Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

tice. Yet they are as important in the of the writer has consciously and compilation of a true picture of the triumphantly labored to make times those which the genius vivid. The Corohill Magazine.

Horace G. Hutchinson.

as

SALEH: A SEQUEL.

By Hugh CLIFFORD.
XXV.

Jack Norris had impressed the popular Norris did not allow any grass to mind with the notion that the Governgrow under his feet. He knew with ment meant business, and that that what rapidity the flame of insurrection business would now be done with thorcan spread at times in Oriental lands; oughness. he remembered the reputation for pug. Norris's force moved swiftly up the nacity and lawlessness which the peo- Põlas valley, partly by river, partly ple of Pelesu had borne twenty years by land, sweeping all before them, earlier, when he had filled the post of meeting with only a fitful and sporadic Political Agent at the King's court; resistance, losing a considerable numhe was watching the growth of the ber of men in ambushes, but suffering As-Senusi Brotherhood throughout Ma- nothing to check the steady advance. laya with keen anxiety, recognizing in The villages were mostly deserted, and it a new force the effect of whose showed signs of the evil things which operation remained yet to be deter- they had suffered during the six weeks mined. All things combined to make that had seen the resurrection of nadelay fatal. From the first, too, he tive rule. At every stage of the jourhad excellent information. Of old he ney fugitives joined them in shoals, had known, or had been known by, for Saleh's supporters were melting every man, woman and child in the away like snow under a strong sun. State, and had won for himself a name It was nearing crop-time and the peasamong the natives as a good man to ants were anxious to get back to their deal with and a bad man to cross. fields; the month and a half during Now old acquaintances seemed to which they had once more been at the spring out of the ground on every side, mercy of a Malayan râja and his folready to aid him with news, with lowers had caused them to accumulate transport, with men. Wilson could il number of unenviable experiences; not understand the sudden transform- moreover, Saleh's cause was now, il ation wrought in his people, who, a the eyes of the blindest, a forlorn-hope. few days earlier, had been such slug. Saleh witnessed the defection of his gards in the white man's cause, but in people with a species of cold despair. truth the reasons were simple enough. Their fickleness, their lack of continuThe abortive attack on Kuala Pûlas ity of purpose, their inability to fight had dealt a severe blow to the prestige an uphill fight sturdily and with conof Raja Pahlawan Indut, and had stant hearts, the speed with which adshown the natives that Saleh's was, versity cooled their fiery enthusiasm, from the outset, a lost cause. Now all filled him with disgust. These the rail-sitters were scrambling down things seemed to seal the race to which hastily upon the Government side of he belonged with the curse of Reuben: the fence, and were eager to obliter- “Unstable as water, thou shalt not ex. ate the memory of past lukewarmness cel." by present zeal. Also the coming of In Raja Pahlâ wan Indut (Raja Haji

Aboxillah, prudent soul, had decided from the land, had been yet another, not to join the force until the turn and his greatest, failure: but it should events were likely to take was more be his last. The crowning ignominy, clearly indicated) the wholesale deser- he felt, would be to seek safety in tion roused fury and rage

which flight ere he had struck so much as a seemed to threaten apoplexy. He blow with his own hand in the war raved through the camp like one pos- which was of his making. Also, he sessed by devils, cursing, exhorting, had po further use for life. He had trying to shame his followers into no place either amid the new condifidelity, seeking, but in vain, to inspire tions or the old. It remained only to them with courage and constancy; but ring down the curtain. all his efforts were fruitless. Every Finding him fixed in his resolve, hour saw the number of the insurgents Raja Pahlâwan, albeit cursing, not for dwindling apace. At last, even he the first time, the teaching of the devils was forced to admit that the game by which the white men had caused was lost. Norris's force was distant his prince to be possessed, decided on barely half a dozen miles from Saleh's his part to make a virtue of necessity. stockade at Ulu Penyûdah; the bulk of His code of chivalry forbade the idea several of the parties sent out to lay of desertion. He would stand by ambushes and arrest his progress had Saleh and perhaps a score of his foldeserted incontinently to the white lowers would do the like. Those who men. On the morrow he would be at desired to depart were set free to folthe doors of the stockade, and only a low their inclination; the men who rehandful of Saleh's adherents remained mained swore on the Kurân to abide to man the defences.

with Saleh while life still was in him. Raja Pahlawan, glowering and fum- Then grimly they set about preparing, explained these things to Saleh, ing for the fight which they felt was and pointed with his chin, Malay fash- to be the last that many of them would ion, in the direction of the forest, ever see, which rose in a vast, sombre wall half

XXVI. a mile across the grazing-grounds.

Ulu Penyûdah is a compact village, "When the big house is untenable, situated in the heart of a valley, the little house avails: when the house- shaped like a horse-shoe, enclosed by prop snaps, one must be content to jungle-covered hills. The Penyûdah, a substitute a rough-hewn pole,” he said, little sparkling stream, barely two feet quoting a proverb of his people. “We in depth, tumbles out of the forest, must get us to the jungle yonder. and chatters down the valley, tossing There alone lieth safety. The white a glistening mane of splashing, brokeu men will follow, but they will never water. To the right and the left rice(atch us. These rotten-livered folk fields and grazing-grounds, dotted who will not stand by us, will yet aid sparsely with tiny villages set upou us to hide and to escape.

