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CHAPTER II OUTPOSTS OF EMPIRE
We sailed at sunset out of Jolo and all through the breathless tropic night the Negros forged ahead at half-speed, her sharp prow cleaving the still bosom of the Sulu Sea as silently as a gondola stealing down the Canale Grande. So oppressive was the night that sleep was out of the question, and I leaned upon the rail of the bridge, the hot land breeze, laden with the mysterious odors of the tropics, beating softly in my face, and listlessly watched the phosphorescent ostrich feathers curling from our bows. Behind me, in the darkened chart-room, the Filipino quartermaster gently swung the wheel from time to time in response to the direction of the needle on the illuminated compass-dial. So lifeless was the sea that our foremast barely swayed against the stars. The smoke from our funnel trailed across the purple canopy of the sky as though smeared with an inky brush.

How long I stood there, lost in reverie, I have no idea: hours no doubt. I must have fallen into a doze, for I was awakened by the brisk, incisive strokes of the ship's bell, echoed, a moment later, by eight fainter strokes coming from the deck below. Then the soft patter of bare feet which meant the changing of the [26]watch. Though the velvety darkness into which we were steadily ploughing had not perceptibly decreased, it was now cut sharply across, from right to left, by what looked like a tightly stretched wire of glowing silver. Even as I looked this slender fissure of illumination widened, almost imperceptibly at first, then faster, faster, until at one burst came the dawn. The sombre hangings of the night were swept aside by an invisible hand as are drawn back the curtains at a window. As you have seen from a hill the winking lights of a city disappear at daybreak, so, one by one, the stars went out. Masses of angry clouds reared themselves in ominous, fantastic forms against a sullen sky. The hot land breeze changed to a cold wind which made me shiver. Suddenly the mounting rampart of clouds, which seemed about to burst in a tempest, was pierced by a hundred flaming lances coming from beyond the horizon's rim. Before their onslaught the threatening cloud-wall crumbled, faded, and abruptly dropped away to reveal the sun advancing in all that brazen effrontery which it assumes in those lawless latitudes along the Line. Now the sky was become a huge inverted bowl of flawless azure porcelain, the surface of the Sulu Sea sparkled as though strewn with a million diamonds, and, not a league off our bows, rose the jungle-clothed shores of Borneo.

Scattered along the fringes of the world are certain places whose names ring in the ears of youth like trumpet-calls. They are passwords to romance and [27]high adventure. Their very mention makes the feet of the young men restless. They mark the places where the strange trails go down. Of them all, the one that most completely captivated my boyish imagination was Borneo. To me, as to millions of other youngsters, its name had been made familiar by that purveyor of entertainment to American boyhood, Phineas T. Barnum, as the reputed home of the wild man. In its jungles, through the magic of Marryat's breathless pages, I fought the head-hunter and pursued the boa-constrictor and the orang-utan. It was then, a boyhood dream come true when I stood at daybreak on the bridge of the Negros and through my glasses watched the mysterious island, which I had so often pictured in my imagination, rise with tantalizing slowness from the sapphire sea.

We forged ahead cautiously, for our charts were none too recent or reliable and we lacked the "Malay Archipelago" volume of The Sailing Directions—the "Sailor's Bible," as the big, orange-covered book, full of comforting detail, is known. As the morning mists dissolved before the sun I could make out a pale ivory beach, and back of the beach a band of green which I knew for jungle, and back of that, in turn, a range of purple mountains which culminated in a majestic, cloud-wreathed peak. An off-shore breeze brought to my nostrils the strange, sweet odors of the hot lands. A Malay vinta with widespread bamboo outriggers and twin sails of orange flitted by an enormous butterfly skimming the surface of the water. I was [28]actually within sight of that grim island whose name has ever been a synonym for savagery. For never think that piracy, head-hunting, poisoned darts shot from blow-guns are horrors extinct in Borneo today, for they are not. Ask the mariners who sail these waters; ask the keepers of the lonely lighthouses, the officers who command the constabulary outposts in the bush. They know Borneo, and not favorably.

