be considered;
  • but there is not the slightest desire on the part of the Governor to assum_urther responsibility, and he will be well satisfied indeed to know tha_here is peace among the river tribes, security for trade, and a larg_ncrease in the cultivation of the country and in its prosperity."
  • There was a general expression of satisfaction and relief upon the face of th_hiefs, as, sentence by sentence, the speech was translated to them; and, on_y one, they rose after its conclusion, and expressed their hearty concurrenc_ith what had been said.
  • "We know," one of them said, "that these wars do much harm; but if we quarrel,
  • or if one ill treats another, or encourages his slaves to leave him, o_avages his plantations, what are we to do?"
  • "That I have thought of," the captain said. "I have spoken with the chie_assan, and he has agreed to remove with his people to the spot where Sehi'_own stood. There, doubtless, he will be joined by Sehi's former subjects, wh_annot but be well pleased at being rid of a tyrant who had forcibly take_hem under his rule. He will retain the prahu that he has taken, and will us_t to keep the two rivers free of robbers, but in no other respect will h_nterfere with his neighbors. His desire is to cultivate the land, clear awa_he forest, and encourage his people to raise products that he can send dow_he river to trade with us. He will occupy the territory only as far as th_reek that runs between the two rivers. I propose that all of you shall com_o an agreement to submit any disputes that may arise between you to hi_ecision, swearing to accept his judgment, whichever way it may go. This i_he way in which the disputes are settled in our country. Both sides go befor_ judge, and he hears their statements and those of their witnesses, and the_ecides the case; and even the government of the country is bound by hi_ecision. I don't wish you to give me any reply as to this. I make th_uggestion solely for your own good, and it is for you to talk it over amon_ourselves, and see if you cannot all come to an agreement that will put _top to the senseless wars, and enable your people to cultivate the land i_eace, and to obtain all the comforts that arise from trade."
  • A boat had been sent down to the ship, and this returned with a number of th_rticles that had been put on board her as presents for Sehi and other chiefs.
  • These were now distributed. A feast was then held, and the next morning th_hiefs started for their homes, highly gratified with the result of th_eeting. On the following day, the British boats also took their way down th_iver, followed by the prahu, with a considerable number of Hassan's men, wh_ere to clear away the ruins of Sehi's campong, to bury the dead still lyin_mong them, and to erect huts for the whole community. The Serpent remaine_or a week opposite the town; a considerable quantity of flour, sugar, an_ther useful stores being landed for the use of Hassan's people. Dr. Horsle_as gladdened by Hassan's promise that his people should be instructed t_earch for specimens of birds, butterflies, and other insects, and that thes_hould be treated according to his instructions, and should be from time t_ime, as occasion offered, sent down to him in large cases to Singapore. T_he two midshipmen the chief gave krises of the finest temper.
  • "I have no presents to give you worthy of your acceptance," he said; "but yo_now that I shall never forget you, and always regard you as brothers. _ntend to send twelve of my young men down to Penang, there to live for thre_ears and learn useful trades from your people. The doctor has advised me als_o send Bahi, and has promised to find a comfortable home for her, where sh_ill learn to read and write your language and many other useful things. It i_ard to part with her; but it is for her good and that of her people. If yo_ill write to me sometimes, she will read the letters to me and write letter_o you in return, so that, though we are away from each other, we may kno_hat neither of us has forgotten the other."
  • Bahi and twelve young Malays were taken to Penang in the Serpent, where th_octor found a comfortable home for her with some friends of his, to who_ayment for her board and schooling was to be paid by Hassan in blocks of tin,
  • which he would obtain from boats coming down from the hills in exchange fo_ther articles of trade. The Malays were placed with men of their own rac_elonging to the protected States, and settled as carpenters, smiths, an_ther tradesmen in Penang. Three years later, they and Bahi were all take_ack in the Serpent to their home.
  • The river was acquiring considerable importance from the great increase o_rade. They found Hassan's town far more extensive and flourishing than it ha_een in the time of its predecessor. The forest had been cleared for _onsiderable distance round it, the former inhabitants had returned, tobacco,
  • sugar canes, cotton, pepper, and other crops whose products were useful fo_rade purposes, were largely cultivated, while orchards of fruit trees ha_een extensively planted. Hassan reported that tribal wars had almost ceased,
  • and that disputes were in almost all cases brought for his arbitration. Owin_o the abolition of all oppressive tolls, trade from the interior had ver_argely increased, a great deal of tin, together with spices and othe_roducts, now finding its way down by the river. Hassan was delighted with th_rogress Bahi had made, and ordered that three or four boys should at once b_laced for instruction under each of the men who had learned trades at Penang.
  • There was much regret on both sides when the Serpent again started down th_iver; for it was known that she would not return, as in a few months sh_ould be sent to a Chinese station, and from there would go direct to England.
  • The composition of her crew was already somewhat changed. Lieutenant Ferguso_ad received his promotion for the fight with the prahus, and had bee_ppointed to the command of a gunboat whose captain had been invalided home.
  • Lieutenant Hopkins was now the Serpent's first lieutenant, and Morrison wa_econd. Harry Parkhurst was third lieutenant, Dick Balderson, to the regret o_oth, having left the ship on his promotion, and having been transferred a_hird lieutenant to Captain Ferguson's craft. Both have since kept up _orrespondence with Bahi, who has married a neighboring chief, and who tell_hem that the river is prospering greatly, and that, although he assumes n_uthority, her father is everywhere regarded as the paramount chief of th_istrict. From time to time each receives chests filled with spices, silks,
  • and other Malay products, and sends back in return European articles o_tility to the rajah, for such is the rank that Hassan has now acquired on th_iver.