In the end, little hills under the shade of coco-nut Allah being willing, we shall win free palms, spread away to the edge of the of this land of Pelesu, and in exile lowering forest. The place is, as it find safety."

were, a green oasis of cultivation and But Saleh would have nought of clearing in the broad desert of woodsuch counsel. This futile attempt to land. It was in the village of Ulu raise the

green standard of the Penyûdah, on the right bank of the Prophet, and, rallying the warriors of stream, and surrounded by wide ricePelesu about it, to drive the white folk swamps, that Saleh had his stockade.

Much labor had gone to the strengthening of that place. The earthworks were from fifteen to twenty feet in thickness, faced and surmounted by a high wooden stockade, cunningly loopholed. Flanking caponiers abutted at each angle and commanded each wall; two strong fences had been raised without the stockade at distances of fifteen and twenty-five feet respectively, encircling the whole, and the intervening spaces were sown thickly with calthrops, and mined with pitfalls, each harboring a murderously sharpened stake. The deep mud of the rice-swamps formed an outer and final line of defence. It was, Norris saw at a glance, a villainous place to attempt to rush.

He had three six-pounder guns with him, and these he posted on low hills on three sides of the stockade. He also, during the night of his arrival, threw up a dozen small earth-works to protect the piquets, which he placed at the edge of the rice-swamp in such a manner as to cut off all means of retreat for those within the defences. Then, these preparations completed, he wrote to Saleh explaining that the latter was hopelessly surrounded and outnumbered, advising surrender, promising an amnesty, and winding up with a personal appeal in the name of old times in England and the friendship which had subsisted between them. He also begged Saleh, for old sake's sake, to agree to meet him and to talk things over, giving his word of honor that no unfair advantage should be taken of him if he should consent.

Saleh pondered over that note with tears in his eyes. The references to the old life in England and the memories which he and Norris shared in common, touched him nearly, but they awoke in him a passionate self-pity, blended with a deep self-hatred that only served to put the seal upon his resolve. The note which he returned

-surely the queerest document that ever found its way out of an insurgent stockade in Asia-was scrawled with ink made from lamp-black and a pen improvised from a reed. It ran as follows:

Dear Mr. Norris.-Thank you for your kind letter. I am sorry to give so much trouble, but I cannot accept your terms. I often remember the old times you write of, and I think my heart is broken. I will come and see you to-night. Good-bye, and you must say good-bye to everybody for me. It really has not all been my fault, though all this fighting is all my doing and nobody else's. You must tell Mrs. Le Mesurier and the others that I was not all bad, not really. I don't think sending me to England to be educated was a good plan. Good-bye again.―Yours,

Muhammad Saleh.

"Poor little beggar," said Norris, as he read these lines, and there was something like a lump in his throat. "More sinned against than sinning, of course, but I wish I knew what he means. He declines to accept my terms, but says he will see me to-night. I wonder when and how he will come."

XXVII.

And this was the manner of Saleh's coming.

The Malayan night had shut down, and from a velvet heaven the stars blinked sleepily. The forest half a mile distant across the grazinggrounds sent out its dropping chorus of night-song, the hum of insects, the gurgling call of tree-frogs, the occasional strident cry of an argus pheasant, the hoot of an owl, and once in a while the grumpy trumpeting of an elephant or the startled bark of a deer. Coolness had come with the darkness, a coolness that wooed to slumber, and the very earth, rustling ever so faintly under the slow-moving breezes, seemed

was

to be stretching itself in its sleep. To been lying,-bearded Sikhs, brawny keep awake amid such universal som- Pathans, angry little Malays, and alert nolence was a veritable outrage upon white men. That shadow, carrying the intentions of nature.

death in its hand and still pealing its So thought Ram Singh, the Sikh sen- war-cry, flung out of the gloom and try at the entrance to Norris's camp, precipitated itself upon a knot of Sikhs as half-dozing he leaned upon his rifle who, crawling clumsily from below a and listened to the soft splashing of palm-leaf shelter, were hopelessly enthe frogs in the neighboring swamp. tangled with one another. Swiftly the They were very active of a sudden, knife rose and fell, doing its work with those frogs, but he was too weary, too rending wounds, and its bearer, rushing drowsy, too inert to take much note onward like a mad dog, paused not to of them. Presently he caught him- examine his handiwork, but plunged self up into painful wakefulness. His headlong deeper and deeper into the rifle had nearly fallen from his hands, camp. and, as in a vis he had seemed to As Norris leapt out of his hut, a see a dim figure draw itself out of pistol in his hand, a star-shell burst the rice-swamp just ahead of him and overhead, and the earth for a minute creep into the bushes on his right.