You will picture Borneo, if you please, as a vast, squat island the third largest in the world, in fact—half again as large as France, bordered by a sandy littoral, moated by swamps reeking with putrid miasmata and pernicious vapors, covered with dense forests and impenetrable jungles, ridged by mile-high mountain ranges, seamed by mighty rivers, inhabited by the most savage beasts and the most bestial savages known to man. Lying squarely athwart the Line, the sun beats down upon it like the blast from an open furnace-door. The story is told in Borneo of a dissolute planter who died from sunstroke. The day after the funeral a spirit message reached the widow of the dear departed. "Please send down my blankets" it said. But it is the terrible humidity which makes the climate dangerous; a humidity due to the innumerable swamps, the source of pestilence and fever, and to the incredible rainfall, which averages over six and a half feet a year. No wonder that in the Indies Borneo is known as "The White Man's Graveyard."

Imbedded in the northern coast of the island, like[29] a row of semi-precious stones set in a barbaric brooch, are the states of British North Borneo, Brunei, and Sarawak. Their back-doors open on the wilderness of mountain, forest and jungle which marks the northern boundary of Dutch Borneo; their front windows look out upon the Sulu and the China Seas. Of these three territories, the first is under the jurisdiction of the British North Borneo Company, a private corporation, which administers it under the terms of a royal charter. The second is ruled by the Sultan of Brunei, whose once vast dominions have steadily dwindled through cession and conquest until they are now no larger than Connecticut. On the throne of the last sits one of the most romantic and picturesque figures in the world, His Highness James Vyner Brooke, a descendant of that Sir James Brooke who, in the middle years of the last century, made himself the "White Rajah" of Sarawak, and who might well have been the original of The Man Who Would Be King. Though all three governments are permitted virtually a free hand so far as their domestic affairs are concerned, they are under the protection of Great Britain and their foreign affairs are controlled from Westminster. The remaining three-quarters of Borneo, which contains the richest mines, the finest forests, the largest rivers, and, most important of all, the great oil-fields of Balik-Papan, forms one of the Outer Possessions, or Outposts, of Holland's East Indian Empire.

[30]Long before the yellow ribbon of the coast, with its fringe of palms, became visible we could make out the towering outline of Kina Balu, the sacred mountain, fourteen thousand feet high, which, seen from the north, bears a rather striking resemblance in its general contour to Gibraltar. The natives regard Kina Balu with awe and veneration as the home of departed spirits, believing that it exercises a powerful influence on their lives. When a man is dying they speak of him as ascending Kina Balu and in times of drought they formerly practised a curious and horrible custom, known as sumunguping, which the authorities have now suppressed. When the crops showed signs of failing the natives decided to despatch a messenger direct to the spirits of their relatives and friends in the other world entreating them to implore relief from the gods who control the rains. The person chosen to convey the message was usually a slave or an enemy captured in battle. Binding their victim to a post, the warriors of the tribe advanced, one by one, and drove their spears into his body, shouting with each thrust the messages which they wished conveyed to the spirits on the mountain.

With the coming of day we pushed ahead at full speed. Soon we could make out the precipitous sandstone cliffs of Balhalla, the island which screens the entrance to Sandakan harbor. But long before we came abreast of the town signs of human habitation became increasingly apparent: little clusters of nipa-thatched huts built on stilts over the water; others [31]hidden away in the jungle and betraying themselves only by spirals of smoke rising lazily above the feathery tops of the palms. Sandakan itself straggles up a steep wooded hill, the Chinese and native quarters at its base wallowing amid a network of foul-smelling and incredibly filthy sewers and canals or built on rickety wooden platforms which extend for half a mile or more along the harbor's edge. A little higher up, fronting on a parade ground which looks from the distance like a huge green rug spread in the sun to air, are the government offices, low structures of frame and plaster, designed so as to admit a maximum of air and a minimum of heat; the long, low building of the Planters Club, encircled by deep, cool verandahs; a Chinese joss-house, its facade enlivened by grotesque and brilliantly colored carvings; and a down-at-heels hotel. Close by are the churches erected and maintained by the Protestant and Roman Catholic missions—the former the only stone building in the protectorate. At the summit of the hill, reached by a steeply winding carriage road, are the bungalows of the Europeans, their white walls, smothered in crimson masses of bougainvill?a and shaded by stately palms and blazing fire-trees, peeping out from a wilderness of tropic vegetation. Viewed from the harbor, Sandakan is one of the most enchanting places that I have ever seen. It looks like a setting on a stage and you have the feeling that at any moment the curtain may descend and destroy the illusion. It is not until you go ashore and wander in the native [32]quarter, where vice in every form stalks naked and unashamed, that you realize that the town is like a beautiful harlot, whose loveliness of face and figure belie the evil in her heart. Even after I came to understand that the place is a sink of iniquity, I never ceased to marvel at its beauty. It reminded me of the exclamation of a young English girl, the wife of a German merchant, as their steamer approached Hong Kong and the superb panorama which culminates in The Peak slowly unrolled.

"Look, Otto! Look!" she cried. "You must say that it is beautiful even if it is English."

Of those lands which have not yet submitted to the bit and bridle of civilization—and they can be numbered on the fingers of one's two hands—Borneo is the most intractable. Of all the regions which the predatory European has claimed for his own, it is the least submissive, the least civilized, the least exploited and the least known. Its interior remains as untamed as before the first white man set foot on its shores four hundred years ago. The exploits of those bold and hardy spirits—explorers, soldiers, missionaries, administrators—who have attempted to carry to the natives of Borneo the Gospel of the Clean Shirt and the Square Deal form one of the epics of colonization. They have died with their boots on from fever, plague and snake-bite, from poisoned dart and Dyak spear. Though their lives would yield material for a hundred books of adventure, their story, which is the [33]story of the white man's war for civilization throughout Malaysia, is epitomized in the few lines graven on the modest marble monument which stands at the edge of Sandakan's sun-scorched parade ground:

In
Memory
of
Francis Xavier Witti
Killed near the Sibuco River
May, 1882
of
Frank Hatton
Accidentally shot at Segamah
March, 1883
of
Dr. D. Manson Fraser
and
Jemadhar Asa Singh
the two latter mortally wounded at Kopang
May, 1883
and of
Alfred Jones, Adjutant
Shere Singh, Regimental Sergeant-Major
of the British North Borneo Constabulary
Killed at Ranau 1897-98
and of
George Graham Warder
District Officer, Tindang Batu
Murdered at Marak Parak
28th July 1903
This Monument Is Erected as a Mark of Respect
by their Brother Officers

Though Sandakan is the chief port of British North Borneo, with a population of perhaps fifteen thousand, it has barely a hundred European inhabitants, of whom only a dozen are women. Girls marry [34]almost as fast as they arrive, and the incoming boats are eagerly scanned by the bachelor population, much in the same spirit as that in which a ticket-holder scans the lists of winning numbers in a lottery, wondering when his turn will come to draw something. If the bulk of the men are confirmed misogynists and confine themselves to the club bar and card-room it is only because there are not enough women to go round. The sacrifice of the women who, in order to be near their husbands, consent to sicken and fade and grow old before their time in such a spot, is very great. With their children at school in England, they pass their lonely lives in palm-thatched bungalows, raised high above the ground on piles as a protection against insects, snakes and floods, without amusements save such as they can provide themselves, and in a climate so humid that mushrooms will grow on one's boots in a single night during the rains. They are as truly empire-builders as the men and, though the parts they play are less conspicuous, perhaps, they are as truly deserving of honors and rewards.

There is no servant problem in Borneo. Cooks jostle one another to cook for you. They will even go to the length of poisoning each other in order to step into a lucrative position, with a really big master and a memsahib who does not give too much trouble. But there are other features of domestic life for which the plenitude of servants does not compensate. Because existence is made almost unendurable by mosquitoes and other insects, within each sleeping room is [35]constructed a rectangular framework, covered with mosquito-netting and just large enough to contain a bed, a dressing-table and an arm-chair. In these insect-proof cells the Europeans spend all of their sleeping and many of their waking hours. So aggressive are the mosquitoes, particularly during the rains, that, when one invites people in for dinner or bridge, the servants hand the guests long sacks of netting which are drawn over the feet and legs, the top being tied about the waist with a draw-string. Were it not for these mosquito-bags there would be neither bridge nor table conversation. Everyone would be too busy scratching.