illuminated wonderfully. Jack Was it really something, or merely saw the âmok-runner, his head thrown figment of a dream? Stepping clum- back, his face, livid in the bluish glare, sily, after the manner of his kind, he strained heavenward, his right arm, tramped along his beat in the direction blood-stained to the elbow, rising and of the bushes. Something moved in falling, the whole figure a picture of the scrub, and “Who goes dar?” cried the delirium of sa vage wrath, of the inRam Singh. “Friend!"

the toxication of that excitement to which prompt reply in an English voice, and the Malays, beyond all other people, as the sentry, reassured, lowered the are subject. A pair of short fighting muzzle of his rifle, something wet and drawers clothed the lower limbs, a warm leapt suddenly upon him, and a sleeveless linen jacket fitted the bust kris was plunged into his heart. Ram closely, there was a huddle of sûrong Singh fell to the ground in a limp heap, about the waist, and a head-kerchief with a thud and a rattle of his ac. was knotted round the head, shaggy coutrements, and at once the peace of black locks escaping from it and the night was broken by the ear-pierc- streaming behind as the man ran heading Malayan yell, Amok ! Amok: long. A little Malay, weaponless and Amok !"

an incarnation of panic, ran from his A litbe yet thickset figure stooped pursuit, squealing with terror. above the fallen Sikh, withdrew the this Norris saw in a flash. Then three dagger which had done its work, and rifles spoke at once: the â mok-runner flitted like a bat into the sleeping was suddenly arrested in mid-career; camp, and again the stillness shuddered, as a stea m-launch shudders broken rudely by that fierce outcry, through all its length when brought to "Amok! Amok! Amok !"

a standstill by collision with a hidThe camp, rudely awakened, was den rock; the kris fell from the nervehumming like disturbed hive of less band; and the figure pitched forbees. Men reaching hurriedly for ward on to its right shoulder. As it their weapons were struggling to their fell, the star-shell aloft was extinfeet and tumbling from under the guished. Jean-to sheds beneath which they had "Bring a light!" cried Norris, and his

came

All

was

а

voice was vibrating with emotion. The teeth, the facial muscles were taut and face of the âmok-runner had been strained, the cheek-bones stood out strange to him, but in his heart there prominently, but in the glazed eyes was a haunting fear. Had not Saleh there was still a light of fierce joy. said that he would visit him that The gay garments in which the lad night?

was clothed were drenched with A hurricane-lamp was speedily pro- swamp water and stained with the duced, and by its light Jack Norris slime through which he had crawled. gazed down upon the still form of the "It's Saleh, poor little wretch,” cried thing which had once been Saleh. Jack, and there was a catch in his Fixed upon the face was the expres- voice. “May God forgive us for our sion which it had worn at the moment sorry deeds and for our glorious intenof death. The lips were drawn back tions!" over the gums, exposing the locked To which I say, "Amen!" Blackwood's Magazine.

(THE END)

SWINBURNE'S LYRICAL POETRY.

or

The makers of epigrams, of phrases, of pages of all more or less brief judgments-assuredly waste their time when they sum up any one of all mankind, and how do they squander it when their matter is a poet! They may hardly describe him, nor shall any student's care, or psychologist's formula, or man-of-letters' summary, or wit's sentence define him. Definitions, because they would not be inexact incomprehensive, sweep too wide, and the poet is not held within them; and out of the describer's range and capture he escapes by as many doors as there are outlets from a forest. But a thousand failures have not yet discouraged the critic and the biographer, who continue to appraise, explain, and expound, little guessing how

much ready-made platitude brought about their guesses at a man, or what false and flat thought lies behind their epigrams. It is not long since the general guess work assigned melancholy to a poet lately deceased. Real poets, it was said, are unhappy, and this was one exceptionally real. How unhappy must he, .then, certainly · have been! And the

blessed Blake himself was incidentally cited as one of the company of depression and despair! It is, perhaps, a liking for symmetry that prompts these futile syllogisms; perhaps, also, it is the fear of human mystery. The biographer used to see "the finger of God” pat in the history of a man; he insists now that he shall at any rate see the finger of a law, or rather of a rule, a custom, a generality. Law I will not call it; there is no intelligible law that, for example, a true poet should be an unhappy man; but the observer thinks he has noticed a custom or habit to that effect, and Blake, who lived and died in bliss, is named at ignorant random, rather than that an example of the custom should be lost.

But it is not only such a platitude of observation, such a cheap generality, that is silenced in the presence of the poet whose name is at the head of these pages. For if

Nature showed us a poet in whom our phrases, and the judgments they record, should be denied, defeated, and confused, Swinburne is be. We predicate of a poet a great sincerity, a great imagination, a great passion, a great intel

ever

« AnkstesnisTęsti »