The houses, as I have already mentioned, are raised above the ground on brick piles or wooden stilts. Though this arrangement serves the purpose of keeping things which creep and crawl out of the house itself, the custom of utilizing the open space beneath the house as a hen-roost offers a standing invitation to the reptiles with which Borneo abounds. While we were in Sandakan a python invaded the chicken-house beneath the dwelling of the local magistrate one night and devoured half a dozen of the judge's imported Leghorns. Gorged to repletion, the great reptile fell asleep, being discovered by the servants the next morning. The magistrate put an end to its predatory career with a shot-gun. It measured slightly over twenty feet from nose to tail and in circumference was considerably larger than an inflated fire-hose. Imagine [36]finding such a thing coiled up at the foot of your cellar-stairs after you had been indulging in home-brew!

One evening a party of us were seated on the verandah of the Planters Club in Sandakan. The conversation, which had pretty much covered the world, eventually turned to snakes.

"That reminds me," remarked a constabulary officer who had spent many years in Malaysia, "of a queer thing that happened in a place where I was stationed once in the Straits Settlements. It was one of those deadly dull places—only a handful of white women, no cinema, no race course, nothing. But the Devil, you know, always finds mischief for idle hands to do. One day a youngster—a subaltern in the battalion that was stationed there—returned from a leave spent in England. He brought back with him a young English girl whom he had married while he was at home. A slender, willowy thing she was, with great masses of coppery-red hair and the loveliest pink-and-white complexion. She quickly adapted herself to the disagreeable features of life in the tropics—with one exception. The exception was that she could never overcome her inherent and unreasoning fear of snakes. The mere sight of one would send her into hysterics.

"One afternoon, while she was out at tea with some friends, the Malay gardener brought to the house the carcass of a hamadryad which he had killed in the garden. The hamadryad, as you probably know, is perhaps the deadliest of all Eastern reptiles. Its bite usually causes death in a few minutes. Moreover, it is [37]one of the few snakes that will attack human beings without provocation. The husband, with two other chaps, both officers in his battalion, was sitting on the verandah when the snake was brought in.

"'I say,' suggested one of the officers, 'here's a chance to break Madge of her fear of snakes. Why not curl this fellow up on her bed? She'll get a jolly good fright, of course, but when she discovers that he's dead and that she's been panicky about nothing, she'll get over her silly fear of the beggars. What say, old chap?'

"To this insane suggestion, in spite of the protests of the other officer, the husband assented. Probably he had been having too many brandies and sodas. I don't know. But in any event, they put the witless idea into execution. Toward nightfall the young wife returned. She had on a frock of some thin, slinky stuff and a droopy garden hat with flowers on it and carried a sunshade. She was awfully pretty. She hadn't been out there long enough to lose her English coloring, you see.

"'Oh, I say, Madge,' called her husband, 'There's a surprise for you in your bedroom.'

"With a little cry of delighted anticipation she hurried into the house. She thought her husband had bought her a gift, I suppose. A moment later the trio waiting on the verandah heard a piercing shriek. The first shriek was followed by another and then another. Pretty soon, though, the screams died down to a whimper—a sort of sobbing moan. Then [38]silence. After a few minutes, as there was no further sound from the bedroom and his wife did not reappear, the husband became uneasy. He rose to enter the house, but the chap who had suggested the scheme pulled him back.

"'She's all right,' he assured him. 'She sees it's a joke and she's keeping quiet so as to frighten you. If you go in there now the laugh will be on you. She'll be out directly.'

"But as the minutes passed and she did not reappear all three of the men became increasingly uneasy.

"'We'd better have a look,' the one who had demurred suggested after a quarter of an hour had passed, during which no further sound had come from the bedroom. 'Madge is very high-strung. She may have fainted from the shock. I told you fellows that it was an idiotic thing to do.'

"When they opened the door they thought that she had fainted, for she lay in an inert heap on the floor at the foot of the bed. But a hasty examination showed them, to their horror, that the girl was dead—heart failure, presumably. But when they raised her from the floor they discovered the real cause of her death, for a second hamadryad, which had been concealed by her skirts, darted noiselessly under the bed. It was the mate of the one that had been killed—for hamadryads always travel in pairs, you know—and had evidently entered the room in quest of its companion."

"What happened to the husband and to the man [39]who suggested the plan?" I asked. "Were they punished?"

"They were punished right enough," the constabulary officer said dryly. "The chap who suggested the scheme tried to forget it in drink, was cashiered from the army and died of delirium tremens. As for the husband, he is still living—in a madhouse."

Even in so far-distant a corner of the Empire as Borneo, ten thousand miles from the lights of the restaurants in Piccadilly, the men religiously observe the English ritual of dressing for dinner, for when the mercury climbs to 110, though the temptation is to go about in pajamas, one's drenched body and drooping spirits need to be bolstered up with a stiff shirt and a white mess jacket. That the stiffest shirt-front is wilted in an hour makes no difference: it reminds them that they are still Englishmen. Nor, in view of the appalling loneliness of the life, is it to be wondered at that the Chinese bartenders at the club are kept busy until far into the night, and that every month or so the entire male white population goes on a terrific spree. The government doctor in Sandakan assured me very earnestly that, in order to stand the climate, it is necessary to keep one's liver afloat—in alcohol. He had contributed to thus preserving the livers and lives of his fellow exiles by the invention of two drinks, of which he was inordinately proud. One he had dubbed "Tarantula Juice;" the other he called "Whisper of Death." He told me that the amateur [40]who took three drinks of the latter would have no further need for his services; the only person whose services he would require would be the undertaker.

There is something of the pathetic in the eagerness with which the white men who dwell in exile along these forgotten seaboards long for news from Home. After dinner they would cluster about me on the club verandah and clamor for those odds-and-ends of English gossip which are not important enough for inclusion in the laconic cable despatches posted daily on the club bulletin-board and which the two-months-old newspapers seldom mention. They insisted that I repeat the jokes which were being cracked by the comedians at the Criterion and the Shaftesbury. They wanted to know if toppers and tailcoats were again being worn in The Row. They pleaded for the gossip of the clubs in Pall Mall and Piccadilly. They begged me to tell them about the latest books and plays and songs. But after a time I persuaded them to do the talking, while I lounged in a deep cane chair, a tall, thin glass, with ice tinkling in it, at my elbow, and listened spellbound to strange dramas of "the Islands" recited by men who had themselves played the leading roles. At first they were shy, as well-bred English often are, but after much urging an officer of constabulary, the glow from his cigar lighting up his sun-bronzed face and the rows of campaign ribbons on his white jacket, was persuaded into telling how he had trailed a marauding band of head-hunters right across Borneo, from coast to coast, [41]his only companions a handful of Dyak police, themselves but a degree removed in savagery from those they were pursuing. A bespectacled, studious-looking man, whom I had taken for a scientist or a college professor, but who, I learned, had made a fortune buying bird-of-paradise plumes for the European market, described the strange and revolting customs practised by the cannibals of New Guinea. Then a broad-shouldered, bearded Dutchman, a very Hercules of a man, with a voice like a bass drum, told, between meditative puffs at his pipe, of hair-raising adventures in capturing wild animals, so that those smug and sheltered folk at home who visit the zoological gardens of a Sunday afternoon might see for themselves the crocodile and the boa-constrictor, the orang-utan and the clouded tiger. When, after the last tale had been told and the last glass had been drained, we strolled out into the fragrant tropic night, with the Cross swinging low to the morn, I felt as though, in the space of a single evening, I had lived through a whole library of adventure.

I once wrote—in The Last Frontier, if I remember rightly—that when the English occupy a country the first thing they build is a custom-house; the first thing the Germans build is a barracks; the first thing the French build is a railway. As a result of my observations in Malaysia, however, I am inclined to amend this by saying that the first thing the English build is a race course. Lord Cromer was fond of telling how, [42]when he visited Perim, a miserable little island at the foot of the Red Sea, inhabited by a few Arabs and many snakes, his guide took him to the top of a hill and pointed out the race course.

"But what do you want with a race course?" demanded the great proconsul. "I didn't suppose that there was a four-footed animal on the island."

The guide reluctantly admitted that, though they had no horses on the island at the moment, if some were to come, why, there was the race course ready for them. Though I don't recall having seen more than a dozen horses in Borneo, the British have been true to their traditions by building two race courses: one at Sandakan and one at Jesselton. On the latter is run annually the North Borneo Derby. It is the most brilliant sporting and social event of the year, the Europeans flocking into Jesselton from the little trading stations along the coast and from the lonely plantations in the interior just as their friends back in England flock to Goodwood and Newmarket and Epsom. The Derby is always followed by the Hunt Ball. In spite of the fact that there are at least twenty men to every woman this is always a tremendous success. It usually ends in everyone getting gloriously drunk.

Almost the only other form of entertainment is provided by a company of Malay players which makes periodical visits to Sandakan and Jesselton. Though the actors speak only Malay, this does not deter them from including a number of Shakesperian plays in their [43]repertoire (imagine Macbeth being played by a company of piratical-looking Malays in a nipa hut on the shores of the Sulu Sea!) but they attain their greatest heights in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. There are no programmes, but, in order that the audience may not be left in doubt as to the identity of the players, the manager introduces the members of his company one by one. "This is Ali Baba," he announces, leading a fat and greasy Oriental to the footlights. "This is Fatimah." "These are the Forty Thieves." When the latter announcement is made four actors stalk ten times across the stage in na?ve simulation of the specified number. After the thieves have concealed themselves behind pasteboard silhouettes of jars, Ali Baba's wife waddles on the stage bearing a Standard Oil tin on her shoulder and with a dipper proceeds to ladle a few drops of cocoanut oil on the head of each of the robbers. While she is being introduced one of the thieves seizes the opportunity to take a few whiffs from a cigarette, the smoke being plainly visible to the audience. Another, wearying of his cramped position, incautiously shows his head, whereupon Mrs. Ali Baba raps it sharply with her dipper, eliciting from the actor an exclamation not in his lines. During the intermissions the clown who accompanies the troupe convulses the audience with side-splitting imitations of the pompous and frigid Governor, who, as someone unkindly remarked, "must have been born in an ice-chest," and of the bemoustached and bemonocled officer who commands the constabulary, locally referred to as the [44]Galloping Major. Compared with the antics of these Malay comedians, the efforts of our own professional laugh-makers seem dull and forced. Until you have seen them you have never really laughed.

His Highness Haji Mohamed Jamalulhiram, Sultan of Sulu, was temporarily sojourning in Sandakan when we were there, having come across from his capital of Jolo for the purpose of collecting the monthly subsidy of five hundred pesos paid him by the British North Borneo Company for certain territorial concessions. The company would have sent the money to Jolo, of course, but the Sultan preferred to come to Sandakan to collect it; there are better facilities for gambling there.

Because I was curious to see the picturesque personage around whom George Ade wrote his famous opera, The Sultan of Sulu, and because the Lovely Lady and the Winsome Widow had read in a Sunday supplement that he made it a practise to present those American women whom he met with pearls of great price, upon our arrival at Sandakan I invited the Sultan to dinner aboard the Negros. When I called on him at his hotel to extend the invitation, I found him clad in a very soiled pink kimono, a pair of red velvet slippers, and a smile made somewhat gory by the betel-nut he had been chewing, but when he came aboard the Negros that evening he wore a red fez and irreproachable dinner clothes of white linen. As the crew of the cutter was entirely composed of Tagalogs [45]and Visayans, from the northern Philippines, who, being Christians, regard the Mohammedan Moro with contempt, not unmixed with fear, when I called for side-boys to line the starboard rail when his Highness came aboard, there were distinctly mutinous mutterings. Captain Galvez tactfully settled the matter, however, by explaining to the crew that the Sultan was, after all, an American subject, which seemed to mollify, even if it did not entirely satisfy them. The armament of the Negros had been removed after the armistice, so that we were without anything in the nature of a saluting cannon, but, as we wished to observe all the formalities of naval etiquette, the Doctor and Hawkinson volunteered to fire a royal salute with their automatic pistols as the Sultan came over the side. That, in their enthusiasm, they lost count and gave him about double the number of "guns" prescribed for the President of the United States caused Haji Mohamed no embarrassment; on the contrary, it seemed to please him immensely. (Donald Thompson, who was my photographer in Belgium during the early days of the war, always made it a point to address every officer he met as "General." He explained that it never did any harm and that it always put the officer in good humor.)

When the cocktails were served the Sultan gravely explained through the interpreter that, being a devout Mohammedan and a Haji, he never permitted alcohol to pass his lips, an assertion which he promptly proceeded to prove by taking four Martinis in rapid [46]succession. Now the chef of the Negros possessed the faculty of camouflaging his dishes so successfully that neither by taste, looks nor smell could one tell with certainty what one was eating. So, when the meat, smothered in thick brown gravy, was passed to the Sultan, his Highness, who, like all True Believers, abhors pork, regarded it dubiously. "Pig?" he demanded of the steward. "No, sare," was the frightened answer. "Cow."

Over the coffee and cigarettes the Lovely Lady and the Winsome Widow tactfully led the conversation around to the subject of pearls, whereupon the Sultan thrust his hand into his pocket and produced a round pink box, evidently originally intended for pills. Removing the lid, he displayed, imbedded in cotton, half a dozen pearls of a size and quality such as one seldom sees outside the window of a Fifth Avenue jeweler. I could see that the Lovely Lady and the Winsome Widow were mentally debating as to whether they would have them set in brooches or rings. But when they had been passed from hand to hand, accompanied by the customary exclamations of envy and admiration, back they went into the royal pocket again. "And to think," one of the party remarked afterward, "that we wasted two bottles of perfectly good gin and a bottle of vermouth on him!"

It was after midnight when our guest took his departure, the ship's orchestra playing him over the side with a selection from The Sultan of Sulu, which, in view of my ignorance as to whether Sulu possessed [47]a national anthem, seemed highly appropriate to the occasion. As the launch bearing the Sultan shot shoreward Hawkinson set off a couple of magnesium flares, which he had brought along for the purpose of taking pictures at night, making the whole harbor of Sandakan as bright as day. I heard afterward that the Sultan remarked that we were the only visitors since the Taft party who really appreciated his importance.

Two hours steam off the towering promontory which guards the entrance to Sandakan harbor lies Baguian, a sandy islet covered with cocoanut-palms, which is so small that it is not shown on ordinary maps. Though the island is, for some unexplained reason, under the jurisdiction of the British North Borneo Company, it is a part of the Sulu Archipelago and belongs to the United States. Baguian is famed throughout those seas as a rookery for the giant tortoise—testudo elephantopus. Toward nightfall the mammoth chelonians—some of them weigh upward of half a ton—come ashore in great numbers to lay their eggs in nests made in the edge of the jungle which fringes the beach, the old Chinaman and his two assistants, who are the only inhabitants of the island, frequently collecting as many as four thousand eggs in a single morning. The eggs, which in size and color exactly resemble ping-pong balls and are almost as unbreakable, are collected once a fortnight by a junk which takes them to China, where they are considered great delicacies and command high prices. As [48]we had brought with us a supply of magnesium flares for night photography, we decided to take the camera ashore and attempt to obtain pictures of the turtles on their nests.

As we were going ashore in the gig we caught sight of a huge bull, as large as a hogshead, which was floating on the surface. Ordering the sailors to row quietly, we succeeded in getting within a hundred yards before I let go with my .405, the soft-nosed bullet tearing a great hole in the turtle's neck and dyeing the water scarlet. Almost before the sound of the shot had died away one of the Filipino boat's crew went overboard with a rope, which he attempted to attach to the monster before it could sink to the bottom, but the turtle, though desperately wounded, was still very much alive, giving the sailor a blow on his head with its flapper which all but knocked him senseless. By the time we had hauled the man into the boat the turtle had disappeared into the depths.

Waiting until darkness had fallen, we sent parties of sailors, armed with electric torches, along the beach in both directions with orders to follow the tracks made by the turtles in crossing the sand, and to notify us by firing a revolver when they located one. We did not have long to wait before we heard the signal agreed upon, and, picking up the heavy camera, we plunged across the sands to where the sailors were awaiting us in the edge of the bush. While the bluejackets cut off the retreat of the hissing, snapping monster, Hawkinson set up his camera and, when all [49]was ready, some one touched off a flare, illuminating the beach and jungle as though the search-light of a warship had been turned upon them. In this manner we obtained a series of motion-pictures which are, I believe, from the zoological standpoint, unique. Before leaving the island we killed two tortoises for food for the crew—enough to keep them in turtle soup for a month. The larger, which I shot with a revolver, weighed slightly over five hundred pounds and lived for several days with three .45 caliber bullets in its brain-pan. Everything considered, it was a very interesting expedition. The only person who did not enjoy it was the old Chinese who held the concession for collecting the turtle-eggs. Instead of recognizing the great value of the service we were rendering to science, he acted as though we were robbing his hen-roost. He had a sordid mind.



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